King Tide is a-coming – Billy Bragg’s excellent new single takes on the rising seas

The excellent new single from Sir William of Bragg. Always right on, our Bill, and often right. See also: Between The Wars. Now talk amongst yourselves…

114 thoughts on “King Tide is a-coming – Billy Bragg’s excellent new single takes on the rising seas”

  1. Thank’s for the music. I had never heard of Billy Bragg, and I’m quite impressed. He reminds me of the Clash, but maybe I’m imaging that.

    Came across this climate change version of Bob Dylans A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall.

    And for reggae lovers

    There appear to be vast numbers of climate change adaptations like this out there. Didn’t realise until I had a little look.

      1. AndyS, I honestly have only listened to the one Billy Bragg song, and was more fixated on the guitar style and beat than the lyrics. I liked it instantly. I find I either connect with an artist or I don’t. I don’t go through a mental filter on the lyrics, but I don’t like some of the violent ultra crude rap style music.

        I like music that approaches politics tangentially rather than overtly or to0 preachy, maybe Bob Dylan is good, or U2.

        Artists do reflect some of the big political issues and worries of the day, and unfortunate things like racism etc. Nothing wrong with that, it feels empowering and moving, as long as it doesn’t become a lecture as such.

        Somebody once said the best rock music has lyrics that are close to indecipherable. I kind of like that. I like Dylan because he alludes to political themes rather than being too literal or obvious, or telling a god awful pedantic, silly story like Taylor Swift. She makes me feel like I’m listening to a therapy session.

        I’m a big music fan, and own about 900 cd’s spanning everything from a lot of classical, to jazz, 70’s and 80’s rock and progressive, pink floyd etc, to heavy metal, to lighter contemporary pop, like Ed Sheeran, Lorde, Elle Goulding, Beyonce. Even some country music. I have the worlds most eclectic music tastes.

        1. AndyS, yeah and I do like The Doors a lot. Some great music was written back then. Those were the days, before song writing committees took over trying to please everyone.

    1. Billy Bragg is not the humourless Social Justice Worrier that Andy thinks he is. He is actually really funny and more laid back than some of his songs would suggest. He often turns up on quiz shows because his knowledge of music trivia is amazing.
      I remember seeing him live at a student orientation in the ’80s and he was extolling people to vote Labour, presumably ignorant of the economic policies of Roger Douglas.
      He once said that his favourite Billy Bragg song was this very funny parody by Bill Bailey:

        1. If I want someone to call me a moron, a racist etc, I can drop into a left wing blog or an article in the MSM. Why do I need to repeat that process when listening to the opinions of musicians and comedians?

  2. On retirement, the best way to get by financially and emissions-wise is to not have a car, use public transport for free, and make one’s own meals.

    I have gone backwards a bit; I have just purchased a Nissan Leaf Gen 2, 30X, 2016 with the 30 kwh battery at 95%. That last figure is excellent when typical loss after one year is 7.5%, 3.5% second year and about 1.5%/yr thereafter. The trick, I’m told, is to really use the battery – keep it about 40% charge around town and if putting in a “full charge” use it. Don’t leave it sitting round doing nothing. I’ve been told of a leaf owner who used his battery properly who is still on 93% after some years (I don’t remember the actual figure) whereas other owners not exerting battery discipline say, are down about 80% at the same age.

    I’m still figuring it out. Yesterday I took a load to the dump and put in 3 hours charge from the house afterwards. It was a bad day for solar energy (7.8 kwh gen). During the recharge the car drew 5 kwh each from the solar banels and the grid, the latter costing $1.39. Today I could have got 5 hours charging without anything coming from the grid.

    I have been examining charging station maps. The Northernmost fast charger that I now know of (excluding Tesla S & X ‘destinations’) is at kawakawa, my place of birth. Beyond that all charging points require a caravan cable ($1000) or friends or relatives. I used to have many up there and elsewhere but there’s trouble with outliving them… nigeli I think I want to visit you – somewhere near Kerikeri I understand.

    Thomas you’re on my target list. There seems to be a hole regarding fast chargers near you, wherever you are. It does seem that my initial calculation regarding charging capacity of my 5kw solar system which we discussed a few years ago is about right for this car.

    How did I come to this. In the last month I’ve had a knee joint problem and the flu for the first time in 40 years. A fit of coughing was so violent that I put my back out in three places, one of which is very difficult to fix – old injuries. In consequence I found myself cadging lifts off fossil fueled vehicle owners which just does not do. May as well get a good ev now instead of waiting for a better one that will cost much more and might not get delivered in my remaining active lifetime!

    Just to be even further indulgent I’m getting a Tesla Powerwall 2 installed within a few weeks. This has a discharge rate of 5 amps which is below the threshold for a Leaf but might combine with the solar panels in an interesting way.

    Breaking an investment account to pay for all this took a day that would make a fine television comedy.
    Now to see how far I can get.

    1. I should acknowledge that using fast chargers is not the way towards battery longevity – slowest is best.

      The 2017 Leaf’s are said to come with 3o or 60 kw batteries. The pity about buying second hand cars from Japan is that the onboard GPS navigator remains fixated on some part of Japan. It’s really strange to turn it on and find you are driving about in Japan but independently of streets and terrain 🙂

      Very interesting to users of small evs is a story about a Japanese company, GS Yuasa, that says it will begin mass production of a battery that will double the range of compact evs. There is no mention of retrofitting existing cars which would provide a large instant market. It’s not just a matter of popping in another battery as there is also the matter of changing a big part of a car’s battery management electrics.

      1. Just been reading about that new lithium battery, due in a couple of years apparently. I have also read about new experimental aluminium batteries that charge within seconds, but have fairly low capacity at this stage.

        I live in Auckland by the way. You are sure welcome to visit, we can sort something out at some stage.

    2. Hi Noel! I would love to meet you with your Nissan Leaf in Whitianga. We now have a charging station here in town. It is scheduled to go on-line this month. There is another one in Coromandel Town coming too.
      And you would be most welcome to plug in at my home! 🙂 on a normal single phase charge cable that I use for my EV on a regular house extension cord that ends in a caravan plug. I made that cable myself out of a standard outdoor extension cable and it did not cost much at all.
      You can see my cable etc. here:

      1. Oh and for the first time I am looking at this:
        And the mind starts to boggle…. wtf… why on Earth can’t we somehow standardise this to one type of connector? How are the charging stations going to handle this? Are there plug converters?

        1. I guess I concede, that this is not only a matter of plugs but also systems. My car has the AC/DC charger built into the car so that I can take standard 240V from any NZ home outlet anywhere.
          Other vehicles may rely on or want to use fast DC charging connections that rely on the AC/DC converter in the stationary charging station.

          1. Thomas, Nigelj,
            Google my name [Noel Fuller, Auckland NZ] and the first page has 8 entries pertaining to me, one of which has my email address under two sub-headings. Email me and we will be in direct contact. Incidentally some articles about a house I built are wholly incorrect about the designer.

            While checking my meager internet footprint I discovered some of my previously discoverable past has vanished but one item remains, a sailing canoe (and motoring) which I am no longer rugged enough to use. It’s last voyage was down the Waikato 80 km, portage to Waiuku and from thence back to Auckland, January 2011.

            1. Perhaps I should have said the “Sabrina” page provides the clue as to which of the 8 hits to search.

            2. Noelfuller, I couldn’t find your email address on those pages, but Gareth has sent my email on to you.

              Interesting house. I like the natural timber inside. It’s a buckmaster fuller type of geodesic dome, by the look of it. Is the connection in names coincidence, or some relation?

              Thomas I had a look at one of your links, on something or other. I also sent you an email on something I wanted to mention.

