29/5/02
Hi Again,
For those who have just joined our satellite tv / communications discussion, I have taken the liberty to send you a couple of News & views emails to give everyone an idea of what views we have on issues. This newsletter is to keep landholders (& others interested) informed about injustices and the more contentious environmental issues across Rural Australia. Comments and debate are welcome. Most of the news is from ABC radio.

This edition features greenpeace founder, Dr Patrick Moores comments on how much of the environmental movement have gone overboard. Hope you enjoy it.

(1) Tas Right To Farm
(2) SA Laser levelled irrigation more efficient than sprays
(3) Carnarvon (WA) water privatisation
(4) Climate models as accurate as guess work
(5) Greenhouse comments - Judith McGeorge
(6) Global warming comments from Sarah Moles
(7) Leon`s reply
(8) More on global warming - Dan McLuskey
(9) Qld Tree Clearing in the courts
(10)Agforce comments on Property Rights, & vegetation management
(11) Puckapunya roo cull
(12) More concern over Water Sharing in NSW
(13) NSW River Red Gum Regulation
(14) US publication Profarmer describes the new US bill as the greenest ever.
(15) Eco extremists .- Dr Patrick Moore, Greenpeace founder

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(1) Tas Right To Farm

Right to farm issues have been high on the rural agenda lately, with farming operations interrupted by construction of pipes and cables through properties along the gas pipeline. Peter Elphinstone is one of those concerned about his right to farm, after damaging a Telstra cable when he was ploughing a paddock at Rocky Cape in the north west of the state.

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(2) SA Laser levelled irrigation more efficient than sprays

Four years ago Dairy farmer Geoff Simons (Mannum SA) laser levelled all his irrigation paddocks and converted 32 Ha of spray irrigation to flood irrigation.
This is the opposite to what the legislators are suggesting for Geoff`s area but his water usage has reduced by 25%. In addition Geoff can irrigate in half the time and has reduce his diesel costs by 70%.

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(3) Carnarvon (WA) water privatisation

Following in the direction of other regions such as the south west and Ord River irrigation areas, the Gascoyne Water Co-operative is a step closer in its moves to secure privatisation of the region's irrigation system. Lawyers representing both the Water Corporation and the Gascoyne Water Co-operative are trying to finalise contracts. Chair of the Carnarvon Irrigation Steering Committee Marcus Holla believes there are benefits if growers taking control of the system.

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(4) Climate models as accurate as guess work

Farmers shouldn't rely on the accuracy of long range climate forecasts, according to a study by the Kondinin Group. The farming group used information collected by the Bureau of Meteorology on five different climate models, including the CSIRO and the Canadian Meteorology Centre. It found long-term climate models can predict rainfall for three month periods, with accuracy levels no better than a guess. The Canadian model ranked number one, but research officer David Buckley found the forecasts generally aren't accurate enough yet, to make long term farming decisions. "Probably the most accurate was the Canadian model. But it's still early days with these experimental models and there's probably only 12 to 16 years which we have on records. The best models and the best locations, best time of year, they're forecasting 60, 70 per cent of the occasions correct. So the vast majority of the land mass they're still only doing slightly better than 50 per cent of occasions."

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(5) Greenhouse comments - Judith McGeorge

Dr G J Faichney, a former CSIRO Animal Production Scientist, who was a member of the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Livestock Sub-committee is disputing the figure currently being pedalled for methane emissions in livestock in Australia of 21 GWP ( CO2 has a GWP of 1) Before one becomes distracted by disputed scientific data and methodology and disputation as to the what may or may not be correct GWP factor I would like to ask a few questions as to why the imperative of this may result in a tax on livestock in Australia.
1. Where was the research undertaken?
2. Was research conducted in the semi arid pastoral zones?
3. If yes- where?
4. Was vegetation ( a carbon sink) also measured as a counterbalancing exercise?
5. Who commissioned and funded the research?
In New Zealand where a tax was proposed( and deferred this week), livestock management requires careful monitoring for bloat- a problem I have never had in animals on native pasture
The proposed tax was 40c per head and a cattle equivalent. If an equivalent tax was applied to in Australia to family sized properties running a 10 000 sheep or 1200 cattle grazing enterprise this tax would amount to a $ 4000 annual impost per property !
Which equates to 40c per head of sheep and $3.20 per beast- quite a burden - it seems strange a tax on producers would in any way lower the emissions, as we all know, our costs are not able to be passed on up the chain.

