Cooling via burning

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Last updated on August 5th, 2017 at 09:02 am

Why a Humane Society would be upset by cruelty to plants is beyond me, but that’s the sort of world we’re now living in:

The Humane Society International is horrified by threats made by farmers in three states to fell trees every day as a protest against climate change programs.

On Tuesday this week, World Environment Day, farmers from New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria threatened to cut down one tree on July 1, two on July 2 and so on, to protest what they call a government conspiracy.

These farmers aren’t thinking strategically. Play your cards right, and plant destruction can be your key to carbon millions:

A crackling fire snakes towards Dean Yibarbuk’s bare legs, as he and a group of fellow Aborigines walk through this isolated corner of the Australian Outback, pouring long trails of burning kerosene into the grass …

“Our people have been doing this for thousands of years, to control the land,” says Dean, a 53-year old community ranger with a grey beard and dreadlocks.

“We burn now, just after the rains, and we make fire breaks to stop hot wild fires later in the year.”

Now scientific evidence has confirmed that the old Aboriginal system works – dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions from savannah fires, by limiting both their numbers and their intensity.

Note to the Humane Society: while you’re horrified by the chopping down of one or two trees, these guys are incinerating hundreds of them … and getting rich while they’re at it, thanks to magical carbon offsets:

[ConocoPhillips] has agreed to pay the Aborigines $1 million a year, for 17 years, to offset 100,000 tons of the refinery’s own greenhouse emissions.

This might be the best job in Australia:

The Aboriginal teams are now using trucks, and even helicopters, to drop incendiary devices on their land, enabling them to burn, and control, huge areas before the dry season and the wild fires begin towards the end of the year.

ConocoPhillips could probably run its own burning operation for less than $1 million per year – considerably less, most likely – but here seizes a chance to be seen as both environmentally and ethnically friendly. PR-wise, they can’t lose.

At the end of a hot day’s work, Dean Yibarbuk and his colleagues sit by their tents in a clearing. Ancient rock paintings dot the nearby hills. Buffaloes and wild pigs roam in the woods.

“I feel proud of this deal,” says Dean. “It means a lot to us. It brings jobs for our community … and we are now involved in the fight against global warming.”

Yes; by throwing incendiary devices from helicopters. Strange times, people.

Posted by Tim B. on 06/07/2007 at 03:26 AM
    1. Yes! Lighting fires to kill trees is inhumane. But done by Aborigines is cultural empowerment.

      (Wrings hands), Just what am I to do? Which noble cause do I pick? I’m so confused.

      Posted by Nic on 2007 06 07 at 03:44 AM • permalink


    1. Another tick in the con box for us poor WASP’s.

      One hopes these are traditional helicopters and flamethrowers they are using. Much like the traditional “Landcruiser”, “Shimano” and “Winchester” these noble savges use for traditional hunting and gathering.

      Posted by Infidel Tiger on 2007 06 07 at 03:48 AM • permalink


    1. Memo to Tim Blair: Tim B, to prove I know it’s true, ask if His office has a large priceless style cross overlooking a conference table before entering his room.


      Posted by 1.618 on 2007 06 07 at 03:57 AM • permalink


    1. “Our people have been doing this for thousands of years, to control the land,” says Dean, a 53-year old community ranger with a grey beard and dreadlocks.

      Control the land? Control the land? Not living in harmony with it, but exerting dominance over it? But… but he’s aboriginal… earth-nurturing… at one with the environment…

      This is the sort of thing that can cause a cognative dissonance meltdown in green-types. Be careful who you show this to.

      Posted by blandwagon on 2007 06 07 at 04:44 AM • permalink


    1. Way to go Farmers!!!!

      Posted by bondo on 2007 06 07 at 04:59 AM • permalink


    1. Ah yes, traditional aboriginal, traditional kerosine, traditional helicopter … and traditional spondulics.

      This is the confluence of several left wing PC guilt-ridden, self-loathing ideas.

