21 April, 2017

Australian Cotton Industry

 I have long contended that in all respects the Australian Cotton Industry is a model that all agricultural industries in Australia, if not the world, should follow.

The following extract from a Cotton Australia submission to Government is just one example of the the quality of the science and attitude that pervades the industry.

"Improvement in Water Use Efficiency (WUE) is one of the most important drivers for the Australian cotton industry. It is not unusual for the water to account for 60% to 80% of a cotton producer’s combined land/water assets.

The submission says it is essential to understand that there are no “Silver Bullets” for WUE. There is no “One Size Fits All Solutions”, as irrigators utilise a suite of technologies and services to maximise
their water use efficiency.

These can range from simply estimating crop water requirements by digging a hole in a field with a
shovel, and assessing the water capacity of the soil by look and feel, to employing highly
sophisticated soil moisture readers, linked to satellite derived weather and plant water use data.

It can be an optimised furrow, gravity irrigation system, or pressurised drip or lateral move type
systems, or by improvement in yield from new varieties and better management techniques
deriving from world class research.

It can result from minimising evaporation by maximising storage depth and minimising surface
area, or by upskilling of labour from the most humble irrigators tasked with manually starting,
managing and stopping thousands of syphons, to university trained irrigation managers analysing
data from a whole range of sources, and making timely decisions that optimise plant growth.

Or most likely a combination of all of the above."

17 April, 2017

Intermittency

A new word has entered the fashionable lexicon. The global warming alarmists and the "dark green" advocates of the Murray Darling Basin Plan had better get used to it and learn how it impacts their advocacy arguments.

I have long contended that the massive variability of our river flows makes the use of statistical averages quite meaningless, when the spreads around the average are so enormous. Asking CSIRO to come up with Average Volumetric Limits (AVL's) for each of the major rivers in the MDB is a stupid question from people who clearly don't understand the the key characteristic of our inland rivers-massive variability.

Likewise the promoters of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar, talk about single figure targets without acknowledging the dependence on the wind blowing and the sun shining to achieve them. If energy sources are to be dependable then the "intermittent" sources need to have back-up or significant storage capacity, to achieve the reliability requirement. This probably makes them quite uneconomic! 

Hydro is a notable exception, because you can store the water and achieve immediate generation with the turn 'of a tap', making hydro ideal for peak electricity generation. A fact that Snowy Hydro has exploited brilliantly. I remain to be convinced that "pumped hydro" will prove economic, where water has first to be pumped to higher altitudes and then run back down to drive the generators.

But, take my word for it, we are going to hear a lot about "intermittency".

