What if climate collapse comes much sooner than we expected?

Written By: - Date published: 6:07 am, April 8th, 2024 - 91 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags:

As a gardener, I’ve noticed one of the features of this summer’s El Nino pattern has been the greater than normal differences between daytime highs and nighttime lows. I came across a comment on social media a while back saying that a bigger than normal variation in temperature across 24 hours can damage plants. Googling just now to see the science on that, I didn’t find much because most of the hits were about how much plants depend on temperature change within certain ranges simply to function.

It seems prudent to consider that in addition to extreme weather events, climate change may be pushing local temperatures outside the norm of what makes food growing possible, even in temperate climates like New Zealand. We know that mono-cropped industrial grains and legumes are already at risk of failing significantly enough to cause widespread hunger and starvation as well as price spikes, civil unrest and war. Under the circumstances, it stands to reason, or the precautionary principle, to protect food growing with everything we’ve got. There is no future of magic domes and hydroponics if the global economy crashes fast or the countries with the biggest stick start invading stable growing climates for food resources. Or we become so overwhelmed with climate events that we can’t keep up economically, or simply repairing or recovering from the damage done.

The other feature of the past year has been the number of posts and articles I see where climate scientists are saying ‘ok, we didn’t really expect that…’

The Guardian reported on the weekend about what is happening in Antarctica,

In 18 March, 2022, scientists at the Concordia research station on the east Antarctic plateau documented a remarkable event. They recorded the largest jump in temperature ever measured at a meteorological centre on Earth. According to their instruments, the region that day experienced a rise of 38.5C above its seasonal average: a world record.

This startling leap – in the coldest place on the planet – left polar researchers struggling for words to describe it. “It is simply mind-boggling,” said Prof Michael Meredith, science leader at the British Antarctic Survey. “In sub-zero temperatures such a massive leap is tolerable but if we had a 40C rise in the UK now that would take temperatures for a spring day to over 50C – and that would be deadly for the population.”

This amazement was shared by glaciologist Prof Martin Siegert, of the University of Exeter. “No one in our community thought that anything like this could ever happen. It is extraordinary and a real concern,” he told the Observer. “We are now having to wrestle with something that is completely unprecedented.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2024/apr/06/simply-mind-boggling-world-record-temperature-jump-in-antarctic-raises-fears-of-catastrophe

The article goes on to explain what that means now,

These events have raised fears that the Antarctic, once thought to be too cold to experience the early impacts of global warming, is now succumbing dramatically and rapidly to the swelling levels of greenhouse gases that humans continue to pump into the atmosphere.

These dangers were highlighted by a team of scientists, led by Will Hobbs of the University of Tasmania, in a paper that was published last week in the Journal of Climate. After examining recent changes in sea ice coverage in Antarctica, the group concluded there had been an “abrupt critical transition” in the continent’s climate that could have repercussions for both local Antarctic ecosystems and the global climate system.

“The extreme lows in Antarctic sea ice have led researchers to suggest that a regime shift is under way in the Southern Ocean, and we found multiple lines of evidence that support such a shift to a new sea ice state,” said Hobbs

What does this mean? Worst case scenario is if the whole of Antarctica melts we would have an average 60m sea level rise across the planet. In New Zealand that’s every coastal city and town needing to be relocated, plus airports, ports, and most of the main trunk line and much of State Highway 1 in the South Island.

Full pole melt isn’t going to happen in the human scale short or medium term. Data has historically been difficult to collect from Antarctica, but the current predictions from the IPCC seem woefully inadequate (.3 – 1.1m overall by the end of the century). Instead there is the suggestion of 5m as the Western ice sheets and glaciers melt completely. That’s based on what scientists know in 2024, not what is actually going to happen if shit keeps getting weirder year by year. But this is what people mean when they talk about runaway climate change. It’s the point where the unpredictable becomes common and causes more unpredictability and feeds back into itself. Precautionary principle applies again, we really don’t want to go there.

The melting of west Antarctica appears locked in even with rapid transition to low carbon. When I looked online I couldn’t find timelines for its collapse that took the evolving unpredictability into account and/or us doing what we are doing now which is failing to drop GHGs fast.

Five metres in New Zealand is significant for many places, including rail/roading/airport infrastructure. Invercargill, Dunedin, Napier, Wellington, Auckland airports are gone. Big chunks of Christchurch’s eastern suburbs and the northern coastal towns are underwater. South Dunedin. Whole suburbs in Wellington’s low lying land. So many areas of Auckland’s long sea edge.

You can have a play online to see how where you live will fare. Bear in mind not just your house, but transport routes, industry, supply lines.

Floodmap

Coastal.climatecentral

It’s not just sea level rise, it’s storm surges, drought/flood cycles, cyclones and slips. Again, this is what is already locked in. What happens if we don’t lower GHGs fast is much worse.

Also in the Guardian piece is the problem of Antarctica warming causing mass algae death. Once the algae start dying, that’s not only the whole ocean food chain undercut (including our own sources of fish), but also the role algae plays in the carbon cycle. Short version: if enough algae die, global warming will increase faster. Algae are also critical in earth’s oxygen supply.

All of that is still able to be mitigated: we can limit the damage by dropping fossil fuel and other emissions fast, mass restoration of ecosystems including forests (not forestry), and shifting to regenerative not extractive/polluting economies. West Antarctica is locked in, but how fast that happens is still something we can affect.

The opportunity for mitigation doesn’t stay open indefinitely, there is a point when it becomes too late. Because of the way global physics works in time, what we do today impacts over coming decades. Waiting until the crisis is at the door is past the point we can do much about collapse. Climate collapse at that level is the end of civilisation as we know it.

Still thinking ‘she’ll be right’ in New Zealand? Go read up about wet bulb temperature.

