Battle for our grasslands and livestock

This comprehensive essay by our good friend Viv Forbes in Australia doesn’t apply to us, since we have no grass-covered continent and our Green movement has developed in different directions. But it may have a lesson to teach us, as there’s evidence of gung-ho Green radicalism in New Zealand that should caution us against complacency. Perhaps not grasslands, but how would you like our native forests, fisheries, mountains, rivers, lakes and coastlines, piece by piece, being taken out of bounds, not only for productive development but for access?

In truth, the process is under way, with the Green Party agitating against exploitation within our enormous National Parks and Greenpeace interfering with lawful access to the seabed for mining. In addition we now have Maoris claiming the right to control river and lake waters, which under centuries-old British law belong to the Crown. Let’s hope these ancient rights will not on any pretext be tampered with or given to any portion of our population, or it’ll be a dark day for the whole world. Viv paints a superb picture of how things were and how things are today—and how life is distorted by environmental activists out of touch with the environment’s needs. His account warns us to keep our situation awareness alive. I strongly recommend you click through to the entire article in pdf and relish the whole of it. – Richard Treadgold


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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.

Vincent Gray
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


Views: 116

6 Thoughts on “Battle for our grasslands and livestock

  1. Simon on 30/10/2016 at 8:50 pm said:

    Viv is obviously unaware of what a pre-European Australian ecosystem looked like. The weedy eucalypts “invading” the grasslands were already there before the Europeans bet them back.

    Rod Oram has a better discussion today on the NZ situation.



  2. Richard Treadgold on 31/10/2016 at 12:55 pm said:

    I’ve asked Viv to respond to this.

    Rod Oram is wrong in substantial ways. On the global breakdown of emissions, I’ll have to check the UN figures, but off the top of my head, they don’t recognise that livestock emissions have been freshly drawn from the atmosphere. The livestock are incapable of generating atoms of carbon or nitrogen. Farming “emissions” are greatly overstated because of this mis-attribution.

    He says: “Just this week came news renewables now account for more electricity generation capacity than coal globally.” This is a common ruse to deceive readers. He quotes the boilerplate capacity, which is never achieved (wind doesn’t blow all the time and sometimes blows too hard). The truth is that non-hydro renewables contribution to actual global electricity generation managed to crawl from 5.9% in 2014 to 6.7% in 2015.

  3. Dennis N Horne on 31/10/2016 at 2:15 pm said:

    Half New Zealand’s GHGs are produced by farming. (Methane oxidises to carbon dioxide in a few years).

    Ruminants produce methane at the cost of gaining condition and CH4 is a very potent GHG

    I know some people have a mental block to reality, but maybe others straying onto this site might like:
    This is NOT Cool! Climate Change 2016 by Peter Sinclair

  4. Andy on 31/10/2016 at 2:32 pm said:

    How much global warming did cows produce before humans started farming them?

  5. Neil Henderson on 31/10/2016 at 9:28 pm said:

    The only reason that half NZ’s emissions supposedly come from farming livestock is because of the flawed methodology used in calculating the emissions in the first place. As I am quoted as saying in the essay in the link above, ‘If a company used such accounting methods in issuing a capital raising prospectus the directors would be in jail’. It is common science that a constant number of animals at a constant level of production and a constant level of feed conversion efficiency do not change the atmospheric concentration of methane. Dr Reisinger of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas research Centre has publicly confirmed this in the Gisborne Herald. Farmers should not therefore have their base level of emissions counted because if you are not changing the atmospheric composition you are not causing global warming.

    The question that needs an answer is ‘How much warming would result if we doubled livestock emissions of methane?’ Both Dr reisinger and Professor David Frame of Victoria University have conceded to me that in spite of such reports as ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow’ that no such paper exists that specifically quantifies in any way or form, how much warming an increase in livestock numbers would produce. I find it absolutely astounding that no one has thought to do this before spending millions of dollars on seeking a solution to an obvious non problem. Back of the envelope figures show that the warming from doubling livestock methane emissions are only a fraction of a degree.

    Further, a peer reviewed paper by Dr Wilson Flood shows that if methane from all sources, not just livestock, were to increase for the next 100 years at the same rate as it had for the last 20, the temperature change would be only 0.004 degrees. Yes four one thousandth of a degree!! I only wish Dr Wright and our farming leaders could get their heads around this. It is because they haven’t that ‘The Battle for the Grasslands’ was born.

  6. Richard Treadgold on 02/11/2016 at 1:40 pm said:

    Hi Neil,

    Good to see you here.

    Your conclusion that a “base” level of agricultural emissions shouldn’t be part of the farmer’s obligation makes perfect sense and the sooner people listen to your campaign the better for the country.

    Very few people are asking to justify the AGW policy decisions—it just isn’t discussed. So it comes as a shock to learn that agricultural climate change policy isn’t a matter of small degrees of change, since the climate won’t notice a doubling or even a quadrupling of cow gases. It’s hard to know why ostensibly clever people such as Jan Wright haven’t twigged to this. What are they listening to when out of the public eye?

    This knowledge is vital, Neil, and we’re all ears.

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