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Record rains made Australia a giant green global carbon sink

Record-breaking rains triggered so much new growth across Australia that the continent turned into a giant green carbon sink to rival tropical rainforests including the Amazon, our new research shows…

The swollen Fitzroy River in Queensland, Australia, where heavy rains in early 2011 led to extraordinary regrowth with a global impact. Capt. W. M. & Tatters/Flickr, CC BY-NC

Record-breaking rains triggered so much new growth across Australia that the continent turned into a giant green carbon sink to rival tropical rainforests including the Amazon, our new research shows.

Published in the international journal Nature, our study found that vegetation worldwide soaked up 4.1 billion tons of carbon in 2011 – the equivalent of more than 40% of emissions from burning fossil fuels that year.

Unexpectedly, the largest carbon uptake occurred in the semi-arid landscapes of Australia, Southern Africa and South America.

The modelled net carbon uptake of the Australian landscape in December 2010 at the start of the big wet (above), compared with December 2009 (below). carbonwaterobservatory.csiro.au, CC BY-NC-ND

carbonwaterobservatory.csiro.au, CC BY-NC-ND

It set a new record for a land-based carbon sink since high-resolution records began in 1958, in a remarkable example of ecosystems working to stabilise the Earth’s climate.

And that had a global impact. While atmospheric carbon dioxide still rose in 2011, it grew at a much lower rate – nearly 20% lower – than the average growth over the previous decade.

Almost 60% of the higher than normal carbon uptake that year, or 840 million tons, happened in Australia. That was due to a combination of factors, including geography and a run of very dry years, followed by record-breaking rains in 2010 and 2011.

Yet our research raises as many questions as it answers – in particular, about whether the Earth’s natural climate control mechanisms could prove even more volatile than previously thought.

The rain that made the world’s ocean fall

From October 2010 to March 2011, an extraordinary rainfall event occurred over most of Australia, which resulted in three-quarters of Queensland being declared a flood disaster zone – an area as big as France, Germany and Italy combined.

Averaged across Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology recorded rainfall of 703 millimetres for 2010 and 708 mm for 2011. That was well above the long-term average of 453 mm for the period of 1900 to 2009.

Excess rain reached most parts of the continent, in what proved to be the wettest two years combined since national climate records began in 1900.

The 2011 La Niña: So strong, the oceans fell. Boening et. al. (2012), CC BY

Queensland was the worst affected area, with 35 people killed in floods that broke more than 100 river height records, and damaged 30,000 homes and businesses in cities and towns including Brisbane, Ipswich and Toowoomba. (You can see ABC News images of Brisbane before and after the floods here.)

The big rainfall event was part of a global phenomenon called the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which reflects atmospheric pressure changes across the tropical Pacific Ocean, in its La Niña phase. It brought above-average rainfall not only to Australia but also to other parts of the world, particularly in southern Africa and northern South America.

Euronews covers the 2011 Queensland floods.

The power of La Niña to evaporate water from the oceans was boosted by the ongoing high sea-surface temperatures that are part of a long-term trend of ocean warming. That trend has been shown to be associated with the release of greenhouse gases from the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation.

This massive rain event was so significant that sensors on-board the twin satellites GRACE estimated a decrease in ocean water mass of 1.8 trillion tons. That remarkable finding was measured by changes in the Earth’s gravitational field, brought about by the transfer of water from the ocean to the atmosphere and land surface.

The drop in global sea level in 2011, which went against the trend of the previous 18 years. Boening et. al. (2012), CC BY

This made the ocean’s sea level fall by 5 millimetres from the beginning of 2010 to mid-2011, going against the average sea-level rise of 3mm a year over the previous 18 years associated with global warming.

Australia played a major role in this sea-level fall, for several reasons. It was partly due to vast amounts of rain that fell over Australia. The continent’s hydrological characteristics also played a role, with large impediments for rainfall to flow quickly back to the ocean, such as the large continental interior basins.

And Australia was a country in need of a big drink. The parched continent was emerging from a multi-year drought, particularly in the south-east region, meaning the land acted as a huge sponge, soaking up the heavy rainfall.

Seeing the Earth change colour from above

As a result of the unusually heavy rains, the Earth’s vegetation “greened” in 2011 in ways not measured over the previous 30 years, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere dryland ecosystems.

This global greening was detected by satellites, which observed increases in canopy foliage extent and vegetation water content, which both imply vegetation growth.

Combined, these measurements indicated that the world’s annual production of new plant matter significantly increased in 2011 when compared to the previous decade.

Regions in the Southern Hemisphere including Australia, southern Africa, and temperate South America contributed 80% of the change, especially their savannas and other semi-arid areas.

New growth springing up around the Murray River, Hume Reservoir and Lake Tyrrell in south-eastern Australia, September 2010. NASA, CC BY-NC-ND

The same region in September 2006. This and the image above show how growing conditions compared to average mid-September conditions over 2000 to 2011. See more images here: http://1.usa.gov/RSMka6 NASA, CC BY-NC-ND

That winter, June to August 2011, Australia was the greenest that it has ever been seen in the satellite period (since 1982).

Our new study in Nature also shows how fire emissions – normally a big factor in reducing Australia’s capacity to store carbon – were suppressed by about 30%, contributing even further to the continent’s greening.

In addition to the unprecedented vegetation greening of Australia during 2010 and 2011, we also observe a greening trend over the continent since 1980s, particularly during the months of the Australian autumn (March, April, and May).

That has happened for a number of reasons, including increased continental rainfall over the past few decades; plants growing in an atmosphere with increasing carbon dioxide using water more efficiently; and changes in land management such as fire suppression, expansion of invasive species, and changes in livestock grazing that have led to more woodland.

The upsides of going green

Despite recurrent drought conditions in some regions, there is a current greening trend over Australia.

Overall, satellites show Australian landscapes are greener now than they have been over the past 30 years.

A greener Australia has a number of environmental and other benefits, including better protection for soils, increased soil-water holding capacity and soil fertility, and more plant feed to sustain larger animal populations.

Green growth flourishing in central Australia, 2011. Eva van Gorsel, CC BY-NC-ND

However, more vegetation can lead to less water being available to replenish water tables and feed rivers, even though Australia loses more than 50% of all the rainfall to the atmosphere as soil evaporation, without contributing to vegetation growth.

This is in sharp contrast to temperate and tropical ecosystems, where a large part of the water is returned to the atmosphere via vegetation.

Fire, drought and rapid carbon release

However, we now need to consider whether this growing accumulation of carbon in semi-arid regions of the Southern Hemisphere could become a future climate liability through fire and drought.

Land and ocean carbon sinks absorb around half of the world’s emissions from burning fossil fuels each year, which helps to slow the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from human activities.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report found that we are likely to see an increase in climate variability that includes drier, more fire-prone conditions across large parts of the Southern Hemisphere’s semi-arid regions, including Australia.

That’s a vital trend to consider, because it could lead to a more vulnerable global carbon reservoir.

While we might see more carbon stored in new vegetation growth and soil when extra water is available in semi-arid regions, as happened in 2010-2011, the risk is that more fires and droughts would end up rapidly releasing that carbon back to the atmosphere.

