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The Battle for our Grasslands and Livestock
By Viv Forbes (Earth Scientist, Grass Farmer, Sheep & Cattle Breeder, Australia)
Dr Albrecht Glatzle (Agronomist and grazier, Paraguay)
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.
Read the whole essay (pdf, 654 KB): Battle for our grasslands and livestock