Saturday, November 26, 2016

Working with or against Nature?

Both sides of politics accuse the other of working against nature ,
Whose right?
The thinking left accuse the right of exploiting nature and blame capitalism for its driving of the careless use of the earth's resources.   The thinking right  accuse the left of working against human interest  by adopting a cynical view of human nature and transferring that onto the people who work with the environment .The left are on safe ground provided they adopt a no touch policy for themselves  . Its head in the sand ,impractical and projection  politics while they do that.
As a earth processes risk management  planner , I agree that both parties have critical points to make. There is no more exploitative and dangerous  driver of damage  to our sensitive destructive environment than rampant capitalism .

We desperately need  a diverse way of running the economy that doesn't just accept capitalism or the over governance and loss of freedom that comes from the lefts way of thinking.
There is however no excuse
--for the ignorance and arrogance of both sides when it comes to real life decisions about risk.
- for politicians telling us how to do environment . As if they are qualified to do the doctoring !
--for extremes of not doing anything ,or for giving carte blanche to industry

The right are wrong to keep giving trump cards to those who find new ways to justify careless pressing of the flesh,
The left are wrong to continue with no touch policies which  protect them from ever having to face the fact that death and droughts occur and trees and ecosystem phases must die to live. The carbon in trees must be harvested to be sequestered . and so on . No touch can mean we do silly things like pretend change is not inevitable like trees  dying and rotting and creating acid water and the poor soils of our country
Explaining the Controversy and Confusion?
Both parties are beset by forms of blindness derived from their own prejudices and  not respecting the complexity of earth management and those who study both sides of the story properly . The wannabes wouldn't try to tell doctors how to do their job- why do they try to tell us ours !

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No touch policies lead to forms of blindness and denial ;they can mean we resist the inevitable . Like soil moving down hills and mountains falling into the sea .
Such is the temptation of all those who let themselves be persuaded by the idealists on the left

Instead of blaming man,  the left are prone to blaming nature
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In 2016 we had a wet October in on the Great Ocean Road, but we often  have very wet Octobers . Deep soils will move off the slope quite naturally under such rainfall
The no touch policy of the left can mean we do silly things like pretend change is not inevitable or even worse --that we should resist change or not work with it

Landslides on the Great Ocean Road   October 2016  
The biggest landslide of the 120 named  can be blamed on  BOTH nature and people . Neither the inevitability of nature or the careless work of man can be the sole target.
The reality that has yet to be faced on the Wye -Sep section facing the GOR is that the soil wants to move across the road and the  current left government is making every effort to stop it .

I would suggest we work with nature and help it across , The alternative to a few weeks work is millions trying to hold it there .The alternative is to spend a lot of money on consultants and engineering when the rocks, the shallow soils and me agree its time to part company
We and the West ( through our history to date ) can only afford one way to work with nature and that is to work with it .

The only way to do that is to have people in the system who know and accept both political realities and force consideration of sound practice ( not unsound prejudice ) by knowing the risks in the situation .By training big picture planners .
Neither parties have been doing that so they spend time going around in circles.  Offering to throw money at problems they poorly perceive and will never fix .

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Greenlabor living in a dream

What a bunch of confused and blinkered worriers are Labor ,Greens and now Xenophons. In their ignorance they want to convert the Murray Darling Basin system of ephemeral streams with diverse flows and variable water quality into perennial streams of more uniform quality:uniformity instead of natural diversity .
You would think they would have learnt from the water ignorant greenlabor governments who worried themselves silly about water . Transferring their worry about everything running out to things like water. - the useless desal plants as an eg . Greenlabor like to think they “ say what scientists say” but they don't even get that ecosystems have to die to live.
Their dumb confusing concepts( like enviro flows) don't let streams dry out , or trees die. Greenlabor are Living lessons in limited visions of Nature.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Misplaced concreteness about old growth forests

While good forestry has for a long time left older stands amongst the harvested areas , the Greens have overstated the place of really old trees in habitat because they don't want to face the idea that all living things die and need to be regenerated . Trees do die and so do the animals.Natural degradation has been denied --and by those who want to claim real green for themselves .
Complex processes that confuse human induced degradation with natural degradation made life and thinking hard for the simpleminded.