As some 100million sheep and 30million cattle are dispersed over 75% of the continent with 5% of the human population- creating a 20% total greenhouse emissions- what scientific research has been undertaken to ensure the 80% of emissions created in the 25% urban areas of Australiais to be taxed and mitigated? In a world short on protein supply why would there be an endeavour to tax the source to make provision for urban areas to gaily continue the greatest emissions ? This proposed tax will not lower methane. So what is its purpose ? to generate more emissions from talk fests? If production is lowered who will draw the line in the sand – those on one side to go hungry ?

Judith McGeorge

* There are other predictions (guesses) of $90 per cow and $5 per sheep per year that Australian producers could be taxed from 2008 - Thats $90,000 per year for a 1,000 head herd.

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(6) Global warming comments from Sarah Moles (former Qld Greens Senate candidate)
HI Leon and Jane,
Its good to see you flagging climate change / global warming as an issue for primary producers - I undertook a project earlier this year to try and provide a bridge between 'science speaking' climate researchers and farmers who need 'plain english' information to work with, to better understand the implications of predicted changes. Unfortunately few landcare and/or producer groups seem interested in this work - in spite of the fact that a real attempt was made to highlight the opportunities for rural and regional areas, rather than dwell on the 'gloom and doom' scenarios....

Your comment that a warmer world is better than a cooler one needs some qualification. It is certainly true that higher C02 levels stimulate plant growth (it also increases water use efficiency), but it does not necessarily follow that there will be higher levels of production. This WOULD be the case in 'wetter than normal' years, but if the increased CO2 is accompanied by a reduction in rainfall of say 10% ( which is quite likely in some regions) this will cancel out the benefit of the higher CO2. If the reduction in rainfall was more on the order of 20% then reduced productivity is likely - a 15% decline for pasture productivity and a 12% decline in llive weight gain for cattle.

It should be noted that the hydrological changes are extremely difficult to model but researchers seem to agree that our climate will remain highly variable. It should also be noted that predictions are more accurate at bigger scales ie researchers have more confidence in global or contintental scale predictions than in regional (and especially) local ones. The scientists I spoke to were very cautious (reluctant!) about eg defining the line between "northern australia" (where higher rainfall is predicted) and "southern australia' ( where rainfall is predicted to fall). All regions are likely to experience wide variations in rainfall over time.

Climate change has implications for many facets of agriculture, including economic ones - crop yields, planting times, fertiliser application rates, carrying capacity, beef and dairy yields, weed and pest distribution, water availability - the list goes on. There are also some pretty significant human health impacts that those of us who spend much of our time out of doors should be aware of and take precautions against.

While we may well need less energy to warm our homes, many areas will use much more energy to keep them cool in summer. For some industries - intensive animal industries for example, there will be a need to keep combat heat stress - for animal welfare as well as production reasons...depending on the strategy adopted this can be quite energy/resource intensive, not to mention expensive.

Cheers
Sarah Moles

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(7) Leon`s reply

Thanks for your comments Sarah.

One of our reason`s for discussing global warming is because there is a lot to consider in the debate and we (landholders) often need lively discussions to help clarify our thinking.

Most of the Global warming predictions /guesses that I have read, indicate a moderate increase in rainfall overall, and an enhanced greenhouse effect. The global warming so far recorded (the natural & manmade effects together of about 2 degrees C since 1940) seems to indicate a higher minimum (night & winter) temperature but the same maximum (daytime) temperatures, along with less frosts. This would indicate better plant productivity and a need for less home heating costs, without increasing home cooling costs.