Looking ahead

It is likely that the large carbon uptake during 2011 was short-lived, as suggested by a rapid decline of the sink strength in 2012. Future research will be able to confirm if this was the case.

Arid and semi-arid regions currently occupy 40% of the world’s land area. More work is urgently needed to research the best ways to manage these areas, and whether we can increase their soil and vegetation carbon stores as part of our climate mitigation efforts.

While tropical forests like the Amazon remain vitally important as major carbon sinks, this new study and others indicate that semi-arid regions like Australia will also play a growing role in the Earth’s carbon cycle.

Increasingly, semi-arid regions are driving variability in how much carbon dioxide remains in the Earth’s atmosphere each year. And that has major implications for the long-term, including whether future climate change will slow down or accelerate further.

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  1. Paul Merrifield

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Is this author willing to say "proven" or "will be" a crisis or "inevitable" instead of another 32 years of "95%"certainty.

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    1. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Paul Merrifield

      It is certain you can thank Tony's direct action of getting the green army to participate in regular rain dances.

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    2. Andy Saunders

      Consultant

      In reply to Paul Merrifield

      Paul, that's the way statistics and science works - you will (and should) only ever get a probability rather than certainty.

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    3. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Paul Merrifield

      There is no such thing as 100% certainty as demonstrated by the proposition of solopism

      This called be a dream and you are a brain in a vat - by the mere fact that you can never disprove this, you can only ever be 99.99999999% sure that your not a brain in a vat

      all other possibilites fall from there

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    4. Peter Banks

      retired Civil Engineer

      In reply to Paul Merrifield

      Paul. No. He would be silly to do so - taxes and death "will be", are "proven" and are "inevitable" - though I have never heard of a proof that all people born more than say 200 years ago have actually died. But the hypotheses and theories that he talks about in this article are not quite in that class; but they are, within the inherent limits of accuracy in the system, supported by factual evidence, not just surmise, and theories that do correctly predict.

      And anyway the 5% uncertainty, which encompasses alternative mechanisms no matter how far fetched, as well as your much stated position that man has no influence on the climate, should be let stand else you had nothing to shout from your soap box.

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  2. Trevor McGrath

    uneducated twit

    I hope you guys still have the funding to carry on this project. Cheers

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  3. John Troughton

    ANU Alumni

    Glad to see the phenomena documented. Australia should realise ""every drop counts and count every drop". This is biological and carbon accounting with national impact.

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    1. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Troughton

      Unfortunately the carbon in the natural cycle isn't a problem

      when we sequester carbon in this way it is only temporary, sequester all the carbon you want, if we don't stop introducing more CO2 into the cycle it won't make any difference

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    1. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Amanda Barnes

      The Chinese government utilises a whole building of bright young things to inform policy, for their government, and they consider what these people come up with.
      A mixed bag, as far as (I) know, but at least their not silly, and consider economic opportunity. Which is more than this new government.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Thanks Alice - great article.

      I wonder if we could genetically engineer a fatal virus that only killed English speakers?

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    3. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      I had a friend once who was obsessed with these questions, raw tuna oil on the underside of a board, strange bacterium on the petrie dish in the fridge to be injected into gift chocolates...
      Unfortunately this government will not work out that there's a point to scientific investigation/fact and good policy.
      We have to point the pointy stick till their gone, and keep pointing it until we have something to work with.

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  4. Mike Swinbourne

    logged in via Facebook

    Thanks Pep.

    Could you provide some information on any long term trends in this area. I would have thought that greening events like this were short-lived, and any uptake in carbon in one year was just as likely to be released in the next if the conditions changed. Either that, or the increased vegetation would result in a larger number of herbivores or insects which would have eaten the additional vegetation.

    Also, with land clearance being such a problem, is there a long term reduction in the capacity of the land to produce events such as this?

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    1. Greg Adcock

      Scientist

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      I was scrolling down as I was going to ask this same question so I'll just add my comment to underline it.

      If typically low production areas have exceptional seasons and then fall back to their typical state, then will the significant amounts of dead/dry/dropped/rotting vegetation release more carbon back into the atmosphere as CO2 than is taken up? How much and how quickly and could the timing be unfortunate or would it be a minor blip?

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    2. Robert Molyneux

      Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Two laws:
      1. Conservation of Matter - matter cannot be created nor destroyed (except by nuclear reactions).
      The carbon taken up at one time sooner or later will be released. Trees rot, you and I rot, in due course. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes...
      2. Conservation of Energy - energy cannot be created nor destroyed. (except by nuclear reactions).
      The energy as heat being absorbed by vegetation and converted into wood, and released by burning fossil fuels, cows digesting grass / farting comes and goes somewhere according to a "Heat Balance". Some into warming the atmosphere, some into warming the aliens circling the earth in huge invisible aircraft and Ta Dah! some into warming the oceans and melting the ice caps.

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    3. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Robert Molyneux

      Well, not exactly Robert. Matter or energy can be converted into each other, but the overall amount stays the same, even in a nuclear reaction. But I get your point.

      I'm a bit worried about the aliens though. Do they rely on cow farts to keep warm, or do they have other mechanisms?

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    4. Robert Molyneux

      Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Einstein's famous equation E = em c squared says that when mass is converted to energy during a fission ("splitting") event, some of the mass disappears and is replaced by (a lot of) energy plus a reduced amount of matter. When two or more masses smash together at high speed and merge during a fusion ("joining") event some of the kinetic energy (energy of movement) and some of the mass is converted to (a lot of) energy and some decrease in total mass.
      That is, there is a balance of mass and energy which is conserved.
      As to the aliens, they tap into the hot air and wind generated by deniers.

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  5. John Nicol

    logged in via Facebook

    The results reported in this article have been broadly published some years ago and with a similar lack of numerical data.

    I would be very interested if the author could respond here with some numerical details of the amounts of water concerned which was retained by the land against that which flowed to the oceans almost directly from our largest Rivers such as the Murray-Darling and in particular the Burdekin and the many short, East-coast rivers. Comparisons with the rates of fall (2 years…

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to John Nicol

      Native Australian animals also produce manure. So your justification for having cattle on marginal land does not hold up.

      As for the rest of your post John, I can't see the point of most of what you ask? Are you trying to deny climate change is a problem without saying this directly?

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    2. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      I sort of think it's either just another rant or an extended request for a bunch of irrelevant details. I read it and just became confused.

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    3. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      ".....with the compaction of soils and the return of carbon and nutrients ti the soil though manure, a process which is largely absent from areas left entirely to self g]regeneration. Fortunately in Australia, a lot of our marginal land is grazed and it is not difficult to show that these benefits apply here as well, in spite of some expressed concerns to the contrary....."

      Sorry John, no. Compaction of the soil by hard-hooved animals has been of significant detriment to this country. The soils of western NSW were once much more productive than they are now - but long term grazing and trampling has reduced their fertility significantly.

      Far from being a benefit, grazing has largely destroyed the productivity of this country.

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    4. John Nicol

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike Swinbourne

      The point made in the article regarding SA was that cloven hooves were most effective. I do not know what your experience is with Western NSW or Western Queensland nor from what journals you are quoting the detriment of productivity from grazing,but most people working with these lighter soils know the opposite to be true. Go look at paddocks in NEW Queensland that have not been stocked for one reason or another, for years - they become ashy, lightly grassed with soft surfaces to some significant depth and weak herbage that blows away in the dry season, contrary to the suggestions often made and to which I believe you refer.
      John Nicol

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    5. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      So John, I guess you are saying that before European settlers introduced hooved grazing animals, that all the vegetation in Australis blew away every dry season.

