The teapot tape fiasco has done the country a couple of favours. First, it has given us a good long look at the tawdry reality behind the media construct that is Brand Key. That story is playing out with a momentum all of its own. The second favour is that the Nats have suddenly, and unexpectedly been forced to pretend that they are interested in policy.
It’s screamingly hypocritical of them, since they couldn’t even be bothered returning answers to Radio NZ’s policy survery. But none the less they’re backed in to a corner now, so we shouldn’t waste the opportunity to focus on important questions and get some answers.
George Laking: Epsom and climate change
This month the International Energy Agency published its latest World Energy Outlook. It says if high-carbon energy investment continues for more than five years, atmospheric carbon dioxide will unavoidably overshoot 450 parts per million and global warming will exceed 2C.
The agency’s chief economist says “I am very worried – if we don’t change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum. The door will be closed forever .”
The IEA is not a fringe organisation, and it is not alone in accepting the scientific work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The World Bank says “The countries of the world must act now, act together and act differently on climate change.” Senior officers from the UK Ministry of Defence identify climate change as “an immediate, growing and grave threat” to global health and security. …
In New Zealand, the Act Party is at the front of resistance to climate change policy. It is a paradox that Act claims to value rational thinking and hard choices. Act’s denial of climate change has evolved over time. Rodney Hide said it was a hoax. That view still has support in New Zealand, as shown by newspaper letters the day after it snowed in Auckland. Don Brash concedes there is warming but says humans are not the cause. His evasive responses on flooding of atoll nations suggest a view that even if humans were the cause, such effects would be the “price of progress”.
Act’s attitude to climate change marks one of the most anti-scientific phases of our history. The National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research has had to defend legal action filed by Act’s Northland Candidate, Muldoon-era Energy Minister Barry Brill, claiming the New Zealand temperature record is faulty. The record confirms our temperature has risen by about 0.9C over the last century. …
It is wrong to think our country’s actions do not matter. The most basic moral rule is “do as you would be done by”. The fact we continue on our high carbon development track shows how far we have moved as a society from the values we claim to espouse.
Given that human induced climate change might is the greatest threat facing the planet, it seems bizarre to link your fortunes to scientifically illiterate loonies. Unless, of course, you don’t believe in climate change yourself, and you’re just looking for some electoral cover to the right. …
Earlier this year, several groups wrote to the Prime Minister to seek his personal commitment to address climate change. Writers included senior doctors, business leaders, and lawyers. The letters met with no response. There is no evidence John Key actually read any of this correspondence seeking his personal views. We were told it had been passed on to the Environment Minister.
Climate change is a serious enough issue for the International Energy Agency, the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, the World Medical Association, and the UK Ministry of Defence to urge global action. Surely it is serious enough for our Prime Minister to show some leadership of his own?
Senior members of the National Government will not see that climate change is actually a serious threat. Finance Minister Bill English referred to purchase of low-emission Ministerial cars as a “fad”. Bill English is intent on mining Southland’s lignite and offshore oil prospecting at Raukumara and the Great Southern Basin. These are exactly the practices the IEA is advising against. …
We simply cannot afford another three years of burying our head in the sand. It will help a lot if science is not dragged through the dirt, yet again, in Epsom.
* Dr George Laking MD PhD FRACP, Te Whakatohea, is a Medical Oncologist who lives and works in Auckland. He is an Executive Member of OraTaiao: New Zealand Climate and Health. These are Dr Laking’s personal views.
The Nats recently announced delays, yet again, in implementing the ETS. Either they believe in climate change, in which case they are wilfully negligent, or (more likely in my opinion) they do not, in which case they are as dumb as ACT and unwittingly negligent. Either way they are neglecting their responsibilities to the country, and to the future.
So here’s some questions that some enterprising journo might like to ask Key. Does he believe in anthropogenic climate change and the danger that it represents? If so, what is his government going to do about it? Let’s have details please. Let’s have policy.