All of which is to say two things. This is why adaptation without mitigation is an utter nonsense.

And, this is an actual emergency. Not in the future, but here and now. So why aren’t we acting as if it is?

91 comments on “What if climate collapse comes much sooner than we expected? ”

  1. Ad 1

    NZ horticulture derives about $4.5 billion of exports from only 55,000 hectares of land.

    Viticulture is continuing strong expansion beyond Marlborough into Canterbury and Central Otago.

    Apple production was hit hard in Hawkes Bay.

    Kiwifruit is expanding fast esp East Coast.

    Avocados are accelerating in Northland, as is hops in Nelson. Southland (Garston) has a large hops farm now. In Wanaka we're doing our first crop of Kumara. Far fewer frosts over the last decade.

    What NZ hort needs to compete for land against dairy is small-medium dams and sustained good export prices. Looking forward to dairy in Central being eradicated by grapes.

    • Dolomedes III 1.1

      Dairy's never made much sense in the drier parts of the country, and I'm also looking forward to a shift to grapes and olives in those districts. As for dairy in the Mackenzie Basin, it makes about as much sense as trying to grow bananas in Banff.

    • weka 1.2

      why grapes in Central predominantly rather than other crops?

      • Robert Guyton 1.2.1

        Grapes = wine = economic growth.

        Swopping one money-maker for another. Race to the bottom.

        • weka 1.2.1.1

          yes, but Ad is one of the few people on TS doing serious thinking about how we transition relatively fast without collapsing the economy into ruins.

          without alternative narratives of the how, a wine fuelled race to the bottom it is.

          the core problem is how to run an export economy in the short term that increasingly does less damage, and in the medium/long term actively regenerates (and maybe that's not an export economy).

          if you can suggest ways to get straight to a regenerative economy I’m all ears.

          • Robert Guyton 1.2.1.1.1

            Regenerative ag sounds fine, until you track how successful it actually is; organic/sustainable grape-growing also. The super-structure/banks/industries holding these industries up block genuine, large-scale movement away from highest-profit versions of their farms/vineyards. We have make the break, or we'll never escape. Advocating just-another-in-the-meantime means more of the same. Once you've set up the expensive posts and wires, irrigations systems etc. needed for vines, you'll be caught in the race. To the bottom. As well, the environment continues to suffer while we're on hold; degradations that come with monocultures and polluting land-use industries. How is hop-growing "transitioning really fast"?

            I agree that Ad is thinking deeply about these things. I am not criticising him. I had Dolomedes III in mind 🙂

            • weka 1.2.1.1.1.1

              you seem to be under the mistaken impression I am advocating the wine industry, or supporting Ad's advocacy.

              We have make the break, or we'll never escape.

              Sure. Now tell me the plan of how to do that. Because everyone knows what we should be doing. Very few are talking strategy and action.

            • Michael P 1.2.1.1.1.2

              Hemp and/or cannabis.

              For example: approx 15 billion trees per year cut down worldwide to make paper. (The number itself is irrelevant, it's a lot). Not sure why we don't make paper from hemp as it's much quicker and easier to grow than trees.

              Phytoremediation: It seems more and more studies are showing that cannabis is excellent at removing pollutants from soils.

              https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8912475/

              Building materials, Plastic substitute, textiles, Biofuels, cosmetics, biopesticides, health foods…. The list of uses and potential uses keeps getting longer and longer.

              Then you've got the potential medicinal and mental health applications which are finally starting to be researched seriously.

      • Ad 1.2.2

        Vineyards have a few benefits that no other crop has:

        • Wineries mean you can drink and do a cycle trail. In fact it's anti-car. Central Otago is now powered by cycle trails
        • Wineries mean you don't have to be rich to enjoy a glass of wine and lunch so it's not too elitist
        • Vintners that make the effort to go above $25 a bottle will provide the customer with a story about the land, which they can re-tell when they get back
        • Wineries encourage lower-skilled holidaymaker/immigrants to transition from one harvest to another; cherries in late summer to apples then to grapes in autumn, and then the snow-supporting industries in winter. It empowers the high-contributing visitor not the high net worth visitor
        • Wineries are capital-intensive but encourage the business owner to store (cellar) their stock as assets and increase their value.
        • Wineries can survive a bad year of drought, so long as they've cellared well. And if you really do have a bad set of frosts close to harvest, you make icewine. Which is sweeter and much more expensive.
        • Wineries with strong labels don't have to sell out to multinationals, even if they're just a few hectares
        • New Zealand is better at making wine than we are at dairy, and we are per hectare far richer for it.
        • Robert Guyton 1.2.2.1

          Cool, Ad. If I may address some of your many points:

          • Wineries mean you can drink and do a cycle trail. In fact it's anti-car. Central Otago is now powered by cycle trail
          • (How did they get to the start of the trail? Just askin')
          • Wineries mean you don't have to be rich to enjoy a glass of wine and lunch so it's not too elitist
          • Not too elitist? Ask folk from Otara about that :-)
          • Vintners that make the effort to go above $25 a bottle will provide the customer with a story about the land, which they can re-tell when they get back
          • Above? That takes effort? Great to have a story to take back…
          • Wineries encourage lower-skilled holidaymaker/immigrants to transition from one harvest to another; cherries in late summer to apples then to grapes in autumn, and then the snow-supporting industries in winter. It empowers the high-contributing visitor not the high net worth visitor
          • High contributing visitors – those who pick fruit and clean hotel rooms?
          • New Zealand is better at making wine than we are at dairy, and we are per hectare far richer for it.
          • Really? Better than our world-famous dairy-men, top of the crop, feed the world Fonterramen? Wow!
          • Ad 1.2.2.1.1

            Robert since you insist on bringing a brown banana to a knife fight.

