08 May, 2023
It’s safe to say that the recent news has sadly been rather negative. Covid remains deadly, war in Europe, banks going belly up, democracies on the decline, and our North Island still hugely impacted by recent storms. Not one of our best summers.
I would love to provide a positive message, but will two negative ones suffice?
Let’s cover “climate deniers” first. I know that you are out there. Let’s put things into context. Homo sapiens are the only species on the planet capable of having opinions. These may range from how the universe was created, will King Charles III do okay, and will the All Blacks win the World Cup.
Such has been the advances made in understanding climate change that just about everyone in Mangawhai is now aware of the issues and have their opinion. No problem. My new friend “ChatGPT” highlights that opinions based on extensive research, access to world class expertise and having an open mind invariably results in a well-informed citizen. Others whose opinions are based on misinformation sourced by word-of-mouth and access to social networks will inevitably view things differently.
My opinions are based on extensive and diverse research and utilise well established and accountable sources. These include the United Nations IPCC experts, our wonderful “world class” Climate Change Commission, news services including the Guardian, BBC, CNN, Newsroom and Stuff plus a range of established and authoritative web sites including Earth.org, Climate Action Tracker and Pure Advantage. Every one of these sources is legally accountable for the accuracy of their information. I do not use social networks. I therefore urge those in our community who are able to contribute to our future to view changing climate in an open-minded manner as it is now way up there in importance and urgency.
This brings me to the second “negative”. The latest IPCC report. Boy is it negative. If you want a free PDF of the executive summary, just email me. It’s a remarkable document, very readable, and lots of colourful graphs and powerful data. The bottom line? We are now halfway along the 60-year path to countering global warming to ensure that planet earth can function in the future. We are pumping out even more greenhouse gas emissions than ever. Yes, there have been stunning investments and changes but we are running out of time. The planet now needs to half emissions by 2030 to get back in the race.
Sadly, climate change remains a lifestyle dilemma with the planet’s most affluent 10 percent – that’s us – contributing around 40 percent of all emissions, whilst the poorest 50 percent contributing around the 14 percent mark. The IPCC report does offer hope and direction, however the UN Secretary General in presenting the report has adopted a “now or never” perspective.
Fortunately in Aotearoa all is under control. Just joking! So a little history lesson. We committed to addressing our specific climate issues in the early 90s and have been working towards being net carbon neutral by 2050 – sixty years to re-engineer our society with regard to energy, transport, industry and agriculture to diminish our dependance on fossil fuels and generating methane gasses. A huge ask that needs talent, lots of money, and great decision-making. After 30 years some progress has been made regarding legislation, forming the Climate Change Commission, rebates on EV cars, planting more native trees, and a few wind turbine installations, but sadly nowhere near enough.
In a few months time we have a General Election. Chances are that climate change will feature highly amongst the leading parties. It would be lovely if parties promoted clear and achievable programs. However in the past 30 years we have had seven prime ministers, seven climate change ministers and with National and Labour having comparable time in government. It is simply incredible that we still have no agreed strategy as to how to meet our climate goals and obligations.
I am not a political chap, but it is inconceivable that we will not rise to this unique challenge unless all major political parties work together now to formulate, plan, budget and execute a national climate strategy. We are running out of time and stuck behind the 7 ball. Oy vey indeed!
We are pumping out even more greenhouse gas emissions than ever