Climate crisis? What Crisis? NZ right ignore IPCC call for action

New Zealand political reaction to the IPCC’s WG2 report has divided along expected lines: the Green Party and Labour used the findings to call for more action, the National-led government “welcomed” the report but said it is already doing enough, while the fringe right wing ACT party issued a press release making the abolition of the emissions trading scheme a condition of its support for any future National government. If the Scoop web site is to be believed, none of the other political parties with seats in parliament or hopes of election could be bothered to issue a press release in response to a report that makes it plain that climate change is here now, and set to get very much worse in future.

Climate change minister Tim Groser’s press release is a little more measured than a comment he made to TVNZ News in a story foreshadowing the WG2 release:

Grocer (sic) says the environment will determine what action will need to be taken.

“We’re not playing God on this. That natural process will determine what happens to adaptation of human beings and other mammals and species,” he said.

Survival of the fittest, or survival of the richest perhaps? That sounds almost as hands-off as new ACT leader Jamie Whyte’s policy proposals on TVNZ’s Q+A on Sunday morning. He was interviewed head to head with Green Party co-leader Russel Norman, apparently because the National Party refused to front up for a discussion on climate change1. The video’s here.

Whyte, a former management consultant, foreign currency trader and philosophy lecturer who recently became leader of the ACT Party2, looked to have a very poor grasp of the subject when he advocated a strict do-nothing approach to dealing with climate change. Action to reduce emissions was “irresponsible moral exhibitionism”, he said, because money would be better spent on adapting to climate changes. Global action on emissions reduction, he asserted, should be lead by the worst affected countries:

It’s for these poorer countries to lead the way because the trade off is harder for them.

The moral and intellectual bankruptcy on display in Whyte’s statement is breathtaking, and his argument so fatuous that it beggars belief that anyone with half a brain would advance it in public. As Green Party climate spokesman Kennedy Graham pointed out:

Mr Whyte needs to demonstrate his talents in the next few months describing ACT’s policies for a world adapting to a temperature rise of 2ºC to 4ºC. That is described by World Bank consultants as exceeding ‘dangerous’ climate change and entering the realm of ‘catastrophic’. What we see around us today by way of impact – overseas, and even here in New Zealand, is on the strength of 0.8ºC to date.

All Whyte had to offer on Sunday was a glib “I would do absolutely nothing”, which is not a million miles away from present government policy.

It’s tempting to demonise Whyte — it looks to be all too easy, in this election year, to show him to be an ideologue living in la la land — but the real villains of the piece are Tim Groser and his National Party colleagues. They have presided over a deliberate dilution of the climate policies they inherited from the last Labour-led government, and now have policies set to increase NZ emissions over the long term. A senior NZ climate scientist told me that their attitude to the whole complex climate issue was “active indifference”.

To accept the science, as Groser and co do in public, but then to ignore the need for urgent action is hypocritical in the extreme, grossly irresponsible, and a very long way from the best interests of the people of New Zealand, now and for all the generations to come. Riding out all that climate change is going to throw at us is a matter of survival. If we are to do that, New Zealand needs real leadership, not glib assurances that we’re doing all we can when the opposite is true.

  1. According to Norman on Facebook. []
  2. At a meeting held at long-time party funder and committed climate denialist Alan Gibbs’ house. []

129 thoughts on “Climate crisis? What Crisis? NZ right ignore IPCC call for action”

    1. Not very. I think I only ever had two: Crime of the Century, and Breakfast in America. I used to annoy the wife when she was a newly-minted girlfriend by singing “not much of a girlfriend, but she’s the only one I’ve got”…

      1. Breakfast was like Genesis’s Abacab for me, a ‘WTF are you guys doing?!’ moment. But in my (un)hipster middle age – it’s all Atoms For Peace and Boards of Canada these days – I’d still say Even in the Quietest Moments, Dreamer, Give a Little Bit and School are classics.

        And The Logical Song too, of course, even though it was on that album..

  1. Even Peter Gluckman has said that the ETS is just moral grandstanding, so doing nothing is a valid world view

    The Greens and Labour have somehow got to reconcile their desire to put up the price of power (via ETS) with their desire to reduce the price of power via Kiwipower.

    1. A complete misrepresentation of what Gluckman said.

      Nobody pretends that emissions reductions in NZ will save NZ or the world, but there are very good reasons why we should act: to play our part (as with any international treaty or joint action), and to prepare our economy for a carbon constrained future.

      1. That’s fair enough Gareth , but only the second part is under our control, and even that part is subject to political trench warfare in which the environment come a very poor second to political aspiration.
        What chance cross-party talks on the future of Godzone?
        About as much chance , I suggest , as some of the home crowd here admitting that there is a difference between doubt and denial .

      2. I think it more than that Gareth, New Zealand needs to return to being a leader on issues of environmental protection and moral issues such as action on climate change.

        Having scientific illiterates currently running the country certainly doesn’t help, but the reality of physics and chemistry will exert pressure on politicians that cannot be ignored for much longer.

        1. “Having scientific illiterates currently running the country”

          So you have no time for democracy Rob , and the “will of the people”?

          1. So you have no time for democracy Rob , and the “will of the people”?

            It was once the will of the people to accuse others of being witches and then burn them.

            It was once the will of the people to enslave others with dark skin and visit atrocities upon them.

            It was once the will of the people to discriminate against those who loved the same sex.

            Let’s just say that the ‘will of the people’ and doing the just and right thing are not synonymous, and certainly not a justification for allowing ideologues to destroy natural ecosystems and threaten the future of civilization.

            1. I agree Rob, but it is the least worst of the options.
              Unless you can suggest a better one that is capable of being implemented in the required time -frame.

          2. You fool yourself if you think we live in a democracy. You should know more than anyone else on here that those with the power in this land are major corporates and the role of governments is to simply do their bidding.

    2. Jamie Whyte is a libertarian promoting extreme deregulation and free market agendas. History consistently shows free markets have never been good at dealing with environmental problems.