      Lucky we came along then!

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  6. John Newlands

    tree changer

    A follow up article should say what happens to the carbon and water balance if we change to El Nino conditions. Will drought ravaged California for example get floods? Another that hasn't been brought up is that Australia's total renewable electricity generation could decline since half of it comes from hydro.

    Apart from increased fire frequency I suspect there is another feedback loop of dry soil-->reduced transpiration-->less rain. This week (which is rainy) my neighbour and I discussed water sharing arrangements involving long lengths of polypipe. That's in anticipation of El Nino. Will the wet/dry cycle recur every two years from now on?

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to John Newlands

      The prediction is that a huge El Nino is building up, so more information about what will happen under a strong El Nino is much more than just theoretical interest.

      It is worth remembering that the droughts and heatwaves of the last few years have all happened without an El Nino - I suspect that what will happen next El Nino is going to be very scary.

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    2. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Yes. I suspect that we are in for the mother of all el nino events. There is a rather large bolus of warm water approaching the east coast of Australia with temperature anomalies around +4 C in the top 100 metres. The amount of energy in this mass of water is going to be massive. Here's the link to BOM.

      http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/#tabs=Overview

      We shall see.

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  7. Robert Darby

    logged in via Facebook

    Fascinating: a few reflections: (1) Such a once-in-a-century event is not going to be repeated for a long time. (2) It suggests that the most effective carbon abatement strategy may not be a tax or a trading scheme or "direct action", but planting more trees and other vegetation. (3) Eucalypts are the worst possible choice for such plantings. In a modest little op ed a few years ago (http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=9916) I pointed out that eucalypts are so fire prone and so fire-generating that when they burn (as they always eventually do) they probably emit as much carbon as they absorbed when they were growing. This was just a guess: I wonder if anybody has done any calculations.

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    1. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Robert Darby

      My understanding is more heat = more evaporation in the ocean = more rain in the sky = more rain

      I have no idea of the frequency and serverity of the rain but flooding and draught are going to be a very real part of our future

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    2. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Robert Darby

      Do not forget the root systems. Any one who has served an apprenticeship of hand picking mallee roots and clearing land for agriculture will tell you that for normal bush fires in undisturbed bush/forest, some of the top growth is burnt, yet most of the root systems remain.

      Lignotubers are feature of many eucalyptus. Part of the fire survival system.

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John Holmes

      That's encouraging - hadn't thought of that, John - maybe we WILL retain a decent amount longer-term - I certainly hope so!

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    4. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Robert Darby

      Mr Darby, while it is quite possible that "the most effective carbon abatement strategy may not be a tax or a trading scheme or "direct action", but planting more trees and other vegetation", to the extent that vegetation sequestration is necessary, it is not sufficient; the first and most critical step is the complete cessation of all fossil fuel use.

      What many people don't understand is that the earth developed the climate it had when humans evolved by slowly withdrawing carbon from the active…

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    5. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to John Holmes

      Indeed, don't forget the roots.

      Elsewhere, I have recently learned that tree roots open up channels for rainwater to drain down into groundwater - so to get better aquifer recharge (and hence less overground flooding), it's an idea to optimise tree density.

      Is what I have learned correct, or should I 'unlearn'(:-)) it?

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    6. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Bit of a problem though, that as the carbon levels approach the equilibrium possible in the area due to rainfall and climate and nutrient availability, not just N, P and K but things like the trace elements we reach a situation where losses due to degradation from all causes = capture. Hence C storage will stabilize. Whether it takes 20 to 2000 years.

      The problem is to lock up the C already released by the fossil fuels we have burnt, trees we have killed, peat deposits etc, oxidized permanently? We also need to feed ourselves as well.

      Carbon fiber composites to replace concrete a possible sink? Something that does not burn too well as well.

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  8. daniel hayes

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    We now have pioneering species volunteering to cover the soil, store water, provide nutrients to soil micro-organisms, other plants and animal life. If facilitated, we can jump on this opportunity to establish a very functional ecosystem with cascading benefits.
    But will we?
    Will there be funding put towards large scale land restoration, large scale water management systems, following incredibly simple principles that merely facilitate nature?

    I was fortunate enough to be involved in a consultation with the Yemen government regarding water scarcity issues.
    The need for implementing water management systems in wadi's in Yemen is at a drastic point.
    Then and only then do the majority of nations governing powers really feel it priority to take advantage of what nature can provide.
    Will Australia be any different?

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  9. Andrew Glikson

    Earth and paleo-climate scientist at Australian National University

    An important article.

    The accelerating rise of CO2, reaching the unprecedented rate of 2.95 ppm/year between April 2013 (398.35 ppm) and April 2014 (401.30 ppm), is leading to an increase in climate variability and climate extremes, with strong positive feedbacks (draughts and fires) alternating with negative feedbacks (greening of arid regions). Increases in climate variability and climate extremes are not good news for agriculture

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    1. daniel hayes

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Andrew Glikson

      I would suggest looking into cycles of solar activity, just may put your co2 worries at ease.

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    2. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to daniel hayes

      Thanks Daniel.

      I have looked at lots of articles on solar activity, and can find absolutely none that 'put my CO2 worries at ease'.

      Perhaps you could elaborate, and supply links to some of these articles so I may have a read. I have obviously missed them to date.

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    3. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to daniel hayes

      Solar activity has been looked at in detail in regard to climate change.

      The issues being discussed in the article are NOT related to solar cycles.

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    4. daniel hayes

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      "i first want to say that human pollution presents an array of health problems; respiratory, endocrine, central nervous system. The flora, fauna, water and atmosphere of our planet contain poisons, and we put them there, something in that vein needs to change very soon. That being said i'll present here an argument for the superiority of an external climate forcing in the current circumstance. Supported by current observations and models of the past. It's going to take the form of an inner disciplinary review of changes on the earth and throughout the solar system"
      -BEN DAVIDSON
      Here is the film of said proposed argument.
      Please note that i may not agree with all in video, though i do find some relevance between this article and what is being argued within this link, and feel maybe others interested in this topic may also find use full information.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5c4XPVPJwBY#t=56

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    5. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to daniel hayes

      Well Daniel, I have watched the video, and I feel stupider because of it.

      Cosmic rays? Jupiter? Saturn? Models payed for by the green agenda? Planet cooling?

      Ben Davidson is a certified nutjob. I just love the conspiracy wars between his organisation "SuspiciousObservers" and "Dutchsinse" and "Project Avalon".

      I urge everyone to watch these videos and then check out the websites. It shows you the sort of lunatic and outright wack-jobs that populate our world.

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    6. Anthony Benton

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Andrew Glikson

      http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-10-00157.1But there hasn't been an increase of extreme events despite the increase of CO2. There's been an increase of media calling events extreme.
      And if the oceans are warming more rapidly due to the increase in C02, then they should be expanding due to the extra heat, but they are not. The rate of sea level rise, which has been occurring since the last ice age, is decreasing.
      http://multi-science.metapress.com/content/q7j3kk0128292225/
      http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-10-00141.1

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    7. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      I've reported the above as I believe this is just climate change denier trolling.

