Envirologue by Dave Hansford

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Envirologue: Too Big to Fail – Why National will Never Act on Climate Change

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  • Alfie, in reply to Robert Urquhart,

    Solar panels are appearing on my garage roof here in Christchurch as I type

    You'll never look back Robert. Of course your life will change a little as you keep checking to see how much power you've generated today. Or you might even become anal (like me) and keep track of it all on an Excel spreadsheet which tells you how much money you've saved since day one.

    It's a whole new green world.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Remember all those cheap carbon credits bought from Russia and the Ukraine? Turns out they were largely invented.

    A new study from the Stockholm Environment Institute says the vast majority of carbon credits purchased from eastern Europe were nothing more than "hot air" and no actual emissions were harmed in the process. According to one of the authors of the study, Vladyslav Zhezherin, "This was like printing money." In other words, fraud.

    Our own user pays Emissions Trading Scheme is skewed in many respects. For instance forresters have to be part of the scheme, but farmers do not. Why was that again?

    The Environmental Protection Authority has just released the final list of 2014 New Zealand Units (NZUs) allocations to industry -- each NZU is valued at around $NZ6.80. The theory is that taxpayer subsidies encourage our bigger polluters to stay here, rather than move their emissions to some other godforsaken country. RNZ estimates this equates to taxpayers donating about $30m a year to our worst polluters. Here's the full list -- some examples:

    NZ Steel - $7.3m
    Rio Tinto (smelter) - $5.14m
    Fletchers - $2.55m

    While I'm sure that these companies are deserving of more taxpayer largesse, somebody remind me... this saves the planet exactly how?

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Tim Flannery writing in the Guardian puts paid to the theory espoused by Tony Abbott that Australia's massive bushfires have absolutely no connection to global warming.

    When, in late 2013, Australian prime minister Tony Abbott and his environment minister Greg Hunt argued that there is no link between the warming trend and extreme bushfires, they were arguing not only against science, but also contrary to common sense.

    The link between extreme weather and climate change is a critical area for public understanding, because it’s the devastating extremes, rather than a shift in averages, that have the greatest impact. To deny the link also permits people to believe that climate change is something only for future generations to worry about. It is not.

    While Key may be a clown, we should be thankful that at least we don't have to contend with an even more dangerous dickhead like Abbott.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Rob S, in reply to Alfie,

    I think you'll find that both Mr Key and Groser are relaxed about that global warming thing.
    Anything that isn't a short term problem gets kicked down the road with this lot.
    Traders don't look at the long view, just complete the deal and then move on.

    Since Apr 2010 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Alfie,

    Tim Flannery writing in the Guardian puts paid to the theory espoused by Tony Abbott that Australia's massive bushfires have absolutely no connection to global warming.

    Flannery has written compellingly about the role of pre-European "firestick farming" in shaping the Australian environment. In The Future Eaters he cited James Cook's account of always being within sight of presumably human-managed fires on his voyage up the continent's East coast.

    Like his mentor John Howard, Abbott is a throwback to the Liberal politics of Menzies, whose tribal myth was that the firestick-managed hunting grounds of the "naturally" grass-covered Victorian wheat belt was a benighted wasteland until its "discovery".

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    The main point I took from Flannery's Guardian article was that we're too fixated on graphs showing average temperatures. Sure there's a steady upward trend, but that doesn't tell the full story. As he says, "...it’s the devastating extremes, rather than a shift in averages, that have the greatest impact."

    Climate change trolls like Stamper convince themselves that rising average temperatures are merely minor fluctuations from the norm. But even the ugliest troll must find it hard to ignore the recorded and undeniable increase in extreme weather events we're experiencing worldwide.

    While Australia has traditionally had bush fires, Flannery points to the increasing length of the bushfire "season" and of annual heatwaves lasting days longer than they did previously. Today NIWA is predicting further extremes in New Zealand.

    Climate scientists are warning farmers to brace for a large-scale El Nino, with rainfall expected to drop by 15 per cent in some regions and increase by the same amount in others.

    While we shouldn't expect denialists and trolls to view climate change through logical eyes any time soon, we're in trouble when governments like our own willingly choose to ignore the in-your-face reality of increasing weather extremes. Because it's those extremes which will ultimately have the most destructive affect on our planet.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Alfie,

    While we shouldn't expect denialists and trolls to view climate change through logical eyes any time soon, we're in trouble when governments like our own willingly choose to ignore the in-your-face reality of increasing weather extremes. Because it's those extremes which will ultimately have the most destructive affect on our planet.

