Reasons not to be cheerful, Part #272b



Why don’t you get back into bed? The next few years — the rest of this century — are not going to be pretty. There is an obvious disconnect between any remaining political ambition to fix climate change and the dreary reality of rising temperatures and melting ice. The grim physics of warming means that the next 30 years of warming is already locked, loaded and about to be fired.

This year is on target to be the warmest year in the long term record, without the nudge of an El Niño. Next year, if an El Niño finally turns up, could be even hotter. Record droughts, storms, floods and weather extremes of all sorts are more than on the cards, they’re certainties.

The great ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are more mobile and more prone to melt than we thought. The impact of rising sea levels will be obvious everywhere within a decade. The acidification of the oceans caused by their absorption of the greater part of the carbon dioxide we emit will stress ocean ecosystems at the same time as overfishing ruins them.

And while all this stares our civilisation in the face, the NZ government can only promise to “continue to focus on managing New Zealand’s emissions”, and work towards an international deal which it proposes should have no teeth.

The only consolation, should there be one, is that at some point — sooner rather than later, one hopes — the impacts of climate change will be so obvious, and so dire, that governments have no option but to act. By then it will be too late to prevent a great deal of damage and suffering. The only way to short cut the process is to build a popular consensus on the need for urgent action, and to make it an issue at the ballot box.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is our challenge for the next three years.

[For the antidote: Ian Dury]

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  1. In the small beachside town where I live there is a new house being built on a very expensive piece of real estate which is barely 2m above sea level. Its just on the dunes, right beside a surf beach. There’s only a pohutukawa tree protecting it from the waves.

    Its still unfinished. Its huge. It must be costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to build, and if it follows a pattern I see here it’s only a holiday home.

    I’m betting winter storms will inundate that house before its finished.

    Which proves to me that the rich are not necessarily smart.

    • I wonder if the owners are over 60? If so, they probably won’t have to live with the worst of what’s to come, and after that, who cares?

      It’s becoming increasingly obvious to me that the elite of the world are just pushing the tipping point into the future, to a time where they themselves won’t have to deal with it.

      I see zero evidence from most politicians that they’re trying to protect the future of this planet – any by extension, the future of their own children.


      • Absolutely right POLITIKIWI.

        The Neo-liberal agenda, to which our government subscribes, has only one predominant aim – which is to shovel more money in the direction of the rich and super-rich.

        The rest of us are just a bit of a nuisance really, but do serve some purpose for the agenda as long as there is still a little bit of money to be made off them.

    • It will be the insurance companies who will eventually bring such people to their senses. Once insurance companies see the writing on the wall (this may already be happening) they will stop insuring houses too close to the sea. And this will be well before the sea level actually rises considerably. Once houses can’t get insurance they will be virtually valueless except to squatters. Prices will slump dramatically almost overnight as people realise there is no point in buying a house in Lyall Bay or the Kapiti Coast, for example, for $500,000 that will lose its value in the following decades. Houses are only bought when there is an expectation of an increase in value.

    • Here in Auckland the notified Auckland Unitary Plan, presently going through many hearing sessions, is providing only for the lower end of projected sea level rises. There is a new report coming out soon, published by the IPCC, which will make for more highly worrying reading. All previous predictions and projections have been too conservative. Indeed as this post says, within the coming decades, the shit can hit the fan really fast, and floods will hit the shores all over the country, and the sea will slowly reclaim land, that is presently still considered safe to build on.

      Planners all over New Zealand, and in other parts of the world, do still largely have their heads stuck in the sand. In Orewa north of Auckland they built apartment blocks just above the maximum flood level and near the beach, which are likely to get flooded in only a few decades.

      All this will make the “leaky home crisis” look like small fries.

      And central government are just as bad as Auckland Council, yes probably worse, they are literally making policy, like building sand castles on the beach-front, about to be washed away very soon.

      There is no shortage of fools, greedy, short sighted opportunists and those often quoted ostriches with their heads dug into the sand.

  2. Gloabally coal is the number one leading cause of climate change.

    James Hansen formerly director of NASA’s Goddard Institute has said: “If we can’t stop coal it is all over for the climate.”

    In Australia Pacifica peoples from some of the nations directly affected by some of the worst effects of climate change have been blockading the coal ships leaving Australia, (profiting from the coal trade with the Chinese market.)

    See story HERE

    You can show your solidarity with the people of the Pacific fighting climate change this weekend at Mangatangi on the holiday Monday

    At 2pm Auckland Coal Action is organising a rally against Fonterra’s plans to develop a new coal mine in this rural North Waikato community, this is line with the Green Party and Mana Movement policy of No New Coal mines.

    If New Zealand can win this principle it will be the first nation in the world to do so. And mark a mile stone in the fight against climate change for other countries to meet. (Especially our near neighbors and Anzac cousins Australia).

