Watt about the NZ Greens?

Watts Up With That (WUWT), has a recent post that links to an article claiming that the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand has seriously down-rated the worry about global warming. This appears to be based on the Green Party co-leader not saying anything about global warming in his speech at their annual conference and his speech not being particularly rousing (with respect to global warming) at their global warming conference the following week.

Well this seemed a little odd, so I searched for the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand and discovered an entire page about climate change. Now, technically climate change and global warming are not the same things, but they seem to be used interchangeable on WUWT. This site has a news item from 7 June reporting that their Conference shows action needed on climate change now. This news item starts with

Today’s Green Party-hosted climate change conference at Parliament has confirmed the urgent need for the National Government to act on climate change or leave New Zealand unprepared for the future, the Green Party said today.

This seems like a rather odd thing to report if the organisation has indeed seriously down-rated the worry about global warming. Especially odd if this is the conference referred to in the WUWT post.

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13 Responses to Watt about the NZ Greens?

  1. For some reason, the article that the WUWT post links to is no longer active. Has someone realised that they might have read a little too much into what someone else didn’t say.

  2. Rachel says:

    Anthropogenic global warming has cross-party acceptance in New Zealand. This doesn’t mean they’re necessarily doing much about it, but that whether it is true or not just isn’t debated anymore because everyone accepts it (or almost everyone as I’m sure there are a few dissenting voices). We already get 70% of our domestic electricity from renewable sources.

    The big CO2 emitter here is farming and scientists are working on a solution for this. You can’t stop cows from farting but you can change their diet so that maybe they’ll fart less. New Zealand is also practically a banana republic with its dairy industry being the main income earner. Without it there’s probably only tourism.

    There was an opinion piece about Bill McKibben in a New Zealand online news source this weekend – http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff-nation/8797754/Climate-change-math-doesn-t-add-up
    It was written by a couple of skeptics and so far has 217 comments. I was quite surprised that most of the comments are negative towards the article which I think is a sign that the skeptic movement here is very small.

  3. Yes, I was surprised by the claim that the NZ Green Party had down-rated the concern about global warming. I did think there was a general acceptance in New Zealand.

    Here’s my naive question. I had always assumed that CO2 emissions from agriculture was effectively carbon neutral. The CO2 must come from the plants that the animals have eaten and is hence re-absorbed when the plants are regrown. Have I missed something obvious here though?

  4. Rachel says:

    I think that’s a good question. A few years ago the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations(FAO) produced a report titled Livestock’s Long Shadow http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM . In it they find that greenhouse gas emissions from the farming of animals account for more than the entire transport sector including cars, boats, trucks, planes and trains. Where do the emissions come from? Here’s an excerpt from the report –
    “The respiration of livestock makes up only a very small part of the net release of carbon that can be attributed to the livestock sector. Much more is released indirectly by other channels including:
    • burning fossil fuel to produce mineral fertiliz-
    ers used in feed production;
    • methane release from the breakdown of ferti-
    lizers and from animal manure;
    • land-use changes for feed production and for
    grazing;
    • land degradation;
    • fossil fuel use during feed and animal produc-
    tion; and
    • fossil fuel use in production and transport of
    processed and refrigerated animal products.”

  5. Okay, thanks. That makes a bit more sense since most of it is related to the use of fossil fuels in the agricultural process, rather than actually from the animals themselves.

  6. Rachel says:

    I think a great deal of energy goes into producing food for animals for human consumption and this would be factored in. I read somewhere once that Americans alone consume some 10 billion animals per year not including fish or game. That’s a lot of animals to feed! Most of those animals are not eating grass but food that humans could eat directly.

  7. Rachel says:

    Although I don’t understand why New Zealand’s cows are so problematic because they’re mostly eating grass. I might have to check up on this one.

  8. Yes, that’s certainly an issue.

  9. Chris Kresser discussed this some time ago. No idea how reliable it is, but he at least provides some references. Grass-fed cows seem to be a different animal as CAFO cows. (And better for animal welfare and likely more healthy as sick stressed cows.)

    (2) Grasslands are capable of sequestering more carbon than any other ecosystem, and livestock can enhance the incorporation of carbon into the plants and soil. (3) One study showed that grazing cattle can also reduce the land’s natural emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that environmentalists agree is more damaging than carbon dioxide. (4) Some research shows that when cattle are raised on natural pasture with no additional fertilizer or supplemental feed, their ability to enhance carbon sequestration actually outweighs their greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, under the right circumstances, cows are carbon negative!

  10. Rachel says:

    Thanks, Victor. Carbon negative! Wow! I’m pretty sure New Zealand’s dairy cows aren’t carbon negative so perhaps it’s just the fossil fuel use associated with fertilizers and storage and transport.

  11. “Under the right circumstances” 🙂

    that may mean a dead soil from an intensive wheat or corn monoculture, which is then turned into grassland and starts to build up carbon and fertility again.

  12. Rachel says:

    I’ve just found a document produced by Landcare Research New Zealand – http://www.carbonzero.co.nz/news/documents/dairyNZ_mar09.pdf – called A dairy farm is not greenhouse gas neutral. Third paragraph from the top explains why:

    “It is certainly true that carbon cycles through pastoral systems, and that farming ruminant animals does not add any ‘new’ carbon to the atmosphere. However, in the process of milk production some of the carbon in the atmosphere is transformed from a gas with a lower GWP (carbon dioxide) to a gas with a higher GWP (methane). For methane, the warming effect is much greater in the short term (over 20 years the GWP for methane is 72) and declines over time as the methane is converted back to carbon dioxide by natural processes in the atmosphere (about half the emitted methane is converted to carbon dioxide every 8 to 10 years).”

    GWP – global warming potential

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