      Whyte is deliberately ignoring a mountain of evidence, which makes him a dangerous person, little different from some fundamentalist religious zealot. The current government aren’t much better.

  2. Most of the editorials in my local paper (the Taranaki Daily News) are well-balanced, but today’s had me scratching my head. “WTF?” would have been my response if I ever used such an expression. After searching around on the internet I realised it probably comes from the Heartland mob via Fairfax Media. How many NZ dailies will it appear in? And how many people will it fool?

    1. That’s astonishing, Fern. It looks as though they’ve confused – deliberately? – the Heartland-funded NIPCC “report” with the real thing.

      Talk about egg on face for the Taranaki Daily News and Fairfax!

    2. Fern – just reading some of those “opinion” pieces and editorials from The Taranaki Daily News it’s surprising that anyone in the area could not vote National! I’ve never seen such a constant stream of right wing propaganda in a long time. Even our little Hauraki Herald with its weekly page 3 pic of Scott (Local National MP) doing some photo op with the locals has some measure of “balance”, others get to have a say from time to time as well!

      1. Redistribution and “tax and spend” are never popular during depressed economic conditions, for obvious reasons.
        The aftermath of the GFC may play in favour of the incumbents and their
        “fiscal responsibility” image.

        1. No I’m well aware of that actually Fern – but looking at the content of the paper – it never ceases to surprise me! 😉
          Just shows what local activism and communication can do.

    1. Yes, I had seen that NIPCC effort, and was thinking about a blog. But in the meantime, I think the Taranaki Daily News owes its readers an apology.

      1. Just a correction re the attribution is all that is required and nobody will read it anyway ; NIPCC vs IPCC .
        And that is the point of the article .
        What is more interesting is that the chosen quote is deemed to be more newsworthy than the opposite, and now judged boring , view.
        Some have suggested that this is inevitable in the media business; you can only run the same story for so long before it becomes uninteresting. So you change the story. About every 5-7 years some have suggested.

    2. Fern, I’ve sent off a quick letter the editor. Perhaps you have too, but I guess the more there are the more likely one is to be published. I was astonished that the Taranaki Daily News, the paper which was my family’s daily during my early years, could sink to something as careless as this.

      Oops, I see you’ve already contacted the editor. Well done. It won’t do any harm for him to hear from me. and hopefully others.

  3. Gareth,
    Great post. You are bang on the money to focus on Tim Grocer’s sophistry of Government inaction and obfuscation over mitigation of climate change.

    I have just finished reading sociologist Anthony Giddens’ 2011 edition of his book “The Politics of Climate Change” and Giddens argues that if climate change is to be responded to effectively then the role of Government has to ramp up. The state must take a role that is “ensuring” not just “enabling”. Giddens argues that there are several roles that only the state can perform. It must drive “political convergence” so that that there is an all-party consensus on the poltical agenda to respond to climate change. It must “foreground” climate change so that its always at the centre of the political agenda. It must drive “economic convergence” so that an overlap between economic competiveness and low-carbon development is achieved. etc etc.

    Tim Grocer’s approach is to do the opposite. Elegant sophistry justifying fig-leaf actions like meeting our Kyoto targets, having an (ineffective polluter-subsidising) emissions trading scheme. More of a “Yeah – Nah” state or a “Yeah – Whatever” state as far as climate change goes.

    While at the same time pursuing an oil and gas exploration program that will not just head in the wrong direction of finding more fossil fuel resources but will double the area available to exploration.

    1. Tim Grocer would be going against all that he has “worked” for over his life time were he to change direction now. His whole ethos is the promotion of globalisation and reducing the restrictions on corporates to do as they wish. Hence his recent desire to head the WTO.
      Global corporates have no interest in anything other than to continually increase profits. That is the bottom line. This has nothing to do with good citizenship or care for the environment. Were they to take a longer view they would, and in their public statements they profess as much, but generally their actions belie their words. These are the masters Grocer serves – not you or I. So any hope that he would promote action that would in anyway jeopardize the ability of corporates to maximise their profit is hopeless and forlorn. He and his like must go for the good of the country and the planet.

      1. In case some doubt the avariciousness of corporates, I would ask them to read this article by Gary Olson, Ph.D. Chair of the Political Science Department at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA.
        He reviews a book “WINDFALL” (New York: Penguin, 2014), by veteran journalist McKenzie Funk who traveled the globe for six years, following the money in twenty-four countries to profile “hundreds of people who felt climate change would make them rich.”

    2. Mr February, your mention of Gidden’s book reminded me that I had reviewed it on Hot Topic a while back. Nearly five years in fact, I see with some surprise. I gather he did some substantial rewriting for the second edition.

      1. Hello Bryan, Nice to see you back. Interestingly I thumbed through the book again yesterday in the local library – it was a toss up between a re-read, and “Consumptionomics – Asia’s role in reshaping capitalism and saving the planet” by Chandran Nair. The latter won out 🙂

        Hope all is well.

  4. My recollection of the Whyte/Norman debate was that Whyte did not dispute the science. He argued that it is pointless NZ trying to lead the world on mitigation. We only produce 0.2% of emissions so we are irrelevant. Why can’t the the global community decide on what action it will take and we can follow. If we are all in this together then we will all take the economic burden of mitigation together. Why sacrifice our economy when world leaders like china and the US drag their feet? CC and mitigation efforts will both hurt the poor countries most so why shouldn’t they take the lead? He made a good point really.

    1. John C, heard ever anything about leadership? Your beloved ACT party is not going to ever deliver this. They are a bunch of reactionaries looking backwards all the time on many issues.

      The future lies with a low emissions and highly efficient energy technology, with components such as electric or hybrid transportation, distributed energy generation (solar in particular) and policies that foster this transition. NZ could be an international leader and gain significant economic advantages through early adoption, R&D and technology development. But if you stick with the thunderheads of the ACT party you will be going nothing but backwards and NZ would become an international outcast on these issues together with Abottalia.

