Monday, February 13, 2017

Pain , strain, sprain and sparing the rod

The West will come to regret not studying the Old testament and supporting its teaching.  Muslims need no such reminder as they see the consequences of not punishing of pushing back in our now feelings based decision/non-decision making culture .The good book says you don't love a child if you don't punish it .
Surprisingly for western based reactionaries that review will include what was once taught in formative books like Genesis  about man and nature and  best ways to understand and work with it . You see ,to see HOW we can move on ,you have to understand why the West has been so keen to resist the natural forces of nature.
You even need that understanding of pushiness before you can improve on what wrongs humans have done before - in any culture or context .Yes science is important but we seem to be talking here about feedback  mechanisms  that we don't know fully just yet - but need to find ways to act on them/with them. .
Just a bit of background
 While many "Greeks "will make much of the old books  many words , the idea with most of the authors is very simple. God is busy trying to redeem  his wayward and recidivist  creation.
Despite much careless slander to the contrary , the Creator doesn't believe in making life hell with his creating and setting up heaps of rules  for them to follow .Otherwise we would be cutting off hands when someone  walked out of the supermarket,  or gouging out eyes in the theatre.
 To go back to rules would be to deny the very reason given for his creating these pesky creatures in the first place  - their freedom to be creative ,
First lesson ; man is a part of nature but he's designed to try and master both himself and the garden . Its more complicated than drivers cause hes meant to train those drivers ( physiological etc)

Where pain comes in.
People with experience try to warn their offspring of the dangers of just acting on their feelings
. It comes as a bit of a surprise to most of us that pain seems to be needed  to effectively do this with our offspring . We hate pain and don't generally like it or know naturally how to limit it to the needed amount. The first thing we know from experinec and observation is that you cannot care for a young thing without steeping in  to stop some action/ reaction /resistance  ( causing pain)

While it is not the objective of this note to say how much the purpose is to state and restate the case for pain and resistance to the will of others - esp those being trained as young ones . Love calls for intervention

Where resilience comes in
Another matter for anotherday 

Monday, January 09, 2017

Blaming Nature for Disasters can blind us to our role

It will be twenty years this year since the many deaths from 2 building failures at Thredbo created Australia's biggest Coronial enquiry. 
The photo shows the now empty site from the Alpine way above the 2 buildings involved. I wrote a suggested and finally proved correct basis for the tragedy to that Coronial enquiry. 
My work is in remote sensing ( predictions based on geology soils slopes, landscapes runoff, infiltration and vegetation from maps/ photos ;
As its very hard to get real " landslides" in weathered granite ( which this was ) I just couldn't see how the slope failure would happen without negligence of some kind. I knew many examples of both " "natural "and man made "slope failures" ( the proper term)
In 1997 when it happened, I had been looking after the prediction and remediation of landslides in the biggest landslide area in Australia.. You win some you lose some .
While many want to call it Australia's biggest natural disaster ( and blame nature not ourselves? ) , I wrote in 1997 that it was probably an avoidable planning disaster - which is what it proved to be .
Even today, there is still a high risk of slope failures simply because we don't plan the use of soils and water runoff very well.

 Clearly there are more disasters not only waiting to happen , but people and politicians unwilling to admit their role in playing wolf

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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 !

.
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
,
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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