    In Australia, Flannery's compelling evidence for the historical volatility of this region he terms "Austronesia" has long been treated as shoot-the-messenger heresy by the kind of institutional short memories that see the status quo as being somehow divinely ordained.

    When the historical droughts and fire events since white settlement have been portrayed as tragic aberrations, rather than something to be factored in to realistic planning, there seems little hope of any meaningful progress. Perhaps it'll happen once Tony Abbott's squandered his political capital in the kind of burning man event he seems hell-bent on staging....

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    the pyromantic era...

    pre-European “firestick farming”

    Snap!
    I saw a great documentary on aboriginal burning techniques just yesterday on the Arts Channel...

    here's another take on it:

    this was interesting too:
    https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27945-myth-of-pristine-amazon-rainforest-busted-as-old-cities-reappear/

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    New Zealand's climate ambassador, Jo Tyndall has teamed up with the Aussies. They reckon it would be too costly to make more of an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

    Of course both governments are conveniently ignoring the very real cost of doing nothing.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Associated Press have modified their style guide. From now on the expressions "climate change denier" and "climate change skeptic" are verboten. The AP's new term for those who wilfully choose to ignore overwhelming scientific evidence is "Climate doubter" which is so much softer and fluffier, don't you think?

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Fonterra is NZ's third largest user of coal. They use it to dry milk powder in ten of their plants. Some of their North Island plants use gas but all of their South Island facilities use coal. In total Fonterra uses over half a million tonnes of coal each year.

    To make matters worse Fonterra intends to expand their large South Island plant in Studholme near Waimate, adding extra coal-fired boilers churning out yet more of that low-value milk powder that the world apparently doesn't need. Go figure.

    Fonterra's increasing use of coal pretty much cancels out the carbon reductions other businesses and individuals have worked hard to achieve. Their blasé attitude isn't helped by this government, as Jeanette Fitzsimons points out.

    New Zealand's Emissions Trading Scheme is supposed to put a price on carbon emissions and encourage alternative fuels but the taxpayer gifts Fonterra 60 per cent of their pollution for free and it only has to pay half of what is already a very low price for the rest.

    Are Fonterra really happy to be seen as corporate bastards? The Coal Action Network Aotearoa has started a petition at ActionStation asking Fonterra to reconsider their use of fossil fuels. Please pop over and sign if you feel strongly about this issue.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Alfie,

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Thank God for Jan Wright, our Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. In a report released today (PDF, 2.9Mb) she’s advised Bill English to starting costing in the financial impact of sea level rises. Because it is happening and it will be costly.

    Related stories
    RNZ
    Herald
    Stuff

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Bill English responds... Yeah, nah.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Alfie,

    Scrooge...

    Bill English responds… Yeah, nah

    Well, Bill would take the leaf on dealing with alarms out of his mates at Serco's book - don't investigate just reset it...
    shame that this is Parliament's own Watchdog they're not listening to - the selective hearing of all National representatives astounds me!

    National is taking the same approach to health in Chchch how can he not see the connection between these two stories (below) and just get on with doing the right thing.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/74200385/the-most-important-rebuild-in-canterbury

    and

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/74194041/canterbury-district-health-board-into-deficit-despite-16-million-boost

    take a leaf out of another corporate tax dodger's book Bill
    and just do it!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Attachment

    An undercover Greenpeace sting has exposed two US academics prepared to support climate denial in return for generous payments. These guys have credentials from Princeton and Penn State Universities.

    For payments of a few thousand up to $50k dollars, these credibility-for-hire frauds are prepared to add a thin veneer of dodgy science to denial arguements by promoting the benefits of coal and CO2.

    What? You didn’t realise that the world actually needs more CO2? Just ask Professor William Happer who appeared as an expert witness in yesterday’s Senate hearings into “climate dogma”. For good measure he’s also an adviser to the Global Warming Policy Foundation in the UK.

    Both men were comfortable with laundering supposed oil company money through trusts to hide the source of their ill-gotten gains.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Alfie,

    ... a hard rain is gonna fall

    Both men were comfortable with laundering supposed oil company money through trusts to hide the source of their ill-gotten gains.

    The old "If I don't do it, some one else will, so I may as well do it - and take the money on offer now" Operating System - I thought they fixed that bug!
    It has definitely run amok through the Government's systems!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    The old “If I don’t do it, some one else will, so I may as well do it

    John Key managed to say exactly that to the Green Party yesterday in Question time.
    With Paula Bennett becoming Mincer for Climate change , her appointment to be is off to a great start

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Paula Bennett, our new minister for climate change has announced that New Zealand has achieved its first round of emissions reduction targets. She says we're "on track to meet its 2020 target."

