By Viv Forbes, Dr Albrecht Glatzle, et al – Re-Blogged From http://www.WattsUpWithThat.com
“The whole purpose of farming is to convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into useful products.”
New Zealand Scientist and IPCC Reviewer
Grasslands, arable lands and the oceans provide all mankind with food and fibre. But the productivity and health of our farms and livestock are under threat from global warming alarmists and green preservationists.
It is poor public policy that condones restrictions on grazing operations, or taxes on grazing animals, based on disputed theories that claim that bodily emissions from farm animals will cause dangerous global warming.
Ruminants such as sheep, cattle and goats cannot make long-term additions to the gases in the atmosphere – they just recycle atmospheric carbon and nitrogen nutrients in a cycle-of-life that has operated for millennia
Grazing ruminant animals with their emission products have always been part of healthy grasslands. Only when large numbers of animals are confined on the one patch of land do pollution problems appear.
Many otherwise genuine environmentalists are assisting the destruction of grasslands with their native pastures and endangered grass birds. Blinded by their love for the trees, they neglect the grasses, legumes, herbs and livestock that provide their food. In Australia they pass laws to protect weedy eucalypts invading the grasslands but ignore the valuable and declining Mitchell grass that once dominated Australia’s treeless plains.
Grasslands are also under threat from cultivation for biofuel crops, from subsidised carbon credit forests and from the remorseless encroachment of fire-prone government reserves and pest havens.
Trying to control atmospheric gases with taxes is futile and anti-life. Even if carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere doubled, or more, the climate effect if any, is probably beneficial (warmer at night and near the poles and with more moisture in the atmosphere). More importantly, all life on Earth already benefits from the additional CO2 plant nutrient in the atmosphere, and would benefit even more were CO2 to double.
Nitrogen is the most abundant natural gas in the atmosphere, inhaled in every breath and an essential component of all protein. Grazing livestock merely recycle a few compounds of nitrogen, all of which either return to the atmosphere or provide valuable nitrogen fertilisers for the plants they graze on.
It is a foolish and costly fantasy to believe that Earth’s climate can be controlled by passing laws, imposing taxes, attempting to manipulate the bodily emissions of farm animals or trying to prevent farmers from clearing woody weeds invading their pastures.
Our Farms and Grasslands are precious.
70% of our blue planet is covered by oceans. Grasslands and arable land cover just 10% of Earth’s surface but produce most of our food and fibre. The remaining 20% is land covered by desert, ice, mountains, forests, cities, roads, quarries, swimming pools and mines which together produce almost no food for humans.
Plains, prairies, veldts and savannas with good soil and rainfall tend to be cultivated for domesticated grasses and legumes such as wheat, corn, rice, barley, oats, rye, lucerne and soy beans plus the giant grasses like sugar cane and the fibre crop, cotton. Grasses and legumes, not trees, are the key food resources for the world. (Even the lovable pandas rely on another giant grass, bamboo.)
“I saw very few tree species, but every place was covered
with vast quantities of grass.”
Sir Joseph Banks, 1770
The first great English botanist to visit Australia
However, the poorer grasslands are best utilised by grazing animals – cattle, sheep, goats, deer and llamas. No other method can economically harvest sparse grassland vegetation and convert it on site (using green energy) into edible protein and fats, with by-products of wool, leather and fertiliser.
Mankind relies far more on native and cultivated grasslands and grazing ruminants than on the trees, forests, wetlands and bio-fuel crops worshipped by green urbanites.
“Farmers and pastoralists have delivered incredible animal efficiency gain. That is, producing more with less inputs.
This achievement should be applauded, but is at risk because of misguided green policies, and that’s a travesty.”
Former President Federated Farmers of New Zealand.
The Destructive War on Carbon Dioxide
Farm animals are blamed for causing an increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
If carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were to double (as has happened in the past) two things are certain.
First, there would still be argument as to whether the increased carbon dioxide had caused any harmful effect on climate. If there was any detectable increase in average world temperature, it would be experienced as benign changes such as warmer nights and more temperate climate near the poles.
And second, there would be obvious other benefits for all life on Earth – more growth of all plants and more food for all animals.
