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

Town Council riven by conflict, lack of leadership
@ Alex Hope (Posted August 15, 2018 at 11:43 am): You may not be aware just how true is your remark “party politics have always been a part of the town council.”
Here is the slogan for one candidate in the first town council by-election (for two vacancies) for March 24, 1973: “THIS IS YOUR … ALP CANDIDATE IN SATURDAY’S COUNCIL ELECTION. VOTE 1 HADDON, D.J.”
As it turned out, Dennis Haddon came third in the poll on that occasion; however, when Alderman Paul Everingham resigned from the town council in early July 1973, instead of going to another by-election it was decided to appoint Dennis Haddon to replace him.
Anybody who knows the history of Territory politics will appreciate the irony – but wait, there’s more: When Paul Everingham stood as a candidate for the first town council election campaign in June 1971, his election advertisements were authorised by “Peter Edward John Gunner, Stuart Highway, Alice Springs”. Yes, it was current CM Michael Gunner’s grandfather.


Town Council riven by conflict, lack of leadership
Councillor Matt Paterson was nominated by Jamie de Brenni for the position of Deputy Mayor, which was seconded by Jimmy Cocking. Matt Patterson has stated this on ABC radio.


Indigenous gallery: Show me the money!
Hmm, whatever happened to the notion of RESPONSIBLE self-government?
Seems like we’re running off the rails. Federal intervention again, perhaps?


Beer and the tax man’s triple tipple
@ Russell Guy (Posted August 13, 2018 at 9:45 am): Your comparison of the current regime in the NT and the former Soviet Union is noted, comrade.


No ‘comprehensive business case’ yet for gallery
@ Alex Hope (Posted August 11, 2018 at 11:01 am): You have summarised perfectly the situation as regards both the National Indigenous Art Gallery and the standard of government in the NT generally.
And it is not just the NT Government that is looking incredibly foolish on the subject of the NIAG but also a range of business groups, sporting bodies and some media that have become ensnared in this trap of their own making.
It is two years this month since the Gunner Government was swept into power, when voters took the opportunity with a vengeance to wipe the slate clean of the previous disastrous CLP regime.
Who remembers the new CM, hand on heart earnestly declaring a new and better standard of government for all Territorians?
Clearly – yet again – voters across the NT have been betrayed.
Adjectives that immediately spring to my mind to describe the current government are: Incompetent, deceitful, dishonest, bumbling, unprofessional, amateur, insincere, devious, underhand, and – worst of all – hypocritical.
And that’s just being polite!


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