  5. My recollection of the Whyte/Norman debate was that Whyte did not dispute the science.

    Then your recollection is wrong. Watch the video Gareth linked to in the original post. He disputes that humans are largely responsible. It’s an appeal to superstition in other words.

    1. Whyte said “global warming is definitely happening, there is some debate as to the cause”

      I think that is all he said about the science, from memory

      1. Which is, of course, completely fatuous and exactly in line with what Gibbs et al will expect. My impression of his body language is that he doesn’t appear all that comfortable spouting that line, however.

  6. The Daily News editorial seems to be clearly written to present that quote as being among the items from the latest IPCC report. Yet whoever copied the quote would know where they copied it from. So why would the Daily News seek to mislead its readers?

    1. I came to the same conclusion, Peter H. Someone, somewhere, must have known where the quote came from. I guess we’ll never know if it was supplied from somewhere higher up the Fairfax pecking order.

  7. To think our most right wing party Act is not disputing the science. This should be hailed as a victory right? You get agreement on your science and surely you can’t dispute how futile it is to sacrifice our economy for the sake of trying to impress the countries who don’t want to act on CC anyway. He’s got my vote for minister of climate change, very balanced view.

    1. No John, you got it totally backwards. NZ would have much to gain in being one of the leaders of the world going forward into a low emissions future, developing technology and leading by example.

      A low-carbon, clean energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come. And I want America to build that engine. I want America to build that future — right here in the United States of America. That’s our task.

      (President Obama, 2013)

      Your idea that NZ is to small to play an important part in building this future is nonsense. The fact that the ACT thunderheads and their National counterparts don’t grasp this opportunity for what it really is, means that they are too blind to lead us into the future.
      Only rarely does a civilization face the challenge and the opportunity to revamp something so fundamental than our energy economy. Change is always scary from the perspective of conservative politicians, but in the end, change and the opportunities that come with it are the true drivers of economics. And the change to a sustainable energy future is one we must go through if we want to inherit anything of value to the generations of the next centuries.

      Surely we must rise to this task and tell all the nay sayers to get lost.

      1. Presumably the thunderheads at Act think that the free market will determine the future.

        For some reason, the free market has not chosen renewables

        Any idea why?

        1. The reason that the “free market” in energy is not switching to renewables is that they are getting billions and billions of dollars in subsidies for their polluting energy sources. Until that stops renewables will only be a minor player.

        2. “For some reason, the free market has not chosen renewables
          Any idea why?”

          Because renewables provide fewer opportunities for private individuals and corporations to amass personal wealth at the expense of the environment and the general wellbeing of society.

  8. The great shift to renewables is crippling the German economy! All the talk in Europe now is about winding back renewable subsidies

    It’s been a disaster in every sense. Worse of all they haven’t even reduce their carbon emissions. Germany is rich enough to afford this moral grandstanding, we are not. Poor NZs don’t deserve skyrocketing power prices for the sake of an empty moral gesture. And this green jobs nonsense is long dead. Fracking is keeping the US in the black, not making windmills.

    1. John, its all in the interpretation isn’t it:

      Between 2pm and 3pm, solar and wind generators produced 28.9 gigawatts (GW) of power, more than half the total. The grid at that time could not cope with more than 45GW without becoming unstable. At the peak, total generation was over 51GW; so prices went negative to encourage cutbacks and protect the grid from overloading.

      In other words Germany can in good conditions produce more than half of its power from renewable sources. This is the good news and it tells of a remarkable success. A nation that has little in hydro power, not a particularly great wind resource (unlike NZ) and is located further from the Equator than NZ by a good margin is able to do this! So it can be done!
      Now to the puh sayers: Competition from new and cost effective (wind and sun are free!) sources is bad for the entrenched and costly thermal generators. Coal and oil are currently subsidized immensely. Especially if you factor the unfathomable cost of the destruction of the Earth’s climate system and the acidification of the oceans into it. Let alone the trillion dollars in tax subsidies given to ff producers. Just google it.
      We must change the way we generate our energy. Germany is a country leading the way. The “pain” of the old and dirty generators is a natural effect. It will and should get worse for them. It is them that need to adapt after all, as for too long they could pollute the planet at will without facing the cost!!!!
      The fact that the share prices of old style power generators is dropping is a good sign for the planet. It heralds a move of capital from old polluting energy sources to the future. Embrace it or drown in the wake of the change that we must and will create.

      Subsidies for Solar and Wind are and will be wound back. The subsidies have worked and done what they were supposed to do: Assist a new energy industry in a scale of production that allows them to compete in the open market now. In NZ for example solar power is not subsidized, yet already installing a PV system on your roof will produce more value in electricity than the same amount of money invested in a bank! Check it out. If you can consume the power in house it produces power at a cost at or below the 20cents or more you pay for the same from the power companies! This is phenomenal and the cost of PV are sinking further at the same time as the cost of Fossil Fuel power will rise.

      And Fracking is quite possibly not climate neutral at all. The Methane losses are probably making Fracking worse or equal than using Coal.

      John, no matter how much you want to go back to the “old times” where we had nothing but coal, oil and gas and a bit of nuclear, the future is with new and alternative forms of energy generation. Germany is miles ahead to many other countries in this regard.

  9. John C nobody said it would be easy. Just because Germany has problems with renewables doesnt mean you give up on renewables. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    Fracking gas actually helps with climate change, in the shorter term anyway, but not every country has large deposits of gas, or the ability to import gas.

    Windpower has worked out reasonably well in NZ in terms of costs. You can’t generalise, as each country is different. NZ is a country where we have many cost effective renewable options due to our geography, so it’s just obvious to look at those first.

  10. Well Thomas, I’m glad you see the bright side of a wildly fluctuating and uncontrollable power grid, I thought that was the main problem. Windmills can’t provide base load and require the coal burners to keep burning away producing nothing just so they can keep the lights on when the wind drops. There is no future is this sort of inefficiency. And when we already lead the world in renewable energy, why build more if it requires subsidies? Great solar can support it self but I hope you will agree there is no point in building more costly windmills.