As far as farm production goes, in SA (where the rain is mostly in winter) our winter soil temperatures are very low for 3 months and we get little grass growth. Therefore an increase in temp would lift production here. Of course, in Qld where soil temperatures are almost always sufficient for good plant growth, it is mostly moisture availability that limits plant growth, and global warming predictions are for more rainfall there. Other areas of Australia, will have their own peculiarities but overall I believe my statement will stand that a warmer world is better for productivity than a cooler one.

It seems that the "gut instinct" of most landholders towards talk of increased variability of climate is "so what? - we already deal with large variability" and maybe that`s why there is little interest - but to non farmers, it sounds bad, because they don`t experience the ups and downs of season`s, markets, plagues, fires, floods, loss of rights, and more.
We already have to change the way we run our enterprises regularly because of these variables, so if there is any climate change (whether part of the natural cycle or man made ) it will not be noticed much. To give you an example. The rainfall varies from 4 to 40 inches a year at Aramac, Qld , so if someone says climate change will increase seasonal variability - what difference does it make? - it`s still ranges from droughts to big wets.
Besides, new grasses and improved farming technologies are gradually improving our ability to handle many of the variables. The feeling from my peers is mostly a cynicism to all the GW predictions and a concern we will be required by legislation to do something that costs plenty, but gains nothing. - Leon

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(8) More on global warming - Dan McLuskey

With reference to your article on global warming, I was very concerned some time ago about reports of sea level rise due to global warming inundating low lying island states in the south west pacific.

As a good practicing geodesist, I reckoned that if the sea level is rising in the south west pacific, then it will also be rising around Australia, and we have a very good network of tide guages around our coastline. So I rang around and was directed to the National Tidal Facility at Flinders university www.ntf.flinders.edu.au where there is a project report analysing just that. click here to see it

The best figure available is a possible rise of 0.3 mm per year, and there is still some uncertainty about that. (*compare that with the 1995 IPCC prediction of 1-2 mm per year)

The project also includes analysis of tide gauge data from around the pacific. Equally interesting. No case for consistent sea level rise. Some up, some down. The poor state of Tuvalu - you might remember photos of a man up to his knees in sea water proclaiming that this had been dry land. Well, monitored sea level at Tuvalu is falling at a rate of 8 cm per year.

Go to the web page and read the report; it will give some idea of the complexity of the analytical process when good science is applied.

You should also be very careful about claims relating to global warming or climate change. There are different definitions of the terms. The IPCC defines global warming or climate change as solely the anthropogenic effect; that is, the effect of the activities of humans on the climate. In this definition,

anthropogenic effect = (total observed change - change due to natural processes).

However many conservationist groups use the term to mean all change in climate, including natural change, but then attribute all change to anthropogenic sources. This is very bad science and deliberately misleading.

I am tackling a researcher from UQ for applying very bad scientific method in some work that he is doing in our region at present.

Best wishes,

Dan McLuskey
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(9) Qld Tree Clearing in the courts


T
wenty four landholders have been prosecuted for attempting to clear land without a permit since February in 1999. Currently another 11 cases are before the courts and a further 179 investigations are underway. The Minister for Natural Resources Stephen Robertson says the numbers send a clear message to landholders. It's a message Central Queensland landholder Charlie Lund takes issue with. He's currently preparing to contest a charge of illegal tree clearing after he had verbal confirmation to pull regrowth several years ago. Charlie says it will cost him $50,000 to go to court to prove his point whereas he could plead guilty and just get a slap on the wrist. Charlie has another property which has been waiting for a permit for 4 years. DNRE says personel changes are the cause of the delay . Charlie says that sort of incompetence is causing losses from not being able to develope this property.

* There is a whisper that cashed up Qld freehold landowners are considering drawing up their own property plans (identical to plans required by the VM act), putting them in their solicitors office and then pulling timber without a permit. They want to challenge the govt to a court case over the legality of the Qld vegetation management act controlling timber on freehold land. This timber has been declared as paid and owned by the landholder when the land became freehold.. Because there are no documents which transfer ownership back to the govt, or payment for their freehold timber (compensation), they believe the govt would lose.

