Here’s your weekly exercise in the practice of government, as exemplified by New Zealand’s present leadership. Compare and contrast TV One’s breakfast news item earlier this week, reporting that the wild and wacky weather of the last year was likely to continue and get worse as a result of climate change, with the NZ Herald’s item reporting that the government is considering a cut of $10 million in the climate change research budget.
TV One quoted Victoria University’s Professor Dave Frame:
There are good reasons to think these sorts of latitudes are going to get drying on seasonal timescales, there’s also good reason to think there’ll be explosive wet events and violent storms.
More of what we’ve been getting, in other words. More floods, more drought, more extreme storms felling trees and ripping up rail lines and roads.
Meanwhile, how is our government planning to deal with this issue? By cutting $10 million from climate change research funding.
Treasury documents showed that Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has recommended scaling back funding for Climate Change Research Grants by $2 million in the next financial year, $3.75 million in 2014/15 and $4.25 million in 2015/16. This would reduce the pool of funding from nearly $10 million a year to $4.5 million a year by 2016.
As climate change impacts get steadily worse, the government plans to cut spending on how New Zealand might cope. Worse, the Herald reports that associate minister Jo Goodhew wants the money they do spend to be “more closely aligned with current Government policy — in particular the Business Growth Agenda, the Primary Growth Partnership and the Sustainable Farming Fund”.
The transparent idiocy of wanting to align climate science research — research which will be essential in helping this country to ride out the impacts of a climate system gone wild — with the government’s pro-fossil fuel and agribusiness agenda seems to have escaped Treasury, Goodhew and her boss Nathan Guy.
We need to be spending more money on understanding what climate change will deliver to New Zealand, not less. This mindless penny-pinching, from a government quite happy to spend hundreds of millions on promoting the privatisation of national power assets, betrays a deep and continuing failure to understand the threat that’s looming. History will judge them harshly for their wilful ignorance and strategic incompetence.