IT IS ONLY SLOWLY DAWNING on climate change activists that the fight against global warming is lost. Locally, Cyclone Gabrielle has rendered their cause hopeless. By insisting that Gabrielle is slam-dunk proof that climate change is real, and demanding immediate action to mitigate its impact, the activists have, politically-speaking, over-sold their case. The idea of mitigating a weather event as destructive as Gabrielle will strike most people as nuts. If this is what global warming looks like, then most New Zealanders will want their government to help them adapt to it as soon as humanly possible. Increasingly, politicians and activists who bang-on about reducing emissions and modifying human behaviour will be laughed-off the political stage. It will be the parties that offer the most practical and responsibly-funded adaptation policies that win the elections of the future – including the one scheduled for October 14 2023.
In retrospect the mitigators’ cause was always hopeless. So long as the effects of global warming were not going to be felt for many years, climate activists would never be able to force the changes necessary to prevent them. Tomorrow, as everybody knows, never comes – especially not in politics. Once heatwaves, wildfires, storms, floods and rising sea-levels start ruining people’s lives, however, their reactions will be different. “Okay, we believe you about climate change,” they will say. “So, now you have to show us how to adapt to this new normal?”
The other, even bigger, problem facing the mitigators – especially in New Zealand – is this country’s infinitesimal contribution to climate change. Kiwis and their industries pump out just 0.17 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and yet the mitigators keep telling them to completely change their economy, and the lifestyle it funds, so as to keep some barmy promise that all the largest greenhouse gas emitters are happy to break every single day. Since the Paris Climate Accords of 2016, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has gone up, not down. Collectively, the human species is burning more coal, more oil, and more natural gas than ever before. So, how likely is it that New Zealand pulling on a metaphorical hair-shirt and crying “Follow our mitigation example!” is going to stop them?
New Zealanders aren’t the only people asking inconvenient questions about mitigation. All across the developing world the penny is beginning to drop that the extraordinary civilisation brought into being by the exploitation of fossil fuels in Europe and North America; the civilisation responsible for anthropogenic global warming; is not a goal the climate change mitigators believe they should aspire to.
Practically speaking, the mitigators have a point. The huge boost given to climate change by the dramatic economic and social development of China, if amplified by equal “economic miracles” in India, Indonesia, Brazil and the nations of Africa, will make a complete nonsense of the Paris Climate Accords. The mean surface temperature of Planet Earth will rise to levels not seen since the dinosaurs roamed a planet without ice-caps.
But, just how receptive are the poorest peoples on Earth likely to be to a message delivered to them by their former colonial masters which boils down to: “Please don’t try to become as rich as we are – the planet can’t take it.” Are they likely to say: “Yes, Master, we are happy to remain poor – for the planet’s sake.” Or, will they not-so-politely suggest that if the peoples of the West really are so determined to save the planet, then how about they agree to spread their extraordinary wealth evenly across it? Will either side agree to mitigate climate change by making such huge sacrifices? Or, will both sides move as swiftly as they can to implement an adaptation strategy?
Not that adaptation will be easy in the developing world. Not when it’s the poorest countries that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Their leaders have appealed to the richest nations for funds to help them recover from catastrophic weather events – like the floods that put a third of Pakistan under water. Alas, in spite of the West’s solemn promises to set aside billions, billions have yet to be set aside.
Inevitably, as the world warms, nation states will become even more selfish. When cyclones as devastating as Gabrielle lay waste to forests, farms and orchards, and make plain the worst errors of urban planners, every available dollar is going to be spent on recovery and adaptation. Pleas for financial assistance from developing nations confronting similar challenges are likely to fall on deaf ears. Charity, the voters will insist, begins at home – and their political representatives will not dare to disagree.
It has not helped the mitigators’ cause that so many of them seem to be located on the left of the political spectrum, or that those not identifying as left are fervent advocates of indigenous rights. These climate activists characterise “Carbon, Capitalism and Colonisation” as the three evil giants that must be slain before climate change can be effectively mitigated. They are less forthcoming, however, when asked how this slaughter might be accomplished. This is understandable, given that the chances of destroying Carbon, Capitalism and Colonisation peacefully and democratically are rather slim.
