Facing the future – no Bridges too far

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sbridges

It’s deja vu all over again. Every time that I think the current New Zealand government couldn’t possibly divorce itself any further from reality, they manage it.

This time it’s climate and energy minister Simon Bridges — a man who presides over emissions policy settings that are set to double NZ carbon emissions instead of his own government’s goal of halving them — who achieved the feat. At the National Energy Research Institute’s Energy Conference in Wellington last week, Bridges told Professor Ralph Sims, a respected academic, IPPC lead author and expert on energy systems, that he had “read a lot of books” about climate change, and that if Sims spent 15 minutes with him he might learn something. Apart from the breathtaking chutzpah involved in a politician trained as a lawyer pretending to know more than an acknowledged expert in the field, it is one more example of how the modern breed of right wing politicians deals with evidence that’s inconvenient to their ideology. You can ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist, pretend there’s other evidence that supports your position, or you can belittle the inconvenient messenger. But there’s no need to actually do anything. Or is there?

The energy conference provided a useful platform for the Royal Society of New Zealand to launch its latest “information paper”, titled Facing the Future: Towards a Green Economy for New Zealand (Full PDF, infographic). The RSNZ is not a body that has the luxury of ignoring reality. Its members have made careers out of exploring new knowledge, and applying facts to manipulate the world. Without the expertise inherent to the RSNZ, embodied in people like Ralph Sims, there would be no science in New Zealand, though there would undoubtedly still be politicians like Bridges. When the RSNZ has something to say, it is worth listening.

Facing the future looks at how New Zealand might move towards a low-emissions, sustainable economy that can at the same time deliver a good standard of living for the people living here. The challenges are not unique to NZ, but we are very well placed to make such a transition, being small, blessed with plenty of renewable energy sources, and already making good collaborative progress in some areas.

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Unfortunately, just about every policy lever the government can pull is currently set in exactly the wrong direction. Instead of incentivising renewable developments, Bridges and his team are subsidising oil and gas exploration. Instead of cutting carbon emissions, we’re on course to double them. Instead of planting forests, we’re chopping them down to make bigger dairy farms that add to our emissions and pollute our streams, rivers and groundwater. Instead of thinking about sustainable development, we’re encouraging mining for coal and minerals. When Bridges talks about an “all of the above” energy policy, this is what he means.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. Consider the RSNZ’s suggested ways of “implementing change”:

  • There is a need to engage the public and businesses in creating a vision for a resilient and prosperous future
  • New Zealand should establish strong research collaborations to support green innovation, and foster ways to incentivise and grow the production of low-carbon goods and services, improve efficiency, and manage demand
  • Long-term investments are needed in innovation, trialling new approaches, and supporting collaborations, in areas such as land use, energy supply and efficiency, transport and housing
  • The path to a green economy requires a well-informed and stable policy environment, especially for issues at the interface between economic development and environmental protection

To me, and I would think a majority of New Zealanders, all of the above might seem eminently sensible. But to a government that seems to find the mere mention of the word green to be anathema, it probably looks like a recipe for disaster, despite the RSNZ’s efforts to paint the exercise in words that won’t scare the blue horses.

Apart from a section of the paper where the RSNZ suggests moving away from crude measures of economic activity like GDP towards indices of human satisfaction, the last bullet point is perhaps the most telling from a political standpoint. A stable policy environment in an MMP parliament means building a robust consensus around long term action, and for the transition the RSNZ wants to see the country embark on, long term means decades.

Does that have to be pie in the parliamentary sky? I don’t think so. Green policy is 100 percent compatible with the approach laid out in Facing the future, and Labour policy — if it could only break its inherited obsession with GDP growth for growth’s sake — is not far from it. There are probably National MPs — though not the current leadership — who might be persuaded that building a resilient and rewarding country for future generations makes for good politics.

Put all that together, and there are encouraging signs that the time might be right for a national conversation on the issues raised by the RSNZ. The Pure Advantage group have been beavering away behind the scenes, putting the business case for a move to a greener economy, while the Wise Response group are petitioning parliament to start the process. And a motley crew of creatives and comedians are promising to give the issue a higher cultural profile. Perhaps a groundswell is building that will blow away the flimsy conceits that stand in for reality in the minds of right wing politicians. We can but hope.