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(10)Agforce comments on Property Rights, & vegetation management

David Capel ( AgForce) says while Agforce supports the Qld Government's process of developing vegetation management plans for each of the 13 bio-regions across the state, the issue of compensation is still to be resolved.

And, until it is resolved, the regional planning committees are stymied in their recommendations.

To date, government has had an expectation that landholders will forgo development opportunities because of legislation like the Vegetation Management Act without compensation.

Government also expects landholders will relinquish development potential on any land that may be further identified under the planning process as off limits to clearing - again, without compensation.

David says "we need a commitment from government that the whole equity issue of tree clearing is discussed publicly and that if rights are taken away from landholders that they will be adequately and fairly compensated."
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* Since CoAG , the property rights issue is looking like going nowhere.
Craig Underwood (WA) is still working on a calm but forceful protest called "the last straw"
Craig`s idea is for landholders to slowly drive into Perth with bales of hay on the back of their utes. They would cause a traffic jam, perform some colourful publicity stunts on the steps of parliament house, and cut the strings on the hay in strategic places while calling for a national safety net for landholders losing their property rights.

If we already had some satellite tv arrangements in place, the following process would be possible.

# Two weeks before any protest, Craig could have a video feature done on the injustices he has faced with both vegetation and water rights issues and why he believes a protest is essential.
# Other WA landholder stories could follow in the leadup to the protest
# A full report could be run on the day of the protest with Craig asking landholders in other states to join in, in support.
# By this time, other media would probably be interested in the stories we were putting on air every few days
# Several Landholders in another state (e.g. NSW) could announce their support and have their stories run along with their plans to have a similar " last Straw" protest in Sydney two weeks later.
# Then it would be Queenslands turn two weeks later again.
# After this, if all the State and Federal govts could not agree to a satisfactory Property Rights outcome, a nation wide "last Straw" protest could be organised where every capital city had a protest at the same time, causing traffic jams, air flights and more affected with hay & straw being spread everywhere.

You might think this sounds "pie in the sky", but with our own television service, we can plan the momentum of action and the release of information to weave in together. We can also link stories of injustice to landholders with video images of their situation, into the property rights story, and raise the profile of what property rights are and put it in the nation`s conscience.

With a tool such as Satellite TV, we can make a story the other media have to report. - Leon

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(11) Puckapunya roo cull

The contraversial culling of thousands of kangaroos at the Puckapunyal army base in central Victoria has begun. Animal rights activists have staged protests against the cull after it was revealed up to 200 thousand starving roos were trapped on the army base, unable to penetrate the electric perimeter fence. The Victorian government has accused the federal government of not managing the over population of roos, in the meantime the army has today announced it will allow the humane culling of 15,000 kangaroos by contractors. Some activists say they will put themselves between the guns and the animals. The Defence Department has said it will consider using kangaroos killed in future culls on the base for pet or human consumption, but he state government has expressed it will not sell the roo meat from any culls.

* One activist has said "since we would not destroy humans who are starving, we should not do so to roos. It is preferable to let the roos starve to death".

Two points I would make are
# Since roos cannot grow their own food, use contraceptives, or discuss their difficulties, then without a predator, they are not able to manage themselves and therefore some other species (humans) has to.
# While starving to death is natural, so is one species killing / eating / hunting or controlling another.

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(12) More concern over Water Sharing in NSW

The storm over water management plans in New South Wales is gaining intensity, with yet more criticism of how the process is being conducted. The Draft Water Sharing Plan for the Murrumbidgee Valley, is currently under scrutiny - with the draft plan on display. Meetings have been held throughout the Riverina this week, with a strong turnout from irrigators, environmentalists and the broader community. Much of the debate is being centred on Government involvement in the process, and concerns the plan might end up reflecting political needs, rather than community needs. Theres also calls for greater social and economic analysis.

