A rising tide sinks cities



There is a huge and growing disconnect between what we’re doing to our planet, and what we’re doing about it. Climate policy in New Zealand — and in just about every other nation in the world — is out of touch with what we know is happening, and where we know we’re heading. Politicians of all stripes operate in a big bubble of unreality that allows them to believe that an emissions trading scheme that doesn’t reduce emissions is a good thing, that difficult decisions can be left for the future, and that economic growth — business as usual — is the only way forward. That bubble needs to be burst, and here’s why.

Research into the history of climate has made big advances in the last decade. We now know that when atmospheric carbon dioxide last stood at today’s levels — a little under 400 parts per million — the world’s oceans were at least 20 meters higher than today.
20 meters is a lot of water. Consider where that would put Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, or Dunedin. Christchurch city would be under water, and Banks Peninsula an island. All the world’s great coastal cities, all the billions of dollars tied up in the infrastructure of ports, all the nuclear power stations that rely on sea water for cooling would be drowned. The great fertile river deltas of Asia, home to hundreds of millions of people, will disappear.
It might take us a few hundred years to get there, while the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica respond to the heating of the planet, but if we don’t do something to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, a sea level rise of that order of magnitude will be inevitable and we will spend all our futures retreating from the rising seas.
Can we stop this happening? Can we save Venice, New York and Shanghai? Yes, but it’s not going to be easy. First, we have to stop the rapid increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. This means cutting the net emissions of greenhouse gases to zero. Not just reduce emissions, eliminate them. Then we have to start removing carbon from the atmosphere and keep on doing it until we get it back to a level that limits sea level rise to something we can cope with.
Deciding what is an acceptable sea level rise won’t be easy either. 125,000 years ago,  during the last interglacial warm period atmospheric carbon stood at 300 ppm and sea level was 6 meters higher than today.
The policy implications are straightforward. If we are to avoid committing the planet to huge sea level rise, every tonne of carbon we put into the atmosphere today is going to have to come back out of the atmosphere at some point — and the sooner the better. That is a much more difficult and expensive job than lighting a match in the furnaces of a coal-fired power station or burning bunker oil in a cargo ship. Worse, we will have to remove all the fossil carbon we have burned over the last century, including all the stuff that went into the sea and caused the oceans to acidify, because as we reduce the atmospheric carbon load, the sea will release all the carbon it has been doing us a favour by absorbing.
Delaying action on emissions is not therefore saving us money. It is not prudent, or good management, or economically sensible. It is simply increasing the price we will have to pay in the future.
That is the policy context every government in the world — with the exception of the small island states who will be the first victims of sea level rise — is failing to recognise. We have our hands on the planetary control knob, and we’re setting it way too high. Too high for warming, too much extreme weather, and far too much ice melt.
The great task for politics in the 21st century is to find a way to grasp that control knob and turn it down, and to do it in a way that delivers health and happiness for as many people as possible. But first we need to find politicians who understand the problem.


  1. “We now know that when atmospheric carbon dioxide last stood at today’s levels — a little under 400 parts per million — the world’s oceans were at least 20 meters higher than today.”

    “….during the last interglacial warm period atmospheric carbon stood at 300 ppm and sea level was 6 meters higher than today.”

    So this would logically suggest atmospheric CO2 levels have little to do with sea levels.

  2. Curioiusly, John Wyndham of “Day of the Triffids” fame wrote another sci-fi book called “The Kraken Wake” in which aliens begin melting the polar ice caps, causing sea levels to rise, flooding major cities causing widespread social and political collapse.

    • I read that as a teenager. Fine book. For a more recent non-fiction book on the issue, Peter Ward’s The Flooded Earth: Our Future in a World Without Ice Caps is worth checking out. There’s a free extract available here (pdf). Ward also featured in the recent documentary (on Prime) on extreme sea level rise.

  3. Hmmm.. you writethat “the policy implications [of SLR] are straightforward.”

    I don’t think they’re straightforward at all. Will CDR be cheaper* than adaptive responses (ie combinations of protection, retreat, etc)? Even if CDR is cheaper, it faces the same collective provision of public goods issues that mitigation faces, so countries are likely to prefer unilateral (adaptive) responses unless we can agree on the burden-sharing associated with CDR… etc.

    Finally, imagine that in the 23rd century scientists crack CDR as a technological problem. Why would they not stabilise sea-levels at 23rd centuries? Why would they lower them to 20th century levels? So they can recover a bunch of soggy buildings? I find the choice of target you outline a bit now-o-centric…

    *It ought to be, given the several centuries over which the problem arises (assuming it arises in rough accordance with what scientists expect (as you know, there are a range of views on SLR…)).

    • I’d agree the detail’s not straightforward – never is with the climate issue – but the direction of (or even the mere existence of functional) policy is underlined by the SLR issue. Discussion and policy making usually focuses on limiting temperature increases in the coming century, but fails to take into account the long term impacts.

