Rural round-up

Strong demand improves meat export returns:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following summarises activity during the first quarter of the 2014-15 meat export season (1 October 2014 to 31 December 2014).

Summary

A more favourable exchange rate and strong demand – particularly for beef – saw average meat export returns improve in the first quarter of the 2014-15 season. . .

Parched land alarms farmers – David Loughrey:

 The reality of Otago’s continuing dry weather is beginning to bite hard and an end to irrigation for some farmers is taking a financial toll.

Andrew and Lynnore Templeton have been a full week in a brown, baking Middlemarch with no water available from a Taieri River running below its minimum flow.

Federated Farmers said farmers were becoming alarmed at how fast the land was drying out, while the Otago Regional Council said it was continuing meetings with farmers to try to deal with the situation. . .

Dry soil conditions put DairyNZ on alert to boost support:

Soils are drying out fast around the country, but above the ground it’s a different story, with grass and feed supplies looking good in many parts of the country, says industry body DairyNZ.

General manager of extension, Craig McBeth, says DairyNZ is closely monitoring the soil moisture and feed levels in all regions in case it needs to quickly ramp up support for farmers having a dry summer coming on top of a low seasonal milk price.

“It is already severely dry in parts of Canterbury and North Otago and farmers there are facing serious measures with some irrigation restrictions now in place. The south of the Wairarapa is also very dry. The soil moisture data is also showing us that the rest of the country is on the brink of heading into dryer than average soil moisture conditions. We need to see some rain soon to reduce the risk of a normal dry summer turning into something more serious,” he says. . .

 The Search is on for the Nation’s Top Steak:

Beef farmers across the country are putting their best entries forward for the thirteenth annual Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin Competition.

The highly anticipated competition, sponsored by Zoetis, seeks to find New Zealand’s most tender and tasty steak, an award taken seriously by those in the industry.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion, says the competition is a great platform to showcase the New Zealand beef industry and illustrates the great care farmers take in producing the best quality beef.

“It’s also a competition keenly contested by beef farmers who strive to take the coveted Steak of Origin title,” says Champion. . . .

New test for serious algal toxin threat saves time and money for NZ shellfish farmers – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The most serious algal toxin threat to New Zealand shellfish can now be detected faster and at around a quarter of the previous cost through a new test method likely to be introduced this year.

The test for paralytic shellfish toxin (PST), the most serious of shellfish poisoning syndromes caused by harmful algae, has been developed by New Zealand’s Cawthron Institute in collaboration with the UK’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science.

Cawthron researchers developed the world’s first instrumental test method for marine toxins in seafood using marine biotoxins it sells for more than $100,000 per teaspoonful to laboratories worldwide after some people fell sick from eating shellfish affected by algal blooms in the 1990s. . .

Potato shortage has upside in Southland – Phil McCarthy:

They’re eating our potatoes in the North Island, and in Taiwan too.

A nationwide potato shortage is leaving some chip-lovers pining for their favourite flavours, with some Southland supermarkets posting notices in chip aisles apologising for supply shortages. However, one Southland company is making up for a shortage of fresh potatoes in the central North Island – and tip-toeing into exporting fresh potatoes to Asia. 

Pyper’s Produce director Brent Lamb said it was not very often the Branxholme-based growers sold potatoes into the North Island but they had since late November because poor growing conditions there had limited the supply of fresh potatoes. . .

Runs on board for deer initiative:

Advance Parties, a Deer Industry NZ initiative designed to help farmers increase the profitability of their farm businesses, is getting runs on the board. At the end of the first year of a three-year trial co-funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund, there are eight Advance Parties underway, involving 89 farms.

Project manager Amy Wills says Advance Party members are committed to personal and farm business development, sharing their data, methods, plans, results, problems and successes. It’s very different to a farm discussion group.

Because members lay all their cards on the table, Advance Party meetings are limited to the participating farmers, their families and staff, plus a facilitator. Meetings are not open to the public or the media. . .

 

New Zealand Winegrowers launches Mandarin-language website

New Zealand Winegrowers has launched a Mandarin-language website to support ongoing marketing activities in China.

The site, www.nz-wine.cn, features information about New Zealand’s wine-growing regions and key grape varietals with content mirroring the flagship English-language site www.nzwine.com. In addition it includes details of upcoming events in Mainland China, links to social media platforms Weibo and WeChat, and offers insight to the New Zealand wine industry’s widespread commitment to sustainability. . .

