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Farmers: “get govt off our backs!”

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16 July: Farmers mounted their “Groundswell” protest throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. “Thousands” supposedly participated, driving tractors, utes, vans, trucks and any other wheeled vehicle within reach. Despite being “people of the land”, not many appeared mounted on horse-back, judging by photos;

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The response from other New Zealanders to the farmers’ protest was less than enthusiastic and possibly did more to reinforce the perception of entitlement; refusal to accept reality, and sheer whinging, rather than any real grievance they might have.

As equity manager for 1,000-cow Canterbury dairy farm, Craig Hickman, put it, writing for Stuff media;

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Curiously, despite his criticism, Mr  Hickman described the “Goundswell” protest as the “very first successful farmer protest“.

Mr Hickman went on to warn “I don’t know if the Government will take any notice. Maybe it should if Labour wants to return to power unencumbered by a coalition partner” – as if re-election should always be the number one priority for a government?

Where should survival for our civilisation, and future of our species rank, for Mr Hickman?

But Mr Hickman was correct in some respects. The protest certainly attracted it’s fair share of cranks. From the deluded;

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— to the bizarre;

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cranks nutters rabid rightwingers groundswell farmers protest

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— to the outright racist;

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It was Open Field Day for the Cranks from both rural and urban communities.

One – spread widely through social media and promoted unwittingly by at least one right-wing blog – was fake;

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The image had been mis-appropriated; re-branded; and used to promote the “Groundswell” event. It was actually an image of a protest from The Netherlands, two years ago.

Unfortunately for those farmers taking part, Nature had other plans in store for us…

17 July: The wildest weather to hit the South Island (and felt throughout the North as well) struck the following day. The storm battered the West Coast; flooding the top of the South Island; states of emergency declared in Marlborough and Buller; Picton, Westport, Tākaka, Collingwood, Murchison, Springs Junction and Nelson were cut off; Spring Creek and Tuamarina townships evacuated; bridges damaged and destroyed, properties flooded.

The Metservice warning was unambiguous;

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… and the rest of the country would not be escaping either;

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The human toll became evident very quickly;

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25 July: It was against this backdrop that, nine days after the farmer protest and eight days after the storm that lashed the country, TVNZ’s Q+A current affairs programme interviewed NIWA’s principal Climate Scientist, Dr Sam Dean,

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Host/Interviewer, Jack Tame prologued the interview with a frightening litany of extreme weather events over the last two months;

  • record rainfall and flooding in China;
  • a heatwave in Siberia resulting in wildfires;
  • record temperature of 34 degrees reached in Finland and Norway near the Arctic circle;
  • Antarctica reached a new record – 18 degrees celsius;
  • extreme flooding in Germany and Belgium resulting loss of life;
  • over a thousand people were killed during a recent heatwave in the United States and smoke pollution from American forest fires on the West Coast sent a smoky haze over New York.,
  • And torrential rain causing flooding throughout the South Island here in Aotearoa New Zealand…

Against this back-drop, Jack Tame asked Dr Dean the question to which most* of us already knew the answer to;

“How much of the damage and destruction can we directly attribute to climate change, and should  scientists and the media be doing more to link climate disasters with human caused climate change?”

Dr Dean was candid with his answers; climate change was not a “something-in-the-future” for us – the effects were happening very here-and-now;

“…talking about how climate change has altered the world we live in already makes it more real for people.”

Jack Tame pointed out the irony of the farmers’ “Groundswell” protest – followed the next day by a severe weather event likely to be influenced by climate change.

Dr Dean did not mince his words in response referring to the crazy events. He pointed out that we all faced consequence to our actions. He called on farmers to lead or face the consequences of  regulations.

“We need to stop burning coal. We need to stop burning oil… New Zealand is importing vast amounts of coal at the moment to generate electricity and we have to stop doing that. We have to stop burning coal and polluting the atmosphere.”

He admitted to being scared as human are doing crazy things ; the rate of change was beyond anything evolution has prepared us for.

Dr Dean referred to humanity facing an existential threat.

He warned that now was the chance to keep temperature increase below 2 degrees – and not just by planting trees. He explicitly stressed the need to reduce emissions.

Otherwise we would be experiencing more severe flooding and sea level rise by fifteen centimetres within twenty years.

He warned that a 2 degrees warming would be significant – using air conditioners to cool us in winter and not much snow.  Aotearoa New Zealand, Dr Dean warned, would be a very different place.

He said the extreme temperatures in North America were very scary.

Dr Dean talked plainly. No jargon. Just plain common sense. Especially because – deep in our hearts – we already understood what he was telling us.

In many ways he reminds this blogger of that other well-known scientist and advocate, Dr Siouxsie Wiles.

We are fortunate to have the likes of scientists who share their knowledge, experience, and courage to become the public face of critical problems that confront us. They shed light on issues and problems we ignore at our peril.

Whether it is Dr Wiles cautioning and encouraging us to take covid19 seriously or Dr Dean warning us that climate change is no longer “something in the future” – they are the voices of reason we dare not casually dismiss.

Remember how, only three years ago, the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser Dr Peter Gluckman, mercilessly attacked and debunked the hysteria surrounding meth contamination in housing?

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The full interview with Dr Dean is only fourteen minutes long. It is well worth listening to.

And as Jack Tame and Dr Dean both pointed out, it put the farmers protest – especially over the so-called “ute tax” into perspective.

The hysteria over the “ute tax” was inexplicable considering how little actual impact it would have on farmers and tradespeoples’ pockets.

According to NZTA/Waka Kotahi, the maximum fees for dirty vehicles is set at $5,175 for new imports and $2,875 for used imports. As the NZTA/WK chart shows here;

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However…

Put into context, those fees are not as onerous as rural activists have been led to believe.

According to the Ministry of Transport, the average age of Aotearoa New Zealand’s vehicle fleet is considerable (something many of us already knew);

The average age of New Zealand’s light passenger vehicle fleet has increased from 11.7 years in 2000 to 14.4 years in 2017, which is older than that in the United States (11.6 years for cars and light trucks in 2016), Australia (10.1 years for all vehicles in 2016), Canada (9.3 years for light vehicles in 2014), and Europe (7.4 years for passenger cars in 2014).

The MoT graph is more descriptive;

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So, the average age for a heavy truck in 2019 was 17.8 years. The average age for a light commercial, 12.2 years.

Using some basic arithmetic, we arrive at how much, per week, a farmer or tradie would be spending over 18 years (rounded up) or 12 years (rounded down);

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So, depending on whether the imported vehicle was new or used, or light commercial or heavy truck, the cost per week for a purchaser would be an “astronomical”…

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$3.07 to $8.29 per week

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That is what “Groundswell” participants were protesting about:

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$3.07 to $8.29 per week

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The irony is that these people probably spent ten times that amount on fuel to put their vehicles on the roads to make their protests.

Meanwhile, as Dr Dean was telling us on Q+A,  “climate change has altered the world we live in already”. And those effects are felt by none other than… farmers. They are amongst the first in queue pleading for state (ie, taxpayer) assistance when floods, droughts, storms pummel their land;

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Although not all were happy with government help;

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A levy on farmers’ utes would seem to be the least of their worries.

The irony is blindingly obvious. Farming is one of the main emitters (fancy term for polluter) – nearly half – in Aotearoa New Zealand. There is simply no escaping the continuing dumping of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide into our atmosphere.  The consequences of this pollution is becoming more apparent with each passing week, here and overseas.

And as the situation worsens, it is taxpayers who are expected to stump up with more and more cash to pay for the damage from each calamitous weather event. 

The farmers who protested think nothing of the damage caused to our atmosphere by human activities. But they certainly have their hands out, to help pay for that damage to their farms.

They want the government to get out of their lives. Except when it comes time for government to come to their aid. It’s the “communism” that saves their rural backsides every time.

Remember this guy?

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But for how much longer can we afford to keep paying?

Postscript1

This thin blue band is our atmosphere…

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“Earth’s atmosphere is about 300 miles (480 kilometers) thick, but most of it is within 10 miles (16 km) the surface… The troposphere is the layer closest to Earth’s surface. It is 4 to 12 miles (7 to 20 km) thick and contains half of Earth’s atmosphere.” – Tim Sharp, Space.Com

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Postscript2

Climate Summary for June 2021:

New Zealand’s warmest June on record

Temperature

It was New Zealand’s warmest June on record, with the nationwide average temperature 2.0°C above average.  This is just the 13th occasion since 1909 that a month achieved an anomaly of >1.9˚C relative to the 1981-2010 average. Temperatures were above average (0.51-1.20°C above average) or well above average (>1.20°C above average) throughout the country. Twenty-four locations observed their warmest June on record.

Rainfall

Rainfall was above normal (120-149% of normal) or well above normal (>149% of normal) for eastern parts of Northland, inland Bay of Plenty, eastern Waikato, Wairarapa, northern Canterbury, southeastern Otago and western Southland.  Rainfall was below normal (50-79% of normal) or well below normal (<50% of normal) for parts of Central Otago, South and Mid Canterbury, Nelson, Tasman, inland Whanganui, Gisborne and eastern Bay of Plenty.

Soil Moisture

At the end of the month, soil moisture levels were lower than normal for inland parts of Otago. Soil moisture levels were higher than normal for eastern parts of Canterbury and Marlborough. Near normal soil moisture levels were typical for the remainder of the country.

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Very wet in Northland, dry for many remaining areas
 

Rainfall

Rainfall was well above normal (>149% of normal) or above normal (120-149% of normal) for Northland, western Otago and inland parts of Southland. Rainfall was below normal (50-79% of normal) or well below normal (<50% of normal) for parts of all remaining North Island regions, and much of the northern, eastern and inland areas of the South Island.

Temperature

Temperatures were above average (0.51-1.20°C above average) or near average (±0.50°C of average) for most of the country. Above average temperatures were mostly observed in central and northwestern parts of the South Island, and northern, western and southern parts of the North Island.

Soil Moisture

At the end of the month, soil moisture levels were lower than normal for eastern parts of Otago and Canterbury (south of Ashburton). Near normal soil moisture levels were typical for the remainder of the country.

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* Climate change deniers need go no further. Suitable material here for those who refuse to accept reality.

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References

RNZ: Farmers protest across New Zealand against government regulations

NZ Herald: Opinion – Why farmers protested in NZ towns and cities

Stuff media: This might have been our first successful farmer protest

AAP FactCheck Social Media: Clogged Dutch motorway pic doesn’t show NZ farming protest

RNZ: Wild weather – What you need to know

Twitter: Metservice – storm warning – 10:29 AM · Jul 17, 2021

TVNZ: Q + A with Jack Tame – More needs to be done to reduce effects of climate change – NIWA scientist

Al Jazeera: Finland’s Arctic Lapland area swelters in record heatwave

NIWA: Dr Sam Dean

RNZ: Meth house contamination debunked by PM’s science advisor

NZTA/Waka Kotahi: What discount and fees apply from 2022? – Clean Car Programme 22

Ministry of Transport: Vehicle age – RD025 Average vehicle fleet age (years)

Beehive: Flood damage report 1 Mar 2004

GNS: June 2015 Floods

RNZ: Flood evacuations into the night – 2015

WINZ: Farmers affected by adverse events

IRD: Assistance to farmers affected by floods in the South Canterbury District

Stuff media: Flood-weary farmers want Government to stump up with more cash

NZ Herald: Canterbury flooding – $500,000 in support unlocked for farmers and growers

Beehive: Government commits $4 million additional support for flood-affected Canterbury farmers

NZ Herald: ‘Better off with M.bovis’: Flood-affected farmer relays concerns to Damien O’Connor

Ministry for the Environment: Agriculture emissions and climate change

Space.com: Earth’s Atmosphere – Composition, Climate & Weather

NIWA: Climate Summary for June 2021

Additional

Voxy: Govt commits $600k to flood recovery

NZ Herald: Westport weather – Government to provide relief fund for flood-affected regions

Newshub: South Island floods – Government commits $600,000 to flood recovery as locals face aftermath of adverse weather

RNZ: Government announces financial aid for flood-hit Coasters, Marlborough

Newshub: Canterbury floods: Farmers hope $4 million Government payment is just the start

Driven: Ten things you need to know about the Clean Car Feebate scheme

Other Blogs

No Right Turn: A howl of ugliness

No Right Turn: The government needs to act on this warning

No Right Turn: Climate Change: Calling time on “leakage”

No Right Turn: Looking for more coal is indefensible

No Right Turn: Climate Change: The solution farmers don’t want us to talk about

No Right Turn: Climate Change: Just predatory delay again

The Jackalman: Some farmers are sick puppies

The Standard: Mother Nature gives Groundswell NZ the middle finger

Previous related blogposts

New Zealand – we’re in the sh*t

Investigation into what is happening in our water

Drinking river water – Tourism NZ puts visitors at risk

As predicted: National abandons climate-change responsibilities

ETS – National continues to fart around

National’s moving goalposts on climate change targets

The Many Mendacities of Mr Bridges – National’s fair-weather “commitment” to a Climate Change Commission

An Advisory to the West Coast Regional Council

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get government off our backs except when we need help

*  FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency (US)

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Or,

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Acknowledgement: Christ Slane

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2020: The History That Was – Part 3

20 February 2021 Leave a comment

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2020 to 2021

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As the rest of the world  was perceived to be “going to hell in a handbasket with an out-of-control pandemic; ructions in Europe as Britain copes with “Brexit” chaos; Trumpism in the United States climaxing with the 6 January mob-led coup attempt in Washington’s Capitol; a deadly resurgent covid19 outbreak in Victoria, Australia (at time of writing); Russia continuing to harass and murder political dissidents with impunity; China  cracking down brutally on Hong Kong and it’s Uighur minority; and global temperatures continuing to rise as Humans blithely pump CO2 into the atmosphere – New Zealanders were spectators to our own issues, dramas, and problems…

ACT

The not-so-surpising winner from last year’s general election, ACT increased it’s Party Vote from 13,075 in 2017 to 219,030 and adding nine more MPs to David Seymour’s up-to-now-One-Man-Band operation.

But before ACT supporters and other sundry right-wingers and free-marketeers rejoice with little Happy Dances, it bears remembering that their resurgence came – for the most part – from a dysfunctional National Party.

ACT’s success came from cannibalising it’s larger counterpart, much like the Green Party’s support (11.06% Party Vote) in the 2014 general election came at ther expense of their Labour cousin (27.48% Party Vote).

Oh, and gun-nuts who – like children throwing a temper tantrum at having to surrender their lethal toys – went looking for a sympathetic, slightly-bonkers, “uncle” who would pander to their sense of spoiled entitlement.

The combined right wing vote for National and ACT collapsed from 44.9% in 2017 and 47.15% in 2014,  to 33.2% last year. Hardly cause for celebration for ACT Party strategists.

There was no resurgent right. Only a sloshing-around of disaffected National supporters, gun nuts, and assorted climate change denying numpties.