    When was the last time the world hailed NZ as a renewables hero? Even when we do good we don’t get credit. And you still believe the world will love as for trashing our economy to reduce carbon? Dreamers.

    1. “a wildly fluctuating and uncontrollable power grid”

      John C that is a deeply ignorant and uninformed comment.

      Before being connected to the power grid any source of electrical generation must conform with Section 28 of the Electrical Regulations.

      28(2)(b) mandates that the voltage “unless otherwise agreed between the electricity retailer and the customer, and except for momentary fluctuations, must be maintained within 6% of the agreed supply voltage.”

      This is enforced by Act of Parliament and no wind farm would be built or connected to the grid unless it met this requirement.

      1. Renewables in Germany have not been a ‘disaster in every sense’ as John C. spins it. The articles he linked (the economist is particularly good) and a number of other stories I’ve read on the same subject would have it that the state energy model and related oversight is where the problems and weaknesses are found, most notably the excess of coal permits that has prevented gas from competing with coal and in the “panic” closure of 8 nuclear power stations. Some see the renewables element and the fossil fuels difficulties as a real success story.

        However Germany will revise its model but along what lines? Dave Frame earlier on Hot Topic suggested the Swedish model has a lot going for it. An “uncontroversial” carbon tax (currently up to $150 a tonne) and a concerted effort, has advanced Sweden to 49% renewables so far, from a 75% depenance on fossil fuels. Norway in 2012 joined the Swedish certification scheme and last September Obama expressed interest in the Swedish scheme for USA

        For some reason we never dug into it. Sweden does have more hydro than Germany but the merit is in a scheme that does not pick winners or rely on specific resources. There is a market based carbon certification scheme and the state is big on R&D.

        A read of the press releases on the Swedish Energy Agency’s site will repay close attention – CDM proposals and certification adjustments in particular. NZ govt. seems so myopic and reactionary in contrast.

        1. No, power is measured in watts.
          Joules are not power, they are a measure of energy.

          Volts are a measure of the difference in energy levels between points on a network. If there is no voltage difference then there is no energy flow and if there is no flow of energy per unit of time then there is no power.

  11. This latest brain fart from ACT’s Jamie Whyte is just another short-sighted and greedy attempt to steal from the poor and give to the rich.

    In this case, the poor are the peoples of low-lying Asian countries, soon to be followed by our children and their descendants, most yet unborn.

    The rich are the likes of ACT’s funder, Alan Gibbs, arguably the stupidest welfare millionaire that NZ has ever produced.

    Having made his fortune selling a State-owned monopoly (Telecom), he then recommended that our highly efficient single-payer public health system be remodelled along the lines of the shockingly unfair and corrupt US system, where insurance companies reap $100 billion a year merely for being middlemen.

    Nice work if you can get it… meanwhile, back in the real world, NZ’s low population and high historic emissions from forest clearance and agriculture make us a stand-out contributor to global warming.

    Strange, isn’t it, that, for all of ACT’s harping on about “responsibility”, they never seem willing to accept it themselves?

  12. The private investment in solar energy is substantial and growing steadily. I used to pay $2000 a year for electricity and now pay next to nothing. I sell my surplus to the grid for $0.10 and they sell it to my neighbour for $0.20. so they are making something. It worries me that the power companies have not got a proper business model to deal with these new circumstances which is why I keep banging on about converting our transport to electric.

  13. Just a comment on ACT. They are just a copy of the Republican party and get their policies from Fox News. They repeat the policy line without knowing what they mean or realising that New Zealand is a different country with different people and principles.

  14. Gary, how do wind farms keep power supply within 6% when wind velocity changes so much?

    Noel, for a start we are already at 80% renewables so why we need to follow Sweden who only aim for 49% is unclear. Secondly a carbon price of $150 would be horrendous for the economy, especially the poor. Why is this cost required when the UN puts the cost of 2 deg C global warming at 2% of GDP? That’s like buying a 50c coin for $20!

  15. ‘Noel, for a start we are already at 80% renewables so why we need to follow Sweden who only aim for 49% is unclear.’
    New Zealand actually has about 75% percent of its electricity from renewables and 25% from fossil fuels, but Sweden gets about 40% from low carbon nuclear, most of the rest from hydro and a variety of minor renewables, and only 3 percent from fossil fuels. They also use a great deal more electricity per capita than we or most other countries, yet still have about the lowest CO2 emissions per head of any industrialised country – considerably lower than New Zealand’s. And yes, they did have a policy of getting rid of the reactors for thirty years ( after a 1980 referendum offering three different choices for closing the plants and none for keeping them ) but have now agreed to keep them, and replace them when needed.
    Counting all greenhouse gases as tons of CO2-equivalent per person we have – Sweden 7.89
    Denmark 10.44
    Germany 11.33
    New Zealand 17.62
    Nearly half the New Zealand total is farm methane and nitrous oxide, but even without that we’re not as clean and green as we’re painted.

    1. Thanks John ONeill.
      I add that the issue of reducing and pulling back carbon emissions is an issue of the commons – the atmosphere and the ocean, and the effects of heating and water vapour buildup we all share and must accept responsibility for regardless of starting point or place.

      Further Sweden and British Columbia, with carbon taxes, though very different have done very well, better than their neighbours, giving the lie to their doomsayers.

      Lastly, perhaps importantly I would venture, their certificate market works. We need to know more about that.

      Of course I keep mentioning $150 per tonne to scare those who perpetuate the lie that the economy will be destroyed.

      1. A diagram explaining the Sweden-Norway energy certificate market discussed above is found here (PDF)

        My 5kW PV exports would, in those countries, have acquired 3 such certificates since November 11, 2013. This would earn on top of direct export earnings, as I read it. What an encouraging idea!

