Recent posts on BN Books

There have been some recent posts on BetterNature Books, see below. Don’t forget to ‘Follow’ on that site if you wish to continue receiving notifications. This site will be closed within a few weeks.

Partisan Media, Incoherent Labor and the Rabble Clings to Power

[Published 23 May at Independent Australia.]

Take a bow, mainstream media. Your coverage was relentlessly superficial, your selection and commentary heavily biased. You studiously ignored the past six years’ record of train wrecks, extremism, incompetence, brutality and internal warring. You portrayed a one man band, a slick sloganeer, as a viable political party and the most riven, vicious and incompetent rabble since Federation has clung to power.

It is hardly a triumph, regaining minority government or the slimmest majority. The fact that the commentariat is portraying Scott Morrison as some kind of legendary hero is a measure of how low expectations for the Coalition have been, and how desperate they are to keep their man in power.

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The Old Tribalism Has Failed Us

I already wrote about the failures of Labor and the Greens and the flagrant partisanship of the media in bringing about Labor’s shock election loss. The trouble is these problems have been evident for a long time (Labor, Greens) and there is little sign anyone in those parties really understands what is necessary.

Nor is there any new party in the offing that might seize the day. The US has Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The UK had Jeremy Corbyn to revive their Labour Party, though he may be sinking into the ancient and corrupt mire of British politics. We have no messiah.

Yet this election has shown us the way forward, if we are open to noticing.

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Hawke and Keating Set Australia, and Labor, Up for Failure

Labor failed, again.

It took on the most riven, brutal and monumentally incompetent rabble since Federation and still could not manage to beat them. This is a profound failure that requires a profound explanation. There is one, though it goes against decades of received wisdom.

The problem is the economic ‘reforms’ imposed by the Hawke-Keating governments are a failure. Our anaemic economy and divided society are their continuing legacy.

These claims are of course heresy. They sully the revered memory of Larrikin Bob. They contradict the economic and political mantras of the past thirty five years. Yet the evidence is clear and has been readily available for some time.

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1 thought on “Recent posts on BN Books

  1. DON OWERS

    15 Bimbae Close
    Dudley 2290
    28th May 2019

    Dear Madam,

    Australia is the sixth largest country in the world and also the driest inhabited continent on earth, with the least amount of water in rivers, the lowest run-off and the smallest area of permanent wetlands of all the continents. Its ocean territory is the world’s third largest, spanning three oceans and covering around 12 million square kilometers. One third of the continent produces almost no run-off at all and Australia’s rainfall and stream-flow are the most variable in the world. Australia also has some of the oldest land surface on earth and while rich in biodiversity its soils and seas are among the most nutrient poor and unproductive in the world. This is due mainly to the country’s geological stability, which is a major feature of the Australian land mass, and is characterized by, among other things, a lack of significant seismic activity. Only six per cent of the Australian landmass is arable. As a result agricultural yields are low compared to other nations, German farms produces over 9 metric tonnes/ha compared to Australia’s 2 Tonnes. Australian soils are highly dependent upon vegetation cover and insect biomass to generate nutrients and prevent erosion. It is the native vegetation’s long root systems that help break down the sub soil and bring nutrients to the surface while insects, bacteria and small animals reduce ground litter and add nitrogen. Land clearing, water extraction and poor soil conservation are all causes of a decline in the quality of Australia’s soils, now the collapse of insect populations adds another problem that may have far ranging consequence.

    https://www.vox.com/energy-and…/2019/…/insects-extinction-bological-conservation

    The two most significant direct causes of land degradation are the conversion of native vegetation into crop and grazing lands, and unsustainable land-management practices. Other factors include the effects of climate change and loss of land to urbanization, infrastructure and mining. However, the underlying driver of all these changes is rising demand from growing populations for food, meat and grains, as well as fiber and energy. This in turn leads to more demand for land and further encroachment into areas with marginal soils. Market deregulation, which has been a trend since the 1980s, can lead to the destruction of sustainable land management practices in favor of monocultures and can encourage a race to the bottom as far as environmental protection is concerned. The 2016 State of the Environment report noted that;

    Current rates of soil erosion by water across much of Australia now exceed soil formation rates by an order of magnitude or more. As a result, the expected half-life of soils (the time for half the soil to be eroded) in some upland areas used for agriculture has declined to merely decades.

    The carbon content of Australian soils, which is a measure of fertility, is now some five to 10 times lower than when measured in 1845. The UN has warned that there could be as little as 60 harvests remaining before the world’s soils in places like Australia reach the limits of agricultural production.

    To keep up with global food demand, the UN estimates, six million ha of new farmland will be needed every year. Instead, 12 million ha are lost every year through soil degradation. Australia lost 36 million ha of agricultural land in just the 4 years from 2005 till 2009. Some of this lost land has occurred because of urban sprawl which is swallowing up some of our best soils close to cities that used to supply the fresh fruit and vegetables.

    theconversation.com/urban-sprawl-is-threatening-sydneys-foodbowl-55156

    Despite this agricultural products presently accounted for 15 per cent of Australia’s total exports in 2015-16, and the gross value of farm production was more than $63 billion largely because we currently have around 2 ha of arable land per person, one of the highest rates in the world. However 40% of that production came from the Murray Daring irrigation area which had high production based on historic over allocation of water, something that has now come back to bite us. A scathing report by the Royal Commission has gone as far to accuse the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) of negligence and being “incapable of acting lawfully” apparently because they overestimated the amount of water returned to the river by a factor of ten.

    With our highly variable surface water supply, groundwater resources are critical for many Australian communities and industries. In some cases, groundwater is the only reliable water supply available to support towns, agriculture and the resources sector. Australia is a very dry country so groundwater is extensively used right across the continent. Perth relies heavily on the Gnangara Mound aquifer for its water supply, but the water table has been dropping for the past 40 years or more because of reduced rainfall, increased extraction, and decreased recharge . The Great Artesian Basin (GAB), underlying about 1.7 million square kilometers of Australia, contains about 65,000 km3 of water, but it is a “Fossil water” being up to 2 million years old so extract is far faster than replenishment. It is not widely understood that vegetation and many streams and rivers are supported by the availability of groundwater, either as discharge into streams and rivers or through groundwater uptake by plant roots directly. In the NT Palm valley has an average rainfall of only 200mm but spring fed pools allow its unique flora to survive. The same applies for the Doongmabulla Springs Complex, a one-square-kilometre expanse of nationally important wetlands near the proposed site of the Carmichael coal mine which would probably be destroyed if Adani is allowed to extract the water it needs. As the pressure in the GAB has declined and the water table drops, mound springs (where groundwater is pushed to the ground surface under pressure) have begun to dry up in South Australia and Queensland. Associated paperbark swamps and wetlands are also being lost and it gets more and more expensive to extract the groundwater for irrigation and other commercial applications. On average, rates of groundwater extraction across Australia has increased by about 100 per cent between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, reflecting both our increased population size and the associated commercial usage of groundwater stores.

    We are also putting these resources at risk from pollution, already there have been many incidences of ground water being polluted by petroleum products, chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, salt and even nuclear waste. However the main aquifers are being put at risk from fracking, acid leaching of minerals like uranium and underground coal gasification. Converting the aquifer’s recharge area into farmland is likely to increase the level of nitrogen compounds while the large blasting used in open cut mining is fracturing rock formations deep underground allowing contamination of water from above or intermingling with salty water. All of which explains why scientists have been warning us for years that we cannot continue to grow without doing great damage to our fragile nation, but they are continually ignored by politicians obsessed with economic theories that defy even the basic laws of mathematics.

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