RECENTLY in Maitland a huge gum tree that had long been shading three picnic tables near the Lorn end of Belmore bridge turned brown and was obviously dead. The council rightly cut it down and wood-chipped it.
Alarmingly, trees and forests around the world and Australia are dying of drought stress – from heat and dry – caused by decades of our prior deforestation. This seems to indicate we are now in what may be called 'climate death spiral', CDS.
Trees are nature's evaporative air-conditioners. They cool the air as water evaporates through their leaf pores or stomates. And they make cool shade by stopping the sun's heat from baking the ground. So trees and forests cool our continent and surroundings. As water evaporates from the leaves of trees, it forms rainclouds. But we have 92 per cent or so deforested Australia, so we have 'offshored' our raincloud production. We hope rainclouds formed by evaporation over the oceans will be brought over land by cold fronts, hurricanes, and so on. People are realising that just blaming climate ruin, or 'climate breakdown', as George Monbiot calls it, on CO2 emissions is not helpful. Forests soak up CO2, if you still have them. Without forests to soak up flood rains, flood run-off can be lethal, like 'inland tsunami'.
With too few remnant forests to cool and water it, our continent becomes ever hotter and drier. During droughts and hot summers now trees cannot afford to open their stomates to photosynthesise food, or they will dehydrate, so they starve, turn brown, and die. Once their immune systems fail, borer grubs and fungi move in. The more trees that die of drought stress, the hotter and drier it becomes, so more trees die. CDS.
Prayer and rain dances will not cut it. Dams dry up during severe droughts. In a country where we can't collect sufficient taxes and royalties to tie the nation's shoe-laces, and our main concerns are car, horse and yacht races and games played with balls, how can we ever organise large-scale forest re-plantings, with trees trickle-watered through hot summers for their entire lives?
It's going to get a lot hotter and drier yet. I am a prophet of The Bleeding Obvious. Mark my words, as my old Dad used to day. Do nothing, and we will fry, yet many deny.
DAVID Stuart is correct; the Howard government did leave a handy war-chest for the incoming Rudd government in 2008 (Letters, 27/12). It is, of course, debatable whether the Howard government should have spent that money, gained from the unprecedented minerals boom, on the infrastructure that Australia still desperately lacks. Nonetheless, it contributed to the Labor government’s capacity to avert recession during the global financial crisis, one of the few countries to do so. But it was the way the money was used to avoid recession that made Australia the envy of the world. The Labor government knew that it is not enough to just have money in the bank; that money and more must be used to stimulate the economy. Hence the financial payments to taxpayers and the major infrastructure projects that were initiated, not least of which was the Building the Education Revolution, whose enormous benefits can still be seen in school yards across Australia. This kept the economy ticking over and Australia out of recession. I have serious doubt that if Howard had retained government Australia would have fared so well, given the conservatives’ “free market” ideology. I note that Mr Stuart wisely refrained from trying to defend the current inept, ouroborosian Coalition government.
CARL Stevenson (Letters, 27/12), I do doubt your account of a published pamphlet at a Catholic church, because your account is not what the Catholic church teaches. After your unfounded assumption that this pamphlet is at the back of most Catholic churches, I have an additional reason to be circumspect.
For Mr Stevenson, Catholic teaching on euthanasia is about fear and control. However, it is actually about protecting the weak and the vulnerable. The right to die can too easily morph into the duty to die, and it also implies the duty to kill. As for the Catholic Church advising or expecting respect without question, those days are long gone, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I’m glad Mr Stevenson found the architecture of at least one Catholic church inspiring. Some say that the Church should sell assets like these off to fund various noble causes. I’m not one of those, but that’s another debate!
WHILE the idea of putting a skate bowl on a beach (‘Bowl blast’, Newcastle Herald, 29/12) does seem absurd it is even more alarming that planners at both state and local level seem unconcerned or unaware about the impact climate change will have on our coastline. Perhaps they believe that rising sea levels won't be a problem for several decades by which time it will be someone else's worry. Unfortunately there is a more immediate risk from the increasing severity of storms which have already shown their capacity to destroy beaches sand coastal structures, something that should have been obvious to everyone in council.
IN reply to James Pearson (‘The numbers show that migration works for all of us’, Herald, 23/12), there maybe some evidence that supports 190,000 net immigration per year. But there is also much evidence that disagrees with such high migration.
Mr Pearson’s figures were selective and disingenuous. He claims a 7 per cent higher economy in 2060 with a high intake compared to net zero immigration. But nobody is asking for zero immigration. It is more a question of how many? No other country runs such a high rate of immigration. Why should we? The economic growth figures from immigration have relied almost entirely on GDP (Gross Domestic Product) increase. But net economic growth per head in Australia has been far less impressive and even negative. High immigration masks an economy going backwards.
Mr Pearson’s figure of the proportion of people greater than 65 years going from 15 per cent in 2014 to 30 per cent in 2060 with zero immigration is a selective misuse of statistics. Not only is no one asking for zero migration but his claim is diffused in his next paragraph. He states that people greater than 65 years would be 25 per cent of the population in 2060 with high immigration in any case. The claim of economic growth from high immigration is a false economy and even a Ponzi scheme. It puts great pressure on our limited resources of water, fertile soil and stresses our infrastructure needs. Don’t do it.
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