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Money in trees: The poor end of forest protection

Richard Black | 17:07 UK time, Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Some of the world's most important forests may emerge from this week in a more secure state than they were before.

Children by Brazilian river

 

Others may end it worse off.

The latest stage in the European Union's plans to help developing countries clean up illegal logging is the signing of a potentially important agreement with Indonesia.

Essentially, from early 2013, wood and products made from it can only be imported into the EU if they've been produced in accordance with Indonesian environmental laws.

There are questions, for sure, over how it'll be implemented, with the spectre of corruption not fully banished, especially in a country where distant provinces carry a fair amount of independence from Jakarta.

Another big question is whether current environmental laws guarantee sustainable logging - because "legal" doesn't automatically equal "environmentally sound".

But this is an area where steps forward are incremental, so these are caveats campaigners are prepared to live with for the moment.

However, on the other side of the tropics, in Brazil, a different forestry issue has raised its head.

Brazil is a timber producer; but the destruction of its forests has largely been driven by other concerns.

Trees have been felled to produce farmland for growing soya beans, and for raising cattle.

The drivers have partly been economic, although historically there has also been a desire to settle people into remote regions as a guard on sovereignty.

As in Indonesia, state governors have a lot of power.

But in this area, they're supposed to work under the national framework of the Forest Code, a set of principles aimed initially at issues such as soil and water conservation, and later at sustainable exploitation, that date back to 1965.

The code contains some pretty powerful measures. Notably, private landowners must conserve a certain proportion of forest on their property - 80% in the ecologically sensitive Amazon - and in principle, they can be forced to replant if they don't comply.

Before the National Congress this week is a proposal to reform the code so as to water down some of its protective clauses.

The proposal comes not from big landowners or beef barons, but from the Communist Party of Brazil (PCDoB), and in particular its charismatic leader Aldo Rebelo - and it's not the first time that he, or like-minded politicians, has entered this arena.

He argues that some of the current regulations are simply unfair, preventing owners of small tracts of land from developing agriculture far enough to drag them out of poverty.

Chico Mendes' house

 

He also says that with the Brazilian population expanding, the country needs to produce more and more food - and expanding land use is the obvious thing to do.

Among the revisions he's proposing are reducing the amount of forest that must be left intact along the banks of rivers and streams, and giving an amnesty to landowners below a certain scale who cleared forests before 2009.

The details are currently the subject of intense horse-trading between managers of the myriad political parties that make up the Congress.

What may emerge, and whether the proposal will go to a vote, are as yet unclear.

In a way, the issue illustrates the familiar dichotomy of whether it's better to use natural resources fast and stash the proceeds, or to use them sustainably and continue to draw on "nature's bank", as you might call it, for a much longer time.

But what's intriguing is that this time, the division is not primarily concerned with rich and powerful industries - although they are supporting the changes that would suit them best.

Instead, it divides two sets of politicians who both speak - or claim to speak - for the poor.

In one corner sit the philosophical descendents of rubber-tapper Chico Mendes, murdered just over 20 years ago by ranchers because of his belief that maintaining nature was the best way to ensure a long-term income for the rural poor.

Mr Rebelo and his followers, by contrast, see loosening the ties on exploitation as the socially just thing to do.

More and more organisations in areas as diverse as forestry and fisheries are talking about chain of supply certification as the route to sustainability; and as the signing of the EU-Indonesia agreement shows, it can work.

But as the Brazilian debate makes equally clear, it can't guarantee environmental protection when livelihoods are at stake.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Richard,

    Sort of feel sorry for you. This blurb has been up all day and nobody seems interested in it enough to comment.

    No wonder. The EU bureaucrats will go further into the hole at the expense of their little people in order to attempt to bribe some Indonesians... so they can feel greener. Connie must be so thrilled.

    Some Indonesians are far smarter than most EU members, apparently.

  • Comment number 2.

    Richard,

    One other totally off topic comment. That photo of you on your other blog is much more flattering. Much better lighting. You look more sincere. Why not use it here too?

  • Comment number 3.

    Sadly, by the end of the century our expanding population will have consumed everything, unless we are prepared to do something about it now.

  • Comment number 4.

