Smoke lingers over suburban Sydney, while bushfires continue to burn. It’s tragic. It’s predictable. And it’s preventable.
Australia has always been dry. But for millions of years, natural processes managed the landscape. Water was plentiful, and temperatures were stable. This made devastating fires rare.
How did nature do it? And can we fireproof the continent again?
To answer the first question, we need to look at the relationship between plants, water, soil and heat.
Anyone knows from personal experience that sweating cools you down. The reason for this is that when liquid sweat evaporates from your skin, some energy – in the form of heat – is needed to transform the liquid to gas. This heat, known as latent heat, is taken away from your body and absorbed by the water vapour. The heat is then released again when that vapour turns back into liquid.
This same process is going on all the time in plants. But when plants “sweat”, we call it transpiration. And when you have vast forests and grasslands transpiring, large amounts of water vapour travels into the sky. This has two effects. First, the evaporated water draws a massive amount of heat up into the atmosphere. This cools the environment on the ground. And second, the evaporated water turns into clouds and eventually rain.
This natural process of water movement and heat transfer leads to cooler temperatures and more rain. Two factors sure to reduce bushfire severity.
The next element to discuss is the soil. Healthy soils capture rain. This reduces erosion and keeps huge amounts of water in the landscape. This water is then available for plants to keep growing, long after the rains have stopped. Soil moisture also has a direct impact on how the landscape deals with fire. Dry, degraded soil allows fire to fly straight over it. Whereas, when there is more water in the soil, the heat is sucked from a fire, stopping it in its path.
It’s foolish to look at any one of the above processes in isolation. Nature is complex. But if we want to fix the mistakes of two centuries of mismanagement, we must comprehend this complexity.
And indeed, innovative researchers and land managers have been building a knowledge base under the umbrella term of regenerative agriculture. This is a toolkit of solutions that show the way to build soil, increase plant growth and hold water in the landscape. Regenerative farmers around the country are working with natural water and ecosystem processes, rather than against them. But we need more people to become informed and join in.
This land has been fireproof before, and it can be fireproof again. We need to let natural water processes work, so plants grow and soils improve. We don’t have to wait for governments to tax carbon or close coal plants. These grassroots solutions will allow us to quickly rehydrate the landscape. And they’re solutions that everyone can work on now.
by Peter Andrews OAM, 20 March 2019
The question I am most asked is not “How does The Australian Landscape Science work?” Actually, it is “Why hasn’t this model been made available to everyone?” If the Australian public knew the truth of what has been going on behind the scenes, there would be anarchy tomorrow.
So many promises have been made and swiftly broken over the years, that combined they would be hard to tally. Despite all the good faith on display to the world, there has been no action.
As the long dry continues to expedite the desiccation of our nation, breaking the hearts of farmers and breaking the back of regional economies, perhaps the day of revolution shall yet come to pass.
For now, it should suffice that any careful examination of the Australian continent reveals that we would appear to have the worst natural situation for climate stability. Our highest mountains are on the east instead of more ideally on the west, such as in the USA. There is precious little seasonal snow melt to recharge the thirsty inland watershed, such as in Europe. You wouldn’t want to place a bet on this continent ever becoming a paradise.
However, the ancient Australian landscape was exactly that, a paradise which developed biodiversity beyond comparison, including many of the singing birds, the flowering plants, aquaculture and megafauna which were bigger than the average automobile.
How could ancient Australia possibly have become a verdant paradise? Well, it should be obvious to the reader by now, that it was because of our magnificent plants, which were able to achieve the most efficient landscape processes on the planet. And these productive processes are still available to us today, presented in the skeleton of the ancient Australian landscape.
I began my current journey back in 1975, after being advised by Professor Hector Geddes, a professor who was in charge of agriculture at Sydney University, that Australia could reveal energy management strategies that are counter-intuitive to Mediterranean-evolved agricultural practices. For example, Australia has the longest hours of sunlight, the greatest variety of plants that can function 24/7 and the most efficient use of water relative to production. My realisation was that the Australian landscape demonstrated a laboratory that could lead the world.
Since European interventions first started on this landscape, we have had many agricultural philosophies. When introduced animals impacted the plant management system, this triggered the erosion and collapse of many areas and heralded the paradigm of drainage. These practices, which have been used by past civilisations, and are still being promulgated now, are now recognised to result in failed environments. The disappointing aspect is that these same agriculturalists claim to understand the Australian management strategies!
It must be recognised that while the impact of humans and their animals demonstrates failures, in some cases, it also presents possible solutions. It is these solutions which I am so determined to see come to fruition, immediately.
However, I have come to understand that the processes of the ancient Australian landscape are highly counter-intuitive. For people to take full advantage of them requires a special advisory service, supported by the best qualified practitioners, upholding the most rigorous science and utilising the latest communication technologies available. The advisory service is absolutely necessary for the most effective understanding and economical usage. To stray from this path is to invite peril. We must fully appreciate that we are working with both the greatest creative and destructive forces that have shaped this landscape - the oldest, largest, flattest and driest landscape on Earth.
