Zero carbon – a pipe dream or reality?

Fert Options
with Robin Boom
Agronomic Advisory Services

Hitler once stated: ‘It is not truth that matters, but victory. Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it’. Unfortunately the media-driven climate change propaganda machine has followed Hitler’s rule, and only allowed one voice to be heard in the public square and well-informed voices of dissent are silenced, ignored or shouted down.

The recently-proposed Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment bill attracted more than 10,000 submissions and the Parliamentary Select Committee has listened to more than 1000 individuals or groups who wanted to make an oral presentation. I spent more than a week in July preparing an 8000-word written submission in which I went through some of the science and facts on what was the best way forward for New Zealand to meet its commitments to the Paris Accord obligations regarding greenhouse gases and global warming.

Those who wanted to make an oral presentation were given five minutes to do so before the select committee. My five-minute slot was at the end of the day, and of the four politicians who were on the committee, two had already flown back to Wellington, and the two remaining had a glazed-eye look about them as they’d probably listened to dozens of people venting their opinions from those totally for it and those totally against it like myself. I asked the remaining Parliamentary Select Committee members if they had read my submission and they informed me they hadn’t; and in my five minutes I could only make a couple of points, so concluded the whole process was farcical.


Methane from livestock is blamed for nearly half our greenhouse gases, yet our 10 million cattle only make up one per cent of cattle numbers worldwide. And for countries such as India where cattle numbers total 300 million, because it is a developing country, their methane emission is unlikely to be taxed. The average daily milk yield of Indian cows is 7L, well under half what our cows produce, yet they both have the same maintenance feed requirements with similar amounts of methane produced for maintenance purposes, so the milk and meat our cows produce is a lot more efficient as far as greenhouse gas emissions go. Neither Indian cows, nor the much greater quantity of methane produced from rice production in India, is likely to ever be considered in any carbon trading scheme.

Nitrogen fertiliser

The average Waikato dairy farm absorbs between 12000-14000kg of CO2 annually in grass growth and hill country farms absorb around 8000kg annually, which needs to be considered in any accounting programme. Unlike carbon from fossil fuels and nitrous oxide production, enteric methane does not introduce new carbon into the atmosphere, since it has been recycled.

What I do agree with including an Emissions Trading Scheme is nitrous oxide emissions. Since 1990 NZ nitrous oxide emissions have increased 27 per cent, largely as a result of a 600 per cent increase in usage of nitrogen fertiliser. Taxing nitrogen fertiliser does make sense, as it is a voluntary action farmers take – and in many situations an unnecessary crutch too many farmers have become reliant on, rather than fixing other aspects of their soil fertility, which if they got right in the first place would give a much better financial return, and wouldn’t harm the environment in the process.


The outcome of this bill – if implemented as proposed – is likely to have severe ramifications for future land use and rural communities and for NZ Inc as a whole. Productive fertile land is likely to be earmarked for carbon farming, being planted in trees that will just be left to take out carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reach their peak and die off. The impending idiocy of this scheme – if implemented – is short-sighted and counter-productive for future generations of Kiwis. I finish with a quote from retired MIT atmospheric physicist Professor Richard Lindzen:

‘What historians will definitely wonder about in future centuries is how deeply flawed logic, obscured by shrewd and unrelenting propaganda, actually enabled a coalition of powerful special interests to convince nearly everyone in the world that CO2 from human industry was a dangerous planet-destroying toxin. It will be remembered as the greatest mass delusion in the history of the world – that CO2, the life of plants, was considered for a time to be a deadly poison’.  

Robin Boom, CAg, member of the Institute of Professional Soil Scientists. Phone: 0274448764.


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