 

65 Responses to Rural round-up

  1. Mr E says:

    Usually I am eating my spuds by Christmas. This year I only have one flowering 2 weeks later. They’re late. Very late and I guess it has to do with the very wet October and November.

    I am looking forward to my own new potatoes.

  2. “Parched”, farmland in the north (just about everywhere is north of here), is not land that is suitable for dairy farming, in my view, because it necessitates irrigation. A wise farmer fits his or her activities to the conditions, known and expected. To expand a water-hungy industry into water-deficient landscapes is the height of foolishness, in my view. Is that happening here in New Zealand, yes, it certainly is. Who’s driving such expansions? Fonterra, the National Government and commenters on blogs such as this. Foolish and short-sighted. Ele, our blog host, undemocratic though her behaviour is, at least provides a portal where the thinking of people like Ol’ Fakey and farmerbraun can be seen by readers who otherwise might not see how entrenched and inflexible such thinking and such thinkers are, so she’s to be thanked for that. Her own shilling, regular and repeated, for irrigation, is less admirable. Considerably less admirable in my view.

  3. farmerbraun says:

    My neighbour and I were just this morning discussing how green it was for the time of year. He, like me, is old enough to know what a dry summer looks like. When it goes brown in a month of hot dry Norwesters in November , and you’re looking at frost on dead brown grass in early June , then you know that it has been a dry year.

    But there is no doubt that the cool wet spring and early summer has had an impact on crops. the maize around here is mostly rubbish.

  4. From The Standard (and relevant to the discussions on drought and irrigation)
    Jenny Kirk 1.6
    16 January 2015 at 9:34 am
    100% Sanctuary and other posters here on farming/drought/summertime.

    We in the north-east of the North Island are having a great summer – fine, sunny days and little wind. Just like it used to be in the good ole days (before El Nino etc etc). And the farming land looks good too – green grass, healthily growing feed crops of maize, haymaking. This is dairying country. Just the place for it – lots of rain at the right times, lush pasture. And no need for expensive irrigation schemes draining the water from rivers.

    We had a good lot of rain during November – tanks are full, vege gardens are producing – but we’re expecting it to stay dry thru Jan, Feb, March – maybe even into April . And so we’re prepared for it as it looks to me that the local farmers are also prepared for it.

    As you have all said : its just absolutely nuts to put dairying into areas which are not suited to it. And in years to come we will grieve at the damage caused to those magnificent rivers harnessed for irrigation. Oh, I wish for a bit more forward-thinking on the part of those dairy-obsessed capitalists !

    http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-16012015/

  5. TraceyS says:

    We started eating our new spuds about four weeks before Christmas, which was extraordinarily early! Now they are huge and second crop is already in. One thing I’ve appreciated with the dry and sunshine is that the quality of our vegetable crops this year is outstanding. Colour, flavor, size – all enhanced.

  6. TraceyS says:

    So, Robert, you don’t think it’s a good idea to grow something (ie. grass) where is doesn’t always grow well?

    Weren’t you trying to grow lemons in Riverton at one stage?

    (ps. please be aware that I have no problems with either grass or lemons).

  7. Mr E says:

    I guess we have a different climate Tracey.

    My first tomato was more like a coconut in constitution, but since then they have filled out.

    In the last couple of weeks my strawberries have been velvet red delicious. I suspect it is more to do with me letting them ripen in their abundance rather than snatching them at the first opportunity.

  8. Tracey – I think it’s foolishness to force production on an environment that doesn’t naturally provide the most significant resource needed for that production, if there are alternatives more suitable. Dairy cows in dry country is, in my opinion, foolish and likely to damage the environment from outset to conclusion. Your, “So, Robert…” is wrong, as has been every reply you’ve begun that way. Your ability to sum-up and accurately re-state my thoughts is spectacularly hopeless. On a very small scale, such as the growing of tomatoes in a tunnel house, or a lemon tree in a lemony, watering, at least in the establishment stage, is a reasonable action. Establishing a 100, 000 tree lemony in a dry part of the country, conversely, would not be wise, in my opinion. It’s a matter of scale, and that’s what you missed with your rather simplistic (Ol’ Fakey would say, “silly”) response. I’m keen to discuss real issues here, but silly re-phrasing of what was said is just pointless. I think though, that your question hovers near to an interesting and important discussion; should crops and livestock that require x amount of support above that naturally provided by a particular environment be produced, or should the crops match better, the conditions. There are, btw, grasses that do much better in dry conditions, than those being used in New Zealand now and I don’t mean those produced by genetic engineering. Grass-farming though, I have to say, is about the least imaginative and innovative form of farming. It’s a great shame New Zealand went that way, but this will change and we will match better crops and animals to our particular (and changing) environment.