            The James Shaw Green Party knew about prosperity, and the left won't win again until people like you figure that out.

            1. Tourists get here by car and plane. That's 11.4% of our total exports. OK cupcake?

            2. People of Otara actually figure where they want to spend their holidays without racist stereotypes from you.

            3. If you don't realise that telling a story to a foreigner takes effort, you'll struggle to figure out why Obama agreed to market the $450 jerseys of Untouched World

            4. High contributing visitors contribute across the economy and across multiple levels.

            5. I expect better from you. Next time bring a fact along.

  2. Robert Guyton 2

    Information; data, observations, predictions, arguments, examples etc. such as you've presented here is water off a duck's back to most people, as is information about global homelessness, poverty, war, famine, disease, slavery etc.

    It's too much to consider, process and bear.

    Loading information onto people in order to "bring them to their senses" and effect change in behaviour is ineffective, even when done by the most sincere of people or organisations determined to save us all.

    Holding such information somewhere is of course, necessary; we can't hide from it and need to be exposed to it, but we won't be, in the main, galvanised into action as a result of hearing and seeing it. Humans are resistant to the influence of incoming mega-information, perhaps as part of our need to survive psychologically in our enhanced/big-brained state.

    There is though, a way to by-pass the filters we seem to be fitted with; story. Story-telling and listening-to, watching and otherwise receiving, stories. I believe we are reliant now on story-tellers to get us through. Sadly, we've granted the position of story-telling to Big Story; the agency that makes most of the stories we hear and see through the portal of our screens.

    Our small-story tellers; visual artists, dancers, musicians, prose-writers, poets, carvers, buskers, mimes (no, not mimes! 🙂 song-writers, et cetera, et cetera are our hope for the future. They can and I hope will, guide the Ship of Fools through the rough passage ahead.

    In you eye, Big Everything!

  3. Tony Veitch 3

    Hospice Earth.

    • weka 3.1

      what if acting now makes the difference? Drop GHGs fast, transition to regenerative economics, mass restoration of ecosystems. Those are all possible in terms of tech and the material world.

      • Robert Guyton 3.1.1

        What if warming is but one of a cluster of escalating ills?

        Neonicotinoids and micro plastics seem to have started their own environmental collapses; better deal with those as well!

        • weka 3.1.1.1

          Yep, it's a polycrisis, and systems thinking is required to see how all those things interact, and how the solutions do too.

          • Robert Guyton 3.1.1.1.1

            Systems thinking?

            I say, animism.

            • weka 3.1.1.1.1.1

              animism is a form of systems thinking. The issue is how to get the very large number of people who are illiterate in 'nature is alive' to come to their sense?

              • Robert Guyton

                Foster the telling of stories with an animist theme.

                Children enjoy such stories. Let's start with them.

                After all, children are our future, yes?

                Many adults recognise the power of such stories also. Let's share those stories with everyone.

                Sometimes a wild god.

                https://tomhirons.com/poetry/sometimes-a-wild-god

                • roblogic

                  Or a Matauranga Māori theme

                  • Robert Guyton

                    Ae. Tika. Indigenous cultures from across the planet, including our own past selves, reported the existence of non-human "persons" as a matter of course.

                    • roblogic

                      Popular music and the arts are another way to influence culture and change our trajectory. I liked this article on the role of culture: (paraphrase)

                      Cultural and Spiritual Transformation – addressing the Climate Crisis in our daily lives within the Modern World | SEAI | Blog

                      For the vast majority of our 250,000 or so year history, we homo sapiens have lived largely within ecological boundaries and by sharing resources, per 'The Dawn of Everything' (Graeber  & Wengrow,2021). We are not pre-ordained by our genetics to organise ourselves in any particular way as a species.

                      Is human nature defined by the Kogi of Colombia, who see themselves as ‘the elder brother, the guardians of all life on Earth’, or is our nature closer to the CEOs of Exxon-Mobil who lied about the link between global warming and burning fossil fuels?

                      To combat ecological destruction and climate change we must go back to the fundamentals of what it means to be human on this planet.

                      The problem which we need to deal with to solve our ecological crisis is not who we are at our core, it is who we think we are. We have forgotten that our modern, industrial way of living is, in the grand human scheme of things, completely bizarre, new, and untested. We forget that the now dominant global worldview and socio-economic system has been so heavily influenced by the culture of one small region.

                      Although Europe represents only about 8% of the planet's landmass, from 1492 to 1914, Europeans conquered or colonized more than 80% of the entire world…

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Agreed, roblogic. Perhaps you've been a Dark Mountain reader also?

                      For me, it's about direct experience – it's tricky to advise others if you've not directly experienced at least some of the "ephemeral" things you are promoting. That's achieved through stillness in natural spaces and attention to detail, imo 🙂 Probably not the forum for an in-depth discussion, TS but there'll be some here who are all about this.

                    • roblogic

                      Haven't come across "Dark Mountain" before – is it this collective of authors?

                      This thread on X today was a relevant critique of western culture:

                      "One could easily look at the cultures that have survived 50,000 uninterrupted years on this planet, and say, for example, that they have a better claim to say what's 'right' than the brash young upstarts that are burning the whole thing to the ground within a few hundred."

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Yep, that's them:

                      https://dark-mountain.net

                      Agree with your quote.

      • Tony Veitch 3.1.2

        I suggested on X recently that we need to act quickly, and the present CoC was absolutely the worst government in the face of the impending climate catastrophe!

        While a few agreed with me, it was disheartening the read all the climate denying tweets, some quite abusive!

        The little boy who cried wolf seemed to be a recurring belief.

        I feel quite disillusioned about our ability to respond in any meaningful way to avoid what's heading our way, and much much sooner than expected.

        • Robert Guyton 3.1.2.1

          "disillusioned"?