      Posted by Wimpy Canadian on 2007 06 07 at 05:00 AM • permalink


    1. I guess they had to destroy the land in order to save it.

      Note that they’re not getting paid to do something ‘positive’ (within the logic of the worming religion), like planting trees. They get paid to make sure more trees don’t burn. It’s a small step from there to carbon hostages – give us money or we set more organic material on fire. That’s going to make somebody a fortune, because it will allow the left to combine two of their favorite activities: Gaia worship and knuckling under to the threat of violence. Carbon hostages. You heard it here first.

      Posted by bgates on 2007 06 07 at 05:37 AM • permalink


    1. Feral fellla talk talk long big fella bilong ConocoPhillips… ‘im long bin love ‘im smell of kerosene in dem mornings.

      What ya worry ‘bout… you got a smoke, bloke?

      Posted by splice on 2007 06 07 at 06:03 AM • permalink


    1. If someone doesn’t pay me US$20,000 I’m going to clock up 20,000 airmiles by the end of the month. You’ve been warned.

      Posted by Hanyu on 2007 06 07 at 06:07 AM • permalink


    1. Yeah, and I’m gonna stow away in Hanyu’s suitcase, which adds weight and makes it worse. We’ll show ‘em.

      Posted by splice on 2007 06 07 at 06:12 AM • permalink


    1. If a tree screams before falling in the forest, but cannot be heard over the sound of the chainsaw, or the roar of the flames, does anyone in the Humane Society take a shorter lunch break?
      When we have no option but to buy food from dodgy foreigners, will the Humane Society whinge incessantly about food quality?

      Posted by blogstrop on 2007 06 07 at 06:17 AM • permalink


    1. I took a chopper ride over Kakadu a few years ago.  I commented to the pilot on all the pillars of smoke that we could see from one end of the horizon to the other.

      Me: “Blackfellas doing a bit of hunting?”

      Pilot: “Nah, when they get lost, they just light a fire and wait for someone to come and have a look”.

      ‘Being at one with nature’ and ‘40,000 years of culture’ – balls.

      Posted by mr creosote on 2007 06 07 at 06:20 AM • permalink


    1. Back off or the tree gets it!

      Posted by Craig Mc on 2007 06 07 at 06:23 AM • permalink


    1. Just…. gobsmacked.

      Who was paying these buggers in the dreamtime is what I want to know!


      Posted by MarkL on 2007 06 07 at 06:29 AM • permalink


    1. On its face it appears crazy. But if the practice had been exercised in Victoria or the ACT, there wouldn’t have been those recent destructive fires. Fires are going to happen. The choice is between a ‘cold’ fire or a ‘hot’ fire. Less forest load is burnt in a cold fire therefore less CO2 emmitted.

      Whether it makes any difference to GW is another issue.

      Posted by Hobbes on 2007 06 07 at 06:45 AM • permalink


    1. Now scientific evidence has confirmed that the old Aboriginal system works – dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions from savannah fires, by limiting both their numbers and their intensity.

      What utter rot.  Controlled burns mean you just burn, say, 20% a year, so that in 5 years the whole prairie has been burned.  It makes no difference to CO2 sequestration over a 5 year period whether you burn the whole thing in one year or over the course of 5 separate years.

      Posted by R C Dean on 2007 06 07 at 06:50 AM • permalink


    1. The latest solution to greenhouse gases is to burn them. Those Aborigines are just following the precedent set by Flannery, Gore and Co. Difference is that where the Aborigines are using grass as fuel for the incineration, Flannery and Gore are burning greenhouse gases in high-tech jet engines and George Monbiot is putting them through a Renault diesel engine.

      Keep up with the pace of climate change, folks

      Posted by Contrail on 2007 06 07 at 06:57 AM • permalink


    1. Hey, it just struck me… what Tim has turned up here is perhaps one of the first examples of big business re-engineering an imaginary problem into an imaginary asset.

