Wednesday, 14 July 2010

7.5 million fewer cars could have been

Today, in Trading Room, it says that the outback is the key to cutting Australia’s appalling greenhouse gas emissions. The argument is that improving the methods of grazing would allow for greater storage of carbon in the extensive grasslands of the outback.

The trouble is this:
  1. the method will do nothing like enough to counter runaway climate change, as is admitted by the authors. 5 percent reduction will still ensure a shift of the arid belt to the far south of Australia, and a huge increase in outback rainfall that will, however, decrease grazing profitability. This paradox occurs because the soils in the wet/dry tropics are so poor that the food value of grasses is too poor for any large herbivore. The grasses are rich in toxic aluminum and manganese which makes them impossible to digest on such a large scale. In the relatively rich clay soils of the southeastern outback, fairly nutritious grasses and herbage feed extremely efficient and extensive grazing
  2. 7.5 million fewer cars could easily have been achieved if people in Australia had been willing to fight for a first-class public transport system through demanding that rail and tram services become the exclusive recipient of government transport funding and that freeway building be constitutionally banned.
  3. If all the money spent on CityLink, EastLink, etc. etc. had been spent on railway extensions and on giving buses priority on busy roads, Melbourne could have a public transport system equal to the best systems in Europe and Asia. With rigid laws against increasing road capacity and efforts to actually reduce it dramatically, such a system might actually more than recover costs
  4. Such a move could reduce Australia’s greenhouse emissions by at least 30 percent by now and potentially by even more in the future.

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