Now we have the very odd and pathetic attempt to preserve trees in the suburbs beyond their mature dates - so they risk falling on people . Odd ball trees  too whose habitat role is usually overstated.Nothing to do with forests as forests need friends ,

Its true of course that more old trees could be preserved over the several hundred year life cycle  ( max)  than was convenient for many logging systems , Thankfully more consideration is now given in harvesting systems to ensure habitat retention actually occurs within and on the boundaries of coupes in native forests .Mora koalas still live outside our growing old growth forests than within them.

A recent program on Catalyst thankfully celebrates the old forestry principle that the foresters job to make sure habitat and regeneration of  all things in its ecomia occurs, By denying the foresters  role , the Greens have left much of the industry in the hands of industry., How clever are the Greens ?

The chainsaw is used in the story as the means to create an even more successful habitat than nature provides ( for the endangered parrot) , Some hope that a more positive and less fearful view of our relationship to the earth is possible. About time.

Misplaced concreteness about old growth forests

While good forestry has for a long time left older stands amongst the harvested areas , the Greens have overstated the place of really old trees in habitat because they don't want to face the idea that all living things die and need to be regenerated . Trees do die and so do the animals.Natural degradation has been denied --and by those who want to claim real green for themselves .
Complex processes that confuse human induced degradation with natural degradation made life and thinking hard for the simpleminded.

Now we have the very odd and pathetic attempt to preserve trees in the suburbs beyond their mature dates - so they risk falling on people . Odd ball trees  too whose habitat role is usually overstated.Nothing to do with forests as forests need friends ,

Its true of course that more old trees could be preserved over the several hundred year life cycle  ( max)  than was convenient for many logging systems , Thankfully more consideration is now given in harvesting systems to ensure habitat retention actually occurs within and on the boundaries of coupes in native forests .Mora koalas still live outside our growing old growth forests than within them.

A recent program on Catalyst thankfully celebrates the old forestry principle that the foresters job to make sure habaita and regeneration of  all things occurs, By denying the foresters  role the Greens have left much of the industry in the hands of industry ,

The chainsaw is used in the story as the means to create an even more successful habitat than nature provides , Some hope that a more positive and less fearful view of our relationship to the earth is possible. About time.

Monday, May 23, 2016

It's not all about trees



One of the real stumbling blocks to sound action on environmental planning( even in 2016 ) is the public's perception that the best kind of land system is a treed one .Distraction and simple solutions the diverse environment does NOT need .
The fact is that the coldest and driest landscapes ( more than1/2 earth) have soils and stable ecosystems where trees are not really suited or rare ,temporary and have  a shorter life within the system  .( like our wattles) Such trees rely on hard and large seed which can last for decades and between fires  They seed and die ovr a few years rather than in one season , Trees also are not suited to poorly drained soils  making them unsustainable partners  in mainataining resilient and full ecosyst in many soils around the world  which have this characteristic of ageing.  Huge areas of Australia including our foothills and wet areas have poor onsite drainage ( More on this elsewhere ) .

It has to be said that too many trees have been planted in Australia in ignornance of the soils and the viability and sustainability of the unqiue ecosystemes involved. Many eucalptys die early when planted like orphans out side a forests when they were born to find home within them  . They might be local but every local is only sustainable because of his mates . Too much Green talk is bar talk not living working talk about ecosystem function and resilience in the long term - including agroecosystems which usually diversify the monocultural landscapes created by fire .
 Most eucalypts  need  a forest  for company to thrive and survive , To really thrive they also need a fire and the devastastion of their mates that unwisely offends so many - its nature and we are called to live with nature not pretend it is not nice.We can and have actually improved our native soils so much that ecodiversity in Australia is greater than if we left to the blunt forces of nature .  Typically too , a wide range of  eucalyptus will have their leaves pruned off them very easily if planted in isolation.   

Even though  Victorian and Australian southern and coastal areas get winter rain over for over 6 months it is effcetively dry for the others . This can present a signicant problem for trees in shallow soils, Our climate zone is semiarid  and the major part of lowland areas are naturally grassland. Same with the rest of Australia.

