Time for Plan B: Adaptation to Climate Change

The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s plan of prevention has been trialled by combining regulation under the Kyoto Protocol with the dissuasive powers of a carbon dioxide trading system, for instance in Europe.  From this trial it is apparent that the CO2 reductions agreed to under Kyoto, even were all to be achieved, will make no measurable difference to future temperature. Also, the experience of early mover countries on carbon dioxide taxation, such as Norway, is that at reasonable tax levels of $15-25/tonne no reduction in emissions is achieved, Norway’s having increased 15% since 1990. Thus Plan A doesn’t work, can’t work and won’t work; it is already a dead parrot.

Meanwhile, Nature has delivered powerful messages recently as to the danger of natural climate change, via Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in USA, and devastating bushfires and floods in Australia in 2009. It is obvious that countries need to be better prepared to understand, cope with and adapt to the damaging effects of these and other natural climatic events and trends. Just like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, major climatic events are unpredictable long in advance and unstoppable once started.

The appropriate response – and climate policy plan B – is to adapt to such events when and as they occur.

This was the essence of Bob Carter’s presentation to the second international conference on Climate Change in New York.  Professor Carter, compared the relative merits of the current policy of trying to “prevent global warming” by reductions of carbon dioxide emissions (Plan A), with the merits of adapting to climate change as and when it occurs (Plan B).

Professor Carter also argued that adaptation to climate events is intrinsically local or regional in nature, for climate risks vary widely with geography. Importantly, a country that has prepared to deal with the wide vagaries of natural climate change within their territory is, by that very fact, positioned to deal with any human-caused climate change if and when it occurs.

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Read the complete summary of presentations from Day 3 at Quadrant Online.

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72 Responses to Time for Plan B: Adaptation to Climate Change

  1. Ron Pike March 13, 2009 at 12:47 pm #

    Hi Jennifer,
    Thanks for all the reports and links that have allowed your readers to follow this important conference.
    But, having read all of the reports, I have two great problems and questions.
    Why are Rudd and Wong persisting with this useless, expensive and job destroying legistlation?
    More perplexing though, is why Turnbull and the Liberals are not prepared to openly come out against this nonsence?
    Sitting on the fence, as they are doing , has NO political upside.
    Only downside and a badly scratched political scrotum.
    Pikey.

  2. spangled drongo March 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm #

    “Meanwhile, Nature has delivered powerful messages recently as to the danger of natural climate change, via Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in USA, and devastating bushfires and floods in Australia in 2009.”

    Wow! This has never happened before!
    The increase in severity is questionable, the increase in loss of life is possibly unavoidable.
    But we have a better chance of a solution under plan B than plan A.
    If that’s the best Nature can do it presents a definite case for plan B.

  3. Luke March 13, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    Really Bob’s proposition is just paff ! It’s a non-proposition.

    Colliding with climate variability has demonstrably stuffed many areas of Australia’s rangelands.

    Colliding with climate variability has generated billions in drought aid.

    No help with designing any infrastructure impacted by climate risk i.e. water supply

    Want to build super-excess capacity ? well that’s not economically rational is it?

    Adapting to climate variation relies on the science pillars that the pseudo-sceptics have disparaged – leaving them with no science let alone a philosophical basis for moving forward.

    So again we have non-propositions from faux sceptics. Sounds good as rhetoric. Practically – means zippo.

  4. spangled drongo March 13, 2009 at 2:11 pm #

    “Adapting to climate variation relies on the science pillars that the pseudo-sceptics have disparaged – leaving them with no science let alone a philosophical basis for moving forward.”

    Luke,
    As a scientific and philosophical ne’er do well, just give us a quick picture of those “science pillars” again. In your own words.

  5. toby March 13, 2009 at 3:10 pm #

    Luke do you think “plan A” has or will achieve anything? ( deep down I am pretty sure you would have to agree its very likely to be futile) The only thing that will reduce CO2 is a new technology. 6 billion people and rising make it certain that we can not control co2 via an ETS.

    Investing in new technology will bring huge benefits..so make it worthwhile for entrepeneurs to do this. …..and even if as i still believe AGW is a crock of …. the money will have been spent on something that will benefit us down the track because as we all know ( well most of us…really not sure at all on your abiotic oils louis!?)fossil fuels are finite.

    And Luke surely building infrastructure to secure water security in a dry arid land will be beneficial whether AGW is happening or not…..surely that would be called adaptation…as teh article is suggesting.

  6. steve from brisbane March 13, 2009 at 3:26 pm #

    Dare I mention that it’s next to impossible to do anything about limiting ocean acidification except reduce CO2. There’s been quite a few worrying papers coming out about that lately, but as a topic, it continues to get scant regard here.
    .

  7. SJT March 13, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    “The appropriate response – and climate policy plan B – is to adapt to such events when and as they occur.”

    Did anyone think to tell the rest of the earths biological species they had better start adapting?

  8. Ron Pike March 13, 2009 at 3:57 pm #

    Well Luke,
    I’m just a third generation old Bushie, but I believe I have a reasonable understanding of the English language.
    I also believe I have an excellent appreciation of the Australian agricultural and pastoral environment.
    Even so I have no idea what you are talking about in your post.
    Just for an old Bushie, could you explain it?
    Pikey.

  9. Louis Hissink March 13, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    Species go and arrive by adaption – it’s called evolution – it’s why news species appear because things change.

    So they don’t need to be told SJT. It’s innate in life.

    Unless you are proposing to refute evolution here.

  10. Paul Williams March 13, 2009 at 5:12 pm #

    The lack of adaptive policies by governments, eg increasing water storage infrastructure, building coastal flood protection, shows they don’t actually believe the AGW garbage they are trying to force down the throat of the electorate.

    If they truly believed the science was settled, that dangerous warming will occur if CO2 emissions don’t decrease, then given the continued rise in CO2 levels, the only rational response would be to commence adaptive measures.

    Governments aren’t doing that, they are focussed on emission reduction. Rudd and co are still apparently going ahead with the ETS, despite the glaringly obvious problems.

    If they are convinced of the necessity of an ETS, why aren’t they also spending some of the money currently being thrown into the air on coastal protection measures.