    @Smiffie #3

    Sadly, by the end of the century our expanding population will have consumed everything, unless we are prepared to do something about it now.

    "warned of the mass starvation of humans in the 1970s and 1980s due to overpopulation" as predicted by Ehrlich in 1968:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Population_Bomb

    /Mango

    I don't deny climate change, I know climate changes

  • Comment number 5.

    Well, it seems that the intricate politics of what is fair for people will be thier undoing in the end. By the time it ever gets sorted, if ever, it may be too late. We know so little about how one thing effects another environmentally I fear for these areas of the last vestiges of natural woodland or rainforest because the people who tend to live there dont have the money or education to make the right choices.

  • Comment number 6.

    MangoChutneyUKOK #4: "The Population Bomb"

    "...the only flat-out mistake Ehrlich acknowledges is missing the destruction of the rain forests..."

    /davblo

  • Comment number 7.

    ..."so these are caveats campaigners are prepared to live with for the moment."

    ---

    Richard, you don't give any insight as to who these "campaigners" might be. Are they yourself, perchance?

  • Comment number 8.

    Smiffie #3 wrote:

    "Sadly, by the end of the century our expanding population will have consumed everything, unless we are prepared to do something about it now."

    I've said it a hundred times already, but ... The reason why the population was kept at a reasonably steady rate before was that the attrition rate was so high. One of the main factors in keeping that attrition rate high was there wasn't enough to consume. The population expanded as a consequence of there being more to consume than there was before. No doubt sooner or later limits will be set on population levels by how much there is to consume, but no one knows where those limits are -- "by the end of the century is an arbitrary figure -- and it will be nothing new. Those limits are part of the "normal" condition of all living things.

    Why do you think is causing the population to expand, and why was it not expanding before?

  • Comment number 9.

    bowmanthebard #8: "Why [What] do you think is causing the population to expand..."

    The destruction of the rain forests...?

    /davblo

  • Comment number 10.

    bowmanthebard @#8

    I have said a hundred times before that we should be able to find kinder ways to limit our own population size than to just leave it to the natural process of starvation.

  • Comment number 11.

    #8 Bowmanthebard. Populations don't expand because there's more to eat, they stabilise. The reason why mass starvations happen in the poorest areas is because all parents want to see one child make it to maturity and perpetuate their genes. In areas of high child mortality, this means having more children so that one will survive. Rainforest destruction is due to the poor quality of the soil. Every second year, they must slash & burn another field to grow soya or grass for cattle. If they planted Hemp they could use the same fields every year and get 3 crops a year. Pyrolisation of hemp (to produce Methanol) yields 27 ton/acre/year compared to 1.2 ton/acre/year Corn (to be brewed into ethanol). The War on Drugs is killing the planet.

  • Comment number 12.

    Systematic corruption will render useless any true conservation attempt in Brazil. If the law is not convenient to those with political or economic power, it will be ignored with impunity. My dad started a farm in Southern Para in the late 1970s, and the law stated that he could only cut 20% of the standing forest. When he saw that the land was too fragile and weak to sustain crops, he gave up the and sold the land claim to a neighbor. Twenty years later and forest was completely gone. Highly invasive grass species were planted to sustain cattle farming, pushed north from the south as corporate sugar cane producers of "green" fuel ethanol took over farmland. So go visit the Amazon forest while it is there, because it will be completely destroyed.

  • Comment number 13.

    #10. At 11:07am 5th May 2011, Smiffie wrote:

    bowmanthebard @#8

    I have said a hundred times before that we should be able to find kinder ways to limit our own population size than to just leave it to the natural process of starvation.
    ------

    And we all know here what that solution is. We ecologists call that solution a cull, and humans at the current growth rate would need a cull at a rate of 70 million a year just to reach population stability.
    ---

    #11. At 11:18am 5th May 2011, pandatank wrote:
    #8 Bowmanthebard. Populations don't expand because there's more to eat, they stabilise.
    ------