      As for being now-o-centric, well, maybe that’s because that’s where we live. And with SLR, it’s the first few meters that’s going to do the damage.

    • Nice term “now-o-centric” but really you are taking a tilt at the idea of “sustainability”, whereby we would like to sustain favourable aspects of the environment as we know them.

      “Now-o-centricity” much more accurately describes “business as usual” which is going to wreck the environment for future generations. So reading your comment I am impressed by your ability to take a concept and reverse it’s obvious meaning. Think about it — I don’t want future sea level rise, and you’re telling me this is “now-o-centric”.

      Incidentally your scepticism about the cost of “CDR” (carbon dioxide removal) strikes me as cleaving to a long intellectual tradition notably represented by Fred Singer and colleagues.

  4. Just last week I heard a guy say he was looking forward to global warming because it would mean he would no longer have to grow his tomatoes in a greenhouse. He was a Christian creationist and represents a dominate worldview.

    One thing that would be helpful is to not just focus on climate change. Instead we need to start listing ALL the ways human are damaging the planet. Only with that giant list of reality will our collective actions begin to move towards a way that his less harmful.

    • yeah but a list that size would almost certainly result in a case of “overwhelmed by information” rather than “motivated to action”

    • I think that Creationist bloke might think again when extra energy in the atmosphere results in more violent storms, and his tomato plants end up in the Tasman…

      By the way, my tomato plants aren’t doing anywhere as well as two years ago. Too hot and too dry. And can’t use the garden hose as we’re on water-restrictions.

      Our grape vines seem to be ok, so far…

  5. Yes, we are a little under 400ppm. But only for a few more months. Photosynthesis in the northern hemisphere doesn’t get into full swing until May, by which time continuing emissions will almost certainly put the atmospheric CO2 above 400ppm (currently close to 397ppm).

    What is more pertinent is that the rate of annual increase in CO2 level is increasing. The current level is up more than 2.5ppm on this time last year.

    What is ‘interesting’ is that the 0,8oC elevation in average temperature is already generating climate chaos and unprecedented [I recent geological history] sea level rise.

    Another ‘interesting’ fact is that the annual Arctic meltdown has now commenced, with less ice cover than at this time in 2012, the year of the most spectacular meltdown in modern history.

    So, all told, ‘nothing to worry about’; carry on chaps (and chapettes);keep burning that oil and coal. And keep shopping, otherwise the Chinese economy will implode. And then where will we be?

    By the way, humanity is on track to exterminate itself and most other mammals by mid-century, since a rise in average temperature of 4 to 6oC is more or less certain, and that kind of temperature rise leads to positive feedbacks taking the temperature even higher, perhaps as much as 12oC or even 16oC higher than now -leading to a 60 or 80 metre rise in sea level.

    Jelly fish, ants, cockroaches and bacteria shall inherit the Earth, it seems.

    • I’ve always wondered why we’ve never picked up broadcasts from ET…

      Could it be that industrialised alien civilisations ultimately destroy themselves with either atomic warfare or by “cooking” themselves in a runaway greenhouse effect?

      • Probably spot on. After surviving a few billion years of the harsh reality in the evolutionary lottery and finally emerging into the realm of intelligence and technological capability sentient species must rapidly evolve their intelligence further to overcome selfishness, greed and delusional thinking…
        The Drake Equation needs another factor….

  6. The inertia in the human belief system runs parallel to the inertia in the deep oceans and the ice.
    Humans are as dumb as yeast, we have consumed most of the ‘sugar’, and are about to choke to death on our own waste.
    Our so called ‘leaders’ pander to the ignorant masses, and are incapable of acting, they only react to an immanent/happening threat.
    Gareth has shown clearly in this blog that our situation is not survivable without actions we are unable to introduce, so we are not going to survive. And as no one (politicians/teachers/the media) are willing to say what needs to be said ie STOP FUCKING BREEDING then we and ‘our’ children are in for a hell of a party with everyone invited.
    As I said to the census lady the other day re how utterly pointless the census is, ” At least it is easier to count cadavers while they are still standing”
    We are firing 12 gauge shotguns at the future, except instead of buckshot we are using children, the hope being some of them will make it through the bottleneck of resource short falls (oil for food etc) but alas as Gareth has explained once through the bottle neck they are going to come smack up against the climate change cork.
    The only way humans are going to remove carbon from the atmosphere is via coffins.
    Breed on folks

    • As far as breeding goes: If the intelligent parents grasp the concept that we are in population overshoot and limit their breeding accordingly, then, evolutionary speaking, we are f**ked too as obviously those with the breed like rabbits attitude will outbreed their more conscious peers.
      The evolution of intelligence as it seems is a self limiting process… 😉

