Opinion piece from Dr Johannes Bauer

Who is Prof Schellnhuber and why is what he said important?

Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber –  for twenty years the head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and a senior advisor to Pope Francis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union.

This is what Prof Schellnhuber had to say August 2018:

“Climate change is now reaching the end-game, where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences.”…. the issue now “is the very survival of our civilisation, where conventional means of analysis may become useless”.

Prof Schellnhuber is neither an alarmist nor a journalist but a very rational scientist who has been one of the leaders of the scientific community for two decades on this.

And what are the latest policy decisions in Australia? We have appointed two climate deniers to important political posts; Angus Taylor as the new Minister for Energy in the Coalition Government and Barnaby Joyce as the new envoy for the government’s drought relief program. One has the power to implement a climate change policy that is in keeping with community expectations and the other has the role of mopping up the issues that arise from a drought that many believe is connected to climate change.

Where do we go with this issue? We have been 10 years on the treadmill and haven’t moved one inch towards an acceptable policy dedicated to minimising CO2 emissions.

Well there are some alternatives. Here is one that was sent to the Institute by a frustrated member:

“This is getting beyond a joke that destroys the future of our children. The politicians here who have created this unbelievable mess, unique in the entire world, should be taken to court and held responsible for their inaction. Currently 1100 cases of class action have been taken around the world (e.g. 21 children are sue-ing the US government, 800 citizens of Netherlands will force their government to take action, and so on). This is quite likely the way to go – as we know money talks. And it would be a very good idea if we, our civil society, scientists and farmers would get together and take them to court. This is serious stuff, and not for future prime ministers to take pieces of coal into parliament for a laugh.”

“If we look ahead 10 years and anticipate that droughts will become a greater feature of the Australian landscape than ever before isn’t it time we started to think less in terms of handouts to farmers and more in terms of creating a Farm Planning Advisory Service to implement a program that
(a) enriches farm soil carbon, and
(b) enables farmers to plan for the lean years.”

“How many Farm Planners would a billion dollars employ! Orange area, for example, could have a farm planning network where the capacity of the region to manage a 1-2 year drought could be developed. In this way the government would know that financial aid would be needed at a point as determined by the size of the feed storage available in a given region. As was pointed out to the AIEA this week there are many farms in NSW that have managed the drought quite well and there are many farms which were overstocked leading up to the drought.”

Dr Johannes Bauer

Comments 2

  1. G’day Johannes,
    Really interesting information. In terms of soil carbon storage although on a small scale we have Federally funded Landcare programs in place that involvle a number of projects where carbon storage is part of the projects. For example we are monitoring carbon on an organic farm where we have trialed a range of green manure crops over the last three years. This project now extended is coring the soil to 90cm and reporting on carbon levels over the next three years.

    An issue which contradicts soil carbon storage is where dominant ryegrass pastures (a shallow rooted species) are grazed to three leaf stage and where root mass does not extend far beyond 300mm, hence deeper carbon storage which you might get from fescue or cocksfoot, prairie grass species are not pursued.

    Agreed farm planning is essential. Property planning workshops do take place across Victoria where whole farm planning and an agroecological approach is passed onto farmers along with soil workshops where critical aspects of sustainable soil management is delivered.

    Of course we all agree that it is this approach on a much wider scale that is required but at least CMA’s and Landcare groups across Victoria are pushing projects that do cover the aspects discussed.
    Chris Alenson

    1. Dear Chris

      Thanks a lot for this important piece of information and your encouraging remarks. It is so good to see that things are happening but this happens much to slow and not with the support of a federal government but having to cope with one that is working against it. I think States like Victoria and SA will start to compensate for such federal obstruction and one would wish that in agriculture we would have some Teslar batteries. I have not mentioned this in my opinion piece but what I find especially incomprehensible is that farmers in Australia are all but excluded from taking advantage of our huge potential to restore our degraded and plundered forests (along with the soil in them) and have the government support this, instead of leaving it to big mining companies best set up to take advantage of such. As you said. this all needs to be not subject to endless trials but be implemented across Australia- and FAST as time is running out. Only a government can do such but this might well be an opportunity to revitalise a demolished government agency landscape. I hape that AIEA can develop leadership in such and people like you will be essential to make such things happen. I certainly hope that AIEA can become a force to restore our farmers belief in joining the international community in climate action, instead of becoming cynical and disengaged to what we have to watch from Canberra on an almost daily basis and be insulted by Ministers of the environment who do not even read the latest IPCC report – their duty- which is scary stuff. But then again, looking at the Minister it’s hardly likely she would understand a word. Thanks again Chris- and keep talking


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