110 COMMENTS

  1. Gareth,
    I think in the second paragraph there is a “Chapman” when perhaps you meant “Sims”? Good post.

    • Well spotted, now fixed. That’s what I get for finishing a post at midnight, but it is obviously unfair that there should be two Professor Ralphs working on climate issues in NZ…

  2. Is the RSNZ now a political lobbying organisation?

    I was under the naive impression it somehow represented science and scientists

    • I think the RSNZ assumes that the resources on earth are finite.
      This might be difficult for you to take in Andys, but science claims that long term, neoliberal economics is impossible.

      • Bingo, I win

        I like playing “neoliberal bingo” to see how long it is before someone mentions the N word here,

        • Yes, AndyS, you “win”. You win the award for being a prize twat.

          I love how you, Gosman, and Intrinsicvalue demonstrate in plain english how idiotic and inane you right wingers truly. (No wonder I changed my political leanings as I grew up.)

          • Thanks Frank, I apprecIate the prize twat moniker!
            Now how many more times will commenters prattle on about neo liberal economics without the slightest clue what it means?

            Yours sincerely, a prize twat

            • Come on Andys, what evidence do you have that I don’t know what neoliberalism is? Are you trying to deflect from my original point that are earth cannot sustain neoliberalism?

              Feel free to show us how.

              As for defining neoliberalism, here you go…
              I view neoliberalism as a socio-economic ideology that promotes a form of capitalism which is more individualised than social democracy. It still maintains a residual form of welfare, but it uses it to stigmatise rather than provide. It claims to encourage and provide a ‘small government’ but it does neither; government contracts are privatised and cronyism is a key part of this. Individual responsibility pervades every aspect of society, except of course for those in the top 10% who get socialised support and insurance when they take risks and fail. Neoliberalism puts a price on almost everything, and that’s why it’s incompatible with environmental sustainability. The neoliberal system sustains itself on ignorant discourses which are perpetuated by simpletons such as yourself Andys. Neoliberalism is a system that ensures we all lose, even you Andys, you just don’t realise it

              • Dear Fatty, as a simpleton, as you describe, I appreciate your considered response.

                What you describe as neo liberalism also goes by the names corporatism. It is, as you suggest, an idealogy that favours corporates over individuals, and in fact is a long way from capitalism in its pure form.

                Big corporate and big government tends to feed off each other, pushing out small business. A good example is the EU where overbearing regulation is only sustainable for large companies.

                These phenomena are criticized by the libertarian right, as well as the social welfarists.

                But what do I know?
                I am just a simpleton. A country bumpkin.

                • AndyS, no neoliberalism “is” capitalism in its pure form, the ayn rand version. And it doesnt work.

                  I see your economics is as bad as your climate science.

                  • Oh I see Nigel, so we have two definitions of neo liberalism,

                    Even Wikipedia suggests multiple meanings.

                    Now you can see why I asked. You can’t even agree on it amongst yourselves.

                    • “You can’t even agree on it amongst yourselves”

                      Did you really expect everyone who posts on here to have the same definition of a contestable concept?

                      Your stupidity knows no bounds

                    • So hang on Fatty, you were smugly telling me that you know what neo liberalism is and now you are telling me that it is contestible
                      So when a person on this blog refers to neo liberalism, can I assume that it may mean anything depending on the person who wrote the comment?

                • AndyS –

                  “A good example is the EU where overbearing regulation is only sustainable for large companies. ”

                  Interesting that you used the European Union as your example, and not the US or UK.

                  Is that because the EU is the favourite “whipping boy/girl” of the Right?

                  Because if you want an example of corporatism and crony capitalism, then when it comes to subsidies and bailouts, the United States must rank as Numero Uno.

                  Then again, our own National Party isn’t that far behind, either.

                  I look forward to a Labour-led government giving hundred million dollar tax-breaks and $30 million in cash to the trade union movement, as Key has done for Hollywood and Rio Tinto.