  9. farmerbraun says:

    It seems that some farmers are not alarmed. It probably depends on the level of risk that you have exposed yourself to.

    http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/synlait-milk-talks-down-threat-dry-canterbury-conditions-bd-167435

  10. Oh, and Tracey, I’d enjoy a more immediate discussion with you, one where we could swap ideas in a fair manner, but as you know, I am held in moderation by Ele and my reply to you may take up to 12 hours to appear. I guess you think that’s an impediment to fair discussion, as I do, but Ele’s determined to dictate and disadvantage, in a very undemocratic way. Is that a Right-wing thing? Seems to be.

  11. Mr E says:

    Robert,
    To me your moaning about moderation is boring. Boring, boring, boring.

    I cant help myself but post this:

    I hope you find humour in it and it stimulates you to move on.

  12. Ol’ Fakey doesn’t like me talking about being hampered by Ele’s moderation. Poor wee Fell Fell! I’m determined then, to mention it every time I post. Perhaps Ol’ Fakey (he of the fake name and fake story) will grow to like it, as it becomes as familiar as his ol’ slippers (fake-fur) and morning coffee (ersatz, no doubt), as I’m expected to become relaxed about being (alone) in moderation, held back from any meaningful discussion at the whim of the dictatorial Ele. No offence meant, Ele, but you are dictating when and which of, my posts will appear. Very unfair, but you seem very relaxed about it.

  13. Richard says:

    Tracey, RG is one of those narrow minded people who have not traveled or read about how countries have developed in their environment for centuries- . SE Asian countries as an example-

    http://www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/multimedia/slideshows/food-agriculture/china-rice-paddy-fields/

    And Gosh!, this image from Greenpeace- perhaps RG wishes us to go back in time cull the cattle and sheep while we starve or are dead by the time he comes up with viable alternatives.

    I know RG from a past life- he is very hot on sustainability but not very good on putting bread in the mouth – his hand is always out

  14. TraceyS says:

    Look Robert, I’ve got no problem with growing a plant outside its ideal habitat and would say “good on you” to anyone giving it a go. Now if you were successful with one lemon tree in Southland then I’d imagine that you’d want to scale up a bit and maybe grow ten. That’s the sort of challenge that humans enjoy albeit on differing scales. It’s natural to try and scale up an approach which has been successful. I’d say “good on you” to anyone giving that a go too.

    I have been successful with growing a few borderline plants in my garden. In fact, I’ve just been outside admiring them. Lemon is one that is thriving despite soil being much too alkaline. These plant “challenges” do require additional ongoing support when compared to native pittosporum or cordyline for example. But then pittosporum fruits are awfully sticky and taste terrible. Fejoas are much nicer and are worth the extra effort and resources they require. Cows, could they speak, would probably say the same about their grasses.

    Returning to citrus, some countries would probably not have a citrus industry if they didn’t “weather” a few storms along the way (eg. USA). Then they’d have to rely on imports to satisfy domestic demand for the fruit. So what’s the problem with that? You’re all for locally-grown, lowest-possible-food-miles, aren’t you? Haven’t given up on your lemon tree too soon have you?

    At the end of last year I was at a corporate event – a large company’s 100+ year anniversary. The managing director gave an historical account of the company’s development. I was absolutely astounded by the resilience shown by the founders following disaster, after devastating disaster, some natural and others man made. It made me wonder if people could, starting from scratch, weather these sorts of storms nowadays in order to eventually build up a big strong company for future generations. Sadly, I have to admit my doubts.

    We need to keep reviving resilience by carrying on challenging ourselves, whether the challenge is to be one lemon tree, or a dry 1000 hectare farm. Resilience is a highly transferable quality if need be.

  15. TraceyS says:

    Richard – yes, good example of resilience. But then – oh noes!!!
    http://www.ghgonline.org/methanerice.htm

    Hard to find the perfect farm.