    So join the protest at Mangatangi, show the government and Fonterra that “No New Coal Mines” means no new coal mines.

    Details of the protest HERE

  3. Hi,

    Yeah this endless denial and inactivity on the part of governments is growing old fast. And the thing that worries me most is that New Zealand, a country with loads of natural clean energy sources and a relatively clean environment and small population, (ie less to do) is as bad at dealing with it as anyone else.

    But how do you get this to the ballot box? The green party polls at ten to fifteen percent. And we just had an election where the main political themes weren’t even things like child poverty and taxes, but whether our PM was a liar.

    Some days I wonder just what our priorities are as kiwis.

    Cheers, Greg.

    • Therein lies the rub: making the response to climate change an election issue depends on the electorate perceiving it as such. And that won’t happen unless or until the impacts of climate change make it so.

      Political leadership would help, of course, and the failure of this government to react adequately needs to be pointed out and pressure brought to bear, but ultimately it will be undeniable warming – probably expressed in weather extremes – that will get real action moving.

      • I disagree.

        What I think is probably going to happen is that some very rich people are going to realise that they will become much much poorer unless something is done. Once there are enough, they will lean on governments and steps will be taken whether the general public like it or nor.

        Indeed, given political realities, it’s long puzzled me that the environmental lobby hasn’t spent more time lobbying wealthy people and the military, both of whom stand to lose big because of climate change.

      • but ultimately it will be undeniable warming – probably expressed in weather extremes – that will get real action moving. –
        It will take the ignorant masses dying en-mass, when the middle/upper class become the hungry and no future class, then you might see the light go on?
        The only way to reduce future human suffering is to reduce future humans that can suffer, boycott the maternity wards.
        And no politician is going to say “To do anything, we will first have to increase the unemployment to about 80%” full employment = more CO2.
        And lets hear ONE politician say that Kiwi Saver is bullshit, and 100% dependent on the continued destruction of the ‘Kiwi savers’ future. You can’t retire on a dead planet )
        I know earth will not ‘die’ as such for another 4.5 billion years or so, it is just this short human friendly period that has come to an end.

      • Yes, it sadly must come to severe floods washing away hundreds of homes on the seaside, all over the country, for the public to wake up and accept that this is going to be the greatest crisis the human species faces, including New Zealand. Being a nation of islands even makes us immensely more vulnerable, by being so exposed to the sea, to severe storms and floods.

        As fossil fuel is regrettably going to last a few more decades, it will not be the prices at the pump that will send the signal. It will most likely be severe weather events causing billions in damage, and it may include floods, storms and droughts also affecting farming and exports.

        But even when all that happens, there will still be the deniers, going around saying, there have always been periods of extreme weather.

    • I tried to find National’s climate change policy online before the election. They didn’t have one. I wrote a letter to my local newspaper explaining how I had gone about trying to find out National’s climate change policy and that National did not appear to have a policy that voters could read. The ODT (who have published 40 of my letters previously) wrote back saying they would not publish my letter. So much for public discussion of one of the biggest problems of the century!

    • Why do you keep blaming governments? If you want to pay more for everything, you can do this voluntarily

      for example, every time you fill up your car with $100 of petrol, you give $100 to your favourite charity

      Why wait for the government to do it on your behalf?

      • This National government is encouraging increasing fossil fuel extraction- so they ARE to blame for increasing CO2 emissions.

        National are to blame for not having a climate change policy.

        Thanks to inaction on climate change by governments world wide, everyone will be paying more for insurance & food.

        • The Labour Party are also in favour of oil exploration and extraction
          Also, they do have a climate change policy

          You can ring 0800 CLIMATE and ask about it

          • Labour might be slightly better than National re climate change policy, but their support for off-shore drilling clearly shows they are not prepared to take effective action.

  4. The US military are already taking it seriously and factoring it into their scenarios. Insurance companies in Australia are doing the same. It’s becoming hard to get insurance in many coastal areas of NSW, for example..

  5. A bit of good news is there is an exponential growth in solar energy that Al Gore in a recent excellent article in Rolling Stone magazine points out is going the same way as mobile phones. Large scale electricity generation models are being bypassed in third world countries and at the beginning of their death throes in the first world. This is why in the United States big power companies are trying to get some states to put HUGE taxes on anyone who installs solar panels. But Gore says this won’t succeed. According to the article coal fired stations are in many cases being shut down because they are now uneconomic and planned ones are being shelved.

    An interesting question this poses is will New Zealand’s power companies who own major infrastructure like dams see it in their best interest to encourage solar power since it threatens to flood the market with extra power, thereby devaluing their asset.

    • Solar PV makes energy more expensive for those that cannot afford to put PV on their roofs
      It is therefore regressive in nature
      This occurs because the PV generation occurs during the day, yet all electricity consumers require peak load power (unless they are off grid)

      Peak load is the most expensive generation, and it will cost more as revenues during the day are reduced.