            3. nigelj
              Yes, the geodesic design is Buckminster Fuller’s famous concept but no relation. What none of the stories got was that (a) everything about the construction had to be fully worked out in my head before construction began, even to the layout of all that rimu shiplap and (b) I invited all the neighbours in the street to help assemble the upper hemisphere which many did over two days. Every bolt fitted exactly.

            4. So far no email arrived from either Nigel or Noel. But I get a heap of spam each day. In case you did send an email, try again as it might have drowned in the heap.. 😉

  3. We are descending into the age of stupid….
    If the election of Trump was not proof enough for any sentient elector, surely the statistics of the Google search terms from the solar eclipse in the USA must be:

    I rest my case, humanity is doomed…. 🙂 (not really, I am an optimist, but heck, we might indeed be too stupid to survive ourselves )

      1. This is so true!
        And with Trump, finally one of their own made it past the usual filter of selection by intelligent peers straight onto the public ballot papers for the presidency in the USA. The presidential election system of the USA permits electing individuals straight to power. And the checks and balances of the electoral college are not functioning as we have seen. With the majority of the people in any jurisdiction of the world obviously not belonging to the top of the countries scale of intellectual capabilities, the danger persists that they will eventually elect somebody in their own image to power and H.L.Mencken will see his prediction become fulfilled:

        “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

        H.L.Mencken (1880-1956)

        1. Warren Harding is regarded as one of the dumbest presidents. He reminds me of someone else, cant think who, ha ha.

          “Warren Harding

          How do you judge a president’s intelligence? One way is by observing his behavior, and by that standard, Warren Harding, America’s 29th president, on the short list as America’s worst president, was hands down our dumbest Commander-in-Chief. Harding was an indifferent senator who became a detached president. In his inaugural address, he said, “Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much from the government and at the same time do too little for it.” He certainly followed the latter. During his presidency, scandals lurked behind every door, and he was clueless about all of it. The Republicans nominated Harding partially because he was a handsome fellow and women were voting for the first time in 1920. Of course, Harding couldn’t bother to even be present when, as senator, he had a chance to actually vote for the bill granting women’s suffrage. But he did like women, at least judging from his numerous extramarital affairs. He also enjoyed alcohol-fueled parties in the White House, which was awkward, considering his presidency was smack dab in the middle of Prohibition. H.L. Mencken said of Harding, “He writes the worst English I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights.”

      2. And here is another Mencken quote:

        For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

        I am reminded of the Republican mantra: “Global Warming is Hoax!” – complex problem, clear and simple solution, and completely wrong.

        1. I have been battling the windmills of the idiocracy in local “letter to the editor” columns on occasion on matters of climate change. The latest was the assertion of a “Alfred” (no, his last name was not “Neuman” 😉 ) on the matter of agricultural GHG emissions. Alfred “knew” that Greenpeace and all the Governments were simply wrong on all this as “obviously” agriculture just emits the same CO2 that the plants have just absorbed in their growth – so, its Carbon Neutral. Q.E.D and all the experts are just dumb losers….

          Dang! Well, I used the above quote to effect (I hope)… in my response.

          It amazes me how lay people in an instant believe that the “experts” are all wrong when they grasp a simple idea such as this and then spend no time at all to question their own conclusion or first ask themselves: “Would the experts not have thought of this too?” and “What have I perhaps not yet understood about the problem?”


          Well, the movie “Idiocracy” may yet go down as being one of the correcter prophetic works of sci-fi produced… here is the opening scene in HD:

          1. You can’t convince these people Thomas. They are stupid and stubborn. Dunning Kruger etc.

            You can only post comments or write letters hoping to enlighten other people who happen to be reading. This is still worth the effort imho. For me discussion also keeps the mind active and is just interesting.

            And in all fairness methane cycles are a bit to get ones head around.

            But you get something like “have scientists thought it might all be the sun?” As if they haven’t considered this obvious thing, although I suppose its fair to ask questions. But you show them research done on it, and still they don’t believe. It’s at this point I get annoyed.

            Climate change has also turned into a political issue of moderates versus very strident and stubborn small government people, and the climate is in the middle like a child in a domestic dispute, hurting and forgotten.

          2. Yes Albert is correct. The amount of CO2 that gets created from the breakdown of CH4 from ruminant emissions is the same as the amount that was absorbed into the grass by photosynthesis

            There are other issues of course, such as the theoretical “global warming potential” of CH4

            So, why is Albert an “idiot” ?

            1. Because he is ignoring the fact that ruminants effectively convert carbon to methane, which is – molecule for molecule – a more efficient trapper of heat than CO2.

              There are indeed arguments to be had/made for the various ways of calculating the warming impact of gases. GWP was arrived at to allow trading of emissions reductions, and so is part of an international framework (UNFCCC) that was negotiated a long time ago.

              You could certainly make a case for treating agricultural emissions differently to fossil methane emissions, but if you want to be part of any international emissions trading scheme (as the current government seems to expect to be able to rely on to meet its pathetic targets), you would need to renegotiate the currently accepted GWPs. That hasn’t happened (and isn’t likely to happen), because agri emissions are a tiny part of most countries emissions profile.

              Under the current emissions trading framework, NZ has to account for all its emissions, including agriculture. By excluding farmers, it means all reductions have to be made by the rest of the economy – which makes them more expensive to achieve than they need be.

              If farming were in the NZ ETS, I’m sure our farmers would be innovative enough to find ways to offset their emissions (through soil carbon enhancement – which pasture is good at – and via tree planting on less productive land, as well as technology). There’s also land use changes to be considered – and given the current pressure on water quality throughout the country, there could be considerable co-benefits in changing to carbon-efficient crops and farming systems.

              It’s possible, I suppose, that a future government might unilaterally declare that ruminant emissions will be accounted for in the ETS, but at a lower GWP than the international standard, with the government (i.e. taxpayers and the rest of the economy) picking up the difference. I have no idea how that might play out in international carbon diplomacy – but I suspect not well…

            2. Because Albert (and you) don’t seem to be able to do simple arithmetic. Anyway, below is my response to Albert which you might like to ponder. Albert complained that Government and Greenpeace are ignorant in attributing global warming potential to agriculture because agriculture is carbon neutral and therefore has no impact on climate change. (his words)
              Here my response:

              Correspondent Albert maintained that agriculture must be carbon neutral because it simply emits the same carbon that is removed beforehand by plant growth. However, as the American philosopher H.L.Mencken stated: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

              Agricultural impacts on Climate Change are indeed complex, and that is not lost to Governments, Scientists and Greenpeace: Land that was naturally forested acted as a carbon sink, building rich soils that store carbon long term. Agricultural land, however, removes that carbon sink. Further, intensive farming releases large amounts of Nitrous Oxide (NO2) from fertilizer use, which is a very potent greenhouse gas. One NO2 molecule has about 270 times the global warming potential of a CO2 molecule! Parts of the plant’s carbon is converted into Methane by ruminants, which has about 80 times the global warming potential of the CO2 that was removed by the plant over a 20 year time frame. Therefore, converting land that once was an active carbon sink – forest – into intensive cow and sheep farms causes a significant global warming impact and constitutes NZ’s largest component to our global warming contribution.

              As always, it pays to understand deeply what the problem is before assuming that the experts got it wrong. If in doubt, ask an expert to explain the matter or read up on it on-line.

            3. Without seeing Albert’s original letter, I can’t comment on content

              However, Thomas conflates a number of side issues to the methane issue, including land use change and use of artificial fertilisers.

            4. andyS “However, Thomas conflates a number of side issues to the methane issue, including land use change and use of artificial fertilisers.” Only if you ignore the energy demand for production of N fertiliser (remember that Solid Energy wanted to mine lignite to power nitrogenous fert production not so long ago), and if you ignore the emissions of nitrous oxide. Remember Andy, a climate change denier needs to studiously ignore the nitrogen cycle AND the carbon cycle.