30 January, 2017

Coal and Renewables

The case against coal is coming apart at the seams

  • The Australian
Consider truly irrational government policy, and I don’t mean Don­ald Trump. We are a nation blessed with abundant energy sources — coal in all guises, gas in enormous quantities, a major portion of the world’s uranium.
We export these and other raw materials in huge amounts all over the world. Our national wealth, everything we take for granted in our living standards — Medicare, schools and hospitals, the police, even the ABC — rests on those exports. Yet, as part of our muddle-headed, erratic, irrational, episodic and excessive efforts to combat climate change, we have not cheap electricity, as you would expect, but hugely expensive electricity, which is now, a la South Australia, increasingly unreliable. We also burden ourselves with one of the most cumbersome industrial relations systems in the world.
As a result, an operation like Alcoa’s Portland smelter might well have shut down. To forestall that we will now give that smelter $230 million of taxpayer money. Massively increasing costs, then massively subsidising to compensate those costs, is surely a world- class template for irrational policy.
One reason our policy is so irrational is that our debate is so ill-informed. Almost all of our climate change policy has a deep inheritance of irrationality about it. The Rudd and Gillard governments created a vast phalanx of climate bodies that had essentially propaganda roles, like church mission societies, to spruik the danger of climate change and urge the most radical and costly actions possible to address them.
They half-convinced Australians — they certainly convinced the ABC — that emissions trading schemes, and carbon taxes of the kind we so dolefully had for a few years — were sweeping the world. Those Australians whose foreign travel consists mainly of Tuscany, Paris, London and New York could half believe this as Eur­ope did impose a costly ETS and some American states had similar schemes. But as someone who spends a lot of time in Asia I knew it was absolute baloney. The propaganda Australians were being fed was just completely misleading.
This week in an interview with The Australian, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg gave the government’s definitive view of ETS schemes. “Internationally, economy-wide carbon trading schemes have been bedevilled by collapsing prices, criminal behaviour and industry opposition,” he said.
Although he has elsewhere said the government was not planning to change the renewable energy target, Frydenberg levelled the same broad criticism at artificial schemes generally.
The solution to reducing carbon emissions, he persuasively ­argued, lies in technological development. Renewables will be some part of this, but cleaner coal and gas, and in many countries other than Australia, nuclear power, will be the backbone of reliable energy with reduced carbon emissions. No one knows precisely how much climate change is occurring or how much of it is caused by human activity. It is the most basic common sense on a risk-management basis to reduce emissions and it is also good to clean up the air for environmental purposes beyond climate change.
It is true that nothing Australia does will have a measurable effect on the global climate. It is also true that whatever happens with climate change we will be much ­better able to deal with it if we are still a rich country rather than a country that has impoverished itself with excessive climate change actions.
Most of the ETS schemes around the world are either duds or yet to be implemented. Many of them are Potemkin village style arrangements that allow their governments to talk the talk without imposing big costs on their economies.
The many levels of deception and slipperiness in all this is evident in a million examples. Germany is hailed as a hero for abandoning nuclear energy. So it imports electricity from France, which is generated by French nuc­lear power plants, and from Pol­and, which comes from coal-fired stations. In the five years to 2015 Germany constructed coal-fired power stations with a capacity equivalent to seven times that of the Hazelwood station closed so spectacularly in Victoria.
You hear constantly on the ABC that coal is coming to an end. This is a perfect post-truth mantra. It is spectacularly the inverse of ­reality. Japan, for example, is planning 45 new coal-fired power stations with 20,000MW of capacity. Any line in any official report anywhere, and indeed in countless NGO propaganda pamphlets, which seems to be critical of coal, or indicates a limitation on its use, is instantly beaten up by our climate change propaganda industry into a further death-of-coal story.
Yet the International Energy Agency shows that coal makes up more than 40 per cent of world electricity generation. That will decline as a proportion of global energy, in no small measure because of gas, to somewhere between 28 per cent and 36 per cent by 2040. But even that proportionate decline includes a very big absolute increase in the use of coal.
The new coal-fired power stations will be mostly clean coal, that is, much lower emissions per unit of energy than traditional power stations.
That’s good. But no one should doubt that coal use will grow. China, which has sold its rhetorical flourishes on climate change as though they were real action, plans to increase coal use by 14 per cent between 2015 and 2020. In 2015 China added 52,000MW of coal power.
The IEA says that India’s coal-fired power capacity will increase by almost 140 per cent by 2040, or 162 times the capacity of the closed Hazelwood station.
China has not even committed to a peak emissions target, merely a year, 2030, when it will get there, and many estimates are that it will double its emissions in the process. Most of China’s real action involves modernising its energy system, building new coal stations that emit far less carbon per unit of power than the ones they replace. The chief benefit and motivation for this is not concern about global climate change but the desperate need to improve air quality.
You’ll hardly ever hear any of this because it doesn’t conform to the dogma of the massively publicly subsidised climate change religion. The obvious best way forward for Australia is cleaner coal, more gas and — God help us — one day, nuclear. But that would require rational policy that may be beyond us at the moment.

16 January, 2017

Trump Will Fix It !!!

I have no idea who Alistair is. But I like his turn of phrase.