  7. Thanks Gareth,

    Telling people things, even true things, especially true things, can generate resistance as we know. The mind runs around like a rat in a trap, trying to find a way out…and there is none. But ask a question and you might provoke an attempt to answer. I’ve tried to formulate a AGW question along these lines:
    Given the ability of C02 to trap heat, and given that we are pumping 30 billion extra megatons of it into the atmosphere every year from fossil fuel burning, tell me how it is possible not to be creating global warming and consequent extreme weather?
    Putting the question in the negative is the only way I can think of framing it at the moment, and I keep wanting to make it longer by inserting more elements into it. At least you can’t deny a question, you have to try to answer it. I’ve had some weird answers, but it’s step beyond denial.
    Incidentally, re cause and effect, I once heard of a tribe of people who had not made the connection between sex and having babies (probably a myth). Hard to imagine, but then again, it’s hard to imagine a culture creating the kind of disconnect between action and consequence that our culture is engaged in with regard to greenhouse gasses and global warming.
    Keep up the good work! And your site Hot Topic is tops!

  8. For the record, could I just point out that since its election in 2008 the John Key led National Ltd™ government:

    has been caught out repeatedly lying in the run up to and during the election campaign about its real intentions in relation to the environment

    celebrated the opening of the foreign-owned Pike River Coal Ltd mine on DOC land adjacent to the Paparoa National Park from which 1 megatonne of coal will be extracted per year for the next 20 years – Pike River Coal Ltd has announced that it has found additional coal in the national park

    cancelled a proposed efficiency standard (MEPS) on incandescent lightbulbs

    reversed a moratorium on building new gas/oil/coal power stations

    removed the bio fuel subsidy

    scrapped the scheme that would have penalised imported vehicles producing high emissions

    removed regulations for water efficient new housing by Order in Council

    renewed leases on sensitive high country farms which were meant to return to DOC

    reversed restrictions on the freeholding of vast swathes of land on the edge of the Southern Lakes

    arbitrarily excised 400 hectares from the brand new Oteake Conservation Park, including the most important and, ecologically, the rarest part of the new Park, the tussock and shrubland that went right down to the banks of the Manuherikia River, to enable future access to lignite

    said nothing to say in regard to the World Commission on Protected areas of IUCN’s severe criticism of its intention to investigate mineral resources and mining opportunities in protected conservation areas including our three UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Te Wahi Pounamu-South West New Zealand, Tongariro National Park and the Sub Antarctic Islands

    approved two prospecting permit applications lodged by Australian iron-ore giant Fortescue Metals Group subsidiary FMG Pacific lodged in June – areas covered by the two-year permits include an 8204-square-kilometre area of seabed adjoining the west coast from Cape Reinga to the Manukau Harbour and a 3798-square-kilometre prospecting area of land from Cape Reinga to the Kaipara Harbour including Ninety Mile Beach, the west side of the Aupouri Peninsula, Kaitaia and the Hokianga.

    approved an additional prospecting permit for Fortescue Metals in relation to 3568sq km right next door to the Kahurangi National Park where the Heaphy Track is

    was forced to release its Ministry of Economic Development (MED) report under the Official Information Act that proclaims “significant mineral potential” in the Fiordland, Kahurangi and Paparoa national parks – the report said the Waitutu area of the Fiordland National Park had sufficient petroleum reserves to be “worthy” of inclusion in a review of conservation land protected from mining

    secretly granted the minerals industry the right to veto proposed National Park boundaries and permission for any such vetoes to be kept confidential – in spite of recommendations from its own officials against any such a veto

    Minster of Conservation Tim Grosser, on 29 August 2009, called for caring New Zealanders to halt their “emotional hysteria” and recognise that conservation land should be mined for minerals and went on to say “Mining in a modern, technological way can have a negligible effect”

    Associate Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson, in an interview in “Canterbury Farming” (June 2010 issue now offline) rubished her own department, DOC, suggesting it was incapable of looking after the high country reserves and parks under its control

    gutted the home insulation scheme

    pulled $300 million out of public transport, walking and cycling schemes and added it to a pot of $2 billion to ‘upgrade’ state highways

    changed the law to provide billions of dollar in subsidies for polluters via the ETS casino which is now a target for scamming by international criminals

    begun a process of gutting the Resource Management Act to make it difficult/impossible for the public to lodge appeals against developers

    removed the ability of Auckland to introduce a fuel levy to fund planned public transport upgrades

    left electrification of the Auckland rail network up in the air without promised funding commitments and then came through with a dodgy loan scheme and then unilaterally reorganised the local government structure before finally setting about the privatisation-by-stealth model when busting KiwiRail.

    removed the programme to make Government Departments ‘carbon neutral’ and also began its first wave of public sector redundancies starting with the Ministry for the Environment which was responsible for the scheme.

