The Minister for Agriculture and officials in his Ministry are using the analogy of the ‘three ovens’ to try and justify the Government’s policy on livestock emissions of methane. It seems they like this analogy to try and explain why emissions of enteric methane should be reduced even though they now admit that most, if not all of these emissions do not cause an increase in greenhouse gases that is required to cause global warming. The Minister used it in a letter to me and officials and a senior scientist within the Ministry used it in a meeting with Neil Henderson of Climate Realists. To see Neil’s comment on our website click here
This is what the MAF people said to Neil;
“Suppose this room has an electric heater in one corner, a gas heater in another and a coal burning stove over there. Now if we want to cool the room down there are several options…therefore we need to be prepared to reduce livestock emissions to help cool the room.”
This is what David Carter wrote in his letter;
Take a hypothetical oven. The oven is being warmed in three ways: an electric element, a natural gas hob, and a wood burner. If the policy is to reduce the temperature in the oven, then it makes sense to address all three sources of heat, regardless of whether the heat created by each is increasing, decreasing, or is in steady state. Why would you only address the wood burner for example, when it might be cheaper or more efficient to shut off the natural gas?
He could have chosen his examples better because he uses the wood burner to represent fossil fuel yet they don’t burn fossil fuel and he uses natural gas to represent livestock methane, which is not a fossil energy source, but never mind.
The fact they use this analogy is a huge success for farmers seeking the truth about livestock emissions. All the claptrap they gave us in the past about livestock converting CO2 to CH4 and that this caused warming because CH4 was more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2, is gone. They now realise, because we told them, that you can’t get warming unless you increase something in the atmosphere and livestock emissions can not and do not do that. They now agree with us on that, albeit reluctantly.
They also realise and acknowledge that they can no longer argue that enteric methane is causing global warming. They try instead to justify Government policy by arguing that enteric methane emissions need to decrease to make up for the other emissions (the other heaters in the room or the other heat sources in the oven). In doing so they miss an important point, nothing can justify punishing farmers for an activity which is blameless. If they want to reduce enteric methane output to help offset fossil sourced emissions they need to stop calling farmers polluters, they need to stop plans to tax farmers and instead pay them money (lots of it) to reduce emissions, Mr Key needs to apologise for and withdraw his statement that farmers need to pay their share. This comment by Key demonstrates his ignorance of the science of livestock methane.
What David Carter forgets, when he uses the analogy of the oven, is that he is messing with people and their livelihoods. The farmers these MAF people call polluters and who Mr Carter’s Government is going to tax are doing nothing wrong here. When he asks why you would only address the wood burner (fossil fuel) and not the natural gas (enteric methane), he demonstrates a complete disregard for the farmers of NZ and the human cost of making them pay the cost and take responsibility for a rampant uncontrolled wood burner that has nothing to do with them. I think David Carter has forgotten what he the Minister for Agriculture is here for. We haven’t been blessed with good Ministers for Agriculture in recent times but I am not sure any past ministers have demonstrated such a lack of compassion and understanding of rural NZ.
I get the emails from farmers concerned about a future in which they will be the only farmers in the world taxed unfairly for livestock emissions. I get emails from farmers sick to death of being labelled polluters by judgemental morons. Mr Carter’s insensitivity is astounding and disappointing. If a National Government can do this imagine what the next Labour Government will do.
In his analogy Mr Carter asks “Why would you only address the wood burner for example, when it might be cheaper or more efficient to shut off the natural gas?” The reason David Carter should only address the wood burner is because it is the wood burner that is the problem because the heat output from it is increasing. The natural gas (livestock emissions) is static, a steady heat not increasing and therefore not causing the increasing temperature in the oven. To reduce the natural gas to offset the increasing heat from the wood burner does not address the problem, it just gives a temporary reprieve but eventually, as the wood burner keeps cranking up the heat, the temperature in the oven will soon be back to the temperature it was before the natural gas was shut off. So to shut off the natural gas (livestock emissions) is quite ineffectual and unfair Mr Carter. It is also the most expensive option because it has a zero effect. To spend money shutting down a heat source that will not cool the oven in the long term is stupid Mr Carter. So why would you do it?
I have constructed an analogy of my own that describes Mr Carter’s Government’s policy.
You have two people in a room. All of a sudden one starts hitting the other quite unprovoked. The powers that be want to stop the violence so they decide to work out who is to blame and to punish them. They blame the one for hitting which is fair. They also blame equally the one who was hit because they argue that if he hadn’t been in the room there would have been no one for the hitter to hit and so there would have been no violence. They declare that the one who got hit is equally to blame for the violence. Any sane and intelligent person would realise how stupid that is but it is no less moronic than the way livestock emissions are being treated by our Government.
I am quite interested in using this analogy myself but am not sure whether it is clear enough so please let me know if it makes sense. In my analogy the hitter represents fossil sourced emissions and the hittee represents enteric methane.
In a sane world governed by intelligent and honest people the hitter would be the guilty party and the hittee blameless. And so it should be with fossil sourced emissions which do increase the concentration of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere (which may or may not cause global warming) and enteric methane which increases nothing in the atmosphere and is blameless. If Mr Carter believes in anthropogenic global warming his focus should be on these fossil sourced emissions only, and he should lay off the farmers and stop punishing them for just being in the room.