    Sadly that just isn't true, they use the additional resources to accelerate their reproduction. As Bowman has said before - (in a natural environment) as human populations get more food they expand, as resources dwindle they die back by starvation and infighting.
    The real problem today is that the whole globe is linked and there are no hiding places left for nature. The next time our global food resources dwindle the human population won't diminish naturally, instead we will gather resources more and more fiercely. Not only have we already reduced the redundancy in the overall (food web) system to near critical levels, but we have also removed other cultural methods for combating overpopulation and mass starvation such as war, murder, or cannibalism.
    --- ----

    As a humorous scientist with an urge to look on the darker side I have already looked briefly at many of the different possibles, here is a basic selection.
    First those available today (none of which are really acceptable) -
    Horribly one of the least awful might be using mechanized industrial slaughter houses, like Death Camps but much bigger and more efficient - and 'humane'.
    Next might be using nuclear weapons used in a controlled way, say on a continuous sweep of 20-30 shots a year with the targets selected using a random lottery.
    The worst solutions are perhaps using biological weapons on a massive scale, or uncontrolled war, or allowing a state of general anarchy.
    The very worst solution is to fight starvation using our resources to the limit to the point where the entire eco-system collapses.

    Now since we are talking about 50 to 150 years into the future we need to include future tech extrapolations, many of these can actually avoid killing anybody.
    Perhaps the best and simplest is to use artificial biomes (and other space tech) to produce food and artificial spaces to support the excess population.
    Another is to expand human habitation out into space in a big way, just like artificial biomes but east twice as expensive.
    The next is simply to put a large part of the population into some form of permanent hibernation. (I should say that I am writing a sci-fi scenario based on this solution where the eco-system continued to fail and the surviving population ended up living for hundreds of years exclusively on their frozen brethren.)
    Next is to use social control and indoctrination to create a society that avoids overpopulating.
    Then there is using various methods using genetic engineering to reprogram human instinct so we have less urge to breed.
    Then there is the rather gruesome solution of building brain banks- which solves the problem of resources by getting rid of the most expensive bit the human body and becoming robots. Surprisingly the technical hurdles and even costs of this solution are relatively low. It conjures up images of a society of mostly people turned into robots ruled over by a tiny ultra elite of flesh people. (Reminds me of London today)
    The final solution is to genetically engineer or otherwise create a new top predator that is tuned to cull us without exterminating us. A project I have worked on directly, Strong AI is a pretty good candidate for this solution - machines naturally out compete people anyway, are cheap, potentially bullet-proof, and the supply can be stopped by turning off the factories. (Not actually recommended for reasons I wont go, into except to point out that machine verses human is a very one sided battle)

  • Comment number 14.

    Like everything else in these times it is about money. Governmental corruption under the shield of some organizational agreement is still governmental corruption. The nation state has little power these days as multi-nationals impose their will in such meetings. Small farmers and such will be rolled over and community fabrics destroyed for what is usually termed economic improvements. If any peoples decides that their culture and lifestyle does not require advancements into the modern era they are quickly regulated out of existence. Some of the villages don't even have Wii....how do they survive? the fact that they have maintained their societies for many generations matters little to the urbanites with their self-assessment of sophistication and imposition of what defines a good life..
    Totalitarian organizations presented as something else. The opponents will be starved into submission in a democratic way.

  • Comment number 15.

    Robert Lucien #13: "Then there is using various methods using genetic engineering to reprogram human instinct so we have less urge to breed."

    It's easier than that; and can be done today.

    As I think bowmanthebard might say...

    security + bank_balance + mortgage + school_fees = less_urge_to_breed

    /davblo

  • Comment number 16.

    Do you think I can con the EU to pay me for not cutting my lawn?

  • Comment number 17.

    pandatank @#11

    “The reason why mass starvations happen in the poorest areas is because all parents want to see one child make it to maturity and perpetuate their genes. In areas of high child mortality, this means having more children so that one will survive.”

    This implies that these people plan their families which they do not.

    Robert Lucien @# 13

    Continuing in your humorous vein, rather than slaughter we could simply sterilise all the useless people then provide for them for the rest of their natural lives. In the not too distant future reproducing may be a privilege, not a right.

    @ Everyone, there is an interesting discussion titled “The lethal politics of climate change” at the Nick Bryant blog.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/nickbryant/2011/05/the_lethal_politics_of_climate.html

  • Comment number 18.