  16. Comparing CO2 emissions per capita is very crude indeed. We have a land based economy with a very low population density. Where are the hybrid tractors for our farmers to use anyway? NZ feeds 40million people, that is far more important than our place on a meaningless emissions table.

    1. If NZ were to take James Hansen’s advice, and ignore Nitrous oxide and methane, then our emissions would line up with Sweden’s, and we could make them even lower by fixing up our soils to reduce leaching losses , and improve water-holding capacity. We would do that by replacing the carbon that has been lost from our soils over the last 50 years. Our farms would be more resilient and efficient as a consequence. Our rivers would have less nitrate in them.
      Hell we could even do some reforestation on the steepest slopes and lock up even more carbon.
      It’s a no-brainer. It is in our best interests regardless of what the rest of the world does or doesn’t do.

      1. I have long considered the lumping of all emissions into one figure has provided some parties with an excuse to do nothing about any emissions because methane is too hard, we wait upon research etc. They do have to be dealt with but should really be considered separately – I think that was what Hansens advice was really about.

        I entirely agree with your soils prescription – it is a no brainer. I was greatly interested in Country Calendar last night – the organic composting ‘bio-farmer’ and the lot the previous Saturday having reduced their stock from 600 to 60 added value and diversified. Was good to see.

        1. Yes , it is surprising how this “biological farming” movement is taking off, against the advice of the status quo industry advisers.
          But it is not surprising given the amount of research which is available to show that it is economically and environmentally advantageous to get off the damaging high-input train , and give the natural processes a free rein.

          We seem to be approaching a tipping point , where farmers feel strong enough to acknowledge what is right in front of their eyes , regardless of what the “experts” say.

  17. It is impossible to take seriously a “green” party that doesn’t have a population policy. I don’t buy the argument that NZ has to import “talent”.
    I can’t see why more is better in respect of population.
    Why can’t we learn from what has happened in other countries where the population has outgrown the resource and moved into the marginal and brittle environments causing serious environmental damage?
    If we are seriously concerned for the future of NZ , should we not be talking about this?

    1. It is fear, given the many hazards and predators, fear of the future and social insecurity that drives high birth rates, flora and fauna concur. The only population policy that works is to ensure well being, supply of needs and social security. Note who and who has not achieved this – a simple scan of birth rates will give some indication. So who has a population policy of any other kind? Ours is to keep NZ as far away as possible but that works less with more afluence and how can we expect to avoid the arrival of certain small Australians when a cyclonic storm heads down the Tasman after a visit near Queensland?

      As to import of talent – trouble is we mostly export it. I note LanzaTech are heading to USA where they will do more good than if they stay here.

      1. What about our immigration policy Noel?
        We should address our failure to retain some of our talent, although many return with valuable experience.
        It was immigration that I was referring to as unnecessary; we still know how to breed 🙂

  18. Crisis ? What Crisis?
    The real reason that the policy advice of AR5 WG2 will be universally ignored has nothing to do with right -wing conspiracy theories , or indeed , political persuasion at all.

    It has everything to do with the findings contained in AR5 WG1 and the findings of the RSS group.
    Here is what the RSS group has recently reported:-

    “The reasons for the discrepancy between the predicted and observed warming rate are currently under investigation by a number of research groups.
    Possible reasons include increased oceanic circulation leading to increased subduction of heat into the ocean, higher than normal levels of stratospheric aerosols due to volcanoes during the past decade, incorrect ozone levels used as input to the models, lower than expected solar output during the last few years, or poorly modeled cloud feedback effects. It is possible (or even likely) that a combination of these candidate causes is responsible.”

    And in the AR5 WG1 report the climate models were shown to exaggerate and overstate projected increases in global temperatures based on CO2 levels assumed to be present in the atmosphere, compared to actual observed global temperatures.

    The UN AR5 WGII report utilizes these climate model temperatures to define global risks associated with increasing CO2 levels, resulting in greatly overstating the certainty of future climate risks.

    Thus the WGII report analysis overstates risks for given levels of atmospheric CO2 levels since as the report notes “Risks are reduced substantially under assumed scenarios with the lowest temperature projections compared to the highest temperature projections”.

    The WGII report fails to mention or address that the AR5 WGI report showed that the CO2 driven temperature sensitivity of the earth based on actual global temperature observations is at the very lowest end of the low emissions climate model scenarios.

    Now which scenario will the powers that be choose to plan for , to the extent that they choose to do anything at all?

            1. But since, like me, you probably believe that Bio won’t have much of a view on anything until Willard Anthony Watts or Jo Nova has ‘interpreted the interpretations’ and sorted out what he thinks for him, here’s a direct link to the Reuters WGIII preview, as also available in the Hot Tweets.

              OSLO, April 6 (Reuters) – World powers are running out of time to slash their use of high-polluting fossil fuels and stay below agreed limits on global warming, a draft U.N. study to be approved this week shows.

              Government officials and top climate scientists will meet in Berlin from April 7-12 to review the 29-page draft that also estimates the needed shift to low-carbon energies would cost between two and six percent of world output by 2050.

              It says nations will have to impose drastic curbs on their still rising greenhouse gas emissions to keep a promise made by almost 200 countries in 2010 to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times.

              Temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 C (1.4F) since 1900 and are set to breach the 2 C ceiling on current trends in coming decades, U.N. reports show.

              “The window is shutting very rapidly on the 2 degrees target,” said Johan Rockstrom, head of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and an expert on risks to the planet from heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising seas.

              “The debate is drifting to ‘maybe we can adapt to 2 degrees, maybe 3 or even 4’,” Rockstrom, who was not among authors of the draft, told Reuters.

              Such rises would sharply raise risks to food and water supplies and could trigger irreversible damage, such as a meltdown of Greenland’s ice, according to U.N. reports.

              Time may also be running out for arrogant, garrulous blowhards…

      1. Fair enough ; I should have made it even clearer that I thought it was humorous.
        [ Reminder to self ; use more txtspeak for HT readers; LOL}

        1. Isn’t this how science is supposed to work? If your models are no good you keep working on it.

          Unless you are claiming that the science is already sufficiently certain. But why would you ever do that when there is such a short period of highly accurate data?

