Camels and Greenhouse Gases

A story on the front page of  The Australian on 8 February referred to AWS. It discusses methane emissions from camels and cars and follows a request by John Cobb MP to the Parliamentary Library to do an estimate. The Australian journalist sought comment from Sen Wong’s office and was presented with a much lower figure.  The journalist then asked AWS  for an independent estimate.

AWS makes the point that the issue is much more complicated than a simple comparison of cars and camels and that calculations contain many doubtful assumptions, including extrapolating the diet of domestic camels to wild camels.  Advocates of  ‘direct action’ using greenhouse gas reduction as a justification, need to consider the emissions produced by control. (This may be where the discrepancy between Sen Wong’s office and the Library comes in)

Detailed planning and consideration has been under way for some time in regard to the camel management. Advocates of ‘direct action’ need, at the very least to consider

  • dialogue and agreement with landholders, noting that most of the camels are on Aboriginal land
  • a long-term strategy that would address the return of camels which will result from an inability to remove them all
  • the ecological consequences of leaving large numbers of carcasses in the landscape – assuming direct action means helicopter gunships
  • the presentational problems which aerial shooting presents – (even though it can be done relatively humanely)
  • a market based solution, for example subsidised camel capture, mobile abattoirs, including  through Indigenous owned businesses?

In addition more research is needed on GHG gas emissions from animals not under the Kyoto protocol. DAFF and MLA are spending $28m on projects to make cattle more like kangaroos, including introducing kangaroo gut microorganisms into cattle. A modest investment in kangaroos (and camels) would seem to be a complementary investment worth the risk.

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