            5. Andy, the truth is, without the Haber-Bosch process and nitrogen fertilizers 1/2 of today’s population would not be here. Below is a link to an eye opening (for you hopefully) summary of the matter. Many of us I hope learned about all that at high school. We certainly did when I was at school and any engagement with sustainability thinking at all would have brought you in touch with this topic. So it’s timely that you catch up:

            6. Just to add to this Andy: You have laid bare your deep ignorance often in your online postings for all to see. But your ignorance on why humanity depends so much on Nitrogen fertilizers is a new low on the open ended Richter Scale of AI (Andy’s Ignorance). Really, your bellicose and oversized opinions are not sustained by the general knowledge that these days should be assumed by a person like you. Bags of hot air. That’s all. Get an education Andy and perhaps you will see the world in a new light!

            7. So, Thomas, I take it that your message is that we are 100% committed to artificial fertilisers manufactured in a factory, and organic farming pratices are completely invalid. Is that your message? Please excuse my “deep ignorance” as I wasn’t paying attention to the Monsanto presentations at school

            8. “Beaker – why are we assuming that you have to use Nitrogen based fertilisers?” Hurrah, you have studiously ignored the Nitrogen Cycle, egregious deniers will hold you in high regard.
              On the subject of Organics, in my (informed) opinion they are almost completely invalid as the whole Organics movement puts ideology ahead of evidence – bit like you eh Andy. Policy should be evidence led. Organic accreditation is not evidence led, exhibit A being the recommendation of homeopathic treatment of livestock. Some crop treatments are allowed because they are ‘traditional’, so you can have a copper residue on fruit that a conventional grower would have sent back to them from a very angry distributor or supermarket. By promoting ideology above evidence, Organic Accreditors can be criticised for a squandering of the good intentions of Organic producers and customers.
              But quite simply Andy, the ‘assumption’ that we need Nitrogenous fertiliser comes from the knowledge that not much grows without N, and even if we sort out our excess protein consumption (and appetite), satisfying demand with green manures is a fantasy.

            9. Oh and just on the ‘artificial fertiliser manufactured in a factory’ line. What is wrong with a factory? Before the Invercargill smelter was thought of, the hydro plant had been proposed for fixing N (though for high explosive rather than ammonium nitrate), and the dominant world producer was until recently called ‘Hydro’. Renewables and N fert are longstanding chums.
              N fertiliser in the environment is problematic when excess not taken up by a crop is lost from the soil to air and water (eutrophication, combination with NOx and a greenhouse gas). Cf organics, artificial fertiliser can be used with greater precision minimising losses to the environment (NZ no doubt has its own analog of RB209). Manure and compost carries on releasing ammonia and nitrate when the crop is not there.

            10. Andy: You will not feed 1/2 of the population at the moment without nitrogen fertilisation, which has enabled the “green revolution” and the significant increase in land productivity. Again, I very much doubt you even read the article I linked for you. Bio-Dynamic farming is nice, and with crop rotations that put parts of your land out of food production to regenerate the soil with nitrogen fixing plant species, you can live without artificial fertilizers. But feed 7+ billion… that is another story.
              The green revolution has been one of the many “success traps” humanity has walked through, with no easy way back to a time before once we grew into the size that was enabled by the same.

            11. OK so we have established that organic farming is a con job. I must admit I am surprised. I must have bought into the green hype.

              However, that notwithstanding, Albert’s original letter, which I haven’t seen, claimed that cows are carbon neutral, which I presume still stands in the absence of Nitrogen inputs.

              If Nitrogen is the issue, and not methane, then perhaps we should deal with the former. Tax it, perhaps? Let’s do this!

            12. Stop trolling, Andy. I don’t think anyone is claiming that organic agriculture is a con job – only that current agricultural systems are not necessarily easy to convert to organics. It can be done though – note the increase in organic dairying in NZ. I also understand (though I don’t have the references to hand) that it is possible to feed the current global population purely via organic agriculture, but IIRC it will involve eating more vegetables and less meat. This may, or may not, be a good thing, depending on your point of view. I’ve just had bacon, eggs and black pudding for breakfast – but manage our trees and vines more or less organically (i.e. using organic methods, but not doing certification because it’s too time-consuming and expensive).

            13. There are three acceptable sources of black pudding in NZ (that I have found). The best is from Brent the sausage man at Amberley Farmer’s Market (also available at Riccarton FM in ChCh). I also enjoy the Blackball black pudding from the West Coast, which is reasonably widely available in supermarkets/delis, and can be mail-ordered. The third is a morcilla done by a trendy sausage company – L’authentique. I’ve only tried it recently, and it’s definitely a Spanish black pudding – spicy and crumbly. All the big fat “black puddings” you can find in supermarket fridges are execrable.

            14. Organic accreditation certainly has overlap with some good practice but it is hamstrung by putting dogma and perception first. For instance, min till and no till cultivation offer us opportunities to cut fuel use improve infiltration, cut runoff and erosion (with their associated sediment and phosphate problems for surface water) and help retain soil OM – but you need herbicide. I would prefer the herbicide to the weed control organic arable uses, lots more ploughing with additional cultivation passes after that, burning diesel, compacting soil to depth, more runoff to streams and accelerated consumption of soil OM. Organic accreditors will not look at that trade off, they just declare all pesticide bad (unless it dates back to Victorian use regardless if it is of far greater concern than a modern and more effective alternate).
              There is a role for low input production, but targeted where that low input production delivers environmental benefits. Organic accreditation does not do this. Rather than follow evidence to deliver benefits, the accreditation bodies focus first on customer perception. That is why biosolids from sewage treatment works can not go back to organic land, the virtuous circle being trumped by the customers eugh factor. So Organic consumers poop all goes back to non organic land (sterilised and iron or lime stabilised) Daft, we can do better.

            15. Hi Beaker: yes, I agree there are a lot of inconsistencies in the various “organic” approaches in common use, but the principal benefit seems to come from having to spend more time looking at how things are growing and reacting appropriately, instead of following rigid (and expensive) spray plans.

              In the next few weeks I am likely to receive a visit from a biodynamic vineyard guru who will undoubtedly wave his cow horns around my pinot. I will restrain myself from comment… 😉

            16. Re: the Nitrogen fixing issue. One of my farming neighbours is featured in this Stuff article


              The lupin is regarded by DoC as an “invasive species” yet local farmers are more pragmatic and see the benefits for soil enrichment. It’s a double edged win: They get N fixing for free, and also don’t have to remove the lupins

              We have real issues to deal with here: rabbit infestation and wilding pines to name two
              We don’t need DoC telling us to remove lupin and then have to pay for fertilizer

              PS thanks for the black pudding tips. There’s a good butchers in Akaroa that might sell it too

            17. Thomas writes:

              You have laid bare your deep ignorance often in your online postings for all to see. But your ignorance on why humanity depends so much on Nitrogen fertilizers is a new low on the open ended Richter Scale of AI (Andy’s Ignorance). Really, your bellicose and oversized opinions are not sustained by the general knowledge that these days should be assumed by a person like you. Bags of hot air

              I was actually just asking a question; I didn’t offer an opinion

            18. The very thought of black pudding makes my stomach lurch. Sorry people.

              Organic farming seems harmless and an interesting alternative to corporate industrial farming (although this could in theory be organic). It bothers me the quantity of industrial chemicals we ingest in modern society, and the cumulative effect of this might not be so great.

              Organic farming is associated with more sustainable soil use which is a good thing. There’s some evidence that specific farming techniques can lead to soils and root systems being significant carbon sinks.