    removed funding for public tv advertising on sustainability and energy efficiency

    pulled funding for small-town public litter bin recycling schemes

    displayed cabinet ministers expressing public support the bulldozing of Fiordland

    reduced Department of Conservation funding by $54 million over three years

    canceled funding for the internationally acclaimed ‘Enviroschools’ programme

    usurped the democratic role of local Councils of determining policies for their citizens by requiring the abandonment of the efficient and well-established tree protection rules for urban areas

    set about revamping Auckland governance in a way that is likely to greatly reduce the ‘Environmental Watchdog’ role of the the current Regional Council (since completely fucked it up with the SuperShitty)

    removed Auckland’s metropolitan limits and opened the gateway for unfettered urban sprawl

    defended internationally the importation of rain-forest-wrecking palm kernel and stood silent while Federated Farmers called Greenpeace “terrorists” and criminals.

    stood silent while Godfrey Bloom, a Member of the European Parliament and infamous Climate Change Denialist, publicly rejoiced in the 1985 bombing of the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior – who was doing so while standing on a dock next to the replacement vessel

    took a 0% emissions reduction target to Copenhagen. Yes, seriously, that isn’t a misprint – that was the lower bound of their negotiation platform – then missed the 01/02/10 deadline for commitment to action it had agreed to – meanwhile 55 of the 80 countries which attended did make the deadline

    secretly cancelled the internationally recognised scheme for the mandatory labelling of exotic woods to ensure the timber has not been taken from rain forests in direct contradiction of its own statements made at the 13th World Forestry Congress in Argentina

    supported the Department of Conservation’s decision to open up the pristine Cathedral Cove to an ice-cream franchise

    gave the Department of Conservsation $1.7 million to further develop commercial activities on DOC land and started an “off set” plan allowing company’s to damage the conservation estate if they agree to improve land elsewhere – no monitoring regime has been suggested on put in place

    left DOC director-general Al Morrison to announce that DOC is to charge for services that had been free and, to soften the public up to the idea that there will be more “energy generation schemes” operating on DOC land

    took no action to reduce existing pollution pouring into the Manawatu River and is “leaving it up to industry” to come up with solutions to heal the river which was described by the Cawthorn Institute as “one of the worst polluted in the Western world”

    announced a $1.69 million industry subsidy to kick start marine farming without identifying no-go areas nor putting in place a consultation process for individiuals, communities, and other general coastal users

    was forced to release documents under the Official Information Act which confirm that DOC has “giving up” on ecologically valuable high-country land in the Mackenzie Basin because of funding cuts. The released documents cite “statements made by ministers”, “diminishing funding” and the Government’s new high-country policies as reasons for the changed stance – the comments from DOC were made after Land Information New Zealand (Linz), which manages the tenure review process, ignored DOC’s previous conservation recommendations for the farms

    used former National Party minister and current director of Open Country Cheese – a company convicted of filthy farming practices and found by the supreme court to be a dodgy employer – Wyatt Creech to head up an enquiry into Environment Canterbury which had been standing up the dairy farmers’ demands for more and more water resources and less and less regulation. The Creech report recommended the Environmental Canterbury be sacked and replaced with government appointments and the voters of Canterbury do without democracy until the water situation had been resolved. The Canterbury area holds 50 percent of New Zealand’s fresh water reserves and 50 percent of the water required for hyrdo energy. The Creech report said Environmental Centerbury put too much focus on the environment.

    Was subjected to international condemnation for knowing next to nothing about the parlous state of the New Zealand fisheries,

    bucked international trends and poured more acid on the 100% Pure brand and increases the bluefin tuna quota.

    Squirmed when New Zealand is subject to international criticism for its backing of commericial whaling which National Ltd supports

    Funded Government-owned company Solid Energy runs an essay competition entitled “ The role of coal in sustainable energy solutions for New Zealand” for school children. First prize is a trip to New Zealand’s largest coal customer, China.

    Supported access fees for entrance onto DOC walkways – fee introduced following cuts to DOC’s budget.

    Pressed on with PR bullshit about how New Zealand’s environment would profit from mining national parks, Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson says.

    Department of Conservation director-general Al Morrison said the conservation estate created “opportunities to do a whole lot for a lot of different people . . . we’ve got to get away from this idea that somehow we have to protect one-third of New Zealand for a certain constituency and put it in a jar of formaldehyde and leave it.”

    Created random fantasies of abundant wealth to promote all forms of mining

    Ignored reports on sustained non-compliance with resource consents and worsening pollution of water ways.

    Ignored its own Ministers possible conflicts of interest

    Did nothing as both its own SOE Meridian and the Department of Conservation to withdraw appeals against an 85m high damn with a 14km long reservoir on conservation land.

    Granted Energy Resources permission to ship Australian yellowcake uranium ore through New Zealand.

    Apologised but does nothing else for breaching the Treaty of Waitangi by granting a mining exploration permit to Brazilian company Petrobras

    Continued to remove environmental protection powers from local authorities

    Totally reversed gains made in the protection of National Parks and other high-value conservation areas in the South Island.

    commenced a divide-and-rule strategy by attempting to paint New Zealanders interested in protecting the environment as outside of the “mainstream” and in defence of the fact that the media is catching to its bare-faced lies in the lead up to the 2008 election.