  16. “perhaps RG wishes…” and immediately Richard provides another example of a right-winger putting words/wishes into another’s mouth/head. I wonder what it is about you people that stops you from saying, “Robert said:” and then attending to what was actually said, not what you found skulking around in your own brain at the time you were reading. You inevitably get it wrong, then build your case, flabby and insubstantial at the same time, upon your own imaginings. Dave finds it an issue, as does RBG, so far as I can tell from their frustrated answers. Ol’ Fakey, otoh, despite his pretence at mature dialogue, is the worst of you all, as he not only creates claims and attributes them to those who have not made them, but he then proceeds to build ongoing, mocking threads of trite discourse that you all applaud.
    Richard – I invite you to substantiate your claim:
    “I know RG from a past life- he is very hot on sustainability but not very good on putting bread in the mouth – his hand is always out”
    after all, it’s a slur on my character and you should at least be willing to back your (false) claims. You’ll have to excuse my seeming tardiness in responding. Ele keeps me (alone) in moderation, so as to make my position weaker, I expect to give you others a chance in any debate. It’s tiresome and hardly hop;ding to the principles of free speech and equal opportunity, but there you go – Right-wingers – they love to bully, as you have done, Richard.

  17. “Now if you were successful with one lemon tree in Southland then I’d imagine that you’d want to scale up a bit and maybe grow ten. That’s the sort of challenge that humans enjoy albeit on differing scales. It’s natural to try and scale up an approach which has been successful.”
    Tracey – that’s where you and your ilk are making a tragic mistake. It is not “natural” to do that at all. That’s a meme of this culture we are part of and it’s the very thing that will ultimately destroy us. I’d love to expand on your claim and this idea, but moderation holds me back from doing so, sadly. Ele is very unfair in her use of moderation on one individual, that is, me. You can see that I’m no real threat to peace on this blog.

  18. farmerbraun says:

    He’s actually using quite a bit of nitrogen . Sulphate of ammonia plus the Biomax 10-7-5- in each irrigation application, according to the article.

    Still , if he can build enough topsoil , and get some permanent legumes, then he could eventually have an adequate level of mineralisable nitrogen in his topsoil. It looks like a work in progress for sure.

  19. TraceyS says:

    Another great example of resilience, Mr E.

    “The consent cost us $500,000 and we went round and round in circles.

    “At the end of the day they granted us our consent and we virtually didn’t have to change any of the structure that we had went to them in the first place.”

    Just imagine what he could have done with the $500k!

  20. Mr E says:

    That farm was relatively unproductive. It now produces about the same as a Southland farm.
    Plus it employs labour. And the inputs it needs, keep other businesses running.

    Another example of irrigation keeping the NZ economy running, and highlighting the potential productivity of parts of NZ

  21. Mr E says:

    Tracey,
    $500,000 for good farmers to get the nod- shocking. I believe that was pre commissioners. I doubt sensible commissioners would tolerate that.

  22. TraceyS says:

    I believe you are right on all three counts.

  23. Mr E says:

    Farmer Braun,
    “Quite a bit”
    Can you qualify that? Relative to what?

  24. farmerbraun says:

    Relative to all the pastoral farmers who rely entirely on legumes (clover) for their nitrogen. In other words , relative to farmers who use no applied nitrogen fertiliser .

    Remember when that particular modus operandi was NZ’s competitive advantage ?
    Well , there are still lots of pastoral farmers doing just that.
    And their costs of production are amongst the lowest.
    When prices are low , such as they are currently, those farmers continue to make profits.

  25. Mr E says:

    “Well , there are still lots of pastoral farmers doing just that.”

    What percentage would you say? I’d be ok with a fair estimate.

  26. On-site produced nitrogen via legumes .v. nitrogen refined from sequestered hydrocarbons from some distant location…hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…. which to back, which to back???
    It’s not only pastoral farmers who (wisely) use legumes for the purpose – wise horticulturalists too, use leguminous annuals and perennials generously; plants such as peas, beans, vetches, lupins, clovers, brooms, kowhai, tagaste and so on…

  27. No response from Richard. We’ll have to assume he was making it up for the sake of slurring. Awful Tory habit, that. Learned it from the top.

  28. farmerbraun says:

    “What percentage would you say? ”

    I would only be guessing. Numerically , they would be significant because they tend to be the small owner-operator/family farms.
    Dairy NZ has a system for classifying the level of inputs , and I think that these are called Tier 1 farms.
    In terms of the total production of the industry they would be a small fraction because the large farms with the very high cost of production (up to $6/kg M.S.) are nearly all Tier 4 and Tier 5 farms.