    They could build a great big sea wall up the East coast, put a road on it, and call it “Wong Way”.

  11. Louis Hissink March 13, 2009 at 5:49 pm #

    Paul Williams,

    Like the Club of Rome computer modelling that was predestioned to show catastrophe, IPCC modelling is the same. The name of the game is not to adapt to a virtual catastrophe, but to increase the power of the state by gulling us to lose more freedoms, this time to the God CO2.

    AGW is being run governments and the bureaucracies – not the private sector, though the mercantilists, getting favoured treatment by government, are up to it to their eyeballs.

    The lack of adaptive policies is thus the smoking gun – as there is no imminent catastrophe, no adaptation is needed.

    It was, from the beginning, started by the anthropologist Margaret Mead and her minions, the Malthusians lef by Paul Erlich, that an increasing world human population is interpreted to be an environmental disaster. Except that Malthus and his successors were spectacularly wrong, for they never factored in the human ability to adapt.

    All the current climate alarmists running this show were there in 1975 at the Mead conference.

    The other side of the coin is the relentless drive by the Fabians to gull us into a world government centred in the UN.

  12. Luke March 13, 2009 at 5:53 pm #

    The ocean acidification issue with respect to calcification rate is absolutely not conceded.

    Last week for example:

    Reduced calcification in modern Southern Ocean planktonic foraminifera

    Andrew D. Moy1,2, William R. Howard1, Stephen G. Bray1 & Thomas W. Trull1,3,4

    Anthropogenic carbon dioxide has been accumulating in the oceans, lowering both the concentration of carbonate ions and the pH (ref. 1), resulting in the acidification of sea water. Previous laboratory experiments have shown that decreased carbonate ion concentrations cause many marine calcareous organisms to show reduced calcification rates2, 3, 4, 5. If these results are widely applicable to ocean settings, ocean acidification could lead to ecosystem shifts. Planktonic foraminifera are single-celled calcite-secreting organisms that represent between 25 and 50% of the total open-ocean marine carbonate flux6 and influence the transport of organic carbon to the ocean interior7. Here we compare the shell weights of the modern foraminifer Globigerina bulloides collected from sediment traps in the Southern Ocean with the weights of shells preserved in the underlying Holocene-aged sediments. We find that modern shell weights are 30–35% lower than those from the sediments, consistent with reduced calcification today induced by ocean acidification. We also find a link between higher atmospheric carbon dioxide and low shell weights in a 50,000-year-long record obtained from a Southern Ocean marine sediment core. It is unclear whether reduced calcification will affect the survival of this and other species, but a decline in the abundance of foraminifera caused by acidification could affect both marine ecosystems and the oceanic uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/ngeo460.html

  13. janama March 13, 2009 at 6:01 pm #

    Luke a research team recently visited the Line Islands and found all the reeefs to be in pristine condition.

    The only problem our reefs have is tourists and researchers.

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/2009/2503500.htm

  14. Luke March 13, 2009 at 6:11 pm #

    Toby

    No point building infrastructure (expensive infrastructure) that won’t fill water and using nknown risk profiles. Unknown reliability of supply. Of course we can also build Ord River scale schemes which are relatively unused. Economic wisdom of this?

    Ron Pike

    Carter isn’t proposing anything except platitudes.

    If we’re so well adapted to climate variation why have we spent billions on drought aid for decades. Either climate is a problem or it’s a rort?

    Experience from around Australia (Burdekin, Gascoyne, Central Australia, SW Qld, NSW Western Division) shows that stoically holding onto animals in El Nino years and then drought feeding in many cases breaks bank balances and the landscape.

    Applying fertiliser on crops that won’t get rainfall is money down the drain.

    Running out of water kills orchards and shuts down irrigation areas.

    Not engineering tailing dams or mines properly for big wets sends salt down the Fitzroy and copper tailing down towards Lake Eyre.

    So in reality Australian agriculture just collides with climate. It doesn’t “adapt” seamlessly as it comes along.

    Some knowledge of how climate works and how seasons turn out can be used to tune intra-seasonal and seasonal management decisions. Imperfectly but usefully .

    Those investing big bucks in northenrn Australian agriculture – e.g. peanuts at Katherine – need to make risk decisions on major investments based on existing climate knowledge. Or perhaps olive orchards where vernalisation to set fruit might become an issue.

    Anyone making climate decisions either has to ignore good evidence of Australian climate shifting under our feet or ignore it and start flipping coins.

    The sceptics having shat all over as much climate science as they can – having caused massive uncertainty and pandemonium – have left you with no basis for making any future decisions. So good luck to you – and thank them !

    But don’t let the pretend sceptics con you that they have left you with a Plan B – there is no Plan B !

  15. Luke March 13, 2009 at 6:14 pm #

    Well Janama – lets hope the reefs look good. Coz it was any other way – it would now be too late. If you get to a point where it becomes an issue it will be far too late to do anything.

  16. spangled drongo March 13, 2009 at 6:51 pm #

    “No point building infrastructure (expensive infrastructure) that won’t fill water and using nknown risk profiles. Unknown reliability of supply.”

    Oh, it ain’t gonna rain no more, no more! Get real!

    How cheap was that desal plant at Tugun? No water but costing $300,000 a day in interest.

    Let’s just give all the money to the improvident!

    Which plan is that? Z?

  17. Luke March 13, 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    OK Spanglers – don’t be shy – step up – what’s your criteria for building a dam with public money then? How will you allocate the water. Come on …

  18. SJT March 13, 2009 at 7:20 pm #

    “I think we have already covered the ocean acidification scaremongering pretty ”

    Haven’t you heard the news? Observations are trumping opinion. The acidification is already affecting some ocean species.

  19. SJT March 13, 2009 at 7:21 pm #

    “So they don’t need to be told SJT. It’s innate in life.

    Unless you are proposing to refute evolution here.”

    Evolution has it’s limits, as past mass extinctions prove.

  20. SJT March 13, 2009 at 7:54 pm #

    “So they don’t need to be told SJT. It’s innate in life.

    Unless you are proposing to refute evolution here.”

