Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by SpacePete, Jul 9, 2015.
Where's your evidence on this?
Take your pick. The FAO, ABARES commodity reports have the data series for a variety of crops going back at least 30 years. Sugar is probably the only one that hasn't experienced increasing yields but that's because there's only so much biomass that can possibly be created per hectare using their current farming techniques and would require a step-change in price (or technology) to warrant a change.
Edit: Here's a random selection of graphs that can be grabbed from the interwebs. Different crops in different regions may experience different patterns, but the overall trend is clear. In the MDB for example, recent changes in yields need to be corrected for the millennium drought and water buybacks.
So you have increased yields, being able to produce more crops on the same amount of land with the same amount of resources.
Doesn't that mean the risk of drought/disease/pestilence/frost/whatever causing crop failure is more concentrated?
That is, if it's okay to reduce the area of farmland because you can make up the difference in yield, you'd really want to hope nothing bad happens to the smaller farmland area you have left, right?
That's the role of technological development to prevent or minimise such an event, and if it does happen, to respond.
Leaving caves tens of thousands of years ago was fraught with potential peril, but we adapted as we developed.
Dude, it's a coal mine.
It's a coal mine being dug in prime farmland to produce a source of energy that has been superseded by better technology which doesn't damage the environment to the point where prime farm land would be at risk in the first place.
So many levels of irony it's depressing.
Don't like my answer hey?
This is property that is being utilised to produce value. Obviously there is demand for coal otherwise the Chinese wouldn't be going ahead with this mine. If energy production by coal was indeed superseded as you like to maintain, then there would be no demand for it. Particularly from the Chinese.
It's value as farming land is less than it's value as a coal mine to the owners otherwise they'd be maintaining it as farmland.
Looks like all the environmentalists are big supporters of broad acre farming this week. That'll change, they'll flip from one camp to the other, depending upon whether it's BHP, or Monsanto, or mono-culture, or clear felling the mulga, Wesfarmers, organic foods etc.
Ah the irrationality of it - but that's democracies. Everyone thinks they have a right to push their agenda on to others.
I think what you meant to say is technological development is nice, but if people stand to make a shedload of cash now by doing things the old-fashioned way, that's fine, even if it will have negative impacts in the future.
Nope, that's what you'd like me to say.
So how have you arrived at your decision to oppose this project? Have you assessed the economic value of the proposed mining venture against maintaining it as an agricultural venture? Taking into account of course issues of sustainability, private property, what is the best way to get the greatest economic value from this parcel of land, market forces etc.
Or have you just arrived at your decision from a position of ignorance, by just following the herd.
I think it's the latter, because unless you can provide details of the environmental impact that this mine will have, and the economic benefits to retaining it as a "food bowl" rather than a mining project - then you are operating from a weak position.
That's what I'm thinking about doing, interested in a 1000 acre wheat property (land only) that I can lease back for $15/acre. I'm out of town at the moment so will check it out when I'm back.
This quarter. This financial year. This decade, maybe. But after that hole has been dug and all the coal extracted? Then it becomes an expense to rehabilitate the land. Just another "get rich quick" scheme, at a time when the resource is already oversupplied. Seems most modern cost-benefit analysis isn't very forward thinking.
In WA, a state rehab fund exists, where a levy is paid to the state for use to rehab where a company fails to do so.
So an annual 1% levy is payable on unrehabilitated land based on fairly arbitrary estimates of the potential cost of the rehab. Yay for the state coffers.
Historical note - BHP got it's name from Broken Hill, where it hit paydirt back in the day before anyone knew/admitted or gave a shit about future environmental effects. Over 100 years later, significant lead still finds it's way from the soil and water into the blood of the town's inhabitants.
We're a bit smarter nowdays and have minimised harm somewhat with modern methods, but there are still those who paint the science as debatable in the mass media if it gets in the way of profits.
Alcoa doesn't seem to be progressing on it's coal mining rehab very quickly -
So... Given the forecast price of coal over the next decade, minus the cost of mine site rehab, is it worth the opportunity cost of giving up agricultural production for the lifespan of the mine and it's rehab?
When alternatives to energy production are available, is coal extraction crucial enough to justify over food production?
One last question. If coal is good for humanity, why does the fat bloke in the red suit give it to the bad kids at Christmas? Maybe humanity is more naughty than nice.
Meat production has it's issues too, even if you don't believe in CO2, but it's the least shitty of the two options vs coal if taking the long view.
Yep, democractic irrationality, where long term vision rarely exceeds the election cycle. It's almost as retarded as the economic fuedalism of "voting with your dollars" where the voting power of an individual is insignificant compared to that of a corporate giant.