      If you agree with me then please also report Anthony's post rather than posting a reply.

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    8. Anthony Benton

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Wow, just wow. Did you actually read the papers or because some facts don't agree with your opinion or agenda that I must be trolling?

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    9. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      I read them Anthony.

      Firstly, Nil Axel-Morner is a certified crank who has produced nothing but political dogma totally devoid of any research or rationality for some time. If you link to him as supposed support for your view, then you betray a singular lack of credibility.

      As far as the other papers are concerned, they have taken observations from small areas and concluded that there has been no acceleration in seal level rise in the data sets. So what?

      Firstly, sea level rise will…

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    10. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      As this has not yet been moderated out of existence I'll reply.

      What is your big picture view on climate change? Do you think that the IPCC reports are on the whole correct? Do you also, on the whole, agree with the Australian Garnaut report?

      As increase in sea level due to climate change and more extreme weather events are recognised in these reports I've taken your first post to be a denial of the science.

      If you do in fact accept the reports ie accept the scientific evidence showing that climate change is a genuine and serious threat, then I apologise for misinterpreting your post.

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    11. Anthony Benton

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Wow, is that a request or an attempt at beating me into submission? God luck with either as my opinions are my own and i will not be bullied by someone who thinks they speak from a position of authority.

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    12. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      And Anthony, I am pretty confident that you haven't read those papers, so let me share some of the information with you. These quotes are from the Watson paper (your third link), but note that the quotes include discussion about personal communications between Watson and Dean/Houston, the authors of your first link:

      “....There is unequivocal measured evidence of a global average
      rise in mean sea level during the 20th century on the order of 17
      +/- 5 cm...”

      “....It is, however, important…

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    13. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      It is a request to find out your big picture view on climate change.

      The community standards here includes "comments challenging the scientific basis of climate change will be regarded as off-topic unless the article is specifically about this subject (as opposed to articles about climate policy, for example)."

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    14. Anthony Benton

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, these are not the only papers I have read in regards to sea levels. And the one consistency among all of them is there is no consistency. So as you call it, cherry picking occurs regardless of whether you subscribe to increasing or decreasing sea levels. But I will take by your reply and lovely choices of words towards skeptical websites that you only accept one possibility. For me, because there are papers out there to the contrary, so i take the skeptical approach and take every article, regardless of its self appointed authority, with a large grain of salt.

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    15. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Guy Dixon

      If my view was that you are ahomicidal maniac who is sending toxic EMF waves to me, would that view be important?

      Honest, vaguely rational views are important; noinsense isn't.

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    16. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      Anthony - I take it that your "skeptical approach" only applies to the vast bulk of papers that has built up the case for global warming.

      So I'll assume that even though you won't answer my simple question about whether or not you accept the IPCC reports, the answer is that you do not.

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    17. Anthony Benton

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Well then maybe you should request that the conversation remove all your postings on this topic, as none of your posting are relevent to the article.

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    18. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      Anthony, that is an award-winning, Bolt-strength excuse - the fact that somebody disagrees with you, particularly when they advance substantial arguments as to why the disagree, as Mike did, does NOT indicate that they 'only accept one possibility' - it simply indicates that they have considered your argument and the evidence provided and conclude that it is incorrect.

      Resorting to that kind of nonsense when someone disagrees with you merely short-circuits debate.

      If you think Mike has cherry-picked or misrepresented the material you chose to cite, then challenge him on that.

      If you believe you have other papers that are relevant and suppor tyour argument, then advance them for consideration.

      Otherwise you're merely making assertions and having a dummy spit because someone disagrees.

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    19. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      So Anthony, you haven't answered my questions. Have you read the papers, and who told you about them?

      And if you take the sceptical point of view, how come you aren't in the least bit sceptical of those papers? How come you linked to that piece of political trash by Morner?

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    20. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Hi Michael.

      I read your link above regarding cleaning up climate comments and I suspect that this entire thread will disappear next time I log on to TC - so it may not be worth pursuing. I honestly don't see that this has anything to do with the article.

      When i read it I had a feeling in my waters that it would bring out the trolls.

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    21. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ross Barrell

      "...When i read it I had a feeling in my waters that it would bring out the trolls...."

      Anything to do with climate usually does Ross. But I hope it doesn't disappear. It is useful to have the comments of people like Anthony recorded for all posterity.

      It is a typical tactic of deniers to read articles at denier websites, then link to the studies referred to without ever having read them. Worse, the denier websites almost always misrepresent what the studies say, so people like Anthony…

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    22. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike - I think there should be articles on TC where the science vs 'skeptic' can be debated, and the comments can be kept for posterity.

      But I think the new policy of delete such discussion from most articles is good because I don't think the casual reader wants to read hundreds of post denying and rebutting. After all, most people who read TC accept the science.

      For example, if I went to an opera appreciation society, and the main discussion each week was 'opera is crap' vs' opera is good' then I would stop going. If I had thought that opera was crap I would not have gone along the first time - I want to learn about opera.

      Similarly here I believe that most people want to discuss starting from the assumption that most of the science is accepted.

      What is worse about the climate change deniers is that most of them use sophisticated trolling techniques. If Anthony was a genuine person then why not answer my question about whether or not he accepted the IPCC reports etc?

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    23. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      "....Mike - I think there should be articles on TC where the science vs 'skeptic' can be debated, and the comments can be kept for posterity...."

      I get your point Michael and to some level I agree. However, the place where scientific ideas are debated is between scientists in journals. There are very few of us who have the expertise or knowledge to properly debate climate science.

      You're correct, most people here would start from the fact (not really an assumption) that the science is advanced enough to understand that humans are influencing the climate. But in some ways these 'sophisticated' trolls can increase our own knowledge by getting us to read the science in order to refute them. I know a lot more about the subject because of it. But I also know enough to be aware my level of knowledge is far below the level required to challenge an expert - unlike trolls and deniers, who universally suffer from Dunning-Kruger syndrome.

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    24. Anthony Benton

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Andrew Glikson

      Anyhow, the point I was trying to make before the League of Planetary Defenders came in and hijacked my post was that despite the increase of CO2 levels, extreme weather events have not increased. And despite the apparent moving of all the heat into the oceans resulting in the hiatus we are currently experiencing, sea levels rise is not accelerating, which you would expect from more heat. Some reports are actually showing a decelerating.
      The other thing I wanted to point out is that the greening of the desert is not that unique. It happen after the 1974 floods, aswell in 1949. So it has happen 3 times in the last 65 years. So it's not unprecedented like this attics states.

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    25. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      So Anthony. did you read the studies you linked to? And which denier site made you aware of them?

      Obviously you haven't read them, otherwise you will know that your claim about sea levels are false. But keep it up - you continue to show you are not interested in evidence - only ideology.

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    26. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Well - this is the next day and I was wrong. The thread hasn't disappeared. So be it.

      "If only they applied their so-called scepticism to the claims made on denier websites, they might actually learn something."

      The thing is they don't. And they don't learn - probably because AGW flies in the face of some deeply held belief system.

