Formerly the weekend roundup

Saturday’s promised omnibus extension never arrived, in part because of the arrival of a big cat on my computer, so here’s a Tuesday update.

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Let’s not blow the chance to lead change

More feedback on the NZ Insitute’s “fast follower” proposal, this time from business commentator Rod Oram in yesterday’s Sunday Star Times. Rod’s take is very similar to mine, though from a different perspective, and so I’m very pleased to welcome Rod as our third guest blogger – and reproduce that SST column in full. It’s a very good read…

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Weekend compendium

LovelockJames Lovelock is the man who invented earth system science – or to give it the name he got from William Golding (the Lord Of The Flies man), Gaia. Very influential, in other words, and one of the gloomiest prognosticators of mankind’s future in a world where Gaia bites back through climate change. Rolling Stone has an excellent long profile of Lovelock, which includes this gem about some temporary employment during the 1980s:

He supported himself in part as a consultant for MI5, England’s top counterintelligence agency, where he developed a method to monitor the movements of KGB spies in London by using an ECD [electron capture detector, a device invented by JL] to track their vehicles.


  • The UN Environment Programme’s fourth Global Environment Outlook Report (GEO-4) makes gloomy reading. The Press puts it on the front page with the headline Man’s ‘very survival at risk’. [Herald, BBC, Telegraph [UK], full report PDF]. Our ecological overdraft is going to make Gaia unhappy…
  • She’s not helping out with CO2 like she used to either. The amount of our CO2 emissions mopped up by natural emissions is declining – which threatens to speed up warming as carbon cycle feedbacks kick in, a new study [PDF] finds. [BBC, Herald, Times [UK], CSIRO, Rabett Run, Stoat]

[This post will be updated/extended when I stop feeling gloomy…]

It’s a moral issue too…

Climate change is without doubt a moral issue as well as a scientific, economic and political minefield. I don’t often argue the moral imperative, preferring to concentrate on more technical issues, so it was refreshing to read a compelling article by Klaus Bosselmann, Professor of Law and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law at the University of Auckland, in the Herald today.

The international climate change regime is totally inadequate, delaying the tough decisions to some indefinite future. There is a huge gap between the jurisprudence of international environmental law and so-called “sovereign” states enviously pursuing their national interests. The gap can only be closed through a worldwide moral discourse with strong leadership. This is precisely where New Zealand as a small player can make a difference. International moral leadership will be rewarded, in political and economic terms. There may be a bill to be paid in the short term, but big dollars can be earned by moving fast towards carbon neutrality and letting the world know about it. In sum, sound morality makes sound politics.

If you read nothing else today, read this.

Fast follow-up

 Wp-Content Uploads 2007 10 Nzifollow My critique of the NZI’s “fast follower” report – described as “spirited” by Nevil Gibson in the NBR – has received a swift response from the NZI. We’re Right Behind You was written by NZI chief executive David Skilling and researcher Danielle Boven. Danielle interviewed me about climate issues earlier this year, and has taken the trouble to prepare an extended response to my criticisms. It’s too long to post as a comment, so Danielle becomes HT’s second guest blogger (IPCC lead author Jim Renwick was the first). I have not edited her words, but do offer some comment at the end. Note: Danielle refers in several places to papers 1 & 2. The first paper is the one published this week, the second a forthcoming one which will consider other aspects of climate policy. Over to Danielle….

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