Hot under the collar

A simple farming principle should guide climate policy: hope for the best, plan for the worst

YET another extreme weather event, so yet another comment piece on climate change, huh?

Whether it is climate change sceptics citing the freezing over of the Antarctic as evidence global warming is a crock, or left wing lobbyists using the heatwave to push for strict new rules, commentary on the matter is a dime a dozen.

But before your eyes glaze over or you flick to the next page, consider this: a simple farming principle should also be used to guide our climate policy.

Let’s hope for the best, while planning for the worst.

I know there are those of you that argue these events are simply part of a natural cycle and that there were hot days in the past, or that this is part of a longer term pattern that goes back beyond record keeping, but the simple fact is this: data shows Australia is warming.

Victoria, in particular, is likely to get less rain in the future according to virtually every model.

This isn’t to say it’s all doom and gloom - farmers have shown over the Millennium Drought they are capable of growing good crops and running successful livestock operations on less rain than ever before.

However, some sensible plans to halt greenhouse gases should be implemented. If, as the sceptics say, humans have nothing to do with the change in temperatures, more the better.

There’s plenty of low hanging fruit without a piecemeal carbon tax that was implemented as action for action’s sake.

Big polluters need to play their part, but there’s also changes that can be made on a more local scale.

Let’s start with housing design – within the Wimmera there are new houses being built without eaves and with black roofs, in an area that can reach over 40 degrees for a week on end! Sharpen up the energy saving requirements of building for a start and it will make a huge difference in electricity consumption.

Food packaging also comes into consideration – since when have we needed the reams of plastic in the so-called fresh food section, stickers on all pieces of fruit and so forth?

Inner city residents also have a part to play. Instead of smugly talking about their low carbon footprint (enabled by public transport options unavailable to rural residents) perhaps they could think more carefully about washing down their soon-to-be Instagrammed meals with bottles of mineral water coming all the way from Italy.

We need to get emissions down, urgently. It may well be that something more drastic has to be done down the track, but let’s get started with the low hanging fruit.

Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

is the national grains writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


31/01/2014 6:19:21 AM

You are really game Gregor to suggest that urban populations should curb their extravagant lifestyles. The problem of urban contribution to climate change was solved when John Howard and the state premiers came up with the idea of forcing farmers to grow gum trees that would sequester the carbon output from the towns. Maybe the one biggest change that could be made to the urban extravaganza for the benefit of the planet would be a ban on overseas holidays. Would be good for the Australia economy too.
31/01/2014 6:39:26 AM

Are you serious?!! Hoping for rain is not a business plan.
31/01/2014 7:18:18 AM

Gregor, that's all good sense, but it's not "left wing" to argue for stronger measures if that's what the science says is needed. It's just rational behaviour, and good for the economy too. But your last sentence is a worry: something more drastic, you say, may be needed "down the track". As the World Bank says, "without bold action *now*, the warming planet threatens to put prosperity out of reach of millions ..." See: /climatechange/overview
2/02/2014 9:40:10 AM

Climate change is a favourite of the Fairfax press but climate models are proving to be incorrect. It's a con.
3/02/2014 6:50:04 AM

Please provide some genuine evidence for your serious accusation, JR.
20/02/2014 7:47:39 AM

Hmm, what did the late Reid A. Bryson, who in his day were "the most frequently cited climatologist in the world", have to say about the last 150 odd years of warming climate... “All this argument is the temperature going up or not, it’s absurd, Of course it’s going up. It has gone up since the early 1800s, before the Industrial Revolution, because we’re coming out of the Little Ice Age, not because we’re putting more carbon dioxide into the air.”
Frank Blunt
4/03/2014 6:48:04 AM

Yes Sod and the tiny little warming has been good not bad for the planet and life. Warmth is good. More carbon dioxide is good also. Some brain dead sections of society just don't get these simple facts.
4/03/2014 7:55:25 AM

Frank Blunt says "warmth is good"? Spoken to any farmers battling drought lately, Frank? I think they would seriously dispute that statement. Broadacre farmers and livestock producers alike here in Qld would like a break from the "warmth" you speak of. Many also agree it's getting hotter, and that's not a good thing. Get a clue.
7/03/2014 8:41:11 AM

via lou: "...says "warmth is good"? Spoken to any farmers battling drought lately, Frank? I think they would seriously dispute that statement. Broadacre farmers and livestock producers alike here in Qld would like a break from the "warmth" you speak of..." ___lou, are you suggesting the 'warmth' is a cause of drought? As any farmer knows Oz do get droughts in winter. In fact, during the last ice age ten thousand years ago Australia's deserts were far larger then now and extended right up to the great divide.
Frank Blunt
7/03/2014 9:57:07 AM

Errrr lou , you don't also go under the name of Nico, holisticmick or BG do you ? I am sure you do.
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A matter of opinionA selection of editorials from around the Fairfax Agricultural Media group covering the issues of the week.


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