    If it wasn't for eco-loonies and greenies, there wouldn't be ridiculous proposals like bio-fuels etc for which forests get cut down. Get rid of the greenies and eco-loonies and their corrupt followers and the problem is solved in one fell swoop.

  • Comment number 19.

    How much planning has gone into ensuring sustainable ways of generating income for the poorer members of societies caught up in the logging ban? I understand enforcing illegal logging by big business but I am not so sure about enforcing such a ban on indigenous people who have traditionally used for the forest for their survival.

    What alternative industries have been offered those legally prevented from logging and do they generate enough income to create the conditions suggested by davblo? I think not.

    Here is a fine chance for manufacturers and designers to make MDF and chipboard look more appealing and smell nicer than natural wood products.

  • Comment number 20.

    Smiffie #17 wrote:

    "This implies that these people plan their families which they do not."

    Family planning is one of the central concerns of human life everywhere. We all relate to the way Homer Simpson lost his hair! But different people have to plan in different ways to meet their different circumstances. Unfortunately, having more children is often a better insurance policy for the children you already have.

  • Comment number 21.

    Wow. Looks like Indonesia is very clever, and a world leader in green extortion (next to Brazil).

    "The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Mon, 05/17/2010

    The government is upbeat it can reach its target to slice carbon emissions from forests after Norway pledged US$1 billion in grants to help Indonesia reduce forest degradation..."

    http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/05/17/norway-pledges-1b-carbon-cut.html

    Canada has a lot of forest land. Time for Canada to cash in! How much will the EU taxpayers give to Canada if we promise not to cut down some trees?

  • Comment number 22.

    @davblo #6

    And for the full quote, which shows just how up his own backside Erhlich is:

    Journalist Dan Gardner has criticized Ehrlich both for his over-confident predictions and his refusal to acknowledge his errors. "In two lengthy interviews, Ehrlich admitted making not a single major error in the popular works he published in the late 1960s and early 1970s … the only flat-out mistake Ehrlich acknowledges is missing the destruction of the rain forests, which happens to be a point that supports and strengthens his world view—and is therefore, in cognitive dissonance terms, not a mistake at all.

    /Mango

    I don't deny climate change, I know climate changes

    PS mods - can we have the preview button back please?

  • Comment number 23.

    CR
    Norway is not in the EU.

  • Comment number 24.

    Mango
    There have been a couple of comments about that button, but it has been okay here.
    Had a couple of problems posting, but worked second time around.
    Maybe just some occasional gremlins?

  • Comment number 25.

    CR

    A belated thank you for your lengthy answer at 128 (previous topic) about how Canadian polls are bad and Australian ones good. I was very impressed by your in depth knowledge about how the citizen's of these two fine counties think.

    It was especially interesting to learn how things are different in Australia and about how outraged the voters are about AGW taxes and how strong an influence AGW has been on voting intentions. (It's only my opinion but my impression of UK voters is that many of them rate global environmental issues somewhat less important than the council cutting the grass in the local parks.)

    I suspect - though have no proof - that this may reflect how our governments, both left-wing and right-wing operate. They try to keep a fairly low profile on environmental issues, but if they are ever required to account for their policies they talk very green but actually do almost nothing, which seems to keep everyone fairly happy, or possibly everyone equally unhappy.

    Anyway, I don't expect much will change in the near future seeing as how our economy is in a state of collapse, and having kindly donated several trillion pounds of tax payers money to our banks, we hardly have a penny to spend on anything. It's so bad some councils have even stopped cutting the grass in our local parks.

    Finally while I accept we are highly taxed, I was slightly hurt to hear you describe UK citizens as "AGW tax paying serfs". I think this is a little unfair. UK governments have a long tradition of treating their citizens as tax paying serfs, but have never needed any excuse to do so.

  • Comment number 26.

    #25. Beersmith wrote:

    "CR

    A belated thank you for your lengthy answer at 128 (previous topic) about how Canadian polls are bad and Australian ones good. I was very impressed by your in depth knowledge about how the citizen's of these two fine counties think."

    No problem. I'm retired. Lots of time for answering questions.

    I did not say "Canadian polls are bad and Australian ones good." You just did.