      Not even imaginary world – controlling leading super-conglomerates like Paco Industries could pull that off. Well, okay… they’ve done it across most of eastern China, right around the Pacific Rim and in almost all of the post-Soviet nations.

      But, be buggered, not up in the Top End they haven’t!

      Posted by splice on 2007 06 07 at 07:07 AM • permalink


    1. BTW, did you know that the new Airbus A380 travels at 85% the speed of light?  I didn’t until I heard it on Macquarie News tonight during the drive home.  The other motorists must have been wondering what was so funny.

      I wish I commuted at relativistic speeds, that way every project would be over by the time I get to work each day.

      Posted by Craig Mc on 2007 06 07 at 07:14 AM • permalink


    1. Oh, spare me. Who wrote this shite?

      I really like the fact that “ at the end of a hot day’s work, Dean Yibarbuk and his colleagues sit by their tents in a clearing. Ancient rock paintings dot the nearby hills. Buffalo and wild pigs roam in the woods.” Woods? Clearings? The Top end is grassland and sparse monsoon scrub, hardly sylvan woods. There’s a tent-sized clearing between every tree and termite mound. As for ancient rock paintings dotting the nearby hills, in the grass & monsoon plains there ARE no hills, dotted or otherwise. The rock paintings are in caves under high escarpments. And the buffalo and wild pigs do not “roam,” they attack anything that moves, including Toyota Landcruisers, which is why they have been systematically exterminated from the Top End for the past 30 years as toxic introduced pests.

      Deary me, I needed that rant. I was so over the noble savage myth 20 years ago and here we have it re-invented as gaia’s noble warriors.

      Posted by mareeS on 2007 06 07 at 08:12 AM • permalink


    1. It’s carbon extortion by La Veggie Nostra, that’s what it is.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2007 06 07 at 08:21 AM • permalink


    1. #20 my thoughts exactly.  And all those native piggie wiggies too.  I suppose they are traditional food, just like the traditional kero.

      Where was the editor?  Friday lunch a day early?  Oh, BBC. nuff said.

      Posted by entropy on 2007 06 07 at 08:51 AM • permalink


    1. BTW: the burning of the savannah performed two tasks for the aboriginals: flushed/killed/rarely cooked the game; and subsequently, made more green pick for herbivore population boosting purposes.  To maximise the benefit of the second purpose, the burning is done once the grass has hayed off and its nutrient value for herbivores is in decline.  It was not ‘just after the rains’, but a couple of months later, when the plants were mature.  This practice is also blamed for changing the vegetation to species that benefited from wild fires, and killing off the megafauna, leaving red kangaroos as the biggest native animal.

      But it is OK, as it was the noble savage ™ that did it.

      Posted by entropy on 2007 06 07 at 08:58 AM • permalink


    1. I recieved a written reply to my query to the Tax department on the status of carbon credits a couple of days ago.
      Purchasing them is not tax deductable.
      And according to the blurb in the ruling (from a tree plantation company) you recieve a numbered certificate for the amount of CO2 you have purchased (based on the 100 year lifespan of some trees you fund) which is then not re-issuable and is BURNT to prevent its re-issue. Its beyond parody.
      I can try and scan and PDF this if anyone is interested in a copy of what they sent.
      Im sure the mighty PACO is behind this.

      Posted by thefrollickingmole on 2007 06 07 at 09:14 AM • permalink


    1. Hanyu—Oh, yeah? Well, no more mister nice guy!  I’m gonna put 6k miles of carbon out there next weekend just to show ‘em who’s boss!

      And didja hear Laurie David got sacked from her marriage?  No word on who gets custody of the Lear Jet…

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2007 06 07 at 09:30 AM • permalink


    1. #23, I was going to say about the fire-hunting practice. There has never been burning in the green season, because that’s what fattens up the fauna and produces the natural plant edibles. It’s only towards the last half of the dry that the burning begins, and only in small patches, because that’s when the animals are fat and easily flushed out. Then, in the build-up, it’s into fishing season until the end of the wet. Sure our indigenous friends work the seasons, but it isn’t for the good of mother nature, it’s for the usual reason that a man needs a feed. I wish they wouldn’t lie about it.