              But the problem is organic farming is only profitable because it charges a premium a few people can afford. This means it struggles to expand. It also uses manure which is nitrogen intensive so is no magic answer to the nitrogen problem.

              There’s also a lot of unproven mumbo jumbo within organics.

              It will be interesting to see which system wins out, industrial agriculture, organic, ge etc.

              I think the important thing is to promote diversity, and use environmental law to encourage sustainable practices, set limits on pollution, and set boundaries within which diversity and innovation will naturally happen. If the environmental law is good and sufficiently strong, then the right system will emerge at the end.

            19. And regarding “Albert” and his claims agriculture is co2 neutral.

              Bit of a simplification isn’t it? Its true for some crops, but cattle do release methane, and more cattle equals more methane, and while it has a lower resident time than CO2 its not an insignificant resident time.

              Even CO2 from fossil fuels will be re-absorbed eventually by rock weathering after thousands of years, but that’s not much use to humanity.

            20. “Organic farming is associated with more sustainable soil use which is a good thing. There’s some evidence that specific farming techniques can lead to soils and root systems being significant carbon sinks.” Unfortunately Nigel this is simply not the case. Without herbicide you have to till to control weeds, all those tractor passes compact and burn fuel, but on top of that for soil OM when you cultivate, you aerate the topsoil and speed the consumption of that soil OM – as long as you cultivate the soil will always approach the same lower OM content regardless of how much manure/compost /crop residue you add. Min Till and Direct Drill can cut a lot of land work out of arable rotations, and the known environmental harm that stems from them. But you need herbicides. Herbicides are strictly regulated and rightly so, but the Organic Accreditors just stick to the tabloid ‘chemicals! bad’ hysteria while permitting the use of victorian era pesticides worse than modern ones.

              Gareth, I too will keep my trap shut on Biodynamics. Last time I spoke my mind on that countless fairies died, and I dont want Tinkerbell’s demise on my conscience. Have fun with Ken Ring and your grapes.

            21. Beaker, yeah you are probably right about herbicides and tilling. I hadn’t considered that. And ability to maximise carbon sink potential would be pretty important.

              I think a lot of this comes down to regulating use of industrial herbicides. I have no objection to these in principle, but there have been endless controversies about health impacts, and whether they are safe, and properly independently tested. I personally don’t trust that they are properly evaluated and regulated on what I have read.

              Obviously while frankly justified suspicions like this remain people will be attracted to organics, I’m sure you understand that. I have considered buying organics, and if I was younger I might consider them more seriously. So the ball is actually in the court of conventional agriculture to provide better proof their herbicide products are safe, or they may start loosing customers. If you are some sort of lobbyist for herbicides or industrial farming ( and you sure come across like one) you might want to consider that!

            22. Excuse my “deep ignorance” but are GMOs off the table? After all, I’m told here that we *must* have herbicides and factory produced fertilizers.

            23. No Nigel, no financial interest in any agrichemicals. An agri environmental land use planning consultant with some time in onshore wind power. I have also managed agri environmental and biotech R&D programmes. Opinionated ignorance shouting down evidence is a pet hate of mine, particularly when it is something important like a measles vaccine, climate change or Brexit.
              I get a fruit+veg box every week, I like the seasonal produce, closer link to the producer and giving them a premium that the supermarket would take. That it is Organic Veg is immaterial (though I do wash the apples where I would not bother with conventional), as Organic accreditation does not improve ‘nutritional profile’ or quality.
              Like the pharmaceutical industry, there is pressure from pesticide manufacturers to sell lots of what they have spent a fortune on developing, and Bhopal is a stark illustration of what they will do to protect shareholders interest if allowed to get away with it, but to run away with that and just condemn all pesticides against evidence is silly. The EU has a moratorium on use of neonics right now thanks to concern over impact on bees, and that is quite right.
              For the future, we already have a back of a tractor weeder that targets a laser pulse to scorch weeds, exciting potential for small drones or overhead gantries automatically zapping weeds and limiting insecticide to spot treatments – nipping problems in the bud. But we are not there yet and until then the focus on Organic is not delivering the benefits it could because of its dogma.

            24. GMOs should not be off the table, why fear a tech, the application is what matters. But trolls, they should be off the table.

            25. Re: GMOs

              I agree that no tech should be off the table for discussion.

              However, I do have some concerns about corporate control over the food chain, which is where I think there are some legitimate concerns over Monsanto that aren’t “anti-science”

            26. For once I agree with andyS:

              “However, I do have some concerns about corporate control over the food chain, which is where I think there are some legitimate concerns over Monsanto that aren’t “anti-science””

              The tactics used by the agricultural biotech industry is not based on science but PR and illicit conniving with high ups in the government regulatory agencies. See for example how this is all coming to light here:


              A great backgrounder in the connivance between regulators and the industry can be found in Steven Druker’s book “Altered Genes, Twisted Truth”.

            27. Beaker yeah I agree, more than I disagree.

              “Opinionated ignorance shouting down evidence is a pet hate of mine, particularly when it is something important like a measles vaccine, climate change or Brexit.

              Its a pet hate of mine too on all those things, add in theory of evolution and its unfortunate critics.

              Regarding herbicides I don’t say they are all suspect, but some certainly raise suspicions. The neonicitinoids have been under the spotlight and so has roundup I think. The problem I have is a lot of safety testing appears to be done “in house” by the manufacturers, the same as with pharmaceuticals and there’s such a reliance on trust that they do it all properly. There are understandable financial pressures to take short cuts. I would be more confident if the government, or some third party did more testing.

              The food safety issue is the only real thing that makes me a little sympathetic to organics. I don’t believe they taste better or have better nutritional value, and haven’t seen any evidence they do. But I haven’t seen any good evidence they cause harm either (although I acknowledge your comment on one of the old fashioned natural herbicides) so I think as I said a harmless pursuit.

              Regarding GMO’s, I agree with AndyS (not a common thing) there’s enough evidence now that they are safe, but I don’t like the control of Monsanto being one giant monopoly, and the issues about their rather restrictive rules etc.

              However there’s another issue, and you probably will hate this, but public perception is also important, and there’s quite a lot of suspicion of safety GMO crops, for right or wrong. Once they spread here it will make organic farming difficult. Regardless of our views of organic farming, this is still a significant issue of freedom to farm as one wishes. There’s something to be said for NZ moving up the value chain and organic produce is up the value chain, even if its all a bit unproven. It still commands good prices.

            28. Hi Nigel, yes public perception is important – all the more reason not to engage in scaremongering and/or baseless fluf. If an important issue is complex and nuanced, retreating to easy slogans (Take Back Control, Frankenstein Food, climate has always changed) is not the way to go, and a pox upon all who charge down that route with their Daily Mail cheerleaders. In the UK, GMO trials were effectively stopped by trashing the sites – not by concerned ecologists or agronomists but by organisations like Greenpeace engaging in publicity stunts, not their finest moment. There is lots of GMO work going on, but it is used to speed conventional breeding – instead of assessing a dairy bull’s score for their daughters ease of calving over many years of descendants calving (when the bull has long since gone to pie) GMO in the lab is used to identify the desired genetics in the field, massively shortening the process of conventional breeding programmes. Monsanto is to be blamed not for using GMO, but for their effort to lock in farmers to being exclusive to their IP.

              Andy – no sympathy for your farming neighbour with lupins. It is an invasive introduced species that causes environmental damage and imposes costs on others. If that farmer can not economically fatten sheep on their land without them then that is just tough, they should have no right to profitably graze that land regardless of the impact on others.

          3. Beaker, yes climate has changed before is just such a weak superficial argument. has a good list of climate sceptics myths and analysis of them.

