Bursting Bill and Steven’s bubble

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The big drought has put the government on the spot when it comes to acknowledging the need for action on climate change.

Recent rain has done little to dent the drought that’s gripping the entire North Island and parts of the South. While the media have noticed that there’s a clear expectation that the incidence of droughts will increase as the planet warms, the government — in the shape of deputy PM Bill English and minister of everything and Novapay Steven Joyce — has done its best to avoid acknowledging that threat to New Zealand agriculture. The reason is simple enough. If you don’t understand the issue — or you don’t want to understand the issue — then you can’t design sensible policy to deal with it. Bill and Steven and their friends are locked into a bubble of unreality, one they’ve been blowing around themselves since they took power.

There are two ways that every country has to react to the climate problem. First you have to cut carbon emissions, to reduce (and eventually stop, then reverse) future warming. But cutting emissions is not enough. The world won’t stop warming as soon as emissions start dropping. That will only happen when atmospheric carbon levels stop increasing, and the planet comes back into thermal equilibrium.

The bad news is that there’s a lag built in to the system. It will take around 30 years to see temperatures stabilise, because the oceans have to catch up with the warming effect of all the extra greenhouse gases. In other words, continued warming cannot be avoided.

What does this mean? It’s straightforward enough for any politician to understand. Warming is going to continue for the foreseeable future. 30 years plus the time it takes the world to put a lid on atmospheric carbon. At a guess, I’d say 60 years, though we could probably cut that by a couple of decades if we took the sort of wartime action on emissions that is nowhere on the international horizon at the moment.

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If we forget all about reducing emissions — or just accept that nothing we do in New Zealand is going to do much to change the big picture — then that still leaves the country with a very big challenge. We will have to adapt to all the climate changes that take place over the next 60 years whatever happens.

We will have to work out how to cope with increasing frequencies of intense drought, more flooding, sea level rise and ecosystem changes. That’s no small challenge, and yet there’s precious little sign that this government is taking it seriously. English says that the government will not be able to support farmers thorough droughts for ever, and that they will have to change their farming systems to adapt. That’s certainly true. But where is the joined-up thinking on this issue? By keeping agriculture out of the emissions trading scheme, the government effectively subsidises high emissions agriculture — dairy farmers, that’s you — which is also the highest user of water.

Whatever warming brings for New Zealand, we will also have to adapt to the effect that climate change has on the rest of the world. NZ Inc is now so tightly linked into the global economy that economic disruption in our key markets will hit us hard.

The answer, for the future well-being of both agriculture and our economy — not to mention the welfare of the people of this place — is to develop resilience. We have to build an economy that can cope with the extremes that warming will bring, that eases the transition from cool climate to warm climate agricultural practises, from high water use systems to water conservation. We need to focus on building and maintaining a truly local economy that delivers good lives for New Zealanders whatever disasters and economic shocks happen here or overseas.

Unfortunately, inside Bill & Steven’s bubble global warming is sort-of-real, but it isn’t serious. The government can pay lukewarm lip service to the need for action without doing anything really inconvenient. It believes it can get away without doing anything that might upset its big backers or trample on right wing ideology. This is a huge mistake, and a radical miscalculation. The government is betting all our futures on its mistaken judgement of the risks that climate change presents to the country.

We urgently need to burst their bubble.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Governments lie continuously in order to promote the short term interests of corporations and money-lenders. That is the system.

    A good example of the level of fuckwitsm that prevails in NZ is Gary Bedford, the so-called environment officer for Taranaki Regional Council, who declared that ‘climate change will be good for Taranaki’ [because, in his opinion, higher rainfall and higher temperatures would stimulate grass growth and increase profits for farmers]. Of course, like most council officials, Gary is an unqualified, incompetent fool, a yes-man for corporate dysfunction.

    Needless to say, we have unqualified, incompetent fools at all levels of government -council officers, council CEOs, mayors, MPs, government ministers. The one thing they all have in common, (apart form being unqualified and incompetent) is that that all promote ECONOMIC GROWTH, economic growth at any cost, including their own children’s futures via death of the planet.

    I have presented irrefutable scientific evidence relating to the meltdown (energetic, financial and environmental) to local councils for the past decade. And they totally ignore all the evidence and do exactly what they intended to do before asking for public submissions, i.e. carry on wrecking the environment, and squandering energy and resources.

    The really interesting aspect is that Industrial Civilisation is rapidly destroying everything that Industrial Civilisation needs to exists -cheap and abundant energy, high purity minerals, fresh water supplies, a stable atmospheric environment, a stable oceanic environment etc. So Industrial Civilisation is bound to collapse. Indeed, the process is underway.