Unless Mr Seymour is blinded by his (temporary) electoral gains, he and his colleagues must be nervously aware that his fortunes are possible only while National is a lame-duck party in turmoil, with an unelectable Leader.

Election 2020

MMP was designed primarily for two purposes:

  1. To make representation fairer (“coat-tailing” notwithstanding), especially for smaller parties that, until 1996, had been locked-out of Parliament (Social Credit being an aberation for FPP),
  2. To deny either of the two main parties unbridled power without checks and balances to deter wild policy swings (eg; 1984 neo-liberal “reforms”).

Last year, voters in Aotearoa New Zealand had other ideas as covid19 changed the rules by which our economy; tourist industry; international travel, and even social patterns operated.

As will be explored under the heading “National”, approximately two thirds of voters not only supported the current goverrnment’s action to protect Fortress Aotearoa – but seemed determined to keep Judith Collins and the National Party well away from anything resembling power.

Housing

  • RMA

Aotearoa New Zealand has had housing problems since colonisation became a ‘thing’ in this country. Reading an account of housing shortages in the late 1930s/40s could be taken almost word-for-word for our current housing situation;

Meanwhile, full employment with higher wages and overtime meant increased demand for existing houses. In 1942 the shortage was officially estimated as 20 000. Workers came to the cities for war jobs, wives came to be near their husbands in camps. With prices rising and expected to rise still further, house buying was both a sound investment and a tempting speculation, though rent controls curbed quick fortune-making to some extent. At Wellington, where sites were limited, building costs high and where government employees had multiplied rapidly during the past few years, the demand was particularly strong. As early as February 1941, a Wellington land agent stated that flats had come to stay, that but for the Fair Rents Act land agents could sell 70 per cent more houses than they were selling and that low deposits of £200 or £300 were becoming scarce. In November 1941, an agent declared, ‘We are not facing a first-class housing crisis. We are past that stage’; another spoke of an avalanche of buyers and of house dealers buying for cash, renovating cheaply and making £400 to £500 on each deal.

In July 1942, another agent said that if he had them, he could let 30 houses or flats in two or three hours, a state of affairs which he feared was going to be chronic. Already, those concerned with the rehabilitation of servicemen were troubled by the gap of several hundred pounds between the value of a house and its inflated ‘scarcity value’.

At Auckland in May 1942 there was talk of a boom; land agents for several weeks had been exceptionally busy and house values were rising. A suburban home, which 12 months earlier would have changed hands at £1,300, sold for £1,525 within 24 hours of being placed on the market; a house sold by the builder for £1,750 was sold again six weeks later for £2,500. There were many cash sales and otherwise the minimum deposit was often one-third of the purchase price. In Dunedin sales were brisk, with houses long regarded as unsaleable changing hands. At New Plymouth, prices which 12 months earlier would have been far too high were paid without hesitation; 60 persons had applied to rent one house; 46 wanted a small house at £1 5s a week, 16 applied for another at £2 2s a week.

It can  reasonably be argued that the housing crisis in the late 30s/40s was due in large part to a post-Depression economic lag, and shortage of raw materials and labour as we faced the onslaught of Nazi German and Imperial Japanese war machines.

But it then follows that there is little reason why – in an age of plenty and 21st century automation – we are eighty years later faced with a similar crisis.

Whatever the reasons – and we are well versed with most of them – housing remains one of the top three priorities for the Labour government.

One of the alleged reasons for our housing shortage has been the RMA which has been blamed for slowing down or stifling permitting and construction of new housing. 

We should be wary of throwing out, wholesale,  the Act. It has protections that deter inappropriate urban “development” that we may come to regret, as instanced by one particular block of flats on Mt Victoria, Wellington

Urban sprawl is also an unintended consequence to uncontained development. By 2019, around 200 horticulture growers in Auckland had ceased to operate as their fertile land was re-zoned “Residential”. This included some of the best volcanic arable land in and around Pukekohe.

As grower David Clark pointed out in June 2019;

“I used to farm that block. That was a very highly productive bit of soil, that.

The previous National government passed it all off as a special housing area and we lost all of that [land]. That’s a shame. That should never have happened.

It was good productive elite soil, but it’s not now. You can never get it back once all that infrastructure and housing’s gone on there. It’s gone forever.”

Horticulture New Zealand CEO, Mike Chapman, warned;

“It makes sense to protect growing hubs close to our main population centres. They not only provide food that contributes to the physical health of New Zealanders, but also jobs, and vibrant businesses and communities. 

Food and housing are competing for land and water. We need both, so now is a good time to be smart about long-term planning for food security and domestic supply.

We will not always be able to source food from other countries. Look at the extremely hot summer the northern part of the world is having and the impact it is having on food production because of drought.” 

The result of losing arable land to urban sprawl would inevitably result in rising food prices, advised Deloitte New Zealand in a report commissioned by HortNZ.

Environment Minister David Parker took note of a problem that could rapidly spiral into a potential food-crisis;

“I was particularly troubled by how much of our urban growth is occurring in our irreplaceable highly productive land. Even in a country as lucky as New Zealand we only have limited quantities of these high-class soils.

We have to ensure we have enough land to build the houses people need, but we must protect our most productive areas too.”

As with all human activities, we should cautiously wary of unintended consequences.

  • Interest Rates

Ballooning housing prices are forcing first home owners to pay ever-increasing amounts to get a roof over their heads.

Whereas the median house price in Aotearoa New Zealand for a property was $495,000 in 2017, by 2020 the median price had risen to $725,000.

In Auckland, media houses prices surged from 800,000 in 2017 to $1,000,000 last year.

For first home owners these stratospheric prices are barely manageable because of historically low interest rates.

This constitutes a silent time-bomb that will detonate when/if interest rates start to rise again. It will result in forced mortgagee sales the likes of which we have not seen since the housing market collapse in the USA in the 2007/08 Global Financial Crisis;

Simultaneously, the US government of the day under President Bill Clinton elected to begin running budget surpluses. This had the effect of reducing the stock of US government-issued “safe assets” as the state began to pay down its debt. This created an incentive — though not the obligation — for the private sector to meet this demand for “safe assets” by creating some of its own. Thus we come back to mortgage securities.

The authors’ of the latest paper write that “the boom in securitisation contributed to channel into mortgages a large pool of savings that had previously been directed towards other safe assets, such as government bonds”. As Frances Coppola points out, this misstates what was actually going on. The inflow of capital was not “channelled” into the US mortgage market but, rather, it created the demand that gave banks a reason to continue extending mortgage loans into the system.

And here’s where the story gets really interesting. The more credit the banks provided through the mortgage market, the more money consumers had available to pay for goods and services (including, for example, clothes and toys produced in China). This spending then fed the current account surpluses in emerging markets, which flooded back into the US in search of safe assets that would provide a steady stream of income.

So the credit market created what looked like a self-fulfilling cycle where banks issued mortgages, that money was spent on goods and services in the US, which provided the cash for emerging economies to buy the mortgage-backed securities that were then created. Glad that’s clear.

And this is what happened — real home prices increasing by roughly 40% to 70% between 2000 and 2006…

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…the scale of the housing boom had already increased the system’s vulnerabilities, and had been exacerbated by the Clinton administration’s decision to run budget surplus. In the end as borrowers were maxing themselves out, a hit to future incomes was almost inevitable and with it a correction in the housing market.

The full article above by Tomas Hirst is worth reading because there are ominous similarities between the late 2000s and what is happening now in our own housing market: too much money sloshing around, looking for safe investments, and a bubble that must ultimately burst.

Fast forward to last year;

Housing unaffordability is on the rise again, with implications for wealth inequality and deprivation. This is compounded further by the cascading economic effects of the global pandemic and unconventional manoeuvres in monetary policy that are pushing house prices higher.

If/when interest rates begin to rise, the time bomb will detonate and the housing “market correction” will be harsh. 

The government-of-the-day will be forced to intervene directly, taking over debt. Otherwise the alternative will be too terrible to contemplate: images of families forced out of their homes to live in – ?

Greens

The Green Party increased its share of the Party Vote from 2017 to 2020, from 6.3 to 7.9%, increasing its Parliamentary seats from eight to ten. Unlike ACT’s cannibalising the centre-right vote from National, the Greens actually grew the centre-left vote overall.

It could be said that this was achieved by riding on the “coat tails” of a popular Prime Minister.

This blogger rejects that.

The Greens are the conscience of Parliament, if not the whole country. They are deadly serious on the critical challenges that confront us as a nation, whether it be global – apocalyptic changes caused by rising CO2 and methane levels and all its dire consequences – or social problems of a spiralling-out-of-control housing crisis and social inequality.

As our climate warms; weather patterns become more energetic; ocean acidification worsens; and ice continues to melt, more and more people are understanding that this crisis can no longer be ignored or put off to another day.

With Labour’s commanding majority in the House, it is a curious contradiction that the government needs the Green Party more than ever to maintain a solid, unwavering focus on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

Without the Greens, Labour risks relaxing into a cruising “business-as-usual” mode.

And we are well past anything resembling “business-as-usual”.

Labour

There is a reason for Labour’s stunning election victory last year…

It would be fair to say that the Labour-led coalition govt was tested in more ways than most governments have been in the past. The  Whakaari/White Island eruption; the 15 March terrorist atrocity in Christchurch; and then covid19 hit the world.

For most people, the lockdown on 25 March was the only possible response. With no vaccine, the virus required a sledgehammer to fight it and – except for essential workers – we were told to stay home.

This blogger has documented his own personal experiences through the “Life in Lockdown” daily diary.

Not since the 1918 influenza epidemic has Aotearoa New Zealand been confronted with such an event. There was no Instruction Manual; we were learning as we went along.

Essential services stayed open; supermarkets (food); service stations (fuel); and chemists (medication). Some, like hardware stores operated a restricted service for tradespeople only, for emergencies (burst water pipes, electrical problems, etc).

Some were obviously taking the mick;

Weight-loss company Jenny Craig is defending its decision to continue operating during the lockdown, following public criticism from one of its own regional managers.

Several of the company’s employees have been touch with E Tu Union to express their frustration at the company for continuing to operate and claiming it is an essential service.

The company has since sent a statement to RNZ, saying it strongly believes it is an essential service.

Others were treating it casually, like an extended holiday. And for a tiny minority,  their sense of bloated entitlement seemed to outweigh the potentially lethal nature of the crisis;

Police have become involved in a stand-off between irate residents on Great Barrier Island / Aotea and boaties anchored up in their waters for the lockdown.

The chair of the Great Barrier / Aotea Local Board, Izzy Fordham, said an estimated 50 boats were anchored in one harbour alone.

She said they were a burden on limited resources and police were investigating.

“Us locals were all trying to do the right thing, stay home, live within our bubble because if we get to the stage where we have community transmission of this disease and this sickness, goodness knows what it will do to our island.”

Fordham said the boaties were being “totally irresponsible” because they could spread coronavirus.

Even a Minister of the Crown was caught out in a class act of entitlement and plain stupidity.

But for the most part, we did as the Prime Minister cajoled us: stay home (unless an essential worker or buying essential needs); exercise locally; stay in our own bubbles.

There were “hic-cups” of course. 

New Zealanders were astounded to learn that, for a long time, flight crews were exempted from quarantine after returning from international destinations

The airline’s crews who fly internationally continue to be exempt from the strict 14-day quarantine rules for people returning to New Zealand from overseas – with the exception of Los Angeles flights.

On Monday the airline confirmed crew members had been forced to self-isolate after some staff allegedly disregarded physical distancing rules during a layover in Vancouver. 

Documents obtained by Checkpoint show increasing unease and fear among flight crew staff about the exemption from isolation or quarantine, and the risk it poses to colleagues and the public.

Air New Zealand is currently operating 16 return international services a week. At the end of May it plans to add three return services a week to Shanghai to that schedule. 

Then we gobsmacked to learn that MIQ front-line workers were not being tested regularly (or at all!) for covid transmission from Returnees, despite being on the pandemic battlefield frontline, and despite assurances from Ministry officials that this was a priority;

So, did the Ministry of Health ever attempt to implement a plan to test all asymptomatic border-facing workers? That remains unclear – ministry officials on Thursday refused to answer Newsroom’s detailed questions on the subject.

And MIQ staff in critical – and dangerous positions – were left without the most basic of protective equipment for their wellbeing;

Nurses at managed isolation and quarantine facilities are threatening to stop work if the government does not ensure they have access to appropriate safety equipment.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation industrial services manager Glenda Alexander said some but not all MIQ sites had a good supply and distribution of the high-quality N95 masks, and used the test fit process to ensure the masks were properly fitted.

“In other facilities they are still using the surgical masks and we are saying ‘no, that is not appropriate given the growing body of evidence that says that the virus can be transmitted through airborne contact’.”

But we muddled through. 

With an equal mix of dedication from heroic front-line workers; good science from epidemiologists and other scientists; a strong collective effort by most Kiwis to “do the right thing”; and a truckload of good luck, we dodged the viral bullet on numerous occassions.

Though, as Dr Siouxsie Wiles has pointed out recently, some of our behaviour could be more cautionary. Sadly, as is the New Zealand way of doing things, something has to go wrong before we will act to remedy a critical gap in our defences.

On the non-pandemic battlefront Labour has had its wins and losses.

  • Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

Touted as making the tax system fairer, the CGT proposal by the Tax Working Group (TWG) was dumped when coalition partner, NZ First, pulled the hand brake on the suggested reforms (see “NZ First” below), skidding 180 degrees to a full stop. As the TWG stated in it’s Final Report;

Group Chair Sir Michael Cullen says our system has many strengths but there is a clear weakness caused by our inconsistent treatment of capital gains.

“New Zealanders earning just salary and wages are taxed on their full income but we have several situations where you can earn income from gains on assets and not be taxed at all.

“All members of the Group agree that more income from capital gains should be taxed from the sale of residential rental properties. The majority of us on the Group, by a margin of 8-3, support going further and broadening that approach to include all land and buildings, business assets, intangible property and shares.

“We have judged that the increase in compliance and efficiency costs is worth it if we can reduce the biases towards certain types of investments and improve the fairness, integrity and fiscal sustainability of the tax system.”

A CGT would also have been one further “bullet in the arsenal” to contain skyrocketing housing prices.

But with NZ First actively opposing meaningful tax reforms, PM Ardern was forced to dump the proposal. 

Curiously, the Prime Minister not only rejected CGT during the term of the coalition government – but for the entire duration of her leadership;

“Under my leadership, we will no longer campaign for, or implement a capital gains tax – not because I don’t believe in it, but because I don’t believe New Zealand does.”

Not only has she locked her party, and any future Labour-led government while she is PM, but she has played well and truly into the hands of National and their property-owning base, as journalist Henry Cooke pointed out with grim, relentless logic;

Yet Ardern wanted the issue off the table for upcoming elections and staked her career on the promise – much like Key when he said he would resign before raising the super eligibility age.