            The fears about vaccines are missplaced and emotive. Five minutes careful readings shows a huge drop in disease rates where vaccines have been intoduced, steeper than the decline from improved sanitation. The constituent parts of vaccines that are contentious are in very low concentrations. All medicies have some negative side effects and risk of anaphylactic reaction and if anything vaccines are lower risk than many standard pharmaceutical drugs.

            This begs the question why the scepticism? Why are people so afraid of looking at the full range of evidence and why are they so selective? With vaccines we could put some of it down to people who just arent very bright, especially when you look at this group. But I will cut them some slack or show some understanding as the maternal instinct is strong so its reasonable to expect some caution. Rather than shouting at the anti vaccers, we should acknowledge this at least and patietly explain why vaccines are not harmful. To be honest even I hate flu shots!

            Fortunately polls show anti vaccers are less than 10% of people in America. Don’t know about NZ.

            Climate scepticism is different. Some sceptics are provably stupid people in my experience and just cant grasp the thing, but many are intelligent, so there’s far more going on. FAR MORE. has very good articles.

            I’m interested in climate scepticism because as well as a technical academic backgroud, I did some psychology at university, and I’m also interested in politics. I think with climate scepticism you have a complex mix of psychological and political motives. You have suspicions of so called big government climate laws, worries about costs of combating the problem (largely excessive worries), vested job interests, and this almost certainly causes people to deny the science to the point of making the most absurd claims. It’s wilful ignorance, although sometimes I think its almost subconscious, so they really believe their own ignorance. Society is also addicted to oil.

            This combination makes for some deep seated and intransigent scepticism. Its hard to shift some of these people. But two huge hurricanes back to back might make some people think.

            1. On top of this is the example of, say, 800 new cars a week in Auckland, so it’s OK to get another pollution machine – “everyone’s doing it!” The Government has not put any disincentives in place. “It’s too expensive” is the mantra applied to most climate change mitigation imperatives. Of course even I find it hard to go anywhere without running into congestion and I pick my times but waste no energy idling!

  4. My Tesla Powerwall2 was installed yesterday. Our house, built mid sixties, had to be suspicious, requiring backed up connections moved from old fuses to a new RCD (Residual Current Device) switchbox. The Powerwall only backs up 6 lines so the one with the heatpump on it was ruled out as it should be. However, it turned out some residual current from the heat pump was returning via the lighting circuit for the kitchen, lounge and outside lighting so that had to be left off too. Fortunately I already have independent emergency LED lighting for lounge and kitchen anyway. The power circuits were OK so the TV, fridge and my computers are all backed up.

    It’s got to be inspected yet before it can be turned on. “In a week or two” one of the 3 to 5 blokes working all day on the installation told me.

    Modern RCD switchboxes are separate to the meters and more roomy than the small thing that has done us for years. A new earth had to be set up, as well as a connection to the internet – to Tesla even who sent me a welcome message. It seems remote monitoring of the battery allows action to be taken should the battery be running low and thus harmed. To get in on this I have to download an app from Tesla which will only run on the iphone or on android smartphones. As I also need some apps for the car it looks like I need an android smartphone.

    Now the backdoor wall of our house sports a total of 6 devices including the old fusebox, all joined by conduit: DCD switchbox, battery, gateway (700x375mm), Battery Isolator and AC Isolator both the last in (200x100x100 mm) boxes all joined together and to the hidden Inverter and the earth by metres of conduit.

    If you feel like getting a very large powerwall relatively cheaply you could try DIY with recycled laptop batteries – no guarantees of course.

    1. Bought a Huawei y6 elite android smartphone a few months ago. 4g network.

      Good cheap phone on sale $130, retails for $160. If it breaks or I put it through the wash, no great loss.

      Everything v good and amazing for the price really, except camera a bit snap shot quality in low light.

      Internet is better than home adsl, and about as good as entry level fibre.

  5. As Texas sees the most dramatic flooding ever after several ‘100 year floods’ since 2015 questions may be rising about the consequences of a warmer world on the severity of rain fall events. There is no denying in, climate scientists have for decades now predicted the worsening of rain fall intensity due to a warmer world.

    An interesting observation: If a medical professional would willfully ignore the progress of science in the medical field despite his failures being repeatedly pointed out to him, that professional would be deemed wilfully negligent and would become culpable of professional and possibly criminal malpractice.

    If the Republican Party leadership in the USA willfully and proactively deny and even actively hinder the progress of science in the climate science field, I believe that they should be deemed deliberately negligent and have thus become culpable of professional malpractice and conspiracy of malpractice on a grand scale.

    I can only imagine what the US courts will eventually do with regards to this once the majority of Americans eventually connect the dots that lead from the causes of climate change via the negligence of the government to the horrific damage that they are occurring as we speak.

  6. Increased global temperatures, increased atmospheric moisture, warmer oceans, intense hurricanes, huge floods, who would be remotely surprised, except someone trying hard to look the other way?

  7. And now for something completely different, to quote Monty Python.

    A Special report as below on Radicalisation, (islamic and otherwise) New Scientist, 19 August. What the scientists say, as opposed to the internet trolls. And the key take away is it cannot be reduced to religion, ideology and / or personality disorders.

    And “no simple answer to a complex problem” either. Maybe take a longer term multifaceted approach.

  8. Uh! New science reveals that the PETM maximum around 56m years ago was triggered mainly by the relatively slow release of CO2 from volcanos.

    …overall between 10,200-12,200 petagrams of carbon were released (from volcanos) into the atmosphere during the PETM – more carbon than is in the world’s total fossil fuel reserves – with rates of up to 0.58 petagrams of carbon released each year over 50,000 years. About 10 petagrams of carbon are currently released every year from fossil fuel emissions.

    In other words: At the moment we are releasing CO2 at a rate 20 times of what caused the PETM climate maximum some 56m years ago. We are indeed kicking our home planet into uncharted territory. Meanwhile, criminal cynics and ignoramuses still deny the significance of any of this! It is hard to believe. But I sense that justice and I mean criminal justice for these folk is not far out now. The people will no longer tolerate inaction and lies. The lying must eventually be called out as the deliberate fraud it is. And there is a law against fraud in every country!

  9. I am suffering from technological overload – Electric Car, Powerwall2, Navigation system, smart phone. I actually had no idea how the screen swiping business went. I’ve also learned that the Nav system can be infuriating in places like the Albany roundabout puzzle at night when it does not recognise the actual address! I just updated the map too! Then there is the Japanese navigator still going on about pedestrian crossings somewhere in Japan.

    However, I have at last given the Leaf a bit of a workout: 368 km there and back in one day including some side trips – Auckland to Kamo (Whangarei) for about $10 each way. Also the Powerwall 2 inspector has inspected (his 3rd PW2) and switched it on four days ago.
    First the Leaf trip. I won’t make a habit of this but some readers I know will be interested this time.

    To start I fully charged it from home to a nominal range of 194 km drawing partly from the grid and partly from morning sunshine. The grid contribution was about 6 kwh. This took me to Kaiwaka Four Square store yesterday pm, the last fast charge station before the Brenderwan hill. There’s a handy and clean public toilet just opposite by the library. Distance 71 km – reduction in nominal range about the same. The echo mode indicator looks like a pine tree with an arch over it and 5 seedlings beside it. Well before Kaiwaka I had made it to the full tree plus 3 seedlings. Coming back was not so good.

    Recharge time was nearly 20 mins to 139km nominal range. Alas I unplugged before noting the figures but price was a bit over $5. The little RFID fob from Chargenet made the process very simple. I reached the Charger by the Sushi shop at the Paramount Plaza, Tikipunga (Kamo) with about 45 km of range to spare. The 80% fast charge there (142 km) set me up for the return to Kaiwaka after attending a function nearby.