    Evolution has it’s limits, as past mass extinctions prove.
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

  21. bazza March 13, 2009 at 8:45 pm #

    “Meanwhile, Nature has delivered powerful messages recently as to the danger of natural climate change, via Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in USA, and devastating bushfires and floods in Australia in 2009”.
    So somebody has proof the climate hasn’t changed, or hasn’t changed unnaturally. I’d like to see that. And so would my insurance company. What a load of claptrap.

  22. spangled drongo March 13, 2009 at 9:13 pm #

    “OK Spanglers – don’t be shy – step up – what’s your criteria for building a dam with public money then? How will you allocate the water. Come on …”

    Luke, How much do you think it would cost to raise the height of the Wivenhoe? or the Sommerset? a la the Hinze? Peanuts!
    Treble the capacities! Incredible potential.
    Most of the political agony is already in the bank.
    And there are still other good, lightly populated, coastal gorges on flowing streams that could be dammed.
    But ya gotta get off yer arse.
    Now, if they’d built an IFR on North Straddie and incorporated the desal plant…..

  23. Luke March 13, 2009 at 9:40 pm #

    But how much to raise the height on Somerset – maybe shitloads – are you an engineer? And why bother – is Wivenhoe filling. Is capacity a problem?

    And what are you going to with all this water from your lightly populated coastal gorges? Maybe you should be spending the infrastructure money on hospitals or roads or ports ? What’s your economic justification mate? Does rain follow the concrete mixer ?

    A boyish fascination for building walls is hardly a business case.

    Anyway too easy mate – give me a set of rules for operating Copeton Dam. A bit of climate variation and over-allocation to contend with. Producers want high certainty but you can’t provide it.

    How are you going to do it.

  24. spangled drongo March 13, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    “But how much to raise the height on Somerset – maybe shitloads – are you an engineer? And why bother – is Wivenhoe filling. Is capacity a problem?”
    The Stanley is a great supply, better than the Bris. but the supply is there in both. It only takes one hamish to cross the coast.
    No, I’m not an engineer but raising the wall is cheap in comparison with a new dam and there’s no politics involved.
    I’m not fascinated with walls and I’m independent from the Grid but dams are a win/win/win for all; water, agriculture and ecology instead of a future sea of roofs. Those lightly populated coastal gorges won’t stay that way for long.
    Just be patient about supply, it’ll come. All Joh’s dams that have been low for decades are still great assets.

  25. cohenite March 13, 2009 at 10:44 pm #

    luke and the Moy et al paper; one day, luke, one of your papers will be a winner, but you will have to disendorse AGW, I feel; anyway, here is what our knowledgeable friend says about Moy et al;

    http://landshape.org/enm/was-the-younger-dryas-caused-by-cosmic-ray-flux/#comment-177658

    And bazza and his insurance company; leading with his chin as usual;

    http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/003204.html

  26. SJT March 13, 2009 at 10:51 pm #

    “So somebody has proof the climate hasn’t changed, or hasn’t changed unnaturally. I’d like to see that. And so would my insurance company. What a load of claptrap.”

    The insurance companies are way ahead of you. Insurance in the Gulf states is very difficult to get now.

  27. steve from brisbane March 13, 2009 at 11:26 pm #

    Jennifer: I was an active participant in (I think) all of the threads you suggested I use the search function to find.

    You seem to think that it ocean acidification is “scaremongering” because Bob Carter says it is. (As did Steve Short, whose blustering style of argument simply avoided points made in rebuttal.)

    I maintain that it is remarkably hard to find scientists who have actually worked on the issue who are sanguine about it.

    It’s your blog; it’s up to you to decide what smokescreens you want to run. But don’t pretend ocean acidification has been extensively dealt with here.

  28. Luke March 13, 2009 at 11:43 pm #

    So Spanglers you’re essentially saying you have no idea. That’s helpful. She’ll be right mate. That’s what Bob is saying too – she’ll be right mate.

    Steve – if you remember form last time that dissolution and calcification rates are different processes. We never got any decent answers on calcification rates.

  29. MAGB March 14, 2009 at 5:58 am #

    Steve says: “I maintain that it is remarkably hard to find scientists who have actually worked on the issue who are sanguine about it.”

    Here’s why:

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25182520-11949,00.html

    “Dr Maruyama said many scientists were doubtful about man-made climate-change theory, but did not want to risk their funding from the government or bad publicity from the mass media…..”

  30. spangled drongo March 14, 2009 at 7:36 am #

    “So Spanglers you’re essentially saying you have no idea. That’s helpful. She’ll be right mate. That’s what Bob is saying too – she’ll be right mate.”

    He’s not saying that at all.

    He’s saying we are getting by OK without committing suicide as the “experts” would have us.
    There many options under Plan B if problems arise. And the big word is “IF”.
    It’s the way mankind has always gone in the face of uncertainty.
    If we are stupid enough to claim certainty from our crazy computer conclusions then we will commit suicide.

  31. spangled drongo March 14, 2009 at 8:34 am #

    Mind you Luke, the way you arrive at conclusions can even teach the computers a thing or two.

  32. Luke March 14, 2009 at 8:36 am #

    Well you might be getting by OK – but what about the rest of humanity – billions in drought aid, stuffed rangelands, dams that don’t fill, bushfires as big as ever ….

    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/fromthefield/222031/123693880574.htm

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/08/argentina-drought-ranchers

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-03/07/content_7549829.htm

    Middle East and Central Asia suffering worst droughts in recent history – Threatens Greater Food Grain Shortages http://www.marketskeptics.com/2009/02/middle-east-and-central-asia-suffering.html

    Spangles – just because you’re living an idyllic lifestyle on your little plot of God’s own – don’t assume everyone else is.

    Worse drought in decades

    United States
    China
    Argentina
    Australia
    Kenya
    Iraq
    Syria
    Afghanistan

    Severe drought

    Paraguay
    Brazil
    Paraguay
    Bolivia
    Israel
    Jordan
    the Palestinian Territories
    Lebanon
    Iraq
    Syria
    Malawi
    Zambia
    Swaziland
    Somalia
    Zimbabwe
    Mozambique
    Angola
    Uruguay
    Afghanistan
    Uruguay
    Iran
    Tajikistan
    Turkmenistan

    Moderate drought

    India
    Mexico
    Lesotho
    Botswana
    South Africa
    Thailand
    Pakistan
    Turkey
    Kyrgyzstan
    Uzbekistan
    Tunisia

    Where’s Wally – err where’s Bob !!