That is a question for the owners of the property. Obviously they consider it a worthy risk and one that provides a better return to them than maintaining it as farming land or investing in clean energy alternatives. And even if we were to pursue clean energy alternatives as opposed to conventional means, we then again are returned to the dilemna of where to site such facilities. An issue that wind farms for example have been dealing with for decades.
One thing is for certain, whilst we retain the current political framework we have, there will always be public debate about resource utilisation.
Because when the naughty kid throws it away because he has no use for it, the parents will be able to burn it, thus having achieved two outcomes - teaching their child a lesson about both appropriate behaviour and and the opportunity to demonstrate "reduce/reuse/recycle" without any extra expense incurred as the coal would have been purchased to provide energy in the first place.
My concern with your position is that you retreat to "the long view", being of the opinion that any other view is "shortsighted". What time frame are we talking about when you argue for the "long term view"? 50 years, a century, 400 years, 1000 years? In the mean time do we ban any projects because they are only of short term economic value, ignoring the potential for technological developments that may provide solutions to problems in the future? Uranium mining springs to my mind. And who decides which long term view we are to adopt? And what length of time? And what opportunites are appropriate to forgo for the long term?
I'm not so concerned with economic value but more with clean food and water. The greed and complacency of this consumer driven society is depressing.
Nuclear is more efficient than coal, as clean as anything as long as it doesn't go Fukushima.
I'm not up for banning anything, just promoting the application of knowledge and information in decision making, and looking toward the horizon. I'm all in favour of tech dev, and look forward to the future solutions to current problems, but I don't think it is prudent to allow a problematic action to be undertaken under the assumption that it'll be solved by the future.
No-one decides the long term view, except the mythical benevolent dictator. The timeframe is variable, as new information or technology comes to light. Foregoing certain opportunities in the long term is pessimistic, if they are problematic then the best way forward would be to focus on overcoming the problems or identifying viable alternatives and how to achieve them at a similar financial cost. Foregoing these opportunities in the short term may be wise if the social or environmental cost has negative potential.
The owners of the property are not long term owners, and only really interested in short term gains. Not a problem if there was no long term negative associated potential.
The "long view" is not set in stone for the next X amount of years, it adapts to updates in info and tech and evolves, but it's continual aim is toward beneficial outcomes for the forseeable future. The temporal horizon varies depending on the aspect viewed, the object in frame and the vision of the observer. A good observer would use the scientific tools available, heed the lessons of the past, keep a watchful eye on the scene, anticipate possible outcomes, and act accordingly. Just like a good sportsman everytime down the field, only over decades rather than minutes.
The "short view" is more akin to instant gratification with diminished acknowledgement or responsibility for anything beyond the desired payload. Just like a good sportsman with a bad drug habit.
To be fair, the income potential of the coal mine is significant (less so than if we waited for better prices) compared to agriculture over the lifespan of the mine. Site rehab technology has vastly improved over the last century (assuming the money to pay for it exists coming from a company that may operate at a loss, or a government with a record deficit).
The big question is how long after mine closure will the land will be returned to the same level of agricultural productivity, and at what cost? Without this info, the relative economic viability of the two industries over that patch of dirt is unclear.
As for the environmental aspects, both beef and coal are significant methane contributors.
There are less destructive energy sources than coal, but that is a global issue, not one regarding this particular patch of dirt. As far as I'm aware, there were no plans to build a wind or solar farm in the area.
It's the instant gratification consumer culture based entirely around purely economic reasoning which is a major contributor to the short sighted activities of humanity.
Without any economic value attached to clean food and water - then you wouldn't have any. :/
You want good clean food and clean water then be prepared to pay for it.
There's economic value in clean food and water as well. I praise the consumer driven society as it means far less mothers have to deal with the trauma of losing their newborn babies, maternal death rates have dropped by a factor of over a 100 and the life expectancy (with a much better quality of life) has more than doubled. But hey, if you like to see two of your grandchildren die before they turn five and your second daughter die in childbirth from a preventable cause then that can be your "thing".
Sometimes it is best to make decisions that favour the short term over the long. This is especially true in economics and it is worth remembering that economic development is the key to improving human existence.
Historically true, but I've lost faith that this still applies in a fiat based system.
Good point. With politicians and central bankers all over the world doing their very best to break market signals it becomes very difficult to rely on them. How does one know if something is a malinvestment if the data you are using is broken? The best thing you can do is ingratiate yourselves with the politicians in the hope you can convince them not to do anything bad and to help you out if it turns out it was a bad investment. Even then you still have to cope with the central-bank-driven rollercoaster economy. It all becomes a bit of a crapshoot.
Separate names with a comma.