Sunday, March 14, 2010

Climate change, from a New Zealand perspective

by John Rawson

It is a pity so much debate has centered on whether or not the climate is changing. Of course it is. Climatic fluctuations are a regular phenomenon. Whether or not humanity is making it worse is an open question, not answered by present propaganda.
This just covers up the fact that the proposed remedies have very little to do with pollution and very much to do with smart people making a “fast buck” at our expense. Led by a former U. S. vice-presidential candidate who could never have got so far without getting huge sums of dollars for his campaigns from the organizations that have caused the present financial upset.
And why do we hear all the bad things that could happen; none of the good?
The Murray River red gum in Australia needs light flooding to start new seedlings. It occurs practically continent-wide, but only in isolated little strips along rivers. Obviously, in the preceding warmer period, the Australian climate was much wetter. It could not have spread so widely otherwise. Could the present trend bring into production millions of hectares of now near-desert in that country?
Our podocarps, particularly matai and rimu, are unable to regenerate to any extent south of the Waikato, following a cooling period about a thousand years ago. They are slow-growing and long-lived, probably itself a means of dealing with climate changes over long periods. Unless the climate warms, the remaining magnificent forests in the Central North Island and South Westland are doomed to eventual extinction. They may be replaced by low scrub, or with sub-antarctic beech if the introduced pests are controlled enough to let that happen .
How much warming is needed to let the South Island tussock grass set seed in the higher levels of its distribution, with huge benefits to the fragile rock soils of the Canterbury foothills?
What other benefits could warming bring, world-wide?
As a scientist, I resent the discipline being brought into disrepute by irresponsible biased use of its methods.

John G. Rawson

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