This is a most important and timely story. I’m one of …

Comment on Extreme variability: local climate change right now by Alex Nelson.

This is a most important and timely story.
I’m one of those very few non-indigenous individuals who has lived here all my life. I was born in 1963 in the middle of one of the worst droughts on record. Since that time nearly every weather record in Central Australia has been broken, many of them more than once. Ironically, one record still standing since before my arrival is the hottest maximum temperature in the NT, set at Finke a couple of years earlier, but we’ve gotten close on occasion and it’s only a matter of time before that one falls.
One of the major impacts of the 1960s drought that reverberates to this day is the rise to dominance of buffel grass in Central Australia. The drought was a major impetus into extensive research to mitigate the enormous dust storms that frequently smothered Alice Springs, and buffel grass proved to be the ideal panacaea.
When I worked for the Rangeland Management Section at AZRI over a quarter century ago, one of the management problems for pastoral properties was how to deal with the problem of increasing “woody weeds”, especially mulga, witchetty bush and ironwood trees, which suppressed natural pastures and were largely resistant to control by fire, the only economically viable control method.
The increasing dominance of buffel grass across the region has, in my opinion, tipped the balance in favour of a major wildfire risk which, combined with the increasing severity of weather events, now poses an extreme hazard for us all in Central Australia. There have already been several serious wildfires in the vicinity of Alice Springs following above-average rainfall periods since the turn of the century, which I think are indicative of much worse to come.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Extreme variability: local climate change right now
Well done, Evelynne Roullet (Posted March 1, 2017 at 11:59 am) for a most informative comment; and in the chronology you provided I was most taken by the entry for 1938 about British engineer Guy Callendar who showed from data obtained from numerous weather stations around the world that temperatures had increased compared to the previous century, a finding widely dismissed by meteorologists.
I compare this to the treatment meted out to German meteorologist Alfred Wegener who early last century compiled observations on geological and palaeontological evidence indicating the continents were once linked together. This information was well known but scientists generally accepted the explanation that there had been land-bridges between continents that had subsequently sunk below the oceans. In 1915 Wegener published a book proposing instead that the continents had once been all joined together and subsequently drifted apart.
This theory prompted huge controversy from scientists (especially in Britain, perhaps unsurprisingly) and basically the concept of continental drift was rejected on the basis of insufficient evidence and no explanation of any known force sufficient to move continents. Wegener was regarded as a crackpot, notwithstanding his reputation for research into polar climatalogy; and he perished for his work in Greenland in 1930.
It wasn’t until the mid 1960s when global mapping of the Earth’s ocean floors commenced that evidence came to light supporting the theory of continental drift. Mid-ocean ridges and alternate magnetic banding of seabed rock strata began the revelation of abundant evidence that the world’s land masses are indeed drifting on tectonic plates (incidentally, Australia is the fastest-moving continent on Earth). Today continental drift is completely accepted as a verified fact.
Wegener’s sad experience ought to be a salutory lesson to us all; and for myself it provides an extremely valuable analogy to the populist debate that swirls around the validity of evidence for climate change.
We discount or reject that evidence at our absolute peril.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Former gallery advisor scathing about its planners
What’s the betting that old sign is going to do a rapid vanishing act?
Perhaps I should nominate it for heritage listing, pronto!

1 Territory too fixed on opposition to fracking: Lambley
@ John Bell (Posted December 3, 2018 at 2:49 pm): I don’t agree with you this time, John.
Here’s part of a comment I’ve made on another media website: “A lot of food for thought from this post. My earliest recollections of politics dates from the dying days of the McMahon Government which, ironically perhaps, was a time of great progress and optimism in the Northern Territory. It capped a time of extraordinary economic and population growth in the NT from the late 1960s onwards (when McMahon was the federal Treasurer), notwithstanding the contemporary mythology now of several decades standing (justifying NT Self-government) that this was the “bad old days” of Commonwealth control and mismanagement”.
@ Edan Baxter (Posted December 3, 2018 at 11:05 am): I have a quote for you, too: “As you say, the agreement made on 7 December 1907 between the Commonwealth and South Australia for the surrender of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth is still in force” (Letter from NT Attorney-General, Daryl W. Manzie, 26 May, 1992). This still remains the case.
Incidentally, it was this letter from Daryl Manzie that first triggered my interest in Territory history; and what I realised after some time back then is that all is not well with the legal basis of self-government of the NT.
Hence my allusion to section 44 of the Australian Constitution and pointing out the Statute of Limitations does not apply to constitutional law in a recent comment:

Happy Birthday, Auntie, and good luck for the next 70.
The ABC ranks along with the CSIRO as the two great Commonwealth institutions of Australia, both of which have made immense contributions and are amongst our nation’s most important assets.
These two organisations set bench marks against which all else in their respective fields are compared.
It is good to know that at least one of these organisations continues to flourish in Alice Springs.

1 Territory too fixed on opposition to fracking: Lambley
@ John Bell (Posted December 2, 2018 at 11:13 pm): Entirely agree with you, John, except for your final sentence. It’s an old line that the NT’s “exceptional” circumstances of population and geography justify self-government.
After 40 years there is more than abundant evidence demonstrating that the criticisms you direct at the ACT apply equally well to the NT.

1 Territory too fixed on opposition to fracking: Lambley
@ John Bell (Posted December 1, 2018 at 8:21 am): It’s worth recalling that the ACT had a referendum on the question of self-government in 1978 but almost two-thirds of the electors voted against it, preferring instead to maintain the arrangement of a House of Assembly which was simply an advisory body to the Department of the Capital Territory.
Notwithstanding that result, a decade later the ACT got self-government irrespective of whether anyone agreeed to it or not.
@ Psuedo Guru (Posted November 30, 2018 at 8:09 am): Your comment may be much closer to the mark than anyone realises.

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