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(13) NSW River Red Gum Regulation

Landholders in the western Riverina are up in arms over proposals to change the management of River Red Gums as part of the region's draft native vegetation plan. One of the measures outlined in the draft plan is to change private native forestry legislation, so that landholders will be forced to seek permission before harvesting the trees. Chair of the Western Riverina Regional Vegetaion Committee says the changes are intended to ensure sustainability. But Hay landholder John Clark says the trees are private assets and farmers shoiuld be able to use them as they see fit.

* Unless they are paid for by the govt

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<FONT COLOR="#000000" SIZE=3 FAMILY="SERIF" FACE="Times New Roman" LANG="0">(14) US publication Profarmer describes the new US farm bill as the greenest ever.

(Here`s a rundown on how the US treats it`s farmers)

Extra funding going to existing conservation programmes tallies up to more than 17 US billion dollars over 10 years… an increase of 80 per cent.
The CRP…conservation reserve programme will allow almost 40 million acres of cropping land to be locked up for 10 to 15 years with annual payments to farm owners.

Under another programme livestock producers must have a comprehensive nutrient management plan before they can tap into Washington’s funds. But then they can get up to $450,000 over the life of this farm bill to do anything from off stream and groundwater storage, lining of ditches and conversion from flood irrigation to higher efficiency systems.

There’s a ten fold increase in the wildlife habitat incentive programme.

There are new initiatives like the grasslands reserve programme where people can virtually lock up virgin or improved pasture land for 10 years to 30 years with yearly payments that are not supposed to exceed 75 percent of the value of the grazing land.

* US farmers have their own TV, newspaper, & radio media

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And finally some excerpts from Dr Patrick Moore`s website Greenspirit (www.greenspirit.com)on (16) extremists in the environmental movement.

Dr. Patrick Moore is a founding member of Greenpeace and served for nine years as President of Greenpeace Canada and seven years as a Director of Greenpeace International.

Hard Choices for the Environmental Movement

More than twenty years ago I was one of a dozen or so activists who founded Greenpeace in the basement of the Unitarian Church in Vancouver. We linked peace, ecology, and a talent for media communications and went on to build the world's largest environmental activist organization. By 1986 Greenpeace was established in 26 countries and had an income of over $100 million per year.
In 1986 the mainstream of western society was busy adopting the environmental agenda that was considered radical only fifteen years earlier. By 1989 the combined impact of Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez, the threat of global warming and the ozone hole clinched the debate. All but a handful of reactionaries joined the call for sustainable development and environmental protection.

Whereas previously the leaders of the environmental movement found themselves on the outside railing at the gates of power, they were now invited to the table in boardrooms and caucuses around the world. For environmentalists, accustomed to the politics of confrontation, this new era of acceptance posed a challenge as great as any campaign to save the planet.

For me, Greenpeace is about ringing an ecological fire alarm, waking mass consciousness to the true dimensions of our global predicament, pointing out the problems and defining their nature. Greenpeace doesn't necessarily have the solutions to those problems and certainly isn't equipped to put them into practice....

Collaboration versus Confrontation

It was no coincidence that the round-table, consensus-based negotiation process was adopted by thousands of environmental leaders. It is the logical tool for working in the new spirit of green cooperation. It may not be a perfect system for decision-making, but like Churchill said about democracy, "It's the worst form of government except for all the others". A collaborative approach promises to give environmental issues their fair consideration in relation to the traditional economic and social priorities. Some environmentalists didn't see it that way. Indeed, there had always been a minority of extremists who took a "No Compromise in Defense of Mother Nature" position

The Rise of Eco-Extremism

Two profound events triggered the split between those advocating a pragmatic or "liberal" approach to ecology and the new "zero-tolerance" attitude of the extremists. The first event, was the widespread adoption of the environmental agenda by the mainstream of business and government. This left environmentalists with the choice of either being drawn into collaboration with their former "enemies" or of taking ever more extreme positions. Many environmentalists chose the latter route. They rejected the concept of "sustainable development" and took a strong "anti-development" stance.