IMPACT ON ELECTION RESULTS
Recently as part of the federal election campaign,  the major opposition party used the shallow preoccupation with trees to infer a problem with how farmers treat them ;This action was wrong and uses simple prejudice about an extremely important issue ( ecosystem resilience) to try to win points for a party or two
 Yes we understand  that clearing of  wattles and overmature dead trees is seen as a problem for many.  Wattles will break down and not store carbon so even if we were to leave those landscapes that last phase of dying is very expensive for the carbon budget and the health of soils;  as history and the prehistory of Australia shows; in degraded, hardsetting and porly drained soils. The only ones who get some benefit from this long winded degradation process are the ants and they have to chew so hard its expensive on our energy budget
Despite what some noisy wannabes say  we can be do a better job than the ants have done over their very long ownership of this land - no their copartnership with this land  ( the ecological way )  .
Even the recent ABC 's landline program on the subject of clearing failed to put the picture of Rangeland ecology in a way which would have supported the farmers case for clearing more objectively .Our city people are liv
ng in ignorance of the big picture and the great work both scientists and farmers have done to increase the variety of sustainable  ecosystems operating across the Australian landscape.
Here is my submission to their stupid suggestion 
"There is no need for more legislation to control clearing of forest to agriculture  Only a few acres of freehold forest is ever likely again to be converted to  agriculture in the future as the State legislation is tight . We know it appeals to the city at election time to spread more panic amongst the city. Fitzgibbon  could say “ We, unlike the Greens, happen to know that blokes featured on Landline mostly just want to clear wattles and overmature growth from their grazing properties . These trees are only temporary and only grow because their land is not overgrazed.”

“The farmers are looking after this grazing land ,and if they are not, their leases would be cancelled – been that way for decades .
We should all be supporting this form of freehold and leasehold rangeland management, not poking our noses in with ignorance and fear like the Greens do.  These areas are natural rangeland ecosystems where grass is the dominant vegetation”. Why are the fearful trying to stop the farmers from doing what the fungi , fire and ants will do anyway .Why don’t you prosecute these animals and the elephants of Africa for sending the carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere?
if you in the party were serious about a CC policy that works,  you would have had a  tax on city tractors yesterday . No I said,  a decade ago !  It’s not about integrity , it’s about winning votes.

If Fitzgibbon and Butler had any integrity they would say to their party” we can’t do this.”  “This what the Greens do   -win arguments on appearances like the picture of dark steam coming out of cooling towers and this  jumping in and accusing others of some abuse without studying the ecosystems and management processes involved ; and  without mentioning city tractors in cc policy.
This is allocated managed rangeland and unless you want to buy the whole lot back you are saying they can’t control weeds and regenerate pasture like the aborigines did and do. “
If Fitzgibbon and Butler had any integrity they would say to their party,   we  don’t want any more of our agents killed on the farmers doorsteps trying  to tell the farmers  they are getting free lightbulbs but taking away their livelihood. We would be more honest to say the United Nations require us to buy back your farms and then do it – if we really believed it was such a necessary policy. “

If Fitzgibbon and Butler had any integrity they would say to their party” we can’t do this”. “We’d be no better than the Greens. The Greens would do anything to get into power –They don’t care about casting snide on a minority who appear to be doing the wrong thing but are not; It Is so easy to pick on one group and say they are ones to worry about .A CC policy that would work must involve all of us .
 If Fitzgibbon and Butler had any integrity they would say to their party” we can’t do this”   “If this is how we win elections I want no part of it.” .   
We hope the people of Australia will have some integrity in July and will say to the parties who live on snide and suspect criticism of others.
“If that is how they win elections, I want no part of it “ 


I write 5 weeks before the election . the recognition of this slight of hand takes some work es as CC ( climate change or supposed heating due to higher Co2 ) is the large elephant  or should I say sacred cow in the room .


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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Footprint, traction and getting bogged.

The modern vehicles we use to get around are designed to achieve a balance between pressure to gain resistance and low pressure to avoid compaction ( on soft surfaces )

Most of these machines are designed to be flexible in use .
Not sure you can say the same about all those people who buy 4WD's . They buy the thing  expecting it to work without thinking .
We  country folks have to wear the fears of those who know zilch about the environment . Many are plain lethal with their wide tyres even on a good road
 Paradoxically many have  a 4WD and  yet don't know how to avoid getting bogged.