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    27. Robert Molyneux

      Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

      In reply to Ross Barrell

      The belief system conflicts not so much with the science and facts, as with the conclusions and consequences IF AGW is accepted, namely:
      1. There are too many of us;
      2. We consume too much;
      3. Our reliance on fossil fuels to make serious money by exporting them will make AGW even worse;
      BUT
      1. God told us to "go forth and multiply" and
      2. God will provide through Capitalism, and "weathiness" is next to godliness.

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    28. Anthony Benton

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Ross Barrell

      Ross, happy to read anything you have in regards to an increase in extreme weather events across the globe?
      Not the usual should, will, might, proficy of doom stuff that alarmist buy into, but actual empirical evidence would be great.
      Otherwise your just another sheep who believes that the greening of the Aussie desert is unprecedented, because your left wing media told you so.
      So I'll stick to questioning things thanks mate and leave the blind faith to you.

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    29. Anthony Benton

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Sorry mate, when I read articles like this and they tell me things have never happen before when they have, I tend take it for what it is, BS.
      So if you want to start throwing around the ideology word, maybe you should start in your own backyard.

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    30. Ross James

      Engineer

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      I'd also like to see some convincing evidence of this. I've researched this a lot, and can find no serious study that reveals an increase in extreme weather events. In fact, I've been surprised about how severe some earlier weather events have been. We just didn't hear so much about them in different countries due to the limited communication systems in those days. Even early bush fires in Australia many decades ago were devastating.

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    31. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      So Anthony, just to ask once again, did you read those studies you linked to, and who told you about them?

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    32. Anthony Benton

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Ross James

      Oh so we agree on this, so my original reply to Andrew was valid.
      So then why the hell all this BS crap coming from you and that Mike Swinbourne fool?
      You people are so caught up in your alarmist crap that you see anything that questions it as a threat, regardless of sheathed its right or wrong.
      See why skeptics call CAGW a religion?

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    33. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      "....So then why the hell all this BS crap coming from you and that Mike Swinbourne fool? ....You people are so caught up in your alarmist crap that you see anything that questions it as a threat, regardless of sheathed its right or wrong...."

      I apologise for my foolishness Anthony, I am just trying to get a handle on whether or not your claims are valid. I just want to know if you actually read the studies you linked to so we can have a reasonable discussion about them. So - yes or no? It's not such a hard question really. Why are you avoiding it? (I can make an educated guess).

      And given that my 'guess' is 99% certain to be correct, I would much rather have that discussion with the person who first posted and commented on the articles on-line, not the mindless parrot who reposted them without ever having read them or knowing what they say.

      You can understand, I'm sure.

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    34. Anthony Benton

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mate, your to caught up trying to prove some ridiculous point to be able to make an obvious conclusion, for yourself, from one of my earlier post.
      It is not my job to hold your hand, that is for those you put your faith in.

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    35. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      Thanks Anthony, that's answer enough. It's obvious you didn't read the studies and have no idea what was in them. And I don't need to tell you how revealing that is about your credibility and ability to be able to rationally argue your position.

      I would like to know which denier site you trawled them from, but I guess I can leave that for now. (My guess is JoNova)

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    36. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      Note that Anthony has gone from trying to provide evidence to expecting us to provide him with evidence that prove that the IPCC reports, etc are correct.

      And because we accept that most scientists or not totally incompetent or involved in some great conspiracy, we are "sheep", yet Anthony thinks himself rational because he just knows (ie blind faith) that the IPCC are wrong.

      And of course the greening of Australia has happened before. What is different this time is the scale of the greening.

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    37. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      Hi Anthony.

      I had another read of the article to see if the authors actually said "unprecedented". And actually they did, however, "unprecedented" has a condition attached, and here it is:

      "That winter, June to August 2011, Australia was the greenest that it has ever been seen in the satellite period (since 1982)."

      So, c'mon. Get real. Try actually reading this stuff before you distort and misrepresent its content.

      I rest my case.

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    38. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      And, yes, Michael. The scale. I forgot to mention the scale.

      I really think that Anthony, like all the other trolls, automagically edits out the bits that don't support his drivel.

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    39. Anthony Benton

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Im sorry mate, did you miss the part where it was claimed that extreme events have increased, when they haven't?
      Did you also miss the part where the article claims that the greening of the desert is unprecedented, which it is not.
      Its amazing that you will claim that I have some.sort of.blind faith when you are defending both an incorrect post and an article with incorrect information.

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    40. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      This is getting tiresome.

      I did a search on the word "extreme" and "event" and nowhere in the article can I find any claim that "extreme events have increased". I would be pleased if you could provide a quote and thereby enlighten me.

      In fact the only instances of the word "extreme" are found in your posts and a few others.

      Maybe you have an obsession about extreme events.

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    41. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      Where is the evidence that extreme events have not increased?

      If you want to go against the scientific consensus then it is up to you to provide proof.

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    42. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Ross Barrell

      Oh yes. And I have no idea where you got the notion that I said anything about you having some sort of blind faith.

      I think you make stuff up as you go along.

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    43. Anthony Benton

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Ross Barrell

      Your right, very tiresome. I feel like I need to hold all your hands, geees!
      The discussion about extreme has NOTHING to do with the article it is in reply to Andrew Gilkson's posting where he made a comment about extreme events, for the second or third time now.
      Are you enlightened now?

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    44. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      "....Im sorry mate, did you miss the part where it was claimed that extreme events have increased, when they haven't? ..."

      So you can read Anthony? Pity about the studies you linked to though. You probably should have read them first.

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    45. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      Anthony Benton's claim that extreme events have not increased as a result of AGW is nonsense.

      While the trend in some extreme events such as tropical storms are still being debated for other events the data is quite clear.

      From the latest IPCC report

      "Changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950 (see Table SPM.1 for
      details). It is very likely that the number of cold days and nights has decreased and the number of warm days and nights has increased…

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  10. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    Sounds like we didn't sequester carbon so much as built more Fuel for the eventual Fire

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    1. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Yes this is concerning. Around here the weeds which have done well since the wet years mentioned, are wattles which are extremely volatile. They also exist at a lower level in the landscape, so will have a devastating impact as a source of ignition. Many of the less fire prone plants in the lower storey landscape do not exist in large numbers anymore due to clearing, and this includes the seriously big eucalypts which would rarely ignite, but would suppress other plants by their canopy which rises…

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    2. Robert Molyneux

      Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

      In reply to Michael Shand

      On the other hand, our eucalypts produce oils which could be extracted to make liquid fuels.

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    3. Hon Peter Lewis

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Yes Micheal: meanwhile there will be a steady but increasing rate of decomposure as the fungi (& to a lesser extent) the bacteria, insects & other micro-organisms consume the huge volume of vegetation, respire and send the very same amount of Cabon back into the atmosphere as the final products of their breath & flatulence from the anaerobes in their gut, too! Stupid accounting system for carbon credits, meaning nothing in terms of the impact on atmospheric carbon levels. Once its taken from the…

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    4. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Hon Peter Lewis

      Peter - Are you suggesting that we do nothing to limit carbon emissions until we commission our thorium reactors?

      If so, then I would argue that the need to cut emissions is so urgent that we need to be doing other things first.

      But if you are concerned about climate change (and not just promoting nuclear) then surely the most importing thing to do is promote the need for short term actions, and only once those are in place should we move on to the long term solutions.