From: Alistair
Sent: 16 January, 2017 3:59 PM
To: 'Joshua Frydenberg'; greg.hunt.mp@aph.gov.au
Cc: c.pyne.mp@aph.gov.au; 'Richard Di Natale'; 'Sarah Hanson-Young'; malcolm.turnbull.mp@aph.gov.au
Subject: 170116-QoL: Climate Wars Hot Goblins & Hobgoblins


“Peter,
The fake pseudo-'climate science' has about as much validity to be called a science as alchemy, horoscopes (yet millions read them) and gambling systems at roulette.

Models are not science, but are a useful tool even in the hard science disciplines where the parameters can be set with some reliability.  This cannot apply in statistical 'sciences' based only on models or probabilities.  It has rained on 7% of Melbourne Cup races, so tell me, will it rain in 2017?  I won a bet on the MC weather when I took the odds that it would NOT rain, basing my risk on the biased fact that we were in a drought.  It could have been the year the drought broke, so if I had bet every year for 10 years, then on the year it rained I would have lost all my 'winnings' - and more.

There is nothing unusual about what is happening to the weather or the climate, except that the increase in CO2 is immensely beneficial, as would be an extra couple of degrees Centigrade. 
The extra CO2 is feeding additional plant growth, so the Earth is a self-regulating system as the greening determined by satellite measurements show. Unfortunately at the current rate of CO2 improvement it will take about 800 – 1,000 years to reach the optimum level of CO2 as plants will increase their offtake.
Life & speciation flourishes in warm climates as the Carboniferous Age demonstrated. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to see that happy day of a 2C increase as global cooling is a more likely probability.

Climate Disruption? Extreme Weather events?  Nothing to see here - and I take no [statistical] comfort in their current decrease of extreme weather as this is just another random statistical blip.  Can you imagine the delight of the numpties if there was an equally random increase?

You could have noted that this cult of the simple folk has actually nothing to do with reality, or facts, or weather, or climate, but everything to do with totalitarian power that will allow the deliberate de-industrialisation and depopulation of the majority of people as from the ashes a new society will arise? Where have you heard that false vision before?
I would cut the electricity connector to SA so we can use them as we would a Petri dish culture of the consequences of this (ig)Noble Corruption.  Build a wall first or the SA refugees will swamp us.

Let me prove to you that the CAGW crowd have no idea what they [scientifically] want, but will destroy civilisation to achieve their 'aims' through their fake climate tool. I will also pre-empt the inevitable entry of the 'MacDougall' by asking ANY true believer to answer two simple questions:
1. What is the IDEAL average global temperature that will be of greatest benefit to the world? and
2. What is the IDEAL average concentration of CO2 in ppm, and why?

If the minions cannot tell us the answer to those questions, then forget facts as the climate con is a political question, not a scientific one.  ”

Alistair

Sceptical Scientific Contrarian
Climate Change Denier, 7th Dan Black Belt

Seek the Truth,
No matter what you would prefer to believe.
Leave beliefs and cults to the simple folk.

02 January, 2017

Western Values


I like this clarity of expression. One often hears comments on the history of Western Civilisation not being taught to our youth. This spells out clearly what one person sees as western values.

Of course, some who believe in those values take them for granted and one wonders whether they realise how extensive they are and how important each is as a part of the whole. One way of realising that is to look at how a non-believer was converted and how he then expressed those values.  Such an expression by a Muslim Apostate is attached (see Western Values) and the following captures the essence of his view:



