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Leave it in the ground! How fossil fuel extraction affects biodiversity

Greenhouse gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels have resulted in well-publicised changes to the Earth’s climate. But the impacts of fossil fuels start long before their carbon dioxide reaches…

Yasuni National Park in Ecuador is one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. It’s home to country’s largest oil field. Flickr/joshbousel

Greenhouse gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels have resulted in well-publicised changes to the Earth’s climate. But the impacts of fossil fuels start long before their carbon dioxide reaches the atmosphere. Our new research, published today in Science, looks at the effects of coal, oil and gas extraction on biodiversity.

The problem

Biodiversity loss is accelerating, and the risks to biodiversity are increasing. We are in the midst of a global biodiversity crisis.

The biggest threats to biodiversity are human activities. These act across a range of scales. Even local biodiversity loss can have knock-on large scale impacts on ecosystem function and productivity.

Fossil fuel consumption and demand show no signs of levelling off, let alone decreasing. Of course more consumption means more refineries, power stations and infrastructure, in addition to the extraction itself.

Given the increasing demand and consumption, it is reasonable to assume that most if not all remaining fossil fuel reserves will be exploited, using conventional and new methods such as fracking.

Mining and drilling have often been seen as having limited environmental impacts. It’s often assumed that restoring ecosystems after fossil fuel extraction can ultimately return the ecosystem to a state close to what it was before.

And the effects of extraction activity have generally been considered trivial compared with other human activities, such as large-scale agricultural land clearing. But this is not the case: fossil-fuel extraction causes disturbance and degradation to ecosystems.

The impacts of fossil fuel extraction fall into three main categories: the direct impact of extraction activity, indirect impacts of infrastructure development and expanded human activity, and the consequences of extraction disasters. Road building is in fact the main catalyst for irreversible ecosystem change.

The various ways fossil fuel extraction impacts on biodiversity. Nathalie Butt

Critical areas

In our research we compared areas of biodiversity and reserves of fossil fuel. We identified two key regions where fossil fuel reserves coincide with high levels of biodiversity and threatened species: the western Pacific Ocean and northern South America.

The Western Amazon, in northern South America, includes parts of Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and western Brazil. It’s one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet and also contains large reserves of oil and gas.

The forest also provides vital ecosystem services - water, climate regulation and carbon storage, which all have implications for biodiversity conservation globally.

Large oil and gas projects already developed in the area have caused major environmental and social impacts, including deforestation for construction of roads, drilling platforms and pipelines, contamination from oil spills and waste-water discharge. Each kilometre of road constructed means 4-24 km2 of deforestation for colonisation and related agricultural development.

We also looked at Western Papua New Guinea in the western Pacific, where oil extraction and transport pose an increasing risk to mangrove and coral ecosystems.

These mangrove forests support the highest diversity of mangroves globally, and are home to many rare and endemic plant and animal species. The abundant and diverse coral reefs in the region are some of the most pristine and least exploited in the world.

Oil spills would cause profound damage. Projections based on historic spill rates and estimated oil resources in the region suggest that the area could expect approximately four spills larger than 10,000 barrels in a 15-year period. As Gulf of Papua currents circulate to the Great Barrier Reef along Cape York in Australia, the potential biodiversity loss in the event of a catastrophic spill would extend far beyond the local waters.

Mapping of fossil fuels shows the risks to biodiversity. Nathalie Butt

What can we do?

We’ve identified a new substantial risk to key biodiversity areas globally, but are there any solutions?

Many countries in the high risk areas have weak governance and poor implementation and enforcement of environmental regulations, and may lack the ability to respond effectively to environmental disasters.

They may also be too remote or undeveloped to attract much media coverage - and so environmental damage may remain undetected and unaddressed.

International environmental organisations could fulfil an essential role by ensuring that fossil fuel extraction takes place according to best practises and ideally avoids areas of high biodiversity. It is crucial that trade-offs between biodiversity conservation and development are properly assessed to ensure threatened or endemic species are not lost.

International pressure can also help to ensure that any environmental damage that does occur is mitigated and the companies involved are appropriately penalised, as in the case of BP and the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

One possible mechanism to preserve biodiversity in fossil fuel-rich areas was recently attempted at Yasuní National Park in Ecuador. This highly biodiverse also area has the country’s largest oil reserves.

In 2007 the Ecuadorean government proposed that in return for not extracting the oil from the park, and keeping the forest biodiversity, they would be compensated. The funds were to be raised through the international Green Climate Fund (UNFCCC), to the value of $3.6 billion, about half the value of the oil.

Ten per cent of the money was raised, from countries, regions, corporations, foundations and individuals, to be invested in renewable energy projects. But unfortunately due to lack of global commitment and organisational support the project failed. Oil extraction will now go ahead. If the international support was strong, and organisation effective, schemes such as this could be a way of protecting biodiversity in fossil fuel rich areas.

Of course, the bottom line is that we need to decrease our fossil fuel demand, extraction and consumption; the rest is pretty much just rearranging the deck chairs.

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139 Comments sorted by

  1. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. In reply to Tony Thomas

      Comment removed by moderator.

    2. In reply to Tony Thomas

      Comment removed by moderator.

    3. In reply to Tony Thomas

      Comment removed by moderator.

    4. James Whitmore

      Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Hi everyone, I've removed this comment thread, which will include replies to the original comment.

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    5. Tony Thomas

      Writer for Quadrant Online and Quadrant print monthly

      In reply to James Whitmore

      On what grounds did you remove my civilly expressed and fact-based comment? Is there something untoward about saying that global temperature has risen 0.8degC in the past 150 years, and that this has been beneficial? Or saying that there is a poor correlation between CO2 increases and temperature increases in the past century? Or that a rise in C02, being a natural fertiliser, is beneficial?
      I find such intolerance of non-group-think views strange in a taxpayer funded academic blog.
      Perhaps the replies to me were uncivil but that is no reason to remove my post as well.

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  2. John Newton

    Author Journalist

    There is only one answer: leave it in the ground and research towards renewables.

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    1. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to John Newton

      This is madness, John Newton.

      There will certainly be no money for research into renewables or anything else much, if fossil fuels are left in the ground.

      I don't take issue with the calls for protection wherever possible of biodiversity, but I wonder why these researchers aren't jumping up and down, and directly targeting their research and concern at the harm done to many species including marine life and human beings--- by the ongoing ever-worsening situation at Fukushima-----unprecedented…

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    2. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to helen stream

      BUT Helen......... whether we leave it in the ground or not, we are heading for an energy cliff anyway.