Not that these difficulties are likely to bother the true revolutionaries, since for them global warming has always been the most wonderful excuse for imposing the sort of regime that nobody who believes in individual rights, private property, and the Rule of Law would ever willingly submit to. In the grim summation of George Orwell: “Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.” For far too many climate activists, mitigation has always been a Trojan Horse.
For those more moderate socialists, however, a strategy of adaptation can only be a good thing. Preparing a nation for the worst a warming world can throw at it will, necessarily, involve a wholesale revision of the economic nostrums responsible for leaving New Zealand – and many other nations – so vulnerable for so long. Setting in place the infrastructure needed to fend-off the worst that Mother Nature can throw at us will not be cheap and will require as its first major project the wholesale re-strengthening of the state. New Zealand can follow a strategy of adaptation, or it can remain shackled to the doctrines of neoliberalism, but it can’t do both.
It’s an ill ex-tropical cyclone that blows nobody no good.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 21 February 2023.
I watched the party leaders’ speeches from parliament on Tuesday afternoon.
In my opinion, Mr Hipkins was unconvincing. He was Ms Ardern without all the gurning.
Mr Luxon was slightly better than I had expected him to be. But maybe that wasn’t saying a lot.
Mr Seymour got my attention. I got the feeling that, yes, given a chance, he could make things happen.
But it was Mr Shaw who left me thinking: Oh dear, oh dear. His argument was totally unconvincing. I just hoped that the poor people of Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti weren’t listening. And I was a ‘greenie’ long, long before most people even knew that there was such an animal.
It took a while to create the opportunity but its not a bad line....
"It’s an ill ex-tropical cyclone that blows nobody no good."
I always called Three Waters a "Brown Privatisation" - but you have put a sombre flesh on my spectre.
From nearly a decade of working at a senior technical level in the industry I am a big supporter of efficiencies of scale to be had from operational amalgamation. Something like the reasonably effective model of Wellington Water.
But the entire project was littered with irrelevant political baggage from the outset and that set my "Pull Up" radar off immediately. Hipkins has a matter of weeks to avoid a very hard landing indeed.
It needs a bit of explanation why Global Warming caused bu increase in CO2 causes a cyclone to disintegrate over Hawks Bay while drought continues in Southland and especially in the Horn of Africa.
It seems like distribution of weather is what might be changing rather than weather overall , and how is it established that Man made GO2 production causes that redistribution? Warming must cause increased evaporation and hence condensation and precipitation , but why should it all fall where id used not to?
Was Gabriel a particularly unusual storm? or did it just happen to disintegrate over Hawks Bay tis time instead of over the South Pacific Ocean? Having collected water up over the tropics for a week or so. It wasn't that last month was globally particularly warm , being 0.04C cooler than the 30 yr average, though I imagine that the water cycle will transfer warming into weather seamlessly allowing almost no change in overall temperature without enormous changes in weather , but i see no reason for less rain to be produced anywhere . Forrest fires should be reduced accordingly and droughts.
D J S
"Kiwis and their industries pump out just 0.17 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions"
I'm bothered by this argument being used to shirk off any moral responsibility to change.
Per capita, we're 16th in the world for CO2 emissions. That's ahead of most of Europe.
We've also shipped off most of our dirty manufacturing overseas. So the impact of all the crap we buy is counted elsewhere.
We're told to prioritise individualism and personal responsibility for practically everything else, but when it comes to considering what we each contribute to climate change all of a sudden it's someone else's problem.
But I suppose it's consistent with not wanting to improve the lives of all if it comes with any sacrifice to their lifestyle. Why should I spend money properly disposing of waste just so some kids can swim in a river? That money could be better spent on a wine tasting tour with my strawman buddies.
Global temperatures are continuing to recover after the Little Ice Age (1450 to 1850), so far by about 1.1 degrees C. For the past three years we have experienced in New Zealand and Australia the La Nina phase of the Southern Oscillation which brings warmer sea temperatures to the Western Pacific and moist, northeasterly winds to the north of the North Island. These effects have been compounded by a positive Southern Annular Mode and the dramatic impact of the Tongan eruption in January 2022, as a result of which there is about 20% more water vapour in the atmosphere.
As night follows day we will eventually see La Nina replaced by El Nino, which brings rain to the West of the country and dry spells including drought to Eastern parts. At that point we will all no doubt run round in circles squawking "Climate Change" again, as farmers are forced to destock and crops wither under the dry heat. Only the winemakers will be happy.