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    5. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Cool! I can just see it now... a B-Double cruising past smelling of eucalyptus.

      Just wondering, is it possible to extract enough eucalyptus oil to satisfy demand? Or will other sources of vegetable oils have to be used. The scale her is rather large, I think.

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    6. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Have a look at the oil mallee project in the Upper great Southern of WA. Lots of talk, many windbreaks, some useful reductions in saline areas, but did not finish up too good. By products were to be charcoal & energy &oil and salinity control. Period mid 90's on.

      I would suggest that the energy suppliers were not too enthusiastic about decentralized energy systems which had a lot of small players.

      Some enthusiasm from some foresters as well as the LandCare projects at the time.

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  11. christopher gow

    gainfully employed

    Very interesting article; is this event possibly a 'Gaia' process as James Lovelock would suggest? In other words have rising CO2 or other greenhouse gasses led to the increased rainfall and hence as a negative feedback mechanism slowed greenhouse gas growth?
    I am in no way suggesting that therefore we shouldn't worry about climate change, and Lovelock himself has a very negative view of our future, but is it just coincidence that we have seen this increase in Southern hemisphere rainfall, or will it even intensify in the future?

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    1. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to christopher gow

      You can probably envision this without doing but;

      Get a glass jar

      Put the lid on

      Heat it

      Where previously the water sat still, now it moves around and there is a lot more water in the air - this represents more energy being trapped in the jar which is what climate change is, it's simply CO2 trapping more energy

      So we will see more heavy rain events, more flash flooding and it will be more irregular.

      Those irregularity's could be months and months of rain which erode and soak the land causing mud slides, it could not rain at all creating draught and then a dumping resulting in flash flooding

      So it's hard to say what exactly the effects will be but the irregularity disruptes season, disruptes crops, whether it's too much rain or too little.

      Also that extra energy will be excerted in the form of wind, storms, etc

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to christopher gow

      christopher, Toby Tyrrell's recently published 'On Gaia' is an excellent, thoughtful critical analysis of Lovelock's Gaia hypoethesis, including its relevance to climate change.

      Sadly, the pretty clear conclusion Tyrrell draws after a detailed examination of the evidence is that the Gaia hypothesis just doesn't stack up. You can find evidence of a degree of co-evolution, ala Stephen Schneider and others, but nothing close to the kind of power that might counter-balance our impacts. Indeed, Tyrrell's conclusion is that our whole system is extraordinarily fragile and could tip very readily into radically different parameters.

      So I think we have to simply put this down to a temporarily-beneficial outcome from a weather extreme. as others have pointed out, a good drought and fire season or two will probably release all this CO2 back into the atmosphere pretty quickly...

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    3. Ross James

      Engineer

      In reply to Michael Shand

      I fail to see what this experiment shows. It has nothing to do with greenhouse gas theory. Nor does it demonstrate any change in storm activity from a very small temperature increase. Storms are enhanced by temperature differentials.

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    4. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ross James

      "....Nor does it demonstrate any change in storm activity from a very small temperature increase. Storms are enhanced by temperature differentials..."

      Really Ross? I had no idea you were such an expert on meteorology and climate. Can I ask your expert opinion then? I read somewhere - some scientist or other - suggested that rising ocean temperatures increased evaporation - is that right? And this increased evaporation led to an increase in storm intensity and rainfall.

      Now given your expertise you obviously disagree. Could you explain please?

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    5. Anthony Benton

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      "......And this increased evaporation led to an increase in storm intensity and rainfall."
      But world wide, there hasn't been an increase in any of those events, and in some cases, if my memory serves me correct, there has been decreases in some fields.

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    6. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Ross James

      That's exactly the experiement

      Glass jar half full of water and heat

      is it more turbulent with more energy? yes, that's whats happening to the earth

      more energy results in more storms, yes temp diff's matter but the atmosphere is not uniform - like the glass jar there will be hot spots and cold spots that circulate

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    7. Robert Molyneux

      Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      The current article is precisely stating that there has been an increase in the amount of water on the various continents of so many trillion tonnes, which has been *** estimated """ by *** measuring *** gravitational forces around the world.
      The fact that you can actually do this measurement with the required accuracy and precision is pretty amazing.
      Whether this increase came from storms and rainfall, or from monster dogs cocking their legs might be a matter of belief, I suppose.
      As to whether there has been an increased transfer of water from the oceans to the land over the past decades might be problematical, as the techniques for measuring this might be relatively recent.

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    8. Robert Molyneux

      Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

      In reply to Robert Molyneux

      From this article
      "This massive rain event was so significant that sensors on-board the twin satellites GRACE estimated a decrease in ocean water mass of 1.8 trillion tons. That remarkable finding was measured by changes in the Earth’s gravitational field, brought about by the transfer of water from the ocean to the atmosphere and land surface."
      You can google the meaning of "accuracy" (is the measurement correct? - eg 1.8 trillion tons) and "precision" (how closely-defined is the measurement? - eg plus or minus 1%) GRACE sounds pretty AMAZING!

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    9. Ross James

      Engineer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Yes, I can explain. You are right, rising ocean temperature would theoretically increase evaporation, though it's mainly influenced by relative humidity. However, evaporation is also influenced by, wind strength, wave action, sun exposure, and air temperature. Therefore, it's questionable as to how significant a slight temperature increase, just in water temperature would be on evaporation.

      Evaporation cools the water surface, and increased relative humidity, so there's some negative feedback…

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    10. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Ross James

      Ahhh, no Ross.

      If you increase the air temperature - which has happened - then the water holding capacity of the atmosphere increases. So if - as you suggest -- the relative humidity has stayed the same, then there must be more water vapour in the atmosphere. This has been borne out by study after study which has shown that there has been an increase in column integrated water vapour over the ocean of the order of 1.2% per decade - which refutes your claim that there has been less evaporation…

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    11. Ross James

      Engineer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      I have a problem with the concept that increased cloud cover leads to a higher retention of heat. If we had low cloud cover during the day, and higher cover at night, that could be possible. However, increased cloud cover through the day means less heat energy reached the surface, so there's less heat to retain. Clouds can't trap heat that never reaches us. Stand in the sun as a cloud comes over - the reduction is radiant energy is huge - next time I experience this, I'll remind myself that it's…

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    12. Ross James

      Engineer

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Why don't you focus on logical scientific discussion, instead of resorting to this type of nonsense? Better still, go outside in the sun, wait for a cloud to come over, then report your observation.

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    13. Ross James

      Engineer

      In reply to Michael Shand

      So I took a jar, half filled it with water. sealed it, and raised the temperature from 20 deg to 21 degC. What was I supposed to see? I got really carried away and increased it to 25 degC. Wow I could hardly contain my excitement!!!

      I kid you not - I actually did this, using a laboratory calibrated mercury thermometer, so I could honestly report the results - wish I could post photos.

      Perhaps you can come up with something more convincing. It's not as if I saw anything happen. No wind, no storm, no thunder. No water movement. Not even condensation on the glass. Of course, air pressure increased slightly with the temperature increase, and decreased again when I popped the lid, but even that didn't cause a drama.

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    14. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Ross James

      I'm drawing people's attention to the evidence that the opposition to climate change on TC is part of an organised campaign.