Already we can see that higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are encouraging plant growth and vegetation cover, making our grasses, pastures and orchards more drought-tolerant, producing more food per unit of land and allowing plants to gradually recolonise the deserts. Both CSIRO (Australia) and NASA (USA) have testified to this greening and the production of wheat, corn and soybeans are at near record levels.
The War on Livestock
A report in “The World Watch Institute” (WWI) claims that livestock account for “at least 51%” of annual worldwide “greenhouse gas” emissions. The authors conclude that replacing livestock products with soy and other products would be the best strategy for reversing climate change. They claim that this approach would even be better than trying to replace carbon energy with “renewable energy.”
There are big problems with these assumptions:
“The notion that half of our emissions comes from livestock occurs only
by using accounting methods that would see the directors in jail
if these methods were employed in a capital-raising prospectus.”
Sheep and Cattle Breeder, New Zealand
Australia’s Ross Garnaut, an economist, is even more far-out – he thinks Aussies should graze kangaroos, not cattle and sheep:
(He has not heard that kangaroos, like cattle and sheep, use bacteria to digest fibrous plant material by fermentation, chew their cud, and probably create similar gaseous emissions.)
Moreover, the WWI figures are wrong and ignore ecosystem functions and nutrient cycling. And even the more moderate Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) systematically overstate the man-made part of the emissions because they omit to subtract the sometimes considerable baseline emissions from the pre-agricultural native ecosystems.
If Green Politicians had their way, sheep, cattle and introduced grasses would be removed from the grasslands and replaced by kangaroos and dingos, bison and wolves, wildebeests and lions, scrubby forest and feral animals. They would lock up grazing lands, ban the occasional fires that cleanse weeds and rejuvenate grass, and outlaw attempts to control invasive woody weeds. This would have two effects: first, to slash food production and depopulate rural areas; second, to increase wildfire risk and encourage the spread of feral animals and weeds.
Livestock and Methane
Methane is a natural gas produced by many life forms and it also seeps naturally from marshes, oceans, tundras, oil seeps and coal seams. None of these natural sources can be measured, but livestock are wrongfully singled out as the main offenders. Unmeasured methane also seeps out of the growing city landfills and from leaky natural gas pipelines.
“High methane content in the atmosphere does not correlate with high livestock concentrations. Strong emitters seem to be wetlands in Siberia, humid tropical forests and rice paddy fields in China. Livestock emissions are totally dwarfed by methane leaching from the massive clathrate deposits below the permafrost in Siberia, on continental shelves and in the deep ocean. Earthquakes and submarine volcanism can disturb and suddenly release methane from clathrates.”
Dr Albrecht Glatzle,
Agronomist and Cattle Rancher, Paraguay.
Top – Global atmospheric methane distribution as measured by the ENVISAT satellite over three complete years, 2003-2005 [69, 70];
Bottom – Global total livestock distribution of both ruminants and monogastrics. There is no discernible geographical relationship between methane and livestock distribution.
Paradoxically, Greens also want to protect, enhance and enlarge wetlands that generate copious quantities of marsh gas, otherwise known as methane – that dreaded gas that attracts condemnation when emitted by ruminants.
Methane is supposedly far more effective than CO2 as a “greenhouse gas” (between 20 and 100 times, depending what you read). But methane can absorb incoming solar radiation as well as outgoing IR from Earth, thus reducing its claimed warming effect by day. Moreover the radiative warming potential of methane is largely masked by water vapour. Also, methane is lighter than air and it rises quickly, thus transporting and radiating much of its heat to space. It soon oxidises harmlessly in the upper atmosphere where each molecule of methane produces JUST ONE molecule of CO2 (not 20-100), and two molecules of that other dreadful “greenhouse gas”, water vapour.
Volcanic eruptions can have a large effect on methane in the atmosphere. There were four large eruptions in the 20th century. “Analysis shows that Mt Pinatubo created a pulse of some 26Mt of methane in 1991” (Tom Quirk, 2010).
And another 500 powerful methane vents have recently been discovered on the Pacific sea floor off the USA:
“It appears that the entire coast off Washington, Oregon and California is a giant methane seep,”
Massive herds of ruminants have roamed the grasslands since the last ice age.
