By TONY MOBILIFONITIS
ACCORDING to Professor David Frame, director of the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute (NZCCRI) at Victoria University of Wellington, methane from Kiwi ruminants contributes four millionths of 1 degree annually to “rising temperatures”.
But Owen Jennings, former ACT Party MP and and former Farmers Federation president, told the Greenwashed program on RealityCheck Radio, that number was “wildly exaggerated” and more recent research showed it was closer to 1.2 millionths of a degree. In something of an understatement, he said the weight of information going out on farm emissions had been “slanted towards people who haven’t got a particularly useful view towards the rural community”.
Referring to a Farmers Weekly editorial by Prof. Frame, Jennings said a close examination Frame’s numbers “not my numbers, not the Methane Accord* numbers” suggested that the amount of warming, the actual temperature rise that came about in his view from ruminant methane in New Zealand was four millionths of a degree per year.
But Jennings rejected the number and citing more recent investigations by scientists including Prof. David Coe, Fabinsky, Sheahen and several others, he said “they’re more inclined to say it’s about 1.19 millionth of a degree per year”. “Now I know that’s absurd and ludicrous, but essentially that’s where we’re at,” said Jennings.
“We’ve more or less said the science tells us that there is no problem, that New Zealand’s contribution is nil. What we’re now doing is fighting politics. We’re fighting the politics of the Greens who are yelling that we need to get rid of cows, sheep and ruminants. We’re fighting people who think the world’s going to end. Well, get a life.
“The world’s got a great self-correcting mechanism. The planet’s shown over millions of years that if it encounters a cycle or a problem with rising temperatures or falling temperature or different conditions, it’s got a great self-correcting mechanism. Go back to sleep … it’s not a worry.”
Jennings went on to say that farmers actually had a sound case for ruminant methane to be excluded from any measures taken against greenhouse gases. He said farmers used CO2 in producing methane and no-one else had that luxury, and it annoyed him that media and scientists were using outdated 1990 data to claim the farm methane pool was increasing when the opposite was true.
But the problem remained of farmer organisations being overly focused on “mitigation and so-called science and technical breakthroughs that are supposed to be coming”. There was still not enough focus on what the real problem is, he said.
“Nobody stopped and said hey what’s the problem and what’s the nature of this problem and what’s NZ’s contribution to this problem?” There was also the view that New Zealand was a small country in a world where everyone else was fighting fossil fuels and climate change so therefore they couldn’t buck the system.
Jennings said New Zealand farmers, in a nation of 5 million people, was now feeding 40 million people with it’s exported farm produce, but green bureaucrats and politicians had been pushing for a 20 per cent cut in sheep and beef production and 5 per cent for dairy.
“Why? Why are we depriving people of the very essence of life, food. It’s time we got serious about some of this stuff and stood up for ourselves a lot more strongly for ourselves as food producers feeding hungry people.”
Greenwashed co-host Don Nicholson, also a former Federated Farmers president, said the new coalition policy still focused on fixing an alleged problem with methane and avoided dealing with the issue of whether there really was a problem.
*Kiwi farmers fighting this issue through various action groups have formed the Methane Science Accord, an organisation calling for zero taxing of ruminant methane and noting the International Panel on Climate Change’s AR6 Report “making clear that new science states ruminant methane’s warming ability is exaggerated by 300 to 400%.”