Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t Clarky of Oz; Australia’s parched Eastern states are finally seeing a little rain, but this is bad news for climate change according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Drought-breaking rain likely to cause greenhouse emissions to rise
By Mike Foley
January 16, 2020 — 9.30pm
Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are likely to rise if there is a break in the intense drought in eastern Australia, sinking the Morrison government’s goal of lowering emissions in the short term.
The agriculture sector did most of the heavy lifting in emissions reduction in the year ending May 2019, falling by 4.2 million tonnes to 67.4 million tonnes. It reduced the sector’s greenhouse contribution by 5.87 per cent, compared to the electricity sector’s 1.15 per cent reduction.
“That big drop in agriculture was twice the emissions reduction that came from the record rollout of renewables. But it’s all built on the suffering of Australia’s farmers under drought,” Climate Council senior researcher Tim Baxter said.
The weather outlook is improving and the livestock sector is poised to rebound swiftly when the drought breaks.
“A break in the drought could push our emissions so they are again trending upwards,” Australian National University Climate Change Institute Professor Mark Howden said.
Professor Howden said while Australia’s emissions were “almost flatlining”, when the drought finally broke livestock emissions would likely rise by 4 million tonnes a year.
“Farmers will as quickly as possible build up their breeding herd and this will result in a rapid increase in recorded greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
“During drought animals’ feed intake is likely to have dropped and that further reduces emissions. When it breaks cattle are likely to eat a lot more and increase emissions.”
…Read more: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/drought-breaking-rain-likely-to-cause-greenhouse-emissions-to-rise-20200116-p53rze.html
Not to be outdone, the Conversation lead with a story about the drought breaking rain poisoning the nation’s river systems.
The sweet relief of rain after bushfires threaten disaster for our rivers
Fire debris flowing into the Murray-Darling Basin will exacerbate the risk of fish and other aquatic life dying en masse
When heavy rainfall eventually extinguishes the flames ravaging south-east Australia, another ecological threat will arise. Sediment, ash and debris washing into our waterways, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin, may decimate aquatic life.
We’ve seen this before. Following 2003 bushfires in Victoria’s alpine region, water filled with sediment and debris (known as sediment slugs) flowed into rivers and lakes, heavily reducing fish populations. We’ll likely see it again after this season’s bushfire emergency.
Large areas of north-east Victoria have been burnt. While this region accounts only for 2% of the Murray-Darling Basin’s entire land area, water flowing in from north-east Victorian streams (also known as in-flow) contributes 38% of overall in-flows into the Murray-Darling Basin.
Fire debris flowing into the Murray-Darling Basin will exacerbate the risk of fish and other aquatic life dying en masse, as witnessed in previous years.
…Read more: https://theconversation.com/the-sweet-relief-of-rain-after-bushfires-threatens-disaster-for-our-rivers-129449
Obviously the waterways will rapidly recover from any contamination, as rains wash the sediment away, as they have always recovered for thousands of years in the wake of bushfires much larger than the present day. Even the total sterilisation of a waterway through pollution cannot prevent its eventual recovery.
But you would be unlikely to learn that by reading the public statements of the CSIRO, or by reading The Conversation or the Sydney Morning Herald.
It seems difficult to believe there was once a time, long ago, when Aussie taxpayer funded scientists thought their job had something to do with improving people’s lives. They used to believe increased agricultural production or the breaking of a savage drought were events to celebrate, not opportunities to express their misery and distress.