Thursday, June 07, 2007

"I Love the Smell of Napalm in the Morning"

Tim Blair discusses the absurdities of carbon footprint accounting where Australian aborigines are paid millions to preventively burn bush against wildfires which are magically offset against ConocoPhillips refinery emissions. "The Aboriginal teams are now using trucks, and even helicopters, to drop incendiary devices on their land, enabling them to burn, and control, huge areas before the dry season and the wild fires begin towards the end of the year."

Fire has been used as a land management tool for a long time. An Australian government website has this from a manager at the Bushfires Council of the Northern Territories.

Since my appointment in May 1992, a large part of my time has been spent addressing community concerns. For example, the largest voice against the use of fire as a land management tool comes from the urban dweller or 'towny' who considers fire is destructive and pollutes the atmosphere, smoke being the main issue that surfaces. Prescribed burning has received constant criticism with petitions and 'letters to the editor'. No distinction is made, nor understood by most of the protesters, between prescribed burning early in the dry season and out of control fires late in the dry season.

It underscores the complexity of environmental issues. I met people who thought tree farming was bad because it wasn't the natural way wood was grown. No amount of arguing that it would reduce the incentive to illegally log the natural forest by creating a sustainable supply of wood would shake that conviction. Similarly, it came as a surprise to the same sort of people that bulldozers, axes and back-burning were the most useful tools in controlling wildfires. I think one of the key reasons the Aborigines can get away with dropping incendiaries from helicopters is that they are Aborigines. That fact alone will convince the Chardonnay Set that the practice is somehow sustainable where volumes of scientific data would fail to achieve the same effect. What does it go to show? The medium is as important as the message.


Blogger Doug said...

Do they have Casinos too?
Maybe native Americans should be chosen to release the Nukes from the B-2's?
Immigration Bill may be going down as we type:
Lott votes AGAINST Cloture!!!
Below in Audio, before, he argues for the reverse!
Trent Lott, Unplugged: "Are We Men Or Mice?"
Hugh Hewitt
Fresh new voice of the GOP Praises Kennedy,
(and, of course, George Soros, Mencha, McCain, and LaRaza in the process)
Slams the base.

GWB will be proud.

Audio file of the Trent Lott

6/07/2007 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger Elam Bend said...

Historical accounts made by Europeans who first came to North America give the impression that those aboriginals also used fire and forestry management in their 'virgin' forests. One early explorer/settler described forests with trees far enough apart to drive a carriage through; something that is hardly natural in those settings but may be achieved by fire and ax. Unfortunely, the great die-off of Indians left the forests unmanaged and overgrown, leaving the impression of land untouched by human management.

Even now, when people drive through the forested lands along the Hudson, many are ignorant of the fact that they were mostly desolate 200 years ago, fodder for American shipbuilding.

Our hubris for our power to change the environment leads us not to take the long view.

The aboriginies in Austrailia certainly do. When their ancestors arrived to the continent it was much more forrested, but also inhabited by a large predatory lizard. The most likely way that they rid themselves of this beast was in the destruction of its habitat, the thick forest/brush by the fastest means available: fire.

6/07/2007 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I have a bridge for sale to anyone who believeds greenhouse gas emissions will be cut in half by 2050!
Europe and U.S. Move Toward Climate Deal

The U.S. agreed today to “seriously consider” a European proposal to combat global warming by halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Times Topics: Group of Eight

6/07/2007 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Even though the Mangyans I used to visit with were illiterate they knew a considerable amount about the hills they lived in. They were human beings with the normal distribution of intelligence and they had developed certain practices based on long experience and set of skills which was hard to communicate in book form. Doubtless the Aborigines have a similar store of information. And it is only sensible not to dismiss this traditional knowledge out of hand.

Most "progressive" people will readily and enthusiastically admit this. But a moment's thought will show that the Western civilization also has traditions and technologies developed through the millenia. Familiar technologies like farming and transportation systems were developed over decades by men not unlike the Mangyans and Aborigines. Where tribes have a system of elders, etc the West developed systems like representative democracy. It created systems of learning, structures of social stability.