    There is no Plan B ! Pseudo sceptics haven’t got a clue.

  33. spangled drongo March 14, 2009 at 9:51 am #

    “Well you might be getting by OK – but what about the rest of humanity – billions in drought aid, stuffed rangelands, dams that don’t fill, bushfires as big as ever ….”

    The only reason I’m alright jack is because I always use Plan B.
    But Plan B is not only about reaction. It still involves planning based on logic.
    It’s the one you use too.

    There ain’t no magic cure-all called Plan A.

    Just check with Obama in three and a half years time.

  34. R James March 14, 2009 at 10:40 am #

    I think we would all agree that climate is going to change. Personally, I agree that we can do little about it. One thing’s for sure – while our population continues to grow exponentially, it will become harder to adapt to these changes. If we want to reduce CO2, pollution, use of natural resources etc, the reality is that we haven’t got a hope against population increase.

    As Bob Carter points out, nature is throwing it’s force against us – always has and always will. We just keep putting more and more people in its way, then wonder why they get hurt.

  35. Eli Rabett March 14, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    J. Willard Rabett has sent Eli a set of laws to guide climate change policy makers

    1. Adaptation responds to current losses.
    2. Mitigation responds to future losses
    3. Adaptation plus future costs is more expensive than mitigation,
    4. Adaptation without mitigation drives procrastination penalties to infinity.

    At best adaptation buys some time. You are now into stage 3 denialism

  36. Marcus March 14, 2009 at 12:00 pm #

    luke
    “billions in drought aid”

    You keep harping on about this, if you have any consistency of thought you also should bemoan the billions the gov. spends on industry assistance in various forms.

    None of this has anything to do with economics, it’s all political, we could buy food and cars a lot cheaper from overseas, if that’s what you want!

    At least be consistent in your criticism!

  37. spangled drongo March 14, 2009 at 12:40 pm #

    sd thinks that Eli’s manipulated mindless mitigation of possible pressing problems caused by crazy computer conclusions is straight out denial of logic.

    Seeing as we don’t know, the time we buy might give us the answer if you bleeding hearts would open your bleeding minds and be a bit sceptical.

  38. Luke March 14, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    Marcus – irrelevant as an argument. It’s not a question of equity, fairness, stimulus or trade protection.

    You guys keep telling us that there is no problem with climate. Things are sweet.

    Spanglers has it all under control. Look out – he’s got “logic”.

    So why does agriculture need billions in climate bail-out support for decades. It just doesn’t stop.

    So either climate is a problem or it’s a rort. Which would you like? If climate is a problem. –

    Well mate – that’s the EXACT point hey.

    There is no Plan B !

    Your disingenuous pseudo-sceptic mates have taken you up the creek (a dry one) and left you there.

  39. toby March 14, 2009 at 1:51 pm #

    The plan B that we don t have will still be more cost effective than the plan A we do have! It beggars belief that people are stupid enough to think plan A will achieve anything in terms of climate. Sure it will achieve a lot in many ways ( mostly negative!)…..cause great hardship in poorer countries and higher unemployment in australia and many western countries….but it will allow the europeans to use it as another way of supporting their own dwindling economies by giving justification for even more trade barriers and protection and allow them to produce high tech products to create a new competitive advantage.
    It will allow big brother to tell us what to do and how to do it.

  40. Marcus March 14, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    luke
    “So either climate is a problem or it’s a rort.”

    of course it is a bloody rort!
    Nothing to do with climate, some areas just should not be farmed in the first place!

    And farming is dependent on the weather, and since we have no control over that, provisions should be make by farmers for the bad times. If the business is too marginal leave it alone!

    PS
    You are babbling a lot lately, Luke, and making little sense!

  41. spangled drongo March 14, 2009 at 2:39 pm #

    “Spanglers has it all under control. Look out – he’s got “logic”.

    So why does agriculture need billions in climate bail-out support for decades. It just doesn’t stop.”

    Yeah, but it’s sceptical logic!

    That “climate bail-out” that you are so anal about is not a factor of AGW and wont be mitigated by Plan A and you know it.
    Just sit back and enjoy the ride and watch the ACO2 put smiles on farmer’s faces.

  42. janama March 14, 2009 at 3:14 pm #

    Luke – you can Google “drought” and you can also Google “bumper harvest”

    25 February 2009, Rome – The 2008 rice bumper harvest is coming to a close with better-than-expected production that could help ease consumer prices,

    http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/10305/icode/

    Thursday, November 20, 2008
    After 2008 bumper harvest,South Africa to reduce maize cultivation in 2009

    http://africanagriculture.blogspot.com/2008/11/after-2008-bumper-harvestsouth-africa.html

    ROME: The world will see bumper harvests this year but that might not be enough to protect the world’s poorest countries from food bills four times higher than at the start of the decade, the United Nations forecast on Thursday.