  29. TraceyS says:

    Robert, I think that it is you who is making a “tragic mistake” when you say “you and your ilk”. Categorising others, as you do, is not a good idea. In your bias, you may miss something important. Although you are not alone.

    As far as moderation goes I have sympathy for you. A few times when I mentioned your name my comments also got held up in moderation. It was a bit of a nuisance but that’s all. If Ele decides to give you another chance (at behaving yourself) then that’s totally up to her. It is her blog. I don’t imagine that whining about it will help your cause much.

    Just as a suggestion, what you could perhaps do is allow anon comments on your own blog. I might then comment there. But like Mr E, I am not willing to set up an unidentifiable email address and “fake” profile.

  30. TraceyS says:

    “It is not “natural” to [up scale] at all. That’s a meme of this culture we are part of and it’s the very thing that will ultimately destroy us.’

    I completely disagree. Humans are naturally ambitious. I think you are too, just on a different scale. I’m sure that you would like to up-scale food forest living by promoting and assisting others to create their own. That’s up-scaling.

    Up-scaling successful technologies may be the very thing which saves us:
    http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2009/November/15110901.asp

    There is no guarantee that people will reduce their fossil fuel consumption. If climate change is as bad as you say, there needs to be plan b, c, d, e…..

  31. TraceyS says:

    “…the Sandia team in New Mexico estimates that it could make diesel or jet fuel for roughly $10 per gallon. There is another problem, however, one common to all such efforts to reverse combustion: To replace the more than 20 million barrels of oil consumed each day in the U.S. would require 62.4 trillion moles of pure CO2 per year. “If we go to a scale that is meaningful, where does the carbon come from?” Toone asks. “Learning how to recycle carbon is going to be important.”

    Coal plants offer one source, producing roughly 500 pounds of CO2 per second when burning enough coal to generate one gigawatt of electricity, but that still isn’t enough to make a dent in transportation fuel use. Sucking CO2 out of the air remains prohibitively expensive, according to a recent report from the American Physical Society. But pulling CO2 out of seawater, where it is more highly concentrated, might offer one solution, as well as helping remedy the other peril from rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere: ocean acidification.

    http://e360.yale.edu/feature/using_co2_to_make_fuel_a_long_shot_for_green_energy/2405/

  32. RBG says:

    TraceyS, yes perhaps we will make hydrocarbons to use in internal combustion engines. Don’t forget that the process REQUIRES energy. It would probably be way MORE energy efficient to use the solar energy and/or electricity to run electric motors, but for applications such as aviation, this could be a useful technology. The key thing is that it is recycling carbon NOT adding more fossil carbon to the atmosphere.

  33. TraceyS says:

    Yes, many of these developments seem to be designed to get their energy from solar resources. REMEMBER that solar systems still need resources that are mined from the earth and diesel is generally needed for this.

    I think the idea of extracting CO2 from the oceans is a neat one. If that’s indeed where a large quantity of anthropocentric CO2 emissions end up then it makes sense to up-scale the technology to remove it and recycle it back into something useful.

    I don’t know if these technologies will ever take off. But if they do, maybe in 100 years from now the world could potentially be facing carbon dioxide shortages?

    There are those who presently do not think that carbon dioxide emissions have a significant warming impact. It will be interesting to see if they also consider that a big reduction in CO2 ppm in the atmosphere would not have a significant cooling effect. Since the technologies to suck CO2 out of the environment are making their ways off the drawing boards it would be foolish not to consider they may, like any technology, also generate some undesired effects or challenges in addition to all the benefits.

  34. “I completely disagree. Humans are naturally ambitious. I think you are too, just on a different scale. I’m sure that you would like to up-scale food forest living by promoting and assisting others to create their own. That’s up-scaling.”

    Tracey – I appreciate your disagreeing, but you have made a fundamental mistake with your understanding of “up-scaling”. If my vision was for a down-scaled model and I wanted to see more of it, you would claim that multiplying my down-scaled model was “up-scaling”. It’s convoluted and probably confusing to a mind like yours (one that craves linear thoughts) but there it is – I truly believe that your “up-scaling is natural” meme is not natural at all and in fact is a life-threatening meme that has become lodged in our culture and will result in our extinction, unless it is properly understood and acted upon. That’s why I’m here and that’s why I find Ele’s insistence on dictatorial moderation so difficult. It’s difficult enough at the best of times to get through to you “righties” but having one hand tied behind my back, metaphorically, is hindering my attempts to help you break the mind-set you have inherited and strengthened through discussions like those you have with Ol’ FakEe, JC, et al. Put in a good word for me, Tracey – I have much to offer here.