    The return by night with headlights, wipers and window defogger all going, in pouring rain out of Whangarei, with the close company of 2 gigantic articulated truck trailors was a nervous affair but I quite happily trailed the trucks up hills as they kept me from wasting too much energy – 13 km/hour at the top of the hill. Nominal range there of 37 km had me worried. Going down the trucks were braking all the way while I thankfully coasted in regen mode never touching the brakes – nominal range 50 km at the bottom. With other regen slopes I still had a nominal range of 40 km at Kaiwaka. The 80% recharge gave me enough power to get home easily but I recharged again at the Warehouse in Albany so I would be able to see how the Powerwall was doing without complicating the picture with more car charging.

    I would like another week or two to see what is really going on with the Powerwall 2 but in three days only 1 kwh has been exported and in the last 2 days, none imported! 39 kwh of solar power has been generated, mostly in two fairly fine mornings.

    In various conversations in Kamo I was interested to note how people lighted up at mention of the all electric car and the cost in electricity of getting there from Auckland. There are also free Vector fast charge stations on the way and a free Whangarei council fast charge station. The free stations were not conveniently located for this journey and this car. I also wanted to see how using wholly commercial stations worked out – I’ve yet to see the account. Waiting while they charged provided welcome breaks.

    Mass Transport: a couple I know are taking a bus tour to Whangarei and back for $15 per person – pity it is not electric!

    1. Yes you can say that aloud. I wondered if anybody has tested what happens if you drown an EV. While AC electricity is dangerous (a dropped iPhone on a connected charger apparently killed somebody in a bath tub), high voltage DC is another beast…! But here is a Tesla S going for a swim:
      And of course, no air breathing engine to suck water and die!
      And here is testing of a Nissan Leaf and others:
      So its not too bad as it seems!

  10. I’m interested in buying an electric car, something like the nissan leaf.

    However I own an older home and the garage and driveway is well separate from the house, and has no power point. I use a 30 metre extension cord for things like vacuuming the car, etc. It plugs into a standard power socket in the house, either 10 or 15 amps.

    Would it be feasible to use a long extension cord like this with a nissan leaf or similar car?

    Sorry I have no idea how these cars charge or if you need to have a speical high capacity outlet, or close proximity to an outlet.

    I could put a power point in the garage, but this costs money getting a buried power cable to garage.

    1. It is said that soon all new houses will have to have a 20 amp line to a charging point installed. I actually already have an old 20 amp line to the basement with a 16 amp cutout installed so use that.

      However, I tried using an extension but the cable got hot at the plug end and little power got through. However my brother has an industrial use 30 metre cable which I can do a test on when I have run down the current charge in the car enough. If it works maybe I will come round to try it at your place.

    2. As it happens, I am thinking about revamping our garage – also a fair distance from the house – and putting in a power supply so that cars and power tools can be charged. Might even have a bit of a shed there too… ;-).

        1. Too many trees for that, but the farmhouse roof is now 110 years old and will need an upgrade before too long. A large expanse faces due north at just the right angle…

          1. Sometimes a dedicated new structure to place the panels such as a carport etc. is the way to go. Solar panels like it cool with ample air underneath + cabling is easily accessible etc. I would definitely go micro-inverter these days. Enphase Micro-Inverters are a good choice I think.

    3. Get an electric bike. They are amazing . I hired one in Wellington recently . There’s a place on the waterfront that does hires for one hour plus

      It’s not until you get riding up Wellingtons infamous hills that you realise how much grunt these things have. The battery went from full charge to about 60% in 2 hours so there is a lot of riding on a single charge.

      1. On our cycle tour of Burgundy last year about half of the group were on e-bikes. On hills, they would hitch up to another rider (via an old inner tube) and tow them up. Most impressive. I did it all on pure muscle power and strategic deployment of lycra, however…

  11. Thank’s Noel. I only have 15 amp power sockets so given your leaf draws 20 amps it will blow a fuse.

    I checked cables, and even the extra heavy duty ones at mitre 10 are only rated at 15 amps, so given the 20 amp load it could cause the cable to fail, or catch fire. Not sure, I’m no electrician.

    I will contact Nissan and see what they say. It may depend on the exact model of leaf, how much power the charging system draws, and slow and fast charging options etc.

      1. Noel, thanks that’s helpful, and suits my house.

        I also did a google, and it appears all Nissan Leafs have a slow charge option compatible with a standard 10 amp power socket. I have a builders heavy duty 10 amp extension lead so that would also be compatible.

        I just need to check with Nissan whether there are any hidden problems using an extension cable.

        I don’t really need a home fast charging option, and getting a special charger and high amp outlet installed. Its nice to have, not a must have. I’m also planning to move houses soon, so it would not be worth it.

        I found your comments on your house interesting. Star trek stuff.

          1. Another test: The Powerwall 2 had its first backup test this night with an outage. So too did my much longer installed solar charged lead-acid battery powered lights in that part of the house not backed up by the powerwall because of some problem with neutral connections. The light in my room blinked. The computer kept on without interuption.

            So far I still have not imported a kwh from the grid though I would if I try to charge the car when there is insufficient solar power as yesterday. Power has been exported on fine days with the battery fully charged and no car charging. I’ve even cooked at night – no imports though this pleasant report reflects only 2 people in the house.

            Nissan have now unveiled their 2018 Leaf with a 40 kwh battery and 400km cruising range and only one pedal.

            DIMENSIONS 4480mm (L), 1790mm (W), 1540mm (H), 2700mm (WB), 150mm (ground clearance).

            COEFFICIENT OF DRAG (Cd) 0.28

            TYRES 205/55R16 or 215/50R17

            CARGO AREA 435 L

            WEIGHT/CAPACITY 1,490-1,520, five passengers

            BATTERY Li-ion 40 kWh

            ELECTRIC MOTOR EM57 maximum output 110kW/3283-9795rpm, maximum torque 320Nm

            CRUISING RANGE 400km

            CHARGING TIME 16 hours (3 kW), 8 hours (6 kW), charging time from alert to 80% (quick charging) 40 minutes

            1. The EV World Expo at the Vodaphone Events Centre was really crowded almost all day. I had difficulty finding parking in a large parking area. It was showery, blustery and cold but the outside test drive/ride were on the go with exhibits overflowing into the car park. E-truck, E-Vans, an overdose of hybrids but a variety of e-cars, e-bikes, scooters, small work vehicles that were rather eye catching, school and university e-vehicle projects. I got a probable time for the Whitianga Fast Charger and a Fast Charger at Kaitaia is not far away I gather. There were show markdowns and some raffles that I did not sign up for.

  12. On Poisson Statistics + Trends = Horror….
    When a fellow physicist in my university was asked to sum up his 5 years of Ph.D. work, he said: “When it rains it pours!”… Explanation: he undertook work on crystal growth and boundaries of regions in the same, and the Poisson statistics played a part of his theoretical work.
    So it is true: “If it rains it pours.” This is a necessary consequence of the logic of Poisson statistics.
    The US is now in the cross hairs of another record breaking hurricane. After Harry, which broke all rainfall records for the US there is Irma, which already is the strongest Hurricane ever seen in the current part of the ocean. It is said to run straight over Florida at current model predictions.
    Being hit by two monster storms in close order is not improbable, thanks to Poisson stats. However, both these storms exist on the backdrop of global warming and are therefore fuelled by the heat anomaly of the regions in their paths. Poisson statistics + GW trend of Hurrican fuelling parameters = Significant impact.
    It is ironical that so soon after the dumbest and most ignorant president ever being elected by a population in his image, the Earth is slapping them with such ferocity. Karma…

    1. Yes Karma. I think America has had a fairly low number of cyclones since Katrina, so maybe its swinging the other way.