      2014 is the year permanent decline in global oil production begins, and 2017 when peak ALL fossils and Uranium arrives.....
      http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/peak-fossilsuranium-in-2017/

      This is as good as it gets. 20 years from now, we will have the energy availability of the 1950's, except we will have the population of 2033 to deal with...... the Carbon tax is the LEAST of your worries believe me....

      And then we have peak mining too...
      http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/conventional-thinking-is-over/

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    3. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      But Mike....

      That deadline for peak everything has been pushed further into the future for many years.

      And the bios of the people you refer us to as authorities on all this don't inspire much confidence in the objectivity of their claims.

      They do have the credentials to make it to the lofty heights of the morally-challenged IPCC coordinating authors status, though, in sync as they are with all the greenie activists and Gaia groupies who've thus far shoved aside the real , experienced and…

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    4. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to helen stream

      Helen........ where to start in reply to such a lengthy post......

      To begin with, the "deadline for peak everything has been pushed further into the future for many years" is not correct. It has been IGNORED for forty years is more like the truth. The Club of Rome, who have been deliberately misquoted and denigrated for decades are ABSOLUTELY correct. I only gave you two links..... but I could give you HUNDREDS..... maybe thousands if I had the time.

      What the CoR stated was that "over…

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    5. Ivan Quail

      maverick

      In reply to helen stream

      Helen you really don't know much about Australia's renewable resources.
      The Tides of the Kimberly can generate at least 6 times (300Gw) more electricity than we currently generate in the whole of Australia. Installed National generating capacity is about 54Gwatts.

      A 6G/watt (6,000Mw) bulk HVDC power line can transmit the power to Sydney for a cost of 1c per Kw hr. It is cheaper to build and operate a bulk HVDC transmission line than a natural gas pipeline which carries the same amount of…

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    6. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Ivan Quail

      "It is cheaper to build and operate a bulk HVDC transmission line than a natural gas pipeline"

      Interesting. Where did that come from? Would appreciate a reference....

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    7. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Ivan Quail

      You know Ivan, when it comes to renewable energy, I REALLY have my ear to the ground........ yet the ONLY place I've ever heard these figures, is from YOU!

      references please......

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    8. Ivan Quail

      maverick

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      I have been studying renewable,s since 1972 and Tidal on and off since 1990
      In 1990 the WA state Government was considering a new coal-fired power station. I wrote to Premier Lawrence to bring to her attention the huge potential of our Tidal energy resource. A parliamentary committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Ian Thompson produced a report with a number of recommendations. None of those recommendations have been implemented or acted upon!

      Legislative Assembly Select Committee on Energy and Processing of Resources. Western Australia Legislative Assembly 1990

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    9. Ivan Quail

      maverick

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      According to ABB, the leading proponents of HVDC power lines, bulk transmission lines could transport power to the far corners of our country for a cost of $10 per Mw Hr (1c per Kw Hr). Certainly not a backbreaking additional cost to consumers for clean renewable power.
      These figures are further substantiated by the Hot-rock proponents who quote figures of .6 to .9c per Kw hr on there website for transmission to major centres from central Australia. Of further interest is the claim by Mr. Wilson…

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    10. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Ivan Quail

      Ivan, those numbers all seem like operating costs (and yex, HVDC should be more efficient over long distances than gas pipelines).

      But you mentioned "cheaper to build" as well. Can you substantiate that?

      I'd like to pick up on two more of your suggestions. Using Kimberley tidal power presumably does not achieve 24/7 operation - do you envisage some form of (power) storage being incorporated, and at which end of the transmission line? Is that build cost and operating energy loss built into your numbers?

      And the hot-rock idea has been notably unsuccessful to date (fine in volcanic areas such as NZ and Italy, albeit on a limited scale, but the Australian Innaminka etc trials have been mostly disproving the hot-dry-rock thesis). Any comment on the likelt location/technology?

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    11. Ivan Quail

      maverick

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Conversion from AC to DC and back again is a big cost but over time as in 20 years it is cheaper to build and operate than gas pipelines.
      A 6G/watt (6,000Mw) bulk HVDC power line can transmit the power to Sydney for a cost of 1c per Kw hr. It is cheaper to build and operate a bulk HVDC transmission line than a natural gas pipeline which carries the same amount of usable energy.

      However, to achieve this there needs to be a serious commitment from Government as such a project at the opening stage is bigger than the Snowy river mountains scheme.

      If you know how power can be generated 24/7 with minimal storage and no backup is required.
      Transmission losses are 3.5% per 1000 Km,s. see link to Siemens in previous post

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    12. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike Stasse-----

      Tell us some detail about your preferred world ---what will be afforded and what will not---and where the funding will come from for anything of importance.

      From reading your Damn The Matrix diatribes and your sour and cynical view of the world and people in general, I think you might belong in Tennessee or some similar backwoods destination—hunkered down with your guns and your shelter and the stored fruits of your permaculture efforts.

      There are certainly a lot of problems…

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    13. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to helen stream

      Wow....... good effort. I revere no one. Maybe David Suzuki.

      Good luck. YOU are going to need it......

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    14. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Ivan Quail

      Ivan, given you are quoting figures per kwh, or loss rates, they are almost certainly operating, not capital costs.

      How would you generate tidal power 24/7 without storage? As far as I know, there's two tides a day in the Kimberley (ok, in a couple of places there is a weird third one), but certainly not able to continuously generate.

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    15. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike Stasse...

      How could you possibly revere Suzuki, after he quite embarrassingly revealed his ignorance on the subject he's paid to lecture us on , recently.

      He revealed himself to be less informed than the regular Joe Blow who at least follows some of the new developments.

      It was quite amazing, because he admitted at one venue that he knew little about many aspects of climate change---then went on to another venue and presented himself as an expert and did the whole usual CAGW sneering…

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    16. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to helen stream

      What makes you think I have any say as to what "my preferred world" will be? Don't you realise you're going to die? Just like me? Why are you getting your knickers in a knot over it?

      Innovation does NOT have to lead to growth. Only debt does. But you wouldn't know where your money comes from..... so export income is unnecessary. It's all just monopoly money.

      Forget tourism post oil...... in fact you can forget almost everything post oil. Like modern medicine that poisons everyone with drugs for money. I guess I'll miss Aspirin. Did you know Aspirin's made with oil?