                  That’s fair, isn’t it?

                  • I picked the EU because I am British and I follow the euro sceptic movement closely.

                    Not the Farage clown show, the proper euro sceptic movement.

                    However, you are correct that the USA is heading the same way as the EU with the likes of the EPA etc.

      • No party of left or right are ditching the concept of economic growth. So it seems it isn’t just the neo-liberals you disagree with.

          • Not at all Frank. Too often I have seen comments from people advocating a zero-growth approach as if it is the only logical and rational approach to the subject of protecting the environment. This is an extreme idea and one that is not just opposed by people from he right of the political spectrum but also by pretty much all the major political parties in New Zealand. David Cunliffe is certainly not proposing this approach and neither is Hone Harawira or The Greens. Do you support a zero-growth approach?

            • Gosman, Im not a believer in zero growth, just sensible growth with environmental safeguards.

              However we may be heading towards zero growth regardless of what policy strategy we take, due to the nature of the planets resources and the economics of growth. How will you deal with that?

                • Maybe all the proponents of zero growth can set the bar by refusing any pay rises and not buying a new computer or phone for 10 years.

                  • Maybe all the proponents of zero growth can set the bar by refusing any pay rises…

                    AndyS, you mean like the National Party?

                    Key this morning acknowledged there were problems with rural rest homes workers paying for their own travel, effectively reducing their wage below the minimum wage of $13.50 an hour.

                    “Travel is one of those areas where we are looking at what we can do,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.

                    However, the Government could not afford to give DHBs the $140 million required to enable rest homes to pay their staff more.

                    “It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash. As the country moves back to surplus it’s one of the areas we can look at but I think most people would accept this isn’t the time we have lots of extra cash.

                    Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/6999480/PM-No-money-for-aged-care-workers

                    Meanwhile, in the same year (2012),

                    MPs will receive a 1.9 per cent pay increase, the Remuneration Authority confirmed this afternoon.

                    The salary increases are deemed to have come into effect on July 1 this year meaning MPs will receive back pay for the last six months. That works out to $1400 for backbench MPs and $3895 for the Prime Minister.

                    The increase takes a backbench MP’s base pay from $141,800 a year to $144,600 while Prime Minister John Key’s pay goes from $411,510 to $419,300.

                    Source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10855348

                    Nil pay increases for the lowest paid workers in this country – whilst Key’s salary goes from $411,510 to $419,300 pa.

                    So, you were saying?!

                  • Gosman says:
                    March 27, 2014 at 1:03 pm

                    I disagree with the zero growth hypothesis, as does most of the political parties in New Zealand.

                    Well, bully for you.

                    Nice to know you believe in something. Even if it is related to your consumerist/neo-liberal ideology which, in the long term, is unsustainable.

                    But that’s not your problem, eh?

                    ANDYS says:
                    March 27, 2014 at 5:51 pm

                    Maybe all the proponents of zero growth can set the bar by refusing any pay rises and not buying a new computer or phone for 10 years.

                    So far, AndyS, it’s only you and Gosman wittering on about “zero growth”No one else is banging on about it.

                    Why is that?

                    Straw man argument?

                    Run out of ideas?

                    Picking on a non-issue?

                    All of the above.

                • Probably be zero growth if we run out of resources to do the growth thing. Read any NASA reports lately?

                • Gosman,
                  The mathematical facts of exponential growth can’t, and therefore don’t, care if you or others disagree with a “zero growth hypothesis”. It is what it is, although you continue to refuse to see that.

    • I love how the ideological can come out with the most ridiculous remarks. Indeed Andys, scientists have been know to lobby for facts, truth and such. Or are you all for stringing them up or making them drink hemlock?

      • The RSNZ is clearly pushing a left wing political agenda, supported by some long debunked Club of Rome neo-Mathusianism.

        We are supposed to replace GDP with a “happiness” quota.
        What a load of tosh.
        Thanks to RSNZ pseudo-science that predicts up to 2m of sea level rise in Christchurch over the next 100 years, the people of ChCh will have to fork out millions to comply with unnecessary building codes that protect against computer-generated imagined threat.