There is no climate catastrophe. I agree nevertheless that building resilience is important, especially for a country dependent on agriculture and increasingly horticulture as well. When I look at the regulatory framework and in particular the draft legislation to replace the RMA, however, I despair. It will cripple the country including our ability to adapt. Throwing the two draft bills on the policy bonfire and starting again would be the most useful thing Labour can do right now.
It has been well said, by whom I don't recall, offhand, that 'all natural disasters and 'man-made' disasters. Sure, Nature happens, but it is the sins of commission and omission that aggravates their effect. I'm not just talking building cities in the shadow of volcanoes or upon tectonic fault lines, either.
Consider the disasters in Turkey and Syria - aggravated by malfeasance in building industries, apparently; or, in the case of Syria, the vicious type of predation that the US likes to practise upon weaker nations who deny the US something the US greatly desires.
On top of that you'll get the well heeled seeing in what happened in Auckland and Hawke's Bay as an opportunity to make for themselves a whole bunch of money. Disaster Capitalism they call it. A poor man's problem is a rich man's opportunity.
Ion A. Dowman
As easy place to start adaption is stopping development on flood plains (there is a reason they are called that) doing a managed retreat from them and clearing things like willow from their path and taking out the shingle. The type of things drainage boards used to do.
Then start to harden infrastructure - bridges with less piles and a metre higher, reroute highways, that sort of thing.
May not be an instant fix, but it will reduce losses next big storm.
By the way, has anyone taken the government to task for build state hoses in areas known to flood?
"I'm bothered by this argument being used to shirk off any moral responsibility to change."
What "moral responsibilty" are you talking about? The principal moral responsibility New Zealand governments have is to the wellbeing of their citizens. Drastically reducing people's quality of life while having no impact whatsoever on global CO2 emissions, and for no reason other than a nebulous "moral responsibilty" to China, India, the United States and the rest of the world, seems to be the height of immorality.
"Per capita, we're 16th in the world for CO2 emissions. That's ahead of most of Europe."
Assuming this is true, so what? Total emissions means much more than per capita emissions. Compare a (purely hypothetical) island with 1,000,000 people who each produce 2 tonnes of CO2 per capita per annum, with a larger land mass comprising 5,000,000 people who each produce 1 tonne per capita (i.e. half as much per capita, but 1.5 times more in total) – which zone is the bigger emitter with the bigger impact on global CO2? Obviously, it is the one with the more people and higher total emissions, but lower per capita output.
"Why should I spend money properly disposing of waste just so some kids can swim in a river?"
Your argument changes horses mid-stream here: what does the question of carbon emissions have to do with the question of proper waste disposal?
As night follows day we will eventually see La Nina replaced by El Nino, which brings rain to the West of the country and dry spells including drought to Eastern parts. At that point we will all no doubt run round in circles squawking "Climate Change" again,...
Probably not Odysseus. We will all have been bludgeoned into believing that you are the great source of all wisdom and when we find out you are not - we have been deceived and mistaken, we will give you the bad Sir Brian Botany treatment.
Sir Brian woke one morning and he couldn’t find his battleaxe.
He walked into the village in his second pair of boots.
He had gone a hundred paces
When the street was full of faces
And the villagers were round him with ironical salutes.
This is a New Zealander reading of the childrens poem of Sir Brian Botany by AA Milne and as we are stuck in behaviour patterns of fretful children, it is appropriate listening. We all need a break from the serious thinking that seems to lead us up a rabbit hole (there is probably a poem for that too.)
I think that KrisBlue makes a good job of it.
It seems the climate isn't doing its bit to keep up with misanthropy. A 4.5% rise in CO2 since 2014 has seen a fall of 7% in the temperature anomaly, based on linear trendlines. At that rate it will reach 0°C anomaly by around July 2118. I guess panic has its own reward.
This place is becoming a hive of conspiracy theorists anti-vaxers, and climate change deniers.
GS, what motivated that absurd comment? What the hell do you expect and hope for; that everyone thinks the same as you?. Don't you ever go out into the world and have genuine discussion with people with different ideas, knowledge and opinion to yourself and thereby learn something as a consequence? At least some understanding and appreciation if not agreement?