          That might be a good thing. It's our illusions that got us into this mess 🙂

          After disillusionment, what comes?

          Clarity?

          • Tony Veitch 3.1.2.1.1

            The great fear, Robert, is that after disillusionment comes despair!

            • Robert Guyton 3.1.2.1.1.1

              Well, it does! Then after that..?

              • Tony Veitch

                Unfortunately – hospice Earth!

                • Robert Guyton

                  I reckon, "realistic determination".

                  That is, there's a significant chance of failure, but I'm going to do everything I can to avert it.

                  Same as it ever was.

        • weka 3.1.2.2

          my solution to that on twitter is to be selective in who I respond to and who I talk with. I just told one climate denier there was no point in talking evidence as it would waste both our time. They accepted that and moved on.

          I am careful how I curate my twitter generally.

          • Tony Veitch 3.1.2.2.1

            The point is not that I should monitor who I attempt to communicate with on Twitter, but the level, as Obtrectator so rightly says below, of pretty profound ignorance (which precedes denial) on the whole topic of climate change.

            Sure, more and more people are waking up, led largely by the younger generation, but enough? Is there enough time?

            My fear is that we won't fully realise the shit we're in until it's up to our chins!

            edit: largely answered by weka’s response below. Though it doesn’t answer the time question!

            • weka 3.1.2.2.1.1

              I think we should all be monitoring who we talk to on SM, because the SM giants are using sophisticated tech to manipulate us by what they expose us to in the feed.

              And that directly relates to feelings of despair, which in turn directly affects politics and action/non-action.

              I share your fear that we won't act in time, and I intentionally choose to move out of that and into states of hope and action, because I can't see how action can come from fear alone.

              The time question for me is held in the idea that tipping points hold a lot of power for potential change. The pandemic taught us that change can happen very fast when there is a will. There are other examples, and XR in particular studied protest culture and successful change historically and deliberately developed their strategies and tactics from that. That's why they were able to change the whole public awareness and discourse in a short period if time.

      • Obtrectator 3.1.3

        Yes, of course we have all those possible actions, but how do you get a largely ignorant populace to see the need for them?

        The current socio-political climate (pun unavoidable) makes it impossible to deploy them. Measures on that scale, with the consequent necessary degree of control over people's lives, only find general acceptance in extreme circumstances such as war, a virulent plague, or some colossal natural disaster – none of which (bar possibly the plague) appear likely to supervene until we're well beyond the tipping point.

        • weka 3.1.3.1

          Three things.

          One is understanding why people aren't acting. That covers climate deniers and delayers, but there is a much larger group of people that know CC is real, and serious, but feel stuck on how to act. Humans are also suffering from depression and despair, and we need to support ourselves to not get stuck in that.

          Two is the absolute necessity of telling the stories of what people can do and how things can work out. We are inundated with stories of how bad it is, and quite a few of it's too late. What we need now are the stories of hope that tell us yes it is bad, and this is what we can do instead. When you see people telling those stories, please amplify them.

          Three is watching for the smaller sociopolitical tipping points and being ready to make sure we tip in a good direction. We have already had the pandemic and Cyclone Gabrielle. There will be more events like that in the near term that we can work with. Preparing for them is a challenge that requires a lot of rethinking the leftist approach and how to work with people across difference.

  4. Phillip ure 4

    Would it be timely to (again) note that the most effective change the individual can make..to try to lessen this shit storm..

    ..is to switch to a plant-based diet..?

    ..so if you really care…go there…eh..?

    • Robert Guyton 4.1

      What about fungi, Phillip; the 3rd Kingdom, as akin to animals as to plants?

      How could you (eat a mushroom)?

      • Phillip ure 4.1.1

        Is this another version of the screaming plant self-jusifying bullshit/excuse some flesh-eaters spin..?

        I don't like mushrooms..so don't eat them..but not for any ethical reasons..

        And how about you robert..?

        How is it that you wear the green badge..and bang on about environmental issues..

        Then you sit down to eat the flesh/fat of some long-suffering animal…that has had a hellish trip to your plate..?

        How could you eat animals..robert..?

        How do you justify/excuse that fail in 'green' behavior..?

        • Robert Guyton 4.1.1.1

          Yeah, I'm familiar with your views on meat-eating Phil – I was extending the discussion into an area that's poorly defined, the fungal world, and wondered you'd applied your thinking to that in the same way you encourage others to consider meat-eating.

          Saying you don't eat them because you don't like them side-steps the point of my question; are fungi animal or plant and how do you consider the eating of them, in light of your intense interesting what humans eat?

          • Phillip ure 4.1.1.1.1

            No..I haven't applied my thinking to that..

            ..but I would not consider mushrooms to be animals.. suffering from confinement..ending in pain/suffering/death…to be eaten by you..

            Personally…I would probably be nearest the jainists…

            But I do not apply the degree of self-regulation they practise..tho' I can see their point'..

            Hope that clarifies that for you..

            Now..how about you having a go at what I asked you..

            A valid question…I would submit…

            ..given your well-trumpeted stances..

            • Robert Guyton 4.1.1.1.1.1

              And if other people did consider it unethical to eat fungi because they believed them to be sentient? Advanced in their sentience, even?

              Would you eat them then?

              • Phillip ure

                Why are you..an animal eater..dancing on the head of this pin..?

                I'm calling bullshit..

                How about just showing me the respect of answering my (entirely valid) question…

                A question you should have asked yourself..a long time ago..eh..?

                And that you haven't..is denial on steroids..

                • Robert Guyton

                  I'm asking you a genuine question, Phillip, just as you ask everyone here, repeatedly, about meat-eating. Why are you belittling my question to you? Given that I asked first, you might understand how I might feel about your dismissive answer and your angry response to my kindly insistence on a deeper response from you. I wonder if some people might feel the same way about your oft-asked questions about meat-eating?

