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

Four charter flights from Japan to Alice Springs
The concept of Alice Springs Airport serving as an international flight arrival and departure facility is an old one.
It’s typical of the difficulties this region faces with major infrastructure developments of this kind; consider, for example, the histories of constructing the north-south railway (well over a century from its original conception), the sealing of the south Stuart Highway (this took decades), and the still awaited sealing of the “Outback Way” and Tanami Road (first called for by new Member for Stuart, Tony Greatorex, in 1966).
Nothing new in any of this; and it’s telling that progress on these issues is no faster under self-government of the NT (or, in the case of the airport, under private ownership) than it was when the Commonwealth had direct control of the Territory.
Some of us may live long enough to see the completion of all of these major transportation infrastructure developments for Central Australia.


Planning an Aboriginal art centre without Aboriginal people
What everybody seems to be avoiding here is that Doris Stuart has made a serious allegation of being misrepresented as a part of the “group preparing for the gallery” without her knowledge or approval.
She also raises serious questions about the operation of the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority.
Many years ago, when working as the storeman for Woolworths Alice Springs, I was confronted with an allegation of theft of a consignment of seafood (about $2000 worth, as I recall).
The docket acknowledging receipt of the consignment was signed in my name – except the signature wasn’t mine.
Whoever was responsible for the theft didn’t even bother to attempt to mimic my actual signature but the store management equally couldn’t be bothered to check that fact, too.
I never heard another word about it despite the fact an inhouse crime had been committed.
So I have some understanding of what Doris Stuart is complaining about, and I would consider that she is a victim of an act of corruption.
This should be formally investigated, in my opinion.


Council shoots Anzac precinct gallery down in flames
The Treasurer, Nicole Manison, has just released a “STATEMENT” declaring: “The Northern Territory is still $500 million out of pocket every year despite the Federal Government’s proposed new legislation on GST distribution.
“This legislation protects us from future cuts, but does nothing to restore the $500 million less GST revenue we have lost from Canberra.
“That’s $500 million less for police, teachers and nurses – and this continues to hurt us.”
Well, if the NT’s economic circumstances are now so dire, with so much less money available for essential services, does the NT Government have the $50 million to spare (let alone any extra funding) to spend on a National Aboriginal Art Gallery for which there is no actual plan and no substance to the claims made for its supposed economic benefit?
Notwithstanding its massive majority in the NT Legislative Assembly, this is a government that appears to be floundering with no real idea of what to do.
I think we’re in a lot more trouble than most of us realise.


Anzac Oval: hand it over, says NT Government
@ Hal Duell (Posted October 13, 2018 at 12:08 pm):My personal opinion is that I think you’re on the money with your suggestion about the NT Government’s motives, Hal.


Rain: Yesss!
@ Charlie Carter (Posted October 12, 2018 at 7:44 am): You’re correct, Charlie, except the Indian Ocean dipole is positive and the major driver of the current drought conditions across much of Australia.
So now we’re about to cop it from both directions – a “perfect storm,” oddly enough.


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