  6. Climate change is like ones impending death . We all know it’s going to happen but there’s fuck all we can do about it except live in denial . We’ve fucked it up I’m afraid . I think that the best course of action is to become debt free , come hell or high water ( Oh the irony . ) and up-skill . Learn how to grow things and fix things . You guys , who are in your twenties , you have a long way to go . 50 years more at least of seriously dwindling resources and you live on a land of plenty still . So you’d best buy a gun and learn how to shoot it because there’s also the hoards of climate-change displaced people on the way .

    I say ; let the oceans rise , let the air become too filthy to breath , let billions starve . So what ? At least everybody gets a bargain right ?

    If we’re still too dumb to figure it out . Serves us right . Fuck us all . Our beautiful planet needs a de-lousing anyway .

    If , however , you want to think you might be having a slowing effect on Global Warming ? Kill the Banks off . They’re the ones who drive ‘ Growth ‘ , which is the logic of cancer and the cause of Global Warming . And that’s relatively easy . Don’t do debt .

    Ya know , you guys have to remember that we have aliens in control . We have monsters at the helm . $50 million jonky-stien isn’t going to embark on a noble crusade to slow global warming and he’s The Boss ! Thanks you 48% bastards . Thanks a lot . As for you one million who didn’t vote ? I hope you’re the first to drown in boiling oceans .

    We humans are witnessing a dreadfully slow and fatal cock up unfolding as we drive our SUV’s to the Mall . We’re only just realising how much shit we’ve done in our own nests . Planet Earth however might see our dilemma differently . A vaguely interesting species evolved , prospered , infested , fucked it up and are now gone baby . In the blink of an eye .
    Dinosaurs hung in there for 66 million years . We’ve managed 70 thousand years so far but we did all this damage in the last 254 years , since the Industrial revolution .

    What does that tell you ?

    Yep . We’re fucked . So we might as well enjoy the ride .

    Sack the Banks . Write off mortgage debt . Re Nationalise our assets and get all down and earthy .

    When an artists work is worthless yet a bankster ( ANZ ) can pull in $11,000.00 a day ? You know we’re in trouble .

    Let’s dwell on that Bankster figure . $ 11,000.00 a day . That’s what the average dole payment is for the year . The difference is that the Bankster is a worthless , useless bastard .

    Lets compare the above example to dinosaurs @ 66 million years / Humans @ 70 thousand years .

    Banker @ $11,000.00 A DAY !

    Bennie @ $11,000.00 A YEAR !

    Bankers MAKE Bennies . That is what Bankers …. do .

    Bankers also make the Planet Warmer because growth is their mantra .

    Bennies get colder because the Banker has sold the electricty that gravity makes .

    Who do you think we can most afford ?

    Who do you think does the most damage ?

    Which , of the two choices you have above might make the best compost ?

    Which might be the fattest and most well fed to compost ?

    An $11,000.00 a day Banker ?

    Or an $11,000.00 a year bennie ?

    Figured out who the problem is yet ?

    • I agree but you have missed another highly significant figure. 48% of the electorate party-voted for a National Party that doesn’t care that the Bankers are responsible for our unrepayable debt and wouldn’t know how to fix the problem anyhow. 0.8% party-voted for the Democrats that do know what to do about it and do care.

  7. There is evidence, during the medieval period, that the earth was allot warmer then than now, which would suggest the earth has a natural cycle of warming up and cooling down. However, that’s not to say we aren’t speeding up this process by poisoning our environment with artificial chemicals that upset the natural balance. The earth will survive much hotter temperatures, but we very likely won’t. Throwing money at it, (carbon taxes), won’t do a thing. We need to change our way of life.

    • Libby,
      I think you may find that the warming in the medieval period was only recorded in Europe. I have read that most scientists agree that this warming period was probably not global.

    • Global sea level wasn’t rising during Medieval time. In fact, paleo sea level markers indicate that relative sea level in the tropics and subtropics was falling throughout the last few thousand years up until the 19th century.

      Was ice magically immune to warming back then? Or is it more likely, as proxies suggest, that warming was confined to the tropical and north Atlantic Ocean and adjacent land masses?

    • Liberty4nz. You claim the medieval warm period was warmer than today. Can you please provide some proper, published peer reviewed evidence of that?

      All the studies I have seen indicate it was not warmer than today. Eg studies by Briffa, Esper, Jones. It was also not a global event.

      Indeed temperatures over the last decade are the hottest in over 10,000 years. Refer to the study by Marcott at Harvard University.

      • Marcott. Wasn’t that discredited?
        (The authors themselves said the hockey stick component was not “statistically robust”)

        By the way, what happened to Gergis et al, the supposed Southern Hemisphere hockey stick that was retracted?