      Posted by mareeS on 2007 06 07 at 09:32 AM • permalink


    1. threatened to cut down one tree on July 1, two on July 2 and so on, to protest

      The “and so on’’ is a little vague.

      Consider the story of the guy who invented chess.  The king decided to reward him with whatever he wanted.

      The man said, put one grain of wheat on the first square of the chessboard, two on the second, three on the third, and so on, and I’ll be happy.

      The king thought that was a fairly modest request, and so granted it.

      So the guy wound up with 2080 grains of wheat.  He had forgotten the trick

      Posted by rhhardin on 2007 06 07 at 09:40 AM • permalink


    1. Controlled burns are a standard practice here in the US of A, and have been for a long time.  Maybe it did come from ancient aborigines, maybe not.

      My point is that it’s controversial here (although known to be effective), mostly because (I now suspect) the burns aren’t conducted by Indians native Americans, but by evil corporations and/or the government, which renders the practice non-Mother Gaia™ friendly.

      Maybe the North American tribes should contract out their services for this.  Think of the planet!  Think of the profits!

      Whether the Australian aborigines

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2007 06 07 at 09:49 AM • permalink


    1. Of course the noble savage will get a pass from the humane society.Most of my hunting occurs via bootleather from either my front or back door.No helicopters involved.Yet, because I’m white , modern vegans and their fellow travelers would deny that I also practise a form of subsistence hunting.Usually three deer a year as that’s all my family can consume.Not to mention assorted fowl and fish for variety.Non native subsistence hunting. It’s more common than most realize,even in 2007.Hey, it’s part of my culture too.Can I get some of that crazy corporate guilt money now?

      Posted by greene on 2007 06 07 at 09:50 AM • permalink


    1. You can get all the chipmunks you can eat with the traditional Indian peanut butter and hammer trick.

      Posted by rhhardin on 2007 06 07 at 09:54 AM • permalink


    1. I think that I shall never see,
      A poem lovely as a natural carbon offset opportunity . . .On the off chance you were wondering, this is a fine example of why I’m not poet laureate.

      Posted by paco on 2007 06 07 at 10:04 AM • permalink


    1. Completely O/T, but a dissociated former PM Keating on ABC Lateline tonight has slagged off at every major face of Labor from Kevvie and Julia and Swannie, down the ranks to Burrow and the faceless grey people in the unions.

      His gripe? They’re going to tear apart the excellent economic and labour market reforms introduced by Hawke/Keating and send us all back to the dark ages.

      Never have Howard/Costello had a better friend (unless it’s the consistently brilliant employment and economic news that just keeps on giving).

      Posted by mareeS on 2007 06 07 at 10:16 AM • permalink


    1. #27 – I heard this as an old persian tale where a poor peasant saved the king’s daughter and all he asked from the king was to put one grain on the first square, two on the second, four on the third, eight on the fourth and so on. ie doubling up each time for all of the 64 squares on the chessboard.

      The king thought, is that all, but was surprised when he discovered he actually had to give the young chap 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 grains of rice, roughly eighteen million trillion. Rice weights range from about 5 to 50 mg per grain so taking a grain of rice to be 18 mg means the king had to fork out about 500 million tonnes of rice. Current world rice production is about 400 million tonnes per annum.

      If the tree lopping farmers do the same and double up for each of the 31 days of July, they will end up felling about 4.3 billion trees

      On that note, I think I’ll finish my shiraz, have a last durry and go to bed.

      Posted by Whale Spinor on 2007 06 07 at 11:14 AM • permalink


    1. #25: Dicky, Laurie David probably meant well – saving the junkin’ Universe and all – but that little microlight she wrenched control of landed upside down on Larry’s front lawn. If ya can’t do that kind of thing in Malibu, ya can’t do it any place else.

