The planet’s climate is changing! All governments now accept that further negative changes will result from increasing amounts of greenhouse gases caught in the atmosphere. In New Zealand, we are already experiencing the effects.
Over the past century, temperatures have increased, glaciers have melted and sea levels have risen. Such changes will continue, and their impacts increase.
These future changes will have far-reaching consequences for our people and our environment – in cities, towns and communities, across all levels of government, and from the coastline to lakes, rivers and forests.
The simple truth:
· In the last 100 years, our climate has warmed by 1C. If global emissions remain high, temperatures will increase by a further 1C by 2040 and 3C by 2090, with the greatest warming likely to be in the northeast. That’s Mangawhai!
· In the last 60 years, sea levels have risen by 2.44mm per year. If global emissions remain high, sea levels will increase by a further 0.21m by 2040 and 0.67m by 2090. Lincoln Street should be okay as long as emission levels do not increase!
· Extreme weather events such as storms, heatwaves and heavy rainfall are likely to be more frequent and intense. Large increases in extreme rainfall are expected everywhere in the country.
· The number of frost and snow days are projected to decrease.
· Drought is predicted to increase in frequency and severity.
· Wildfire risk is predicted to increase.
What does this mean for Mangawhai? Far hotter summers, greater likelihood of droughts with its costly impact on access to water for residents and farmers, rising sea levels and associated flooding risks especially at king tides around the estuary, warmer seas with potential
damage to our fish and wildlife population, stronger storms with potential flooding, and greater fire risk potentially ruining our lovely ‘carbon gobbling’ woodlands.
We will all be impacted by this climate crisis, but we all have the opportunity, and in reality I believe the obligation, to help reduce our nasty emissions. On a per capita basis New Zealanders are just about the worst polluters on the planet. Where other developed countries have worked hard since the early 90s to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) into the atmosphere, this being the main cause of the climate crisis, we have gone the other way. We are generating more than ever.
Why? Partly because we have a growing and affluent population, partly our economy is underwritten by our livestock and dairy industries, partly because we rely on cars in preference to investing in public transport, partly because we have deforested in order to create most farmland. Lots of reasons.
But we are changing. We have committed to reducing our overall emissions to becoming ‘carbon neutral’ by 2050. We have enacted legislation in 2019 to kick-start this process, and our superb Climate Change Commission have just produced their draft report on what we need to do between now and 2035 to get from behind the 8 ball and be well placed to achieve our 2050 target. Just before Christmas climate change was declared a national emergency. Our government has now committed to swinging into action come 2023. In the meantime it’s up to us.
So, we have to look where those damaging GHG emissions come from and reduce them very soon. Forty-eight percent are associated with agriculture, which is enormous when compared to the UK and USA where it is 8 percent. We will work towards having 100 percent of our electricity from renewable sources such as hydro, steam, solar, wind and tidal. We will abandon coal, and gradually work towards massive reductions in other fossil fuels such as petrol and natural gas. Electric powered vehicles will dominate our roadways, we will plant vastly more trees, both exotics and native, so as to gobble up maybe 25 percent of the nasty emissions before they escape into the atmosphere. And we need to achieve our very demanding 2050 targets during a period where our population may increase by an additional 2 million!
So how can you help, and be part of the solution in preference to being part of the problem? Keep reading these articles, or contact me, and I will outline tons of ways – some easy, some perhaps more demanding – but I believe everyone can and should make a positive contribution to attacking these nasty GHG emissions. For Mangawhai it’s “eMission: Possible”!
n Steve Green, Mangawhai’s ‘computer chap’, has been retired here for 12 years having previously lived and worked in London, New York and Auckland. He welcomes your feedback at email@example.com if you have any climate questions, recommendations or concerns to raise.
Future rising tides and flooding are a reality as the effects of global warming impact Mangawhai. PHOTO/STEVE GREEN