        The serfs will toil away for many more years than needed to pay for these extra building regulations, and can drop dead still working at 75, with their “happiness quota” exhausted.

        I am very glad to leave that behind.

        • Onya Andys. What would the Royal Society and it’s NZ counterpart know about shit. Bunch of commies I reckon. They supported some heretic back in the day, even 20 years before he was infamous:
          “What’s wonderful about his {Darwin} becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society is that it came twenty years before the publication of On the Origin of Species (1859) while he was still sorting, distributing and thinking about his specimen collections from the Beagle voyage. Darwin’s potential for scientific achievement was recognised.”

          Stupid, thinking plonkers aye andys. All this stuff about finite resources and out need to change the economic paradigm.. bah humbug – Creationism rulz and so does greed.

          [Snipped. Keep it a little more polite, please. GR]

        • I would just like to thank AndyS for another marvellous, multipurpose comment. He succeeds in giving me a good laugh while nicely proving the point of my post. If ever there was a postcard from la la land, Andy would be the one to send it.

        • “Thanks to RSNZ pseudo-science that predicts up to 2m of sea level rise in Christchurch over the next 100 years, the people of ChCh . . . . ”

          Rushing out to buy up some of those seaside properties as “an investment in the future”, are you, ANDYS?

          • No we have abandoned our seaside property in chch and have had a full insurance payout

            We are currently renting it out to a Green Party voter, though

        • AndyS, provide some quote from their research paper that supports your absurd contention of a left wing agenda.

          If renewable energy is left wing maybe we should all be more left wing.

            • Gosman since when was some zero growth strategy left wing? Please get real, it’s just a talking point about resources and planetary limits.

              You are confusing science and economic ideology. Is evolution left wing? How about nuclear physics?

              • It may be incorrect to refer to zero growth as left wing in the traditional sense, because Marx believed in promoting wealth and empowering the working class.

                The modern left has embraced Mathusianism and the junk science and economics of The Club of Rome, whose manifesto Limits to Growth has been debunked from multiple fronts.

                This is why the modern left have no interest to the general public. They are a ragtag bunch of academics and activists who have no undertanding of human nature, and take an arrogant technocratic approach to imposing control on others.

                Academia seems to be unaware that it is becoming increasingly irrelevant in the modern world. Thought and study has been liberated by the internet

                • AndyS there is no junk science or left wing agenda in attempting to estimate resource limits.Thats all the club of rome did. Only a fool thinks the planet is infinite.

            • Gosman says:
              March 27, 2014 at 1:08 pm

              What about a zero growth strategy?

              What about it?

              If you’re going to support zero growth strategy perhaps you should explain why?

    • AndyS; science and scientists do not live in an Alternative Reality. They live here, in this world, and they have a few pertinent things to say about the way we are trashing our planet.

      • I beg to disagree with that Frank. Having spent more than my fair share of time at universities in the company of academics, I would suggest that they spend a lot of their time in an alternative reality

        It is nice to see them recycling though. In this case, recycling 40 year old Club of Rome material that has been long debunked.

        Finite resources does not imply zero growth. We can use resources more efficiently, or find resources that are abundant (like Thorium, for example)

        The internet is an example of how you can create economic growth with minimal use of resources.

        • “The internet is an example of how you can create economic growth with minimal use of resources”

          Have you any idea how much power is consumed by internet users?
          Have you any idea of the resources consumed by the manufacture of computers

          Obviously not.

          • Yes you use power for the internet. Lots of it. That is not the point.

            The point is that you can transact a lot of business from the internet without leaving your home.

            In fact that is how I make my living.

            However, maybe the zero growth people want to restrict internet usage.

            I guess they really do hate humanity

        • The Malthusians often bring up the topic of population control, which is a natural extension of the “zero growth” concept.

          That hasn’t worked out too well in the past

          • ANDYS says:
            March 27, 2014 at 11:15 am

            The Malthusians often bring up the topic of population control, which is a natural extension of the “zero growth” concept.

            That hasn’t worked out too well in the past

            And yet, AndyS, any fool can comprehend that a planet with a finite surface (total land surface area: 148,940,000 sq km) can accomodate only a finite number of people.