    Carried on with more lies by talking about modern mining like that at Reefton being carried out by Oceana Golds as being like “key hole surgery”

    Appeared to believe that the tourists it is attempting to bring to New Zealand are all blind and won’t see for themselves the impact of the dairy farming it is subsidising to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars

    Appeared itself to be blind when it comes to the Chairman of Fonterra

    Supported the Commissioner for the Environment’s decision to delay the release of a report into the ramifications for climate change in regard to lignite mining and proposals to convert the lignite into diesel.

    Employed financial sleight of hand in shuffling funds towards business interests and away from community groups looking to protect the environment

    Made more empty promises when a report showing that a third of New Zealand lankes have poor quality water is released.

    Backed down on promises to protect New Zealand children (and the environment cleaner by more informed disposal) from harmful chemicals by improving labeling and imposing mandatory standards on containers

    Ignored the findings by attacking the messenger when a World Health Organisation report confirms that New Zealand’s main centres have the worst air in Australasia and Auckland is the most polluted with twice the concentration of damaging airborne particles as Sydney.

    Studiously ignored so as to take piss about dire warnings concerning the quality of drinking water in Reidstone.

    Didn’t mention in its 100% Pure promotions that visitors to the Kerikeri Basin near the Stone Store – one of Northland’s iconic tourism and heritage sites – could come face-to-face with warning signs telling them the water is polluted.

    Didn’t mention in its 100% Pure promotions that tourists in the Coromandel could come face to face with New Zealand’s environmental standards when finding hundreds of dead snapper washed up on Beaches.

    Presented bogus evidence concerning air pollution

    Made more empty promises in relation to air pollution while also extending deadlines for local councils to reduce air pollution.

    extended deadlines for businesses previously require to reduce air pollution by 2013.

    Put tourism operators in Akaroa at risk by refusing to make the harbour a marine reserve . . . and then rubs salt into their wounds

    Done nothing after the United Nations finds that National Ltd™’s targets for reducing pollution are not consistent with the measures put in place to achieve those targets:

    Attempted to defend the Emissions Trading Scheme from comparisons with the Australian model while Environment Minister Nick Smith indicates there’s little chance of the two schemes being integrated any time soon.

    Then further slowed down the implentation of New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme:

    Allowed major retailers to reap the benefits of its earlier and secret decision to abandon the mandatory labelling of exotic woods after it is found that the retailers are contributing to the death of native Australian forests despite an independent, year-long investigation which finds otherwise.

    tried to keep a meeting between John Key and mininng company Anadarko’s boss secret. The company is responsble for a massive oil spill and is looking to to start drilling off New Zealand soon.

    Continued to ignore yet more evidence of farmers failing to comply with environmental regulations

    handed over $400 million to farmers to extend water storage and allow for more land to be used for dairy farms. No mention or provision is made for additional protections required to deal with the increased pollution.

    Didn’t point out in its 100% Pure promotion that tourists (and locals) should avoid the Opihi River along State Highway 1 because of the risk of exposure to toxins from phormidium.

    Didn’t point out in its 100% Pure promotions that tourists arriving at New Zealand’s “nuclear free” sea ports will be sharing the environment with up to 5,000 tonnes of radioactive yellow cake uranium.

    Lied about how bad the RMA is

    ignored top scientists and academics who point out that its underfunding of the Department of Conservation will send more species into extinction and hurt its 100% Pure image.

    Ignored John Key making an international arse out of himself in regard to New Zealand’s 100% Pure image:

    Carried on with its lies as New Zealand is identified as jeoparising its good name by allowing us to become one of a small number of states stalling progress in forming an international climate agreement.

    Kept stringing us along even after Next thing, New Zealand received the 2nd place Fossil Award for “proposing the most Flexible Mechanism imaginable with no oversight or review. Bring on the wild west. They want to be able to use any market mechanisms they wish with absolutely no oversight or international review! There would be no way to ensure that the units from one mechanism have not been sold two or three times to another such mechanism. This would likely unleash a wild west carbon market with double or triple counting of offsets and a likely increase of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.”

    Stood silent when Fonterra was caught out lying by overstating its farmer’s compliance on excluding stock from waterways by 100%.

    Put World class surfing waves and Maui’s dolphin’s at Raglan at severe risk by encouraging a proposed iron ore seabed mining in New Zealand’s coastal waters:

    Never followed up after the scientific models created by New Zealand and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to allow fishing are called into question:

    Sets the scene for our children heading down to the park to find an overseas’ owned company had set up a dairy farm in one corner. Over time the shit builds up

    Ignores data which shows the expansion of fish-farming in the Marlborough Sounds could cause unacceptable changes in the coastal environment.

    Strategically removed the word “environment” from the lexicon of local and central government.