          I suppose the question is -how close is close enough?
          Well that depends on a lot of things.

          If there are more pressing problems then “near enough” won’t be “good enough” for governments dealing with other urgent priorities.
          Isn’t that what we are seeing?

          1. Let’s see: language like “flawed”, “unvalidated models”, “grossly overestimate”, “exaggerate” ,from you-know-who is just spin applicable to their own flawed, unresearched, unvalidated, grossly under estimating back of envelope denial biased models. No that is not how science is done. Rob’s link gives the lie to their exaggerated claims.- it did not take much new evidence to align the climate model with observation. As to accurate data, there a ways of going back that ensure data is accurate enough to draw some robust conclusions.

            By the way – what is this RSS group you keep citing? Of the many RSS groups identified by Google I can’t find one that represents research and evidence and data handling on climate change to match the hundreds of scientists actually doing the research reported and summarised by the IPCC process. On the other hand I’m years familiar with the memes of FUD which is so obviously what is implied by these words cited above.

  19. ‘Thus the WGII report analysis overstates risks for given levels of atmospheric CO2 levels since as the report notes “Risks are reduced substantially under assumed scenarios with the lowest temperature projections compared to the highest temperature projections”.’

    So here we are exceeding even the highest emissions scenario and ducking ostrich like for the illusion of assuming the lower temperature with lower risks is what will happen! Fact is we have to work for those lowest temperature, lowest risk scenarios and we know that that means getting some of the carbon back out of the atmosphere and oceans and refraining from adding to what is already there and that is a very big ask.

    The attempt to imply that the forecast can’t be all that bad because models did not track so well the now ending la niña series is implausible indeed. Incidentally Hansen’s predictions back in 1988 have been shown to be rather good. The big thing is we know that heat is trapped by greenhouse gases which we are increasing, hypothesised way back in 1827 and demonstrated since. We also know that only a tiny portion of that heat is retained by the atmosphere, itself strongly influenced by several short term no long term trend variables. We know too that higher sensitivity modeling tracks atmospheric variations like clouds rather better than low sensitivity assumptions.. How do economic forecasts do in comparison?

    However, I assume you are onto that stuff and are really talking about the tendancy of establishments to grasp at whatever requires least change, even though to do so is just deluding themselves.

    1. “However, I assume you are onto that stuff and are really talking about the tendency of establishments to grasp at whatever requires least change, even though to do so is just deluding themselves.”

      You got it. Short-term thinking prevails. The loop-hole is plain to see.
      Can we do better in this country? I mean is that politically possible?

    2. “So here we are exceeding even the highest emissions scenario and ducking ostrich like for the illusion of assuming the lower temperature with lower risks is what will happen! ”

      What is not illusion is the fact that the so far unvalidated climate models are unable to provide sufficient certainty about possible future scenarios.

      Looking at what the RSS group reports :-
      “The reasons for the discrepancy between the predicted and observed warming rate are currently under investigation by a number of research groups.
      Possible reasons include increased oceanic circulation leading to increased subduction of heat into the ocean, higher than normal levels of stratospheric aerosols due to volcanoes during the past decade, incorrect ozone levels used as input to the models, lower than expected solar output during the last few years, or poorly modeled cloud feedback effects. It is possible (or even likely) that a combination of these candidate causes is responsible.” . .

      – we can see that there are different types of possible errors that will need to be eliminated one by one.

      1. Ocean circulation: the models cannot get the timing of PDO correct. The reason is the starting initial conditions ( in 1850) are unknown.
      2. Higher aerosols: When you run the models you have to assume future volcanos. They assume zero so the models will always be biased high.
      3. Bad ozone levels:-thats an input problem
      4. Low TSI: again an input problem
      5. cloud feedback modelling.

      That’s 4 input problems and 1 physics problem.

      1. BF, the reason that RSS shows no warming is that they are using old and unreliable satellites for their data. It has been shown that there are orbital decay problems with the satellite they are getting their data from which is leading to spurious results.

        Here is a comparison of UAH and RSS data:

        Trends (from 1997):

        UAH – +0.08 K per decade
        RSS – -0.01 K per decade

  20. The IPCC doesn’t overstate any risks or projected temperature increases. The IPCC has stated the “pause” is due to natural variation, but is likely to be temporary, and hasn’t raided doubt about the basic understanding of climate change, or made significant temperature increases this century unlikely.

    This is why they now say climate change is 95% certain to be human caused. Some people are just trying to put a spin on what the IPCC report says, by quoting selective parts.

  21. “. The IPCC has stated the “pause” is due to natural variation, ”

    They don’t know that , and I’m not sure that they have ever said that.

    This seems to be the state of the science:-

    “The reasons for the discrepancy between the predicted and observed warming rate are currently under investigation by a number of research groups.
    Possible reasons include increased oceanic circulation leading to increased subduction of heat into the ocean, higher than normal levels of stratospheric aerosols due to volcanoes during the past decade, incorrect ozone levels used as input to the models, lower than expected solar output during the last few years, or poorly modeled cloud feedback effects. It is possible (or even likely) that a combination of these candidate causes is responsible.”

    The models could be faulty.

    1. We have had two previous pauses which are shown on the NASA temperature records. Its the second graph on the page.
      On top of that there is a strong possibility of an El Nino event in the next six months and the heat may come bursting out of the ocean. The blog on the El Nino is very interesting and a bit frightening.

  22. Biofarmer this is from the discussing the IPCC report. The economist is a reliable source.

    The IPCC admits the pause in the rise of surface air temperatures is real. “The rate of warming over the past 15 years,” it says, “[is] 0.05ºC per decade…smaller than the rate calculated since 1951.” In its 2007 report the panel had said the rate of warming was 0.2ºC per decade in 1990-2005 (four times the current rate). It predicted that this would continue for the next two decades.

