Showing posts with label sustainable food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sustainable food. Show all posts

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Forecasting a dangerous present and devastating future for Australia

“Background warming associated with anthropogenic climate change has seen Australian annual mean temperature increase by approximately 1.1 °C since 1910. Most of this warming has occurred since 1950.” [Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Annual Climate Statement 2017]

Bloomberg, 10 January 2018:

The road-melting heatwave that made Sydney the hottest place on Earth at the weekend may just be a taste of things to come. 

Temperatures in Australia are set to rise until around 2050 due to greenhouse gas emissions already in the atmosphere, according to the country’s weather bureau

“Australia is one country where you really can see the signal of global warming,” Karl Braganza, the Bureau of Meteorology’s head of climate monitoring, told reporters on a call. “We’ve locked the degree of warming in until mid-century and that means it’s likely that one of the next strong El Nino events in the coming decade or two will set a new record.”

Western Sydney touched 47.3 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday and 2017 was Australia’s third-hottest year on record. Heat and drought risk devastating crops in Australia, the world’s third-largest exporter of cotton where farm production is forecast to be worth A$59 billion ($46 billion) this financial year.

The Heat is On
Australia has had just one cooler-than-average year since 2005
Since 2005, Australia has notched up seven of its 10 warmest years, the weather bureau said in its annual climate statement.

More heatwaves could stress a power grid that’s struggled to cope with demand as people crank up air-conditioning during the scorching summer months.

Australian Bureau of Meteorology Annual Climate Statement 2017, issued January 2018.

Visible impacts in 2018.................

The Guardian, 9 January 2018:

More than 400 animals have died in one colony alone as temperatures soar above 47C, causing exhaustion and dehydration

Mounds of dead flying foxes in Campbelltown suburb of Sydney, Australia. Photograph: Facebook/Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown

Friday, 12 January 2018

GM-free canola a winner says Gene Ethics

On 22 August 2016, Australia submitted a report to the European Union (EU) presenting the results of calculations of greenhouse gas emissions from the cultivation of canola oilseed in Australia and in December 2017 the EU approved Australian canola for import as low greenhouse gas emission produce for bio-fuel, animal feed and food.

Gene Ethics, 3 January 2018:

GM-free canola a winner
A CSIRO researcher confirms that Australian farmers achieved a $100 million per year premium, with the extra $20-$40/tonne paid for their GM-free canola. Australia has favoured EU access for its GM-free canola, by meeting Europe's tough Renewable Energy Greenhouse Gas Savings Target. Our canola offers more options for the European supply chain, as residues from biofuel production can be used for animal feed and oil for human consumption. The vast majority of Australian canola is GM-free.

 GM-free Shopping List is here.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Tony Windsor on fighting the Santos pipeline

They were there in an attempt to survey a pipeline to convey coal seam gas from gas giant Santos’s proposed Narrabri gas field. As one landholder, David Chadwick, said: the pipeline was the “head of the snake” and if allowed to proceed would provide the infrastructure to convey the gas to Sydney or internationally and provide the political pressure to develop about 850 gas wells near Narrabri, with a view to hundreds more across the Liverpool Plains and associated areas.” [Tony Windsor, former  independent member for the federal seat of New England]

The Saturday Paper, 9-15 December 2017:

Last week I was working with my son Andrew on our farm 25 kilometres north of Coonamble when he received a message that there were trespassers on the neighbouring farm. A digital alert system had been put in place for such an event.

Within minutes, farm vehicles from all the neighbours converged on the scene. Others moved in on the trespassers from the eastern side and in a pincer movement the trespassers became trapped and unable to gain access to their vehicles.

By this time, about 100 agitated and concerned farmers, their employees and families were there to express their disgust at what had just occurred. The police had also arrived.
It was ascertained that these trespassers were not your everyday illegal pig hunters or bushwalkers. But they were no less illegal and in breach of the law.

These trespassers were eventually allowed to leave after the police took their details. They proceeded to another small town called Warren, more than 100 kilometres away, where they were observed acting strangely.