But National are never going to stop attacking Labour on tax. Ruling out CGT just opens the door for National to ask Ardern to rule out every possible other tax in existence, and when the Prime Minister is smart enough not to handcuff herself forever, National will tell voters that the party is keen to fish into your pockets.

Labour’s second greatest achievement (after successfully leading us through the Covid Crisis) has been to out-do National as a sound steward of the economy. Three successive polls last year (here, here, and here) snatched the crown for economic management from National and placed it firmly on Labour.

However, in dumping the CGT, it has allowed itself to be out-manouvered by the Tories and their whining, asset-bloated, propertied-class backers. It has also shown that it is willing to allow unfairness in the tax system that, as the TWG estimated, could have raised roughly $8 billion over the first five years. 

A missed opportunity Labour will regret for a long time.

  • 2 Tier Welfare System

Part of Labour’s plan to assist the economy through all stages of the covid lock-down was to implement a special COVID-19 Income Relief Payment. As this blogger reported on  3 September last year (re-published here from a previous blogpost);

On the 26 of May, Welfare Minister Carmel Sepuloni introduced the Social Security (COVID-19 Income Relief Payment to be Income) Amendment Bill. As RNZ reported;

The government is introducing a new relief payment for those who have lost their jobs due to Covid-19, while they find new employment or retrain.

The payment would be available for 12 weeks from 8 June for New Zealand citizens or residents who had lost their job as a impact of the virus since 1 March.

Those who apply would be required to actively seek suitable work, and take steps towards employment, including making use of redeployment or training.

It will pay $490 a week for those who lost full-time work and $250 for part time workers – including students.

The payments will be untaxed.

People with working partners may also be eligible, as long as their partner is earning under $2000 per week.

The new “income relief payment” was essentially a beefed-up unemployed benefit for workers losing their jobs due to the covid19 epidemic. It would be administered by the Ministry for Social Development.

It was passed in the House, through all three readings, in one day.  Six days later, it was given Royal Assent.

The “income relief payment” differs from the usual unemployment benefit in two major areas:

  1. The amount of the “income relief payment” is $490 per week (tax free) – almost twice that of the regular, maximum  unemployment benefit of $250.74
  2. Partners of post-covid unemployed receiving the “income relief payment” can still be in paid work (up to $2,000 per week!) and this does not affect the IRP. Partners of pre-covid beneficiaries earning the original, lesser unemployment benefit (net, $250.74 p/w) cannot be in paid work, or else it will affect their payments. It also attracts unwanted attention from MSD/WINZ who constantly pry into beneficiaries private lives.

The Covid Unemployed are apparently an elite, special group of beneficiaries for whom the regular payment of $250.74 – without the hassle of employed partners – was beneath their dignity.

This blatant discrimination did not go un-noticed by beneficiaries support groups and other former Green Party MPs.

[…]

As an RNZ story reported, pointing out the blinding obvious;

[University of Auckland sociologist Louise] Humpage said the early findings suggested that benefit levels need to rise.

“I think there is general consensus that benefits are too low at present and I think this Covid-19 payment is a reflection that it’s actually too low for most people.”

What an eye-rolling, unsurprising conclusion.

The two-tier benefit system – primarily benefitting middle-New Zealand – was something we might have expected from the previous National-led government. It would have been a “cunning plan” that former Social Welfare minister, Paula Bennett, might have concocted to protect  middle class workers who lost their jobs and who had little inkling what surviving on welfare was really like.

The last thing National would have wanted is the middle class developing an empathetic understanding of the misery of surviving on unemployment welfare,

For Labour to promote such a scheme can only be described – at best – as misguided. At worst, it was a betrayal.

  • State Houses

According to Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing NZ) 2016/17 Annual Report, the organisation owned (or “managed”) approximately 63,000 properties.

By 2020, that number had increased to 66,253, according to Kāinga Ora’s 2019/20 Annual Report

The number is still far short of the  69,173 properties owned or managed by that organisation, according to their 2008/09 Annual Report.

But it is moving in the right direction, albeit at a unacceptably slow pace. The new build of state houses is certainly not keeping pace with the high numbers on the waiting list, as many families are forced out of the housing market with astronomical house prices leading to equally astronomical rents.

Labour is gradually undoing the mass sell-off of state houses wrought by the previous National government. (National, meanwhile, admitted it was wrong to sell off state housing, has promised no further sale of properties should it regain power – “except to state house tenants“.)

In this area, Labour can and must do better. State housing is their “bread and butter” for existence, as National’s is to support their mates in the business community.

If Labour cannot build the state houses we need, the inevitable question then arises: what good are they?

  • Unemployment & the wages subsidy

Alongside closing our borders and the lockdowns, the other weapon in our arsenal to fight the pandemic was the Covid-19 Wage Subsidy. Basically it paid up to 80% of employee’s wages during the lockdowns (the subsidy is no longer being offered).

It meant that while most of the economy was frozen, businesses could still pay their staff. It relied heavily on borrowed money by the government, but one way or another, there would be a cost as the pandemic impacted on our country.

It seemed to have worked.

Prior to covid19, our unemployment stood at 4.2%. for the March 2020 Quarter.

By the September Quarter, that figure had reached 5.3%.

(Note: the June 2020 Quarter reported a fall in unemployment to 4.0%. These results are misleading, caused by the way Statistics NZ calculates unemployment. During lockdown, the data was badly skewed.)

Many businesses have since re-paid the subsidy as their accounts are better than expected following the lockdowns. One, in particular, The Warehouse, suffered bad publicity when it took the wage subsidy and then made hundreds of staff redundant whilst posting a $44.5 million profit. After considerable public and political pressure, The Warehouse announced it would repay the subsidy.

The most high-profile recipient of the wage subsidy was the so-called “Taxpayers Union“. Ostensibly a group opposed to government subsidies and “profligacy”, the TU applied for, and recieved, $60,000 in taxpayer-funded subsidy;

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Source acknowledgement: The Paepae.

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Predictably, the “Union” became the subject of considerable on-line derision and merciless mocking on various social media platforms. It was one of the few funny moments in the tragedy that is covid19.

Aside from saving jobs and businesses, the Wages Subsidy reminded us that far from keeping the State “out of our lives” as neo-liberals have been calling for since the 1980s – the State was our united defence against the forces of nature – in this case a deadly viral pandemic. Only the State could marshal the expertise; the financial resources; the human power; and co-ordination necessary to save lives. Only the State, through our elected representatives, could motivate and encourage people to act together and do the right thing for the greater good.

Collectivism suddenly became desirable; the neo-liberal vision of small government, not so much.

Contrast our success with that of the United States which has glorified small government and the cult of the individual. Or Sweden, which adopted a hands-off approach. Their death rates are currently 496,033 and 12,428 respectively.

New Zealands death rate still stands at 25.

Now we begin to understand the deep, under-lying reason for Labour’s stunning election results last year. For all our criticisms (of which there are plenty and well-justified), they damn well earned it.

  • What comes next?

As Senior Researcher in Politics at Auckland University of Technology, David Hall, wrote for “The Conversationin October last year;

“In times of upset, people yearn for normality — and Ardern’s Labour Party was awarded a landslide for achieving something close to this.

[…]

This leaves us with the longstanding conundrum of what the Labour Party is and what it really stands for these days. Ardern and her colleagues are not ideologues, but no politics is without ideology — a system of ideas, values and beliefs that orients its efforts.”

If the primary priority of the current Labour-only government is to be “responsible managers” of the economy then they will be jostling for that position with their Tory counterparts. It will be a precarious position to occupy, as National’s fall-from-grace after Steven Joyce’s and Paul Goldsmith’s stuff-ups during the 2017 and 2020 election campaigns proved with dramatic effect.

Whilst being “responsible managers” is a good reputation to hold, in itself that is not Labour’s raison d’etre. Their existence, like the Green Party and ACT, is to effect change.

Labour is the party that initiated State housing; implemented unemployment and domestic purposes benefits; removed homosexuality and sex work from the Crimes Act; cut diplomatic ties with apartheid South Africa; moved Aotearoa New Zealand to be nuclear free; brought in equal pay for women legislation; and many other progressive social and economic reforms.

For the current Labour government to squander their majority in Parliament is to turn their backs on their 105 years of proud history and waste the mandate they have been given.

If Labour is too timid to act on climate change; unaffordable housing and homelessness; rampant inequality and discrimination against minorities; child poverty and low income for welfare beneficiaries; as well as guard the country against covid and act as sound stewards of the economy, then the legitimate question must arise in voter’s mind; why vote for them?

Re-election for the sole purpose of re-election is not reason enough.

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References

The Wall Street Journal: The Covid-19 Death Toll Is Even Worse Than It Looks

Al Jazeera: In post-Brexit UK, quiet ports hide mounting transport chaos

The Atlantic: This is a coup

The Guardian: Victoria hotel quarantine failures ‘responsible’ for Covid second wave and 768 deaths, inquiry told

CNN: Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny dupes spy into revealing how he was poisoned

CNBC: Hundreds arrested in Hong Kong protests, as analysts weigh in on national security law’s impact

BBC: The Uighurs and the Chinese state – A long history of discord

Reuters: Global temperatures reached record highs in 2020, say EU scientists

Electoral Commission: New Zealand 2020 General Election – Official Results

Electoral Commission: New Zealand 2017 General Election – Official Results

Wikipedia: 2014 New Zealand General Election

The Spinoff: Future Act MP held ‘climate hysteria skeptics’ meetings at high school

Victoria University: The Home Front Volume  II Chapter 17 — More Shortages

RNZ: New Zealand’s most fertile land dug up for housing

Stuff media: $5.50 lettuces if fertile Pukekohe land turned into houses

Canstar: NZ property trends emerging in 2017

Scoop media: Auckland Median House Price Hits $1m Mark In October; 9 Other Regions & 28 Districts Hit Record Median Prices

Business Insider: How A US Housing Boom Became A Global Financial Crisis

The Conversation: With a mandate to govern New Zealand alone, Labour must now decide what it really stands for

Electoral Commission: New Zealand 2017 General Election – Official Results

The Guardian: Climate crisis – 2020 was joint hottest year ever recorded

Stanford News: Stanford researcher reveals influence of global warming on extreme weather events has been frequently underestimated

NIWA: Ocean acidification—what is it?

Carbon Brief: New climate models suggest faster melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet

Geonet: Whakaari/White Island

Wikipedia: Christchurch mosque shootings

RNZ: Jenny Craig defends stance as essential service

RNZ: What it means to break Covid-19 lockdown rules

RNZ: New Zealand lockdown – Great Barrier-Aotea residents irritated by boaties on shores

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus lockdown – Health Minister David Clark demoted after driving 20km to beach, breaking lockdown rules

RNZ: Air NZ silent about Covid-19 cases as staff fears grow over quarantine exemption

Stuff media: Coronavirus – How the Government botched border testing for Covid-19

RNZ: Covid-19 – MIQ nurses threaten to stop work if N95 masks not supplied

RNZ: ‘Dumb good luck’ no outbreak after Covid-19 community case – health expert

Newshub: Siouxsie Wiles slams Air NZ for still serving food

Tax Working Group: Tax Working Group delivers Final Report

NZ Herald: PM Jacinda Ardern has ruled out implementing a Capital Gains Tax while she is at the helm of Labour

Stuff media: Capital gains tax – Jacinda Ardern took a lifeboat off a ship she could have saved

Newshub: Newshub-Reid Research poll shows Kiwis trust Labour over National to run economy as Paul Goldsmith dodges blame over fiscal hole

Newshub: Newshub-Reid Research Poll: Kiwis trust Labour more than National to run the economy

TVNZ: Kiwis now trust Labour more than National to repair the economy, poll suggests

Parliament:  Social Security (COVID-19 Income Relief Payment to be Income) Amendment Bill

RNZ: Relief payments for people who lost jobs due to Covid-19 announced

MSD: Jobseeker Support cut-out points (current)

RNZ: Covid income relief payment recipients fare better than those on the dole, survey finds

Kāinga Ora: 2016/17 Annual Report

Kāinga Ora: 2019/20 Annual Report

Housing NZ: Annual Report 2008/09

Stuff media: Public housing waitlist cracks 20,000 with over 2000 new households in a single month

Stuff media: National Party admits it sold too many state houses

Stuff media: Election 2020 – National promises to sell state houses, but this time only to tenants

Work and Income: Covid-19 Wage Subsidy

Statistics NZ: Unemployment rate at 4.2 percent in March quarter

Stuff media: Record jump in jobless rate to 5.3%, but NZ set to avoid unemployment disaster

The Spin-off: Why the hell has New Zealand’s unemployment rate just gone down?

RNZ: Ryman to repay $14.2m for wage subsidy

RNZ: The Warehouse Group wage subsidy repayment – Taxpayers pleased

Newshub: Coronavirus – Taxpayers’ Union gives up ‘ideological purity’, accepts $60,000 in taxpayer wage subsidies

Worldometer: Covid 19 – USA

Worldometer: Covid 19 – Sweden

National party: Restoring New Zealand’s Prosperity – Responsible Economic Management

ODT: Opinion – Joyce’s ‘fake news’ fiscal hole backfires

Stuff media: Election 2020 – National’s fiscal hole appears to double to $8 billion as Paul Goldsmith denies double count mistake

NZ History: State housing – The first state house

Te Ara: Family welfare

Stuff media: Homosexual Law Reform 30 years on – what was life like for the gay community pre-1986?

Parliament: Prostitution law reform in New Zealand

Te Ara: Political leaders – David Lange’s tour of Africa

MFAT: Taking a nuclear-free policy to the world

MSD: New Zealand Conference on Pay and Employment Equity for Women

Additional

Greenpeace:  Five ways NZ will be much better if Jacinda makes good on her promise to Build Back Better

Other blogspots

The Paepae: The juxtaposition in this screen shot of the ‘NZ Taxpayers Union Inc’ astroturf lobby group receiving a government-funded subsidy makes me chortle

The Daily Blog: When will Michael Barnett stop whinging, whining and bleating? – John Minto

Previous related blogposts

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (rima)

Life in Level 2: Two Tier Welfare; A Green School; Right Rage, Wrong Reason

2020: Post-mortem or Prologue?

2020: The History That Was – Part 1

2020: The History That Was – Part 2

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sharon murdoch

Acknowledgement: Sharon Murdoch

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 February 2021.
 

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An Advisory to the West Coast Regional Council

9 February 2019 3 comments

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In July last year (2018), the West Council Regional Council announced in a submission to the Ministry for the Environment that they would not be supporting the Coalition Government’s proposed Zero Carbon Bill. The Council stated;

The West Coast Regional Council (WCRC or ‘the Council’) does not support the Zero Carbon Bill (ZCB) as it creates too much uncertainty for the West Coast region. There are too many unknowns that arise from this discussion document to gain the Councils support. Further, the discussion document has not presented the science behind the proposed bill. We suggest the science that underpins the ZCB should be clearly discussed and summarised in order for the layperson to understand and potentially accept it. Climate change is a very complex issue and to ask the people of the West Coast to commit to an emissions target (and accept the subsequent adverse effects discussed below), the evidence proving anthropogenic climate change must be presented and proven beyond reasonable doubt.