            Surely, you can understand that simple reality? Hmmm?

            • Yes, obviously a finite planet can only accommodate a finite number of people.

              We are a very long way from filling up the planet with people. History shows us that by lifting people out of poverty and improving their well being and health, population actually declines, paradoxically

              This is what we see in the west, where many countries are breeding at less than replacement rate.

              Third world countries have higher birth rates. Holding them down from gaining prosperity is not only a crime against humanity, but it doesn’t solve any actual problems.

              • We are a very long way from filling up the planet with people.

                Actual research indicates that we’re between 5 billion and 6 billion too many people.

        • AndyS as cheaper mineral deposits are exhausted, growth will become harder. This is already happening.

          The only thing that could boost growth is fusion power, a massive cheap power source, but this is experimental and very unlikely.

          The internet is a temporary boost to growth that simply makes knowledge easier to access. Its probably already almost at its peak.

          We are on track for a low growth economy, whether we like it or not.

          • Why is no political party in NZ pointing this out then? The Greens certainly aren’t. They are still pushing the whole “Green Growth” meme with a vengeance.

            • Gosman, pushing what? Fusion power? Did you not read my comment, this is an extremely unlikely form of power in the distant future at best.

              Right now green energy makes plenty of sense for NZ given we have numerous sources of renewable electricity such as wind, tidal, geothermal, solar, etc.

            • Gosman says:
              March 27, 2014 at 1:08 pm

              Why is no political party in NZ pointing this out then? The Greens certainly aren’t. They are still pushing the whole “Green Growth” meme with a vengeance.

              So is China, Gosman.

              China is committed to achieving a green economy. The 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) aimed to increase consumption of renewable energy sources. Total investment in treating environmental pollution increased 15% annually and environmental investment reached 1.33% of GDP by 2009…

              […]

              In the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), the seven major targets for 2015 are reducing pollutant emissions; improving drinking water sources and quality; controlling pollution caused by hazardous chemicals and dangerous wastes; improving urban environmental infrastructure operations; reversing ecological deterioration; improving nuclear safety; and enhancing environmental regulatory institutions. Environmental goals include reducing carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 17% and energy consumption per unit of GDP by 16%, as well as increasing forest coverage to 21.66%.

              The government intends to strengthen prevention and control of environmental risks and improve environmental public services. The Plan states that “the central government will provide increased financial support, through measures as general fiscal transfers and ecological compensation, to improve environmental public services in western regions, areas prohibited or restricted for development and other disadvantaged areas. Local governments at all levels should guarantee expenditure on environmental public services”.

              To support environmental protection, the Plan calls for environmental tax reform and improving the waste disposal fee system. The government will establish a credit rating system for enterprises’ environmental behaviours, build a green rating system in banks, and explore mechanisms for earmarked funds for national ecological compensation. Investment of around RMB 3.4 trillion will be needed for environmental protection.

              Source: OECD, http://www.oecd.org/china/greengrowthinactionchina.htm

              Must be good for business (as well as the planet’s biosphere), eh?

              Or doesn’t something have any value for your neo-liberal morons unless there is an immediate dollar-return to shareholders?!

              What you forget, is that future generations are also shareholders, Gosman, and unless we start to change our consumerist, poilluting ways, the “dividend” we leave will be zero. Or negative.

              Ponder that (if you can).

              • I think you missed the point there Frank. I’m not critising the concept of green growth. I’m pointing out it is at odds with people who push the zero growth strategy. You are aware of the concept of zero growth aren’t you?

              • Or doesn’t something have any value for your neo-liberal morons unless there is an immediate dollar-return to shareholders?!

                One thing that’s become clear reading Mazzacuto’s The Entreprenuerial State is that capitalists don’t do anything unless they can get massive windfall profits from it. A lot of the innovation that comes out of the US is funded by the US federal and state governments for decades. At the IPO of those innovative companies that the government has been funding the VCs suddenly pop up and make millions in overnight profits. As they’re all going through tax havens and other dodgy tax structures the government doesn’t even get the taxes from them.