The Superiority of Western Values in Eight Minutes

   By: Ibn Warraq
   In a public debate in London against Tariq Ramadan, Ibn Warraq was given eight minutes to argue the superiority of Western values. Here is his defense of the West, which forms the basis for his new book, Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate’s Defense of Liberal Democracy.
The great ideas of the West—rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law, equality before the law, freedom of conscience and expression, human rights, liberal democracy—together constitute quite an achievement, surely, for any civilization. This set of principles remains the best and perhaps the only means for all people, no matter what race or creed, to live in freedom and reach their full potential.[1] Western values—the basis of the West’s self-evident economic, social, political, scientific and cultural success—are clearly superior to any other set of values devised by mankind. When Western values have been adopted by other societies, such as Japan or South Korea, their citizens have reaped benefits.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: this triptych succinctly defines the attractiveness and superiority of Western civilization. In the West we are free to think what we want, to read what we want, to practice our religion, to live as we choose.  Liberty is codified in human rights, a magnificent Western creation but also, I believe, a universal good.  Human Rights transcend local or ethnocentric values, conferring equal dignity and value on all humanity, regardless of sex, ethnicity, sexual preference, or religion. At the same time, it is in the West that human rights are most respected.
It is the West that has liberated women, racial minorities, religious minorities, and gays and lesbians, recognizing their rights. The notions of freedom and human rights were present at the dawn of Western civilization, as ideals at least, but have gradually come to fruition through supreme acts of self-criticism.  Because of its exceptional capacity for self-criticism, the West took the initiative in abolishing slavery; the calls for abolition did not resonate even in black Africa, where rival African tribes took black prisoners to be sold as slaves in the West.
Today, many non-Western cultures follow customs and practices that are clear violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).  In many countries, especially Islamic ones, you are not free to read what you want.  Under sharia, or Islamic law, women are not free to marry whom they wish, and their rights of inheritance are circumscribed.  Sharia, derived from the Koran and the practice and sayings of Muhammad, prescribes barbaric punishments such as stoning to death for adultery.  It calls for homosexuals and apostates to be executed.  In Saudi Arabia, among other countries, Muslims are not free to convert to Christianity, and Christians are not free to practice their faith.  The Koran is not a rights-respecting document.
Under Islam, life is a closed book. Everything has been decided for you, the dictates of sharia and the whims of Allah set strict limits on the possible agenda of your life.  In the West, we have the choice to pursue our desires and ambitions. We are free as individuals to set the goals and determine the contents of our own lives, and to decide what meaning to give to our lives.  As Roger Scruton remarks, “The glory of the West is that life is an open book.”[2] The West has given us the liberal miracle of individual rights and responsibility and merit. Rather than the chains of inherited status, Western societies offer unparalleled social mobility.  The West, Alan Kors writes, “is a society of ever richer, more varied, more productive, more self-defined, and more satisfying lives.”[3]
Instead of the mind-numbing certainties and dictates of Islam, Western civilization offers what Bertrand Russell called liberating doubt.[4]  Even the process of politics in the West involves trial and error, open discussion, criticism, and self-correction.[5] This quest for knowledge, no matter where it leads, a desire inherited from the Greeks, has produced an institution that is rarely equaled outside the West:  the university. And the outside world recognizes this superiority of Western universities. Easterners come to the West to learn not only about the sciences developed in the last five hundred years, but also about their own cultures, about Eastern civilizations and languages. They come to Oxford and Cambridge, to Harvard and Yale, to Heidelberg and the Sorbonne to acquire their doctorates because these degrees confer prestige unrivalled by similar credentials from Third World countries.
Western universities, research institutes, and libraries are created to be independent institutions where the pursuit of truth is conducted in a spirit of disinterested inquiry, free from political pressures.  The basic difference between the West and the Rest might be summed up as a difference in epistemological principles. Behind the success of modern Western societies, with their science and technology, and their open institutions, lies a distinct way of looking at the world, interpreting it, and rectifying problems: by lifting them out of the religious sphere and treating them empirically, finding solutions in rational procedures. The whole edifice of modern science is one of Western man’s greatest gifts to the world.[6]   The West is responsible for almost every major scientific discovery of the last 500 hundred years, from heliocentrism and the telescope, to electricity, to computers.
The West has given the world the symphony and the novel.  A culture that engendered the spiritual creations of Mozart and Beethoven, Wagner and Schubert, of Raphael and Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and Rembrandt does not need lessons in spirituality from societies whose vision of heaven resembles a cosmic brothel stocked with virgins for men’s pleasure.
The West gave us the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and many other manifestations of the humanitarian impulse. It is the West that provides the bulk of the aid to beleaguered Darfur, while Islamic countries are conspicuous by their absence.
The West does not need lectures on the superior virtue of societies where women are kept in subjection, endure genital mutilation, are married off against their will at the age of nine, have acid thrown on their faces or are stoned to death for alleged adultery, or where human rights are denied to those regarded as belonging to lower castes.[7] The West does not need sanctimonious homilies from societies that cannot provide clean drinking water or sewage systems for their populations, that cannot educate their citizens, but leave 40-50 percent of them illiterate, that make no provisions for the handicapped, that have no sense of the common good or civic responsibility, that are riddled with corruption.
No Western politician would be able to get away with the kind of racist remarks that are tolerated in the Third World, such as the anti-Semitic diatribes of the Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad.  Instead, there would be calls for resignation, both from Third World leaders and from Western media and intellectuals. Double standards?  Yes, but also a tacit acknowledgement that we expect higher ethical standards from the West.
The Ayatollah Khomeini once famously said there are no jokes in Islam. The West is able to look at its own foibles and laugh, even make fun of its own fundamental principles. There is no Islamic equivalent to Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Can we look forward to seeing The Life of Mo anytime in the future?
The rest of the world recognizes the virtues of the West in concrete ways.  As Arthur Schlesinger remarked, “When Chinese students cried and died for democracy in Tiananmen Square, they brought with them not representations of Confucius or Buddha but a model of the Statue of Liberty.”[8] Millions of people risk their lives trying to get to the West—not to Saudi Arabia or Iran or Pakistan.  They flee from theocratic or other totalitarian regimes to find tolerance and freedom in the West, where life is an open book.