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/22/business/22food.php

  43. Ron Pike March 14, 2009 at 3:58 pm #

    To Luke and All,
    Having read all of the above I would like to just make a few comments.
    Luke, I have justv returned from 8 weeks in America and I can assure you that with the exception of parts of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, the USA is having and has been for the last 2 years way above average rainfall and snow. USA is not in a bad drought.
    The same applies to China.
    In relation to Australia, we have just had one of the wettest seasons ever recorded in the north with Lake Eyre on course to fill to the highest level in white mans history. While it is too early to be sure, the signs are we are headed for a breaking of the drought in the south as well.
    Just an Old Bushies observation, having seen the end of numerous droughts before.
    However, in relation to the general thrust of this argument as it relates to Aus. agriculture.
    I and most farmers are against drought aid and in fact most farmers do not get it.
    Most aid goes to support uneconomic farmers who would otherwise leave the land.
    While nominating another Stupidity does not negate the first. If drought aid is bad economics (I believe it is). What about the taxpayer subsidity of $9Billion every year that goes to support our Capital cities public transport. Most of this goes to reasonably well-off citizens of inner city suburbs.
    Let’s be consistent.
    Compared to most other first world farmers, Aus. farmers are not subsidised at all.
    They aggressively compete with one another and also against subsidised producers from other countries, for their share of world markets.
    We can be proud of the fact that Aussie farmers are amongst the most efficient producers of quality food products in the world and this is achieved under less than ideal agronomic conditions.
    Luke, I am old enough to be able to vividly remember when the agricultural and grazing lands of southern Australia were in steep decline. Soil erosion was rampant and dust storms were a part of life. Those storms would regularly blanket our east coast towns and cities with a red coating of precious top soil. On numerous occaisions the snow clad mountains of New Zealand were similarly dusted.
    This was caused by rabbit plagues and bad farming practices (by todays standards). Farmers were using the only methods they knew.
    Following the second world war, all Governments tackled the problem and science assisted by bodies such as the NSW Soil Conservation Service ( with which I Worked ), began a renewal program which farmers quickly adopted. CSIRO developed Myxomotosis against rabbits.
    The results have been astounding and continuing.
    From 1960 to the year 2000, the volume (not value), the volume of Australian agricultural production doubled.
    Since then and in spite of continuing drought, production has continued an upward trend of around 2% a year.
    This is not happening because farmers are depleting their resources or fighting against nature and the weather.
    It is happening because farmers are constantly adapting, for ever adopting new science and always seeking to hand land on to the next generation in better shape than when they acquired it.
    There is no doubt that Australias agricultural and pastoral land today is more fertile, more productive and better managed than at any time in the last 300 years.
    Yes, I deliberately said 300 years.
    There is much more to be said but I have to put the roast leg of lamb on.
    Much of this is in my poem “Said Bob Brown.”
    Pikey.

  44. Marcus March 14, 2009 at 4:44 pm #

    Good post Pikey!
    Dad would agree with you wholeheartedly, never had drought relief, lived through many but!
    Cheers

  45. spangled drongo March 14, 2009 at 5:19 pm #

    “Luke, I am old enough to be able to vividly remember when the agricultural and grazing lands of southern Australia were in steep decline. Soil erosion was rampant and dust storms were a part of life.”

    That’s the trouble Pikey, you’re doin’ such a good job you’re starving those ACO2 absorbing phytoplankton.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VH3-4F8TK2N-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=004655a41e8f65d2be3e1e95434c7642

  46. rayq March 14, 2009 at 5:56 pm #

    You should take a look at this. These guys seem to have found an answer.
    Introduction to the Y3000 Plan

  47. Luke March 14, 2009 at 7:10 pm #

    Pikey – well mate – where are all the billions going then. Actually I don’t think it is a rort. Some people are unlucky enough to be hammered many years in a row. If you haven’t got substatntial off-farm income you’re in trouble.

    How’s your MDB water allocations going? How’s the rice and cotton?

    As for “I can assure you that with the exception of parts of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona,” – yep exactly where you’d expect it. Back to the MWP.

    You forgot California. Also Argentina , Kenya, Middle East – open the eyes mate.

    Calicivirus on the bunnies might have helped the Western Division (more than Myxo) but there’s a lot of very ordinary land management still out there. Have they put the A horizon back in the Gascoyne yet? Is the Mulga in SW Queensland that much better? Woody weeds disappeared from Cobar?

    “There is no doubt that Australias agricultural and pastoral land today is more fertile” bollocks – where is there any data to support that ! Fertiliser needs ongoing. Carbon rundown continuing. And now potassium deficiency is even showing up. There’s a bloody massive rundown in N & P post clearing. That’s what the science shows. Put up anything to the contrary…

    The drought hasn’t broken in southern Australia and reason is AGW ! Fancy that and a La Nina year too.

  48. Ron Pike March 14, 2009 at 8:25 pm #

    Hi Luke and All,
    Reasoned debate is the basis of all truth. However if the debate is dominated by emotional rhetoric with little basis in fact and no supporting documents, then argument is wasted.
    Luke, California was awash in floods all the time we were there.
    Don’t you read the media?
    I know nothing about Kenya and the Middle East and I suspect neither do you.
    Luke, why not come out from behind that silly mask and tell us who you really are? What are your life experiences?
    Give us a clue.
    Because you make so much uninformed comment I wonder what you are on about.
    Luke, I didn’t say the drought in southern Aus. had broken!
    I said “the signs were positive.” ‘An Old Bushies observation.”
    Will you have the balls to say well done if I am correct?
    Luke, you have NO KNOWLEDGE of the rabbit problem.
    Stop trying to be an expert on all things on this blogg. By doing so you insult others knowledge an intellegence and prove your own lack of knowledge.
    Can I support the argument that the Australian agricultural landscape is the best it has been. You bet I can.
    Luke, what do you mean by “carbon rundown continuing?”
    You have no idea what this means do you”?
    Just a note to Spangled Drongo (love the name).
    IN spite of the press release, we have not seen dust storms in recent times that in any way compare with the regular occurances of the 1930’s & 40’s.
    An old friend of mine (long since departed) was a keen racing man and went to Sydney to see a meeting at Randwick.
    While there a dust storm enveloped Randwick racecourse of an intensity that the callers could not see the horses on the other side of the track.
    Being the Scallywag he was Martin sent a telegram to his inlaws at Barellan on Monday morning saying:
    ” Watched your farm beat the favourite to the winning post at Randwick on Saturday.”
    Hope alls well,Martin.

  49. Sid Reynolds March 14, 2009 at 9:00 pm #

    Well said, Ron Pike. I am also a farmer, and don’t receive drought aid or subsidies, and not only survive, but make a good living off the land while continueing to improve it. Also I am old enough to remember the terrible dust storms of the late 30’s and early 40’s, as a child. Also the searing heatwaves of those days, with station temp. records to prove it; (which seem to be at varience with the BoM’s “adjusted” temp. data, which they use to assure us that present temps. are hotter, and we are to blame for AGW).

    No wonder I’m a “global warming” sceptic; and in fact very sceptical of any advice handed out by public servants, which usually turns out to be wrong.