    But it plays down the long-term significance of the shift, saying that “due to natural variability, trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends.” The start of the recent 15-year trend, in 1998, was a year of a strong worldwide fluctutation in the climate known as El Niño. This produced a temperature spike.

  23. Back up the page there was a comment about renewable energy bankrupting the German economy. The Eurozone of which Germany is the largest member had a balance of trade surplus in the last year which is more than can be said for the fossil fuel dependant USA. The only reason Germany had to resort to fossil fuels last year was because they went anti nuclear and retired their nuclear plants early. After this brush with Russia they will be oincreasing their renewables to make themselves independant of Russian gas.

    1. As Sir Dovemeyer Robinson (Robby) never tired of pointing out during every speech he made that I heard, population increase exacerbates every issue. However, as an argument it is part of a strategy of saying it is all too hard so do nothing. It is too expensive is an argument that is both false and upheld more by the rich than the poor as are most “too hard” arguments.

      As for that mythical average punter? My view at every election:

      Typical Guy

      The typical guy
      Is a metaphoric pie
      Of conficting opinions
      Cited by politicians
      Supporting all positions.

      This typical git
      Is an insensitive twit.
      His embryonic mind
      Statistically defined
      Of good sense is blind
      Yet every few years
      From among his peers
      He selects in elections
      Governmental erections!

      February 2, 2001

        1. It matters nothing what the common view is, what matters is the physics of climate change! And it cares nothing about your views or the views of common thunderheads…

          What matters now is that polemic populists are told in clear terms to shut the f… up. The science IS settled to a very significant degree. Flat Earthers have no place anymore in the debate. Now let the rest of the educated minds figure out what needs to be done and can be done to avoid the climate catastrophe we are teetering on. Nothing else matters in the context of humanities adventure into the perilous territory of population and environmental impact overshoot….

          1. We may be dunderheads but we still elect governments, and every vote is equal in weight.

            ” adventure into the perilous territory of population and environmental impact overshoot….”

            No argument about that , up to a point. But do we not already know the likely outcome?

            1. “But do we not already know the likely outcome?”….
              That IS the whole point Bio, we do know very much and we can draw enough conclusions to be certain that we must drastically reduce CO2 emissions or turn this planet into a quagmire for future generations. Of cause if you listen to the denier brigades and their litany of excuses, lies and god damn lies, then you will get confused.

              In the end, the people will deserve the government and the leadership they elect and – free citing here from Meneken, one glorious day, if the dunderhead should prevail, the people will be ruled by the outright morons they wished for…

            2. You mean Mencken?

              “Men are the only animals that devote themselves, day in and day out, to making one another unhappy. It is an art like any other. Its virtuosi are called altruists.”

            3. So if, in an elected democracy, a majority of the voters decided that the country should commit mass suicide, then the government has no option but to let them do it? Is that what you are saying?

            4. Would that not be political suicide?

              And who would keep the surviving pollies in the comfort to which they have become accustomed?

            5. It is a matter of leadership. Good leadership has the wisdom to do what is right, and convince the public to join them.

              Bad leadership simply reflects to the public what they want to hear, so that they get re-elected and remain in power.

              Corrupt leadership fabricates a public opinion that supports their view by manipulation of the press, even if the direction that that leadership is advocating is in fact against the interest of the people.

              In a society where most public media are privatized and owned by deep pocket international corporations the later has become all to easy for the ‘right’ to orchestrate.

              Faced with the biggest challenge humanity has so fr encountered, environmental overshoot, we need excellent leadership do whats right, not whats perhaps popular.

            6. O.K. I agree with all of that except your allegation that only the “right” is actively orchestrating the “leadership” to act against the interests of the people.
              We have yet to find a way to talk about it that avoids polarisation.
              When you say ” turn this planet into a quagmire for future generations.” , I know what you mean , and I agree to an overwhelming extent that this is not a desirable outcome.
              Environmental overshoot is a better description, I think, and something that most people agree is occurring to a greater or lesser extent.

              But are we close to the point where the most vocal on the issue , say “greens” are going to stop labelling people like me as “deniers” and “anti-science” when that is so obviously not true?

              Are we getting to a point where “greens ” will start to think that their strategy of polarisation of this debate may be slowing progress?

              Because so called “deniers” and “anti science” people like me think that a whole lot of progress on shared objectives is possible if the name-calling strategy was to be re-considered.
              It won’t be possible to achieve everything that some might wish for , but surely some bigger steps in the right direction would be useful progress, even if those steps do not achieve everything that a certain sector wants.

              I think that everyone wants to see better soil which requires less irrigation , and which loses less nutrients into waterways, and which grows more food which is more nutritious, and which as a side- effect would reduce atmospheric CO2 levels by some small amount.

              It would be easier , in my view , to get a bigger support base for this limited objective than for one based solely on climate which requires international co-operation on a scale that has never been seen before.

              But if we can’t talk in a non-confrontational manner about it then we risk achieving a lot less than we otherwise might. We will not achieve everything at once.

            7. Bio, you are perfectly welcome to talk as much as you like as long as you base your opinions on real science. When you start from a position that outright rejects everything we know about climate science, it’s pretty pointless talking to you.

              Start off by ignoring everything you see from the paid misinformers like Watts and Nova, and perhaps then we’ll have something to talk about. Until then, you’re just noise.

            8. Bio, that was a serious question, but you choose to answer it with a sneer. Says a lot about your participation in this debate.

            9. “a position that outright rejects everything we know about climate science,”
              That is simply false , and a good illustration of how the language of climate is used to prevent genuine dialogue. But I apprehend that this is your clearly stated intention anyway.

              So, no progress.

            10. ” the paid misinformers like Watts and Nova,”.

              That description is as useless and damaging for the advancement of your case as describing them as propaganda. Nobody takes those accusations seriously.