[1]Bruce Thornton. “Golden Threads: Former Muslim Ibn Warraq Stands Up for the West,” City Journal, August 17, 2007.

[2]     Roger Scruton. “The Glory of the West is that Life is an Open Book,” Sunday Times, May 27, 2007.
[3]     Alan Charles Kors, Can There be an ‘After Socialism’? in Social Philosophy and Policy, 2003; 20 (1)  pp.1-17 .
[4]     Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy, London: Williams & Norgate, [Ist edn.1912] Chapter XV.
[5]     Roger Scruton, “The Defense of the West,”  A Lecture given at the Columbia Political Union, New York, Thursday, April 14th, 2005.
[6]     Caroline Cox & John Marks, The ‘West’, Islam and Islamism: Is Ideological Islam Compatible with Liberal Democracy? (London: Civitas, 2003) pp.12-13.
[7]     A.M.Schlesinger, Jr. The Disuniting of America. Reflections on a Multicultural Society ( New York: Norton, 1992) p.128.
[8]     Ibid., p.129.

Great Success Story

This is a great success story. David and Nell Brook are great operators. And  OBE don't own any abattoirs!

Organic cattle pioneer is enjoying the fattest of years

David Brook, the man behind the success of Australia’s organic cattle industry, on his Channel Country station. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen
Standing atop a red sandhill and surveying fat Hereford cattle, green outback plains and water-filled lakes and swamps after a magnificent 2016, Birdsville cattleman David Brook is a happy man.
This year his joy has an added facet; while cattle prices are at an record high, the outback company he founded 21 years ago is now the biggest organic beef producer in Australia, and demand for its products is doubling annually.
OBE Organic now has 30 outback properties supplying its business with about 15,000 head of organically reared cattle a year. Every station down the legendary Birdsville Track has now converted to organic production since ­locally born Mr Brook showed the way on his family’s five stations.
Organic graziers are paid an ­average 20-30 per cent premium for their organic cattle by OBE.
“My idea originally was that if (by going organic) we could get enough of a premium price for our beef to cancel out the disadvan­tages of remote agriculture, that would be great,” Mr Brook recalled from his Birdsville home, 1600km west of Brisbane.
“But the advantages are much bigger than that now; out here in the Lake Eyre Basin there are no pests and no diseases; no drenches, chemicals, fertilisers or hormones are needed and our animals have space, room to move, clean air and water and are only grass-fed — what could be more authentically and genuinely organic than that?”
Mr Brook quickly grasped that the Channel Country and its surrounding outback areas were naturally suited to organic conversion at a time when organic food was starting to become a niche trend, though he admits the speed and scale of the global organic boom has surprised him.
The latest figures from IBISWorld show Australian organic food production is now worth $920 million, growing at 17 per cent annually since 2011, as more farmers switch to organic fruit, vegetable, poultry, grain and meat production.
The report identifies organic farming as one of the best performing sectors in Australia’s economy — mainly driven by demand from high-earning local consumers and overseas buyers — and predicts it will be a $1.2 billion industry within five years.
Largely because of the formation of OBE Organic and its outback suppliers’ sprawling properties, Australia has the largest amount of registered organic farmland in the world. More than 22 million hectares are certified for organic food production, an area equivalent to Victoria or seven times bigger than Belgium.
