This week the “Landcare” organisation launched a program to enable farmers to be paid to plant trees by way of carbon trading. This is, literally, a breath of fresh air as the way the carbon trading discussion has unfolded in Australia seems to be towards imposing a carbon tax on “clean coal” technology to subsidise nuclear power. This seems to be the preffered option of John Howard and his mates in the industry. This seems to me to be a recipe for eco-disaster and not a real solution to greenhouse emissions. The debate has had another side also with proponents of solar, wind and geothermal energy generation drawing attention to the obvious ecological benefits of this sort of technology. However, in the polluted haze of the climate change debate we seem to have forgotten the central role of plants in our biosphere, in particular their capacity to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. There can be no doubt that carbon emissions since the industrial revolution are a key factor increasing greenhouse gasses. But the other side of the story is massive landclearing around the globe in the past few thousand years, in particular in Europe but the rest of the world has caught up quickly. Plants are the biosphere’s respirotory system, inhaling co2 and exhaling O2, coincidently the opposite of us animals.
The landcare program is not the first of it’s kind. Some Aboriginal traditional owners in Arnham land are already being funded through carbon trading to manage their land in traditional ways, including traditional burning regimes that significantly lowers carbon emmissions through avoiding superfires of unmanaged forest litter.
It seems sensible to me to fund things like planting trees and developing wind, solar and geothermal technologies is an obvious and basic purpose for carbon trading. The whole idea will be corrupted if it is just a way of charging higher electricity prices from consumers to subsidise nuclear power.
Lest we forget; land clearing is a greenhouse issue.