      And don't knock subsistence living. I really enjoy it. No working to pay off debts, no driving in peak hour traffic, no queuing up at supermarket ckeckouts and eating food that kills you.... it's a real bummer.

      Enjoy the collapse........ I'll particularly enjoy saying "I told you so" to the likes of you.

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    17. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to helen stream

      Helen it’s rather silly to dumb down the impacts of biomass burning since it forms atmospheric brown clouds (ABCs) which are a major contributor to global warming though it is second to A/CO2. Further biomass burning and black carbon soot is not “easily mitigated” and biomass burning results in severe climatic and economic consequences.

      http://www.pnas.org/content/109/37/14802.full.pdf

      Your selective criticism of the IPCC projections is equally silly since there are significant differences…

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    18. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Further to the above Helen....... while you pour scorn on Permaculture, you might like to know that it is so clever I can enjoy subsistence living by only working 3 or 4 hours a day! And I eat gourmet food..... like this morning's breakfast of poached duck eggs over asparagus smeared with home made goat cheese and hollandaise sauce..... all home grown and organic. You'd pay at least $20 in a city restaurant for a breakfast like that.....

      How many hours a day do you work Helen? I happen to know that teachers work long hard and stressful hours.....

      Since the dark ages, we have learned a lot. Like HYGIENE. If we all led stressless lives, ate real food (instead of the packaged crap industrial agriculture sells you in supermarkets) and built up resistance to diseases by exposing ourselves to bugs in the dirt.... we wouldn't need "modern medicine"!

      You can stick your affluent pro growth lifestyle where the sun don't shine as far as I'm concerned.....

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    19. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike....

      Best not to look forward too much to the malevolent laughter/sneers and 'I told you so's---you won't get to do it.

      You may enjoy subsistence living now, when you have a modern economy and health system as back-up.

      Would you make your own roads, as well as your gluten steaks ---and if your prescription for Australia succeeds, will you eschew the use of the systems you sabotaged –like the health system and just about everything else---and leave the resources made scarce by your subversion…

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    20. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to helen stream

      I don't enjoy the modern economy at all..... I hate it. It enslaves the likes of you. Besides, I only need money because I have a car. Once Peak Oil makes it impossible to use cars, we wont need roads or money!

      Teeth are only wrecked by bad diet. Unfortunately, at my age, early habits have taken their toll on my teeth, but my kids will be OK. I've heard of people pulling their own teeth out.... there's nothing like excrutiating pain to drive you to do the impossible...

      Sweden still has…

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    21. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley....

      Did you not notice the word 'relatively' immediately before the word 'easily'? No??

      Do you not also notice the careful weasel words of the IPCC in this latest report?

      They were warned by some climate scientists who have been thus far right at the epicentre of the hockey stick alarmism, that they would lose all credibility if , in this report, they neglected to take into account the many recent papers downgrading the sensitivity of temperature to a doubling of CO2---the metric…

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    22. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Good for you, Mike.

      I have nothing whatever against permaculture ---or country living---on the contrary.

      Except that I'm not fond of goat cheese---- your breakfast sounds delicious.

      These days I'm tutoring, but teaching within the system certainly is extremely stressful.

      In my opinion---and demonstrably so ---that statement of yours on eating habits and low-stress living are not true, Mike.

      It's good to live that way as much as possible---makes you feel good--- but you can take all…

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    23. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to helen stream

      High stress has clearly been shown to be the No1 reason for heart disease......

      Unfortunately....... tough titties! All modern medicine has done is allow weak genes to multiply, thus reinforcing the need for modern medicine! Which sometimes leads us so far astray, the results are devastating. Did you watch Catalyst on ABC TV last week about cholesterol.....?

      Only the strong will survive, which is as it should be.

      We may WANT modern medicine....... but it is merely an aberration due to cheap and abundant fossil fuels. When they are all gone, you can kiss your precious technology goodbye.

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    24. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to helen stream

      Helen your claims are without merit. Your verbose tirades are intellectual garbage. You have failed to provide one reference or one link to substantiate the endless bluster.

      “Do you not also notice the careful weasel words of the IPCC in this latest report? They were warned by some climate scientists….”

      Which climate scientists? From whence did you derive this information? Was it a science journal? Tell us where you found it.

      “ A hiatus for >15 years, It's steadily warming…

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    25. Ivan Quail

      maverick

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Andy 6Gw x15 hours x 365 days divided by 100 = $M328.5 pa. I do not envisage that the operators and maintenance crews will be chauffer driven to work in Rolls Royces.

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    26. Ivan Quail

      maverick

      In reply to helen stream

      "..than a bit of Co2.."
      It is a fundamental, cold hard peer reviewed scientific fact that Co2 is 62% better as a thermal insulator than air is. Therefore 390 parts per million +62% =631ppm effective =2.25 times greater than 280ppm.
      As Dr Bindschadler (NASA) pointed out we know how many million tons of coal, oil and gas are burnt each year. We know fairly accurately how much additional Co2 is released into the atmosphere each year on top of the Co2 emissions from nature. Dr Bindschadler states 1…

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  3. Christopher Seymour

    Business owner

    The argument that fossil fuel production has large negative effects relative to other human activities would be more powerful if the table had comparison columns for those other activities.
    I see nothing to counter the argument that farming is far more destructive of biodiversity than fossil fuel production.
    "Road building is in fact the main catalyst for irreversible ecosystem change." You only have to look down from a plane to see that there are far more roads serving agricultural communities…

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    1. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      @Chris re: "Finally the most severe consequence for farming on biodiversity is that it allows one species (humans) to dominate the planet." Um, I think you have got that back to front. Would make far sense to say instead: *Finally the most severe consequence of one species (humans) dominates the planet is the negative effects upon biodiversity such as from farming.* btw I've not seen "the argument that farming is far more destructive of biodiversity than fossil fuel production" into the future. Do you have one? thx Sean

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    2. Christopher Seymour

      Business owner

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      In NSW (a mining state), mining takes up 0.1% of the land area. Agriculture takes up 76%.
      In the US the USDA (http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/major-land-uses.aspx#.UmmgWRA-e9Q) shows cropland taking 18% of the land area, range and pasture 27%, urban use 2.7% and rural transportation 1% . Mining takes up such little land that it doesn't get its own category but is included under industrial land use - which total less than 1%.
      You could argue the relative impacts, but I don't see how a field of cotton, growing only one species and dowsed with fertilizers, pesticides and hebicides can be more biodiverse than a coal mine. With agriculture taking two orders of magnitude more land than resource extraction, its hard to see how it can be more benign.