    What I did try to explain is that they were completely different kinds of polls. The former were daily polls which bounced all over the place depending on which politician said the stupidest thing. Moreover, political polling is loaded with problems, as is evident is most results.

    The latter reflected a building trend on a much different kind of issue - and something that I can't imagine changing due to why it is emerging. Gillard lied straight to their faces, and it seems nobody is scared of the AGW bogeyman anymore. That said, it is still just one poll, it could be wrong, I could be wrong, and we shall see.

    Rest of your comment makes sense to me. Except I see the AGW project as the biggest con ever, which has nothing to do with real science or the environment. I was an environmentalist back in the 1960s and all I have seen is a great cause become hijacked by the Global Watermelons and their useful idiots. Now I just assume they are lying when they move their lips, and I am seldom disappointed.

    Yes, pardon my "serf" comment. From my perspective, seems like the little people of the UK are still far too prone to that kind of top-down 'yes guvnor' mentality. The Climategate whitewashes said it all for me. So, sorry again, but you folks are "AGW tax paying serfs" as long as you are paying that tax (follow the money) or putting up with whitewashes like that.

    I guess that is why so many Brits are moving over here.

  • Comment number 27.

    re: 15 davblo:

    security + bank_balance + mortgage + school_fees = less_urge_to_breed

    To which I would add, apropos of where most population growth actually occurs: basic women's numeracy and literacy, decent sanitation, and clean water. And rudimentary security of person and property wouldn't be a bad thing, either.

    Which seems to be the position of the Communists in Brazil. Good on 'em.

  • Comment number 28.

    re: 18 PAWB46:

    If it wasn't for eco-loonies and greenies, there wouldn't be ridiculous proposals like bio-fuels etc for which forests get cut down. Get rid of the greenies and eco-loonies and their corrupt followers and the problem is solved in one fell swoop.

    Is this your version of population control? I must say, as a greenie, I do take some offense.

  • Comment number 29.

    re: 26 CR

    I guess that is why so many Brits are moving over here.

    So many?

    Well, I remain to be convinced as to numbers. But as to motivation, you don't think low land costs and the dream of wide open spaces have more to do with emigration than alleged Euro "serfdom?"

    C'mon dude, get off your high horse.

  • Comment number 30.

    #29 chronophobe - Tons of (new) Brits around here. All the ones I know think they have escaped serfdom in a crowded Orwellian state with no opportunities. The wide open spaces and cheaper land is a bonus. Just imagine, life without being on police state TV.

    And, yes, some of them do have horses, though not all that high. We don't.

  • Comment number 31.

    "Except I see the AGW project as the biggest con ever, which has nothing to do with real science or the environment."

    So are the ever increasing levels of CO2 which have already breached millions of year highs part of this con job? What about the radiative properties of CO2 as a significant greenhouse gas? Is that part of the con too?

    The real con job in town is from those who claim humans can't change the climate.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    @quake #31

    The real con job in town is from those who claim humans can't change the climate.

    I don't think any of us are claiming humans can't change the climate. Deforestation, concrete, wind mills, sorry turbines, all change the climate locally and have potential to change the climate globally, but CO2? Not significantly

    /Mango

    I don't deny climate change, I know climate changes

  • Comment number 35.

    32. At 12:45pm 6th May 2011, Brunnen wrote:

    "the ice core record only goes back 800,000 years"

    Glacial, interglacial, glacial, interglacial. But at no point does CO2 go above 300ppm. That cycle goes back longer than 800,000 years. If you want to believe that during a "special" interglacial 900,000 years ago CO2 rose to 400ppm you are imagining the implausible.

    CO2 is already above 390ppm and if emissions continue will eventually pass 500ppm. You are grossly under-exagerating the recent CO2 rise. It isn't a "blip in CO2 levels", it's a dramatic event in geological time. Not only is the level the highest it's been for millions of years, but the rate of increase is probably unprecedented for even longer. Afterall we've increase CO2 by 100ppm in less than 200 years. Nature on the otherhand took many thousands of years to perform such a feat.

  • Comment number 36.

    Also I didn't say "significant climate change", I said climate change fullstop. Because the biggest con in town that I mentioned is the con of that the CO2 rise doesn't affect the climate *at all*.

