Thursday, 16 June 2011


Finally, some common sense is being injected into the climate change debate. For too long, discussion has become bogged down in the existential and arcane intricacies of the Carbon Tax conundrum (how many compensated pensioners can you fit on the head of a pin, how do you change peoples behavior without, um, changing their behavior, and so on) whilst ignoring the very real threat to our atmosphere lurking insidiously in our own backyard.

I refer of course to the belching, farting camel.

Camels are one of our biggest carbon emitters. As far as bad guys go, they are right up there with BHP, Rio Tinto and Xstrata. Shivering in their under-heated, solar-paneled, pink-batted homes frantically fitting energy saving light bulbs and recycling their milk cartons, your average Aussie battler is woefully ignorant of the fact that a large part of their suffering is due to the thoughtless, selfish, dastardly lifestyle of the Outback Camel.

Roving unchecked across our sunburnt landscape, these burping, farting, native-vegetation guzzling grass munchers are emitting - as was reported in The Australian on Thursday - "the same amount of carbon dioxide produced by a plane on a 7000km flight." Each and every one of them. Every year. And there’s over a million of the buggers scattered across our vast continent. That’s an awful lot of carbon dioxide.

But before you leap out of your seat in self-righteous indignation and climate change induced rage, relax: help is now at hand.

Dr Tim Moore of Adelaide-based Northwest Carbon, has cracked it. His brilliant proposal will see this life-threatening hazard tackled with environmental zeal and Kyoto-style efficiency. Currently under review by the government’s Domestic Offset Integrity Committee, with the blessing of Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change Mark Dreyfus, Dr Moore ‘s scheme combines the incentive structure of a “carbon credit swap” with the 19th century economic model known as “scalp-hunting.”
Dr Moore recommends an airborne assault on the camel population of Australia. For every camel you kill you get a credit for a tonne of carbon.
Dr Moore and his crack team will soon be swooping down out of the clear blue Kimberley skies in a fleet of specially equipped helicopters. I might like to suggest that he exclusively employ returned Afghan servicemen, who at least should be able to spot the difference between a camel (the one with the lumpy bits) and say, a large red kangaroo or a water buffalo. I trust, too, that the marksmen will be specially trained to deliver the coup de grace (or should that be coup de grass?) as humanely as possible. No Indonesians need apply, thank you.
Gaia, I'm sure, will sigh with relief.
But Dr Moore isn’t just a one-trick pony. Another proposal, also under his Carbon Farming Initiative, will see the inoculation of cattle to stop them burping.
About time, too. And a belated breath of fresh air in the vexed greenhouse emissions quandry. Perhaps, after all, Labor can afford to jettison the blighted Carbon Tax altogether. Let’s face it, it’s been a dog of an idea from day one. There isn’t a politician on either side of the debate who hasn’t rued the day he or she first mentioned the cursed thing, having in the past been caught on tape saying the complete opposite of what they now profess to believe in.
Julia can afford to get rid of it. Because the common sense way forward is now clear.

Why stop at camels? Surely we should be targeting all those creatures who wantonly emit the most carbon dioxide and are thereby deliberately threatening life on earth as we know it? We need to do away with them as rapidly as possible. For the sake of the planet.
We can start with people who shop at Hungry Jacks. According to figures released last week by consumer watchdog Choice, their Ultimate Double Whopper packs 80g of fat, 2386mg of sodium and 5085 kilojoules, and is "the most unhealthy option in a sample of major outlets." I cant say precisely how much carbon dioxide your average Ultimate Double Whopper consumer emits post degustation, but I bet it would make even the most hardened camel sit up and blush. I'm glad I'm not the one who will have to do the “emissions-measuring” that’s for sure. Perhaps Tony Windsor or Rob Oakeshott could help out. Because if Greg Combet and his Multi Party Climate Change Committee are serious about making a difference to global warming, they should award each and every one of us our own Domestic Offset Integrity Value. After that, it's up to us. Overdo it on the brussel sprouts and roast parsnips at Gran's Sunday roast and you may well wake up the next morning to the ominous sounds of Dr Moore's black chinooks circling overhead.

Pubs, too, could offer abundant opportunities to reduce emissions. Pew Environment Group spokesman Barry Traill claims that “when feral animals belch they release methane, a particularly noxious greenhouse gas.” You only need to spend a Friday afternoon at The Oaks to know that. There are certainly plenty of ferals at most of the pubs I drink in, and I think removing them from our lives altogether in the name of saving the planet is a fab idea. Win win.
The government could even introduce a Dob-in-an-Emitter scheme. That greasy bogan squashed next to you on the bus who just let one rip? Take a snapshot of him on your iPhone and sms it to 1300 CARBONFARTER. If he's a repeat offender then, like the outback camel, an eager carbon offset hunter will quickly make sure he’s history.
Hopefully then the planet – and the rest of us - will all be able to breathe a little easier.
 Copyright Rowan Dean 2011

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