Well done, Evelynne Roullet (Posted March 1, 2017 at 11:59 …

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

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.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Extreme variability: local climate change right now
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.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Liquor Commission: Lawyer, social worker represent Alice
Two of the worthiest individuals in our town I can think of to be appointed to the new Liquor Commission. I’m delighted by this news.
Both Russell Goldflam and Blair McFarland have been battling away on the intractable issues of alcohol abuse and related harm for many years, and very much deserve the opportunity they’ve been given to make a difference.
It will be very interesting to see how matters progress but I think this news is a very promising start.


Road Transport Hall of Fame is saved
This is great news to start the day. The lingering question in my mind is why the situation was allowed to get to the point where this major attraction was under imminent threat of being significantly reduced, and possibly under threat of closure.
Why endure the aggravation of crisis and emergency before action is taken to achieve a reasonable and satisfactory resolution for all involved?
Surely this outcome could have been negotiated in a more congenial and reasonable manner than apparently was the case.
However, at least this asset for Alice Springs looks set to be saved and for that we must be grateful.


Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill: the nays have it 
@ Steve Brown (Posted February 16, 2018 at 10:02 am): I’m interested to know, Steve, when it was that TO’s dedicated Anzac Hill for the purpose it now serves as a war memorial? The memorial was first dedicated on Anzac Day, 1934, and as far as I’m aware local Aboriginal people had no involvement in it. Is there a subsequent occasion when this matter was addressed?


Jacinta Price reneges on council undertaking
If Jacinta Price does win preselection to stand as a candidate in the next Federal election campaign, she will not be the first to do so.
On his third attempt, John Reeves was elected in a triple by-election as an Alderman of the Alice Springs Town Council in April 1981.
He was the Labor candidate for the seat of the Northern Territory in the Federal election campaign of February-March, 1983.
Reeves was successful, and his departure from the Council contributed to another multiple by-election in April that year (this was the occasion when Leslie Oldfield was first elected as Mayor after the retirement of George Smith).
Alderman Bob Liddle resigned from the town council in 1987 to run as a candidate for the NT Nationals in the Federal election campaign in July that year. He was unsuccessful.
The NT Government had earlier changed the law so that resignations by council members who stood as candidates for NT and Federal elections were not reinstated as council members even if the candidates were unsuccessful (at present they are).
Alderman Di Shanahan had stood as a Labor candidate in the NT elections of March 1987 and was also unsuccessful. The law being what it was at the time, a double by-election was held for the Alice Springs Town Council. Neither Liddle or Shanahan chose to run again.
The NT Government subsequently reversed this law to the current situation now prevailing.


Bully buffel barges into natives’ live and let live harmony
I largely concur with Lindsay Johannsen’s observations about buffel grass; however, another mode of seed spread is via the digestive tracts of herbivores.
I pointed this fact out several years ago, beginning with observations of buffel seedlings germinating in euro (hill kangaroo) scats at Olive Pink Botanic Garden.
I followed this up with a germination trial of fresh euro scats I collected by the Todd River near the Old Telegraph Station – no buffel seedlings emerged but I did obtain couch grass and stinking lovegrass seedlings, both introduced species. There were no native species.
I can also confirm that termites do indeed consume buffel grass, including seeds gathered from the ground surface, but no way near enough to make any impact on the grasses (seed harvesting ants also consume buffel grass seeds).
I’ve taken quite a number of photos of termite activity in buffel grass; and indeed pointed out in an article published in the Alice Springs News over a decade ago that one species of termite that prevails in rocky hill slopes has become particularly partial to buffel grass.
On one damp overcast day at the Olive Pink Botanic Garden I observed (and photographed) termites actively and vigorously harvesting dead buffel foliage and stems during daylight hours. Every buffel clump I checked on the hillside at OPBG had termite activity associated with it, and I believe this works to the mutual advantage of both species but would have significant implications for the natural ecology assuming this situation applies on a wider landscape scale.


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