The next day, they were followed on the ground by vehicle and in the air by aircraft and again they invaded private lands without appropriate authority and were hunted off. They returned to Coonamble to complain to police about being harassed, and then they left the district.

The trespassers were dressed in new clothes, trying to look like ecological scientists but without any identification. They had a security officer with them.

The question is why? Why would these people climb over a gate to gain access to the property when on that gate was a sign warning about biosecurity, with the farmer’s mobile phone number on the sign? Why wasn’t contact made? Why were they behaving like this?

It has often been said there will be wars over water. In its own way, the scene I was watching was a skirmish in what has the potential to become a war and rewrite the politics of water, land use and energy in this country. It was also an insight into how threatened the farm community felt and demonstrated how it would be difficult to fight these farmers’ guerilla tactics. It was a warning they were serious players.

It also occurred to me that most people in our major cities would not necessarily understand why a small community would mobilise itself so quickly at an apparent breach of their rights.

This article is an attempt to explain some of the detail and policy clashes that will evolve over the coming year, on the Liverpool Plains, on the plain country west of the Pilliga, and around the Adani coalmine in Queensland.

Read the full article here.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Climate change, farming, food & families in Australia

“The price, quality and seasonality of Australia’s food is increasingly being affected by climate change with Australia’s future food security under threat….

Australia’s food supply chain is highly exposed to disruption from increasing extreme weather events driven by climate change, with farmers already struggling to cope with more frequent and intense droughts and changing weather patterns.” [Climate Council, October 2015]

It used to be said of Australian families that generally they were only one generation away from the farm and it used to be noted that in the suburbs spreading out from major metropolitan areas in the 1950s and 60s these families lived in relatively small houses on quarter acre lots.

Families then were still close enough to the means of food production to understand the importance of both climate and weather and often supplemented the family diet with chooks in the backyard, along with a couple of fruit trees and a vegie patch. In outer metropolitan and regional areas there was often a rain water tank attached to the house long after town water became available.

Go look in your back yard now. What do you see?

Then have a think about this…….

Australia is one of only a handful of countries that produces more food than it consumes and most Australians have access to an abundant and safe food supply. But Australia is also considered one of the most vulnerable developed countries in the world to impacts of the changing climate. Rising temperatures, increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and declining water availability in some of our most important agricultural regions pose significant risks for the nature, distribution, quality, and affordability of our food supply. At the same time, the Australian and global population continues to grow, competition for arable land continues to intensify, and our natural resource base continues to degrade, placing ever-increasing demands on food production systems.

Up to 70% of Australia’s wine-growing regions with a Mediterranean climate (including iconic areas like the Barossa Valley and Margaret River) will be less suitable for grape growing by 2050. Higher temperatures will continue to cause earlier ripening and reduced grape quality, as well as encourage expansion to new areas, including some regions of Tasmania.

Many foods produced by plants growing at elevated CO2 have reduced protein and mineral concentrations, reducing their nutritional value…..

Australia is projected to be one of the most adversely affected regions from future changes in climate in terms of reductions in agricultural production and exports.

Climate impacts on agricultural production in other countries will affect our competitiveness, especially if warmer and wetter conditions elsewhere boost production of key products such as beef and lamb.

This report noted:

Ø    Harsher climate conditions will increase use of more heat-tolerant breeds in beef production, some of which have lower meat quality and reproductive rates.

Ø    Heat stress reduces milk yield by 10-25% and up to 40% in extreme heatwave conditions.

Ø    The yields of many important crop species such as wheat, rice and maize are reduced at temperatures more than 30°C.

Ø   Climate change is increasing the variability of crop yields.

Ø    Food prices during the 2005- 2007 drought increased at twice the rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) with fresh fruit and vegetables the worst hit, increasing 43% and 33% respectively.

Ø   Cyclone Larry destroyed 90% of the North Queensland banana crop in 2006, affecting supply for nine months and increasing prices by 500%.

Ø   The 2009 heatwave in Victoria decimated fruit crops, with significant production losses of berry and other fruit crops.

Ø   There is typically less than 30 days supply of non-perishable food and less than five days supply of perishable food in the supply chain at any one time. Households generally hold only about a 3-5 day supply of food. Such low reserves are vulnerable to natural disasters and disruption to transport from extreme weather.