Methane from modern ruminants is a non-problem.
Livestock, Nitrogen and Pollution
As Green activists lose the livestock battles on carbon dioxide and methane, a new livestock “problem” arrives – “nitrogen”.
Nitrogen is the most abundant atmospheric gas, making up 78% of the atmosphere.
It is true that ruminant (and human) urine and faeces contains compounds of nitrogen, and in another bit of nature’s serendipity, most soils contain less nitrogen than plants would like, so the foraging ruminants fertilise the pasture as they pass. Any nitrous oxide gas that directly enters the atmosphere gets oxidised by ozone to form water-soluble nitrogen dioxide which is washed out by rain to spread valuable fertiliser over large areas of land.
All livestock “waste” is plant food.
However there can always be too much of a good thing. If animals (or humans) are confined in feedlots producing large amounts of waste on a small area of land there will be pollution unless these “wastes” are treated to produce valuable fertiliser and applied lightly and sensibly to the land. City pollution has certainly killed people, but no one has been killed by emissions from freely grazing ruminants.
Natural grasslands and well-run grass farms try to mimic the operations of the massive herds of wild ruminants. The concentrated herds are used in rotation to prune the grass, spread fertiliser and seeds, break any soil hard crusts with animal impact, and then move on, allowing the grass to recover.
Trees are Invading our Grasslands
Most natural grasslands were treeless or nearly so.
However, some landowners have been bribed to encumber their land with a growing green liability – the carbon credit forests. They have signed contracts with carbon farming entrepreneurs to plant and maintain forests of trees on the promise of generous “carbon credit” payments for the carbon being stored in the trees as they grow. But they can never clear these trees without triggering a liability.
All such schemes, being supported only by the promises of politicians, are doomed to failure. Some have already collapsed, leaving the gullible landowners with another liability – a thicket of woody weeds filled with wild dogs, wild pigs and feral cattle too smart to be mustered out of the thickening scrub. Farmers who choose to integrate a forestry enterprise with their grazing activities (without subsidies or mandates), should be free to do so – such activities can profitably benefit the health of the trees, grasses and animals. But the pointless and costly mandating or subsidising of carbon forests must stop.
Greens have also ensured that the ever-expanding national parks and reserves have become a danger and liability to their grazing neighbours. The lock-out of grazing animals, the slaughter of wild brumbies, buffalo and camels, the fire restrictions, and the banning of sporting shooters have filled many national parks with feral pests and a tinder-box of weedy rubbish just waiting for a lightning strike, a bonfire or an arsonist to start an un-controllable wild-fire.
Should Carbon Dioxide be Buried?
Livestock Capture Carbon
There are some extremists with such a morbid fear of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that they want to extract it and bury it deep in the Earth, as if it were radioactive waste. For example:
“Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) is considered a crucial strategy for meeting CO2 emission reduction targets”: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032114005450
Most of the grass in grasslands is either eaten by grazing animals or removed by fire – some decays and becomes humus. Fire immediately pours the carbon dioxide from burning plants (plus smoke, ash, soot and charcoal) back to the atmosphere and soil whereas cattle and sheep capture and store much of it.
“Cows are nature’s carbon capture technology as well as a cheap source of protein for the world.”
See: https://youtu.be/q_BD5FApHKc (NB Watch this short clip)
Australian cattleman & Director of MLA (Meat and Livestock Australia).
Greens promote trees over grasslands and grazing animals as a method of “sequestering carbon”. However, unless mature trees are continually logged and turned into long-life timber or furniture, they eventually die, decay or are burnt, thus returning their carbon to the atmosphere. The forest inevitably reaches a state where there is zero net capture and storage of carbon from the atmosphere.
In grassland grazing, mature grazing animals are methodically mustered and removed from the land, to be turned into food supplies for expanding populations. Much of this carbon in cattle and sheep ends up in long-life repositories like leather, bones, humus or in the bodies of humans who eat the meat and then, in the long run, are sealed in coffins and buried.