The statement was repeated further on in the submission;

While the framework of the ZCB appears to be well-intentioned the science behind the bill and Anthropogenic climate change needs to be presented and proven beyond reasonable doubt.

The West Council Regional Council’s submission was reported on 29 January this year;

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Unfortunately for the Council, it juxtaposed with the same week that soaring temperatures hit Australia and New Zealand;

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It was simply bad luck for climate change deniers on the West Coast Regional Council that their submission was made public the same week that data revealed January 2019 as the hottest month since records began in 1909;

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The data was obtained by New Zealand’s own research organisation, NIWA, with the organisation’s climate scientist, Gregor Macara, stating;

“It was unusual that the entire country seemed to observe temperatures that weren’t only above average, but really considerably above average.”

NIWA obtains it’s data from a range of advanced scientific instruments;

Partnering with NOAA, NIWA is not short on a wealth of climate data gathered by sophisticated devices and skilled, dedicated scientists. It may be an over-used cliche, but New Zealand “punches above it’s weight” on climate science.

This is the information which the West Council Regional Council laments that it lacks;

“We must be objective and base our decisions on science and that’s why we want the science presented really simply; we don’t have climate change experts on our staff so we just want everyone to understand it.”

There are processes that the Council can go through to be briefed on climate change and better informed.

In fact, the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MoBIE) provides an Envirolink Grant which is specifically designed  “to provide regional councils with advice and research on environmental projects”;

The funding available

Funding of $1.6 million (excluding GST) is available each year for Crown research institutes, universities and private research organisations to provide regional councils with advice and research on environmental projects.

Envirolink funding is invested through 3 on-demand processes:

  • a Small Advice grant to provide councils with initial expert advice on proposed environmental research
  • a Medium Advice grant to provide more detailed advice
  • a Tools Development grant to fund the development of environmental management tools for councils.

Those eligible are listed on the MoBIE website;

Who can apply 

The following regional councils and unitary authorities are currently eligible to apply for Envirolink support via the small and medium advice grants:

  • Northland Regional Council
  • Gisborne District Council
  • Hawkes Bay Regional Council
  • Horizons Regional Council
  • Nelson City Council
  • Marlborough District Council
  • Tasman District Council
  • West Coast Regional Council
  • Environment Southland.

All regional councils and unitary authorities are eligible to apply for the Tools development grants.

The information from NIWA is available and extensive.

However, it appears that the real question is not whether the information is available and whether or not climate change has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. As NASA scientist, Compton Tucker, said three years ago;

“We’re starting to see the death of climate change denial, that is the evidence accumulated from multiple sources.

The evidence is overwhelming and there are people who are wilfully ignorant about climate change and they invoke a wide variety of mechanisms which are pretty silly.”

No, the real question is not the science which exists in abundance – but a quasi-religious belief which does not recognise or understand the science.  These are people like one of the West Coast Regional Councillors, Allan Birchfield.

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Mr Birchfield owns several coal mines. Coal is a prime source of carbon dioxide. And carbon dioxide is one of the main greenhouse gases.

Despite rejecting that he is a climate change denier and opposing the Zero Carbon Bill “…because I’m a coal miner”, Mr Birchfield is also a devout follower of Donald Trump;

“I strongly support what Donald Trump has done in America bring all the miners back to work again.”

It would cost nothing for the West Coast Regional Council to be briefed by NIWA. The real question is: do they want to be?

Because whether or not people accept climate change is happening is ultimately irrelevant. Like it or not, climate change is impacting on the West Coast. The same natural force that created coal 360 million years ago is now reacting to the carbon dioxide we are releasing into the atmosphere from burning that same coal.

Count on it, Councillors.

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References

West Coast Regional Council: Submission on Zero Carbon Bill Discussion Document

Radio NZ: West Coast council rejects government climate change bill

Radio NZ: Scorching weather – Temps set to soar to 34C

Radio NZ: January 2018 NZ’s hottest month on record

NIWA: Climate stations and instruments

NIWA: SST Analyses for Standard Areas

NIWA: Argo Floats

NIWA: Environmental monitoring

NIWA: CTD (Conductivity, Temperature and Depth)

NIWA: Underwater glider touches down in Wellington

Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment: Envirolink Scheme

NIWA: National Climate Database

Fairfax/Stuff media: West Coast Regional Council wants proof of human-caused climate change before supporting Zero Carbon Bill

Radio NZ: Impossible to deny climate change – NASA

NIWA: What is climate change and why is it happening?

Other blogs

No Right Turn:  Climate Change – (Local) government in denial

The Daily Blog: The West Coast Regional Council is the face of climate denial – let them drown!

The Standard: Does the West Coast Regional Council Exist?

Previous related blogposts

The Many Mendacities of Mr Bridges – National’s fair-weather “commitment” to a Climate Change Commission

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 4 January 2019.

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The Many Mendacities of Mr Bridges – National’s fair-weather “commitment” to a Climate Change Commission

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Current National Party Leader, Simon Bridges has been making ‘noises’ about his Party’s new-found revelation that climate change is a major environmental issue

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date: 24 June 2018
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Dominion Post

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National leader Simon Bridges recently announced that his Party would “sign up” to a Climate Change Commission. However, his so-called commitment contained so many caveats as to make it meaningless.

On TVNZ’s Q+A, he said;

“But he can’t even say what exactly that means. My point to you, let me give it straight on, my point to you really is this – there is a difference in politics, there still is today. And it is around, on our side, us thinking we need to be practical, have sensible environmental solutions. We don’t want to see the disruptive damage to the economy quickly.

[…]

And we don’t want to see real costs imposed on hard-working Kiwi households overnight.”

A day later on Radio NZ’s Morning Report, Bridges repeated the same carefully-rehearsed speech;

“You want to be considering not only the environmental impacts but the economic impacts.”

[…]

We’re going to be practical, sensible, and solutions-oriented. We’re not going to veer to the extremes that mean really dramatic effects on our economy and huge costs on household, that disrupt quite quickly.”

Despite acknowledging that “Climate change is real”, he refused to commit to a Commission’s findings.

Mr Bridges has a long way to go.

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Frank Macskasy

[Address and phone number supplied]

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As if to underscore Mr Bridges’ double-think on this grave crisis confronting our civilisation;

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date: 24 June 2018
subject: Letter to the editor

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The Editor
NZ Herald

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How can current  National Party leader, Simon Bridges, expect to be taken seriously on his so-called ‘signing up’ to a Climate Change Commission when;

(1) He will not undertake any meaningful change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if it may “harm our economy” or “drive up costs” – both propositions being examples of hyperbolic fear-mongering to do nothing meaningful. (Or as little as possible.)

(2) He refused to undertake to commit to any findings from a proposed Commission despite acknowledging that “climate change is real” and solutions should “be science based”. If he doesn’t commit to science based solutions, what will he commit to?

(3) On 12 April, National launched a petition to “Stop this Ardern-Peters Govt from banning oil and gas exploration”. Two months later, Bridges was ascending the moral highground demanding that “National wants to take the politics out of climate change and work with other parties to create an independent climate change commission. Climate change is a major environmental issue”.

Interviewed on  Radio NZ and TVNZ’s Q+A, Mr Bridges’s qualified his “commitment” to a Climate Change Commission with so many caveats, “ifs”, buts”, and “maybe in the future”, as to expose his supposed Road to Damascus conversion as politically expedient vote chasing.

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Frank Macskasy

[Address and phone number supplied]

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As an example of That was Then, This is now,  nothing better illustrates National’s duplicity than their two recent posts of Twitter.

Then

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Now

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So much for “National want[ing] to take the politics out of climate change”.

Some things do not seem to have changed much from May 2005, when a certain Member of Parliament dismissed climate change as a hoax;

“This is a complete and utter hoax, if I may say so. The impact of the Kyoto Protocol, even if one believes in global warming—and I am somewhat suspicious of it—is that we will see billions and billions of dollars poured into fixing something that we are not even sure is a problem. Even if it is a problem, it will be delayed for about 6 years. Then it will hit the world in 2096 instead of 2102, or something like that. It will not work.” – John Key, Debating Chamber, Parliament, 10 May 2005

Hat-tip: MickySavage, The Standard

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Green Party leader, James Shaw, took a more charitable view of Mr Bridges’ sudden change-of-heart;

“I think it is a genuine offer. National as the so-called party of business has been hearing from particularly the corporate end of town who have been saying that there really has to be a stable policy environment that has to survive multiple changes of Government.

[…]

I think it is pretty unreasonable to ask them to support a piece of legislation that they haven’t seen yet and I think that engaging them in the process of drafting increases the chances that they will eventually vote for it.”

National may vote for it – but will they honour and abide by findings and recommendations from a Climate Change Commission? Especially when in 2012, National scrapped a crucial  five-yearly State of the Environment Report.

Broken promises have also played a significant part in National’s climate change policies. In May 2007, John Key promised to bring farmers into the Emissions Trading Scheme;

“National will bring all Kiwis – industry, energy producers, farmers, mums and dads – closer to a shared and well-understood goal. We need to be united in our pursuit of a ’50 by 50′ target”

By 2012, National had reneged, passing legislation exempting agriculture indefinitely from the ETS.

It is unclear why anyone would believe National’s concession to a Climate Change Commission when their track record has been one of broken promises, back-tracking, prevaricating, and conflicting statements on addressing emissions.

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Meanwhile, Nature waits for no Man, Woman, or out-of-touch political careerists. For the last quarter of a century, an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and rising temperatures have quietly wrought it’s damage;

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BBC: Antarctica loses three trillion tonnes of ice in 25 years

13 June 2018

Satellites monitoring the state of the White Continent indicate some 200 billion tonnes a year are now being lost to the ocean as a result of melting.

This is pushing up global sea levels by 0.6mm annually – a three-fold increase since 2012 when the last such assessment was undertaken.

Scientists report the new numbers in the journal Nature.

Governments will need to take account of the information and its accelerating trend as they plan future defences to protect low-lying coastal communities.

The researchers say the losses are occurring predominantly in the West of the continent, where warm waters are getting under and melting the fronts of glaciers that terminate in the ocean.

[…]

Space agencies have been flying satellites over Antarctica since the early 1990s. Europe, in particular, has an unbroken observation record going back to 1992.

These spacecraft can tell how much ice is present by measuring changes in the height of the ice sheet and the speed at which it moves towards the sea. Specific missions also have the ability to weigh the ice sheet by sensing changes in the pull of gravity as they pass overhead.

[…]

In total, Antarctica has shed some 2.7 trillion tonnes of ice since 1992, corresponding to an increase in global sea level of more than 7.5mm.

[…]

“At the moment, we have projections going through to 2100, which is sort of on a lifetime of what we can envisage, and actually the sea-level rise we will see is 50/60cm,” said Dr Whitehouse. “And that is not only going to impact people who live close to the coast, but actually when we have storms – the repeat time of major storms and flooding events is going to be exacerbated,” she told BBC News.

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For those with an aptitude for science, the raw date can be found on the Nature website. As well as orbiting satellite sensors,  the Argo Ocean probes continue to feed continuous data on temperature, salinity, and velocity of the upper ocean. Real-time data is collected and made publicly available soon after collection.

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New Zealand’s own NIWA has been part of the Argo Project since the early 2000s. Dedicated crew and scientists from New Zealand’s research vessels Tangaroa and Kaharoa placed over a thousand Argo Floats between 2004 and 2011.

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(Images courtesy of NIWA)

From space; to the planet’s surface; and undersea, sensitive instruments are revealing a grim picture of humanity’s impact on the environment and on our climate.

It is against this backdrop that Simon Bridges is playing silly-buggers with the greatest existential threat to humanity since the Americans and Soviets confronted each other during the Cold War.

Small-minded politicians can play their games to win elections.

But it will be at our expense.

Addendum

A recent survey by Horizon Polling has revealed that the majority of respondents “support all parties in Parliament agreeing on plans to act on climate change”;

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Cross-Party support for action on climate gas emissions showed a majority in favour;

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  • 41% of National voters support an all-party approach (31% are neutral, 21% oppose)
  • 67% of Labour voters support, 17% are neutral, 6% oppose
  • 93% of Green voters support, 3% are neutral and none oppose
  • 47% of NZ First voters support, 30% are neutral and 21% oppose

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Simon Bridges’ luke-warm ‘support’ for a Climate Change Commission threatens to make him more irrelevant than he is already. At this rate he will have to run to catch up with the rest of the country.

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References

Radio NZ: Nats change tune on commission for climate change

Scoop media: Q+A – Simon Bridges interviewed by Corin Dann (transcipt)

Scoop media: Q+A – Simon Bridges interviewed by Corin Dann (video)

Radio NZ: Morning Report – Bridges offers to work with govt on tackling climate change

Twitter: National – Sign our Petition

Twitter: Simon Bridges – Climate Change Commission

Parliament: Climate Change Response Amendment Bill – First Reading

NZ Herald: Climate change minister James Shaw welcomes ‘genuine’ approach from Simon Bridges

NZ Herald: National scraps crucial environmental report

Scoop media: John Key Speech – Climate Change Target

Radio NZ: Farmers’ ETS exemption progresses

BBC: Antarctica loses three trillion tonnes of ice in 25 years

Nature: Mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2017

Argo: What is Argo?

Argo: Argo Floats

NIWA: Argo Floats

Horizon Polling:  Majority support all-party action on climate change

Additional

Fairfax media:  Simon Bridges blows hot air into climate change debate

Parliament: Climate Change Response Amendment Bill – First Reading – John Key

Radio NZ: ‘The science is clear – climate change is real’ – National

Other Blogposts

No Right Turn:  Climate Change: National’s forked tongue

The Daily Blog: National proclaiming they want to find climate change solutions is like the Tobacco industry proclaiming they want to find solutions to cancer

The Standard: Does National really want climate change to be a bipartisan issue?

Previous related blogposts

The many mendacities of Mr Bridges – a few volts short of an EV

Simon burns his Teal Coalition Bridges

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 June 2018.

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= fs =

National’s new-found concern for the poor

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There are times when National’s opposition to the Coalition government’s new policies leaves one shaking their head in utter dismay.  Jami-Lee Ross – a notorious union-basher and unrepentant enemy of workers – shedding crocodile tears for the poor of this country, is not a pretty sight…

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A response was called for, pointing out the crass hypocrisy of National to invoke the welfare of the poor to score a cheap political point;

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from: Frank Macskasy
to: NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date: 29 April 2018
subject: Letter to the editor

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Letters to the editor
NZ Herald

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National’s transport spokesperson, Jami-Lee Ross, recently criticised the new Coalition government’s plans to promote the use of electric vehicles. On 27 April, Ross said;

“It would effectively be a tax on the poor, you’d see the poorest New Zealanders who are purchasing second-hand Japanese imports having to pay the levy which would go towards subsidising electric vehicles for those who are more likely to be wealthier – and more likely to be able to purchase an electric vehicle.”