    Yes, droughts, fires and floods come and go, and our dynamic climate system is ever changing and generations of farmers who make a success of life on the land, learn to adapt to changes and stay in tune with the climate.
    And yes, I believe that the countryside is in as good a shape, or better then ever, and that mother nature will repair and restore parched areas that have been in prolonged drought, just as she has done before.

  50. spangled drongo March 14, 2009 at 9:25 pm #

    I don’t have much dirt these day but what I’ve got is lush and green and the scrub is getting so thick that you can’t open your pocket knife.
    This morning I saw 5 wallabies, a koala, a grey goshawk, 2 yellowtail black cockatoos and a black breasted button quail. Oh, and a silver rocketfrog.
    Things could be worse.

  51. Luke March 14, 2009 at 9:32 pm #

    Well Pikelet

    California declares emergency after three years of drought – Feb 27 2009

    http://www.nerve.in/news:253500208389

    Here’s California’s current water supply situation http://www.water.ca.gov/drought/archive/

    Don’t you read the media?

    You don’t need to know anything about Kenya, Argentina and the Middle East except they’re in a bloody big drought and SO where is Bob’s Plan B – i.e. the post topic mate.

    “Can I support the argument that the Australian agricultural landscape is the best it has been. You bet I can.” I’d love to take your word for it and all but …

    Well let’s see the evidence then mate. Put it up. Don’t just bluff on.

    I assume you have no idea what happens to soils when they are cleared for cropping. There’s heaps of data that document the rundown of soil carbon – important for water holding, structure, and cation exchange.

    Myxo did bugger all for the rabbit problem. Once calicivirus escaped there has been a dramatic improvement in condition of some southern rangelands. Plants not seen for years reappearing.

    Lots of pub stories from Pikey – few facts.

  52. Luke March 14, 2009 at 9:36 pm #

    Doesn’t sound you any of you lot are serious producers pushing the envelope. Retirees hardly pushing it any more – just reminiscing about the glory days.

  53. SJT March 14, 2009 at 9:42 pm #

    “Also the searing heatwaves of those days, with station temp. records to prove it; (which seem to be at varience with the BoM’s “adjusted” temp. data, which they use to assure us that present temps. are hotter, and we are to blame for AGW).”

    Your heroes, Spencer and Christy, at UAM also adjust data. All data needs adjustment, simple fact of life.

  54. Luke March 14, 2009 at 9:45 pm #

    This sort of statement is classic denialism

    “Luke, I am old enough to be able to vividly remember when the agricultural and grazing lands of southern Australia were in steep decline. Soil erosion was rampant and dust storms were a part of life.”

    Yes frigging exactly !

    So what do reckon the genesis time of soil is then. LOL ! (It’s all better now …. bulldust…!)

    And if all the farmers are against drought aid why are your peak bodies all for it?

    ROTFL ! Clowns…

  55. spangled drongo March 14, 2009 at 10:18 pm #

    Luke, I can see that you’ve mislaid your Dorothea Mackellar again. Never mind but try not to be so ad hom.
    Does it worry you that someone may be looking at the country with more insight and understanding than you?
    Let’s face it, you don’t even think it’s ever gonna rain again. I mean, I know you can’t make it rain [neither can Kevin or Penny but even they think it might rain some time] but Carter never said that plan B could either.
    If switching to plan A would cheer you up it would nearly be worth it.

  56. Luke March 14, 2009 at 11:44 pm #

    Spangly – I never said it wouldn’t rain again. Although some places might be wondering.

    As for insight – experience is that many have never contemplated their rainfall records seriously. Have you?

    But a reasonable Plan B would be for some science to understand year to year and decadal variation. But Bob won’t be delivering that. That would be coming from the climate science fraternity that the pseudo sceptics have now trashed. And AGW is likely to be changing the basis for seasonal prediction.

    BTW have you heard me pushing Plan A?

    The inability to see the philosophically bankrupt vacuum you’ve left is quite funny really.

  57. Ron Pike March 15, 2009 at 8:29 am #

    Luke,
    A little knowledge is often more dangerous and misleading than no knowledge.
    You are a classic example, but no doubt well meaning.
    In relation to the Californian drought. Authorities there do exactly what is practiced here in NSW. Following drought,when widespread rain falls over a Pastures Protection district, it remains drought declared until pastures have grown sufficient to maintain stock.
    If you doubt this just look at the drought map for NSW and you will see areas still drought declared that have had well above average rain in the last 8 weeks.
    Same in California. Luke I was there in February and believe me half the state was under flood waters. They are also having a record snow year.
    I’m also an avid skier, so take an interest in this.
    If you wish to check agricultural production figures, just spend some time on the site for ABARE and you will see the constantly rising volumes of production since 1960.
    You might then consider that this has all happened while the area of forest in Aus. has been steadly rising since 1960.
    Hardly what you would expect from people destroying the basis of their livelyhood, as you seem to claim.
    In relation to the Murray Darling Basin, just read my articles on the MDB which are on this site.
    If you think you can prove me wrong I challenge you to join me on a fact finding tour.
    Bring Bob Brown and Penny Wong with you.

    ” Our democratic decission making process is less at risk from what people do not know, than it is from what people do know that is false.”

    Luke, I do not intend any further to be party to your myopic, irrational views on this subject.
    Nor do I see anything “quite funny really” about your factless outlandish claims.

    Pikey.

  58. Gordon Robertson March 15, 2009 at 8:31 am #

    Ron Pike “Luke, I have justv returned from 8 weeks in America and I can assure you that with the exception of parts of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, the USA is having and has been for the last 2 years way above average rainfall and snow”.

    Just to clarify something before I go on, America is not the United States, There is North America, with Canada, the US and Mexico, Central America, and South America. It is only out of convenience, and sometimes arrogance, that US citizens refer to themselves as Americans, probably because it is too complex to say I am a United States of American. Although you can obviously use ‘America’ in any way you like, the rest of us would appreciate you saying, “I’ve just been to The States”. It is a peculiarity of the British to use ‘American’ with reference to the US, and if you’re an Aussie, I’m sure you don’t want to be confused with the British.