    The public has a right to be skeptical, keeping in mind the fact that the minister has no scientific background and freely admits that she knows nothing at all about climate change. If you're either a hardcore nat or the type of person who supports fossil fuel development around our coastline, she's the perfect person for the job.

    Over at No Right Turn, I/S has an excellent post pointing out that our government's "solution" to the problem so far has been to buy fraudulent credits from Russia and the Ukraine. The Guardian story linked to in that post explains the fraudulent process which uses some very dodgy and self-certified accounting, and boils down to "disposing" of "coal waste" by burning it in power plants. It's not clear exactly how that saves the planet.

    So our government is subsidising the Russian mafia as their main contribution to climate change. Nice one John.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Here in Dunedin, I see there was a hotter day in February of 1981 than today. No hotter December days (looking back through weather station data to the 1940s).

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1443 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Alfie,

    she’s the perfect person for the job

    'cause to National the job title "Minister for Climate Change" means someone to facilitate bringing it about.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1889 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Doctors Joshua Freeman and Hayley Bennet point out that the investor/state loophole in the TPPA could trump the Paris climate accord. In our new TPPA world the right of fossil fuel companies to make profits far outweighs the effects of climate change, regardless of the disastrous consequences to the planet.

    In more than 6000 pages of legal text in the TPPA, climate change is not mentioned once. On the other hand, entire chapters are devoted to minimising "technical barriers to trade" and ensuring "regulatory coherence". These chapters consist of a range of rules that would turn the move to zero carbon into a legal minefield.

    In addition, investors such as fossil fuel companies would be given broad powers to directly sue governments in off-shore tribunals for unfavourable changes in policy under investor-state dispute settlement provisions.

    Awarding these powers to the fossil fuel industry is a direct affront to the Paris agreement. Given that trillions of dollars' worth of fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground - investor-state dispute settlement clauses are a disaster waiting to happen.

    Things aren't much better at the other end of the world with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being negotiated between the EU and the USA.

    In fact the EU trade commissioner has allowed oil companies to help write the energy chapter of the agreement, to ensure that it won't affect their bottom line. This effectively kneecaps the Paris Accord.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Horizon Regional Council has also purchased dodgy Lithuanian and Russian carbon credits. Back when NZ credits cost $12 each, these fraudulent credits cost a mere two cents apiece -- a real bargain according to the story.

    Though quite how those fraudulent pieces of paper will slow global warming and save the planet is not made immediately clear.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    The latest government stats published this month show that NZ's carbon emissions have increased 23% compared with 1990. RNZ reports that our insane rush into dairy conversions is largely to blame.

    Agricultural emissions had increased 15 percent since 1990, which the report said was primarily due to an almost 95 percent increase in the national dairy herd and a more than five-fold increase in the application of nitrogen-containing fertiliser.

    Our Minister for Doing Bugger-All About Climate Change Paula Bennett says she is "considering" developing a Green Paper on climate issues.

    She says her focus is “working on a plan to have a plan. And that plan for me goes out decades. I think a lot about what New Zealand looks like to me as a country … and what it looks like for my grandchildren’s children and grandchildren.

    Nice sentiments. So what exactly is a Green Paper?

    ...a green paper is a tentative government report and consultation document of policy proposals for debate and discussion, without any commitment to action.

    If she's serious, Ms Bennett may want to consider a newly released Canadian report looking at what will happen should the rest of the world choose to follow our government's example and take no practical action. The University of Victoria report concludes that by the end of this century, our little planet will warm by an average of 10C. Higher CO2 levels mean the Arctic will warm by 20C. At that point, life on earth is unsustainable and Ms Bennett's grandchildren will be toast.

    While Bennett is in no rush to institute any significant changes, at least she appears to have some basic ideas.

    The way that we farm and how we do it; the transport, our use of fossil fuels...we can certainly do better there.

    She's right! Removing taxpayer subsidies on agricultural emissions would be a good start. As would an outright refusal to participate in any more dodgy east-european carbon credit scams.

    Even better, the Green Party launched their transport policy today which would see half of New Zealand's freight being transported by rail and sea by 2027. When a single train replaces 70 heavy trucks, it makes a lot more sense than building more motorways of National Party Significance. However Bennett's colleague, Transport Minister Simon Bridges is obviously singing from a completely different songbook.

    He said the Government were investing "sensibly" in roading, but the Greens were looking at a "mighty spend up".

    So I don't think it's something the taxpayers of New Zealand will want to see.

    I daresay Ms Bennett's great-grandchildren may beg to differ.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    And the Rio Tinto bail-out is continuing to have ongoing detrimental effects on our carbon emissions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

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