The great Australian bush singer, Tex Morton, says it all:
“Wrap me up in my stockwhip and blanket
And bury me deep down below
Where the dingos and crows can’t molest me
On the flats where the coolabahs grow”
Once again greens have got it “Bass Ackwards” (to steal a phrase from the great Dr Howard Hayden) – grazed grasslands are more sustainable than unlogged forests if you want to sequester carbon.
The Carbon Cycle of Life
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the ultimate source for the carbon in all plants and animals. Every blade of native pasture and every ear of cultivated corn are composed of various compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and minerals, all extracted from air, soil and water. In the long run, every atom of carbon in these plants originates from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Because it is only present in trace quantities, carbon dioxide is often the limiting plant growth factor (at mid-day over a field of growing corn, all CO2 is often removed from the air above the crop).
Every landscape, natural or managed, is subject to digestion and decomposition processes which result in returning carbon (usually CO2 with some methane) and nitrogen to the atmosphere. Grazing livestock have always been part of this natural cycle.
“Cows and caribou, sheep and springboks are not alchemists –
they cannot create carbon or nitrogen out of nothing.
“Every atom of these elements in livestock emissions can only have come from the grass they eat or the air they breathe.
This natural cycle of life is a zero sum game.”
Earth Scientist, Grass Farmer, Sheep and Cattle Breeder, Australia
When native grasses, legumes, herbs and their seeds are eaten by grazing ruminants every atom of carbon and nitrogen they absorb from the fodder goes to build meat, milk, fat, hair, wool, leather, horns and bone, or it is returned to the biosphere via emissions such as respiration, and digestive functions that produce burps, farts, urine or manure.
This carbon/nitrogen extraction process starts the day the animal is conceived and ceases on the day it dies. It is the cycle of life.
Ethanol Roulette – Food or Fuel?
When a cultivated grass like corn is harvested and fermented to create ethyl alcohol, this is either consumed as an alcoholic drink or burnt as motor fuel. Eventually every atom of carbon is returned to the atmosphere in emission products via the production and consumption of the alcohol, or via the burning or natural decomposition of waste products.
In both cases the agricultural part of the carbon cycle is a zero sum game. Plants grow by harvesting carbon, nitrogen, moisture and minerals using solar energy. Seeds and plants are then consumed by animals, humans or motor vehicles, and sooner or later, the carbon returns to the atmosphere via emissions. If cattle and sheep are to be taxed, so should motor vehicles running on ethanol.
There is no justification for subsidising farmers to destroy grasslands, farms or forests with ethanol or bio-diesel mono-cultures of corn, beets or palm olive.
The Laughable Livestock Fart Tax
New Zealand was the first country to propose a “livestock fart tax”. Kiwi farmers organised a petition of objectors which attracted 64,000 signatures. Four hundred farmers then drove 20 tractors to the Parliament in Wellington waving placards and banners saying “STOP THE FART TAX”. The proposal was laughed out of Parliament.
Permission is given to reproduce this cartoon providing the source (www.clexit.net) is credited.
If the image is missing click:
Grassland grazing operations using stockmen, drovers and dogs for mustering and moving animals produce a ZERO net increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In fact all farm animals merit a carbon credit, because they provide medium to long-term sequestration of part of the carbon extracted from the air in bones, meat, milk, wool, leather and humus.
Naturally, where quad bikes, utilities, helicopters, road trains and diesel-driven water pumps have replaced horses and wind mills, the mustering, transport and processing needed to put grassland meat onto the plates of city consumers uses hydrocarbon fuels. But the grazing animals still use grass power.
The type and quantity of vegetation covering any area of land depends on the geology, topography, climate, soil, fire regime and grazing pressure.
Plains and gentle hills, in climates with a pronounced wet and dry season, and subject to nomadic grazing and periodic patchwork fires produced the grasslands. But nature never stands still. A change in any of these factors will cause the vegetation to change.
Pioneer graziers recognised these factors, and their fire and grazing management reflected them.
The unnatural suppression of periodic fires and the exclusion of grazing animals will destroy the grasslands while encouraging woodlands, scrub and weeds, which can then only be controlled by dozers and blade ploughs or herbicides.
Of course, poor grazing managers who overstock their land, have insufficient water points, poorly designed fences, clear steep slopes, burn off too often and do not spell their pastures will cause land degradation and erosion.
But to crucify grazing animals on the spurious grounds that their bodily emissions will cause dangerous global warming is ludicrous.
It is amazing that most organisations supposedly representing farmers and graziers cannot acknowledge the beneficial effect of grazing livestock on the biosphere.
“Twenty years ago I opposed the idea that a levy on livestock emissions may help the climate. I also opposed the preservation of useless native vegetation at the expense of grazing cattle and sheep.
Unfortunately, this long battle continues.”
Howard Crozier BA Hons, OAM, Australia
Retired from: CSIRO Admin, Farmer, Local Government &
Executive Councillor NSW Farmers Association
All attempts to tax and penalise domestic ruminants for their natural emissions must be exposed as fraud and opposed, especially when emissions from forests, termites, wetlands, wild ruminant herds and mega-cities are persistently disregarded.
“Man-made global warming resulting in climate change
is the hoax to end all hoaxes.” Jim Lents
Stud Hereford Breeder, Oklahoma, USA
Time to Protect the Grasslands
Grasslands have been a natural feature of every continent (except Antarctica) for thousands of years, existing in harmony with grazing ruminants (often in massive herds), predators, indigenous hunters and the periodic bushfires.
Now we have Green armies “protecting” trees and forests, pandas and polar bears, wolves and dingoes, but who is looking after the native grasses and legumes of the grasslands, the Prairies, the Pampas and the Veldt? And who is conserving the valuable genes of ancient breeds of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, wild horses and camels.
Note: Petra Scholtz, from South Africa, who signed this report, is an active member of WRSA (Wildlife Ranching SA) and breeds and conserves exotic wildlife including sable and roan antelope and white rhinos. He also promotes Damara sheep (one of the oldest sheep breeds in existence); the chief author of this report, Viv Forbes from Australia, with his wife Judy, manage Australia’s oldest Damara stud on natural pastures; and Jim Lents, along with his late father Joe from Oklahoma USA, have for the past 73 years conserved and perpetuated the pure genetics of British Hereford cattle which were imported to USA via Canada in 1876 and 1877, and from Britain in 1880, 1881 and 1882.
|The Grassy Plains of Queensland, Australia, in the 1860’sRichard Daintree was a, scientist, explorer, pastoralist, miner and historian. He spent much time in the years 1860 – 1876 exploring, photographing and promoting Queensland. A large collection of Daintree’s photographs is held in the Queensland Museum, and some were published by the Queensland Museum in 1977 in “Queensland in the 1860’s – the Photography of Richard Daintree”, by Ian G Sanker.
Here is a picture taken by Daintree, in the Richmond area – not a tree to be seen. Daintree wrote about the vast soil-covered plains: “The resulting physical aspect is that of vast plains which form the principal feature of Queensland scenery west of the main dividing range”. He described them as first class pastoral country totalling about one third of the area of Queensland.
From: Destructive Green Land Policies:
Some Observations on the Treeless Grasslands of Northern Australia.
A young couple were married in Brisbane in October 1926 and decided to spend their honeymoon driving around Australia. In many places there was no road – just droving tracks.
Alone and driving an Overland Whippet car they started from Brisbane on 2nd October 1926; drove through central Queensland to Mt Isa, then via Camooweal to Darwin; then to Fitzroy River in WA, on to the Ninety Mile Beach, Marble Bar, Meekatharra to Perth; then across the Nullabor Plain (“Nullabor” means “no trees”) to Adelaide, round the coast to Melbourne, thence via Sydney back to Brisbane. They were welcomed back to Brisbane by a large army of cars at “Eight Mile Plains” on 27th March 1927.
The bride, Muriel Dorney (a school teacher), kept a detailed diary of the trip, took photos with a “Box Brownie” camera and wrote a fascinating small book called “An Adventurous Honeymoon the First Motor Honeymoon around Australia.”. It was published in Brisbane by the Read Press Ltd
She made the following observations on the grasslands and weather of northern Australia:
P13. “At Morven 427 miles from Brisbane . . . we turned north to Augathella. We were now on open plains which, as a rule are covered with beautiful Mitchell grass.” (There is a picture of “The Black Soil Plains of Western Queensland” and there is not a tree in sight.)