            • AndyS thorium is not a developed, established form of power generation, it’s still experimental and expensive.

              Until it is we should look to renewables and green energy. Try and stay in tune with reality.

              • The Chinese are on an aggressive 10 year timescale to commercialize LFTR reactors.

                In 20 years they will have solved the worlds emissions problem and NZ will just be one of their dairy blocks.

                • The Chinese are also looking at Green technology, AndyS;

                  “China is committed to achieving a green economy. The 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) aimed to increase consumption of renewable energy sources. Total investment in treating environmental pollution increased 15% annually and environmental investment reached 1.33% of GDP by 2009.”

                  Green growth in action: China

                    • It’s just as renewable as fossil fuels and uranium which kinda puts it into the non-viable generation tech.

                    • Your beloved windmills last 15 to 20 years max, require large amounts of concrete and steel, and need backing up with fossil fuel generation.

                      Most of these piles of junk I see in the UK are not turning because they are broken.

                      But hey Draco, since you intend to dispatch 6 billion people you won’t need much energy will you?

                      Give us a call when you have hatched you master plan

                    • Your beloved windmills last 15 to 20 years max, require large amounts of concrete and steel,

                      Yeah, so? Doesn’t matter what generation capital that we build, it’s going to last about 20 years and use large amount of concrete and steel. And, yes, that applies to nuclear reactors as well. Fukushima should have been closed down 20 years ago.

                      and need backing up with fossil fuel generation.

                      No they don’t especially here in NZ as hydro and geo-thermal backs it up quite nicely. Solar will help as well.

                • AndyS when the Chinese have proven thorium power works properly we might look at it. We dont want another think big energy disaster, with some billion dollar power station.

                  Right now wind power can be built in small modules and is surprisingly economic in nz. Or geothermal power.

                • The Chinese are on an aggressive 10 year timescale to commercialize LFTR reactors.

                  In 20 years they will have solved the worlds emissions problem and NZ will just be one of their dairy blocks.

                  Andy is saying a communist command economy is going to save the planet’s emission problem.

                  Andy is also saying a communist command economy is going to subjugate NZ economic sovereignty. The very same economy that is run and protected by the almighty and invincible market.

                  Andy seems quite sure which system delivers the results.

                  • Yes sounds good to me. At least the Chinese get on with stuff.

                    Let’s ditch democracy, it clearly doesn’t work

        • So let me get this straight, AndyS.

          You deride science when it conflicts with your worldview.

          But you hold up internet is an example of how you can create economic growth with minimal use of resources.

          You do realise that the internet is the result of the march of science, leading to more advanced technology?

          If scientists have come to the conclusion that we are polluting our atmosphere, then they obviously have the data to back it up.

          You, on the other hand, have only your ideology.

          If it weren’t for scientists speaking out, we would have irrevocably damaged the Ozone Hole with CFCs, and made life on this planet harder to sustain.

          But if you’re that dead-set against science, so be it. Switch off your computer; disconnect your internet; and go move into a cave with stone tools, animal skins, and not much else.

          You’ll never be bothered by scientists again.

          • There is no conclusive evidence that humans did any serious damage to stratospheric ozone.

            I am not against science. But most modern Science is agenda driven.

            • Rubbish. You appear prepared to believe anything you’re told by people “on your side”, while rejecting straightforward evidence. This “ozone denial” is something S Fred Singer specialised in for a while, before moving on the next lucrative target…

            • AndyS, so ok the ozone issue isn’t 100% proven. There is no 100% conclusive evidence tobacco causes cancer, so have a cigarette. Im sure you will be perfectly safe.

              You are claiming the chemists that did the original ozone research are actually making it up, to push some agenda? Like do you always believe in fairy tales? Does defamation and slandering scientists come naturally to you?

              • I have seen the “evidence” for ozone damage and it is pretty thin and speculative.
                Certainly the alarmism was completely over the top.

                Just like every other environmental scare over the last 100 years

                • AndyS, the scientific community seems to think the evidence on ozone is fairly solid.

                  You say every environmental scare has been alarmist? Asbestos, have you seen what that actually does to people?