      And before we get into detailed debate about the effect of clouds, how about telling us your big picture view.

      First - do you accept that the IPCC reports are, in the big picture view correct? And thus climate change is a serious threat that requires real short term action?

      Engineering is based on accepting on the whole the expertise of fallow professionals. Science is the same.

      So if you don't accept the IPCC reports is this because you think that the vast majority of the world's climate scientists are incompetent? Or are they all part of some huge conspiracy?

      I don't see much point in discussing clouds until we know where you stand on this big picture.

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    15. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Ross James

      So if you want to see effects without lab equipment then you need to heat it much more till you see considerable condensation

      If you want to test the difference between low temperatures then you will need lab equipment to measure humidity, turbulance, etc

      But this will work even if you leave the glass jar in the sun on a warm day

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    16. Robert Molyneux

      Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

      In reply to Ross James

      Get some cold water and add a couple of ice cubes in the water. You will find that as you apply heat, the temperature of the water stays constant until all the ice has melted - you might need to stir things a little. Pretend you are Neptune, the God of the Sea - tides and currents that move heat in water around.

      Get a fan and play it across the water. You will find that the moving air takes heat away from the water, cooling the remaining water and the air - the principle of the "Coolgardie Safe…

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    17. Ross James

      Engineer

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      We've seen the reliability of IPCC reports - one was an extract from A Greenpeace document previously. I certainly don't blindly believe anything in an IPCC report until I get as close to the original research as possible, read the conclusions, and compare with any conflicting reports. If I'm comfortable that it's based on sound data and research, then it has my attention.

      I see the IPCC as a political body that takes selected scientific research, and publishes what it thinks is good, or perhaps…

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    18. Ross James

      Engineer

      In reply to Robert Molyneux

      I think we can move on here. We're talking about a very simple level of science, and surely you agree that this heating of some water in a jar is far to simplistic as to be of no benefit. I think it's fair to say that anyone looking at these posts is at a scientific knowledge level to get little out of this.

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    19. Robert Molyneux

      Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

      In reply to Ross James

      Ross,
      Quite right - the example of water in a jar is extremely simplistic.
      I am intrigued by your statement "I certainly don't blindly believe anything in an IPCC report until I get as close to the original research as possible, read the conclusions, and compare with any conflicting reports." Where do you find the time? As an engineer, do you have the skill set and experience to compare and contrast the original research? Just asking, just interested.

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    20. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Ross James

      Ross - As you don't feel that climate change is real threat, and as we now have a government that is planning to do FA about it, why are the details of clouds so important to you that you devote time and energy here to attack the science?

      And why do you get in and question just one detail when obviously you are so unhappy about the big picture?

      And given the glacier mistake in the previous report was just one thing wrong in I think thousands of pages, why do you hold this up as an example aiming to prove that the IPCC report is flawed?

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    21. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Anthony Benton

      @Anthony Benton, Ross James

      "Rainfall extremes are increasing around the world, and the increase is linked to the warming of the atmosphere which has taken place since pre-industrial times. This is the conclusion of a recent study which investigated extreme rainfall trends using data from 8326 weather-recording stations globally, some of which have records spanning more than a hundred years."

      So your claims about no increase in extremes is not true.

      Why is that happening. Basic physics…

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    22. Ross James

      Engineer

      In reply to Robert Molyneux

      I'm retired, and I guess this is one of my passions. I tend not to believe anything, unless I've heard both sides from reliable sources. Every month I follow temperature data from the main data sets, and do my own analysis. I also follow Arctic and Antarctic ice on a daily basis. When I hear of a so called "extreme weather event" I try to research the history of the area, and usually find, when data is available, the the event is neither extreme or unusual over a period of perhaps 100 years.

      I…

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    23. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Another interesting question is why the deniers are so keen to keep this now old topic alive.

      I can assure them that people like Mike Hanson have heard it all before, and Mike, myself and others won't be changing our minds.

      And as this article is now pretty old it isn't as if lots of fresh new readers will ever read this discussion.

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    24. Ross James

      Engineer

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael - thanks for the question. The IPCC has previously admitted that cloud science is poorly understood, so it has largely ignored it. For some years now, I've suspected that knowledge of cloud formation and behaviour has a large influence on our climate. Just a small change can have a very significant effect. A fortune has been spent on researching CO2, with little to show for it.

      I don't attack good science - I attack what appears to be bad science. I also attack incorrect media reports. I get annoyed by all this focus on disappearing Arctic ice, with little mention of Antarctic ice. I detest statements like (lowest in history), where recorded history is about 30 years. Arctic ice is a typical example - submarines have surfaced at the North Pole in the past, yet low ice cover is treated as if it's never happened before.

      Hope you see where I'm coming from.

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    25. Robert Molyneux

      Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

      In reply to Ross James

      Hi Ross, my Ph.D is in Chemistry - hence the knowledge about the specific heat of various substances, the various phases of water, and the wonder of the "hydrogen bond" in water. (I have posted on this before). I think the fact that any (major) change in the temperature of the atmosphere would be very rapidly "dampened" by (minor) changes in the the temperature of the oceans is the main thing non-scientists need to comprehend.
      Looking at any trends in atmospheric temperatures is rather tedious (hence this extremely boring discussion). The GRACE results are much more exciting - an excellent article here.
      BTW - I am not so sure about "why many scientists now distance themselves from the IPCC" but maybe agree to differ.

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    26. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Ross James

      The average person does rely on the media, which is why with the attack on climate science from the Murdoch press, we rate so poorly in those accepting the science - see http://www.monbiot.com/2014/05/16/are-we-bothered/

      My acceptance of the science doesn't come from the media, but is based on the thousands of climate change scientist who are much more qualified than you to review the published science all agreeing that climate change is a real threat.

      For you to be right, hundreds of people qualified in this area at our universities, the BoM, CSIRO, etc must be wrong. And this applies to every other country as well.

      So who do you think the average person who can't study the science should believe - the thousands who are qualified to study the science, or a retired engineer?

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    27. Ross James

      Engineer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      I understand - if someone doesn't agree with you, or has different data to you, you don't want to know them. You prefer to waffle in the residual sludge of yes people around you. I can show you data to the contrary, but best you stay happy in your comfort zone.

      I have never disputed that rainfall would increase - in fact I outline theory to substantiate it. However, I pointed out that research that I've found doesn't back this up. You choose to call it "ill informed nonsense" I suppose that's what you call all scientific research that doesn't fit your agenda. On the other hand, I'm happy to look at any research reports you have, and use them as part of my knowledge base if they apply good science.

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    28. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Ross James

      Hello Ross

      It has been agreed by most climate authorities that global surface temperatures have risen about .7 or .8 of a degree C. Not much, would you agree?

      The article above states, "This massive rain event was so significant that sensors on-board the twin satellites GRACE estimated a decrease in ocean water mass of 1.8 trillion tons. That remarkable finding was measured by changes in the Earth’s gravitational field, brought about by the transfer of water from the ocean to the atmosphere and land surface."

      Now, I would say that the evaporation of 1.8 Trilion T of water from the ocean's surface (enough to measurably, negatively affect the earth's gravitational pull) resulting in the subsequent massive rainfall events of 2010 and 2011 constitute an extreme climate event.