      I was also just looking at tropical cyclones in the IPCC report today, WG1AR5 section 14.6.1 for dedicated followers of details on cyclones. Predictions are basically for no change in overall numbers, but for more intense cyclones, and with more rainfall, and more of the worst forms of cyclones. None of this would be surprising given warmer oceans.

      Michael Mann also wr0te this in the guardian on Hurricane Harvey:

      The IPCC science report is impressive in the detail and presentation. I have only read a tiny number of little things, don’t have the time or full expertise to take in all 1500 pages, but one thing occurred to me. I struggle to see how this insane Red Blue Team exercise in delay and wishful thinking will deal effectively with such levels of detail and complexity, with just a couple of egg heads on each team, and lets be honest climate change sceptics do not impress in the intellectual department.

  13. “Irma had sustained 185-mph winds for 37 hours, the longest any cyclone in the world has maintained such intensity. Super Typhoon Haiyan previously set the record in 2013 when it maintained winds at that level for 24 hours.”

    Climate models anticipate increased hurricane intensity. We have two intense hurricanes in very hot years.

    Granted historical studies are contradictory, but its hard to believe two record setting hurricanes in very hot years is just coincidence.

  14. One from the good-news front: Off shore wind is now coming in significantly under the cost of nuclear power bids in the UK:
    And that is with the added benefit that nobody needs to worry about if and how a nuclear power plant can be decommissioned at the end of its service life or if an accident during its operational time will result in a catastrophe as in Fukushima.
    Fantastic. Now, how about some off-shore win in the Hauraki Gulf?

  15. And while we are on disruptive technologies: Check this out!
    I listened to Dr Rosie Bosworth at the recent EDS conference in Auckland. Hers was the only truly eye popping presentation. And I think she is right. This AG 2.0 revolution will ‘eat’ the current agricultural production model for lunch and with it a good deal of our concerns about our agricultural impacts on climate change too.

    Dr. Bosworth believes, that:

    …agriculture, our economic mainstay, is next up on the chopping block. Fast en route towards becoming a sunset industry. Overtaken and displaced by disruptive technologies, science breakthroughs and new business models. And the people at the helm? Not the people on the inside like our dairy farmers, apple breeders and savvy winemakers. But by sneaker wearing tech millennials and wealthy Tesla driving Silicon Valley venture capitalists and well funded research agencies.
    I’m talking about the threat of technologies and innovations that are currently designing the NEW world of agriculture and food production. Agriculture 2.0. Lab manufactured and bio-printed animal and plant proteins. Indoor and vertical crop production (of almost any variety). Next generation of soil and seed technology negating the need for GMO and pesticide use.

    1. Interesting article on the future of agriculture. Farmers, consumers and government should be paying attention, because this could be win win both commercially, and in terms of environment, and better farming lifestyles.

      Of course it a market economy it will sort itself out over time based on demand and supply. But I would hope the government of the day also support this technology, because its in the national interest in terms of economic diversity, moving up market, reduced emissions.

      But I admit I’m not sure about laboratory grown meat just makes my stomach turn a bit. I have no problem with indoors or laboratory grown plant protein and would consider vegetarianism. I tried this once for 6 months and it can be good.

      I wonder if vegetarians would eat laboratory grown meat, would it be acceptable?!

      Another mystery. I don’t see how crispr is not a GMO. They both alter genes don’t they?

      1. I have long thought upon farming and what it takes to not only be “sustainable” but to return carbon to the soil, organic and inorganic.

        In the process I have also concluded that vertical/urban farming is a necessity to food production for cities. It is also necessary to return city waste to the carbon cycle. The necessity of restoring carbon to the soil is an obvious future for farmland that seems to being ignored in the proposals for climate change mitigation in our local political pre-election debate. I think it is a key issue.

        Pure Advantage, I find, is worth reading for the essays toward these objectives. Just planting trees does not cut it on a long term basis. There is too much chance of the trees being felled by fire, flood, logging and perhaps worst of all: bugs!

        1. With soil OM, the key issue is not how much you return, it is how fast that substrate is metabolised in the soil. All farming systems return OM, actively or passively. A wheat crop can root down to 1.2m and as well as the biomass of that root, many crops actively feed the soil fauna around their roots – there are more symbiotic relationships around than just the legumes. Crop residue and manure go back to land. Digestate from AD goes back to land. Paper waste goes back to land. Sludge cake goes back to land (but not organic accredited land… Hmmm!). But if the soil is aerated and not permafrost, add more OM and the soil biota grows to consumes it – until it runs short and they eat each other. The Soil OM will always be returning to an equilibrium based upon how fast the soil biota can turn substrate over. In bogs this is very slow, so OM accumulates even when the rate of new additions is very low. Drain a bog and the OM returns from this now far more productive land are massively higher, but the consumption is off the scale and the soil OM crashes. Its less extreme when comparing cultivated and zero till land, but the later will approach an equilibrium with a higher soil OM.
          Just to add to the fun, there is a massive hysteresis. Plough up grassland and there is an initial fast drop in soil OM over the first few years, followed by a slower rate of decline as the new system approaches equilibrium. But change land management to accumulate soil OM, and you need 10 to 15 years to discern a signal over the noise. So if you want land to sequester carbon, take farmland out of production and ‘rewild’ it. Maintaining soil OM of farm land is good for hydrology, soil conservation, biodiversity and productivity, but any meaningful accumulation is so hard won, then so quickly lost again, that C sequestration through farmland management is a pipe dream sadly.
          Biochar is interesting in that it is a recalcitrant component of soil OM. The bugs can not easily eat it, and it provides additional active surface area for cation exchange like a clay mineral. But that biochar has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is normally a stream of OM that was on its way back to the soil anyway. Lots of the excitement over Biochar ignores the loss of one beneficial return to provide another.

          1. Given the current political climates re climate change mitigation, the absence of positive national goals for soil management, our “love-of-money” “trickle-up” illusions laughably called economies, growing climate extremes and sea level rise all attacking arable land predicted to be exhausted anyway in 50 to 100 years, etc. etc. of course carbon sequestration through soil management is a pipe dream.

            However, we’ve got to do it.

            When I first became aware that power could be generated directly by the sun (1957) the idea that that could become a substantial part of our power generation was a pipe dream too, though simpler to implement.

            Fortunately there are people who are “doing it”, helping show the way to build up carbon in the soil. Two points, among many, that trouble me are these: are there examples of inorganic carbon being added to soil in quantity without ploughing? Are other sources of inorganic carbon (not biochar) being added to soils?

            1. ‘Inorganic’ carbon could be lime and this can be surface spread without incorporation. Did see film of plane dropping shellfish shells on upland NZ pasture, but suspect that this is a wheeze to divert it from an expensive waste stream, doubt its benefit to extensive grass could justify that by itself.
              Manure normally goes on grass with no incorporation, by muckspreader or direct. Slurry can be injected into slots, or just placed below the grass with a trailing shoe. Can help improve the palitability of the grass to livestock as well as cut it being washed by rainfall into streams. You would probably want some incorporation of sludge cake, municipal compost and paper waste but this can be short of inverting with a plough, disk harrow for instance. And remember that low and zero till rotations will still contain some cultivation including the plough, just lots less. The zero bit is not for the whole rotation, just particular parts of it.

      2. CRISPR is sort of GMO but much more precise. The “traditional” GMO technology would involve taking a gene from a different organism and splicing it into another.
        CRISPR, however, allows to simply edit a few letters along a DNA strand of the target organism. This is less crude and perhaps will allow these techniques to become acceptable to the public in the mass required.

        Dr. Bosworth said towards the acceptance of artificial meat that the current young generation will adopt it without much fear. It avoids killing animals, is healthy and free of antibiotics and other by products and tastes the same (so that say). She cited the rapid adoption of cell phones (10 years! Hard to believe! It seems we had then forever!!) as an example of how disruptive technologies that rise on exponential or often multiple exponential trends can turn our lives upside down in a heartbeat. I tend to believe that she will be right.