Surprisingly enough the second event that caused the environmental movement to veer to the left was the fall of the Berlin Wall. Suddenly the international peace movement had a lot less to do. Pro-Soviet groups in the West were discredited. Many of their members moved into the environmental movement bringing with them their eco-Marxism and pro-Sandinista sentiments. These factors have contributed to a new variant of the environmental movement that is so extreme that many people, including myself, believe its agenda is a greater threat to the global environment than that posed by mainstream society.

Some of the features of eco-extremism are:

· It is anti-human. The human species is characterized as a "cancer" on the face of the earth. The extremists perpetuate the belief that all human activity is negative whereas the rest of nature is good. This results in alienation from nature and subverts the most important lesson of ecology; that we are all part of nature and interdependent with it. This aspect of environmental extremism leads to disdain and disrespect for fellow humans and the belief that it would be "good" if a disease such as AIDS were to wipe out most of the population.


· It is anti-technology and anti-science. Eco-extremists dream of returning to some
kind of technologically primitive society. Horse-logging is the only kind of forestry they can fully support. All large machines are seen as inherently destructive and "unnatural'. The Sierra Club's recent book, "Clearcut: the Tradgedy of Industrial Forestry", is an excellent example of this perspective. "Western industrial society" is rejected in its entirety as is nearly every known forestry system including shelterwood, seed tree and small group selection. The word "Nature" is capitalized every time it is used and we are encouraged to "find our place" in the world through "shamanic journeying" and "swaying with the trees". Science is invoked only as a means of justifying the adoption of beliefs that have no basis in science to begin with.



· It is anti-organization. Environmental extremists tend to expect the whole world to
adopt anarchism as the model for individual behavior. This is expressed in their dislike of national governments, multinational corporations, and large institutions of all kinds. It would seem that this critique applies to all organizations except the environmental movement itself. Corporations are critisized for taking profits made in one country and investing them in other countries, this being proof that they have no "allegiance" to local communities. Where is the international environmental movements allegiance to local communities? How much of the money raised in the name of aboriginal peoples has been distributed to them? How much is dedicated to helping loggers thrown out of work by environmental campaigns? How much to research silvicultural systems that are environmentally and economically superior?


· It is anti-trade. Eco-extremists are not only opposed to "free trade" but to
international trade in general. This is based on the belief that each "bioregion" should be self-sufficient in all its material needs. If it's too cold to grow bananas - - too bad. Certainly anyone who studies ecology comes to realize the importance of natural geographic units such as watersheds, islands, and estuaries. As foolish as it is to ignore ecosystems it is adsurd to put fences around them as if they were independent of their neighbours. In its extreme version, bioregionalism is just another form of ultra-nationalism and gives rise to the same excesses of intolerance and xenophobia.


· It is anti-free enterprise. Despite the fact that communism and state socialism has
failed, eco-extremists are basically anti-business. They dislike "competition" and are definitely opposed to profits. Anyone engaging in private business, particularly if they are sucessful, is characterized as greedy and lacking in morality. The extremists do not seem to find it necessary to put forward an alternative system of organization that would prove efficient at meeting the material needs of society. They are content to set themselves up as the critics of international free enterprise while offering nothing but idealistic platitudes in its place


.· It is anti-democratic. This is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of radical
px solid; MARGIN-LEFT: 5px; MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 5px">environmentalism. The very foundation of our society, liberal representative democracy, is rejected as being too "human-centered". In the name of "speaking for the trees and other species" we are faced with a movement that would usher in an era of eco-fascism. The "planetary police" would "answer to no one but Mother Earth herself".


· It is basically anti-civilization. In its essence, eco-extremism rejects virtually
everything about modern life. We are told that nothing short of returning to primitive tribal society can save the earth from ecological collapse. No more cities, no more airplanes, no more polyester suits. It is a naive vision of a return to the Garden of Eden


As a result of the rise of environmental extremism it has become difficult for the public, government agencies and industry to determine which demands are reasonable and which are not. It’s almost as if the person or group that makes the most outrageous accusations and demands is automatically called "the environmentalist" in the news story. Industry, no matter how sincere in its efforts to satisfy legitimate environmental concerns, is branded "the threat to the environment".

Cheers
Leon & Jane