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    3. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Dear Chris, if the argument you wish to make is one about the *land area* being used by differing human activities then I have nothing so say. That is self-evident to me. However that is NOT the argument you were asserting was true and correct. You said, and I quote here again was: "the argument that farming is far more destructive of biodiversity than fossil fuel production". That is a different argument entirely. Your comments in your reply above fail to address this argument/assertion in any way whatsoever. You have no choice but to argue and present baseline evidence as to the relative imacts of human activity to make your case. Well, that is how I see it. Thx Sean

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    4. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Of course....... farming as we know it is only possible because of fossil fuels!

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    5. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      About 21 billion litres of diesel is used in Australia each year, 11 billion litres of it by mining operations.

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    6. Mike Jubow

      forestry nurseryman

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Christopher, So the solution to your scenario is to stop farming completely and we can then go mining fossil fuels for a living? That makes a lot of sense. I can just visualise it, after a hard day in the coal mine relaxing on the verandah with a cold tinnie of crude oil and roast coal for dinner.

      BTW, have you heard the whisper that there are actually some farmers who work with sustainability as the No.1 goal?

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    7. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      If the waste attributed to each Australian resident were converted, in part, to secondary bio-diesel, then could it supply the non-mining component of diesel use?
      Eg, one tonne of suitable waste per person, converted at the rate of 2kg of old newspapers equivalent, to one litre of secondary bio-diesel, equals 10 Billion litres of diesel.

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  4. Robert McDougall

    Small Business Owner

    It is my understanding that we cant burn even half of proven fossil fuel reserves without tipping agw over the 6 degree increase by end of century.

    Given that most agricultural regions (particularly in Aus) could collapse around the 2-3 degree market due to lack of water and increased severity of weather events, would indicate to me that fossil fuels ARE more destructive than agriculture after all.

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  5. Andy Saunders

    Consultant

    Much of it may be correct, but it's mostly opinion-based, general and assertive rather than fact-based, specific and analytical. Causes the somewhat-informed reader to look for the flaws, and find plenty. Low-ish value, imho.

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    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Would you be so good as to set some of those flaws out, lest we mistake this considered view for astroturfing?

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    2. Peter Hoberg

      Physics

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Looking at the table, was it provided by the authors or an other source?. Need the authors to explain / justify in some level of details how CSG enables land subsidence, especially with relation to CSG, and similarly widespread damage, destruction and pollution of habitats especially in the CSG Australia perspective. Details which disasters are included.

      Note that largest onland oilfields in Australia produce from and co occupy the same formations as the GAB for 40 yrs or so...
      Anacdotely; My son recently had an assignment on some bird species under threat in Australia, and the prime culprits were farming activities, and land clearing to enable humans to expand their horizons and cities etc Cheers P

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    3. James Whitmore

      Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Peter Hoberg

      Hi Peter,
      Apologies, both figures were supplied by the authors. Will correct in article.

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    4. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Peter Hoberg

      Err, where did that come from. CSG causing subsidence? Longwall coal mining, yes, but CSG? Doubt it.

      Good point about farming...

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    5. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Arthur

      OK, just a few.

      "risks to biodiversity are increasing" - well, maybe, but where's the reference/proof?

      "it is reasonable to assume that most if not all remaining fossil fuel reserves will be exploited, using conventional and new methods such as fracking" - fracking won't affect coal mining, there's no distinguishing between differing carbon intensities.

      "Road building is in fact the main catalyst for irreversible ecosystem change" - well, maybe a fact, in some areas, so should be easy to…

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    6. Peter Hoberg

      Physics

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Exactly my point, I want them to explain how CSG causes subsidence?? Will see if they have any understanding of what they are putting into the table...

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    7. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Bloody slow linkages here! I was refering to your intial post:

      "Much of it may be correct, but it's mostly opinion-based, general and assertive rather than fact-based, specific and analytical. Causes the somewhat-informed reader to look for the flaws, and find plenty. Low-ish value, imho."

      I'm refering to the article that underpins this little essay.

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    8. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Thanks Andy. "risks to biodiversity are increasing" - well, maybe, but where's the reference/proof?" Try "Biodiversity Risks from Fossil Fuel Extraction", Science 25 October 2013: Vol. 342 no. 6157 pp. 425-426 DOI: 10.1126/science.1237261.

      ie this TC article is by some of the authors of that paper.

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    9. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Arthur

      Fine, but why should you (or I....) have to go find it? A bit sloppy. And then there are the errors...

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    10. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      You know how I found it? I followed the link given in the article, in the third sentence of the first paragraph.

      The sentence reads: "Our new research, published today in Science, looks at the effects of coal, oil and gas extraction on biodiversity."

      If you look hard, you'll notice that the words "published today" are emboldened, in a friendly bluish colour. Perhaps you did not realise that is how hyperlinks are indicated in articles here at TC; if you move your cursor over that text, or tap it with your finger if you are using touchscreen, your browser will load the hyperlinked page (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6157/425.summary). It's called the internet.

      When you read the article, I think you'll find that all the errors are in your own mind.

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    11. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Peter Hoberg

      @PeterHoberg re: "CSG enables land subsidence" 10 second search found this AusGov National Water Commission @ 2010 "Current projections indicate the Australian CSG industry could extract in the order of 7,500 gigalitres of co-produced water from groundwater systems over the next 25 years, equivalent to ~300 gigalitres per year. In comparison, the current total extraction from the Great Artesian Basin is approximately 540 gigalitres per year. (note that 55% per yr increase x decades, ok) Potential…

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    12. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      @Andy "... why should you (or I....) have to go find it?" Take out your credit card and make a sub to Science mag, and while your at it, take out a sub on a few others too. I can't see how it wouldn't help you quite a lot to expand your knowledge base personally . Then you can come back here and pay-it-forward providing high quality refs to all the other readers. There's a good chap! :)

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    13. Peter Hoberg

      Physics

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Sean, problem with internet , old and inaccurate data seems to stay there, suggest you search a little more and look at the most recent studies by CSIRO, paints a very different story, you may also find a significant higher level off more recent "REAL DATA" than what you mention above, the article says potential?
      Further research will show from the 2013 CSIRO study ( about 1000 pages ), that CSG is now where near the top industry of taking water out of the ground / GAB in QLD... Is really worth…

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    14. Peter Hoberg

      Physics

      In reply to Peter Hoberg

      http://www.csiro.au/Organisation-Structure/Flagships/Water-for-a-Healthy-Country-Flagship/Sustainable-Yields-Projects/Great-Artesian-Basin-Assessment.aspx
      Fabulous 2013 study by CSIRO..