Typically human beings who get bogged blame the technology  rather than their own ignorance . This error also leads to poor advice , fear and irrational comments.
-- You can avoid high compaction by lowering tyre pressures which on conventional tyres ( not so much  wide tyred bikes which have very low pressures ) rapidly  decrease ground pressure and the risk of sinking on the surface .
- you need to avoid breaking the surface of the soil by wheel spinning as the roots in the surface soil provide a reinforcing effect . ( many Australian soils have sodic subsoil horizons which have very little cohesion when wet ) They" turn to soup " as we say .
-- if you can't traverse the above soils in a 2WD it is sound advice to suggest you shouldn't even use a 4WD.

Because Lake Colac has dried out several times in the last decade and not had much water in it , the still unstable organic clays are a little more stable than they were in 2009 . They are still  like driving on jelly but the cohesion forces  while weak  are strong enough to prevent you drowning if you break through .the dried  crust on top . You can always, sit or lie down and wait for help .

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Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Design slopes

No geomorphologist survives without looking at slopes and how they relate to each other in landscapes.    Save that for another time.

While I take NO  responsibility for the consequences of anyone adopting these figures,  these are my ROUGH estimates of what matters in slopes and design after a lifetime of working with soils and water .There is much more that could be added . Havva  go .Please advise .


Use at your own risk !
I would like to pay tribute to the Victorian taxpayer and the grand tradition of Public Service in that State . I would like to thank my forebears for  their generous support of free education , the proper planning creation of the most livable places, the testing of scientific principles , the taking of risks and the process of double checking your facts before YOU make the mistake.     To support that complex and more response able process again, you can bookmark  http://moovinon.blogspot.com.or http://muddiedwater.blogspot.com


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Brain dead approaches to risk management

Brain eating diseases . Waterborne diseases are real,  but don't panic . ( the list in my old animal health books  is huge ) Several children have died because of protozoa infections in one area of QLD  featured on ABC this week  .

As the excellent review on Aust Story suggests - people in that area should have known.    There is something wrong with the way we do things in health care .
Engineers and contract managers would be surprised to learn that it was often  them and their non ecological non diverse approach to problem solving.


One of the costs of widespread panic about big risks ion our community has been a loss of awareness that most risk is highly localized,  and we used to deal with it that way-- that's why there used to more of us out there looking after your water . Thinking global , not local is distracting  but its the heresy and fanaticism of our age .
The agency that took over my job of identifying high risk areas has a one size fits all approach  ( they try to deny this of course ) which means certified concrete tanks and filters  beds and chlorination  will fix the problem ( they engineer around the issue approach - reactive overengineered and hardly ecological ; not as preventative big picture focused )

As any fool knows there are more ways to skin a cat than that,.--- efficient money saving ways
After all  chlorination may only half kill protozoa and the dying  debris may be worse for you to eat than the living (  the etiology of what killed the children is well known,  but it  is complex with filtering desirable as well ) .
For us to deal with the resulting acidity from chlorination means  the agency pours heaps of slimy calcium and other  salts into your water just so you are safe to drink a mere drop in a million that pour through your house in a day.
Site Specific methods would help both prevent and treat the risks  but no .....we have to have the over engineered one size fits all approach . There is comfort in cost , but it can be false comfort and high cost -- its certainly is in our microbe rich environment so its not really not what makes ecological  - let alone total risk and economic sense :  the agency gets complacent ; we get complacent .

Its true ,,,protozoa are in the water and we mostly live with them by being exposed to them in right context .
Chlorination doesn't solve all problems . If you don't want to oxidize your oats and your throats in the morning,   drink out of a bottle or a jug ( not straight from the pipe ) - residual chlorine  is a sterile  and isolationist way to live your life. You are after an animal that's supposed to living flora in your gut .  

Remember you heard it first at Emperors Academy 


Get onto your polys and stop them trying to be so efficient they leave the efficient place driven consensus ( horses for courses)  of ecosystems out of the equation.
http://ecomia.blogspot.com


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