Ø    During the 2011 Queensland floods, several towns such as Rockhampton were cut off for up to two weeks, preventing food resupply. Brisbane came within a day of running out of bread.

Perhaps it’s time to pick up the phone and call your local state and federal members of parliament to ask them what they and their political party are actually doing - by way of implemented policies and/or legislation - to protect your family’s food and water security now that climate change is a fact of life.

* The Climate Council is an independent non-profit organisation funded by donations by the public. 

Thursday, 9 March 2017

As Australia enters Autumn 2017 eyes turn to the skies

Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), media release, 28 February 2017:

The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remains neutral. However, recent changes in both the tropical Pacific Ocean and atmosphere, and climate model outlooks surveyed by the Bureau, suggest the likelihood of El Niño forming in 2017 has risen. As a result, the Bureau's ENSO Outlook status has been upgraded to El Niño WATCH, meaning the likelihood of El Niño in 2017 is approximately 50%.

All atmospheric and oceanic indicators of ENSO are currently within neutral thresholds. However, sea surface temperatures have been increasing in the eastern Pacific Ocean and are now warmer than average for the first time since June 2016, while the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has been trending downwards.

Seven of eight international models surveyed by the Bureau indicate steady warming in the central tropical Pacific Ocean over the next six months. Six models suggest El Niño thresholds may be reached by July 2017. However, some caution must be taken at this time of year, with lower model accuracy through the autumn months compared to other times of the year.

El Niño is often associated with below average winter–spring rainfall over eastern Australia and warmer than average winter–spring maximum temperatures over the southern half of Australia.

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) has little influence on Australia from December to April. Current outlooks suggest a neutral IOD may persist until the end of autumn.

Climate outlooks – monthly and seasonal Issued: 23 February 2017 – Next issue: 30 March 2017:

Climate outlook overview
Autumn (March to May) rainfall is likely to be below average over the southern two-thirds of Australia.
March is likely to be hotter and drier than average across most of Australia, except the far north and west.
Warmer autumn days and nights are likely across most of Australia, except northwest Australia where days and nights are likely to be cooler than average.
The drier than average outlooks are likely a result of forecast higher than normal pressure across western and southern Australia, meaning fewer rain-bearing systems are likely to cross the coast (see the Climate Influences section for more detail).

NSW Forecast – chance of exceeding median maximum temperature in March to May 2017:

NSW Forecast – chance of above median rainfall in March to May 2017:

The Conversation, 1 March 2017:

Crop yields around Australia have been hard hit by recent weather. Last year, for instance, the outlook for mungbeans was excellent. But the hot, dry weather has hurt growers. The extreme conditions have reduced average yields from an expected 1-1.5 tonnes per hectare to just 0.1-0.5 tonnes per hectare.

Sorghum and cotton crops fared little better, due to depleted soil water, lack of in-crop rainfall, and extreme heat. Fruit and vegetables, from strawberries to lettuce, were also hit hard.

But the story is larger than this. Globally, production of maize and wheat between 1980 and 2008 was 3.8% and 5.5% below what we would have expected without temperature increases. One model, which combines historical crop production and weather data, projects significant reductions in production of several key African crops. For maize, the predicted decline is as much as 22% by 2050.

ABC News, 17 February 2017:

The impact of several heatwaves so far this year will be felt for some time by primary producers around Australia.
From crop damage, to livestock stress, the impact of these extreme temperatures is yet to be fully understood.
Meanwhile, farmers and wholesalers say they have had to come up with innovative methods of cooling their animals and produce.
But they are not the only ones to feel the impact of the heat; consumers will feel it in their wallets and in the quality available.

Monday, 21 November 2016

As 2016 draws to a close it is apparent that global greenhouse gas emissions are still rising - albeit a little slower than before

The Global Carbon Project was established in 2001 “to assist the international science community to establish a common, mutually agreed knowledge base supporting policy debate and action to slow the rate of increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere”.

It released its Global Carbon Budget 2016 this month.