  35. “Since the technologies to suck CO2 out of the environment are making their ways off the drawing boards it would be foolish not to consider they may, like any technology, also generate some undesired effects or challenges in addition to all the benefits.”

    No, they are not. No, they will not. Get real, Tracey. Please.

  36. Paranormal says:

    RPG – Any thought as to why it’s so expensive to recover from the air? Perhaps that its at 400 parts per million? And thats from all sources not just anthropogenic.

  37. So, Tracey – I’ll try to talk with you then, and leave “your ilk” out of it, as you suggested. Here’s the thing – our culture; the one you and I were born into, believes that “up-scaling successful technologies” is the thing that has to be done, true. I’m arguing that not all human societies hold to this – some believe quite differently. I believe that those societies (such as ours) that believes that progress/up-scaling/development/growth is the only way to go, are sowing the seeds of our destruction. I look at population growth, ecological destruction and see that that meme you describe, is taking us to a place where we cannot survive. Our particular culture, operating under that banner, will extinguish itself. The writing is on the wall, all the signs are pointing to the extinction of the societies that follow that track. There are other ways, different memes. You are a promoter the meme that I’m warning about. I’m a promoter of a different meme. that’s my message. I hope you can recognise what I’m talking about. Good luck to us both in this discussion. I hope Ele allows me to talk without restriction here. That would be fair, I reckon.

  38. RBG says:

    CO2 is not a fuel, it appears it could be an ingredient for making a hydrocarbon fuel. The expense will be for the infrastructure and energy required for the process, not accessing the CO2. As for the suggestion that a 40% increase in something is irrelevant, just because it is measured in ppm, thats just ignorant. By the way, the human body contains 5 litres of blood, 2ml would be 400ppm. Care to try injecting 2ml of poison? Only 400ppm, wouldn’t expect it to matter would you Paranormal? And TraceyS suggesting that we might experience a CO2 shortage. Well that would only happen if they made the equivalent of ALL fossil fuels ever burnt since the beginning of the industrial revolution and NEVER used them (or any other fossil fuels), so don’t lose sleep over that one.

  39. Mr E says:

    Well done Robert,
    I don’t agree with you view but I respect your clear, fair presentation of it.

  40. TraceyS says:

    Robert, the only hope your down-scaled model has of making any significant difference to the planet is if it reaches a critical scale. I call that up-scaling. You might not like the term as I have applied it, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

  41. Call it what you like then, but don’t be fooled into thinking that what I’m proposing is less than what you envisage – it is different though, a little like someone brought up in a city, wanting to go and live in the countryside. His friends might look upon that move as less, but I’m sure you’ll agree, that’s a matter of opinion. My proposal is that mankind chooses a way to live that is sustainable; one that does not exhaust the natural resources of the planet, as our present “ambitious” society is doing, does not threaten the extinction of a vast array of non-human species, as this ambitious agricultural-based society is doing, one that doesn’t create wars constantly to serve the designs of those who make their fortunes and hold their positions of power as a result of war, one that doesn’t sift humans into a hierarchy where a few are spectacularly comfortable, many are tolerably well-off and most are forced to play a role they wish they didn’t have to play.
    I believe a global society that is multi-faceted and behaves sustainably, as society prior to the invention of agriculture most likely did, is again possible (by “society”, I mean the totality of mankind.) The evidence that those humans were living in a sustainable manner, must surely be the length of time they were on the earth without threatening its health, as we have so quickly done. Granted, they folded at the feet of the incoming “ambitious” society, but being vulnerable to an exploitive, violent society doesn’t make them right and sustainable and you wrong and unsustainable, especially as those societies are not all extinguished, nor is the meme that drives them, in fact, it’s here now, presenting itself to you all 🙂 Before some short-sighted Jabba or other declares sweatily, “You want us living in caves and eating lentils”, I refer you back to the not-less-but-different discussion at the beginning of this comment. That “different” way for mankind to live is what I’m keen to discuss. I expect most here will believe that the way we have now is the best way, the only way, the inevitable way for humans to be, but I don’t believe that at all. Maybe, Tracey, you’ll have some comments to make about what I’ve outlined here. Maybe Ele will take her foot off my throat 🙂 and remove moderation for a while. It’s Sunday, the sun is shining, why would a blog-host want to be cruel on a day like this?
    There is nothing to fear but fear itself, Ele 🙂

  42. Paranormal says:

    Actually RPG, what is pure ignorance is suggesting a chemical reaction follows the same process as a thermodynamic system.