            11. Au contraire, it is your insistence on treating Watts and co as serious sources that is damaging your case. Watts’ payment by fossil fuel interests is well documented. If you choose to disregard that, more fool you. But don’t complain about being called names if that is who you use to back your arguments.

            12. They didn’t look like serious questions to me , as my answer was intended to make clear , but giving you the benefit of the doubt , then my answers were no, obviously, and no.

            13. No, obviously, because there are cases where simple “majority rules” won’t cut it. For example, where there is a greater good argument.

              Climate change is one of those cases. The majority of people do not have access to the information – reliable information – to be able to make an informed decision about the threats from climate change, so it’s not just a case of taking a poll of the public to decide what, if any, action should be taken. This is a clear instance where governments must defer to the experts – i.e. the IPCC and the scientists who do the research that the IPCC bases its reports on. They have made it very clear, abundantly clear, that adaptation alone will not suffice, and mitigation action needs to happen right now. The government does not have any excuses for not doing this right away – it certainly doesn’t have to wait until some poll tells it that “the people” want action.

  24. It should be well known that public opinion is made by minorities, very small minorities perhaps, who work at it. There are tipping points too, change coming suddenly against worldly predictions. It is not necessary to have a majority, to hold the balance, or to tip it.

  25. So Thomas , if we agreed that an inclusive discussion was possible and desirable or useful, what are the words/phrases etc. that you personally would like to place on the list of cue- words that would cause the automatic moderation function to be triggered 🙂 ?

    In other words can there be a common language which allows a non-confrontational discussion about environmental overshoot ,as you termed it, to proceed?
    I’m assuming that my suggestion that we leave climate out of it , as an interim measure to facilitate discussion about the future of Godzone, would be completely unacceptable to you.

    1. “I’m assuming that my suggestion that we leave climate out of it , as an interim measure to facilitate discussion about the future of Godzone, would be completely unacceptable to you.”….

      1) You might have noticed that this website is about Climate Change. If you want to “leave this out” here then you are very definitely barking up the wrong tree on this site. Perhaps you can start your own blog on soil science and agriculture. An honest suggestion to you.

      2) In my humble opinion, GHG (CO2, Methane..) triggered Climate Change + Ocean Acidification are the biggest issue of environmental overshoot that humanity faces. They are global and they will have a very very long tail that, especially with respect to the Oceans, could lead to a mass extinction event of proportions not seen since the demise of the Dinosaurs. These issues are the most difficult to address because doing so is going to the very heart of our society: Its energy supply. We humans today are doing this to the planet and to all future generations. It is vitally important to address these issues and as soon as possible.
      As long as people like yourself are very actively trying to deny (2) based on the plethora of cynical, Machiavellian falsehoods peddled on the usual denier sites such as Nova, Watts and others, then they will be labeled as deniers on this site, no doubt, and will have earned that label.

      1. So that is a definite no . You are quite happy to sacrifice the environmental progress that is possible right now in our own domain on the sacred altar of AGW.
        In other words it’s all or nothing.
        I think that attitude goes part of the way to explaining why emissions continue to rise , more water is extracted for irrigation , and nitrate continues to enter the waterways.
        A purely personal opinion, I know.

        1. Huh??

          “You are quite happy to sacrifice the environmental progress that is possible right now in our own domain on the sacred altar of AGW.”

          what makes you think that??? Another hostile presumption from the Bio-Troll?

          Bio, nothing is further from the truth. Many people including myself have a long time engagement in a number of matters of environmental progress on a local scale that have nothing to do with AGW. You seem to have a very queer fantasy that acknowledging AGW for what it is and working for policies and actions to start reducing CO2 emissions now is somehow going to be played off against other well worthy improvements on our environment? Where now did this complete nonsense come form??

          1. O.K. Got it now. This blog is focused on the political side of producing policies and actions.
            Good luck with that.
            Bill , you’ll be greatly relieved to hear that I’ll leave it there. You can have your blog back now. 🙂
            Good bye. (Cue collective sigh of relief)

  26. Thomas says :- “The science IS settled to a very significant degree. ”

    That statement ( belief in which is, I apprehend , shared by nearly all the regulars here) seems to be the largest reason for the impasse.

    By way of illustration , I submit this quote-

    “For some people the aim is to communicate an understanding of the science.”

    These people are right.

    (Minor quibble: if you understood science, you would realise that the definite article doesn’t belong in front of it—”the science” is a deeply antiscientific syntax.)

    “For others, it is to persuade regarding a particular scientific conclusion.”

    These people are not only mistaken but dangerous.

    Science is NOT rhetorical.

    “The science of science communication tells you how to persuade, and leaves it to the individual to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”

    If that is an accurate statement about science communication , then “the science of science communication” is a threat to everything scientists stand for.

  27. Fair enough. Thomas has made it clear that the future of NZ is secondary to the stated purpose of spreading your particular variant of the gospel of AGW. The difference in emphasis is puzzling in view of the fact that we could be doing a lot here , regardless of what the rest of the world does.

    It’s interesting that in the same discussion elsewhere, (The language of Climate @ Hard News ) there is little opposition to the view that the planet will endure , humanity will endure , but the civilisation may not.

    Everybody wants to see civilisation redesigned to avoid this , but climate is not the only , and may not be the biggest and most proximate risk.

    Meanwhile , individuals are free to get on with adapting . World governments will do little or nothing about reducing emissions; they have bigger problems to deal with.

    1. Thomas has made it clear that the future of NZ is secondary to the stated purpose of spreading your particular variant of the gospel of AGW.

      Fancy giving us a quote from my posts that states this? Otherwise we must conclude that you are simply making stuff up as always.

      1. Great . I’m glad to hear that I got that wrong from reading your initial reply. I’ll look forward to your support in this initiative which doesn’t require any belief , and which doesn’t require a global energy agreement. It appears to need only a bit of education and some good environmental regulations which would necessarily be achieved at regional level.
        Admittedly , it would remove , at best , only 10% of current emissions, on an annual basis , but there is no cost.

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