    Once they admit CO2 does affect the climate then all the awkward questions rear their head - like how much does it affect the climate. And that can't so simply be dismissed if "the science isn't settled" can it?

  • Comment number 37.

    Re 34.MangoChutneyUKOK wrote

    "but CO2? Not significantly"

    Again, "not significantly". Based on what? Settled science? How sure are you that CO2 doesn't affect the climate significantly? 100% sure? How? What is your evidence that CO2 doesn't affect the climate significantly?

  • Comment number 38.

    Re 33. MangoChutneyUKOK wrote:

    Yes here's a graph of the last 400,000 and what's to come:
    http://www.actingtogether.co.uk/images/CO2graph.gif

    The recent spike isn't natural and it isn't remotely like the natural changes that preceded it. The natural behavior of CO2 over the past 400,000 years continued millions of years prior to that as part of the glacial/interglacial cycling.

    Don't bother with the usual strawman appeal to 500 million years ago when CO2 was thousands of ppm. The issue is not can the Earth support life above 500ppm CO2, but how will life on the Earth *today* be affected by a sudden change in CO2 levels - a sudden change which is nothing like what has happened for millions of years (possibly even tens of millions of years).

    If you think current knowledge supports your idea that the matter is somehow obvious irrelevant and only exists because some political party mandated it to be an issue, you are very much mistaken.

  • Comment number 39.

    "If you want to believe that during a "special" interglacial 900,000 years ago CO2 rose to 400ppm you are imagining the implausible."

    You were the fool who brought the climate and CO2 levels of millions of years ago into this. Millions of years ago CO2 levels were in the thousands of ppm (if the proxy data is to be trusted, huge caveat there) and life abounded. They doomsaday scenario you and your ilk paint is based in fantasy, not history.

    "CO2 is already above 390ppm and if emissions continue will eventually pass 500ppm. You are grossly under-exagerating the recent CO2 rise. It isn't a "blip in CO2 levels", it's a dramatic event in geological time."

    There's nothing dramatic about it. Apart from greenies unfounded hysteria. That's dramatic.

    Show me the time in earth's history where CO2 levels were much higher than today and life suffered as a consequence. Good luck...

  • Comment number 40.

    35. At 13:43pm 6th May 2011, quake wrote:

    "..CO2 is already above 390ppm and if emissions continue will eventually pass 500ppm..."

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    How much biomass, say square km of forest, would be needed to fix or at least stabilise that?

    Is it something humans can reasonably aim at?


  • Comment number 41.

    bowmanthebard @#8

    "I have said a hundred times before..."

    Once was more than enough!

  • Comment number 42.

    Re 39. At 15:18pm 6th May 2011, Brunnen wrote:

    "Millions of years ago CO2 levels were in the thousands of ppm..."

    So you fell right into the strawman I predicted in my #38. re:

    Don't bother with the usual strawman appeal to 500 million years ago when CO2 was thousands of ppm. The issue is not can the Earth support life above 500ppm CO2, but how will life on the Earth *today* be affected by a sudden change in CO2 levels - a sudden change which is nothing like what has happened for millions of years (possibly even tens of millions of years).

  • Comment number 43.

    Strawman? You're the one pulling the strawman with your tens of millions of years guesswork. Prove that this current rise in CO2 is unprecedented.

  • Comment number 44.

    "40. At 15:39pm 6th May 2011, Eddy from Waring wrote:
    35. At 13:43pm 6th May 2011, quake wrote:

    "..CO2 is already above 390ppm and if emissions continue will eventually pass 500ppm..."

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    How much biomass, say square km of forest, would be needed to fix or at least stabilise that?"

    Dunno but it would take around a couple of hundred billion tons of tree grown from nothing

  • Comment number 45.

    it just shows how difficult environmental issues are to resolve given so many different interests. and that's without the deliberate orchestrated disinformation campaign (religiously echoed here by the usual wums).

    even the limited progress at copenhagen on forests it appears has a twist in the tail (http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/forests/rainforest-protection-plans-reward-industries-destroying-forests-20110406)

    #1
    "Richard, Sort of feel sorry for you.",

    i don;t think richard would be too upset if you chose not to post.......and it wouldn;t cause me excessive consternation either, especially since your posts reach the apotheosis of their incisiveness in fruit based insults.