                • weka

                  ok, I'm going to put some limits on this sub-debate under my posts. Argue the points and the politics, but if you are going to tip over into personal attacks, I will moderate.

                  Not everyone sees the world in the way you do Phillip, if you want to lambast them personally for that, do it somewhere else.

      • Drowsy M. Kram 4.1.2

        Vegans, vegetarians in NZ rarer than many thought [7 Dec 2023]

        How could you (eat a mushroom)?

        Love mushrooms, but draw the line at chips – a pity, given some are made in NZ, and then there are imported (Australian) options.

        https://www.mushroomhouse.co.nz/crispy-coated-oyster-mushroom-chips-70g

        https://healthysnacks.nz/products/shiitake-mushroom-chips

        https://www.super-store.co.nz/shitake-mushroom-crisps-225g.html

        Couldn't eat insect-based food either – at least not knowingly – silly, I know.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insects_as_food

        I've mentioned this before, but 60 years ago Mum (bless her) cooked a meat-meal for the dinner table seven days a week, except for the afternoon Sunday roast when my local (widdowed) Grandma joined us.

        Many Kiwis are lowering their meat consumption, with monetary and (human) health considerations significant drivers – I might eat a meat meal two days a week (I don't keep count). There's an absolutely fabulous array of NZ-made plant-based soup pouches in supermarkets. Tasty and nutritious (four out of five health stars), with a long refrigerator life, and ludicrously easy to 'prepare' – three minutes in the microwave – great for oldies. It's not haute cuisine, but it's hot cuisine, and you can add locally-harvested mushrooms (or whatever) for extra flavour, although it's not been good season for mushies in Palmy – too dry, and gosh isn't the river low.

        https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/300865998/where-has-my-soft-plastic-collection-point-gone-and-what-i-can-do-about-it

        On the plus side, the feijoas are well and truly here, and this year we're determined not to let a single one go to waste. Every fruit that doesn't get eaten fresh will be scooped out and frozen for smoothies through 2024 into 2025 until the next season arrives. And on the topics of smoothies, and veganism, dairy addiction is alas my Achilles' heel – I could give it up, but not voluntarily.

        • weka 4.1.2.1

          you can choose to buy ethical dairy (if you have the income to do that). More choices now than there used to be. Prioritise organic, local, small scale.

          • Robert Guyton 4.1.2.1.1

            I see cows in flat, fenced (sometimes electrically) paddocks, eating grass (that's all their is) and wonder how bored they must be; mindlessly eating because there is nothing else to do; no logs to nudge, rivers to cross, wolves to run from, calves to nurture, bulls to be wary of, shrubs to munch upon, mushrooms to sniff.

            We baulk at the sight of caged lions and tigers, pacing madly.

            How about cows? Is it right for us to condemn them to prolonged boredom and empty-headedness?

            • weka 4.1.2.1.1.1

              I used to buy milk off Holy Cow in Dunedin, visited the farm a few times. Small herd, he knows the name of each of his cows, has a great love for them. The farm isn't just flat Southland paddocks. Lots of potential to do even better for many small dairy farmers.

              I like the look of the Gow's place out past your way too, haven't been there though. I'd buy their meat.

              It's about moving in the right direction.

              Because people are saying they love their oat or soy milk, and I see large scale monocropping, the destruction of biodiversity and the murder of whole ecosystems, the small animals destroyed by harvesting machinery, the life harmed by the factories needed to make the plastic/paper/metal single use packaging that needs more industrial processes to be recycled, all the pollution and waste involved in that, and that can never be composted. And the carbon miles on all of that.

              The oat milk company that ships their oats to Europe to be made into milk and then ships it back again. The sugars and other ingredients added to plant milks. On and on it goes.

              I will keep buying my milk from Farm Fresh, who raise their cows in Southland and direct transport to retailers or customers, in glass bottles that they reuse. Not perfect, but 50 cows, trying to be organic, and heading in the right direction.

              • weka

                and yes I agree with you about the boredom. Large scale dairying is a crime in that regard. One of the great things about buying ethical meat and dairy is we directly support the farmers that are trying to change things for the better for the animals as well.

              • Robert Guyton

                Of course, nothing is perfect, especially when we have already broken well away from the perfection-baseline, if ever there was one.

                We can be sure also, that we will not ever please everyone, nor even balance-up our own ideas and beliefs – too many of those are embedded so deeply it's impossible to prise them out, or even detect them in many cases; we have to do the best we can and try not to make matters worse through our proselytising 🙂

                I think though, that the angle to take on matters that affect others; people, animals, all living entities for that matter, is theirs, if they are the victims/recipients of our actions. It's easy enough for the oppressors/users etc. to justify their actions, so we should, imo, disregard those explanations, and ask the underdogs how they see the situation 🙂

                • weka

                  well sure. I just don't hierarchise milking animals as being worse than ecosystem death. In terms of looking at it from the other being's pov, I cannot see how eating plants is inherently more respectful to life than eating from animals.

                  Either are both capable of creating great suffering and both can be done considerable better than we generally do. And either way, another life form will die so that you and I can live and be well.

                  Anyone saying 'plant based is better than animal milk' really isn't taking any of that into account.

                  • Robert Guyton

                    " In terms of looking at it from the other being's pov, I cannot see how eating plants is inherently more respectful to life than eating from animals."

                    You believe that eating plants could be "creating great suffering" to the plants?

                    Really?

                    And that we can do plant-eating considerably better than we generally do?

                    Please expand on your thoughts 🙂

                  • Robert Guyton

                    " I cannot see how eating plants is inherently more respectful to life than eating from animals."