    However, since governments (all bought-and-paid-for) are utterly desperate to maintain the bankers’ Ponzi scheme, based on Fractional Reserve Banking and interest, governments will remain in total denial of everything connected with energy and the environment until it is far too late to do anything to prevent total global meltdown.

    And since we live in largely scientifically illiterate society, the average ‘prole’ has no idea about anything of significance. It’s a dumbed-down, Orwellian society, just as ‘the controllers’ intended it to be.

    On the way to catastrophic meltdown expect bigger and bigger lies form the government (whichever party hold the balance of power) and its agencies. And expect faux solutions to the predicament, based on junk science, that will make money for opportunists, speculators and corporations.

    A number of very well informed commentators have noted: until you change the money system you can change nothing about our trajectory to hell. And vested interests will resist to the bitter end any attempt to change the money system; their privileged positions are dependent on maintaining the present system.

    As for the environmental projections in the article, they are way too optimistic. Climate systems do not behave linearly. Positive feedbacks have already been triggered, and they self-amplify and mutually amplify. We are headed into completely unknown territory as far as climate goes. But a pragmatic assessment puts the Earth at largely uninhabitable some time between 2040 and 2080.

  2. Paraphrasing for the real world:-

    “The [good] news is that there’s a lag built in to the system. It [took] around [14] years to see temperatures stabilise, because the oceans have to catch up with the warming effect of [Grand Maximum solar levels]. In other words, continued warming cannot [now continue].”

  3. Areas of NZ have been susceptible to drought ever since Pakeha cleared all the forests. WHY hasn’t more been done to address this problem before. It just seems utterly retarded to have a country reliant on agriculture and to ignore all the things that are necessary to keep that industry thriving.

    Climate Change might finally out the impetus on us to do something about it. But it probably won’t, because of the aforementioned reasons.

    • Why hasn’t anything been done? Because there is more short term profit to be made out of sheep farming and dairying than out of forestry.

      Derrick Jensen put it this way: industrial humans convert forests into deserts.

  4. Here is a small sample of the information our dear leaders have had
    http://oilcrash.com/articles/you_tube.htm

    And Derek Wilson self published this essay http://oilcrash.com/articles/wilson08.htm Derek spent around $5,000 getting 500 copies of this essay printed into a presentable paperback, and along with a copy of Blind Spot http://www.albartlett.org/interviews/blind_spot_movie.html
    And a copy of Albert Bartlet’s talk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umFnrvcS6AQ on easy to use DVDs, he gave them away, starting with John Key and working ‘down’ .

    I gate crashed the Al Gore talk in Auckland, a friend and I gave out 100 booklets, with 16 documentaries on 4 DVDs
    http://oilcrash.com/articles/algore01.htm

    I’m not beating my own drum here, I’m just pointing out some of the facts they have been given.
    And I have seen many more examples from others who have spelt it out to them.

    It is their job to know what not to know.

    • Yes Robert, it’s all carefully managed to ensure that none of the crucial issues of the times are ever mentioned and ensure that everything that matters gets worse.

      Hence, Industrial Civilisation is driving the Sixth Great Extinction Event via CO2 emissions and general environmental destruction, and humanity will become extinct in a matter of decades because it has destroyed the chemical balance of nature. Humanity will become a victim of the greed and stupidity that parliamentarians continuously promote.

      Needless to say, the mainstream media promote death of the planet via outlandish consumption because their profitability depends on denial of reality.

      And the general public are too ignorant and too stupid to see the truth -bought off by the trinkets of consumerism in the short term.

      I wonder how long we will have to wait for NZ to become a ‘Greece’ or a ‘Cyprus’ at the hands of the liars and traitors in parliament. My guess is about three years. But a truly catastrophic drought could bring that timeframe forward.

  5. There is a fancy name for the governments position on this: cognitive dissonance. Admitting climate change on one hand ( you have to, it’s happening under your nose) while denying it on the other (you have to because you want to sell coal and find oil). The result: incoherence.

    As for solar cycles and undersea volcanoes (cosmic rays and the rest of it), what are you going to do with the 30 billion megatons of C02 emitted by the burning of fossil fuels? Forget about it? And how can we be emitting all that C02 without causing global warming, that is the question.

    Imagine global warming as a crime. The murderer stands over the body with bloody knife in hand, while the denier clowns run around looking under rugs for clues as to who dun it. Crazy.

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