    Didn’t tell the tourists it hopes to attact with its 100% Pure campaign that every year, New Zealand drops huge quantities of poison-laced food into its forest ecosystems; enough poison to kill its human population 4 times over, every year. No country has ever done anything remotely similar, on such a scale

    Didn’t tell the tourists it hopes to attract with its 100% Pure campaign that more than a third of Auckland’s beaches fail water quality checks and are closed for swimming

    Still ignored the closing of the beaches, this time as extremely high concentrations of the bacteria enterococci are identified.

    Still ignored Ministerial conflicts of interest, this time involving John Key who is identified as shareholder in the Bank Of America which is backing mining in New Zealand and Australia . . . even when more information is made available . . . and more information . . . and more information

    Pressed on with additional policies that move away from the protection of the environment towards exploitation

    Limited , as part of its effort to cash-in on the environment, access to some of New Zealand’s most endangered species and isolated islands only to those who those who contribute financially displacing conservation staff and scientists.

    ignored a World Wildlife Fund report, Beyond Rio, which makes clear New Zealand now risks some of the highest rates of biodiversity loss on Earth unless urgent action is taken.

    Fonterra director Colin Armer is convicted and fined $72,000 for “fouling” a Bay of Plenty waterway after a judge found he could have prevented the pollution were it not for his “systemic” failure to monitor what was happening on his company’s farm.

    National Ltd™ lies when it says New Zealand has the environmental laws and regulations to control oil and gas development on the continental shelf because thereis no equivalent of the Resource Management Act to control oil and gas activity outside of the territorial sea (12 nautical miles offshore).

    lied when it had already agreed coastal plans to allow marine farming consent holders in the Waikato and Marlborough to move from mussel farming to finfish farming without considering the additional environmental effects imposed.

    Put short-term business interests ahead of long-term consequences to New Zealand’s environment, particularly biodiversity by allowing damage in one area on the condition that it be “off set” in another creating a dangerous precedent in that such a provisin means that one part of biodiversity can be wrecked in return for “protecting” an area that was never under threat anyway.

    Promoted proposals that include include a plant producing about 2 billion litres of diesel per year, using at least 12 million tonnes of lignite per year and another producing 3 billion litres using 12-17 million tonnes of lignite annually. A further project would produce by 2016 1.2 tonnes of the nitrogenous fertiliser, urea, using 2 million tonnes of lignite annually.

    Documents obtained under the Official Information Act have revealed that DOC was intending to turn down Meridian (application to buils a damn on the Mohikinui River) and believed “the public conservation land within the Mokihinui River has such high value that it is most unlikely to be suitable for exchange at all.

    National Ltd™ continues to ignore the slow-motion extinction of Maui’s dolphins:

    Significant cuts to the Ministry for the Environment in the 2012 Budget are not publicly detailed or announced by Minister Amy Adams. She prefers to hide. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1205/S00478/cuts-to-environment-budget-explain-the-missing-minister.htm

    National Ltd™ ensures that New Zealand continues to ignore its international obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to “protect and preserve” the martime environment.

    Despite long-standing recommendations from the Land and Water Forum, National Ltd™ continues to avoid setting national standards for water quality even after the Greater Wellington Regional Council released its state of the environment report. The report highlights the poor quality of many urban, lowland and Wairarapa waterways, and some rivers and aquifers being at their allocation limit.

    National Ltd™ further weakenes protection for wild rivers in Canterbury with the ECan Act and indicates that further weakening will follow.

    The Environmental Protection Authority rubber stamps a motorway project with no economic benefit and likely to waste over $1 billion of tax payers’ funds. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1206/S00336/epa-rubber-stamps-dead-duck-motorway.htm

    National Ltd™ is forced to admit that it has spent $1.67 million in a survey of minerals on the West Coast of New Zealand, including within the Te Wahipounamu South West New Zealand world heritage area. Te Wahipounamu is one of 183 natural heritage properties which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value.

    National Ltd™ secretly ordered that world heritage sites on the West Coast be surveyed as part of a $3 million mineral study spanning more than 16,000 square kilometres. The survey was only puiblicy revealed after Green MP Catherine Delahunty asked for details in a parliamentary question:

    The former interests of members appointed to the Establishment Board for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) make them unsuitable candidates for the job

    Inexperienced managers, poor policy decisions and falling staff numbers are threatening New Zealand’s biosecurity.

    An independent report on the PSA virus outbreak was commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) following the devastation caused by the virus in the Bay of Plenty orchards with an estimated cost of $400 million. The report found New Zealand’s biosecurity system is fundamentally flawed and there is no way of identifying how the virus got into New Zealand and, thus, no way of preventing it from happening again.

    John Key hands over another $80 million to business and farmers to subsidise their pollution.

    National Ltd™ Minister Kate Wilkinson fobs off Save Fiordland protesters who point out that had the government’s own guidelines been followed consent for the Milford Dart tunnel and Fiordland Link Experience would never have been granted.

    A National Ltd™ appointed advisory group has recommended a significant rewrite of the Resource Management Act, removing references to the protection of coastal areas, wetlands, lakes and rivers and indigenous flora and fauna.