                    Well, it just is 🙂

                    There are far fewer ethical issues with eating a lettuce than there are with eating a kereru, imo.

          • Phillip ure 4.1.2.1.2

            Could someone please explain to me just what it is that makes "ethical dairy/meat'…'ethical'..

            ..as opposed to the unethical stuff?..

            ..and what is it that makes the other stuff unethical..?

            • Robert Guyton 4.1.2.1.2.1

              It's all about intent, Phil. Hunters of yester-year, dressed as their prey, danced as their prey, sang as their prey, then hunted their prey. They believed they had established a relationship with the deer/bear through song and ceremony, that engaged the animals in a symbiotic relationship that both sustained the consumer and up-lifted the eaten.

              Can you show that this was not the case?

              • Phillip ure

                Yes..lots of cultures make up myths to justify their mistreatment of animals..

                That one is particularly fanciful…

                • Robert Guyton

                  You are wrong about that, Phil. Or are you putting your personal opinion up against the traditions of so many indigenous peoples: tītī harvest, white baiting, kereru .. 🙂

    • weka 4.2

      I still have it in mind to do a post on that.

  5. satty 5

    And we have the highest concentration of greenhouse gases ever:

    Guardian – Scientists confirm record highs for three most important heat-trapping gases

    So we're going the wrong direction globally (and in NZ). We have to reduce emissions nearly 50% (compared to 2022) by 2030 to keep the 1.5 degree target.

    And here another example why we should invest into infrastructure (not into roads) instead of providing stupid tax cuts:

    RNZ – Energy sector upgrades unaffordable, unachievable, trade association says

    Every little counts and there's so much (expensive) transformation we have to do.

  6. Grey Area 6

    I became aware of this movement for the first time on Friday. The local Green Party branch had a presentation on it.

    Take the Jump NZ

    It started in the UK and they have supported a group to establish it here. "The project is co-led by the Nelson Tasman Climate Forum with support from the UK Take the Jump team". So far there are regional groups in Nelson Tasman and Wairarapa.

    I am just looking through the material but it seems to me like a useful tool to help people make personal changes, especially those who don't know where to start. People sign up to make seven life shifts for at least a month, one of which moving to a mostly plant-based diet, eating mindfully and composting waste. Another is to Change the System acknowledging that "Big improvements to global infrastructure and economic & financial systems are needed: this is the job of governments and big business."

    I like the encouraging tone of it and the fact there is advice and support, including on all the usual social media channels.

    Even if you can’t keep to it 100% it's still an incredible impact to ‘Take the Jump’ and just do your best. Start with what you can. If all seven feel like too much, start with what you can and build from there. The science is clear we need to start changing things now. So it’s not about being perfect from the start, it's about starting at all.

    • weka 6.1

      wow. Even just the front page of their website is exciting and inspiring! Very impressed.

      • Grey Area 6.1.1

        I was impressed too, Weka. The website design is colourful, easy to navigate and engaging.

        I am about to sign up to road test it. A friend wants to promote it in our area and I'll help her with that.

        It's interesting that the NZ site is subtly different to the UK one. They have six shifts. NZ has added a seventh: Get Planting – Act to preserve and protect Aotearoa's unique biodiversity.

    • That_guy 6.2

      I like it. Honestly was feeling absolutely garbage today about the state of the world, but that's something positive I can take out of the day.

      • Grey Area 6.2.1

        If I get the opportunity I'll feed that back to the folk involved. I'm sure that sort of feedback will encourage them.

  7. Cricklewood 7

    In terms of plants some prefer a big temp differential others a more temperate climate. The crops we grow, where and when we grow them will change. We will need to be nimble but people in horticulature are generally very well tuned to the enviroment the biggest risk will be in vested interests lobbying and getting barriers put up already happening with Bannanas.

    There is quite alot of happening in the background mainly driven by enthusiasts. We're pretty close on commercially viable Bannana's (not cavendish) Pineapples and we could also do sugarcane in the north which is a bit of a cottage industry atm with local production used in making Rum and other sugar cane spirits and a few others. There are also pretty promising Papaya cultivars and getting close with mangos.

    Theres not much help and even resistance to the trail blazers in this regard but if we are serious as a country about doing our bit we need to embrace and support these industries. Every local banana or pineapple we can grow and sell locally saves some pretty horrendous food miles same with the sugar.

    • weka 7.1

      yes! This is what I would have hoped from a green government, that government farming support would be refocused within transition consciousness. So many good things we could be doing for growers.

      • Robert Guyton 7.1.1

        If you are committed to global trade, why would you support local?

        • weka 7.1.1.1

          I'm not committed to global trade. It appears you don't understand my position or arguments.

        • weka 7.1.1.2

          I took Cricklewood's comment to be about growing for the NZ market.

          • Cricklewood 7.1.1.2.1

            Yep, for domestic consumption although sugar cane perhaps has export potential at a boutique level.

            The fact that these sub tropical crops are becoming viable here is a real world example of warming in NZ with the real difference being the increased minimum temps and shorter cold temp periods which means the soils are warmer on average. The other factor is the hobbyist / enthusiasts persisting with plants people scoffed out carefully growing from seed and selecting the best specimens over a number of years / generations to get hardier stock.

            • Robert Guyton 7.1.1.2.1.1

              Yeah, Cricklewood – "The other factor is the hobbyist / enthusiasts persisting with plants people scoffed out (sic) :-)…"

              I reckon this is the wild-card that will save us all 🙂 hobbyists/enthusiasts not heedin g conventional wisdom" and instead, doing what inspires them.