Yes Ion, what is the difference between a natural disaster, an act of God as they say, and human negligence, corruption, wishful thinking and so on. The Turkish earthquake was inevitable, sooner or later but the many relatively modern buildings reduced to unsurvivable rubble are on us.
The levees intended to protect New Orleans had been planned and budgeted for for decades; they should have protected the city from storm surge. They weren't completed; the funds and motivation frittered away due to corruption and complacency and diverted to feel good fantasy sports stadiums and the like. Eighteen hundred people lost their lives, hundreds of thousands suffered in other ways when the inevitable happened. The Biblical flood is presented as a "wrath of God" story. Perhaps that's true. The people became corrupt, dishonest: "God looked down on the human race and saw wickedness, violence, and evil everywhere (Genesis 6:5).". Call it God or natural law but perhaps lies and wilfull blindness have consequences.
BTW We can't say we weren't warned, that this latest flood is somehow "unprecedented", here's just some of the major weather events that have hit our country in the past - long before we thought to try and blame "climate change". Bear in mind that there were a lot fewer of us in those times.
1863: “Flood Kills twenty four in Central Otago after twenty four hours of heavy rain”.
1868: “Killer Storm Sweeps Country, Forty People Die”.
1878: “Great Flood hits South Island, Four Dead”.
1897: "Widespread flooding lower North Island" up to 31 die - Napier area mostly.
1938: “Kopuawhara Flood Kills twenty one”.
1968 “Cyclone Giselle kills 51” - Wahine disaster victims and three others.
GS: "This place is becoming a hive of conspiracy theorists anti-vaxers, and climate change deniers."
Vested interests. The person that has the will and ability to hang out in a place like this is likely to have business interests. Not too many people are capable of spending the 9-5 venting on a computer (and get away with it.) Covid stopped work. Climate change mitigation threatens profitability. Don't have too many minimum wage workers here fighting for their rights, they have to earn a living.
Maddie: "Your argument changes horses mid-stream here: what does the question of carbon emissions have to do with the question of proper waste disposal?"
The conventional wisdom with waste disposal into waterways in the past was: "dilution is the solution to pollution." Eventually they became saturated with muck. That's what we're doing with the atmosphere right now.
Maddie: "A perfect example of shirking the blame."
Moral responsibility is accepting the current lifestyle we lead is unsustainable and doing something to mitigate it. Rising nations are using the same excuse as you. The wealthy western nations are still pumping out CO2 so why should they stop? And their argument is fairer, since western nations have already built their wealth off CO2 and are now telling other countries to stop before they've had a chance. It's hypocrisy.
It's going to take a critical mass of nations taking the stand to make others follow suit.
Maddie: "Assuming this is true, so what?"
Lets exaggerate your story further. 2 islands, one has a billion people, the other has one person. The populated island emits one billion units of CO2, the single person burns half a billion units. Following your logic, I guess it's up to the first island to clean up their act, right?
What despair and destruction awaits a country, it's culture and it's people (here personified by it's ruler) when it becomes arrogant, corrupt and contemptuous of reality itself?
"I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Excellent statement David. We could easily apply this of course to Trump's America, or Boris' Britain. And especially to Liz Truss who managed to tank the British economy within a couple of days. Now THAT was totally arrogant, corrupt, and contemptuous of reality itself – but reality struck back.
The pile on against Maureen Pugh should surprise no one, though it was deeply disappointing that the National leadership also saw fit to publicly admonish her. So much for diversity of opinion. Luxon and co appear to be terrified of the bullying media, a media that believes we should all think the same thing and gleefully enforces that belief. Don't fool yourself, theirs is not a journey towards the discovery of the truth, some healthy scepticism is in order.
I've linked previously to the Covering Climate Now outfit that all our legacy media are signed up to. An experienced Reuters editor discloses just how pernicious and successful their campaign has been.
"My Reuters credentials meant that I had easy access to the world’s finest climate scientists. To my amazement, none of these would say categorically that the link between CO2 and global warming, now known as climate change, was a proven scientific fact. Some said human production of CO2 was a probable cause, others that it might make some contribution; some said CO2 had no role at all. Everybody agreed that the climate had warmed over the last 10,000 years as the ice age retreated, but most weren’t really sure why. The sun’s radiation, which changes over time, was a favoured culprit."