    Documents pried from National Ltd™ under the Official Information Act show that senior government officials with serious concerns over projects in the Mackenze Basin and Waitaki Valley and hands out $180,000 of taxpayer cash. The decision to hand over the money was made by Nick Smith. More than half the cash went to environmental consultants – including about $88,000 to Ecologic, a firm run by Dr Smith’s friend Guy Salmon. Mr Salmon is also linked to the National Party ginger group the BlueGreens. The money trail shows: Ecologic consultant Guy Salmon: received $88,010 (includes $682 in restaurant and bar charges), Whanganui-based consultant Richard Thompson received $13,130 (includes $149 in restaurant and bar bills), the Environment Defence Society received $2256. Other expenditure included: restaurant and bar charges (at May, June and August meetings): $5495, and $30,800 for the production of two reports.

    A further weakening of the already gutted resource consent process is being considered for foreign-owned mining companies, according to Energy and Resources Minister. Phil; Heatley.

    New Zealanders are locked out of the consultation process on the alloting of areas being made available by the National Ltd™ for resource exploration.

    National Ltd™ scraps government grants for solar water heating and Parliamentary Commissioner comes out against them:

    National Ltd™ use the Navy along with police and Crown Law to bully environmental protesters in a legal case they knew could not be won.

    National Ltd™ puts out an international call for foreign companies to drill for oil and gas in 23 blocks of deep and wild waters east of Wellington and Dunedin.

    National Ltd™ consultants do a u-turn on the economic benefits of additional roading and then get handed a $200 million contract for further consultation work.

    The Department of Conservation grants foreign-owned multinational mining company OceanaGold permission to destroy 55 hectares of beech forest so as to extend its Reefton mine to a total 81 hectares without public notification:

    As National Ltd™ prepares to ease the resource consent process for mining companies, the Minerals Industry Association starts putting pressure on local authorities to step aside.

    Economic commentator Gareth Morgan details National Ltd™’s ramshackle collection of underfunded agencies with no direction or policy for dealing with the vast marine resources of New Zealand:

    A further erosion of New Zealand’s bio-security is highted when Christchurch Airport is found to have failed a survey:
    National Ltd™ ignores Open letter to Minister for the Environment from the Environmental Defence Society, Forest and Bird, Fish and Game, Ecologic, Greenpeace, and World Wildlife Foundation New Zealand. Inter-alia, the letter points out that the removal of the directive terms “protect”, “preserve”, “maintain” and “enhance” from the RMA fundamentally weakens the legislation and introduces confusion as to its overall intent.

    National Ltd™ ensures that New Zealand tax payers continue to subsidise 95% of big polluters’ emissions.

    Proposed marine reserves off the West Coast have been drastically reduced in size so much so that one advocate says they are “an insult” to those who spent years trying to establish them.

    National Ltd™ instructs its delegates at the world’s largest conservation conference, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s conference in Korea, to oppose any further measures to protect Maui and Hector dolphins in defiance of 117 other countries and 460 environmental organisations requesting New Zealand ban gill and trawl nets in waters up to 100 metres deep.

    Emergy Minister Phil Heatley is caught out lying about the environmental impact of fraking.

    Regional council are caught out not enforcing regulations, Government says no action is required

    National Ltd™ ignores concerns about fracking which has seen the practise banned around the world.

    National Ltd™ Minister Stephen Joyce twists the knife by exploiting news of redundancies at Solid Energy in a statement which claims opponents to a proposed mine are “getting in the way of” potential jobs.

    A High Court decision says the effects on climate change cannot be considered under the Resource Management Act (RMA) as updated by National Ltd™. The Court decision came after an appeal was made against an earlier decision to allow Australian-owned mining company Bathurst Resources (also known as Buller Coal) to build a 200-hectare open-cast coal mine on the plateau and mine 80 million tonnes of coal that, when burnt, will release about 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

    The extinction of New Zealand sea lions is further ensured after fishing restrictions announced by the National Ltd™

    The Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Bill, as reported back from select committee fails to protect New Zealand’s marine environment and ignores our international legal obligations.

    More than half of monitored recreational sites on our rivers are unsafe for swimming, a report has revealed.

    Submissions to a select committee considering the Emissions Trading Scheme by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright’s, and those of thers, to a select committee reviewing the Emissions Trading Scheme are ignored resulting in a Trading Scheme which “will have very, very limited effectiveness and has locked in subsidies to to the worst emitters indefinitely.”

    Environment Minister pulls out of participation in legal action to prevent more pollution being poured into New Zealand’s fresh water supplies.

    National Ltd™ seeks changes to the law which will make it more dificult to get consent to build a deck onto a house than it is to drill for oil.

    New Zealand continues to avoid its international obligations “to ensure the conservation and management of sharks and their long-term sustainable use” while its fishers carry on with the barbaric practise of shark finning.