                  Ever looked into the Thames river and the staggering levels of pollution, fortunately now cleaned up.

                  Are you aware of the smog’s over London and Los Angeles in the 1950s that killed thousands? This led to vehicle exhaust emission controls.

                  I think you are the one making extreme denialist claims Andy.

                  • Yes I am aware of the smog in La and London, and in Christchurch too. These were or are real environmental problems that have been sorted to some degree or other.
                    The asbestos issue is. More complex because there are bad forms of asbestos and some more benign forms.
                    However, this started a multi billion dollar industry fixing the benign form as well as the bad form.

  3. Presumably he claims that he reads books to distinguish himself from other national Ministers

  4. There is something happening in the debates about climate change. The climate change denial lobby seem to be changing their tune somewhat. Instead of denying the facts about climate change, they are starting to acknowledge it but far from being worried about it, they are actually welcoming it. There seem to be reports coming here and there giving a National Party-like spin to climate change in NZ, crowing about higher temperatures so we can grow more sub tropical foods here, the possibility of tropical fish living around our coasts and the reduced use of energy to keep warm in the winter. What they don’t talk about, of course, are the negative effects. Disrupted and unreliable rain fall, the possibility of more tropical pests like fruitflies becoming established here, new diseases, higher coastal erosion from higher sea levels, some fruits that rely on a cold wintering period such as grapes no longer being grown here (bang would go our wine industry). Are the right becoming the new champions of climate change?

    • Which “facts” about climate change are people denying?

      Climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2? Is that 1.5 degrees C or 4.5 degrees C?

      The myriad of reasons for the 17 year “pause” in global mean surface temps?

      Any others of these so-called “facts”?

        • Climate change has been happening for 4.5 billion years, and humans have had some influence on that climate ever since we started chopping down trees to make room for pasture thousands of years ago.

          Lindzen said that statements like “climate change is actually happening” are “trivially true but essentially meaningless”

          • AndyS there is a theory humans started warming the climate thousands of years ago due to deforestation for farming.Google Ruddiman.

            Burning fossil fuels has accelerated the process.

          • I fully expected you to revert to the standard right-wing line: Oh yes, climate change is happening, but it is a natural thing, humans haven’t made it any worse, it would have happened anyway. Probably read it straight from the National Party election manifesto.

              • As I’ve pointed out before on numerous occassions (and which you, AndyS, Gosman, ands Intrinsicvalue have no comeback), organic life has already impacted on the planet’s atmosphere at least twice in Earth’s history;

                First time, cyanobacteria changed the atmosphere from methane, to releasing oxygen, (approx) 3.5 billion years ago;

                “The cyanobacteria have also been tremendously important in shaping the course of evolution and ecological change throughout earth’s history. The oxygen atmosphere that we depend on was generated by numerous cyanobacteria photosynthesizing during the Archaean and Proterozoic Era. Before that time, the atmosphere had a very different chemistry, unsuitable for life as we know it today. “

                http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/bacteria/cyanofr.html

                More here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/earth/earth_timeline/first_life

                Second time, during the 2oth Century, when humans nearly destroyed the Ozone Layer by the release of chloroflourocarbons into the atmosphere. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozone_depletion

                Organic life not only has an effect on the atmosphere, it can radically alter it.

                The evidence is there. You just have to set your quasi-religious rightwing views and open your eyes. Honestly, it’s not that hard to do.

                • Frank
                  IPCC wg2 has just been published and they massively downplay the economic cost of climate change.

                  Do we hear about that in the media?
                  Why not?

                    • Previous reports – notably the hugely influential 2006 Stern Review – have put the costs to the global economy caused by ‘climate change’ at between 5 and 20 percent of world GDP.

                      But the latest estimates, to be published by Working Group II of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, say that a 2.5 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures by the end of the century will cost the world economy between just 0.2 and 2 percent of its GDP.

      • AndyS, most climate sensitivity papers point in the middle of the range. Not sure why you would go for an extreme. You are a bright guy but unless you have a physics degree and have read all these papers,it’s better to respect the majority view. Dont gamble on some low sensitivity figure being correct.

