This is The ChangeUnderground for the 27th of June 2022.
I’m your host, Jon Moore
Decarbonise the Air, Recarbonise the Soil!
I’ve listened to the horrified reactions of farmer’s around the world when it comes to the methane produced by ruminants. The usual suspects deny it’s a problem, the other usual suspects advocate for animal free agriculture. Somewhere in between lies the solution.
I’ve discussed some of these issues in Episode 272: Methane? Briefly, are there more ruminants in the world than there was before the start of the Industrial Revolution? Maybe, maybe not. If the numbers are roughly equivalent then the methane exuded is part of the usual background makeup of the atmosphere. That idea though hasn’t stopped methane from ruminants being a target in the emission reduction.
This will involve change. There’s a couple of ways to approach this. Arbitrary, draconian and enforced from a central bureaucracy rarely goes well. Toss in the independent nature of most farmers and that’s a recipe for disaster.
Enter New Zealand. Here is the land of Aus, New Zealand seems to embody all that was once good in our country that they’ve held onto as we’ve drifted more towards the cruel and the “cold as charity” approach to governance. New Zealand keeps offering to and actually taking refugees that turn up on our shores that we then warehouse in PNG in disgusting conditions until the Kiwis offer to do the right thing. But I digress.
From the Agriland site comes a piece by Aisling O’Brien entitled New Zealand accelerates efforts to lower agricultural emissions, link in the show notes.
The New Zealand government has committed NZ$710 million (€430 million) over the next four years to speed up efforts to lower agricultural emissions.
And from further in the piece
In its budget for 2022, the country’s government has allocated just over NZ$6 million to support the implementation of a pricing system for agricultural emissions.
There will also be funding for forestry to develop alternatives to fossil fuels, boost carbon storage and increase sequestration.
The government said that it will provide over NZ$36 million to support producers and Maori entities to transition to a low-emissions future.
And further still in the piece,
“This investment will not only sharpen our competitive edge in the future, it will also unlock opportunities for careers in agri-tech and generate export revenue through product development.
“The sooner tools are ready for farmers the sooner we move on our goal of biogenic methane reduction of 10% by 2030 and 24%-47% by 2050,” Minister O’Connor said.
So not only are the Kiwis pushing for change, they understand the need to support their ag and forestry sectors. They’ve recognised the problem, provided the funding and pointed the private and public sectors towards finding solutions with goals in mind. From what I can tell there’s buy in from the farming groups and individual farmers in New Zealand. And this is the key to the whole thing.
For dairying or small scale producers, seaweed supplements can be easily monitored. On a 100 square kilometre property where cattle are seen once a year and mustered by helicopters, ensuring those beasts are consuming enough red seaweed to counteract the methane burps is a more problematic matter.
The CSIRO, Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organisation and some of the ag departments in some of the universities have been selecting for low methane beasts in their breeding programs. These along with the financial supports the Kiwis are providing their farmers seems a way forward.
Certainly these actions will keep ruminants on the soil where they do much good, when managed in a rotational manner. I see this approach as far better than biovat protein production. This latter method has no understanding of stock beyond food. Their environmental services are not considered by the Silicon Valley/vegan types pushing manufactured protein.
Speaking of environmental services, some bad news out of Australia. We have, until recently, managed to avoid the dreaded varroa mite in this wide brown land. This tiny little parasite has been destroying bee hives across the rest of the globe since at least 1963.
From the ABC site comes a report by Olivia Calver entitled: Varroa mite detection at Port of Newcastle threatens Australia’s bee industry.
Varroa mite has been detected in biosecurity surveillance hives at the Port of Newcastle, threatening the bee industry.
Australia has been the only continent to remain free of the parasite, with previous detections in Queensland and Victoria eradicated.
The Varroa destructor, commonly called varroa mite, spreads viruses that cripple bees’ ability to fly, gather food, or emerge from their cell to be born.
It also significantly reduces their ability to pollinate crops.
It’s a good thing we have biosecurity surveillance hives but. A fifty klick no movement zone for hives or equipment has been instituted. It appears this incursion has been contained as were the previous two but it really does feel like it’s only a matter of time before this pest settles in the antipodes on a permanent basis.
Tassie might last longer with the extra moat we have in the form of Bass Strait so who knows. On that matter, Fun Fact to tell your friends, Tasmania is the only state to have the European bumblebee.
Things are changing, diseases and pests are roaming the world. Changes need to be made but we must take everyone with us. The current world energy prices should be a driver for this change yet I see many of my Facebook friends looking to blame people and return to some mythical golden age. Golden Ages never really existed, as Mike Duncan pointed out in some episode of his History of Rome, the Golden Age was always a few generations back and a few generations back people thought the same thing. We can make the world a better place for all life on this planet. The current price surge driven by higher energy prices and the extra cash floating around as a result of the government spending during the first two years of the pandemic, demand inflation, if my memory serves me correctly, and the supply chain bottlenecks are giving a chance to re-set to shorten our supply lines. My suggestion is to start with growing our own food, at least some of it. When we do that we end up not spending cash on food other people have grown, cash that, for most people in the developed world, we have already paid tax on. We avoid sales taxes too. Growing a food garden may well be the most revolutionary thing we can do, right now that actually makes the world a better place.
Certainly a world with better flavour. And as I said last episode, flavour and kindness could well be the drivers for our salvation as a species.
So let’s all be kind and grow some food.
If you’d like help, the discount is still on for the No-Dig garden Course over at World Organic News. It’s currently selling for $17 dollars not the usual $149 until the world starts to return to a little more normality.
So if you have been put off in the past, now is the time to jump in and learn. If you know anyone would be interested and the more people we can get growing the better, please let them know. I’ll have a link in the show notes or you can go to the World Organic News.com website and click the course tab. Please spread the word, we need to get as much food happening as possible as close to the people eating it as we can. The best time to move from consumption to production was probably 50 years ago, the second best time is now.
Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
Thank you all for listening and I’ll be back next week.
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Climate change: New Zealand’s plan to tax cow and sheep burps
Varroa mite detection at Port of Newcastle threatens Australia’s bee industry