    Recent survey results show that two thirds of New Zealanders believer spending on environmental conservation is a good use of tax payers’ money. National Ltd™ responds with further cuts to the Department of Conservation budget.

    Signatures from 30,000 people in a global email petition urging Prime Minister John Key to save the endangered Maui’s dolphin are ignored by National Ltd™ while the World Wildlife Fund points out that New Zealand was the only country to vote against more protection for the species at the world’s largest conservation summit.

    Finance Minister Bill English begins the process of further gutting urban environmental protection legislation to speed up the building consent process for developers.

    The Government is stopping the five-yearly State of the Environment report. Put together by the Ministry of the Environment, the report is the largest stock-take of trends relating to land, water, air, plants and animals. The next report was expected in December, but the Government has decided instead to look at the basic data for each area.

    New Zealand abandons the Kyoto agreement

    A government lobbyist who attacted a prominent New Zealand scientist for speaking truth about New Zealand’s environment remains unrepentent in his efforts to silence the accurate reporting of scientific evidence.

    The New York Times highlights the fact that the pristine landscape featured in The Hobbit and used as the basis for the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign as fantastical as dragons and wizards.

    An international study measuring countries’ loss of native vegetation, native habitat, number of endangered species, and water quality reported in the journal PloS One shows New Zealand is 18th worst out of 189 nations when it came to preserving its natural surroundings. John Key remains relaxed.

    Pulls out of Kyoto just weeks after the OECD reports that global greenhouse gas emissions could rise 50 per cent by 2050 without more ambitious climate policies, as fossil fuels continue to dominate the energy mix.

    New Zealand has received two “Fossil of the Day” – first-equal and second place – awards on the first day of international climate talks in Doha, Qatar.

    Hobbiton – Waikato – is a major source of pollution within the Hauraki Gulf yet is at the centre of the John Key led National Ltd™ government’s 100% Pure campaign

    The use of the “fraking” technique in oil and gas drilling/exploration is given the go-ahead by National Ltd™ despite the Parliamentary Commissioner for the environment pointing out there exists no effective regulations in case of disaster nor the ability to enforce what regulations are available. Instead, monitoring and reporting and adherence to existing legislation is being left entirely up to foreign-owned multinationals doing the drilling.


    lied, obfuscated and used government resources to attack and undermined local authority plans to improve water quality

    sanction an unnamed foreign-owned multinational to go ahead with a major road through pristine South Island National Parks

    employed disingenuous gobbledeegook to defend its decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Agreement.

    turned a deaf ear to calls for New Zealand to assist pacfic island nations by taking a stronger position on climate change

    displayed contempt for existing agreements and Environment Case law by approving new salmon farms in recreational areas within the Marlborough Sounds

    refused to investigate the impact on increasing use of neonicotinoid pesticides which is likely to be a major contributor to the sudden and dramatic decline (aka colony collapse disorder) of the New Zealand honey bee population, National Ltd™ also refused to consider the development of a strategy to protect what is left of the honey bee population.












    mixed the cooperative model of climate change negotiations with the competitive model used in trade negotiations, thus putting outcomes in both areas a risk

    ducked questions asking for evidence as to the safety of genetically engineered food

    ignored the fact that New Zealand carbon credits are no longer the unit of choice in the New Zealand’s own carbon market. Figures from the official Emission Unit Registry show that emitters who initially supported NZUs are now using a range of international units to meet their carbon obligations under the Emissions Trading Scheme

    used highly dodgy figures in calculating the reduction New Zealand’s net carbon emissions by including trees due to be harvested in the next few years

    ignored news that New Zealand’s first glyphosate resistant weed has been found and the resulting call for the use of glyphosate (Monsanto’s “Roundup”) to cease

    stayed silent for five months after being advised that Fonterra’s milk product were contaminated with dicyandiamide (DCD) and now face an international backlash.

    set no maximum level of contamination of dicyandiamide (DCD) (AKA cyanoguanidine) in milk products for consumption by New Zealanders, stood silent while the farming industry says the withdrawal of dicyandiamide (DCD) will result in yet more pollution of New Zealand’s waterways

    stood silent as NIWA announced findings of research which showed 20 per cent of marine life in the Milford Sounds port area could be killed off as a result of copper leaching from anti-fouling paints on boat hulls

    . . . oh, but wait – there’s more.

    • Oh My God! I didn’t realise it was quite so systematic. Thanks for this, I think. This list should go everywhere! Surely there can’t be more!
      And yet NZers love him. It seems he can do no wrong. Which seems to prove that, as a culture, we don’t care about the environment. Not deep down. Key doesn’t even care about the image let alone the substance. What was that old saw about a people getting the government they deserve?
      Here on Waiheke island, into our third month of drought, our local Board is in such a state of denial that it refuses to even discuss the effect the drought is having on a community with no water reticulation. Wingnuts without the wings. Bet Key wishes he could do that!

Comments are closed.