  • Comment number 46.

    "43. At 16:53pm 6th May 2011, Brunnen wrote:
    Strawman? You're the one pulling the strawman with your tens of millions of years guesswork. Prove that this current rise in CO2 is unprecedented."

    If anyone has to prove anything it's you. Prove that CO2 levels in the atmosphere have ever tripled in 300 years. Then we can move on to see whether anything bad happened in those 300 years. Good luck.

    If you can't find such an example you have no basis to claim historical precedence for a tripling of CO2 in a 300 year timespan today as being safe. The best you can say is "I don't know if it will be safe" , which would be a step in the right direction away from the nonsense "it's harmless! it's happened before! etc etc"

  • Comment number 47.

    If you can't find such an example you have no basis to claim historical precedence for a tripling of CO2 in a 300 year timespan

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    I'm not claiming precedence. You're the one claiming this is unprecedented. Prove it.

  • Comment number 48.

    45. At 17:15pm 6th May 2011, rossglory wrote:

    it just shows how difficult environmental issues are to resolve given so many different interests. and that's without the deliberate orchestrated disinformation campaign (religiously echoed here by the usual wums).

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    True, but it's Richard's blog so I suppose there's no way to stop the disinformation campaign.

  • Comment number 49.

    #45. rossglory wrote:

    "i don;t think richard would be too upset if you chose not to post.......and it wouldn;t cause me excessive consternation either, especially since your posts reach the apotheosis of their incisiveness in fruit based insults."

    Oooh. "fruit based insults." That's new.

    You are right though. I'm sure Richard wished just people like you posted. Much simpler that way.

  • Comment number 50.

    simon-swede #41 wrote:

    "Once was more than enough!"

    Interesting way of expressing agreement.

  • Comment number 51.

    Re 47. Brunnen wrote:

    "I'm not claiming precedence"

    Well if you aren't claiming precedence how are you so sure it's safe?

    You called it just a "blip in CO2 levels" but now you admit you don't even know if something like this has happened before.

  • Comment number 52.

    #51 - http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/26/co2-ice-cores-vs-plant-stomata/

    Food for thought. If you are still open to thought.

  • Comment number 53.

    highly biased. Cites Beck which is junk science and doesn't list any of the problems with stomata proxies which make them inferior to ice core data.

  • Comment number 54.

    @More than one, but mostly @quake

    Sorry to possibly burst your little CO2 based bubble, but given that CO2 diffuses in ice aren't you a little out on a limb with claiming that you definitively know the paleo atmospheric concentrations at all.

    Not that a lack of knowledge has stopped your lot in the past.......

    Firstly, doesn't the later leaf stomata (Wagner et al. 2002) CO2 proxy work and the Taylor Dome ices cores disagree for the period between 7-8000 years ago (Indermuhle et al.1999) by about 50 ppm as well?

    And, doesn’t this simple difference suggest that the ice cores might not be a proper matrix for reconstruction of the chemical composition of the ancient atmosphere?

    Plus, before we go off on an anti-stomata kick, you might want to look at this 2011 paper:

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/83765562u3413363/

    Are you, perhaps, aware of any work that either contradicts or further investigates the work that the Scripps Institution of Oceanography did, in 2008?

    A quick Google for the following should bear some, paper/.pdf shaped fruit:

    “CO2 diffusion in polar ice: observations from naturally formed CO2 spikes in the Siple Dome (Antarctica) ice core”

    Isn’t it actually much more probable that the agreement of the CO2 levels between the various ice cores is actually due to C02 diffusion under pressure?

    And finally, just answer the simple question does CO2 diffuse in ice?

    Hint, there is only a single (non-calthrate) answer to this question ;-)

    Regards,

    One of the Lobby

  • Comment number 55.

  • Comment number 56.

    @quake

    Not sure why my #33 was referred since it was a response to your #31, but the mods do work in mysterious ways

    Quake,

    You're claiming that some of us have fallen into your "strawman trap", but it was you that brought up the nonsense claim that CO2 was at it's highest level for millions of years - #31:

    So are the ever increasing levels of CO2 which have already breached millions of year highs part of this con job?