              Plants are the future and we are being foolish restricting the thinking about them. We, meaning, they 🙂

        • Robert Guyton 7.1.1.3

          I didn't mean you, weka, I meant you 🙂

          Please try not to personalise the discussion 🙂
          How about this: If one is committed to global trade, why would one support local? Sounds a bit tossy, doesn’t it 🙂

          • Cricklewood 7.1.1.3.1

            I dont think the two are entirely mutually exclusive, just not the current system with either low value high input products which go into industrially processed food etc or highly perishable goods on air freight which just isnt sustainable and overly proccessed crap coming back.

            Trading high quality goods which we can produce well and travel by ship are a different kettle of fish.

  8. Ian 8

    Plants are our future,in particular the opportunities our temperate climate provides to grow clover and ryegrass to match a dairy cows requirements over a lactation with minimal need for supplement ,expensive housing and cut and carry. My bank recognises that a warming climate in Canterbury will result in more fodder for cows,augmented by irrigation from water storage and that the dairy industry is sustainable.They have dropped my margin on loans by 15 basic points in recognition of these facts. Alternative landuse and an increase in horticulture will happen over time and as in the North Island dairy farmers will be in the thick of it and eager to diversify. Guyton seems to be living in a cave back in the dark ages and I can't figure out why he expects me and my family to join him

    • Robert Guyton 8.1

      You're such a dag, Ian, with your cliches! Good on you: "plants are our future", you proclaim, then you name them: clover and ryegrass! Classic comedy! 2 plants? Is that as far as your aspirations stretch? Clover and ryegrass! Who needs the zillions of other plants! Not the dairy guys, that's for sure 🙂

      Mind you, you do add:

      "Alternative landuse and an increase in horticulture will happen over time…" which is quite true, only you're thinking decades, where some of us here recognise the hands of the clock are beginning to spin at a pace cockies aren't prepared for.

      Big ups to you, for engaging in the discussion, Ian!

      Let's see what else you've got.

      • Ian 8.1.1

        In this world our competitive advantage is our ability to grow Ryegrass and clover and produce protein for food cheaply and efficiently.With the adoption of modern plant breeding techniques and shortly when the playing field is levelled with the rest of the world I am sure our advantage will improve. Economics dictates landuse not government or fringe ,nutters pushing their wooden wheelbarrows.Next you will be telling me I should plant the farm in plaintain. The only profit coming from that will be the owners of the plant variety rights . The regen guys have all pulled their heads in after the accountant did the books.

        • roblogic 8.1.1.1

          Fingers crossed that that the NAF coalition hasn't trashed our trade agreements with their stated intentions to ignore environmental standards

          • Robert Guyton 8.1.1.1.1

            We'll soon see whether the overseas markets have influence over farming practice here in NZ. I came to believe they would but am not certain now. Perhaps people living elsewhere will become so desperate and hungry that they'll disregard how the meat/milk was produced. As well, the farmer-pandering government we are saddled-with presently, will spin the truth of the matter over there, as they are doing here.

        • Robert Guyton 8.1.1.2

          In this world?

          In this country, our competitive advantage used to be a seemingly-endless supply of tall trees suitable for making ship's masts. Agriculture put pay to that. The climate will do the same to dairying. Our competitive advantage should be flexibility, diversity, long-sightedness and innovation, but we're stuck by greed and fear of change. If the markets don't force change on us, the climate will 🙂

  9. lprent 9

    The other feature of the past year has been the number of posts and articles I see where climate scientists are saying ‘ok, we didn’t really expect that…’

    It actually isn't what they have been saying in reality. It was a combination of (I'm paraphrasing)…

    • That happened faster than I/we expected…
    • We never had any previous evidence of that effect happening so fast…
    • That wasn't in the geological record…

    The reason why is obvious to anyone with half a brain and who understands the basis of science.

    The physics of retained and reflected radiation in a atmosphere of various compositions, especially reflected infrared bands, comes mostly from physics. That is really well understood since the early 19th century. This blog has a good summary of the history on the effects of CO2 in the atmosphere in retaining heat in the upper atmosphere have been measurable since the 1950s.

    By the 1970s when I started my degree in earth sciences, we'd moved on from physics to looking at evidence changes in the geological record. My italics

    In 1976, Nicholas Shackleton analyzed deep-sea cores and showed that the dominating influence on ice age timing came from a 100,000 year Milankovitch orbital change. This was unexpected since the change in sunlight in that cycle was slight, and emphasized that the climate system is driven by feedbacks and thus is strongly susceptible to small changes in conditions.

    This is what lazy idiots like Damien Grant don't get. It probably doesn't help that he gets his science from someone whose science training is political rather than the real stuff – Bjørn Lomborg. Basically both of them are mindless dickheads who simply have never looked at the science of climate change to even an undergraduate level.

    This is Damien Grant in a recent article

    I do not understand how an increase in carbon dioxide from three hundred parts per million to five hundred parts per million, which seems like an increase from nothing to next to nothing, will cause Greenland’s ice sheet to melt and Wellington to become flooded.

    Lazy lazy fuckwit fool… For a starter the baseline was way closer to 275ppm than 300ppm. But it isn’t the actual amount, it is the change in effect. What DG should have been looking at was why a world wide drop from 282ppm to 275ppm correlated with annual freezes happening on the Thames after 1600 and until the late 1800s that were unknown in previous centuries.

    Teeny changes like levels of insolation trigger glaciations or inter-glacials. That is because everything is teetering at a balance point and effects from one thing cause others to change as well – like sea ice or the production of CO2 from plants. Volcanoes erupting cause CO2 and other gas emissions. It also causes ash clouds. This is also in teeny amounts compared to both in the atmosphere. The exact mixture of this teeny injection over the duration over the can cause measurable effects worldwide within a year and over the course of a decade.

    Having continents move into or out of a polar area causes ice ages that last for tens of millions of years. The effect is pretty minor, changes in reflection and a build up of ice, compared to other geological events – the consequences change the whole world for very long periods of time.