P21. “The night after leaving Maxwellton, we camped on a treeless plain.”
There was no wood for a camp fire.
P28. “I had always pictured the Northern Territory as a kind of desert waste. How surprised I was to find such a beautiful country. Much of it fine black soil covered with Mitchell grass . . . the heat is intense on the treeless plains”.
P30. Mid-way between Avon Downs and Alexandria Station is the Rankine River store. “There was such a strong wind blowing and not a stick of timber on the plain so we stayed for dinner” (roast goat).
P30. “From the Rankine River store we passed over the Rankine Plain, which was a black soil plain covered with Mitchell Grass. It was thirty miles wide and if I remember rightly, we did not see a single tree.”
P40. “After leaving Brunette Downs (NT) we found ourselves still travelling over black soil plains covered with Mitchell grass … strangely we saw practically no kangaroos or dingoes on the Barkly Tablelands.”
P44. “From Anthony’s Lagoon it is 180 miles to Newcastle Waters, mainly over black soil plains. . . . when we arrived at Anthony’s Lagoon, the temperature was 115 degrees (46 deg C) in the shade”.
P48. “For the first hundred miles from Anthony’s Lagoon we went over an almost treeless plain. After that we began to find alternate patches of plain and desert . . . with a line of trees marking the beginning of the desert.”
P49. “Soon after leaving Daly Waters, we went across another black soil plain . . . . that afternoon reached a temperature of 129 degrees (54 deg C) in the shade in the (open-sided) car”.
P52. “The Australian aborigines . . . make fire by rubbing two sticks together. . . Once they have a fire they endeavour to keep it alight and often carry a fire stick about when moving camp”.
P104, on Wave Hill Station NT. “From here to Inverway (the next station) the patches of desert were interspersed with the black soil plains.”
P105, Wallamunga Creek, NT. “there were only a few trees near the water hole . . . but thousands of ducks in the water and on the banks”.
P128, Fitzroy River, WA. “The Fitzroy drains an area of something like fifty thousand square miles. The surrounding country is so flat that in some places the flood extends as far as sixty miles on either side of the river.”
P136, Christmas Creek, WA. “We encountered miles and miles of spinifex flats . . .”
And the Kansas Plains
“Have you ever seen those Kansas plains? Have you seen the grass stretch away from you to the horizon? Grass and nothing but grass except for flowers here and there and maybe the white of buffalo bones, but grass moving gentle under the long wind, moving like a restless sea with the hand of God upon it.”
From “The Day Breakers” 1972, p5 by Louis L’Amour, a novelist, journalist, lecturer and historian of the settlement of the American west. He lived and travelled this land, was a voracious reader and collector of rare books. His personal library contained 17,000 books.
But grasslands are now threatened by government bans on clearing woody weeds, by the cultivation of grasslands for biofuel mono-culture and by the remorseless encroachment of government reserves and pest havens.
See: Destructive Green Land Policies:
The Clexit (Climate Exit) Coalition has formed a “Grasslands Protection Group” to contest the baseless attacks by UN-supported climate alarmists, livestock critics and tree worshippers on grazing ruminants and the grasslands that support them. Clexit recognises that this war on livestock and farming is just part of the UN war on western capitalism and the green war on the human race.
We cannot rely on individual governments or politicians to fight this battle – they are so intimidated or corrupted by the giant dollar power of things like the UN’s $10 billion (and rising) Green Climate Fund. They will never bite the hand that feeds them.
And the drumbeat never ceases:
“Time is running out for agriculture to contribute to meeting global climate targets.”
World Bank Director of Agriculture and Environmental Services.
The Clexit Grasslands Protection Group will work with other rational organisations to combat and oppose the destruction of our grasslands and the livelihood of the pastoralists, graziers and ranchers harvesting them.
“The optimal way to deal with potential climate change is not to strive to prevent it (a useless activity in any case) but to promote growth and prosperity so that the people will have the resources to deal with any shift”.
Thomas G Moore 1995 “Global Warming – a Boon to Humans and other animals”
Hoover Institution, Stanford University 1995.