    Clearly this is nonsense. "Millions of years could mean 2 or more million, but cannot mean 400K years as your link in #38.

    You then state in #38:

    Don't bother with the usual strawman appeal to 500 million years ago when CO2 was thousands of ppm.

    But hang on, Csank et al 2011 tell us that only 2.6 million years ago CO2 levels were 365-415 ppm, so we are not talking about 500 million years ago. We're actually talking about the time when the first genera homo appeared - a blink of the eye in evolutionary terms. Csank et al also tell us

    Both methods indicate temperatures ~11-18° C warmer than present 15 (May-Sept temperature = -1.6 ± 1.3°C)

    which makes you wonder why temperatures were around 11C higher than today even though CO2 levels were the same - perhaps it was the sun, I don't know

    You then ask the question:

    The issue is not can the Earth support life above 500ppm CO2, but how will life on the Earth *today* be affected by a sudden change in CO2 levels - a sudden change which is nothing like what has happened for millions of years (possibly even tens of millions of years).

    and talk about the rise in CO2 over 300 years (#46), but your link doesn't have a resolution high enough to show that a spike in the rise of CO2 didn't happen, although some of those spikes from 175-300 ppm look pretty similar to my eye.

    In your #53 you state:

    highly biased. Cites Beck which is junk science

    Beck was published in 2007. As far as i know there is no peer-reviewed paper that debunks Beck, although there has been plenty of time to debunk, so please post the title of the paper that shows Beck is "junk science".

    /Mango

    I don't deny climate change, I know climate changes

  • Comment number 57.

    oops, please ignore the "15" from the Csank quote - it was the line number

    /Mango

    I don't deny climate change, I know climate changes

  • Comment number 58.

    @quake #44:

    Dunno but it would take around a couple of hundred billion tons of tree grown from nothing


    Yes, it's funny how hundreds of billions of tons of tree growth springs up from apparently nothing.

    I think it's called 'seeds'

  • Comment number 59.

    Especially when they have all that extra CO2 food to help them grow and grow and grow.

  • Comment number 60.

    As the international community all benefit from retention of the forests, as particularly the Brazilian rainforests act as a natural carbon sink, drawing CO2. All the nations should be contributing towards ensuring the forests are protected from loggers, farmers etc. Providing financial packages directly to these governmental organisations would reduce the social pressures on the forests.

    Therefore, perhaps the EU could discuss at their next summit meeting such proposals, we could all face an environmental tax, which is specifically used to fund the forests.

    Furthering this point, it may be wise that, as i believe much has already been cut down, that we also look at replanting with faster growing hardwoods etc

    Digressing slightly, but Global warming has provided significant commercial opportunities for many organisations, and conservation of forests in tackling Co2 emissions may also be seen as a niche business area. Therefore for such countries like Brazil, could make significant money from conservation, financial returns much higher than farming or other primary activities.

    See article http://www.energy-measures.com/articles/global_warming_business.php

  • Comment number 61.

    JKnight1 @60
    If the international community agreed to find mechanisms to finance the retention of rain forest in (eg) Brasil, this might exceed the annual returns that the farmers and livestockmen achieve from agriculture.

    The basic international structures are already in place and are based on carbon trading.
    What is needed is the Brasilian local linkages to put the money in the hands of the farmers without federal, state, district and local *corruption* stripping the majority of it away before it reaches the ground.

    Presently the Communist Party is leading the argument and is firmly against environmental protection by virtue of being firmly in favour of the farming interests and lobby (local votes).
    It would be interesting to see, if environmental cash exceeded agricultural cash, if the politics swung pragmatically to favour the environment.

  • Comment number 62.

    Following on . . .

    The Communist Party want exemption from this legislation for all 'small farmers'. As a 'large' farmer may have hundreds of square miles of rangeland, a 'small' farmer may command much bigger acreages than an English farmer.

    Exemption for the 'small farmer' would simply mean that large farmers side-step environmental legislation by splitting their holdings between members of the household and 'ghost' landowners.

 

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