  16. Incidentally last night at a meeting at my place I player the King Tide and Hard rain songs. They seemed peculiarly appropriate after a pile up of extreme events.

  17. Had to laugh last night. I was watching that movie “day after tomorrow” about global warming triggering a change in the north atlantic current, and causing an ice age in North America. Rather a rapid ice age!

    It was fun watching all the Americans running south into mexico, across the border. Oh the irony.

    Yes of course the movies a big exaggeration in terms of timing, but the message was interesting in terms of both climate and politics, and it was entertaining and quite well acted by holloywood standards.

    1. Perhaps it’s time for a more realistic sequel: NYC 2117… or the real catastrophe movie: Dhaka 2117…. or the horror movie: “Wetbulb 35” storyline: weather forecasters predict conditions to reach and perhaps surpass wetbulb 35 for several days in the coming week in Kolkata. Millions know they will die. Desperate masses try to get onto the last trains to cooler places…

  18. Prompted by the latest tulip mania – Bitcoin – I had a look at the sustainability and scalability issue of Bitcoin: OMG!

    Needless to say, Bitcoin is a colossal waste of energy. And even with only a fraction of the world’s financial transactions now being made with Bitcoin, the Bitcoin network consumes as much electric power as many small nation states. If the entire world economy were to run on Bitcoin, the transaction network would consume twice the power of the entire USA or eight times that of France…. And the colossal waste of resources is a “feature” by design, in order to keep the cost of manipulating transactions high and the security of the distributed ledger protected. This currency is not for the age of sustainability and limited resources. It will reveal itself eventually as a complete fraud and pyramid scheme and can never scale up.

    There are better electronic transaction systems and ultimately states may adopt energy efficient peer to peer transaction systems with coins pegged to their national currency and with their supply regulated by other means than energy hogging stupid number crunching waste.

    1. Very interesting. I have very little knowledge of bitcoin, and no desire to experiment. I’m getting old and set in my ways, and tired of learning more and more new systems. Leave it for the young people and they can buy laboratory grown meat with it.

      You make the point bitcoin uses a lot of computer resource. I gather all bitcoin transactions are kept in some sort of information stream on servers, and this is what you mean by information processing being intense. But don’t normal bank accounts use up a lot of power? Like every transaction we make through eftpos alters something on someones computer?

      I can see more problems. Bitcoin appears to be a way of dodging tax and hiding identity and transactions. If it became widespread the authorities will get very interested.

      An economy based entirely on bitcoin would make it hard for reserve banks to control inflation as they have no control over bitcoin.

      Therefore I don’t see bitcoin being able to maintain its total independence from the authorities, which somewhat defeats its purpose.

      The world will slowly head towards a one world currency as its efficient. Efficient markets hypothesis. I doubt it would be bitcoins!

      I worry more about the IRD. Well I used to worry, semi retired now.

      1. Oh I get it now I think. Every bitcoin transaction means the whole database of transactions gets reprocessed somehow? Uses a lot of power. I better read up on this bitcoin thing….but as you say Thomas, it looks very suspect.

        1. Here is another article on the matter:

          Bitcoin is designed to “cost” massive amounts of computational effort to solve deliberately computation intensive searches for hash codes in order to make it impossible for attackers to defraud the networks state, as it would take an astronomical amount of computing power to do so. But this design is ridiculous. It was “cheap” to do these calculations in the start when few transactions were made. But the code is also designed to make it exponentially more costly to perform these calculations in the future. This is also per design so that it becomes exponentially more difficult to “mine” new bitcoins, which is limiting the supply of new coins and drives the exponential rise in its “value”. Some argue that Bitcoin is most elaborate pyramid scheme ever designed. Whoever was the original designer of the system, if he had retained sufficient initial coins, could now be sitting on more potential virtual value than all the top billionaires combined. All at the “real expense” of real energy being consumed by the walls of computers in various parts of the world that undertake all this number crunching. The identity of the “inventor” of this system has remained unknown and is hidden behind a pseudonym. More likely than not, he is slowly selling his coins in trade for a sustainable currency and is now laughing all the way to the bank. Possibly he is manipulating the price by re-injecting some of his billions into the system at times to drive up the price, then sells more at next tip of the wave, making money out of everybody else a bit like the wave energy machines do that bob up and down in the oceans… 😉

          1. Thank’s Thomas. I had a read of your article, and also a quick scan through bitcoin on wikipedia. Giant waste of electricity. Bitcoin looks very suspect to me in numerous ways.

            But Is it pyramid or ponzi scheme? I’m not so sure its a pyramid scheme. The main feature of pyramid schemes is it runs out of new investors, and so late entrants into the system get nothing despite the promises. Its a subtle wealth transfer.

            Its hard to see this with bitcoin, because late entrants into the scheme would get value at market price, and even a system with no new bitcoins may still have value. Provided they know the rules of bitcoin creation they are not being fooled so its maybe not a fraudulent scheme or pyramid. And any market can crash including currency markets.

            But if the system makes it harder and harder to create new bitcoins, this would favour people who got in the scheme early and held bitcoin. And the system could reach upper limits. I m sure the founding member knows the system might crash or stagnate and favours early investors. As you say he could be quietly selling down stocks and having a good laugh.

            1. The problem with BTC that brings it into the realm of pyramid schemes in the eyes of financial experts is its highly speculative nature. If it was designed as a medium of exchange or payment service, it would ideally have a stable value. But that is not how this works. The “scarcity” of the coins – limited to a total of 21 million – makes it a rare commodity and turns it from payment system into a speculative tool. But opposed to speculating say in shares, where the value of a share means a right to a share in a companies profit, owning BTC has no purpose other than hoping that you can later exchange it for real items at a grossly inflated value. And latecomers who have not “invested” early are not going to see this inflation. The massive transfer of wealth that is happening in an exponentially rising “token” from the late buyers to the early holders serves no productive purpose in society. All this wealth transfer is not in exchange of some services to humanity, a great new invention or a better way for humanity to reach a sustainable way of life… to the contrary, this massive transfer of wealth comes at an outrageous environmental cost to society.
              When this craze has gone up in smoke, maybe a different architecture of a peer to peer currency that is stable, non-speculative in design and highly efficient will one day replace some of our current payment systems.

            2. Thomas,

              I still don’t think bit coin is strictly a pyramid or ponzi scheme, however there are sure similarities.

              From wikipedia: “Various journalists,[61][143] economists,[144][145] and the central bank of Estonia[146] have voiced concerns that bitcoin is a Ponzi scheme. Eric Posner, a law professor at the University of Chicago, stated in 2013 that “a real Ponzi scheme takes fraud; bitcoin, by contrast, seems more like a collective delusion.”[147] In 2014 reports by both the World Bank[148]:7 and the Swiss Federal Council[149]:21 examined the concerns and came to the conclusion that bitcoin is not a Ponzi scheme.”

              However I totally 100% agree with your assessment of the nature of the bitcoin scheme overall. It is indeed a wealth transfer to early entrants (as I said) and a form of speculation. Its technically a currency but a poor one as new currency can’t be created. Even gold was not this limited.

              Bitcoin is more like an antiques market.

              I think we have some evil sort of genius who has created something just within the law, but essentially just a form of gambling, and it adds nothing real to society as you say.

              One final thing. Bitcoins real “value” might rest with the fact people can hide identity, and its an unregulated currency. It’s a form of racket. This is the only thing that really sets it apart. Any so called low transaction fees are cancelled by its high energy use. If government forces the scheme to reveal identities, the whole thing could crash badly. But I take the view anyone silly enough to buy bitcoins deserves what they get.

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