    Still looking for that proof that a benign life gas, mainly present in the lower atmosphere, that has gone from 0.03% of the atmosphere to 0.04% of the atmosphere has devastating consequences. Until there is proof you’re just repeating propaganda.

    However I would agree with you that a reaction to turn CO2 into a hydrocarbon would be horrendously expensive (in terms of energy used for the conversion compared with the energy stored/retained in the hydrocarbon), until an energy efficient process/technology is devised. Ultimately we’re just talking about an energy storage system.

  43. farmerbraun says:

    Meanwhile , there is perfectly good technology available , solar powered, which turns atmospheric CO2 into hydrocarbons which provide food , fibre and fuel. Just add water .

    It’s called photosynthesis, and the process equipment (plants) is freely available and inexpensive to operate.

  44. farmerbraun says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a great fan of renewable energy.

    When extracting fossil carbon from the earth stops being economically viable—a point that may arrive a good deal sooner than many people expect—renewables are what we’ll have left, and the modest but real energy inputs that can be gotten from renewable sources when they don’t receive energy subsidies from fossil fuels could make things significantly better for our descendants.

    The fact remains that in the absence of subsidies from fossil fuels, renewables won’t support the absurdly extravagant energy consumption that props up what passes for an ordinary middle class lifestyle in the industrial world these days.

  45. farmerbraun @ 10:36 & 10:47 is absolutely correct. It’s like breathing fresh air again…
    I would challenge your, “just add water” though, fb. Very anthropocentric world-view you have there. Rain, from the sky it falls. Groundwater, through the ground it percolates, humus…don’t even get me started on humus and the water-provision services it provides to plants! I don’t really expect a response from you, fb – I’m unable to take part in discussions here on Homepaddock, as my comments are automatically delayed from being published from anything up to 13 hours (record so far). Equality – is that not something right-wingers hold to? Apparently not here.

  46. farmerbraun says:

    Robert I wasn’t arguing for irrigation. I was being slightly facetious.
    Of course the ingredients are sunlight , air and water ; we don’t have to add the water (say , by creating storage ) provided we can manage with the level of output of hydrocarbons that the described system will generate.
    If the products are storable then the intermittent output is less of a concern. If the inputs are storable the output can be less variable ; we cannot avoid the seasons , even in the tropical zone.

    It depends entirely on the level of population that the process , in its natural condition , is required to support; there is no room for error when sailing close to the wind.
    The variability of climate is a given. We have always had to store to some extent , especially in the colder areas and times.

  47. “there is no room for error when sailing close to the wind.”

    Farmerbraun – that may be true, if you are reliant upon one crop only for your food, but that would be foolish, wouldn’t it, given that, as you say, “The variability of climate is a given”. Better to ensure that the environment you have dominion over is populated by plants and animals that you can eat, but that are variously suited to a range of conditions, such as drought and extended rainfall. OF says that dairying isn’t a monoculture, but his argument is spurious as it’s pretty close to it, compared to any natural system. A fully-appointed, cleverly managed human-beneficial eco-system where food can always be found sounds great, don’t you think? It’s certainly my vision and vision is everything, farmerbraun. If we cling to a vision that is proving to be self-defeating, as our agriculture-based culture presently is proving itself to be, then we are destined to fail. A better vision is one where generosity, bounteousness, abundance, diversity, diversity and diversity are top-most, in my view. I’m holding to and developing that vision, in order to try to do something about the alternative, unsustainable culture we presently practise. Oh, and equality of opportunity, that’s important, isn’t it, Ele. FB, my apologies for the delay in responding to your comment. Ele is determined to maintain her unequal treatment of me and is deaf to my petition for equality, in that special Tory way of hers. Joking Ele, but there’s a kernel of truth in there.

  48. TraceyS says:

    “And TraceyS suggesting that we might experience a CO2 shortage. Well that would only happen if…”

    History is full of such assertions, RBG.

    For example:

    “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
    – Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

    No one has any idea how things might change if liquid fuel could be made in the “backyard” using bacteria, carbon dioxide, sunlight, and a little water. Inevitably it would be a slow process. And the long lead time would foster a tendency to produce more than immediately needed and store it for later use. If such technologies are eventually cheap to run (using solar energy sources) then there is no telling how much hoarding might go on. Product may be banked (tanked) and not used much like gold is.