The sheer hypocrisy for Ross to cry a river of crocodile tears for the poor when, for nine years, National caused great harm to the poorest families and individuals of our once egalitarian nation.

Specifically, National;

  • raised ACC levies for workers by a staggering 21%
  • increased GST from 12.5% to 15% – raising food prices 4% that year
  • announced increases for petrol excise duty of 3 cents per litre for 2013, 2014, and 2015*, with Road user charges increasing similarly
  • raised Family Court fees to $900
  • increased prescription charges from $3 to $5
  • implemented the infamous “paperboy tax” in 2012 by cutting children’s tax refunds
  • and other increases to government charges, fees, surtaxes, et al

Ross would do well to examine National’s own abysmal record. They hardly helped the poorest families struggling to make ends meet.

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-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

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* 9 cents/litre, spread over three years.

Ross also demanded that the Coalition government do more to purchase electric vehicles;

“I’d encourage this government to continue with what National did by exempting road-user charges, I’d encourage them to continue to purchase more electric vehicles as a government, so the government fleet is full of more electric vehicles.”

The new Labour-Green-NZ First government certainly could not do worse than their National predecessors. In 2016, National’s then Minister for Energy, Simon Bridges, dumped proposals to assist in the purchase EVs for  State agencies;

Cabinet has pulled the handbrake on its Electric Vehicles plan, pulling proposals to help agencies cover the extra cost, documents show.

Bridges’ excuse was about as pathetic as a Crown minister could possibly get;

But Transport Minister Simon Bridges says he canned the two proposals, in order to be “more ambitious” later.

This is the National Party lecturing the rest of us how to curtail greenhouse gas emissions.

They have nothing to offer except more of the same failed policies from the 20th Century that have led humanity to the abyss of cataclysmic climate change.

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References

Scoop Media:  Union biting the hand that feeds

Youtube: Ports behind bill

Radio NZ:  National – petrol car levy will hurt the poor

Fairfax media: Workers to pay large increase in ACC levies

Radio NZ: PM defends proposed GST increase

NBR: GST increase pushes food prices up

Fairfax media: Plans for Family Court attacked

Fairfax media: Prescription price rise hits vulnerable

Ministry of Transport:  Increases to petrol excise duty and road user charges

NZ Herald: Budget 2012 -‘Paper boy tax’ on small earnings stuns Labour

Fairfax media:  Cabinet handbrake proves ‘government lack of leadership’ on electric vehicles – Greens

Radio NZ:  NZ’s summer the hottest on record – Niwa

Other Blogs

The Standard: National’s 18 new taxes

Previous related blogposts

National MP admits collusion with bosses to set up strike-breaking law!!

The many mendacities of Mr Bridges – a few volts short of an EV

2017: Parting shots from the Right: tantrums, bloated entitlements, and low, low expectations for our Youth – toru

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 3 May 2018.

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= fs =

Trumpwatch – How Elon Musk can overcome Trump’s climate-change obstinacy

23 June 2017 3 comments

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Fun Fact #1:According to an ongoing temperature analysis conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade.” – NASA, Earth Observatory

Fun Fact #2:Atmospheric CO2 concentration started to increase at the time of the Industrial Revolution and has been increasing rapidly since 1900. This increase is in proportion to the usage of fossil fuels. Therefore, reducing consumption of fossil fuels in order to reduce CO2 emissions has become a crucial countermeasure for global warming.” – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

Fun Fact #3: In 2011/13, China had 78 million  cars. In 2014, there were 154 million cars in China. By 2015, that number had risen to 172 million. A year later, another 28.3 million were sold, taking the figure to around 200.3 million private cars. By 2050, the estimated number of private vehicles in China is estimated to be between 464.9 to 557.7 million.

Fun Fact #4:The global number of cars on the road and kilometers flown in planes will nearly double by 2040 […] Cars are projected to reach the two billion mark by 2040.” – World Economic Forum

Fun Fact #5:A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.”  – US Environmental Protection Agency

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Until recently, Canadian-American businessman,  engineer,and inventor, Elon Musk was an Advisor on  Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum.

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Elon Musk

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Musk’s appointment to this Forum on 14 December last year joined the likes of;

  • Stephen A. Schwarzman (Forum Chairman), Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of Blackstone;
  • Paul Atkins, CEO, Patomak Global Partners, LLC, Former Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission;
  • Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors;
  • Toby Cosgrove, CEO, Cleveland Clinic;
  • Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co;
  • Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock;
  • Travis Kalanick, CEO and Co-founder, Uber Technologies;
  • Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company;
  • Rich Lesser, President and CEO, Boston Consulting Group;
  • Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.;
  • Jim McNerney, Former Chairman, President, and CEO, Boeing;
  • Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo;
  • Adebayo “Bayo” Ogunlesi, Chairman and Managing Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners;
  • Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President, and CEO, IBM;
  • Kevin Warsh, Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Economics, Hoover Institute, Former Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System;
  • Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and CEO, EY;
  • Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO, General Electric;
  • Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winner, Vice Chairman of IHS Markit;

A formidable Who’s Who of American capitalism’s “Captain’s of Industry”.

Trump’s propaganda website, “Great Again” stated;

Members of the Forum will be charged with providing their individual views to the President — informed by their unique vantage points in the private sector — on how government policy impacts economic growth, job creation and productivity. The Forum is designed to provide direct input to the President from many of the best and brightest in the business world in a frank, non-bureaucratic and non-partisan manner.

Trump was more effusive;

You’re doing well right now and I’m very honored by the bounce. They’re all talking about the bounce … Anything we can do to help this go along, and we’re going to be there for you. And you’ll call my people, you’ll call me. It doesn’t make any difference. We have no formal chain of command around here.

Musk’s appointment to the Forum had been unforeseen, as he had voiced criticisms of Trump and his victory at the elections;

The announcement came as a big surprise to many, considering Musk has been very critical of Donald Trump before and after the election. Before Trump became President-elect, Musk said in an interview with CNBC that the Republican nominee was “not the right man for the job” and that “he doesn’t seem to have the character that reflects well on the States.” After the business tycoon won more electoral votes than Hillary Clinton, Musk also lamented that the outcome “not the finest moment in our democracy in general.”

Before the election took place, Musk also stated that Hillary Clinton’s economic and environmental policies were better. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering Musk has made much of his fortune from harnessing renewable energy. He’s also a proud advocate of environmental sustainability. Trump, on the other hand, believes climate change is a “hoax” invented by the Chinese.

Musk holds strong views regarding human civilisation’s impact on the planet’s environment;

We’re running the most dangerous experiment in history right now, which is to see how much carbon dioxide the atmosphere … can handle before there is an environmental catastrophe.” – 17 April 2013

We are going to exit the fossil fuel era. It is inevitable. Right now we have an incentive structure that is designed to slow it down [transition from fossil fuels]. If countries decide to do a carbon tax or cap and trade, and it is real and not watered-down and weak, I think we can see a transition that is in the 15 to 20 years time frame as supposed to 40 to 50 years time frame. By putting a price on carbon, we are fixing a pricing error in the market. Any price will be better than the close to zero we have right now. ” –  2 December 2015

Burning oil is like taking furniture from your house and setting it on fire for heat.” – 1 July 2016

By definition, we must at some point achieve a sustainable energy economy or we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilization will collapse. Given that we must get off fossil fuels anyway and that virtually all scientists agree that dramatically increasing atmospheric and oceanic carbon levels is insane, the faster we achieve sustainability, the better.” – 20 July 2016

“  CO2 isn’t exactly pollution, but it does cause warming and slight acidification of water if very large quantities are dug from deep underground and added to the surface cycle. The problem is the age-old tragedy of the commons. The common good being consumed is atmospheric and oceanic carbon capacity, which currently has a price of zero. This results in an error in market signals and far more CO2 is generated than should be. We won’t ever go to zero CO2, but the rate over time should be dropped far below what it is today.”  – 26 January 2017

Musk’s views are clear. They are also in direct stark contrast to Trump’s own, stated belief, that global warming was a “hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to hobble American industry“.  By participating in Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, Musk appears to be an optimistic believer  in being inside the enemy’s tent pissing out, rather than vice versa.

At best, it was a naive belief.

On 27 May, Trump used his favourite medium to announce that he was going to… make an announcement;

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On 28 May, rumours began to circulate that Trump had already made up his mind and was going to make good on his threat to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord;

President Trump has privately told multiple people, including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, that he plans to leave the Paris agreement on climate change, according to three sources with direct knowledge.

Publicly, Trump’s position is that he has not made up his mind and when we asked the White House about these private comments, Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks said, “I think his tweet was clear. He will make a decision this week.”

The same report claimed that “… the EPA staff are quietly working with outside supporters to place op eds favoring withdrawal from Paris“. Evidently, the more unpopular/unreasonable a political decision is, the more ‘spin’ is required to ‘massage the message’ and lull the masses back to sleep.

Trump’s appointee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and fellow climate-change denier, Scott Pruitt, had been advocating since April for the US to withdraw from the Paris Accords;

Scott Pruitt, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, has said that the US should back out of its commitment to the Paris climate agreement, the landmark plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to limit global warming to below 2˚C.

This follows President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to cancel the agreement, with a decision on whether he will do so expected within the next month.

“It’s a bad deal for America,” Pruitt told cable news show Fox & Friends last week. “China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030.”

Pruitt  was being willfully disingenuous (ie; lying his head off);

“That statement is either deliberately misleading or woefully uninformed about what the Paris agreement is and what it does,” says Alden Meyer at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

China and India have already taken action to reach the goals they set for 2030, and China has committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by a higher percentage than US commitments. “Pruitt is really off the mark here,” Meyer says. “It’s very clear that China is going to overachieve its Paris objectives.”

Han Chen of the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York says that China implemented its first mandatory national cap on coal consumption last year and added three times as much wind capacity as the US in 2016.

“China already suspended over 100 planned or under-construction coal projects last year,” says Chen. “Meanwhile, the Trump administration wants policies that favor highly polluting fossil fuels. It’s no question which country is more ambitious on climate action at the moment.”

On 31  May, just days before Trump was due to officially announce what the entire world already knew, Elon Musk issued his own announcement;

 Tesla CEO Elon Musk threatened Wednesday to stop advising President Donald Trump if the White House withdraws from the Paris climate accords.

Asked on Twitter what he would do if Trump pulled out of the landmark global deal to curb emissions, Musk said…

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Musk, who also founded SpaceX, is on Trump’s manufacturing jobs council, his strategic and policy forum, and his infrastructure council. Musk has defended his role advising Trump in the face of some criticism from anti-Trump activists, arguing that they should want his voice in the discussions to offer views that differ from those of the president’s other advisors.

Sure enough, on 2 June (New Zealand time), Trump did not fail to disappoint an entire planet of  7.3 billion humans;

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Without any hint of self-awareness of irony, Trump stated;

“ The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction, on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers.”

Trump’s arrogance was such that even the North Korean leadership (who are also a signatory to the Paris Accord) was moved to say the right thing at the right time;

A spokesman for the North Korean government described the move as the “height of egotism and moral vacuum seeking only their well-being even at the cost of the entire planet, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

“[The US] is ignorant of the fact that the protection of the global environment is in their own interests,” the spokesman added.

“The selfish act of the US does not only have grave consequences for the international efforts to protect the environment, but poses great danger to other areas as well.”

Following on from Trump’s announcement, Elon Musk  made good on his warning that he would not be a collaborator to any undermining of the Paris Accord;

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Musk further tweeted;

Under Paris deal, China committed to produce as much clean electricity by 2030 as the US does from all sources today

Musk was correct. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman,  Hua Chunying, declared  China’s intention to  persevere with the Paris Accord;

“ Climate change is a global challenge. No county can place itself outside of this. At the same time, we will continue to resolutely be a protector and promoter of the global climate system process, proactively participating in the multilateral climate change process. We are willing to work with all sides to jointly protect the Paris agreement process, promote the actual rules and regulations of the agreement in follow-up talks and effectively enact them, and promote global green, low carbon, sustainable development.”

China has strong motivation to reduce atmospheric pollution generated by human industrial activity;

China had fought previous attempts by foreign governments to limit carbon emissions, claiming it should be allowed the same space to develop and pollute that industrialized nations had.

But with its capital often choked by smog and its people angry about the environmental degradation that rapid development has wrought across the country, Beijing has become a strong proponent of efforts to halt global warming.

The consequences of runaway climate change could be devastating for China, it’s people, and it’s economy. According to Climate Scientist, Benjamin Strauss;

Roughly a quarter of the world’s people who live on land at risk from 4C warming are living in China. That is more that twice as many as who live on vulnerable land in Europe and the US combined. The Shanghai region by itself has more than 20 million people living on land that could be lost.

Spokesman for the Russian Federation, Dmitry Peskov, added his country’s voice to endorsing the Paris Accord;

“ President Vladimir Putin signed this convention when he was in Paris. Russia attaches great significance to it. At the same time, it goes without saying that the effectiveness of this convention is likely to be reduced without its key participants.”

Meanwhile, many Trump supporters; alt. right purveyors of lies and conspiracy-theories such as ‘Infowars‘ and ‘Brietbart‘;  and assorted right-wing conservatives like Anne Coulter and Mark Levin were falling over each other in their scramble to praise their Dear Leader for taking the planet closer to ecological melt-down. The American Right seem to be the only ones supporting Trump.

Ironically, big corporations have parted company with Trump and the American Right, siding instead with the science community;

Major U.S. corporations and leading business figures are raising an eleventh-hour appeal to President Donald Trump, urging him to not pull the country out of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

[…]

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff tweeted Wednesday an image of an earlier joint open letter from over 20 top companies based in the U.S. or having business stateside, in which they made a business case that the U.S. should remain a part of the accord.

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In the face of  an intransigent anti-science cabal that now occupies the White House, aided by Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the rest of Planet Earth has no choice but carry working to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, nitrous oxide, and methane).

People of influence such as Elon Musk must now reassess their options.

By fortuitous coincidence, one option is already available to Musk and is stated on his Tesla website;

Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

[…]

Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.

We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.

Musk has given away his electric car patents, promising “not [to]  initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

He has indeed joined the Open Source movement. Open Source is described as “a decentralized development model that encourages open collaboration“. There is an element of socialist co-operative behaviour with OS.

However, simply stating that Musk will not stand in the way of  anyone who “wants to use [Tesla]  technology” is not enough.   This is an opportunity for Musk to counter Trump’s refusal to act decisively on climate change. This is Musk’s opportunity to show leadership where Trump – and other Republicans and conservatives – will not.

This is the proposal I have sent to Elon Musk, via Twitter;

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Frank Macskasy
New Zealand/Aotearoa – @fmacskasy

 

Kia Ora Mr Musk,

I wish to congratulate you on your principled decision to withdraw from Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. Withdrawing the United States from the Paris Accord on climate change shows a disturbing lack of understanding by Trump and a refusal to understand the science behind climate change, and it’s impact on Planet Earth.