"The debate about climate change is far from over. I’m not a scientist so I don’t know enough to say it’s all man-made or not. But politicians and lobbyists have decided that we are all guilty. They are in the process of dismantling our way of life, ordering us to comply because it’s all for the future and our children. If we are going to give up our civilization, at the very least we ought to have an open debate. Journalists need to stand up and be counted. The trouble is that requires bravery and energy, and an urge to question conventional wisdom."
"If you wonder why much of the mainstream media seem united in accepting that the world will soon die unless humans don hair shirts, freeze in winter and walk instead of driving, you need to know about websites like Covering Climate Now (CCN).
CCN advises journalists to routinely add to stories about bad weather and flooding to suggest climate change is making these events more intense. This is not an established fact, as a simple routine check would show."
You shouldn't get your science from politicians. You should be a little wary about getting it from the media given their propensity to simplify everything, however they do on the whole do their best. You should perhaps be getting it from scientists and it's quite easy to do so, and they believe that human produced global warming is a thing.
Home – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet (nasa.gov)
ESA Climate Change Initiative
Summary for Policymakers (ipcc.ch)
Provisional State of the Global Climate in 2022 | World Meteorological Organization (wmo.int)
Unfortunately some of us seem to be addicted to getting their vaccine information from politicians and journalists as well.
I wouldn't worry about it too much David. Multiple blackouts - "load shedding" - will result in a revolution among the common people sooner or later.
I love irony and there's no better irony than Leftist's promoting "Green Energy" resulting in them being confronted with the torch and pitchforks common people.
Thanks for the advice GS, I don't trust politicians or the media on science and don't believe they are doing their best, far from it. I've also got serious concerns that science is being steered in a direction consistent with the narrative - corrupted in other words. Are most scientists genuinely free to challenge climate change orthodoxy? A theory isn't law and science is nothing, it's very nature corrupt, if it isn't sceptical of theory.
Regarding the current issue; we're being told that this storm is "unprecedented", a direct consequence of human induced climate change. Take this, from newsroom: "Cyclone Gabrielle has now been officially confirmed by NIWA as being the strongest cyclone to ever hit Aotearoa. Worse than Bola (1988) and worse than Giselle (1968)." and "The lowest pressure, and the most rain – of course there was a lot more moisture in the air with Gabrielle, thanks to global warming, and Gabrielle picked up intensity as she crossed an ocean undergoing a marine heatwave – also from global warming."
That is speculation/propaganda dressed up as scientific truth. A little digging and we find, thanks to a new investigative report:
"Between 1868 and 1890 NZ was being hit yearly on average by storms similar to or more
powerful than Cyclone Bola
• Five storms geographically bigger and with deeper barometric lows than Cyclone Gabrielle
struck New Zealand between 1868 and 1890, revealing that what we call a 1-in-250yr event
was actually closer to a 1-in-4yr event back then
• The late 1800s was a much colder, low carbon climate, raising fundamental questions about
how extreme weather events play out in the real world vs computer modelling"
Using the IPCC data:-
Human CO2 emissions are only 3% of total global emissions. Natures contribution to the 400ppm is 97%. (or 388ppm). Mankind’s contribution is just 3% or 12ppm. The other 97% is natural.
New Zealand’s CO2 emissions only 0.17% of human emissions.
So New Zealand’s CO2 emissions are 3% x 0.17% of the total global CO2 emissions each year.
3% x 0.17% = 0.0051% !! This is 1 in 20,000.
So the other 99.9949% is generated by all other sources, NOT NZ !!!
This is NOT a “climate emergency”
NOT a matter of "life and death" as described by Ardern.
This data is for CO2, not methane, however the same logic applies to farm emissions.
The IPCC is consistently wrong in it's predictions of doom.
None of their predictions have come true:-
1/ No 50 million climate refugees by 2010, as they forecast in 2005.
2/ No increase in rate of sea level rising.
3/ Artic Ice is still there, and not melting away
3/ Antarctic Ice is actually growing.
4/ Extreme weather events, world-wide are NOT increasing.
5/ Forest fires, world-wide, are not increasing.
6/ Yes - the planet is slowly warming, in fits and starts, as it emerges from the Little Ice Age of 300 years ago, when the river Thames and the English Channel almost froze over.
7/ The IPCC has recently admitted that it’s multiplying factor used in all their “computer models” is wrong, and all their predictions up till now have been highly exaggerated.
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