Very few progressives would entertain the idea of abolishing the traditions of the Mangyans or the Aborigines, but raise the question of monogamous heterosexual marriage and its importance is dismissed out of hand. You would think it was as disposable as used kleenex. Something to be ashamed of. Gender roles centuries old are arbitrarily targed for "reform". Want to make boys "less aggressive"? Make them squat on toilet seats.

Now these "progressive" ideas may or may not be sensible, but I would have thought they would give marriage, for example, the same degree of respect one might accord to the Aboriginal practice of preventive burning. Sometimes I think the political meaning of "conservative" is nothing but being respectful of things that have been shown to work. But perhaps many of the "progressives" of today are like those missionaries of old who were ignorant of the country whose customs they were changing. To them their own nominal culture has become a strange country and they are visitors from some dystopic Marxist land come to teach the natives their dreadful, droning hymns and impose their sour point of view. But then the Left has always been another country from whose bourn no traveler returns unscathed.

6/07/2007 06:52:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Up to 8 inches of snow fell in the Big Horn Mountains in northern Wyoming

Global Warming is larcenous bunk. It is small wonder that the people selling it/forcing it down everyone's throats have set themselves up with carbon credit trading companies (can you say "Al Gore"?) It blows my mind that people who consider evolution to be incontrovertible faith at the same time are out of their minds about a notion so freakin' static as "Global Warming". Are they, therefore, telling us that "Evolution" is done?...because they say so? People that stupid deserve the life that the jihadists will bring them.

6/07/2007 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

Overheard at a cocktail party from a blond with a glass of white wine.

"I didn't know that Aborigines used helicopters before the white man came."

6/07/2007 07:46:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Wretchard, these progressives are crazy like a fox.

Aborigines are no threat to them, so do not have to be contained or fought down. Upwardly mobile people of their own country are. Let's be honest, how can a progressive secure his/her offspring's sinecure if someone comes along to overturn the whole economic model?

Partly the perniciousness of the elite in trying to destroy things like marriage (which they never weirdly seem to give up for themselves, funny huh?) which helps lifts families out of poverty, is because of how threatened they feel. A truly secure aristocracy would not care much about the middle class nor devote so much attention to it's destruction.

That the elite feels so threatened it must destroy it's own culture to maintain it's sinecures should tell us much.

6/07/2007 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

On Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, if you want to clear an acre of undisturbed land in order put up a new building, do you know what you are required to do in the way of environmental remediation?

You have to clear TWO more acres of land for every one you actually need. It seems that lightning sparked fires used to keep the place clear of big trees – of any trees, really, and we humans insist on putting such fires out when they happen. This is bad for the species that came to exist in the area, so to get things back to “normal” you have to create some little “fire deserts” for the natural flora and fauna.

I used to live in central Oklahoma. It has trees all over the place. There used to be almost none, because between the lightning sparked fires and the buffalo herds nothing other than grass could grow.

Then there is Southern California. No trees to speak of, originally – but now – using water diverted from mountains and the north, there are trees all over the place.

Travel around a bit and you will not wonder at all at the fact that there are now many, many more square miles of trees in the U.S. than the 1700’s.

6/09/2007 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

Trees are very disruptive of groundwater. Much of the water that falls on trees evaporates and never makes it to the soil.

Professors at UT, Austin calculated that San Antonio could ease its water problems by paying landowners to the N and West of the city to clear the Juniper from their land and conduct burns to improve the grass.

Austin, TX is setting up for an Oakland-level conflagration by letting the Juniper build up around the hills West of town.

Grassfires would regularly burn from Montana down to Texas several times a decade before the Europeans came.

Now, the only people who burn regularly are the ranchers in Kansas and Nebraska. I have climbed watertowers in the Flint Hills in March and could see for 30 miles in all directions nothing but black ground. By May the grass was knee deep.

Even organizations like the Nature Conservacny talk abut burning, but are so afraid of it, they rarely do it. They have an enormous problem with woody encroachment on their preserves.

The same goes in spades for much of the Wildlife Management Areas in Texas and Oklahoma. These areas are baasically deserts compared to what they could be with regular burning.

The Net Primary Productivity of Grassland is 40% versus 1-3% for woodlands. Huge amounts of carbon are sequestered by grasslands and then locked away due to soil formation. Forests will reach a steady state, but not so grasslands.

6/09/2007 11:52:00 AM  

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