        Also, why does the Antarctic Law Dome series that shows a prominent MWP spike never get included in SH reconstructions?

        Briffa, that you cite. His Yamal series now no longer has a hockey stick.

        So many questions ..

        • AndyS. Marcott has not been discredited. Marcott say their study is statistically robust until around 1900. Marcott say the hockey stick component based on paleo climate evidence of the last 100 years is not statistically robust, and should not be used. They say we should use the instrumental data for the last 120 years.

          On that basis they say temperatures over the last decade are the hottest in 10,000 years. You can check this on articles on where the authors discuss their study.

  8. Guy McPherson will be delivering presentations in New Zealand from the 22th of October 2014 through till 1st of November 2014.

    Dr. McPherson’s message is compelling and would give the community plenty of food for thought. His blog, Nature Bats Last can be found at and his writings and videos there can give you a sense of what his presentations are like, although each one is customised for the local audience. His book Walking Away from Empire details why and how he left his university position to live off-grid in the desert in New Mexico.

    Here is the Wellington event;

    AUT Auckland 22/10

    Wellington 24th
    Guy’s bio – Academic B.S. Forest Resources, University of Idaho, 1982
    M.S. Range Science, Texas Tech University, 1984
    Ph.D. Range Science, Texas Tech University, 1987
    Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Georgia Institute of Ecology, 1987-1988
    Visiting Assistant Professor, Texas A & M University Range Science Department, 1988-1989
    Assistant Professor, University of Arizona School of Renewable Natural Resources, 1989-1995
    Visiting Associate Professor, University of California-Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management, 1995-1996
    Associate Professor, University of Arizona School of Renewable Natural Resources, 1995-2000
    Director, The Nature Conservancy David H. Smith Fellows Program, 1999-2000
    Professor, University of Arizona School of Renewable Natural Resources, 2000-present
    Professor, University of Arizona School of Natural Resources and Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, 2002-present

    Interviewed by Paul Henry (puke), last night
    But if you don’t want the masses thinking, then don’t bother to post this.

    • I quite enjoyed the interview on Paul Henry. Mr Henry made the valid suggestion that if we are all about to die, then we might as well get on with it and have a bit of fun in the short time remaining. At which point, he suggested that his co-host sleep with him that night.

      • I agree Andy, there is absolutely nothing we can do, nada, SFA, zero.
        It is not a matter of if, it is when.
        That is why I and maybe Paul (?) say “Copulate, don’t populate” )
        It could be a nice world for the remaining decades we might have left, if the masses understood there was no point in reaching for the golden goose, no point in massacring people in the name of Allah, or whom ever, no point in over throwing governments or invading countries,
        We could have 5 – 10 years of global peace and harmony before the lights went out.
        But alas this will not be so

        • Well I’m not sure that Janika was that keen, but it’s a nice thought.

          When the lights do go out, however (not a distant vision for the UK and much of Europe by the way), it will give us plenty of “quality time” with those close to us

          This was an observed phenomenon during the 3 day week and power crisis in the UK in the 1970s. There was a spike in the birth rate as TV shut down early

          “Make love not war” is probably a slogan that most people would subscribe to, regardless of affiliations.

          Anyway, Paul Henry is past my bedtime, thank goodness for MySky


    Political will won’t happen until they sense the voter’s support. The rich won’t act as vested interests or, as happened in Iceland, the buy their way to the end and are thus last to go. So that leaves grass roots action – and one such is the Transition Movement – a global movement to build all inclusive resilient communities to face the future uncertainties – which will hopefully show/inform others – creating a better system in waiting when mainstream finally collapses. Check out the Transition website, join or create a group near you – and by joining with others similar minded folks can be a happy and fulfilling experience.

  10. “By then it will be too late to prevent a great deal of damage and suffering”

    The magic ‘then’ was 100 – 10,000 years ago. We just got better at ‘it’ in the last 150 years or so. Thanks to fossil fuel that is.
    Now we are at 800 – 900 ppm CO2/CO2e
    Even the idiot IPCC are saying +3.5 by 2050, humans are gone burger at +2.
    The best examples of our near term future are the movies – 22 After and The Road.
    It is going to be fucking horrible. And a shit load sooner than anyone can comprehend … including me (

    • We have now discovered that a rise of just 0.85oC above the long-term average is enough to generate climate chaos. And the maniacs that comprise western governments are fully committed to raising CO2 emissions as quickly as possible because of the addiction to economic growth and population growth.

      The brown stuff is already hitting the revolving device, and ecological collapse is going to get a lot faster now that so many positive feedbacks have been triggered.

      ‘800-900ppm CO2 equivalent’: that’s wishful thinking. More like 1100 to 1300ppm CO2e when the correct forcing factor for methane (around 300 for time frames that matter) is used.

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