      Another point to note is huge amounts of oil and water are pumped out of the great artesion basin formations every day for 40 yrs in QLD ( the largest onland oilfield in Australia in SW QLD ).

      All these ig numbers make it to easy to misinterpret them..

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    15. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Peter Hoberg

      @Peter re: " I want, I want, I want them to explain how CSG [mining/extraction possibly] causes subsidence??" Paper prepared for the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer http://goo.gl/UkGbQ1 The USGS Water Science School http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/earthgwlandsubside.html NSW Gov CSG activities do not result in significant subsidence of the land surface. http://www.csg.nsw.gov.au/the-facts/faqs#subsidence Submission to the NSW Upper House Standing Committee (No.5) Inquiry into Coal Seam Gas - pp10-12…

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    16. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Peter Hoberg

      @Peter re "suggest you search a little more" I'll get right on it mate! At your service always. :)

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    17. Peter Hoberg

      Physics

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Sean please read the the CSIRO reports in full to understand the issue in more detail, and to see who really is taking the water out?? There is a huge difference between conventional gas in the volume it takes up in the formation, as opposed to CSG which is trapped on the faces /. surfaces of the coal. You mention fraccing, what does opening up pathways deep underground mean in size to you.
      The B Energy you quote is coal miner? Am sure they will have subsidence !!. Some research will show the…

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    18. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Arthur

      Yeah? I guess you have a Science online subscription, which I don't. And I don't particularly feel like paying $20 or whatever they want to charge for a peek. Did you? Or is the proper role of The Conversation to act as a teaser advertising channel for other publications?

      Or maybe you can tell from an abstract with no detail what they have in their paper?

      Either way, perhaps you (or they - radio silence coming from them, I see) can explain the apparent errors in the TC article?

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    19. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Perhaps you are thinking of fracturing? Not very relevant to CSG, or most conventional oil operations.

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    20. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Sean, I read Science quite regularly, in paper form. $20 for a flawed study (authors! feel free to refute at any time!) doesn't seem like a good use of my dosh. Plus I get the feeling too many scientists have cottoned on to a bit of a wheeze - put a provocative article in TC and get the readership up... I don't like being manipulated.

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    21. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Saunders to Arthur: "And I don't particularly feel like paying $20 or whatever they want to charge for a peek. Did you? Or is the proper role of The Conversation to act as a teaser advertising channel for other publications?"

      Saunders to Arundell: "Sean, I read Science quite regularly, in paper form."

      Err, there's a bit of a discrepancy between the stories you're spinning here; but then, that's what "consultants" are paid very handsomely to do.

      Mind you, you could try contacting the authors…

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    22. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Peter Hoberg

      @Peter Thanks for the laughs mate. If you imagined that I had any intention or expectation of influencing your own opinions and beliefs you'd be sadly mistaken. If you imagined I'd do a single thing you suggested just because you told me to or answer your questions here as if I could prove any "point" to your satisfaction then you'd be dreaming mate! On the other hand, given the high opinion you have about your own expertise and wisdom, perhaps you should be submitting a series of high quality fully referenced article to TC so everyone could have the benefit of your incredible insights and set the Hoi Polloi straight on matters of fact vs fiction? Go for it. Seriously, do your best. I'll read it. :)

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    23. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      @Andy re 'I don't like being manipulated.' Me neither. Makes you and I a very uncommon breed. Check this out, for at 74 years old Germaine Greer has achieved what I have only been able to 'dream about' since 1992. Where she is located is just over the border from where I sit. This whole very precious small region of Australia here is My Own Country and I love it. I honour what she has done for it with her own money and all the animals and birds that live here in this incredible rich biodiversity…

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    24. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Arthur

      David, they said they published it online "today" (two days ago), so not in the last paper version yet.

      I assume you have the original article? I'd be grateful if you address the points raised (or I'll assume you haven't paid the $20 either).

      I think it somewhat of an obligation on the authors to address the errors that have been pointed out (and I'm pretty sure they are errors). Myself elsewhere, and others have pointed out the errors - hardly unsubstantiated smearing.

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    25. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Mr Saunders, I'm surprised that you're unable to yet access the article, given the concerns you express.

      I'm sure the authors will get back to you regarding the errors you indicate. If not, you could try writing a letter to the editors of 'Science' - I'm sure they'd be concerned if they'd published an article with glaring errors, as would the paper's peer reviewers.

      Mind you, I'm not sure that your reading the paper will help; in response to this TC piece, where the authors write "it is…

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    26. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Arthur

      David, I assume we've never met, so not quite sure why you are having a go at me. My pointing out errors has been met by something of a barrage of somewhat irrelevant comments (irrelevant because they haven't really addressed the errors). I'm assuming you haven't got a copy of the Science article either (please correct me if so), but somehow you seem to think I should be making some effort I'm not particularly inclined to do to correct the authors' errors - whereas I think the authors should be responsible for the errors (or for pointing out why they are not errors).

      The "elsewhere" is on this page - please look. I hope the authors do address these areas soon - there have been quite a few comments in the three days since they published the article.

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    27. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Among the "errors" you and Mr Hoberg discuss is subsidence due to CSG activities. If you click on the table that lists possible impacts from each of oil and CSG extraction, and coal mining, a larger and hence legible version appears in the browser window.

      If you then look at that table, you'll notice that the authors do not claim that ground subsidence occurs as a consequence of CSG extraction.

      I'm also pretty sure that we've never met. In my comments in reply to you, I assert fallacies in the claims of "errors" that you make. Rather than explain how and why my assertions are incorrect, you continue to claim that you have pointed out some "errors" in the article, when in fact you have done no such thing.

      Elsewhere on TC, one often encounters similar claims of having shown something elsewhere, without reference provided. These claims are most commonly encountered on pages discussing climate change, and are generally the contributions of astroturfing Denialists.

