web analytics

The watershed moment

Written By: - Date published: 10:51 am, April 21st, 2017 - 12 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, Environment, science - Tags: , , ,

In the week of the second cyclone, while people in various parts of the country were either mopping up or still waiting to see if their homes had been destroyed in the previous one, New Zealand reached a turning point in realising that climate change is here to stay. I’ve lost track of how many serious events happened over the weeks of the two cyclones, and it was only a month since the previous big storm (which is significant, because it means there was still water in the land). The thing that stands out this time is that the MSM are no longer shying away from talking about climate change directly. This is significant not only because it’s about time, but because it offers an opportunity to influence what happens next. It’s not a big, shiny silver bullet that will save us, but another more subtle move in the shift in the culture that is taking us from denial to active engagement.

The thing about tipping points within societies is that we don’t necessarily know which way they will go. In this case, it’s a further step in a long period of change for NZ from she’ll be right to turning to face the strange and integrating that into society. At times of chaos and abrupt change there is more opportunity to intervene in systems and have them go in the direction we want.

What we want now is to build on this next layer of awakening. People will be talking about climate change more at this time, and from now on, so there are opportunities to open conversations about a range of responses,

  • what do we really want?
  • where do we feel powerless and what can we do about that?
  • where do we feel empowered, and what can we take action on now?
  • how do we change the friggin’ useless government?
  • how do we create pathways that get more people on board with the ‘war footing’, pro-active approaches instead of turning off again, thinking it’s too late, or deciding to party while the ship goes down?
  • the importance of mitigation not just adaptation
  • we are locked into some climate change, but we still have the chance to stop it becoming the worst case scenarios
  • the interrelatedness of climate change and social wellbeing and social justice

The point here isn’t solely to get people to act, it’s to build a momentum that generates more awareness and willingness to change, and for that to happen in a way that leads to the right kind of action. So tactics are important. What’s the optimal ratio of scary to hopeful to inspired-to-act?

There’s another reason to feel hopeful here. The MSM are now talking about climate change because it’s become normalised to do so (great!), but also because there are real live human beings in those organisations who care and who are trying to do the right thing. They make choices about what gets covered and how, and how the questions get frames. Forget about the deniers and sensationalists, and look for the people that have kids and grandkids and also know that the time to act is now. Those are the people who will increasingly be on the right side of history and each time a new opportunity arises, will have the power to tip things further in the right direction.

Examples from the media over the days of the storms,

A science Q and A on The Herald,

While no one weather event is caused by climate change, all events are influenced by climate change since the atmosphere is now warmer and moister than it was in the past.

Climate change increases the likelihood of extreme rainfall, given the appropriate weather setup.

Research suggests that there will be up to 8 per cent more intense rain for every 1C of warming.

A former mayor of Whakatane, Colin Holmes, spoke on Checkpoint yesterday about how better information gathering and planning would have lessened the impact of the flood in the Bay of Plenty.

[my emphasis, just getting that one out of the way]

While the flooding was still happening RNZ interviewed Colin Holmes where he makes no bones about climate change(here). He talks about flood management in the age of climate change, where you can’t prevent the rainfall but you can better prepare in how you manage infrastructure (in this case an overfull dam). Holmes stresses the need for climate change appreciation, better knowledge/information, and better protocols. He says it’s about investing in monitoring tech to give more detailed real time information as events are starting and peaking, and that investment has to be done with climate change firmly in mind.

While the civil emergency was still going on RNZ had coverage not just of this series of events within a climate change context, but what else NZ can expect, and looked at flood, extreme fire, strong winds, drought, and sea level rise as being givens.

RNZ also linked to NIWA’s NZ climate change scenarios. These are conservative estimates (because that’s how science works), and don’t take into account runaway climate change, but they give some starting points for looking at broad stroke changes in different parts of NZ.

Twitter of course was on point,

https://twitter.com/RFStew/status/849809442157731840

https://twitter.com/NathanJonRoss/status/849698376035717121

https://twitter.com/NewZcam/status/849935995915051008

 

Moderation note, zero tolerance for climate change denial in this thread. 

12 comments on “The watershed moment ”

  1. aerobubble 1

    Wetter climate also means fish move south to keep up with warming seas, and coastal NZ is warmer in winter. Additionally, Northland replaces islands as Pacific beach destination. The problem with odious capitalsm is its agents, pro and con, are all about taking without consideration. Unless we all embrace the idea that every action has upsides and downs then we buy into the odious taker capitalism that never has to equally put back, that ideological revolution known as Thatcherism, neo-lib, neo-con.
    Of course NZ will do better out of climate change, for a while, but refugees, food and war crisises will I bet overwhell the percieved benefts.

