A quick heads up that the Royal Society of New Zealand’s panel discussion series on the theme of The Age Of Resilience starts tonight at the Auckland Museum at 6pm. French and NZ experts will consider the “economic conundrum” of transitioning to a low-carbon economy and at the same time deliver a “high and sustainable level of human well-being”. On the panel are Pierre Ducret (see the NZ Herald today), Dr Suzi Kerr, Professor Catherine Larrère and Fraser Whinerary. Kim Hill will be in the chair, and the evening is being recorded by Radio New Zealand for broadcast next month. More details at the RSNZ web site, and you can download a flyer here.
Two further sessions are being held in Wellington and Christchurch: in Wellington tomorrow night on Climate in-justice? and Christchurch next Tuesday on The Anthropocene Challenge. Details and flyers from the RSNZ here. An interesting series — and if you can’t make the live recordings, all three will be on Radio NZ National in September and October as part of the Talking Heads strand.
Submissions for the New Zealand government’s half-hearted consultation on post-2020 emissions targets closed last Wednesday. I managed to sneak my contribution in just before the 5pm deadline. It remains to be seen whether it will be read. I heartily recommend reading the Royal Society’s submission – a very clear statement of the issues and NZ’s responsibilities. The Generation Zero submission is also well worth a look (pdf here). More than 4,600 people used G0’s automated submission tool, which should ensure that the MfE is well aware that this is an issue people take seriously. In the meantime, here’s what I had to say…
New Zealand’s Climate Change Target: Our contribution to the new international climate change agreement, the discussion document produced by the Ministry for the Environment to accompany the consultation process, is in my view misleading and misguided. It presents a distorted and unhelpful view of the dimensions of the challenge NZ faces. In order to arrive at a pragmatic understanding of how NZ’s domestic policy settings on greenhouse gas emissions should be adjusted to best align with a solution to this huge global problem, it’s necessary to consider the scientific and geopolitical context. NZ’s policy solutions should flow from, and work with, our best understanding of the science that underpins the need for action to cut emissions and to stabilise and reduce atmospheric CO2 loading. NZ also needs to consider the direct climate and strategic risks it faces as a result of inevitable climate change and design policy that limits those risks and increases resilience to them.
Evidence from studies of past climate conditions suggests that the last time atmospheric CO2 stood at 400 ppm — 3 million years ago, during the Pliocene — global sea levels were around 20 metres higher than today, and global average temperature was 2-3ºC above pre-industrial (the global average temperature of 200 years ago). As atmospheric CO2 continues to climb above 400 ppm, the only practical question is how long it will take the ice sheets of Greenland and the Antarctic to melt. It may take hundreds to thousands of years to see the full extent of the sea level rise implicit in current CO2 levels, but it’s worth noting that for every 1 ppm we add above 400 ppm, we add to the warming and the final amount of sea level rise. We have already committed future generations to a world with radically different shorelines. We are already heading for substantial warming and increasing damages from climate change.
Continue reading “NZ’s Paris emissions commitments should be 40% by 2030 and 100% (or more) by 2050”
Sciblogs editor Peter Griffin recently gave climate denial activists Bryan Leyland and Bob Carter a “right of reply” to my post pointing out the errors and inconsistencies in a Dominion Post op-ed penned by the pair. Griffin took this action because of vociferous complaints from Leyland, who took offence at my discussion of his expertise (non-existent) and history of campaigning against action on climate. The result is billed as a “rebuttal”, but it isn’t, as I shall demonstrate.
The Sciblogs “rebuttal” is a mishmash of a so-called “fully referenced” version (pdf) of the op-ed that Leyland says was supplied to the Dominion Post, but he and Carter also prepared a very long-winded “response” (pdf) to the debunking of their piece by David Wratt, Andy Reisinger and Jim Renwick in the DP. The latter is a real eye-opener…
Life is too short to do another point-by-point demolition, so I’ll select a few key issues that demonstrate that although they claim to be discussing science in a scientific manner, what they are actually doing is having the equivalent of an argument in a pub — prepared to say anything if they think it will help them “win”.
Continue reading “Leyland and Carter: the rebuttal that isn’t and the hypocrisy that is”
My entry for the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Manhire Prize for science writing (in the fiction category), made the shortlist but didn’t win. My congratulations to Brian Langham for his story Fourteen [pdf] (and to Renee Liang for her winning non-fiction piece — Epigenetics: navigating our inner seas [pdf]). For the sake of posterity, here’s my little tear-jerker. Some might do well to remember that it is intended as satire.
The last climate denier in New Zealand slapped his battered old panama hat on to his balding head, adjusted the bulky wrap-around sunglasses over his bifocals and stepped out into the hot morning air. He groaned. His car, the last petrol V6 in the city — a classic, his wingèd American chariot made stationary by lack of fuel — slouched under a coat of red dust. Again. Some urchin child of an Aussie refugee had written “wash me, fossil fool” on the back. The letters were ill-formed and childlike. You could say the same for the parents, he thought. Could there be any soil left in Australia, now that so much of it was blowing over the Tasman to coat the city? Come to that, were there any Australians left in Australia? It didn’t seem like it. The rich ones had bribed their way in, bought big properties well inland and built mansions. The poor were huddling in their masses in the abandoned beachfront baches, camping out on the top floors when the spring tides lapped around the gardens, trooping inland with tents when storms brought waves washing through the eroding dunes to pound at their doors.
Continue reading “The last climate denier in New Zealand”
A few weeks ago I burned a little midnight oil and, hunched over this very keyboard, wrote a little story about The Last Climate Denier in New Zealand. If you were to think that it was a tad satirical, you would not be wrong. It’s a sad story, set in a parallel universe that bears a striking resemblance to The Burning World, and was my entry in this year’s Royal Society of NZ Manhire Prize (fiction section). Now I learn that by some strange misjudgement my short story finds itself in the shortlist for the prize. I can’t publish the story here until after it loses (which will be late November), but in the meantime you can download it here. It’s a two hankie story, so be prepared…
[The superb Mavis Staples.]