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    28. Peter Hoberg

      Physics

      In reply to David Arthur

      David, opened up the table the other day and CSG extraction and land subsidence have a check mark as possible. There are other issues with the table, however felt this one was the most simple to use as an example of how this is to occur to a point of a major issue, as it can do in conventional oil and gas production and coal mining. My concern is that once someone puts something like this in a table, then it is referenced as though it is a fact.What else in the table is similarly inaccurate? My…

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    29. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Peter Hoberg

      Funny. When I opened the table up on Saturday (day after the article was posted), there was no check mark under CSG for "changes topography of the area - there were only checkmarks for air and noise pollution, and "water byproducts can contain ..." ie noise pollution.

      "My concern is that once someone puts something like this in a table, then it is referenced as though it is a fact." In this case, that concern is ill-founded.

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    30. Peter Hoberg

      Physics

      In reply to David Arthur

      David have a look at the bottom row / middle column box, it is clearly checked and hence a concern, Cheers P

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    31. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike, I haven't heard of earthquakes being caused by CSG extraction. Could you enlighten me?

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    32. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Peter Hoberg

      Peter have a look at the sixth row / middle column box (ie in the section entitled "Direct Impacts (local and catchment wide)"; it is clearly NOT checked in the directly relevant section.

      I see, however, you and Andy managed to miss that section (despite its background colour being Safety Orange) and went straight to the pink section entitled "Consequences of disaster" - which refers to something the authors label "extraction disasters". To be fair, if the whole lot blows up there might be an…

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    33. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Arthur

      "Still no responses to any of my other queries?"

      Yeah, I'm not getting anything out of the authors either.

      The subsidence issue is pretty clear to see in the table, for some reason you want to talk about something else. I'm seeing a tick in the last row, middle column. It's an error. There are no UCG operations in Australia (and very few elsewhere - more in the nature of experiments), so I think UCG causing potential subsidence is a red herring.

      I guess Peter picked up on subsidence because…

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    34. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Produced water from coal seams is artesian. Well true, but coal seams are separate aquifers from GAB aquifers, generally come with sulfides (plus whatever was in the drilling mud; but that should only be transient).

      Any pretence that the water's clean is falsified by the lived experience of Brian Monk and family of Tara, who lived and farmed for some years on artesian water until CSG operations ~3.5 km from his home started leaking into his bores, which now produce water unfit for human consumption…

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    35. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Arthur

      "coal seams are separate aquifers from GAB aquifers" - sometimes, sometimes not. But that nuance is missing from the article.

      Tara news - afraid having delved into quite a few Tara stories, I'm going to be skeptical in advance (apologies - the guy is probably genuine, but so far my experience of Tara stories leans against accepting local opinion as fact). Given his bore is into an aquatard, it's quite likely that in effect local depletion (whether his own drawdown or neighbours) caused his bore to effectively become on a small scale his very own CSG well.

      UCG near Chinchilla - a demonstration plant (which I think operates intermittently, at non-commercial scale and may well be the sole example on this continent. Very inappropriate to be used to extrapolate to every other gas well or coal mine.

      David, Peter and I probably picked on the last row because it was just plain wrong, rather than being an exaggeration or heroic extrapolation. No sinister motives....

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    36. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Not only is the guy genuine, his grandchildren were quite ill for a while there. You reject what you call "local opinion" - so if your lawyer's not there to witness you getting sick through drinking your water, it didn't happen?

      The neighbour of Monk's that initiated the poisoning of his well is the CSG operation, so that if Monk's resource ever was an aquitard, it isn't any more.

      I concur that the last three rows warrant further explanation, but neglect of the rest of the table from discussion thereof is unfortunate. Ongoing neglect of the same smacks of carelessness.

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    37. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Arthur

      No, reject the causation (notice the farmer didn't blame CSG wells in the video, someone else must have).

      I think you may be a little below-speed on the geological terms - aquitard is almost the opposite of aquifer. He's got a bore which quite plausibly is drilled into a small coal seam (or into a sand lens connected to a coal seam), the water production has possibly dewatered the coal and gas is being produced. Much more plausible than shut-in CSG wells several km away, drilled into a different formation and sealed from the one his bore is in.

      I agree with your last points, hopefully my prev explanation has allayed your concerns at cherry-picking the last row.

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    38. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Mr Monk may not have "blamed" the CSG wells in the video you saw, but that was my understanding of his presentation to a Gympie Water & Soil Protection meeting a few months ago.

      "He's got a bore which quite plausibly is drilled into " Err, he's actually got 2 or 3 wells on that property, one of which was his house supply, all of which have started blowing gas and H2S to varying extent. Mr Monk did not report declining production rates from any of his bores, so resource depletion is unlikely…

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    39. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Arthur

      Sorry David, he *did* report declining flow rates (in the CM video).

      If you've done some geophysical logging (so have I, maybe we met in the past), you'll know that mines dept regs require cementing casings past productive zones (your "gap-filler ... injected around the casing all the way down to the target seam" - they do it from the bottom up), so highly unlikely to be leaking (especially if they've run a CBL). CSG drilling at the typical depths is not at high pressure/mud weights at all (so drilling-induced fracturing highly unlikely).

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    40. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Thanks for the correction Andy; no need for sorrow about reported declining flows (other than being a setback for the Monk family). Their circumstance may be less clear-cut than I thought.

      I remain less than completely assured about grouting/CBL. I've never seen it.

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    41. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      QGC should have the geophys data to identify an aquifer to which Mr Monk could drill? If so, it would be a simple solution to the problem, demonstrate goodwill and demonstrate that Mr Monk's concerns may not be well-founded.

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    42. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to David Arthur

      Maybe. Might be very shallow and not show up too well on seismic. Also he said he's in between QGC and BG, I think? Might not have coverage.

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    43. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Combine data from all around, try interpolating between models as desktop exercise?

      Anyway, an investigation of his geology might go towards determining what has happened - the LNG investigation "inability" to detect gas is pretty odd, suggests denial.

      Also warrants a review of all drilling in the area, including any and all CBL's: maybe someone decided it's cheaper to not find an issue than spend time actually establishing whether there's a problem or not. Par for the course - political cover-up and standover, rather than conduct proper investigation.

      But then, public has no reason to have confidence in the gas industry including its State Govt arm.

