Carbon is OK in the Carbon Cycle

Posted on September 30, 2019

Everyone is entitled to their opinion on climate change, and a long list of futuristic tragedies have been predicted over the past three decades. With the start of 2020 now only three months away, most of these predictions are turning out to be misinformation. This month we will try to take out the emotion, and start dealing with what is actually happening to our climate, not what might happen.

People are welcome to their views, but we have had a long list of futuristic tragedies given to us over the past three decades and many will be becoming Planet Earth in three months’ time…2020. Most of it is turning out to be misinformation and it is starting to wear thin as few of these predictions ever happen. Take out the emotion and start dealing with what is happening not what might happen and theory upon theory.

Fact 1: The climate is changing.

Fact 2: It always has done.

My ancestors were Viking and came from Greenland when it was green (warm times). There are plenty of Kauri trees alive in our forests right now that were growing when my ancestors were in Greenland and it was green. It’s not that long ago and we need to come back into perspective. A little time later in the last millennium those very same Kauri trees were alive when the Thames River in London would ice over every winter (cold times).

 

 

We often have the message put to us that the science is settled, and we either believe it…don’t even question it because if we do, we are an evil climate change denier. At the same time the climate change science fraternity are seeking billions for research to prove that the science is settled and that is where this whole argument starts involving tax and confusion and the big propaganda machine brings us misleading scientific news. It is misleading because it is mostly just theories that don’t eventuate, and the goal posts keep moving. This all turned into madness this year when they put a schoolgirl reading a script into the global spotlight as the climate change mascot. It was cruel and disrespectful or brilliant marketing depending on how you wish to view it. It speaks volumes for the money generating cynical agenda running this show in a direction for themselves regardless of what is best for the human race. It more and more looks like a very clever scam and hence this column.

New Zealand is doing their marketing pitch on zero carbon but only swimming in a pool of minnows whilst bringing extra financial burdens to us. It won’t change anything on a global scale, but we feel good about ourselves and pat ourselves on the back while the big guys keep doing their own thing.

There was an article this week telling us how climate change will be affecting one billion people by 2050. OK I’ll consider that alongside these following facts then measure if climate change is the most pressing issue on the planet right now or whether we are aiming in the wrong direction with our focus:

  • There will 10,000,000,000 people on earth by 2050
  • Yesterday, 825,000,000 went without food. We have a crisis already and our biggest problem is here staring us in the face.
  • How many people will be going without food in 2050?
  • Climate change is not #1 problem! Food and clean water come first, and this other stuff we will have to learn how to adapt and live with it.

We have time to react and adapt like we have for centuries. The Netherlands is below sea level and China is building large islands in the Pacific. Engineers are very smart people and can create solutions, but 825,000,000 people are going without food today.

Question: What can New Zealanders tangibly provide as a solution to improve the planet?

If we really care about the facts, our priorities should be ordered like more like this.

  1. Clean Water
  2. Food for all
  3. Let me know when we have fixed the first 2 items

Amongst all this dark, heavy doom and gloom and complete lack of optimism I thought about who is doing their bit. (It is not those who turned up to the UN talkfests in their private jets). To lay some credit for New Zealand we do have internationally, very good runs on the board in our native planting schemes.

Carbon from the carbon cycle is going to be needed in our atmosphere and soils to grow food and feed the billions. Science 101 says; To grow, plants need energy from the sun, water from the soil and carbon from the air.

 

 

Fact 3: Plants love carbon. They feed on CO2, cycle it and/or lock it up in a permanent store. Soils and wetlands are some of the biggest carbon sinks on earth. Wetlands are amongst the most complex eco-systems in how they lock up carbon and bio sequester methane. The message should be to cycle more carbon into plant matter and food products.

There is the analogy that climbing Mt Everest starts with a single step. Well think about this and reflect on what has been accomplished in the beginnings of restoring of waterways in the rural parts of New Zealand over the past 25 years. The dairy farming community are the focus of an environmental campaign, but this needs to be put into perspective with the world lacking food (dairy) and credit needs to be put where credit is due.

The Taranaki Regional Council is a good example of where there is high volumes of dairy farming and massive amounts waterway protection which began 25 years ago in a small way but has gained huge momentum and now is something we can be proud of on the world stage to show we are doing our bit and are not copping out.

Fact 4: The Taranaki Regional Council figures; Nearly 99.5% of all farms in the region are now voluntarily signed up to implement 2500 management plans covering 16,000km of rural waterways and protecting 6000km of native habitat. Around 85% of all streams have been fenced off and nearly 6 million plants have been planted protecting around 70% of all streams! This is incredible and full credit to you Taranaki. The improvement in macroinvertebrate life (the little guys who live in our stream ecosystems) has been measured across almost all the streams with all except two streams showing improvement. These life forms are the first to respond to improved stream water quality.

 

 

These figures are very impressive and if we replicated this over all streams in New Zealand, the possibilities this contains for an actual sustainable clean green NZ Inc food is massive and we can play a part in feeding the 10,000,000,000.

 

Another truck load of plants bound for the Taranaki Regional Council

 

What will the Taranaki rivers and streams look like in 2050? Still the discussions will advance to the nitrate and phosphorus leaching into waterways via the soils, and bring this on but, to use the Everest analogy, we must spend time even getting to Base Camp. We will see huge progress and advancements in how we apply nutrients to our soils, and this is very exciting but is going to be the steep part of Everest and our journey as a food producer for the world.

 

Plants ready to be planted in stream restoration

 

One thing for absolute surety the Taranaki Region will have native bush corridors running from Mt Taranaki to the coasts in all its streams and linking back up into the central North Island. These streams will have excellent water quality and thriving ecosystems for flora and fauna.

 

Retiring pastoral grassland and restoring coastal wetlands

 

In 2050 I wonder where we will be dumping the mega tonnes of obsolete lithium batteries and where the stockpiles will be and who will be decrying the idea that we went down such a path. One thing for certain, native plants cannot break down pollutants such as lithium ion batteries. If microbes and bacteria cannot break down a substance, then it is not sustainable. This is our nuclear moment and a toxic waste moment. Plants can sequester carbon though. I know which I prefer.

As a glass half full mindset, I see the brilliance of New Zealanders and their number 8 wire mentality to work with climate change and to find solutions. Queenstown and Fiordland were beneath kilometres of glacial ice not that long ago. It doesn’t take much to prove that the climate changes on earth. Don’t panic but be optimistic. Look to nature and find the ways to deal with it. Remember those Kauri trees that are still alive from when Greenland was green (warmer times), and the Thames River was ice (colder times).

 

In this painting from 1677, you can see how thick the ice would have been on the Thames.

https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/The-Thames-Frost-Fairs/ for image location

 

We most certainly need to improve and protect our waterways and resources, and by 2050 this will be a global asset for the benefit of the human race.

We need to protect our soils that can sustainably feed ourselves and the 10,000,000,000 people while cycling carbon into food and energy.

If we can do this then we can prosper both environmentally and socially. We can also say, like the Taranaki Region will be able to say, we have done our bit for the planet. This won’t be in a theoretical way but in a tangible proven way and certainly not a cop out.

 

Native planting under the watchful eye of Mt Taranaki

 

Kauri Park is pleased to be a part of the Taranaki Regional Councils’ efforts over the past few years to be a global example in what is truly an amazing environmental story that we can leave with the next generations to follow in the journey we have begun.

Kauri Park is growing and greening NZ with a really cool little natural element called carbon which is an excellent source of fuel for all living things.