OBE Organic chief executive Dalene Wray says the key issue for the bigger and more experienced organic producers, especially as they start to sell overseas, is convincing sceptical consumers they are genuinely ethical and natural organic farmers. “It’s no longer good enough to say on your products that you are organic and expect that will be enough; everyone is now saying they are natural, clean and green to the point where it doesn’t mean much anymore,” she said, describing the 50-60 per cent of OBE’s beef that is exported to the US, Middle East and Asia.
“We say there is a big difference between ‘naturally’ branded organic beef from cattle penned in a feedlot and fed grain in America, to ones grazing on native pasture in the Channel Country.”
OBE farmers are being encouraged to tell their own stories using their station and family names on social media, so global customers can see from where their beef is coming and who are the farmers producing their beef — and to clear up misconceptions about Australian conditions.
OBE Organic recently had ­Korean buyers visit outback Birdsville, clearly sceptical about how so much land could be certified ­organic, and asking where were the big cow barns to house the ­cattle during the winter snows.
“Meat buyers around the world have wised up to some smart and clever marketing — we now have to be prepared to prove what we are saying,” Ms Wray said.
Organic farmers cannot use manufactured fertilisers, or spray pastures and crops with weed and insect-killing chemicals or treat their animals with hormones, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals.

27 October, 2016

Murray Darling Basin Plan-Big 2016 Wet-Reminder

The big winter wet of this year (2016) is a timely reminder of the flaws in the MDB Plan. I have long been fascinated by inland water flows in this very flat land, with highly variable rainfall, which is the predominant feature of Australia. Dorothea Mackellar got it so right with her classic line "Droughts and Flooding Rains". She might well have added "And not much in the middle".

My interest in the subject became even greater when I found myself Chairman and CEO of an agricultural company whose interests included an irrigation business growing cotton on the Darling River upstream and downstream of Bourke.

My first impressions as I familiarised myself with this business were:-

  1. The human characteristic of always seeking to blame somebody for water shortages and the reluctance to attribute these shortages to natural factors.
  2. The meaningless of average statistics when the spreads around the average are enormous.
  3. The failure of water authorities to appreciate the massive magnitude of the big events, and their frequency, albeit irregularity.
  4. The persistence of these authorities to maintain an attitude of "we must determine how much water for this or that" when "we" have very little control. Man fiddles at the edges. Nature dominates.
For the MDB Authority to ask CSIRO to come up with single Annual Volumetric Limits (AVL's) for each of the significant rivers in the basin is a stupid question from people who clearly do not appreciate the above facts. Limits should be based on percentages of actual flows. Note that from the big events , a very small percentage can amount to a huge amount of water. This massive variability cries out for more dams to spread the benefits.

The 2016 'big wet' winter, following an extremely dry period with no flow in the Darling River below the Menindee Lakes, is a wonderful demonstration of the key characteristic with which we live in this fascinating country. The volume of water that has flowed past Bourke in the last fortnight now exceeds the volume attributed to Sydney Harbour-500,000 megalitres or 500 gigalitres.

David Boyd
27.10.16