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  6. Paul Richards

    integral operating system

    The Petroleum Block auction in Brazil* protest was one approach by thousands of angry people from all generations. The demonstration was originally called by striking oil workers, whose union has long been against any foreign involvement in Brazil’s petroleum production.
    What Brazil's protesters were hoping to do was halt the oil auction. They even tossed tear gas canisters back at police, overturned local TV channel's car setting it in fire. Along with minority of extreme activists were the black-clad…

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    1. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Dear TC readers, Paul Richards comments are always worth reading and reflecting upon. Do click on the More read blue link. It's worth the effort. Paul presents ideas that are not ahead of their time. They are ideas whose time has already arrived.

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  7. Sean Arundell

    Uncommon Common Sense

    This article is superb, in more ways than I could list. Accessible, understandable, good references to more info, well reasoned and not hyperbolic but instead very down to earth. Well done all involved. More please! In a contraindicative article on TC I wrote: "So if non-human entities, such as Corporations that are more wealthy, larger, and far more powerful than most nations in the world today and that only exist as ink on paper, have "legal rights" then why not Nature herself?" https://theconversation.com/why-isnt-western-australia-on-board-with-floating-lng-19365 Patiently waiting for the day when good people like the Postdoctoral Fellows and the Professor have a meeting of the minds and can join hands in harmony whilst waltzing into the PMs office with a rational plan of synchronicity that is self-evidently practical and a win-win-win for all. It's not 'rocket science', it's an attitude of simple common sense. :)

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    1. Christopher Seymour

      Business owner

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Sorry but I simply don't agree.
      The article is full of assertions with no supporting back up.
      "Road building is in fact the main catalyst for irreversible ecosystem change.". Really - why?. And how much road building is due to fossil fuel extraction. I would suggest a small fraction of that required for agriculture.
      "It’s often assumed that restoring ecosystems after fossil fuel extraction can ultimately return the ecosystem to a state close to what it was before." You don't have to assume it…

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Christopher, what IS essential - the true goal - is to reduce our impact - population control is merely one means (a fairly powerful one, I'll grant you!) to achieve that goal. One of the biggest problems with non-violent policy-driven population reduction is that it is inevitably pretty slow - while I'm not suggesting that we ignore the population issue (far from it!) to see it as the single or even primary practical tool would, I fear, simply take too long to be of much use.

      So statements like 'everything else is irrelevant' are, I think, simplistic - we need EVERY tool and trick available if we're to stand any chance of getting through the next fifty years with anything vaguely resembling decent civilisation still intact!

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    3. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      You know, Sean, I disagree with the references comment. One link to their own paywalled Science article (so inaccessible to many), three links to The Conversation opinion pieces (which will interesting, aren't really relevant to factual accuracy or not).

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  8. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    The basic recommendations of this article from long-term serious study and review by scientists needs to be shouted, writ across the sky, instead of nibbled at the edges by those whose vested interests or world view cannot comprehend that changing an ecosystem either by mining, fracking, polluting, flora decimation and so on has consequences.

    My only wish is for the naysayers to live long enough to actually see these consequences - apparently the current global extreme weather events is not enough. All we have to do is nothing and we will be, figuratively speaking, drowning in consequences.

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    1. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Would help if the article was accurate, dispassionate and referenced, and therefore more credible.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Andy, I think it's just a summary for the layperson.

      I also wouldn't have minded a few references, if possible, but the fact that the actual piece of research is being published as we write in Science suggests to me that (a) there may be some commercial limitaions on what can be provided by way of background references and (b) the research underpinning this summary is hardly likely to be anything less than 'accurate, dispassionate and referenced, and therefore...credible'.

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    3. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Yeah, maybe, but the factual inaccuracies worry me a lot. For instance I'd like to see how gas extraction facilitates "invasive species and pathogen movement eg ballast water" - most gas goes down terrestrial pipelines which I would have thought were pretty irrelevant for those sorts of problems (although I suppose ballast water is a valid concern).

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      I'd love to hear a response to your concerns from the authors, if possible.

      Frankly, the technical detail you raise is beyond my expertise - I'm merely expressing a basic, a priori trust of the source.

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  9. Geoff Henley

    Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

    Why do the authors fail to mention the effect on biodiversity due to the thousands of birds and bats killed each year by wind turbines?

    Is in any way being critical of renewable energy sources strictly taboo at TC?

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Maybe because those effects are trivial in comparison to the kind of impacts directly generated by agriculture and fossil fuel extraction...maybe also because replacing fossil fuel generation with renewables reduces far more damage than it causes.

      There will never be a human activity - much less a system to generate serious energy - that doesn't cause some collateral damage. The only rational way to aproach these questions (after you've done everything you can to minimise the requirement for energy in the first place by reducing waste and engineering more efficient machines and vehicles!) is objectively to measure the kinds and extent of damage caused by alternative systems and prefer the system with the lower profile. If this exercise is done honestly, wind energy is vastly less damaging that, say, coal generation.

      Given that your comment has not been excised by the thought police, it would seem that it isn't actually taboo to be critical of renewable energy at TC.

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    2. Suzy Gneist

      Multiple: self-employed, employed, student, mother, volunteer, Free-flyer

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      If you want to be that thorough, you'd have to include roadkill, culling, power lines, etc, as killers of native wildlife as well... with credible sources of course.

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    3. Suzy Gneist

      Multiple: self-employed, employed, student, mother, volunteer, Free-flyer

      In reply to Denis Goodwin

      Not For Profit ;) should add 'organisations', but it's long enough as it is... have never been able to define myself only in one or two roles.

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  10. Paul Prociv

    ex medical academic; botanical engineer

    To me, it seems like splitting hairs to quibble about whether fossil-fuel extraction or agriculture cause more ecological damage. Surely they are totally inter-dependent? Broad-scale farming couldn't happen today without massive fossil fuel input. And then, too see ads from Malaysia showing how "eco-friendly" their oil-palm industry is, with pictures of epiphytes growing on plantation palms (as if that could be compared with the jungle that was destroyed) is puerile and insulting. The essential problem is the growing human population, all needing to be fed cheaply, and aspiring to our way of life.

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  11. Andrew Paterson

    Civil Engineer

    To supplement Paul Richards excellent comments, changes to the Ecuador constitution are based on the emerging branch of law referred to as Earth Jurisprudence or 'Wild Law' which establishes the Rights of Nature to co-exist with humans, and places humans within the Earth Ecology as part of the ecosystem we evolved from and are totally dependent on.

