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Is Climate Change Ruining Your Easter Weekend?

The question on everyone’s lips this weekend is whether this is bad weather or climate change? Of course we have always had bad weather but the evidence is clear; climate change is making bad weather events more frequent, and it is only going to get worse.

 

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These disasters underline the importance of being fossil fuel free by 2050. This would keep the world under 2 degrees of warming – the level which scientists consider ‘dangerous’. To achieve this goal without disrupting our economy New Zealand needs to act on this now, and The Opportunities Party has a plan to do so.

Regardless of how much we reduce emissions, even 2 degrees of warming will mean some sea level rise and more adverse weather events like those we are experiencing at the moment. But at the moment we aren’t even preparing for that inevitable outcome.

The most recent example is the terrible devastation caused in Edgecumbe by the failure of the stopbank there. Kudos goes to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council for holding an independent review of that incident. But is it really fair to leave this issue up to local areas to resolve? Some parts of the country face huge upheaval with sea level rise and adverse weather events. Edgecumbe is the latest example, but many other places such as South Dunedin face huge problems with rising groundwater and sea levels.

Local communities need to start talking about how to prepare for climate change. They need to discuss future proofing infrastructure, and in some cases they will need to plan for managed retreat. It isn’t fair to leave them to face these issues alone, the government also needs to be at the table. This was recommended by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright in her report on seal level rise and The Opportunities Party included this in our Climate Action policy

When these disasters ramp up and devastate towns the government will inevitably step in. Why put the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff? The Government should accept that climate change poses a liability for the country, and they need to be involved in talking about how to plan for it.

Incredibly, this is exactly what the insurance industry is calling for. If you haven’t seen it, watch this excellent Q&A interview with Mark Wilson from Aviva, one of the world’s biggest insurance companies. Big insurers have accepted the facts of climate change and the risks it poses. They don’t want to walk away from the communities they serve, and they see the need to talk and plan ahead.

Sadly the current Government still has its head in the sand. That means we can only expect to see more events like Edgecumbe in the days and years ahead.

Stay safe in Cyclone Cook folks. 

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    • Oliver Krollmann
      followed this page 2017-04-21 15:38:41 +1200
    • John Hyndman
      commented 2017-04-15 11:10:12 +1200
      The first step is to gain widespread public acceptance of the reality of climate change and its consequences. The next step is to set about mitigating it and managing the risks. We should refuse to spend any more time debating the reality of climate change. That discussion is over. I get a distinct impression that there is a rapidly growing public acceptance of climate change. Once that gains suffficient momentum the politicians will take action. Dont look to the current crop of politicians for leasdership on this issue. I think the TOP policies on CC and environmentalism are first class and we should be doing our utmost to bring these to the attention of the voters. Climate Change is going to be a major concern come September. I like the TOP policies on tax etc but unfortunately these ideas are turning most voters away from TOP.
    • bob atkinson
      commented 2017-04-14 12:40:21 +1200
      Well I am a skeptic. I think the chance of predicting future weather is similar to predicting the stock market – plenty of fancy maths and computer models but it is a gamble.
      For the last 30 years I’ve refused to look at properties within about 5 metres of current sea level. No I don’t think we are going to be inundated but why take a chance. For the majority of home owners the disaster will not be the actual waves washing at their doors it will be the insurance companies refusing to insure and then no one will buy.
    • Steve Cox
      commented 2017-04-14 11:21:38 +1200
      I agree that we are not preparing. Leaving aside the blame game it is only the most rabid of the denialists who insist there is no global warming whatsoever. So even if the global warming is natural we should still be doing something.

      Here in Christchurch the council put a note on the LIM of coastal properties stating they were at an elevated (pardon the pun) risk of future flooding. Excrement hits NIMBY fan and note gets removed because it would affect the resale value of the properties. Now in 30 years time say someone will be suing the council because there was no warning about flood risk when they bought their coastal property in 2020.

      And it is this NIMBY attitude that hinders central and local governments. Building taller stop banks on rivers will be opposed because ratepayers don’t want to pay an extra 10% on their rates bill. You think of all the prudent work that could be done that won’t be because …

      We should be doing as much nudge stuff as we can while we can. Personally I’m not a leader in this sort of stuff but neither am I going to oppose it.
    • bob atkinson
      commented 2017-04-13 22:43:23 +1200
      “The question on everyone’s lips this weekend is whether this is bad weather or climate change?”
      It is bad weather. It is impossible to compare weather and climate change.
      “Of course we have always had bad weather but the evidence is clear; climate change is making bad weather events more frequent, and it is only going to get worse.”
      I am convinced that we should be planning for climate change but sentences like this are no help. For example after the hurricane that destroyed New Orleans everyone was saying the various climate models all predicted an increase in Hurricanes (and that makes apparent sense – the more energy in a system the more likely disturbances). However after New Orleans over the next decade North America experienced the fewest hurricanes on record. James Lovelock is right – we all should be very cautious of computer models.
      The correct way of dealing with Climate Change is to treat it as a risk. A very serious risk which needs very serious planning. It was some time ago that I read that the IPCC reports have a 5% chance of nothing happens and a 15% chance of everything is worse than anticipated (say over 5 metre sea rise this century). Given that 1 in 6 chance I wouldn’t be investing in as much infrastructure along the sea front as Auckland council.