Here are some of the Power Point graphs in this budget report:

NOTE: All the data is shown in billion tonnes CO2 (GtCO2 ) 1 Gigatonne (Gt) = 1 billion tonnes = 1×1015g = 1 Petagram (Pg) 1 kg carbon (C) = 3.664 kg carbon dioxide (CO2 ) 1 GtC = 3.664 billion tonnes CO2 = 3.664 GtCO2 (Figures in units of GtC and GtCO2 are available from

Source: CDIAC; Le Quéré et al 2016; Global Carbon Budget 2016

In July 2015 The Climate Institute produced a fact sheet indicating that Australia was responsible for 1.4 per cent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, 26 tCO2 annually per person (per capita) and 640 tCO2 per unit of GDP.

Despite knowing these facts and despite having the effects of climate change literally in our face in Australia this last decade, the Turnbull Government is once again giving into short-term industry interests at the expense of the natural environment, soil quality and long-term water security - not just risking future domestic food shortages due to the degradation of a major food bowl but rather in a worst-case scenario risking widespread starvation as more and more land becomes hostile to reliable food production due to lack of sufficient environmental water flows keeping vital river systems alive.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 November 2016:

The federal government is consigning the Murray River to a "certain slow death" and killing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan by reneging on a promise to increase environmental water flows, South Australian Environment Minister Ian Hunter has said.
Before what was described as a heated meeting of the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council in Adelaide on Friday morning, Mr Hunter called on the Prime Minister to sack his deputy, Barnaby Joyce.
"We saw what happened in the millenium drought. It's beyond shameful that upstream politicians would even consider consigning the South Australians to the same fate in the future," said Mr Hunter.  
Without extra water, the mouth of the Murray would dry up, he said……

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Dutch-owned super trawler Geelong Star 'vacuuming' the seas aroung 12 Mile Reef off Bermagui NSW

Courtesy of Australian Minister for the Environment, Liberal MP Greg Hunt, and an overly compliant NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Nationals MLC Niall Blair,  the Dutch-owned and operated super trawler Geelong Star is once more unsustainably harvesting NSW waters.

As small pelagic fishing grounds extend from the east coast of Tasmania and Victoria all the way up the New South Wales coast and into the waters of southern Queensland, the fact that the Abbott-Turnbull Government allowed this factory ship into Commonwealth waters when the former Labor Government had denied access to such super trawlers is something to consider between now and 2 July 2016.

Narooma News, 15 May 2016:
SPOTTED: Bermagui based commercial fisherman Jason Moyce spotted the Geelong Star working the bait grounds at 12-Mile Reef on the morning of Friday, May 13.

Moves to open more water to the controversial factory trawler Geelong Star don’t appear to have discouraged her from working grounds of Narooma and Bermagui.

The mid-water trawler appears to working off Bermagui right now in direct contravention to promises to keep away from the Canberra Yellowfin Tuna Tournament on this weekend. 

Bermagui-based commercial fisherman Jason Moyce spotted the Geelong Star working the bait grounds at 12-Mile Reef on the morning of Friday, May 13. 

Mr Moyce posted a photo of the trawler on social media commenting: “Doing its fourth lap of the 12... Doing 1-mile shots and then winching up! Smashing it!”.

The vessel is working the productive grounds off Bermagui on the day before the Canberra Yellowfin Tuna Tournament begins, contrary to the Small Pelagic Fishing Industry Association’s promise to keep away from game fishing tournaments.

And the continued focus of the trawler on the bait grounds off Bermagui and Narooma is raising concerns among game fishermen worried about localised depletion of fish stocks and also the economic impact of the vessel on local small towns reliant on game fishing……

Friday, 24 May 2013

Yamba Farmers’ Market First Birthday Celebration

May 29, 2013   7:00 am – 12:00 pm
Whiting Beach Car Park,  Yamba 

Yamba Farmers’ Market will be celebrating its first birthday with free birthday cake, a bumper lucky gate prize and a huge range of local produce. Free range eggs, local pork and beef, Northern Rivers rice, real strawberry ice cream, baked goods, award winning jams and relishes, large glossy tomatoes, local coffee, flowers and sun hardened seedlings.