By rejecting the science and claiming that climate change is a “Chinese orchestrated hoax” implies that the Chinese government has exercised full-spectrum dominance and control over NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), American Geophysical Union (AGU), American Meteorological Society, American Physical Society, Geological Society of America, and many others. This is patently laughable.

Mr Musk, you are in a unique position to take a measure of leadership on this critical problem confronting humanity and the entire planet.

On your Tesla website, you have stated that you intend to allow people to use your electric car technology without any impediments created by patent-rights;

“Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”

Your generosity in removing patents to Tesla technology is the seed to which the Paris Accord can move forward with a giant leap.

Instead of just allowing access to Tesla technology, I propose that you engage with the Chinese government to set up Tesla car-manufacturing plants throughout the Chinese People’s Republic. You could stipulate that the only two provisos would be;

1. Each plant must be powered by renewable energy. No fossil fuel energy sources to be used.

2. All electric vehicles will be for domestic consumption only (if you so wish).

With the number of private vehicles in China estimated to each 464.9 to 557.7 million by 2050 (ref: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/251560842Modeling_future_vehicle_sales_and_stock_in_China) and with each typical car emitting approximately 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year (ref: https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/greenhouse-gas-emissions-typical-passenger-vehicle-0), it does not take much maths to work out how much extra CO2 will be pumped into the atmosphere by just one nation alone.

Your leadership on this problem would rival that of your SpaceX programme and ambitions for Mars.

You can achieve what Trump has failed in such a dismal fashion.

This would be a spectacular act of international co-operation with the future of the entire planet and our species at stake.

Mr Musk, you can be the visionary. If China is to have 557.7 million cars by 2050, let them be electric. Let them all be Teslas.

Best wishes,
-Frank Macskasy

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Solving the crisis of climate change will take a titanic, collective effort from us all.

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References

NASA: World of Change – Global Temperatures

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries:  History of Fossil Fuel Usage since the Industrial Revolution

Huffington Post:  Number Of Cars Worldwide Surpasses 1 Billion – Can The World Handle This Many Wheels?

Wall Street Journal:  China Soon to Have Almost as Many Drivers as U.S. Has People

News.Cn:  China’s car ownership reaches 172 million

South China Morning Post: China 2016 car sales surge at fastest rate in three years

Researchgate:  Modeling future vehicle sales and stock in China (p26)

US Environmental Protection Agency:  Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle

World Economic Forum: The number of cars worldwide is set to double by 2040

Wikipedia: Elon Musk

The Hill:  Trump names Elon Musk, Uber CEO to advisory team

Great Again:  President-Elect Donald J. Trump Announces Travis Kalanick of Uber, Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla, and Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo to Join President’s Strategic and Policy Forum

The Guardian:   The Minute – Trump promises Silicon Valley ‘bounce’

True Activist:  Donald Trump Appoints Elon Musk As Strategic Presidential Advisor

Twitter: Donald Trump – global warming Chinese hoax

USA Today: Icons – Elon Musk doesn’t let up at Tesla, SpaceX

Reuters:  Tesla’s Elon Musk says transition from fossil fuels inevitable

Twitter: Elon Musk – burning fossil fuel

Tesla: Master Plan, Part Deux

Gizmodo:  Gizmodo Chats With Elon Musk About Climate Change And Donald Trump

Twitter: Donald Trump – global warming Chinese hoax

Twitter: Donald Trump – Decision on Paris Accord

Axios:  Scoop – Trump tells confidants U.S. will quit Paris climate deal

New Scientist:  Environment chief says US should exit Paris climate agreement

CNBC:  Elon Musk threatens to leave White House advisory councils if Trump drops Paris accord

Twitter: Elon Musk – will have to resign from councils

Radio NZ:  Donald Trump withdraws US from Paris climate deal

RT News:  ‘Height of egotism’ – North Korea blasts US withdrawal from Paris climate accord

Twitter: Elon Musk – departing presidential councils

Twitter: Elon Musk – China committed to producing clean electricity

Scientific American: Ahead of Trump Decision, China Says It Will Stick to Paris Climate Deal

China Dialogue:  Chinese cities most at risk from rising sea levels

RT News: Russia confirms commitment to Paris climate change agreement amid fears of US pullout

Media Matters:  Right-wing media cheer Trump withdrawing United States from the Paris climate agreement

Fortune.Com: Top CEOs Are In a Last Ditch Bid to Persuade Trump to Stick with the Paris Climate Deal

Twitter: Marc Benioff – Decision on Paris Accord

Tesla: All Our Patent Are Belong To You

Wikipedia: Open Source Model

Twitter: Frank Macskasy – sharing Tesla

Previous related blogposts

Trumpwatch: One minute closer to midnight on the Doomsday Clock

Trumpwatch: What’s a few more nails in the planet’s coffin?

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 June 2017.

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Kiwis say ‘no’ to Trump’s climate denial – Wellington protest at Tillerson visit

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Wellington, NZ, 6 June 2017: Global warming has not entirely eliminated cold, wet Wellington wintry-days. With the capital city shrouded in grey cloud-cover, and washed with a constant chilly drizzle, New Zealanders ignored their discomfort to stand on Parliament’s grounds. They were protesting the visit of US secretary of State and former Exxon-Mobil CEO, Rex Tillerson.

The lunch-time protest started with a small handful of hardy souls;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com trump - rex tillerson - climate change - paris accord - global warming

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The very first placard came from Jo;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com trump - rex tillerson - climate change - paris accord - global warming

 

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The  Bernis indeed not a happy fellow after Trump’s announcement to pull out from the Paris Accords;

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“ President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement is an abdication of American leadership and an international disgrace. At this moment, when climate change is already causing devastating harm around the world, we do not have the moral right to turn our backs on efforts to preserve this planet for future generations.

The United States must play a leading role in the global campaign to stop climate change and transition rapidly away from fossil fuels to renewable and more efficient sources of energy. We must do this with or without the support of Donald Trump and the fossil fuel industry.”

Jo was joined by Max and Barbara with their home-crafted placards;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com trump - rex tillerson - climate change - paris accord - global warming

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Others were arriving and the protest group numbers swelled, despite the rain. Chad and Jack voiced their views clearly on their placards;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com trump - rex tillerson - climate change - paris accord - global warming

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Note the hashtag, #exxonknew – more on that point shortly.

Journalists from the msm started to arrive;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com trump - rex tillerson - climate change - paris accord - global warming

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(Another) Jack, and Kate, with one sign adapting Trump’s election-campaign slogan to better effect. Would it be asking too much from Bill English and Gerry Brownlee to take Kate’s hint?

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There was a wide range of ages, reflecting the reality that climate change affected us all, and none are exempt;

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Nearly every placard was individually hand-made. Very few were mass-produced printed. Clustered around a sign written obviously by grandparents, Robbie and Keith (holding “Grandkid’s earth sign) and Eva and Lynn, charging Tillerson to be a climate criminal;

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An appearance by The Donald himself. Or a doppelgänger. Hard to tell the difference;

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This woman reminded us of the struggle by Native American tribe Standing Rock Sioux  to oppose the Dakota Keystone XL oil pipelines;

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As reported by  The Guardian;

After more than a year of protests at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, thousands of Native Americans and activists brought the fight to the nation’s capital to demand indigenous rights and raise awareness about issues affecting the communities.

The event, the culmination of a four-day protest in the capital, was led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has been involved in a longstanding dispute with authorities over the construction of an oil pipeline in North Dakota, culminating in a two-mile march through Washington and rally in front of the White House.

[…]

Opponents of the $3.8bn pipeline say the project threatens their water supply from the Missouri river, crosses sacred land and was approved without proper consultation with tribal leaders and without a thorough study of impacts.

[…]

LeeAnn Eastman, of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe on the Lake Traverse Indian reservation in South Dakota, doubted Trump was standing at the window watching their protest – but she said their message was breaking through.

“They woke up a giant when they told us they were just going to put this pipeline through our land, our sacred land,” she said. “We do everything peacefully, prayerfully, but we’re not going to let him just walk all over us like that and contaminate our water.”

Within half an hour, numbers had swelled to a couple of hundred people. Not bad for a miserable day;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com trump - rex tillerson - climate change - paris accord - global warming

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The Green Party was very much a visible presence. For the Green movement, confronting atmospheric pollution and subsequent climate change is their raison d’être;

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Labour’s Grant Robertson and Green Party co-leader, James Shaw, sheltering under a green umbrella. This was perhaps more symbolic than intended, suggesting the evolving ‘greening’ of political parties worldwide;

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Hugh held up a sign which held more relevance than most people might have been aware of;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com trump - rex tillerson - climate change - paris accord - global warming

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According to a report from Scientific American, Exxon has known for the last forty years that fossil fuels were leading to climate change. They kept it a secret;

Exxon was aware of climate change, as early as 1977, 11 years before it became a public issue, according to a recent investigation from InsideClimate News. This knowledge did not prevent the company (now ExxonMobil and the world’s largest oil and gas company) from spending decades refusing to publicly acknowledge climate change and even promoting climate misinformation—an approach many have likened to the lies spread by the tobacco industry regarding the health risks of smoking. Both industries were conscious that their products wouldn’t stay profitable once the world understood the risks, so much so that they used the same consultants to develop strategies on how to communicate with the public.  

Experts, however, aren’t terribly surprised. “It’s never been remotely plausible that they did not understand the science,” says Naomi Oreskes, a history of science professor at Harvard University. But as it turns out, Exxon didn’t just understand the science, the company actively engaged with it. In the 1970s and 1980s it employed top scientists to look into the issue and launched its own ambitious research program that empirically sampled carbon dioxide and built rigorous climate models. Exxon even spent more than $1 million on a tanker project that would tackle how much CO2 is absorbed by the oceans. It was one of the biggest scientific questions of the time, meaning that Exxon was truly conducting unprecedented research. 

[…]

One thing is certain: in June 1988, when NASA scientist James Hansen told a congressional hearing that the planet was already warming, Exxon remained publicly convinced that the science was still controversial. Furthermore, experts agree that Exxon became a leader in campaigns of confusion. By 1989 the company had helped create the Global Climate Coalition (disbanded in 2002) to question the scientific basis for concern about climate change. It also helped to prevent the U.S. from signing the international treaty on climate known as the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 to control greenhouse gases. Exxon’s tactic not only worked on the U.S. but also stopped other countries, such as China and India, from signing the treaty. At that point, “a lot of things unraveled,” Oreskes says.

But experts are still piecing together Exxon’s misconception puzzle. Last summer the Union of Concerned Scientists released a complementary investigation to the one by InsideClimate News, known as the Climate Deception Dossiers. “We included a memo of a coalition of fossil-fuel companies where they pledge basically to launch a big communications effort to sow doubt,” says union president Kenneth Kimmel. “There’s even a quote in it that says something like ‘Victory will be achieved when the average person is uncertain about climate science.’ So it’s pretty stark.”

Rex Tillerson joined Exxon in 1975 and rose through the ranks, becoming CEO of ExxonMobil from 2006 to 2016.

On 2 June this year, CNN announced;

The office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says it has evidence that ExxonMobil misled shareholders about how carbon regulations may impact the company’s business.

And possibly even more damaging, the prosecutor says company document indicate that ex-CEO Rex Tillerson, who is now Secretary of State, knew all about it.

In documents filed in court Friday, investigators say they found “secret, internal figures” that indicate the company purposefully understated the financial damage that climate change regulations could have on its business, and potentially did so as far back as 2007.

The filings also allege there is evidence that appears to confirm Tillerson knew about the deception, and condoned it.

The CNN report contained an unusual revelation about Tillerson’s alleged shady activities;

Tillerson has been a big part of Schneiderman’s probe into the oil and gas company since it began in 2015. One of its bombshell revelations was that Tillerson used a fake email under the name “Wayne Tracker,” to discuss climate change internally.

A new filing posted Friday suggests that the new Exxon chief, Darren Woods, also has an alias corporate email account. He allegedly goes by the name of J.E. Gray. Exxon confirmed the account was set up for Woods, but it was intended to “manage a high volume of messages” and has never been used.

So much for Trump “draining the swamp”.  New species of swamp-critters have well and truly returned to the White House.

Protestor, Frances, held no illusions as to the nature of Trump and his appointee, Rex Tillerson;

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Frances remarked that far from being “anti-establishment”, the Trump Administration was a continuation of the Establishment owning politicians in the US.

Roger’s sign became even more appropriate under the circumstances. Note the small print;

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‘350’ organisers Allan and Jesse welcomed the people and thanked them for turning up on such a cold, miserable day;

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First speaker was Mahinarangi Baker – Te Atiawa, Ngatoa, Raukawa;

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Mahinarangi warned of the effects of climate change here in Aotearoa, with  more extreme weather events; increasing coastal erosion; and environmental disasters such as  Edgecumbe. She said that climate change  put all our communities at great risk and demanded that government put the safety of our people before the interests of the  fossil fuel industry.

Mahinarangi was contemptuous of the response from government representatives, which she described as  “atrociously weak”. Mahinarangi was not impressed with Climate Change Minister, Paula Bennett saying  “she respected the decision that Trump has made”; Foreign Affairs ministers, Gerry Brownlee saying  he would  help Trump renegotiate the Paris agreement, and nothing but total silence from Prime Minister,  Bill English.

Mahinarangi criticised government subsidies for the  oil exploration industry.

Mahinarangi was followed by Green Party co-leader, James Shaw, who received strong applause from the crowd;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com trump - rex tillerson - climate change - paris accord - global warming

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Shaw told the protesters;

“ New Zealand is at risk of more fires, more floods, and longer and deeper droughts. That is a risk to us and to our way of life here in New Zealand and in the Pacific and around the world. It’s not good enough merely for our government to stand around and say, ‘well, they’re a democratically government, they can pull out if they want to’.

He added,

“ As a country with an independent foreign policy we have an ability to stand with our close friends, the Americans, and take them aside and to say, ‘this isn’t good enough, you know’. And we should have the strength of character to do that.

Shaw told the protesters that he was inspired by them, especially for coming out on such a cold, wet day to make a point. He said he  condemned the actions of the American administration and  referred to Tillerson as ‘T-Rex, the climate dinosaur’.

Shaw was followed by Grant Robertson;

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Robertson described the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Accords as immoral and a crime against future generations. He said,

“ In this country today we have a government that is not taking climate change seriously, that put up a pathetic offer at the Paris agreement. So the one good thing we can take out of today and what the US has done, that it is a chance for NZ to say once and for all, we will have a low carbon future; we will do what it takes to reduce our emissions; we will play our part, as we have before on the world stage as a leader. So the clear message I am sending on behalf of the Labour Party today, to the United States, ‘you are on the wrong side of of history, you need to get on the right side of the Future for every generation to come.