    You are correct about the drought. California has always had issues with droughts and all sorts of water deals have been suggested whereby we ship water to them from Canada. There are cyclical droughts in the interior of the US and on the Canadian prairies as well, and they were issues back in the 1930’s. I live about 1200 miles north of California and there are no drought conditions here. Our rainfall is normal as is the rainfall in Washington State to the immediate south. As far as I know there are currently no issues with drought anywhere else in North America. It’s a local phenomenon and cannot be infered as a global problem.

  59. Luke March 15, 2009 at 10:43 am #

    Weak Pikey – the California drought (REGARDLESS of whether it may have rained in recent weeks) is an example of a situation 3 years in the making. Is it over ? Are water supplies back to normal?

    So where’s Plan B – where’s Bob? Why is there a “state of emergency”. If we had Plan B this wouldn’t have happened.

    Unimpressed that you have completely ducked the chance to back up your assertions. But that’s what we expect from you lot – sweeping claim – a few pub stories – then – whoosh – gone with a departing ad hom.

    Tell us Pikey – why is there yield decline research in sugar production? What’s happened to our cotton and rice production Pikey? Where’s Bob with Plan B ?

    Ag production in general has increased simply form improved genetics, better agronomy and chemical inputs. Your statement is about land being “more fertile” than ever – ROTFL. You’ve basically found the inverse of the National Land and Water Audit. So without some data to back up your claims – it’s just pure bunkum mate.

  60. Luke March 15, 2009 at 10:54 am #

    Gordon – sensitivity to the term American is noted. Should we say sepo or yank for short for USA? Smiling here mate !

    As for “it’s a local phenomenon” -well isn’t everything?

    But the causes often are not – El Nino / La Nina is a global phenomenon causing local disruptions simultaneously at many global locations. Similar but more hemispheric effects for the other climate oscillations.

    So you’ve just lectured on “American” being a much wider show than the US of A . Go worldwide – the list exists due to global climate disruptions moving oceanic and atmospheric circulations. Hence the persistence of the drought phenomenon. Local effects would disappear in short periods of time.

    Worse drought in decades

    United States
    China
    Argentina
    Australia
    Kenya
    Iraq
    Syria
    Afghanistan

    Severe drought

    Paraguay
    Brazil
    Paraguay
    Bolivia
    Israel
    Jordan
    the Palestinian Territories
    Lebanon
    Iraq
    Syria
    Malawi
    Zambia
    Swaziland
    Somalia
    Zimbabwe
    Mozambique
    Angola
    Uruguay
    Afghanistan
    Uruguay
    Iran
    Tajikistan
    Turkmenistan

    Moderate drought

    India
    Mexico
    Lesotho
    Botswana
    South Africa
    Thailand
    Pakistan
    Turkey
    Kyrgyzstan
    Uzbekistan
    Tunisia

    Again this is your predilection for needing to find uniformism in AGW effects. Effects MUST be the same everywhere. errrr nope ALWAYS nope … what else would you expect.

    Winners and losers.

    So where’s Bob with Plan B for the losers. Bob? Bob … Bob are you there Bob ? Bob …..

  61. spangled drongo March 15, 2009 at 11:17 am #

    “As for insight – experience is that many have never contemplated their rainfall records seriously. Have you?”

    Luke, seeing as you ask, I do. Max, mins, means and expecteds. We had a bad drought in 2002 but the worst was in 1904. Bit before my time.
    Apart from doing my recordings of rainfall I have monitoring pads to record fauna and keep weekly data year in year out.
    We even run our own biocontrol of Senecio madagascariensis. [Jen would know what I’m talking about]

    “The inability to see the philosophically bankrupt vacuum you’ve left is quite funny really.”

    I have many neighbours who are farmers and having been brought up on a farm [tugged tits since I was 7], been a Diamantina Drover at 17 and involved with sheep, cattle and crops [among other pursuits] most of my life, I’ve crossed the odd dry gully and it always impresses me how the modern farmer adapts, how capable and venturesome he/she is and how hard they work.
    The farms I see today are mostly a great improvement on my youth in every way. [Even the white painted fences and pencil poplars of the Queen St cockies aren’t that bad] so I dont see too much bankruptcy, philosophically or otherwise.
    Average people are a lot smarter than you seem to think when it comes to long term survival and they should be given a loose rein.

  62. janama March 15, 2009 at 12:17 pm #

    On February 7, stormy weather in the western United States caused flooding and mudslides in areas of Southern California that had previously been burned bare by wildfires. Nearly 30 homes flooded in the city of Long Beach, many of which had up to 3 feet of standing water. At least three waterspouts were spotted off the city’s coast in association with this storm (Associated Press).

    A winter storm originating from the Pacific Ocean struck the United States western coast on February 16. The storm, which extended from the Mexican border up to Oregon, brought heavy rain and snow to parts of California, forcing the cancellation of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am’s (golf tournament) final round due to flooded greens. Major highways were temporarily closed as a result of the hazardous weather (Associated Press).

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2009/feb/hazards.html

    BTW – Luke – you forgot to post the link for your drought rave

    here it is:

    http://www.marketskeptics.com/2009/02/middle-east-and-central-asia-suffering.html

  63. Johnathan Wilkes March 15, 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    Quite a list you have there Luke.
    Would you please provide a list for 50, 75, 100 and 200 years ago for the same locations?
    Than we can talk about if it’s unusual, once in a lifetime, or indeed is due to AGW?

  64. Luke March 15, 2009 at 6:15 pm #

    And how’s their water supplies Janama?

    Johnathan – could get into AGW – but not the issue. I want to know where is Bob’s Plan B – read the thread mate !

    Spanglers – so if you’re all so smart (and obviously you are!) – why is the rural population crashing? What’s the average age of farmers? Why are your terms of trade continually downwards? And who got all the billions in drought aid? And did Bob help you with Plan B?

  65. Louis Hissink March 15, 2009 at 6:15 pm #

    SJT

    ““So they don’t need to be told SJT. It’s innate in life.

    Unless you are proposing to refute evolution here.”

    Evolution has it’s limits, as past mass extinctions prove.
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!”

    Oh, so evolution is wrong then, is that what you are trying to state?

  66. spangled drongo March 15, 2009 at 8:23 pm #

    Luke, I know smart people are supposed to follow the money but farmers have often been the exception.
    It’s arguably a sign of their true intelligence that they love what they do and do what they love.
    The essence of civilisation.
    In the last 60 years the money has been in the city but things change and Motty has expounded on this better than I can.
    I can’t tell you who got the drought aid but it warn’t me.
    And Plan B is the farmer’s bible.

  67. Luke March 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm #

    Spanglers – I have a lot of time for agriculture – and hopefully the best days are yet to come. I’d also like to think smart thinking, technology, clever marketing and an ethos of sustainability would take the sector to new levels. Dealing with a difficult climate is a part of that. And you shouldn’t mistake me asking some hard questions as necessarily a lack of support.

    So any research on seasonal forecasts (El Nino) or even intra-seasonal things like the 40-60 day wave (Madden-Julian Oscillation) could be helpful in tweaking the odds. I don’t personally begrudge the sector financial support for exceptional drought events – but Treasury will ask has the exception become the norm? It’s a fair question. Or when has the exception occurred too often? Is there a point where one ought to retreat and not support?

    (None of these calculations have anything to do with an ETS)

  68. Gordon Robertson March 16, 2009 at 3:42 pm #

    Luke “Gordon – sensitivity to the term American is noted. Should we say sepo or yank for short for USA? Smiling here mate !”

    I have trouble with that one because there really isn’t a good moniker for a citizen of the US of A. A Yank is actually a northern type (Union), as in the Civil War. More specifically, it apparently refered to a soldier from the state of New England.

    I realize I’m in a losing battle because people world-wide have gotten into the habit of using the term American for people from the US. I’ll even use it myself because I’m a hypocrite. The only time it really bothers me is when it’s glorified, as if the US is America, like in God Bless America. Why could the song not have been “God Bless the United States”? We all know why, the phrase ‘United States’ doesn’t go with anything. The cadence is wrong.

    The funny part is that the anthem, ‘Star Spangled Banner’ doesn’t mention the US or America once, yet I feel it is a far superior song to God Bless America. The US is like any other country, with good types and bad types. The good types can poke fun at themselves whereas the bad types are too quick to wave the flag. That’s what prompted John Fogerty (CCR) to write Fortunate Son:

    http://www.lyricstime.com/john-fogerty-fortunate-son-lyrics.html

    He’s one of the good Yanks, a guy who can look around himself, put nationalism aside, and see what’s going on. There are too many who will stand with tears running down their faces as God Bless America is played. I particularly admire Fogerty for all he has been through. He’s a very talented musician and vocalist and was stupid to sell off his early major hits. As a result, he’s had a great deal of difficulty performing his hits due to stipulations in the sale.

    The drummer in the original CCR, Cosmo, a passenger, has had a great deal of success using the songs Fogerty wrote. It was Keith Richards of the Stones, with his droll English humour, who finally got Fogerty back on stage. At a jam session, in which Fogerty refused to perform, he reminded him that everyone would think Proud Mary was Tina Turner’s song if Fogerty didn’t get up and do it. That so inspired Fogerty that he did get up and perform. Thankfully he is now performing his old stuff again. I saw Cosmo’s band doing the songs, then Fogerty, and there’s no comparison. Fogerty is a natural performer with immense talent.

    I came from Scotland and we have the same problems. The national anthem was Scotland The Brave but it has been supplanted, even at international soccer matches, by Flower of Scotland, which castigates Edward I for beating up our ancestors. I like the song for it’s music and some of its lyrics, but when it comes to laying the blame on modern Englishmen through innuendo, it goes too far as an international representation of a country. Surely we could be more diplomatic. Anyone who can become aroused, puffing out his chest, due to a national anthem, has some serious issues with awareness.

    Anyway, I should not be commenting on drought because I know dick all about it. I hardly know anything about global warming, never mind drought.

  69. Gordon Robertson March 16, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    SJT “Your heroes, Spencer and Christy, at UAM also adjust data. All data needs adjustment, simple fact of life”.

    Let’s keep things in context. Christy and Spencer adjust data because of the nature of the AMSU units and the satellite orbit variances. The AMSU’s are scanners and take in temperature readings from various depths in the troposphere. It’s one thing to adjust actual data to get a more accurate reading of the observed data at a particular altitude and quite another to adjust data from years ago because you ‘think’ it might be in error. Or worse still, to fit a paradigm you have projected or to make a model’s output seem more realistic.

  70. SJT March 18, 2009 at 11:04 pm #

    “Oh, so evolution is wrong then, is that what you are trying to state?”

    Like all processes, there are limits to the speed at which evolution can work. In evolutionary time, this climate change is extremely rapid. Even then, what comes out the other end is going to be vastly different to what went in, since evolution means change.

  71. Eli Rabett March 19, 2009 at 1:22 pm #

    The MSU and AMSU units do NOT measure temperature. They measure microwave emission intensity on the wings of a specific O2 transistion. The width of the line is a measure of the depth in the atmosphere at which they were emitted.

    http://www.ssmi.com/msu/msu_data_description.html#msu_weighting_functions

    As to the types of correction necessary

    “A study of the microwave sounding unit on the NOAA-12 satellite
    Tsan Mo
    Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on
    Volume 33, Issue 5, Sep 1995 Page(s):1141 – 1152
    Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/36.469478
    Summary:The microwave sounding unit (MSU) on the NOAA series of polar-orbiting environmental satellites is a four-channel Dicke radiometer making passive measurements with the channels centered at 50.30, 53.74, 54.96, and 57.95 GHz, respectively. Onboard blackbody and cold space calibrations are performed once every 25.6 seconds for each scan line. The MSU data are extensively used for atmospheric temperature retrieval and climatological studies. After the launch of the NOAA-12 satellite on May 14, 1991, it was observed that the system gain in channel 2 decreased by approximately a factor of 2 from its pre-launch value and that it required a special correction to the pre-launch calibration coefficients for channel 2. Recently, it was discovered that the pre-launch calibration coefficients may be inaccurate because of an error found in the MSU manufacturer’s computer software that has used to process the thermal-vacuum chamber test data for the pre-launch calibration. In this study, the author reprocessed the pre-launch calibration data and obtained a new set of nonlinearity coefficients, which can be used to generate more accurately the atmospheric brightness temperatures. ”

    It ain’t a walk in the park

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