        The pause has been well explained by a combination of low sunspots and a change in ocean currents / cycles. The pause is temporary, and only reflects in land temperatures. The oceans continue to warm and the greenhouse effect is continuing to increase from satellite data on the upper atmosphere energy balance.

        • In IPCC AR4 the range of ECS was 2 – 4.5 degrees C with a central estimate of 3 degrees C

          In IPCC AR5 they gave a range of 1.5 degrees C to 4.5 degrees C with no central estimate

          Recent studies using mainly empirical data have estimated low climate sensitivity. Some of the problems with the IPCC estimates of high sensitivity are due to incorrect values for aerosol forcing, inappropriate use of Bayesian methods, etc.

          This is all covered in the Lewis/Crok meta study, which has no doubt been “debunked” by now

          • AndyS, Most studies on climate sensitivity are towards the middle of the range. What part of that dont you understand?

            Latest studies doesn’t mean “correct”. The studies on low sensitivity rely on very short term trends, so are very suspect. These studies have been heavily criticised by the climate science community.

            • The bit of it I don’t understand are these studies that use empirical evidence to suggest low senstivity

              Since you haven’t cited any papers I can’t comment on what you refer to.

                • Frank, I bought a book on Bayesian statistics on the recommendation of Nic Lewis, who has co authored papers on climate sensitivity.

                  So I get a little bit peeved when I get accused of being ignorant and ideological

                  I am open to ideas, but no one has linked me to these recent studies of mid to high sensitivity.

                  I think these are based on paleo and computer models,

                  I my book, empirical evidence is the more appropriate tool, as Richard Feymann has famously quoted.

                  • Andys says:
                    March 29, 2014 at 12:08 pm

                    Frank, I bought a book on Bayesian statistics on the recommendation of Nic Lewis, who has co authored papers on climate sensitivity.

                    I’m sure a few million copies of that book will be extremely useful…

                    … As part of defensive earthworks against rising sea levels.

                    • Frank, there has been zero sea level rise in Christchurch for the last 10 years, so it is not something I am particularly worried about.

                      What I worry about is how future generations will pay for massive debt we have accumulated when we propose zero growth.

                      In effect, you condemn our children and their children to perpetual debt slavery.

                      They will not thank our generation for this.

                • It has been “debunked” by skeptical science.

                  Why doesn’t that surprise me?
                  Like night follows day, a study that doesn’t fit the narrative gets promptly “debunked”

                  • AndyS, try reading the article. The debunking of the low sensitivity paper is very compelling, and there are links to other debunkings by other scientists.

                    The website also looks at the full range of other studies, so give a nice overview, unlike the one sided nonsense on wattsup.

                    I think climate sensitivity is highly likely to be in the middle, on what we have so far.

                    I think its unwise to rely just on empirical evidence, unless its very sound empirical evidence, not short term trend stuff like this study. Better to look at the full range of evidence paleo, empirical, theory, modelling etc.

                    • You think that climate sensitivity is “highly likely” to be in the middle

                      That is not the IPCC position, they don’t ascribe any likely estimate

    • Rob Painting, agreed Simon Bridges sceptical opinions on climate science are arrogant, badly informed, ideologically driven stupidity. That’s being kind to him.

  5. To me, and I would think a majority of New Zealanders, all of the above might seem eminently sensible. But to a government that seems to find the mere mention of the word green to be anathema

    The government is a reflection of the people. So no.

    • No it’s not. It’s a refection of the rich and powerful with the majority of people ignored.

      • Draco, since you have already told us that you would prefer that the majority of people shouldn’t exist, then this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for you

    • JamesS, This government is not a reflection of the people on environmental issues. The vast majority may well be against this governments environmental position. By analogy the vast majority are against this governments policy on asset sales.

    • James says:
      March 27, 2014 at 11:08 pm

      […]

      The government is a reflection of the people. So no.

      James, the population of New Zealand is approximately 4.4 million people.

      In the 2011 general election, 1,058,638 million voted for National.

      That’s less than 25% of the population voted for National.

      So, to correct your statement; The government is a reflection of a quarter of the People.

      Puts it into perspective, eh?

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