    The current concept which places humans at the head of the Earth ecosystem with implied rights to exploit and plunder it's resources for our own exclusive…

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  12. Sean Arundell

    Uncommon Common Sense

    Biodiversity, common sense, leadership, responsibility and the wisdom of making choices 7 generations ahead. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_he-y6emlc Featuring Iriqois Elder Oren R. Lyons. It's only 8 mins of your life.

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  13. Peter Hoberg

    Physics

    Will the authors offer up any substance to support there tale?
    Apart from education, are not Universities are a place of research?

    The table here possibly details personal opinions, ( not for sure) and creates a discussion, but what is the discussion if based on a table of stuff which may be ale to be fully substantiated to stand on its merits? I see no comments from Authors to be stand up to some of the questions.

    This is no way an attack on authors, as everyone is allowed to have an opinion, but if items are published there needs to be some support.. I guess this is a role of the "conversation / editor" ?
    I am curious to understand.
    On the commercial media, one expects unsubstantiated claims?

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  14. Doug Rankin

    Plasterer

    I realized the other day the most logical response to any kind of Environmental Concern is best covered by Joseph Heller:

    "From now on I'm thinking only of me."

    Major Danby replied indulgently with a superior smile: "But, Yossarian, suppose everyone felt that way."

    "Then," said Yossarian, "I'd certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way, wouldn't I?"

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    1. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Doug Rankin

      Doug, a perfect illustration of the free-rider problem, or (related) the prisoners' dilemma...

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    2. Doug Rankin

      Plasterer

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      You do get the drift Andy S: But WE do need change. - Trouble is I have no faith in "Can't Do People" to do anything, I rather be Candu and ignore them. I soon as hear about regulation, emissions and what I can't do, I switch off.

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    3. Doug Rankin

      Plasterer

      In reply to Andy Saunders

      Probably the safest version of something that burns U235 and turns it into waste - but I'm more into "renewable" energy and less waste, you know something that might last 3-4 billion years.
      Being a peace-lover too, I've noticed Iran, North Korea and Pakistan haven't been attacked lately (lot of talk, no action), I keep asking myself who does nuclear power really empower and maybe more importantly dis-empower? - Perhaps I'm wrong but I don't see any evidence of "liberation" anywhere, I just see the same places with the same culture, less people and less infrastructure - and maybe a new pipeline.
      Sorry N. Butt and H. Bayer, I'm definitely off topic now and I've forked the debate with personal observations and opinions.

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  15. Steven Waters

    logged in via Facebook

    i think the point is being missed hear. both will add damage to the biodiversity. farming will clear large areas of land and strip the soil of its nutrients. it will destroy habitats and Eco systems. mining will damage the environment by digging up the ground and clearing the land for construction. i wonder what the long term damage from removing all the coal and oil from the ground. does this make the ground more unstable and vulnerable to movement such as tremors.

    population is the problem…

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  16. Mike Farrell

    Former Penny Wong employee (DSP)

    Seems to me you should have added an extra column and titled it "Wind Power". That industry is on par with the coal industry in "harming" biodiversity according to your paramaters. Clearly, wind farms:

    * cause seismic noise disorientation to fauna
    * increase noise pollution
    * destroy habitats
    * change the topography of the area
    * reduce the aesthetic value of the landscape
    * the roads accessing them increase threat factors
    * habitat destruction from supporting infrastructure
    * cause widespread damage and pollution of habitats

    And then there are the problems they cause humans.

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    1. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Mike Farrell

      NOTHING......... absolutely NOTHING we do is sustainable. That's why collapse is inevitable. No ifs no buts........

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    2. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      @Mike, you got that right. I am not concerned about GW/CC or massive increases in temps because the whole house of cards is already breaking down and will collapse under it's own weight soon enough. Sure won't be pretty for a while but the survivors will survive and wake up in a different world one day where carbon emissions will no longer be an issue, nor population growth nor the economy, unemployment or Govt debt will be a big deal anymore. There won't be any. Until then SNAFU. :)

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  17. Shirley Birney

    logged in via email @tpg.com.au

    Fossil fuel calamity aside, Professor in Mineral Economics Dr Pietro Guj at Curtin U, WA advised in 2011: “There are currently 85,000 abandoned mine sites in WA.”

    While some abandoned mine sites pose little danger to humans, others are toxic and remain a health and safety hazard. This dilemma is yet another legacy bequeathed to the taxpayer. “Stay out and stay alive,” warns the WA government as they approve of tens of thousands of square kilometres being pegged through forests, farming and…

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    1. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Brilliant summary of quality info there Shirley. You know what you talking about. Maybe submit a expanded well rounded artcile to TC for publication, it deserves it. The last sentence would make a good title. Toss in a bit of hardy's asbestos info and that the high point in the rate of associated with that is yet to come. Of how sand mining has detroyed up to half the east coast biodiveristy of the strip fo land behind the dunes through Bitou Bush from south africa and nothing less damaging than…

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    2. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Noam Chomsky - When Elites Fail, and What We Should Do About It, Oct. 2, 2009 "What to do when elites fail? There is a simple answer. Get rid of them. It's going to be a long struggle. But the first question to ask is do they really fail?" Adam Smith (1723-1790 Scottish moral philosopher and a pioneer of political economy) pointed out: 'The principal architects of policy in England make sure their own interests are very well served no matter how grievous the effect on others.' The outlines from Smith's time to today are fairly consistent. The powerful protect their interests. Chomsky talks about the democratic deficit: the gap between public opinion and policy. http://www.alternativeradio.org/products/chon201 & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nfNxVW5yi8

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    3. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Sean, thanks for the Chomsky links and his words of wisdom. Not entirely irrelevant is an additional link I discovered where Chomsky alludes to the secrecy surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership which PM Abbott is keen to sign (and “open to utilising investor-state dispute settlement clauses”). Critics of the deal fear an ISDS clause will allow foreign corporations to sue Australian governments over health, food sovereignty and environmental laws.

      Considering the lack of transparency, I…

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  18. Sean Arundell

    Uncommon Common Sense

    It seems self-evident to me that 'if' AGW/CC is correct then long before 2-4C becomes a reality water & food for humans will have been at crisis levels for decades already: More about BEES - Fire, climate change & other stressors: "If you could tell their whole story, maybe people would care more about protecting them," she says. Indeed, the findings of this study have important implications for today's concern about the loss in diversity of bees, a pivotal species for agriculture and biodiversity…

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