      I have no idea why you can't find any real data to support the contention that we are experiencing an increase in extreme events. Lots of other people sure can.

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  12. Seán McNally

    Market and Social Researcher at eris strategy

    Apart from any quibbles on climate change. I find it amazing that we can measure these factors. In addition, the floods in QLD which caused so much devastation had a global effect. The levy (or is that a rabbit?) we paid was a small pittance for such a major environmental event.

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  13. Guy Dixon

    Founder, Inventor, CEO at N.I.N.A Pty Ltd

    I did the same analysis 2 years ago, and told the CSIRO (and Flannery et al) about it, the above average component of the big wet was 3.6 trillion tonnes, equivalent 9mm of global sea level, the carbon uptake is probably higher than that indicated in this research - as a large portion of the surface area whihc had a growth boom was open woodland/savannah, plus the massive revitalisation of the east coast forests, these areas have a higher net primary production (NPP) of carbon up to >10 tonnes per…

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    1. John Troughton

      ANU Alumni

      In reply to Guy Dixon

      Interesting observations and telling analysis. Stimulates thinking about need for mapping water and its consequences continually. "Every drop counts, count every drop".

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    2. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Guy Dixon

      Had a good read through your websites, very well presented and a good almost common sense idea.

      In Victoria at least, we have UED who own the poles, MultiNet Gas who own the pipes, and different companies who own the water pipes, sewers, etc

      Which would be one issue, you would have to either take over the distribution role (Which they wouldn't let you because that's money) or you would have to work out contracts with all those companies which would again be difficult.

      Then you have Maintenance…

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    3. Guy Dixon

      Founder, Inventor, CEO at N.I.N.A Pty Ltd

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Hi Michael,

      Thank you for checking out my website.

      Yes there are a lot of 'powers" involved but all are highly regulated monopolies (electricity distributors, gas suppliers, water companies, NBN and Telstra) needing to find large amounts of cash usually via debt to "upgrade". Unfortunately the upgrade paths more poles, dug up streets are very limiting for them and expensive this is at a time when there is declining demand. This is the challenge that both the Productivity Commission and the…

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    4. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Guy Dixon

      It sounds good, I'm a little confused though about how the roll out would go.

      I'd imagine once it was taken up by someone, expansion would become incrementally easier.

      However I'm a little lost on how the initial or first units will be introduced.

      I work for Singapore power who own Jemena, UED, Multinet, etc

      They own the wires, they own the underground pipes - for you to replace them with a NINA system would require their involvement.

      IE. even if the council deciede to do it themselves…

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    5. Guy Dixon

      Founder, Inventor, CEO at N.I.N.A Pty Ltd

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Hi Michael,

      Yes we are working on getting them involved in trials which are being planned we are building prototypes at the moment to demonstrate ingress and egress and physical capacity.

      This technology is an enabler. We need it for water conservation and redistribution of harvested rainwater which can not be put into the existing "potable water" pipes, we need it for fibre optic deployments (not just the NBN) others are actually permitted to deploy fibre networks so long as they offer…

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    6. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Guy Dixon

      So I have the Jemena Gas Network Asset Management Plan 2014-2020 in front of me, and the other companies have similar documents with similar time frames.

      It lays out the plan, asset strategy, the budget, the expected demand, oppertunities like climate change, etc, for the next 6 years, they are going to state gov later this year asking for the money for this period.

      Hence why I suggest you might want to start involvement with these guys as soon as possible because to get anything added to the…

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    7. Robert Molyneux

      Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

      In reply to Guy Dixon

      Hi Guy,
      Have you managed to get a sponsor / pilot implementation yet?

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    8. Robert Molyneux

      Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

      In reply to Michael Shand

      I think Guy is not competing with companies to waste money digging service trenches. He is offering an alternative that saves money by avoiding digging trenches.
      I agree with you that approaching Singapore would be a good idea - the Singapore government is basically repeating what Holland did in making more and more land and expanding - they buy islands from Indonesia which they use for land fill at their margins.
      I can't see Guy's idea taking off with old assets - green-field sub-divisions are a different matter.

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    9. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Robert Molyneux

      It is directly competing with the existing business

      When I state singapore, I mean singapore power who owns multinet gas and jemena and united energy, singapore power are also owned by china state grid.

      So the distribution companies in VIC, NSW, SA are all foreign owned and the only business these distribution companies do is distribution - poles and wires

      they get their dist licence from the gov, the zones for each licence are well defined - Citipower is responsible for the citpower zone - they cannot do work in other area's unless they are doing work on behalf of that zone licence holder.

      So you can't just start a company and start offering services, you would either need to work with these multinational companies as a service provider or you would have to get a dist licence in that zone...which is their market share....believe me they don't just give up market share

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  14. Murray Barnard

    logged in via Facebook

    Sadly, South West Western Australia and Perth continues to suffer from reduced rainfall, a pattern for the last 25 year. Rainfall run-off has decreased by 65%, Perth relies on 2 seawater distillation plants and the unique SW forests are suffering. Climate change is variable in it's impact. Weatehr systems have moved South in WA and the rain fronts pass South of Cape Leeuwin to a much greater degree than a decade ago.

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  15. John Newlands

    tree changer

    We are told that carbon farming will be a major component of Direct Action. The idea I gather is to generate carbon credits that can be sold to big (baseline exceeding) emitters and thereby wipe the slate clean. When a big dry follows a wet period we have baked soil, ferocious fires and stunting of some growth. I suggest we then have negative credits. If a carbon sink that was sold for carbon credits fails to keep up the good work then surely the credit seller should make a refund. It is their job to maintain ongoing water and fire protection to justify the sale of the credit.

    Since I understand this will not happen you'd have to think the whole exercise is questionable. One proposal I recall was to put the failed carbon sink under review and say 'hmm' for several years hoping it comes good. Instead we should make it harder to burn coal, a reversal of a primordial carbon sink, not provide cheap copouts.

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    1. Robert Molyneux

      Citizen at Drehmex Sales and Services

      In reply to John Newlands

      No - there are no carbon credits. The COAL government does NOT believe in a market-led system.
      Rather, the idea to shovel money into the coffers of (rich) polluters to get them to cease and desist.
      The carbon farming rort is to shovel money into the coffers of agrarian socialists to keep them pacified when the historical cycle of "droughts and flooding rains" of about 7 to 10 years in Australia (which is manageable with help from a bank) becomes about 3 to 5 years, which will exhaust the ability of banks to handle the ups and downs except if they are instructed by a COAL government to give special treatment.

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  16. Les McNamara

    logged in via Facebook

    A record-breaking massive uptake and release of carbon over relatively short time periods isn't really a "remarkable example of ecosystems working to stabilise the Earth’s climate". I seems more like a symptom of climate instability.

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  17. Hon Peter Lewis

    logged in via Facebook

    John, correct. Direct action carbon farming is a lie. In geological terms it is simply putting the carbon on a very, very short merry-go-round. Plants grow, even for fifty or a couple of hundred years, die and decompose releasing all the carbon they extracted. Planting our farmlands used and needed for 'food, fuel, fibre and furniture' creates another set problem if we try to make substitute fossil of it. Where do we then grow our food. fuel, fibre & furniture raw material? Its stupid, short sighted…

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