      Oh well, there are plenty of folk over here in Sydney willing to dig a smoking crater for y’all’s hazel-eyed enviro-natural heroine…

      Posted by splice on 2007 06 07 at 11:26 AM • permalink


    1. Not me, though. I’ve sworn off the booze and the fancy sheilas.

      Ahem… does she really fly first class?

      Posted by splice on 2007 06 07 at 11:50 AM • permalink


    1. Yes; by throwing incendiary devices from helicopters.

      I forgot to ask this earlier, but do they mean like this?

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2007 06 07 at 01:32 PM • permalink


    1. Okay, let me see if I get this:

      ConocoPhilips has a refinery that is producing at least 100,000 tons of “greenhouse emissions.” The Aborigines have been engaged in a practice of controlled burns that, it turns out, reduces greenhouse gas emissions. ConocoPhilips therefore pays the Aborigines $1,000,000 to keep doing what they’ve always been doing so that ConocoPhilips can keep doing what it’s always been doing, and this somehow reduces greenhouse gases. Have I described carbon credits effectively?

      Posted by JSchuler on 2007 06 07 at 03:01 PM • permalink


    1. #20
      I agree. “Woods”, there are no “woods” Australia. It’d be called a forest (if there were real trees in that part of the bush!)I have no net access at home so have been off the air all night. I need to find help! Modem connected to ISP (checked with ISP); computer connected to modem (checked). Compter saying that modem is connected to net. However, I can’t get emails or webpages or anything. What’s wrong? HELP!

      Posted by kae on 2007 06 07 at 06:01 PM • permalink


    1. #31

      On the off chance you were wondering, this is a fine example of why I’m not poet laureate laugh-a-lot.

      Posted by kae on 2007 06 07 at 06:32 PM • permalink


    1. kae, sometimes you have to restart your modem. Unplug it and plug it back in.

      The BBC’s environment reporter writes this sort of drivel all the time. Last week it was global warming drowning a village in Thailand. Fact is the Gulf of Thailand is sinking – Plate tectonics and all that.

      Posted by phil_b on 2007 06 07 at 07:01 PM • permalink


    1. Hi phil_b
      I have turned the modem power off
      I have disconnected the modem from the network
      I have rebooted the computerI did read that some modems are fussy about how you connect them up.

      Yes, shame about Thailand sinking and all.

      Posted by kae on 2007 06 07 at 07:12 PM • permalink


    1. #37
      Yes perfectly, but you forgot the fees, margins, derivatives and insurance premiums from the trading process.It’s not money for nothing you know…

      Posted by Pickles on 2007 06 07 at 07:56 PM • permalink


    1. #27

      I thought the trick was something like merely doubling the grains of wheat each time.  THAT’S the key to really making a difference in this tree-cutting business. Four trees on July 3rd, eight on July 4th, and so on… One might have a hard time felling (or even finding) a billion trees to cut down on July 31st, but by then the point would be made one way or another.  Go, farmers, go!

      Posted by Hazy Dave on 2007 06 08 at 03:53 PM • permalink


    1. #33

      Only half that many.  2 to the zero trees on the 1st, 2 to the first power on the 2nd, etc. so only 2 to the 30th trees on the 31st…

      Posted by Hazy Dave on 2007 06 08 at 03:57 PM • permalink


    1. #41, kae,

      I had that sort of trouble when I got my last computer.  It turned out to be the anti-virus software the sales fellow talked me into buying.

      Posted by Janice on 2007 06 09 at 03:42 AM • permalink


    1. ” pouring long trails of burning kerosene into the grass …

      “Our people have been doing this for thousands of years,

      Yes, of course they have, using organic kero from the kero trees.

      Posted by Observer on 2007 06 10 at 08:51 AM • permalink


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