    Anyway, since the 1980s science has kept trying to figure out what the actual effects have been in the past.

    But the geological record has a resolution problem. The further back we look, the more that the detail is lost. We can see solid evidence at a seasonal level – but only for the last hundred years or so (tree rings or lake bed sediments). Annual temperature events back tens of thousands of years (isotopes in ice and deep ocean sea bed cores). Atmosphere in ice core bubbles for a few million with a resolution of about a century dated with argon isotopes.

    But outside of the insolation effects, what we have problems with is cause and effect. Nothing that can be seen in the measurable geological evidence shows what happens when ambient level of CO2 is doubled within a century and tripled in 150 years. Or methane goes off the chart.

    We simply don't have the resolution or the geological causative effects within recent history (ie over the last 3 million years or so) of a massive increase in the levels of these and other gases. We usually only see the effects of insolation changes – not massive releases of greenhouse gases. What we can see in the distant past with volcanic flood events like the Siberian Traps and Deccan Traps is major changes in climate and mass extinction events. But those took millions of years to happen – not a couple of hundred like we are doing now.

    But so far what we are sure of is that each time the IPCC releases a report based on the evidence that has accumulated, the projected results are always worse than they were before. We're always on the worst case scenarios of the previous decade's reports.

    I suspect that we're just starting up the curve of effects, and many of them will manifest while I'm still alive. Like really extreme weather, widespread ice melts, and farming and food production under great stress because every season is different.

    I still reckon we will be lucky to stay below a 6C average global rise by the end of the century. 2% is a myth.

    • Robert Guyton 9.1

      6C?

      Boiled frog.

    • SPC 9.2

      Most still see it as not keeping it under a 1.5 degree increase and coming to accept a 2 degree one – expecting measures being taken to achieve that.

      The "myth" as you call it.

      But at least the global warming deniers are quiet – even those funding that cause, such as Charles Koch, now admit they were wrong.

      Yet we have to call it climate change, if the Atlantic current goes – we get a very cold north and a very hot south.

      There would not be a uniform 2-6 degrees warming.

      • lprent 9.2.1

        There would not be a uniform 2-6 degrees warming.

        Yeah. Or even uniform in one place over the seasons. Plus it is the wind and the rain (or lack of it) that is the major issue.

        I really don't think that people quite realise just how damn stable the world climate has been for the last 10-20k years. Everything has been gradual and taking centuries. Like the increasing size of the Sahara.

        Our entire food production system evolved within the last 12k years. It is utterly dependent on quite static and predictable climate patterns. Our entire civilisation in built on top of agricultural systems that are very sensitive to any climate change , even mild and gradual ones. It is pretty easy to look in the archaeological record and see civilisations dying from minor climate shifts.

        But we are working on our way towards having very rapid changes in climate.

    • satty 9.3

      Damian Grant? Luckily, the headlines of his Stuff "Opinion" pieces are so ridiculous, that you can smell the bullshit on the other end of the internet. Funny, that Stuff claims they don't allow "Climate Change deniers" but put the piece you've mentioned online.

      In my opinion one of the reasons we hit Climate Change milestones quicker than predicted is humans, even experts, can struggle a little with exponential / growth functions. Another one is doing too little too late. To keep within 1.5 or even 2 degrees we probably have to reach net-zero now or at least in the next couple of years, long before 2050. Plus we have to hope we didn't hit too many tipping points yet.

      The average of the last 12 months have already been over 1.5 degrees:

      Guardian – Tenth consecutive monthly heat record alarms and confounds climate scientists

      Global surface temperatures in March were 0.1C higher than the previous record for the month, set in 2016, and 1.68C higher than the pre-industrial average, according to data released on Tuesday by the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

      This is the 10th consecutive monthly record in a warming phase that has shattered all previous records. Over the past 12 months, average global temperatures have been 1.58C above pre-industrial levels.

      Sure, the temperatures will go down a little after El Nino… until the next event, when we hit new temperature records.

      If we continue hitting temperature records like we do since 1980, there could be El Nino periods over 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels before 2050.

      • lprent 9.3.1

        To keep within 1.5 or even 2 degrees we probably have to reach net-zero now or at least in the next couple of years, long before 2050. Plus we have to hope we didn't hit too many tipping points yet.

        I suspect that we were too late even by the late 1980s to stay in that range by the end or even the middle of this century. When you look at what we now know about the interwoven feedback effects compared to then, the estimates from the 1990s look hopelessly optimistic now.

        The problem is that I think is that we are still just looking at the effects we know about. For instance… It isn't the surface temperatures or GG levels we should be worried about.

        Most of the heat and the greenhouse gases have been going into the deep ocean currents at the poles and in effect 90+% of greenhouse effects are getting stored in the ocean. Massive buffer, one that we have little idea of how it circulates under even slightly higher temperatures.

        We barely understand where the conveyors are now. We only started mapping them worldwide seriously in the 1980s and 1990s. Certainly don't understand the velocities except as a guesstimate. In effect that means we don't really know when or if climate change pulses from the previous decades will resurface.

        Probably find out the hard way.

        Talk to anyone who understands the state of climate science, and they will effectively say that it is the hidden risk levels of what we don't know that are the major problem.

  10. Koff 10

    Ho hum….and on this side of the Tasman, everything's going OK…NOT! Well above average temperatures in the Tasman these last few summer months have been responsible for the fifth major coral bleaching event in recent years. This time it has deeply affected the shallower waters of the southern Barrier Reef, which because it is further south in normally cooler waters has largely escaped the damage to the central and northern reefs up to now. First Dog on the Moon's take on it is that greenwashing won't wash (pun unintended) and only urgent action on climate change will save the GBR and other world reefs, let alone many other key ecosystems vulnerable to atmospheric warming.

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