Since 1975, none of our current trainers, universities or CSIRO facilities have completed rigorous scientific assessments to either confirm or reject the above-mentioned opportunities. There has been a massive failure of our institutions to abide by a ‘duty of care’. This is compounded by wasteful ongoing expenditure of public funds, constituting a major breach of fiduciary duties, on behalf of so many politicians and public servants.
Today, despite our many environmental challenges, we have reached a threshold, where the thorough investigation and honest application of The Australian Landscape Science could yet prevent the requirement for mass class actions arising from climate catastrophes. Rather, by making it possible for every citizen to take a sense of ownership and growing a plant, we can all be contributing to the management and reversal of human induced climate and environmental extremes.
Fortunately, we have the unprecedented capacity to measure back accurately. Therefore, we can know that the science is certain. It should also be recognised that it is more difficult to know what may happen in the future. Only our ancient landscape can reveal the blueprint for going forward.
Peter Andrews OAM, 1 January 2019
Plants protecting water in the soil and recovering dew from the atmosphere is the most efficient solution for major climate recovery.
Powered by sunlight and gravity, plants manage the destructive heat of the sun, using water to convert energy into a latent state, where it changes from gas back into liquid.
If we work with this scientific process and restore water in the ground, then we can transform the Australian landscape into an agriculturally-managed oasis.
Unfortunately, the role of plants as the most effective climate solution is rarely understood and seldom debated.
Our greatest failure has been the failure to recognise that plant-managed ground water storage resulted in the best climate possible.
Natural science requires careful observation in time and space. Many counter-intuitive cycles occur, once time and space have had their influence.
I have tried to share this evidence using only the most rigorous science available, many, many times over the past 40 years.
PLANTS MADE THE LANDSCAPE HABITABLE.
Australia is the oldest, flattest continent and serves as the best landscape laboratory on the planet.
If we follow the blueprint of the old Australian landscape, we can all afford to reproduce and manage the natural benefits.
Therefore, it is critical that the available evidence is delivered accurately with the least distortion by personal and commercial influences.
This New Year could see a great new opportunity for the cooperation between honest and dedicated individuals and groups.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, AND LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN!
Peter Andrews OAM
We would like to thank you for raising your hand to be a part of the campaign for the Restoration of the Australian Landscape by 2030. Together we will share with the world the incredible blueprint that the ancient Australian landscape offers to all of us.
Since the campaign was initiated, we’ve had many thousands of people viewing, sharing and responding to the call.
Much has happened in a short period of time, including:
The Australian Landscape Science Institute (TALS Institute)
With your encouragement, we've established The Australian Landscape Science Institute (TALS Institute) - to take the ‘Whole of Landscape’ restoration approach mainstream.
The purpose of TALS Institute is to restore environmental functions and processes in the landscapes - by recognising the best outcomes in the worst conditions.
Utilising modern science, based on observations of Australian landscape efficiencies, the team at TALS Institute is ready to initiate a major landscape transformation throughout Australia, utilising the world’s best laboratory - the Australian landscape itself.
TALS Institute actively supports:
I have very much appreciated the many kind and thoughtful comments that you have left for me.
Find out more about TALS Institute here: www.tals.org.au.
WISHING YOU A WONDERFUL XMAS AND A HAPPY & RESTORATIVE 2019!
Team Peter Andrews OAM & TALS Institute
Media release by Peter Andrews OAM, 15 December 2018
The simple facts that explain why Australia can be a world leader in regeneration of climate and landscape function are as follows:
Ancient and current state of Australian landscape processes and functions
The ancient Australian landscape was automatically powered by sunlight, gravity and some capillary action. It has been extensively demonstrated that recognising the skeleton of the landscape could take us back to that ancient condition. This would support all forms of agriculture at minimum cost, because this previous process was automatic.
The plants of ancient Australia evolved a sedimentary pattern that prevented erosion and allowed an unlimited maximum of flooding waters in the evolution of the sediments, which recharged massive underground water systems. This allowed plants to work at 100% efficiency.
We should be aware that the initial professional opinions that first observed this land declared that there would be an inland sea - and there is! It is in the ground. Our great inland sea is actually the Artesian Basin, along with its many superficial water bodies.
94% of our land had wetlands that could manage the same thermal energies as a rainforest. Water bodies feed plants to allow them to function at their highest level of efficiency, therefore having ability to manage climate and thermal extremes.
Today, 94% of our wetlands have been drained, with close to 80% loss of previous water volume. They no longer function as they once did, and less than 3% of our rainforests remain.
All landscapes age!
Australia being the oldest landscape on Earth had used plants to slow down the ageing process, so it was able to rebirth itself to become many times older than many other parts of the world.
The ancient Australian landscape functions and processes were infallible. They had the adaptive mechanisms available to allow incredible megafauna to thrive. These same processes also evolved the singing birds, the flowering plants, two thirds of the fish species and created the capacity for the human body to achieve its current complexity. All of these components are related.
Australia is the comeback king of desertification with the real potential of reinstating deserts back to productive tracts of land.
We need to understand plants by their function, because there are many new impositions now that are impacting the natural plants on this continent.
Furthermore, the way the Australian landscape managed its fertility and climate was most cost effective as it operated on nothing but energies from the sun and gravity.
The points above, when understood and applied, can truly transform all current agricultural applications.
The blueprint of the old Australian landscape is the greatest opportunity ever. Australia’s land managers absolutely can lead the world in climate recovery. We have no more time to procrastinate!
Peter Andrews OAM
Peter Andrews, 27 November 2018
Previous ecological civilisations and current gardeners who use mulch-farming are the most efficient producers. For example, if our biological asset was a trillion dollars, we could double it in one year while reducing costs.
Solar-powered plants that work 24/7 manufacture food and scrub the atmosphere of CO2, releasing oxygen, purifying water, filtering biological production from being lost to the sea while modifying (climate) thermal energies.
Demonstrations of the above are available for assessment by the most rigorous scientific analysis.
Plants made the landmass habitable; a quarter has been reduced to desert by human activity and animals.
80% of water has been drained from the land, trillions of tons of sediment returned to the sea.
The Australian continent was once an example of optimal landscape function. A skeleton still remains of how solar-powered plants evolved all the above efficiencies.
Our wold leaders are ignoring this at their own peril.
These extreme climate events that are happening all around the world right now are only helping us to sit up and take a bit more notice of what should be obvious.
The Australian landscape science is clearly showing us how we can recreate an automated agricultural production system that generates the highest possible outputs at the lowest costs imaginable, and thus presents to us all, the greatest opportunity ever.
These simple facts have been shown to support rainforests from the tip of the north to the bottom of the south, with effective plant coverage right across the landmass, supporting the most diverse megafauna the planet has ever seen prior to human interventions.
The Australian landscape science guarantees that when we apply its principles and follow its laws, then plants can function at the maximum level of efficiency, which is called Field Capacity. Plants manage a perfect climate for us to live in and this is the greatest opportunity that is available for us to recreate today.
I’m not the inventor of these things, I’m merely an observer of a scientific process, that all Australians can take advantage of!
What people need to remember is that the old explorers used to find islands and land by spotting the cloud formations above them. But when the land gets too hot, the clouds form over sea.
The evaporating surface of a well-vegetated landscape can be 10-20 times greater than that over the sea, because the sea is only evaporating at the surface layer. In a rain event on well-vegetated landscape, 70 percent of the water that comes down has been through a plant. These are all tested and proven measurable scientific facts.
The next thing is the expansion rate of water as it is evaporated by plants and it gets the transpiration and the cooling of photosynthesis. That requires a lot of water to cool it.
So, collectively, the land gets loaded with this huge gaseous water vapour which, as soon as the sun goes down, shrinks, and draws the evaporated water off the sea onto the land. A Russian group of scientists have called it the “biotic pump”. (1)
From extensive science, 14 groups came together with this information and produced a book called “The International Journal of Water” which was fully peer-reviewed. (2)
Australia has the longest hours of sunlight, previously the greatest range of plant species that worked generally 24/7. Therefore, it has a second to none chance, as the Ancient Australia had proven to do, to manage climate at the highest level.
1. See “The Biotic Pump: Condensation, atmospheric dynamics and climate” by Anastassia M. Makarieva, Victor G. Gorshkov, Int. J. of Water, 2010 Vol.5, No.4
2. See “Special Issue on Water and the Complexities of Climate", International Journal of Water, 2010 Vol. 5 No. 4, Guest Editor: Associate Professor Ariel Salleh
During my childhood and adolescence near Broken Hill, I experienced fires, floods, dust storms and drought at first hand. In adulthood, it dawned upon me that our Australian landscape might have lessons for the entire world to learn. I began to understand that the extremes of the Australian climate demanded a special kind of recovery mechanism dependent on a number of interrelated factors:
The ruins of human civilisations in every climate zone of the planet indicate a failure by our forebears to utilize basic landscape and climate functions. More of the same or similar is therefore not an option.
The Australian landscape has been naturally subjected to river flow loss and subsequent plant destruction, resulting in climate collapse that would normally be associated with human activity.
After a number of cycles of collapse, plant biodiversity built an ecosystem which allowed the development of mega-fauna in Australia. Once again human intervention (Aborigines) brought about climate change and the loss of the mega-fauna. Subsequently, the landscape went from an era of growth to one of slow decay.