It’s only bad if someone cares.

Philosophers are known to ponder whether a tree falling over in the forest when there’s nobody to hear it actually makes a sound. Just shows you that philosophers need to get out more, because then they might fucking hear it falling. The real question is if a tree falls down in the forest when there was nobody around to hear it did anyone actually give a shit? Surely nobody did or there would have been someone there to hear it all along.

Along a similar vein of simulated thought we have our Minister for Climate Whinge and Water, South Australian Senator Penny Wong, who tells us that a camel’s farts don’t contribute to warble gloaming unless there’s someone there to smell it. Or something.

Scientists have found camels to be the third-highest carbon-emitting animal per head on the planet, behind only cattle and buffalo. Culling the one million feral camels that currently roam the outback would be equivalent to taking 300,000 cars off the road in terms of the reduction to the country’s greenhouse gases.

It would also allow us to become at least temporarily the world leader in camel jerky. More importantly camels are a genuine problem for native species. Much of Australia’s own wildlife tends to be of the small marsupial variety (and spiders and snakes obviously, but lets ignore them for the purposes of this post). How much food and water do you think a camel uses up compared to some little critter that looks like a bouncing hamster with a pocket? Exactly.

Although their impact on the environment is not as severe as some other pests introduced in Australia, camels feed on more than 80% of the available plant species. Degradation of the environment occurs when densities exceed two animals per km2, which is presently the case throughout much of their range in the Northern Territory where they are confined to two main regions: the Simpson Desert and fringing pastoral properties, and the western desert area comprising the Central Ranges, Great Sandy Desert and Tanami Desert. Some traditional food plants harvested by Aboriginal people in these areas are seriously affected by camel browsing. While having soft-padded feet makes soil erosion less likely, feral camels do have a noticeable impact on salt lake ecosystems, foul waterholes and destabilise dune crests which contributes to erosion.
The current estimated population of about one million feral camels is doubling approximately every nine years and there is evidence that impacts will increase along with the population.

On top of which they bugger up stock fences, pumps, dams and other stuff that some farmer will have to pay for, and even, as British readers may recall, fucking invade towns.

And you think it’s just the fucking spiders and snakes?

So okay, the camels are a serious problem, we can all agree on that. If you believe in warble gloaming their farts are going to set fire to the ocean or something, and if you care about real environmental issues they’re a worse resource hog than Windows Vista, and if you support the battling Aussie farmers they’re a pest. Everyone agrees for a change, so that means we can all tool up, head north and waste the walking doormats, yes? Let me just get my boots and my rifle.

But Climate Change Minister Penny Wong told The Australian there was little point doing anything about Australia’s feral camels as only the CO2 of the domesticated variety is counted under the Kyoto Protocol. That equates to only a small number of the beasts, the sort found lugging tourists around Cable Beach in Broome and at Monarto Zoo, southeast of Adelaide.

Wait, what?

It is one of the many quirks of international carbon accounting standards, but one that has been sufficient to stop the Rudd government from stepping in to address the camel problem.

Oh, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me. I was even going to buy a ute (but not one of the ones the colour of fruit).

Opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt reckons the government has “lost its marbles”. “It’s now reached the absurd situation where a camel in captivity is a threat to the planet but a feral camel in the wild is absolutely fine,” Mr Hunt said.

“While culling feral camels may or may not make a minor contribution to reducing our emissions, the real issue is the absurdity of Kevin Rudd’s focus on meeting a bogus international accounting system rather than worrying about direct action.”

And there’s the nub of the problem. It’s not about meaningful action so much as compliance and ritual and being seen to be singing from the right hymn sheets. Or to put it another way, just a series of fucking box ticking exercise.

Nor does it end with the camels. We’re constantly told that burning anything containing the odd carbon molecule gloams the warble, which is why coal is in fact the dried turds of Satan and the burning of it will send us all to hell. And since a forest is only coal in waiting (just come back in eighty million years, we’ll have it ready for you then) it’s presumably the freshly passed stools of Beelzebub and burning it is just as bad, especially if a lot of it goes up.

Lucifer curling one out over the state of Victoria in 2003

The answer appears to be that it depends.

The absurdity of the UN carbon accounting systems was also highlighted by Mick Keogh, executive director of research group the Australian Farm Institute.

Mr Keogh noted that while emissions from a deliberately lit bushfire count under Kyoto, they did not if the fire was caused by lightning.

And it also varies depending on whether it razes privately owed land or a national park.

“When it’s burning in the park, none of those emissions officially count, but when it spreads back out of the park to private land on the other side, it starts to again contribute to greenhouse emissions as measured by the UN’s rules,” he said.

So my question to the alarmists, including Penny Wong and our esteemed estimated Prime Minster Kevin Rudd, is what about bush fires for which a cause has not yet been determined? Is there some indeterminate state between causing and not causing warble gloaming? Or is it both at the same time until the results of an investigation are known? Are we talking Schrödinger’s Bushfire here, and if a tree burns in the forest does it only warm the planet if there are some dead matches nearby?

You’re doing this to yourselves, you do know that? Fuckwits.

H/T Counting Cats where I saw it first.

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Posted on February 10, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on It’s only bad if someone cares..

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