    • Tarquin 1.1

      Have you ever been to Northland? It’s bloody cold and hosing down up here at the moment. Only a total sadist would want to go on holiday here in winter!

      • McFlock 1.1.1

        lol

        Confusing a masochist with a sadist could lead to an embarrassing misunderstanding…

      • Jenny Kirk 1.1.2

        Yes Tarquin – unusual and sudden – but we do have winter some times in Whangarei – on the other hand my son and his children went swimming at Coopers Beach today – a bit further north, and had perfect summer weather !

    • weka 1.2

      I would put people talking about NZ doing better out of CC in the denial camp. Even without the pressures from the rest of humanity on the planet, we’ve got our own particular issues. South Dunedin being the most obvious thus far. Yes, I expect the vultures to figure out how to feast on the problems, but the post was really for the people that want to do the right thing 😉

    • AB 1.3

      “Northland replaces islands as Pacific beach destination”
      Sorry – but I know Northland. A couple of metres of rapid sea level rise will destroy all those lovely beaches. Probably turn them into ugly, eroded, rocky or muddy disasters.
      And a lot of the access roads will be gone too so you won’t even be able to get there, which may be a blessing as you can avoid having to see the destruction.
      This is rose-tinted spectacle stuff – a bit like those people who used to say, “ooh it’s cold today, bring on global warming!”

      • aerobubble 1.3.1

        During the interglacial the northern continuents were covered in ice. Seas were warms and lower. Initially global warming will raise sealevels but over time the world will cool itself by dumping snow on thenorthern continuents. So no, warmer beaches in northland in a hundred years.

  2. Grafton Gully 2

    what do we really want? Ask these guys.

    https://nz4wd.co.nz/

  3. gsays 3

    A couple of things:
    I expect a few of these white collar folk to do sod-all, then shrug and go “climate change”.

    Decided a few years back to be a little more harmonious with my environment, be that home life, garden, work place or wider community.
    I have to trust that those conversations planted seeds then actions, fertilise and nurtured those seedlings.

  4. Greg #56 4

    Except this year’s southern hemisphere cyclone season has been one of the most quietest in the past four decades:

    http://tropical.atmos.colostate.edu/Realtime/index.php?loc=southernhemisphere

    and worldwide, Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) has been dropping, ie. getting less, for the past two decades (since the late 90s):

    https://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/accumulated_cyclone_energy.asp?basin=gl

    But hey, that’s science for you.

  5. Skeptic 5

    There are so many reports documenting well researched predictions, worst case, best case and all hues in between, that to link to one does injustice to the others. There are several excellent ones that summarise the main impacts we will see in the next three decades before the measures we’ve taken to date start to have a mitigating influence.

    The one fact that most agree on, is that change is happening at a predictable rate – for every 1 degree of mean temp increase, there will be a corresponding 5% increase in the severity of weather events (I think that’s right – please correct me if I’ve got wrong). Additionally, that since measurements started to be seriously correlated, sometime in the mid 1970s, there was about a half a degree increase to the turn of the millennium, and from then till last year about another half a degree rise. By my maths that means an exponential increase in half the time frame. Factoring in roughly the same growth rate, we’ll be 2 degrees warmer by 2025, 3 degrees by 2030, 4 degrees by 2035 and six degrees by 2040.

    The other truly terrifying fact I remember is that 6 degrees is the tipping point from which there is no return. What follows is the worst case scenario – massive floods compared to what we’ve seen to date, Cat 6 & 7 tempest events, extreme droughts, movement of the mean temp across the globe towards the poles, massive change in available arable land, huge movement of disease carrying insect life and crop destroying insects, newer and deadlier microbial (bacterial and virus) diseases, sea level rise – all of it irreversible.

    If our measures to date aren’t going to take effect till 2050, and our climate change is to reach tipping point by 2040, we have a decade shortfall to make up. This is the cold hard scary fact that I for one do not wish to leave my grand children to clean up – if it will be possible to “clean it up” at all.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruapehu cycle trails gets PGF boost
    The spectacular Mountains to Sea cycle trail in Ruapehu District will receive $4.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for two additional trails, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is an exciting development for the local community, and one that will provide significant economic opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago