Market Research and Unhealthy Rivers: David Boyd

The market researchers/analysts tell me that you wont win a “counter-intuitive” argument. Because people have been conditioned by repetitive claims of a particular point of view, to forthrightly state the opposite is likely to be dismissed out of hand. So they advise coming at the issue in a more subtle or different way. Sorry,but I am just not built that way! I like to think that I seek after truth and get emotionally upset when I see claims that I regard as untruthful. I do understand that there are deep philosophical arguments about what is truth, but let’s keep it simple.

The debate about our inland rivers is a good example. It seems to me that the (conditioned) starting point for most commentators is that it is taken as a given that “our rivers are unhealthy and that this is due to taking too much water out of them”. The MDB Plan certainly starts from that accepted position. I think that both the lack of health and the excessive extraction claims, are untrue. (And this is where your counter-intuition is triggered and I’ve lost you!) But, please read on…

at David Boyd’s Blog

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7 Responses to Market Research and Unhealthy Rivers: David Boyd

  1. spangled drongo December 19, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    “Certainly we can manage the system better, but let’s concentrate on making the cake bigger and stop all of this self flagellation and accept the dominance of Nature”

    What is it in the human psyche that, in its affluent remoteness, chooses to reject the work of those generations that set that affluence in place?

    It has the reek of new religion.

  2. Acacia Rose December 20, 2010 at 7:35 am #

    The problem with water management is money – whether through energy generation income or water trading or the so-called derivatives market. The solution is very simple – de-corporatise Snowy Hydro P/L, place the Snowy Water Licence in the hands of the Commonwealth Minister for Water and Agriculture and use some basic common sense! The Snowy River is still not running at around 8% max, of its mean annual natural flow. So why was the water not allowed to spill over Island Bend into the Snowy River (that part of the river is mostly dead) then released from Jindabyne Dam or indeed, diverted to Eucumbene? Money. The water market is a bad idea and the privateers of natural resources, public assets have a lot to answer for. A few people will gain such as the directors of the Snowy Hydro Board who appear to be flat out attempting another sale of the Snowy Scheme and yes, they will be the very same people who will enjoy shares in a privatised company. Grab a public asset, sell it off to yourself and hey presto, you become a wealthy directly of a major energy company. Gives a whole new meaning to ‘power broker.’ Sorry farmers, you just don’t count when it comes to a handful of people determined to make themselves a fortune by privatising the Snowy!

  3. Anthony Matejcich December 20, 2010 at 7:48 am #

    wow some amazing content here, well done. i wonder indeed about the “human psyche” and just where evolution is taking us sometimes. mmmm

  4. Robert December 20, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    It’s such an important point that David makes. People have been conditioned to see the Murray-Darling Basin and Riverina as poster-children for land degradation and water wastage. This is helped by the right photos of something eroding, or factoids about “how much water was needed to produce the peach you’re eating”. It’s akin to that Barrier Reef that’s always about to disappear, or the Arctic Ice that’s supposed to be shrinking annually. (The simple fact that the recent ice minima have all been higher than ’07 is spun away, if mentioned.)

    One of the stranger beliefs is that biomass is always disappearing because of humans. I live in an area where it is no longer economic to keep land cleared in many places. It’s very expensive to reduce biomass. The regrowth in my area is so substantial that I can no longer even harvest a vegetable or piece of fruit – even thick-skinned citrus – because of the resurgence of wild-life over the last twenty years. (I now concentrate my efforts on protecting acres of bamboo shoots every Spring, and I forget the rest.) The notion that non-organic, modern agriculture saves on land-use is one of those counter-intuitive notions that David talks about. One is far more likely to hear of how many football fields of forest disappeared in Brazil today. It’s intuitive!

    I checked out David’s comments on Malcolm Turnbull, and his belief that “at the core of so many of our problems is trying to europeanise our australian landscape and hydrology”. This is a notion that is deeply entrenched in the minds of the most educated Australians, almost considered to be a marker of intelligence.

    Well, it was a problem for Europeans to europeanise their landscape and hydrology. But they did it.

    I have walked on foot across large tracts of France, Italy and Spain and been amazed at how, even accounting for subsidies, productive agriculture continues after centuries. The earth is almost empty of people, even in places where civilisation is oldest. Most extraordinary is the eroded semi-arid landscape south of Siena, the Crete Senesi. By the end of summer it’s almost a desert. It’s been like that for centuries, yet produces what I regard as the best of all cheeses, and is a centre of wheat production, especially for the marvellous picci noodles. Go figure.

    So why not europeanise our landscape in decisive fashion? Why not build dams everywhere we can, and irrigate what we can? Why not consider opening the Lower Murray to salt water? What are we trying to achieve with this dithery, apologetic approach?

    I think there’s a lesson in a good forest road made properly with rollovers, heaps of gravel and enormous drains. Nothing erodes. It’s the quaint, half-hearted effort that ends up causing wash-outs and erosion. Even for the sake of the environment, we have to toss out our mouldy environmental notions.

  5. cohenite December 20, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    Good post Robert; the idea that humanity will prosper by allowing itself to be constrained by nature is an insidious idea which unfortunately has taken hold amongst the influential inner-city elites, that small section of the community which dominates social policy decisions and whose defining characteristic is congnitive dissonance.

    The idea that transportation of European farming methods was a mistake is merely a small sub-set of this larger social malaise; the fact is that farming in Australia is constrained by water whereas in Europe, particularly England, it isn’t; but, as you say, with adequate water storage the cropping potential of Australia is much greater than in England because of the much greater growing season.

    However, what we now see happening is the domination of the idea of pristine nature; the priority is not the need of humanity but the need not to interfere with nature; the whole idea which infests the Green movement, that humanity is a blight on nature because humanity either through numbers and/or progress, taints nature, informs the AGW ideology and the myriad issues, like water, which flow from this misanthropy are all shaped by this basic Green view.

  6. el gordo December 20, 2010 at 8:42 pm #

    If the AGW ideology falters, then the whole pack of cards will come tumbling down. David Archibald has a guest post at Watts, which illustrates with many graphs the approach of a Dalton Minimum. This one took my fancy.

    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/dalton_fig41.png

  7. Debbie December 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    Well done David,
    How true is your point about our perceptions.

    Because of road closures etc I recently had the opportunity to view the floods at 2 separate places on the Murrumbidgee and the Murray as well as seeing the flooded Edwards and every other creek, stream, billabong, backwater, red gum forest etc between here and Melbourne. You should see it! It’s awesome. It is a graphic demonstration of our “true environment” as opposed to the “environment” that our politicians, bureaucrats, academics etc are all arguing over and crowing about. I don’t think that “environment” exists anywhere at the moment. Actually, as you point out, it probably never did! I think they got confused with some other place that doesn’t deal with “drought and flooding rains”
    The tragic irony is that they all arrogantly believe they have the ability to “assist” the environment. All they’ve managed to do lately is waste an incredible amount of water and money trying to prove they can “save” something that doesn’t need saving. Maybe they should be “saving” the money and the water instead? Quite dramatically, the MDB
    “environment” has recently proved that it is just fine thanks!

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