Food, Fossil Fuels and Filthy Finance

by Bryan Walker on October 23, 2014

droughtIt is depressingly apparent that powerful forces in the global economy are set to carry on with the exploration for and use of fossil fuels as a primary source of energy for decades to come. Oxfam has produced a report identifying the confluence of fossil fuel companies, governments and investors which givers momentum to the disastrous course along which we are being impelled.

Food, Fossil Fuels and Filthy Finance pulls no punches. It points to the evidence from the Tyndall Centre that, in the absence of an unprecedented change in the global use of fossil fuels, we are heading for a global temperature rise of 4 to 6 degrees by century’s end.

Warming at this rate would leave hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people at risk of severe hunger and drought by 2060. Even 2 degrees is going to have widespread human impacts and cause serious setbacks to development. The ‘hunger costs’ of fossil fuels are set to be the most savage impacts of climate change for millions globally. Farmers in many African countries are likely to see decreases in yield decade by decade, in spite of adaptation measures. The report details much more by way of cascading adverse impacts on populations least equipped to cope with them. It also points to severe economic and business risks in store for the developed countries as climate change begins to bite in their regions.

[now read on…]

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In my post at The Daily Blog this week I take inspiration from the great Ian Dury, and reflect on the disconnect between political ambition and the state of the climate system as it continues to warm. It will be my last post at TDB for a while – for definitions of “a while” that include the time to write a book, refocus on Hot Topic, prepare the farm for the drought I fear we’re heading towards, and (with luck) harvest lots of truffles and make some damn fine wine…

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Chile’s new tax could open carbon doors for NZ

Chile’s new carbon tax potentially offers New Zealand an opportunity to offset some of its own agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, says economist Dr Suzi Kerr. The $US5-a-tonne carbon tax slipped into Chilean law last month as part of a package of tax reforms.

Soils SOS as cities gobble up our best growing land

New Zealand is allowing its elite soils to be eaten up by cities — despite signing up to a new global campaign to protect valuable agricultural land. New Zealand launched its membership of the 17-country Pacific Soil Partnership on Wednesday – the same day that the Government announced it would push ahead with plans to ease planning rules to allow our cities to spread.

Rod Oram: Why i’m getting out of fossil fuels

Business commentator Rod Oram is putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to sustainable investment. Like the Rockefellers in the United States, Oram has ditched his fossil fuel investments.

Kiwi savers want investments to do clean work

A survey of New Zealanders has revealed that Kiwis care deeply about how their KiwiSaver funds are being invested and that they want more sustainable KiwiSaver options. [now read on…]

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A low threat of a terrorist attack?  Never mind the climate. So, the threat of a terrorist attack on New Zealand is upon us has risen from “very low” to “low” — second to lowest in a ranking that has six levels. Cabinet is now urgently reviewing our security laws to make sure we’re equipped to deal with this horrific new threat. The media has dedicated hours of discussion, gigabytes of online content, and metres of newspaper articles to this important issue. I’m now quaking in my boots.

The day after John Key’s announcement of this new “low” threat, a major report on a global security threat went entirely unnoticed here in New Zealand. The Pentagon’s “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap,” released on October 14, warns that climate change is an “immediate threat” to national and global security, describing it as a “threat multiplier” that can worsen national security problems such as terrorism and the spread of infectious diseases.

The report says:

 “Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. They will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe.”

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MiSTORY

by Bryan Walker on October 17, 2014

Anyone who follows the science of climate change knows that we are heading for environmental and social turmoil along our current path. In his new novel MiSTORY author Philip Temple imaginatively pictures what that turmoil might mean decades on from now.

New Zealand is in a political mess. Conflict abroad and conflict within. A long-lasting state of emergency, the suspension of elections, a sinister security force exercising surveillance and seeking out the resistance force which has emerged since the SoGreens were banished from political life, decayed infrastructure but an impressive range of digital electronics available to the controlling authorities.  All the ingredients for what the chief protagonist, John 21, gradually recognises is “a kind of casual police state, if there can be such a thing, a police state kiwistyle”.

[now read on…]

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In this guest post Jim Salinger (currently working in Italy, but soon to return to these shores), takes a look at the climate influences on last year’s severe New Zealand drought. It first appeared on The Conversation.

Over 2012 and 2013, parts of New Zealand experienced their worst drought in nearly 70 years. Drought is the costliest climate extreme in New Zealand; the 2012-2013 event depressed the country’s GDP by 0.7-0.9%. The drought of 1988-1989 affected 5,500 farms, pushing some farmers to the wall. But what does a climate-changed future hold?

Recent evidence confirms that New Zealand on the whole is getting dryer. And we’re beginning to understand why — increasing greenhouse and ozone-depleting gases are driving changes in the atmosphere, with impacts far beyond New Zealand.

[now read on…]

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Carbon News 13/10/14: foresters in firing line

by Gareth October 14, 2014

Anxious foresters await review of foreign credits ban A controversial decision to make foresters the only emitters banned from using cheap foreign carbon credits to offset their greenhouse gas emissions is under review. The provision was slipped through without warning as part of the Government’s Budget in May, and came into effect immediately. Business poser: […]

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This Changes Everything

by Bryan Walker October 6, 2014

Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate places the battle against climate change firmly in the context of the struggle for social justice. Fighting climate change means reordering the ways our economies are structured. The pillars of the reigning economic paradigm – privatisation, deregulation and lower taxation paid for by cuts […]

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Extremes report 2013: NZ drought and record Aussie heat made worse by warming

by Gareth October 1, 2014

The latest climate extremes report finds that 9 out of 16 extreme weather events from last year were influenced by climate change. In particular, the conditions that led to New Zealand’s severe North Island drought — the worst for 41 years, estimated to have cost the economy NZ$1.3 billion — were made more likely by […]

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Carbon News 29/9/14: Key challenged over climate impacts on Pacific islands

by Gareth September 29, 2014

Memo John Key: look Pacific Island leaders in the eye The Government is being challenged to invite the leaders of the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati to come and tell Parliament what they think of New Zealand’s climate change policies. Support to help Small Island Developing States move to renewable energy is one of five […]

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