    That would be carbon negative.

  49. TraceyS says:

    History also suggests we would call a “shortage” long before there actually is one.

    Peak-oil case in point.

  50. robertguyton says:

    I’m disappointed you weren’t sufficiently motivated to follow up on the discussion we began at the weekend, Tracey.
    Too tired to think?

  51. RBG says:

    DO THE MATHS TraceyS! To get back to 280ppm CO2 (not that I am calling that a ‘shortage’,the concept seems to be your idea) the amount of CO2 sequestered (and thus removed from the atmosphere) would have to be the same as ALL the CO2 that has been released by burning fossil fuels (and deforestation) since CO2 was last at 280ppm, ie pre-industrial revolution. If you try and argue otherwise you just look like a fool. Someone else being wrong about something else doesn’t make you right.

  52. TraceyS says:

    I have not suggested there is a need to “get back to 280ppm”. That is your own assertion RGB.

    I’d be satisfied if humans learned how to modulate the level CO2 in the environment and have merely suggested that there are likely to be more ways of doing that in the future than just the severe, unrealistic, cutbacks suggested by some. Like farmerbraun, I think they will never happen. A more comprehensive and intelligent plan may be needed.

    The future is exciting I think. I dream of being able to one day being able to synthesize my own fuel supply. Storing (banking) it would be the equivalent of building capital in a way that would be positive for the environment. It may never come to pass, but there is no harm in looking at the technology developments today and wondering…

  53. Mr G says:

    “..there is no harm in looking at the technology developments today and wondering…”

    …and in the meantime, we go to hell in a hand basket. But Tracey wonders on…

  54. Mr E says:

    Mr G,
    You are going to hell in a hand basket? Crikey.
    I suggest you speak to Tracey politely, and I am sure she will show you another path.

  55. TraceyS says:

    Must I stop wondering because you think things are “go[ing] to hell in a handbasket”?

    I do not think that action and inquiry are mutually exclusive.

    God help us if they become so.

  56. Mr G says:

    “I do not think that action and inquiry are mutually exclusive.”
    Cool. So, Tracey, while you are wondering, what are you doing?

  57. farmerbraun says:

    Fortunately “millennial neurosis” seems to respond to frequent doses of reality.
    The dose can be quite small at first at longer intervals.
    As the patient gains strength and a degree of resilience is acquired, the dosage can be increased, and administered more frequently.
    In some cases complete remission is observed, and the patient is observed to become quite accustomed to normality and no longer fears future catastrophe.

  58. TraceyS says:

    I’m trying to stop you from going to “hell in a handbasket” Robert. You have too much to offer to end up there. It’s hard work!!

    Beyond that, at this stage in my life, I am acutely aware that I’ve very little influence. That is probably one reason why I do not ‘out’ myself here. It would make very little difference.

    However, I am on the lookout for innovative ideas always. And always happy to talk with others to understand the reasoning behind their decisions to do things the way that they do.

    Without being able to first walk in someone else’s shoes there is no hope of influencing them. I’m still learning how to sit up and I am not afraid to admit it.

  59. Mr G says:

    If you don’t know what to do, Tracey, just ask me. I do.
    Hint No. 1 – technological “fixes” are NOT the answer.
    A reform of our cultural meme, is.

  60. Mr G says:

    farmerbraun – facetiousness ill behoves you.

  61. TraceyS says:

    Good luck. If people agree then they will follow you voluntarily. I can’t imagine that “reform” of a “cultural meme” is achievable by any other means. Can you?

    Policy, I suppose, is useful as yardstick for measuring followership. May you and the political party you support learn to utilise it in that way.

  62. TraceyS says:

    Robert wrote:

    “It’s certainly my vision and * vision is everything, farmerbraun. If we cling to a vision that is proving to be self-defeating then we are destined to fail. A better vision is one where…”

    * Did you leave out another “my” by any chance?

  63. Mr G says:

    Of course, voluntarily, what were you thinking, TraceyS?
    I do not “follow a party”, TraceyS, so perhaps you need to up-date your preconceptions.
    As to “vision” – no, I meant what I wrote – vision – it’s everything. Without it, you are visionless, TraceyS.

  64. TraceyS says:

    I never said that you “follow” a party.

    Perhaps you need to update your spectacles?

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