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EDITORIAL

Keeping cooler in a warmer climate

Maitland Street has had its makeovers in the past but Narrabri’s main street has lagged in many aspects of its appearance and functionality when compared to many other country centres as the decades have unspooled.
However, with the start by Narrabri Shire Council of the much-awaited final phase of a $2 million program of improvements, the emergence of an appealing and workable CBD is in sight.
Most Narrabri residents will recall the years when plans and counter plans for parking, trees and street beautification created enormous arguments with little in the way of
satisfying outcomes.
Narrabri today has status and presence as a progressive regional country centre and the Council should receive due credit for persevering with the challenges of creating a shopping and business centre which offers much to locals and visitors alike.
The improvements signalled by the Council include vital stormwater works, new gardens and seating.
The Council is seeking to create a CBD environment which improves the shopping experience – thus benefitting and stimulating the retail sectors in the main street.
The Council’s welcome action perhaps may open the way for even further enhancements of the CBD.
This is particularly the case in view of the Australia-wide evidence this summer that hotter and longer summers may be our lot for the decades ahead.
Already many urban areas in cities and regional centres around the world are turning ‘greener’ to counteract the heat island effects caused by buildings, roofs, roads and human activities. Scientific research has shown, however, that CBD summer scorchers can be significantly reduced by the presence of trees, vegetation and shade.
A remarkable fact is that leaves of trees, no matter which climatic zone they occupy, stay at 21 degrees C which is the optimum temperature for photosynthesis.
Trees are cool… in more ways than one, it seems.
Recent news that a new App for finding shaded walking routes in cities suggests that the digital world is responding to climate change.
Maitland Street in mid-summer has not been a place to dawdle and have a yarn on a hot footpath.
Temperatures could be higher in the future. Shaded seating in Narrabri would be a blessing for young and old alike.
Perhaps readers may have some ideas as to how Maitland Street could be further changed to help make Narrabri’s main street a ‘cool’ place to visit in a warmer future.

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Your Say

Cattle methane emissions ‘not so bad’

Cattle methane emissions not as bad as suggested in the Courier Editorial 4/2/2020.
First I must say I detect a gradual change in The Courier’s tone towards global warming and climate change in your editorials which coincides with what we are hearing from our Coalition governments as they try to extricate themselves from the corner they have painted themselves into.
I am sure the coal and gas companies have not given them permission to do this, however they can see the need to stem the flow of public opinion (on this subject) which is turning against them.
In your editorial you state that “livestock flocks around the world produce 30 per cent of total CH4 (Methane) emissions”.
Many readers would interpret this comment as meaning livestock flocks are a major cause of green house gas emissions and therefore climate change.
This comment is not accurate for the reasons mentioned in the rest of this letter.
This percentage varies depending on the source of the information quoted.
I don’t intend to dispute the 30 per cent figure used in the editorial as the subject is complicated and will depend on how the amount is calculated.
Some estimates are as low as 15-20 per cent.
Even this figure is probably too high when the following points are considered.
More important is the fact that domesticated ruminant livestock animals used in agriculture are part of the carbon cycle, or carbon methane cycle, as livestock consume carbon when they eat grass, they are a carbon sink.
This fact is seldom ever mentioned even by scientists and particularly by vegans, animal liberationists and fossil fuel companies, who prefer to demonise the livestock industries.
If livestock are given credit for the fact they are also a carbon sink, then it can be argued their part in the carbon cycle is in balance.
This means that while ever ruminant numbers are constant they do not alter the amount of methane in the atmosphere.
Increase ruminant numbers will increase methane emissions in the atmosphere while decreasing ruminant numbers will reduce methane concentration in the atmosphere.
As scientists are working on reducing methane emissions from cattle by experimenting with their diet it seems possible that they may end up part of the solution to global warming.
It is also interesting to note that there are about 200 different species of ruminant animals on the planet and they did not increase green house gas emissions while their numbers remained relatively stable.
This changed when the human population began to increase dramatically around the year 1800.
To highlight the point that ruminants, including the domesticated ones, should be given credit for being a carbon sink, consider the fact that plants are the largest emitter of carbon dioxide on earth but without thinking we give them credit for the fact that they capture more carbon via photosynthesis during the day than they emitted ie they are a net carbon sink.
Some of the natural methane sources you mention in the editorial are captured by this (plant photosynthesis sink) therefore helping to maintain a carbon balance.
That is until we came along.
If you believe in global warming – climate change, caused by the increase in the concentration of green house gases then no matter how you look at it we are the problem largely (but not the only reason) because of our use of fossil fuels.
I mention in the second paragraph that the subject is complicated so point out that what I have written is in layman’s language in order to keep the letter reasonably short.
Stuart Murray, Narrabri

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