His speech was met with loud cheers and clapping and was in stark contrast to the muted  response  that National had thus far given. Grant Robertson’s speech harked back to the  1970s when New Zealand took to the world stage to oppose French atomic-bomb testing and the apartheid regime in South Africa.

As the speakers and protesters  inter-acted, another event was taking place on the Parliamentary forecourt, where three policemen stood. Note what one of them held in his hands, covered by a blue cloth;

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It was a camera with what appeared to be a long telephoto  lens;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com trump - rex tillerson - climate change - paris accord - global warming

 

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The policeman was obviously taking surreptitious photos of the protesters;

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As the policeman noticed that he was being observed, and  his actions photographed, he turned and walked away, escorted by one of his colleagues;

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Governments that fear or distrust their own people often use their security forces to monitor and record details of dissident citizens. New Zealand has obviously  become one of those nations.

Tasers and  and surreptitious  photographing? The  former Stasi  would nod approvingly at these unnecessary methods.

The question arises; what will the police do with those images?

Tim held up the the one word Trump loves to use in his Twitterings. It also happens to sum up Trump’s presidency and his apparent total abdication to address critical problems confronting the environment;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com trump - rex tillerson - climate change - paris accord - global warming

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Meanwhile, back at Wellington Airport…

Tillerson’s jet was parked on the tarmac, adjacent to the RNZAF terminal;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com trump - rex tillerson - climate change - paris accord - global warming

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The high-pitched whine of the parked aircraft’s engines could be clearly heard from a distance. Perhaps the engineers were keeping the turbines warm in the cold, damp air for optimum performance.

Or a fast getaway.

 

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References

The Independent:  Bernie Sanders tears into Trump for pulling out of Paris Agreement – ‘It is a disgrace’

The Guardian:  Native Americans take Dakota Access pipeline protest to Washington

Scientific American:  Exxon Knew about Climate Change almost 40 years ago

Wikipedia: Rex Tillerson

CNN:  Under Tillerson, Exxon may have misled investors on climate change, NY claims

Additional

BBC:  US diplomat in China quits ‘over Trump climate change policy’

Contact

350 Aotearoa

350 Aotearoa Facebook

Previous related blogposts

Anti-Deep Sea Drilling Wellingtonians Take To The Streets (part tahi)

Key’s challenge to Deep Sea Oil Drilling Protesters

Anadarko: Key playing with fire

Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington: Did Police hide tasers at TPPA march?

Trumpwatch – What’s a few more nails in the planet’s coffin?

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
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» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

Acknowledgement

Thank you to Deborah L  for allowing me to use her Nikon D3200 camera for the event.

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 8 June 2017.

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= fs =

Trumpwatch: What’s a few more nails in the planet’s coffin?

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… as long as those coffin-nails were “Made in America”.

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Trump’s First 100 Days can boast of several “achievements”. But not the variety that progressive-minded people – especially those concerned with global environmental problems and threats to peace – would welcome with a cheer.

Pimping for Coal

On 28 March, Trump signed another of his many Executive Orders – the sort of Presidential Executive Orders that in the past he railed against when Obama was President of the United States. As he ‘tweeted’ in 2012;

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This time, Trump was signing an Executive Order over-turning Obama’s policies of moving America away from using CO2-producing  coal for energy production. To avoid any accusation of “fake news” from Trump’s supporters, these are his actual words from the White House website;

 “ Today, I’m taking bold action to follow through on that promise.  My administration is putting an end to the war on coal.  We’re going to have clean coal — really clean coal.  With today’s executive action, I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations.  (Applause.)  And, by the way, regulations not only in this industry, but in every industry.  We’re doing them by the thousands, every industry.  And we’re going to have safety, we’re going to have clean water, we’re going to have clear air.

Trump’s fairy-tale fantasies on “clean coal — really clean coal” and promising that Americans (and the rest of us on Planet Earth) would enjoy “clean water, we’re going to have clear air” was parroted by the  head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and self-confessed climate-change denier,  Scott Pruitt;

I believe that we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs, and pro-environment. We don’t have to choose between the two.

Trump’s appointment of Pruitt was scandalous by any measure, especially as the former Republican Oklahomas attorney general sued the Environmental Protection no less than thirteen times.

Little wonder than the  Sierra Club  called for Pruitt’s resignation for mis-leading the US Congress on increasing levels of carbon dioxide leading to worsening  climate change.

Just as bad as Pruitt’s head-in-the-sand attitude toward anthropogenic climate change, is Trump’s reference to “clean coal”. There is no such thing, as Fortune magazine reported in October last year;

As for Trump, he failed to mention that no U.S. major clean coal plant is operational. He also neglected to say that the U.S. coal industry has been struggling partly because of the economics involved. The rise in low cost U.S. natural gas, as well as cheap wind and solar, has done as much to hurt the coal industry as have environmental regulations. When power companies close an aging coal plant, it makes more economic sense for them to build a new natural gas plant, or even solar and wind ones.

The article by Fortune’s Katie Fehrenbacher mentions two “clean coal” power plants that, after years of Federal taxpayer-funding and delays, have never become operational. A third “clean coal” power plant was due to be operational by the end of 2016 – but according to it’s builders is no longer  economic.

Any notion of “clean coal” appears to be a wishful fantasy in Trump’s mind.

Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists summed up Trump’s vandalism of the environment;

The wrecking ball that is the Trump presidency continues. The executive order undercuts a key part of the nation’s response to climate change, without offering even a hint of what will replace it.

US National Parks: See it; Love it; Mine the #@$?%!*&$ out of it!

In a piece of cunningly written euphemistic double-speak and jargon, Trump’s Executive order on 26 April announced plans to review Monument lands (similar to National Parks) with an agenda for “economic growth”;

Designations of national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906, recently recodified at sections 320301 to 320303 of title 54, United States Code (the “Antiquities Act” or “Act”), have a substantial impact on the management of Federal lands and the use and enjoyment of neighboring lands.  Such designations are a means of stewarding America’s natural resources, protecting America’s natural beauty, and preserving America’s historic places.  Monument designations that result from a lack of public outreach and proper coordination with State, tribal, and local officials and other relevant stakeholders may also create barriers to achieving energy independence, restrict public access to and use of Federal lands, burden State, tribal, and local governments, and otherwise curtail economic growth.  Designations should be made in accordance with the requirements and original objectives of the Act and appropriately balance the protection of landmarks, structures, and objects against the appropriate use of Federal lands and the effects on surrounding lands and communities.

Though couched in nebulous bureaucratese,  alarms bells begin to ring with certain key phrases peppered throughout the Executive Order:   “the importance of the Nation’s wealth of natural resources to American workers and the American economy“; “Monument designations … may also create barriers to achieving energy independence“; “Monument designations … and otherwise curtail economic growth“; “appropriate use of Federal lands“; “including the economic development“; “properly manage designated areas“; etc.

Here in New Zealand, National’s half-arsed proposal seven years ago to open up Schedule 4 DoC conservation-land to mining was met with over-whelming public protest;

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Two and a half months later, National’s ministers caved to public anger. Their proposals sank without a trace.

Trump is yet to be confronted with similar fury from outraged Americans. In the meantime,  his Executive Order has called for the  re-classification of  landmarks of a historic or scientific nature;

“In making those determinations, the Secretary shall consider:

[…]

(ii)   whether designated lands are appropriately classified under the Act as “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, [or] other objects of historic or scientific interest”

Once re-classified as non-historic landmarks, non-historic and non-prehistoric structures, [or] other objects of non-historic or non-scientific interest” – then it’s “Drill baby, Drill!

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Trump’s Executive Order sought “consultation” with “the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Energy“, the “Assistant to the President for Economic Policy“,  and strangely,  “the Secretary of Homeland Security“.

The Trump Administration was seeking “consultation” with the Secretaries of Defense, Agriculture, Commerce, and Energy for obvious reasons: Trump was planning to commercially exploit the Monument parks.

What possible purpose could there be  for Trump to be consulting the Secretary of Homeland Security?

Simple: Crowd control.

As in;

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Trump was already making plans to react with an iron fist when Americans realised what their Glorious Leader was about to do to their Monument parks.

Protest would be met by force. Just ask the Native Americans who protested the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Trump takes a Dump on the Arctic’s Rump

On 29 April, Trump did the unthinkable (aside from launching the nukes and starting the Last World War) – he signed yet another Executive Order, the ‘America-First Offshore Energy Strategy’, authorising oil exploration in Chukchi and Beaufort Seas – both in the Arctic Ocean;

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. 1331 et seq., and in order to maintain global leadership in energy innovation, exploration, and production, it is hereby ordered as follows:

[…]

…as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, including the procedures set forth in section 1344 of title 43, United States Code, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, give full consideration to revising the schedule of proposed oil and gas lease sales, as described in that section, so that it includes, but is not limited to, annual lease sales, to the maximum extent permitted by law, in each of the following Outer Continental Shelf Planning Areas, as designated by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) (Planning Areas):  Western Gulf of Mexico, Central Gulf of Mexico, Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, Cook Inlet, Mid-Atlantic, and South Atlantic.

As Trump stated on the White House website;

This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job-creating energy exploration.  It reverses the previous administration’s Arctic leasing ban.  So hear that:  It reverses the previous administration’s Arctic leasing ban, and directs Secretary Zinke to allow responsible development of offshore areas that will bring revenue to our Treasury and jobs to our workers.  (Applause.)  In addition, Secretary Zinke will be reconsidering burdensome regulations that slow job creation.  

The Order effectively reverses Obama’s final act of his Presidency, in December last year, where he placed large marine areas under Federal protection from commercial development;

President Barack Obama on Tuesday moved to indefinitely block drilling in vast swaths of U.S. waters.

The president had been expected to take the action by invoking a provision in a 1953 law that governs offshore leases, as CNBC previously reported.

The law allows a president to withdraw any currently unleased lands in the Outer Continental Shelf from future lease sales. There is no provision in the law that allows the executive’s successor to repeal the decision, so President-elect Donald Trump would not be able to easily brush aside the action.

[…]

The lands covered include the bulk of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in the Arctic and 31 underwater canyons in the Atlantic. The United States and Canada also announced they will identify sustainable shipping lanes through their connected Arctic waters.

Canada on Tuesday also imposed a five-year ban on all oil and gas drilling licensing in the Canadian Arctic. The moratorium will be reviewed every five years.

[…]

Environmentalists say drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic puts the waters at immediate risk, for oil and gas that would not come online for years, after a transition to cleaner energy sources could be under way.

“The Arctic Ocean is ground zero for the impacts of climate change, and any oil production there would be decades away and inconsistent with addressing climate change before it is too late,” the League of Conservation Voters said in a statement after the announcement.

Obama’s Executive Order was a complete 180-degree turn-around from his previous decision to allow Shell to test-drill in the Chukchi sea in August 2015. Shell’s exploration programme folded a month later, citing “the disappointing results of an initial well, the high costs of development and the  challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska“.

After he has finished despoiling the land, air, and waterways of the Continental United States, Trump’s decision to overturn Obama’s Executive Order and  allow oil exploration in the Arctic places one of the most fragile eco-systems at risk from environmental degradation;

Concerns have been raised over Shell’s ability to clean up a spill, should one occur, in an area covered by sea ice for much of the year. If one considers the example of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it took 87 days to cap, even though it happened in a fairly accessible region. In the Arctic, which is virtually impenetrable in winter, a similar gusher would be far more difficult to tackle. More to the point, the region’s ecology is about the most fragile on the planet and would be far more vulnerable to the impact of a major spill.

However the legality of Trump’s Executive Order attempting to overturn his predecessor’s Executive Order is questionable, with the increasing likelihood  of environmental groups launching legal challenges;

It’s unclear whether a new president has the authority to reverse those bans without Congress, says Robin Craig, an environmental law professor at the University of Utah. If, following this executive order, the Trump administration decides to go ahead and open up those areas, environmental groups will likely sue. But because there’s no precedent, it’s unclear what the outcome of those lawsuits will be. “Who knows whether they’ll win or lose,” Book says. “It hasn’t been litigated yet.”

But groups like Oceana are ready to fight. Drilling in Arctic waters is dangerous and there’s no proven way to clean sea ice from potential oil spills, Pyne says. “It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s stormy, and it’s covered in sea ice,” she says. And drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts is unpopular with businesses and residents in coastal states. Oil spill can negatively affect fishing and tourism, and states just don’t want to risk it. “Regardless who’s in the White House coastal communities and businesses do not want offshore drilling off their coast,” Pyne says.

More of Trump’s anti-environmental and pro-business, pro-exploitation policies can be found on the Forbes and National Geographic websites. The picture painted by Trump’s policy enactments (through one Executive Order after another) and appointees makes for disturbing reading.

This is not a happy time for Planet Earth.

Battle of the Bizarro Hair-Monsters

What is it with sovereign leaders with little hands and appalling hair styles?

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Not content with planning to  ravage his own country’s environmental heritage, Trump’s provocative bellicosity toward North Korea could spark a catastrophic regional conflict where millions might be killed, and the global economy sent spiralling into another debilitating recession.

In the past, Trump has resolutely condemned America’s involvement in international conflicts;

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Four years later, he has bombed  Yemen, Syria, and Afghanistan – and threatening war with North Korea;

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This is a man-child confronted with complex international crisis; with minimal political  experience (except what he ‘consumes’ from US movies such as ‘Rambo‘, ‘The Green Berets‘, ‘Red Dawn‘, etc); with access to an arsenal of atomic weapons.

The world is still having to contend with the violent aftermath of America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, and Trump is apparently hell-bent on more military adventurism?

Each day we wake up and the planet is still intact – is a miracle.

Words of Wisdom from a Trump Supporter

From Former Representative Joe Walsh (Republican, Illinois) comes this brutally candid admission;

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“ As a Trump supporter I do my best not to pay attention to what he says. If I pulled my hair out for every nutty thing he said, I’d be bald.”

Nothing further need be said.

The only questions that remain to be asked are;

  1. How much environmental damage can this man cause before he leaves the White House (or is impeached)?
  2. Will he spark The Last World War?
  3. Will humanity learn not to vote for demagogues that promise so much; deliver so little; and threaten everything in-between?

There have to be solutions to the failed experiment of neo-liberalism and globalisation that does not require madmen (and women) to be elevated to power.

As the 1930s showed us, demagoguery is a false road toward solving our very real problems.

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Postscript

On 30 April, Trump held a public rally in Nuremburg  Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. There  were no torch-light processions of goose-stepping Aryan-types in tight, gleaming, spit-polished, black jack-boots. It was a more informal affair.

Dress code, WASP-casual;

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For Trump, the ego-massaging rallies of last year’s election campaign have become an on-going campaign to keep his supporters ‘pumped’. Where have we seen that before…?

Oh yeah;

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Good old Big Bruvver and his Two Minute Hate sessions. (Just substitute Hillary Clinton for Goldstein; scream “Lock her up, lock her up!” instead of “Traitor, traitor!”, and you’ve nailed it. ‘1984’ or 2017, it makes no difference.)

