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TAS Country : September 9th 2010
10 Tasmanian Country Friday, September 10, 2010 Opinion HEAT IS ON: Climate adviser Ross Garnaut sells the emissions trading message in the early days of the former Rudd government. OVER the FENCE John Rich Think planet act paddock I admit to being a bit of a sceptic on this issue, but I also admit to the feeling that whatever it is we are doing in our planet, we should have regard for the environmental impacts from our actions.' WE are becoming more familiar with terms relative to the environment, such as carbon footprint, emissions trading, climate change, global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, food miles, sustainability and carbon reduction. Familiarity does not mean understanding however, and farmers need to know more about these issues and be working to adjust their practices to meet the challenges that are certainly ahead. Global warming refers to an average increase in the earth's temperature, which in turn causes changes in climate. A warmer earth may lead to changes in rainfall patterns, a rise in sea level and a wide range of impacts on plants, wildlife, and humans. When scientists talk about the issue of climate change, their concern is about global warming caused by human activity, often referred to as the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane) trap heat and light from the sun in the earth's atmosphere and this can alter the long-term weather patterns. Alteration to the weather patterns is called climate change, which can mean warmer or colder weather and annual amounts of rainfall or snow can increase or decrease. One of the difficult issues with climate change is the diversity of opinions being expressed. Former prime minster Kevin Rudd and the Labor Party had emissions trading high on their list of priorities. Malcolm Turnbull, one-time leader of the Liberal Party, came to grief within the party on his stand on this issue. Many scientific papers have been written in support of the climate change argument and opposite points of view have also been expressed by learned people. The problem we have is who do we believe. I admit to being a bit of a sceptic on this issue, but I also admit to the feeling that whatever it is we are doing in our planet, we should have regard for the environmental impacts from our actions. In our every-day existence we can often see examples of pollution and/or degradation of our environment. We definitely need to work to reduce these effects. We should have no illusions that the matter of climate change will go away. The issue is still well and truly on the political radar and government action will be taken. There does not appear to be an option to do nothing. The scientists, all over the world, are certainly indicating that time is running out and they cite sea temperatures rising, Arctic and Antarctic ice melting, glaciers melting and global surface temperatures increasing. There will be claims and counterclaims about these issues and it will be difficult to know whom to believe. It does seem that the old adage kicks in, ''where there is smoke there is fire''. Therefore, it's time to commence work on the carbon footprint at the farm level. Carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment and in particular climate change. It relates to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our day-to-day lives, usually expressed in equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide. Every human activity consumes resources from the planet and produces waste that the planet must deal with. As our demand for resources has grown we have exceeded the rate the earth can regenerate and absorb the waste. Climate change is one of the greatest social, economic and environmental challenges of our time. People are asking for more information about their food. They want to know if it has been produced in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. Major supermarkets here, Coles and Woolworths, along with Tesco and Sainsbury's in the UK and Wal- Mart in the USA are just some of the buyers that have declared their interest in working towards reducing their carbon footprint through all sections of the food business. Dairy business Fonterra announced last year it was seriously measuring the carbon footprint from the cows to the customer and then taking steps to reduce emissions through the supply chain. It is well known there is a keenness to expand agriculture in Tasmania. Anything we do from here on must have regard to carbon footprint. I think farmers will need to have a greater understanding of the carbon footprint aspect of their involvement in the food supply chain than ever. Now is the time for Tasmanian farmers to take on carbon-footprint management as a priority, using tools that include good practices, conditions, science and people. Farmers will need to be educated about carbon footprint and what needs to be done. Who knows what opportunities might open up though increases in agricultural output alongside decreases in carbon emissions? Cool choice in vineyard buy BROWN Brothers says its purchase of Tamar Ridge Winery near Launceston was motivated in part by global warming. The big Victorian wine maker, known for its cool-climate wines, expects average temperatures at its current vineyards to rise 2C in the next 15 years. Chief executive Ross Brown said a strategic review of the business had identified climate change as a threat. Gunns Limited sold Tamar Ridge to the industry giant for $32.5 million last month. The purchase allowed Brown Brothers to expand further into sparkling wine and take over a quality pinot noir. Mr Brown said Australia's best sparkling wine would come from the Victorian high country and Tasmania. He said pinot noir sales accounted for 5 per cent of Australian wine consumption and were growing about 30 per cent annually. ''We see that as the only growing category in dry red at the moment,'' Mr Brown said. ''There are barriers to entry to pinot. You can't just buy land in the [warm] Murray Valley and make good [pinot noir]. ''We've been trying to grow it in high altitudes in North East Victoria unsatisfactorily. Tasmania makes fabulous pinot and we think Tasmania can own pinot as a location.'' Mr Brown had also searched southern Victoria for sites. He had not intended to purchase an established vineyard but discovered Gunns was selling the Tamar Ridge business and it was ''well put together''. A spokesman for Gunns said the company sold Tamar Ridge to focus on its core forestry operations. It had announced earlier this year it was looking at divesting some assets and had gone through a swift sale process. The Weekly Times Dominate Rye Grass This crop yielded est. 8T D.M. per hectare in eight weeks. Also available "Ashton Energy" High Sugar/Perennial seed Benefits include: • High production • High sugar grass - high soluable sugar/high ME • Exceptional winter growth • Love the cold frosty environment • Has rapid regrowth after grazing/cutting • Zero endophytes • Massive root growth • Dominate Seed is marketed as an annual, although many farmers get more than one year from it. STL1126060 Greenthumb Ph: 6452 2888 or 1800 255 288 E: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com W: www.greenthumb.net.au 2016619-100910
September 2nd 2010
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