Eastward Ho: heading for home

Heeling over hard as we scud up the west coast of Northland. First sight of land in nearly 2 weeks this morning as we recognised the north head of the Hokianga — a magic place I visited some years ago with giant wind sculptures and streams that welled up as springs and disappeared again into the sands.

Five knots feels faster than it is, but air and car travel totally distort one’s perception of space and time. Two days so far to cover a distance one would drive in three hours. But this is travel at a human scale — the unrealistic thing is traveling Auckland — Wellington in an hour. Perhaps life will be better when we slow down and have more time for reflection.

All the people in the flotilla I’ve spent time with have been excellent company. A great sense of solidarity in a common cause. Heard fascinating stories this morning out on deck from Andy, our skipper, who has worked in Chile, Yemen, Cyprus, Rwanda and sailed in the Southern ocean and across the Pacific. It’s reassuring, when the boat starts bucking like crazy.

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People talkin’ about science (and water)

To kick off a new open thread (biofarmer, that’s you I’m looking at), here’s the IPCC’s new/latest video, in which various lead authors and Working Group 1 luminaries talk about the state of our understanding of the physical science of climate. You may also wish to discuss — anything. Have at it…

TDB Today: The Climate Tectonics of the Age of Stupid

If you haven’t yet read Cindy Baxter’s summing up of the Warsaw climate talks, now would be a good time, because she provides the context for my ruminations at The Daily Blog today: The Climate Tectonics of The Age Of Stupid. Kicking the climate can down the road doesn’t cut it as a response to a major emergency:

The obvious clash between self-interest, self-preservation and political ideology is not new, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that the negotiations are taking place on a strange parallel planet. It’s a world where diplomatic contrivance trumps fact, expedience rules over reality. Keeping the process going is everything — even if it means that the goal you’re aiming at has shifted beyond reach.

And by some happy chance, The Age Of Stupid is being shown in my neck of the woods this week: at the Waikari Hall, 99 Princes St, Waikari, starting at 7-30pm – entry $10. There will be a discussion after the film, with the Hurunui District Council’s biodiversity advisor (and HT reader) Sonny Whitelaw fielding questions. I’ll be there to give her a hand…

Westward Ho: on our way

We are out of prison. Oh the joy of sailing in a straight line to a destination; of the quietness of the deep ocean away from the constant thrum of the motors of the monster. A huge sense of relief as it dropped over the horizon. And tonight it will be dark.

I’m now on Baltazar which has a computer and internet connection and saves Ros from transcribing everything I write from recorded radio. Baltazar is bigger and currently has no motor as the gearbox packed up soon after leaving. If there is wind she is the fastest boat but if there isn’t we don’t go far.

We are headed for Auckland under plan change 45/C/2 (plans have changed hourly over the last few days – there wasn’t much else to do) because the forecast has a 30 knot easterly about the time we would have entered Cook Strait. We are actually quite close to Auckland but it’s a four day sail as we have to go right round the Cape. But Baltazar is much more stable than Vega and has a lot of mod cons like comfy sofas.

Anadarko announced this morning that they had begun drilling at 2.30am. We have been expecting that for several days – they first said they would start Thursday, then Friday, then Monday – but when the time came nothing changed. We had been told by an oil industry contact that the signs of imminent drilling were a person in the “monkey perch”, the deployment of the blow out preventer, and that the drilling would be very noisy. None of those things happened. We asked the first mate (the captain refused to speak to us) whether they had begun drilling and they refused to comment.

We suspect they are not in fact drilling the hole to access the oil, but sinking the pipes into the sea floor through which the drill will go. But only they could confirm that. Meanwhile the fight turns to our derelictgovernment which has not followed proper procedures in granting the permit. This morning Greenpeace has filed for judicial review of that decision in the High Court in Wellington.

We will fight them on the sea; we will fight them on land; we will fight them in the courts; we will fight them on the beaches; we will never surrender.


Two weeks in Warsaw: Damage control

home made radio studio in the media centre
home made radio studio in the media centre

Another year, another climate COP, and a few more faltering baby steps toward trying to limit global climate change. But this time coal was in charge and it showed. I’ve been to enough of these meetings to know that there isn’t going to be One Big Event that will Suddenly Save the Climate, Just Like That. This was the problem with Copenhagen, a meeting that, frankly, was never going to do the job and where expectations were too high.

But every year, as emissions accumulate in the atmosphere and new, fossil-fuel-fired infrastructure is built, and new scientific discoveries are made, the more important these meetings get.

While Warsaw wasn’t going to get a Big Deal, it was an extremely important stepping stone toward the 2015 agreement which will be the closest thing to the One Big Event we’ll have seen in at least a decade, if not longer (since Kyoto?).

As one colleague said to me on the night the talks ended: “we got some things, and we lost less than we thought we would. But it wasn’t a major breakthrough, not with the amount of damage control we had to do.”

So what did we get at the end of those frenetic two weeks?

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