Australian carbon emissions absorbed by our landmass ?

I remember in the early 1990′s reading in a paper by R M Gifford, that Australian carbon emissions were absorbed by our land area. Added 23 Apr, found my copy and this online reference.

I wonder why Australian Governments would not have taken the view that this natural advantage for Australia could have been a reason for us to ignore the entire IPCC process, leading to Kyoto and beyond, Garnautland – Ruddland wherever our odd leaders take us.

Australia has for centuries borne the extra freight costs due to our location in the Antipodes plus other disadvantages due to our isolation. Unless this early 1990′s data has been proven to be incorrect, I see nothing illogical if our Government was to say, “carbon is not our problem – we already have no net emissions”.

14 comments to Australian carbon emissions absorbed by our landmass ?

  • chrisl

    It is inconceivable that Australia has a net co2 emission.The place is virtually unoccupied.When you drive out of the major cities there is mile upon mile of bush interspersed with farmland.If Co2 is not absorbed in Australia, where on earth is it absorbed?
    Compare and contrast The Netherlands with a similar population but squeezed into a quarter of the size of Victoria.
    Those very sneaky “per capita” emissions shoud be coupled with ” per capita” absorptions.

  • I’m an amateur who found something interresting a time ago…

    I don’t know how interresting this text is (I’ve not gone deep into this):

    “Are Deserts Hidden Carbon Sinks?”

    www.celsias.com/article/are-deserts-hidden-carbon-sinks

    There are at least some names there (who are called dissenters) :
    * Li Yan, plant ecophysiologist (“To Li’s surprise, the desert was soaking up carbon dioxide at night…”)
    * William Schlesinger, biogeochemist, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York. (“…first examined desert carbon fluxes in the 1980s…”)
    * Lynn Fenstermaker, Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Nevada.
    * Giles Marion, soil chemist

    I hope it can help somehow… :)

    BTW I’ve also seen this about that Australian soil reeases less “black carbon” than estimated in the models, but this I guess you have!

    Models may be Overestimating Global Warming Predictions
    global-warming.accuweather.com/2008/11/models_may_be_overestimating_g.html

    BR, Magnus

  • WSH

    Yes Chrisl, I bet you are right, not only are we not net emitters, we are sequestrating some of the Northern Hemisphere carbon emissions !! Out of the goodness of our hearts – at NO COST !! Even more reason for Australian Govt to tell IPCC to go jump.
    Thanks for those links which I will get to. Remember too how the IPCC were so dumb they “lost” a chunk of the global carbon sink for years in their early daze. It was called , the “missing sink”.
    And Magnus A, if we were going to get into the subject, “Models .. Overestimating Global Warming Predictions”. I would need more hours in the day.

  • IanP

    Warwick – I haven’t got as copy but this is probably what you are after….

    Gifford, R. M., N. P. Cheney, J. C. Noble, J. S. Russell, A. B. Wellington, C. Zammit, and M. M. Barson. 1992. Australian land use, primary production of vegetation and carbon pools in relation to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. Pages 151-187 in R. M. Gifford, and M. M. Barson, editors. Australia’s Renewable Resources: Sustainability and Global Change. IGBP Australia.

    Cheers, IanP

  • WSH

    Thanks IanP, I see a few pdf’s around the net. Will try some downloads over weekend. The photo copy I had was of a plain Journal paper. But knowing how things get repeated, it is possible the statement is in more than one place.

  • chrisl

    Warwick: Looking at it another way, where is all the co2 that is emitted world wide actually absorbed? It is a remarkably stable(by volume) trace gas – give or take a few parts per BILLION. So if not Australia then where? Ferdinand Englebeen is answering a few questions on one of Jennifer M’s threads so I might put in a question there.
    I have always been sceptical of the role of Co2, where you can dial up or down the earth’s temperature by adding or subtracting a few parts per billion of co2.Oh well that’s the consensus so it must be right.

  • Andrew

    I remember reading some where that North America is a net sink, to. We should all be able to charge China a fortune for our carbon neutrality on their behalf! Haha, I kid.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    As a gechemist who travelled Australia’s soils before retirement, I suspect that some writers are confusing short term processes with long term equilibria.

    In deserts, the material nicknamed ‘calcrete’ is widespread in Australia’s old soils. Whether it sequesters carbon or not depends on where the CO2 came from (odd sources like decomposition of coal or underground methane?) and so is just converting one sequestration chemical into another; but more so on whether the total mass of calcrete in the country is changing significantly on a scale of centuries. We simply do not know the latter.

    There is no doubt that a mechanism exists, but its dynamics and quantification are unknown.

    Therefore, it is not possible to make an accurate contemporary statement that desert absorption of CO2 has affected or will affect climate.

  • Ian Mott

    Bill Burrows did some excellent work on sequestration by woodlands, I think the numbers were in the order of 90 million tonnes C per annum. But this was never accepted by either the IPCC or, to their treasonous shame, the Australian Greenhouse Office.

    The North American studies compared the CO2 in wind blowing onto the continent with the wind blowing away from the continent and found a net loss of CO2 in the exported air.

    Even if the Australian landmass does not absorb all of our emissions then there can be zero room for doubt that our territorial oceans certainly do. The oceanically challenged euro nations like Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark etc, that dominate the IPCC were never going to allow the inclusion of ocean CO2 absorption because it would obviously place them at a large competitive disadvantage.

    So they excluded ocean absorption so that countries that were already, presumably, producing more CO2 than their ecosystems could cope with, could continue to do so.

    It also allows them to set emission targets based on percentages of gross emissions despite the fact that 50% of those emissions are absorbed by the worlds oceans. It is proportionate, 100% is really only 50%, a 60% target is really only 30% net.

    But as we, the Australian taxpayer, are the only ones spending any money on the monitoring and protection of our territorial oceans then we have every right to demand exclusive enjoyment of the sequestration benefits of those teritorial waters. The only conclusion to be drawn from this is that CO2 is not our problem. We are clearly in CO2 profit. And if it is a problem in Brussels or Hamburg, because they don’t have the ecosystem to deal with the emissions their lifestyle produces, then they are welcome to shift a few factories to Ceduna, Port Headland or Weipa.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Agreewith you, Ian Mott. Biogenic processes in the ocean can be far larger and faster than CO2 reactions on land. Also, the ocean mixes vertically, whereas on land weathering commonly produces horizontal stratification, often in layers that are thin compared to mixed ocean segments. I also agree with your Eurocentic notes. A Dutch colleague from the 1970s now retired as a chemical engineering Prof, says that he is one of a handful of Dutch people trying for sanity. He thinks the IPCC mainstream view is accepted either uncritically or because it is convenient.

  • Geoff Sherrington

    Re 11 WSH

    In the abstract of the paper you reference, there is a line that used to be more common from CSIRO in 1992. It has just about gone extinct now. “However, there remains considerable experimental uncertainty about the correct parameterisation of the model.”

  • Sean

    Are you lot serious? Is there no definitive study that determines if Australia is a net producer or a net absorber of carbon? This has to be a fundamental question of whether or not Australia needs to reduce its carbon output.

  • WSH

    I assume that if the CSIRO did not still stand by these model results – that they would not leave the web page up with their logo on. I am not aware of these results being addressed by more recent work this decade. I think it is plain that PM Rudd and Minister Wong are not the slightest bit interested in these facts – as they try to take us headlong into a post Copenhagen world with huge carbon costs imposed across our economy.

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