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References

White House: Presidential Executive Order on the Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act

Wikipedia: National Monuments

NZ Herald: Huge protest says no to mining on conservation land

Fairfax media: Government confirms mining backdown

Grist:  Sarah Palin endorses Donald Trump, resurrects “drill, baby, drill” theme

Chicago Tribune: Dakota Access oil pipeline camp cleared of protesters; dozens arrested

Vogue: 6 Things President Trump Criticized Barack Obama For and Is Currently Doing Himself

Twitter: Trump – Obama’s Executive orders – 11 July 2012

White House: Remarks by President Trump at Signing of Executive Order to Create Energy Independence

The Guardian: New EPA head Scott Pruitt – ‘We can be both pro-jobs and pro-environment’

The Atlantic: Trump’s EPA Chief Denies the Basic Science of Climate Change

Fortune: What Donald Trump Didn’t Mention About Clean Coal

Huffington Post: Scott Pruitt Has Sued The Environmental Protection Agency 13 Times

Common Dreams: The Sierra Club – Pruitt Misled Congress on CO2, Senators Should Demand He Be “Removed from His Position.”

Time: President Trump Signs Executive Order Rolling Back Obama-Era Environmental Regulations

White House: Presidential Executive Order Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy

Wikipedia: Chukchi Sea

Wikipedia: Beaufort Sea

Wikipedia: Cook Inlet

White House: Remarks by President Trump at Signing of Executive Order on an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy

CNBC: Obama invokes 1953 law to indefinitely block drilling in Arctic and Atlantic oceans

The Guardian: Shell gets final clearance to begin drilling for oil in the Arctic

The Seattle Times: Obama protection of Arctic, Atlantic meant to thwart Trump desires to drill

The Guardian: Nature’s last refuge: climate change threatens our most fragile ecosystem

The Verge: Trump signs executive order to expand offshore oil and gas drilling in Arctic and beyond

Forbes: The 4 Worst Things Trump Has Done For The Environment In His First 100 Days – And 1 Good

National Geographic: A Running List of How Trump Is Changing the Environment

Middle East Eye: 13 tweets Donald Trump sent warning US not to attack Syria

CBS News: U.S. bombs al Qaeda suspects in Yemen for 2nd night

New York Post: US unleashes dozens of missiles on Syria in response to chemical attack

The Guardian: Devastation and a war that rages on: visiting the valley hit by the Moab attack

The Mirror: Donald Trump warns North Korea is ‘looking for trouble’ and says US ‘will solve problem with or without China’

The Week: Former GOP Rep. Joe Walsh: ‘As a Trump supporter I do my best not to pay attention to what he says’

Additional

ABC: Experts – Long road ahead for Trump offshore drilling order

Radio NZ: Trump signs Arctic oil drilling order

The Verge: Trump signs executive order to expand offshore oil and gas drilling in Arctic and beyond

NASA: NASA Releases Detailed Global Climate Change Projections

NASA: 2016 Climate Trends Continue to Break Records

Other Blogs

Redline: Trump and how the ruling class rule

The Daily Blog: Andra Jenkin – One in a Million – Donald Trump’s Administration Achievements

The Daily Blog: Andra Jenkin – The Powers that Be

The Standard:  The patriotic millionaires

The Standard: Poor Donald

The Standard: Donald Trump and Florida

Your NZ: Trump wants ‘really clean coal’

Previous related blogposts

Trumpwatch: The Drum(pf)s of War

Trumpwatch: One minute closer to midnight on the Doomsday Clock

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 May 2017.

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National’s Wellington Mayoral candidate, Jo Coughlan – four lanes to nowhere

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jo coughlan - election billboards - four lane highway (2)

Wellington mayoral candidate, Jo Coughlan, standing in front of one of her election billboards.

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Right-wing mayoral candidate, and current Wellington City Councillor, Jo Coughlan, has ducked answering questions relating to her campaign policy advocating for a four-lane motorway from Transmission Gully to Wellington airport.

Coughlan has been a city councillor since 2007, as well as Director for PR firm, Silvereye Communications. Amongst her PR company’s clients are the Ministry for Education, Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority (EECA), Department of Building and Housing, NZ Post, and ACC.

As well as a Director to Silvereye Communications, Coughlan is (was?) a Director of Life Flight Trust – which also happens to be a client of the same PR company.

From 1996 to 1999, she was  Press Secretary  for then-Foreign Affairs Minister, Don McKinnon.

Coughlan is also wife to Conor English, brother to current Finance Minister, Bill English.

On 2 April this year, Coughlan announced her intentions to run for the Wellington mayoralty. She also declared her support for a four land highway to Wellington’s international airport, located in the eastern suburns;

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jo coughlan - election billboards - four lane highway

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“We need to double-tunnel the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels and see four lanes along Ruahine St to the airport. Wellington’s mayor must lead on this, and that is my commitment.” – Jo Coughlan, 2 April 2016

Coughlan’s election pamphlet, “My Road Map for Wellington’s future“, reiterated her desire to expand Wellington’s roading system;

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jo coughlan - election pamphlet (2)

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Coughlan linked expanding the roading network with electric cars, even though currently there are only about 150 of the vehicles in the region.

In the same pamphlet, Coughlan also conflated building more roads with making “public transport more reliable”;

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jo coughlan - election pamphlet (3)

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There is no other  mention of public transport, except  in relation to “fixing our roads“, in any of  Coughlan’s other election material (seen by this blogger). Her website also makes only a brief reference to “public transport options”.

On 25 July, this blogger contacted Coughlan through Facebook, asking if she would be available to answer questions on her policy.

Coughlan replied the same day and in an email said;

“Happy to discuss.

The four laning can be achieved by four laning Ruahine St as planned by NZTA.

That way you essentially get (Inc the one way systems ) four lanes  to the planes.”

Since initial contact, Coughlan’s “happy to discuss” response has been met with evasiveness to pin down and arrange a time for a series of questions to be put to her. Requests for a set time to put eleven questions, plus follow-ups, have been ducked. (Which raises questions about her role in  the communications industry.)

The questions which merited answers were;

Q1: In your pamphlet, “My Road Map for Wellington’s future”, you linked building of more roads to public transport stating, “Fix our roads to make public transport more reliable”? What did you mean by “fix our roads”? How does that relate to public transport?

It is well known that building more roads attracts more cars. In one year alone, 43,000 more cars have been added to Auckland’s congested roads;

There are 43,000 more cars on Auckland’s roads than this time last year, with nearly 11,000 of those vehicles registered in January alone.

It’s no wonder the city’s traffic congestion has worsened over that time, national roading authority New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) says.

[…]

An average 168,500 vehicles now cross the Harbour Bridge every day, compared with 17,000 in 1960 shortly after it opened.

“You’re reaching a point where you can’t add any more traffic to the Harbour Bridge,” Pant said.

It is unclear how more roads would “make public transport more reliable“.

Ms Coughlan might have shed some light on this unanswered question.

Q2: In pamphlet, you stated, “We need roads that keep us moving. Electric cars need roads”? What do you say to those who say it is disingenuous to link environmentally-clean electric cars with the building of more roads?

With only 150 electric vehicles in Wellington, there seemed no apparent need to build more roads at a cost of billions, for such a small, insignificant number of alternative-fuel cars.

The possibility exists that Ms Coughlan was being willfully disingenuous, and attempting to “green wash” an environmentally unfriendly policy.Was that Coughlan’s intention?

Ms Coughlan might have shed some light on this unanswered question.

Q3: Along with your advocating for a four-lane motorway from Transmission Gully to the airport, you’ve stated you want to “work with Government to accelerate building of the city’s infrastructure and roading to keep the city moving”. Bearing in mind that the planet’s temperature continues to rise according to latest data from NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and also bearing in mind that fossil fuels like oil and petrol are prime producers of greenhouse gases, isn’t a four-lane motorway of the kind you are suggesting irresponsible?

Coughlan attempted to mitigate her support for building more roads by stating on her election “pledge” card that she would “protect the greenbelt and natural environment”;

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jo coughlan - election card (2)

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However, nowhere in her election material does Coughlan refer to the effects of climate change on our natural environment.

Ms Coughlan might have shed some light on this unanswered question.

Expanding on the previous question, I wanted to put to Coughlan the following;

Q4: Are you aware of NASA’s latest findings that ” the six-month period from January to June was also the planet’s warmest half-year on record, with an average temperature 1.°C warmer than the late nineteenth century”; that “Arctic sea ice at the peak of the summer melt season now typically covers 40% less area than it did in the late 1970s and early 1980s” and that “Arctic sea ice extent in September, the seasonal low point in the annual cycle, has been declining at a rate of 13.4% per decade”?

Q5: Are you aware that the NOAA recently confirmed NASA’s data, stating, “The average global temperature across land surfaces was 2.33°C above the 20th century average of 3.2°C, the highest March temperature on record, surpassing the previous March record set in 2008 by 0.43°C and surpassing the all-time single-month record set last month by 0.02°C”?
More specifically, the NOAA reported that “New Zealand reported its sixth warmest March in a period of record that dates to 1909, at 1.3°C above the 1981–2010 average. The entire country had above or well-above average temperatures for the month. Parts of Northland, Waikato, Manawatu-Whanganui, and Westland were each more than 2.0°C above their March average”. What is your comment on those latest findings?

New Zealand is not immune to climate change effects as mentioned in this CNN report;

The first six months of 2016 were the hottest ever recorded, NASA announced on Tuesday, while Arctic sea ice now covers 40% less of the Earth than it did just 30 years ago.

Temperatures were on average 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.4 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average between January and June this year, compared to the late nineteenth century.
In total, the planet has now had 14 consecutive months of the hottest temperatures seen since records began in 1880, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.
Australia, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Spain were some examples of places where temperatures soared more than a degree above average, as New Zealand had its hottest January to June period since records began.

The CNN report was based on the NOAA/NIWA findings, referring to New Zealand;

New Zealand reported its sixth warmest March in a period of record that dates to 1909, at 1.3°C (2.3°F) above the 1981–2010 average. The entire country had above or well-above average temperatures for the month. Parts of Northland, Waikato, Manawatu-Whanganui, and Westland were each more than 2.0°C (3.6°F) above their March average.

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NASA sees temperatures rise and sea ice shrink

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Was Coughlan aware of this latest information? She should be: it has been well document in recent local media.

Ms Coughlan might have shed some light on these unanswered questions.

The next question  underscored the critical impact  of climate change on our country,

Q6: To underline the effects of climate-change on our country, the Royal Society said in April this year,

“Changes expected to impact New Zealand include at least 30cm and possibly more than one metre of sea-level rise this century – the report finds it likely that the sea level rise around New Zealand will exceed the global average, which will cause coastal erosion and flooding, especially when combined with storm surges.

Professor James Renwick, Chair of the Expert Panel who wrote the report, warned; “Many New Zealanders live on the coast and two-thirds of us live in flood-prone areas so we are vulnerable to these projected changes.”
Professor Renwick warned that even small changes in average conditions can be associated with large changes in the frequency of extreme events, pointing out;

“With a 30cm rise in sea level, the current ‘1 in 100 year’ extreme sea event would be expected to occur once every year or so in many coastal regions. Along the Otago coast for example, the difference between a 2-year and 100-year storm surge is about 32cm of sea level.”

Ms Coughlan might have shed some light on this unanswered question.

I then wanted to put a seemingly obvious question to Coughlan;

Q7: Instead of building more roads that inevitably lead to more traffic; more congestion; more fuel-consumption; and production of more greenhouse gases, wouldn’t advocating for more expenditure on public transport make better sense, from an environmental aspect?

Ms Coughlan might have shed some light on this unanswered question.

I also planned to ask Coughlan about a glaring omission from any of her election material;

Q8: Aside from your one statement linking “Fix our roads to make public transport more reliable” your election material makes no mention or reference to public transport. Why is that?

Ms Coughlan might have shed some light on this unanswered question.

Coughlan put great weight on Wellington’s needs for the next one hundred years;

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jo coughlan - election pamphlet (1)

jo coughlan - election card (2)

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One has to admire Coughlan’s confidence in being a mayor for the next one hundred years.

Looking ahead for the next century is something that environmentalists and climate scientists are doing. The long-term effects of climate change on our planet are slowly building;

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scientific american - Earth Will Cross the Climate Danger Threshold by 2036

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Which raises the key question as to where Coughlan’s long-term priorities lay;

Q9: Which is more pressing for Wellington’s needs for the next 100 years; taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or planning on more roading? Which would have greater priority fror you, if you were Mayor?

Ms Coughlan might have shed some light on this unanswered question.

The last two questions were also self-explanatory;

Q10: President Obama has said that “And no challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change”. What is the responsibility of individuals to address this threat to our future?

Q11: What is your responsibility in this, Ms Coughlan?

Ms Coughlan might have shed some light on these unanswered questions.

It could be said that Ms Coughlan, as one person, has minimal effect on our increasingly violent weather patterns and rising sea-levels,  brought on by anthropogenic-induced global warming.

Throughout history, single people have been the instigators of momentous change and upheaval. Not always for good.

If Jo Coughlan were to become mayor – a distinct possibility based on the considerable amount of money spent on her election advertising – her plans to advocate for a four lane motorway would be instigating momentous change and consequential upheaval.

Ms Coughlan might have shed some light on these unanswered questions.

Coughlan’s evasiveness makes a mockery of her finger-pointing at other mayoral candidates. On 28 July Coughlan issued a press release accusing them of “hidden agendas”;

“However it is amazing that some candidates are not prepared to state clearly their real intention for standing and don’t seem to understand the STV voting system used in the Capital.

I am making it very clear that I am standing for the Mayoralty, not as a ward councillor and not to raise my profile for a tilt at parliament. I call on all other candidates to publicly state their real intentions.

So far we have a number of candidates standing with various agendas including increasing their chances of re-election to Council, election to parliament and even to gain profile to look at establishing a new centre-left political party.

Wellington voters deserve a Mayor who will lead the City and is 100% committed to running for the right reasons.

The other candidates need to come clean otherwise their intentions might seem a bit ‘murky’.”

A month earlier, Finance Minister Bill English, endorsed Jo Coughlan for her mayoralty bid;

“It’s because I think that she’s the best candidate for a city that needs this kind of candidate; someone who understands growth; someone who understands communities and someone who understands families.” – Bill English, 28 June 2016

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bill english - jo coughlan

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“Hidden agendas”?

No wonder Coughlan has avoided answering questions.

 

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References

Wellington City Council: Jo Coughlan

Linked-In: Jo Coughlan

Silvereye Communication: About Us

Silvereye Communication:  Silvereye Communications Clients (current and former)

NZ Herald:  Being English

Dominion Post: Councillor Jo Coughlan enters the race to be Wellington’s mayor

Scoop media: Three days of free rides in electric cars

Jo for Mayor: Environment

Fairfax media: 43,000 more cars on Auckland’s roads leads to increased congestion

US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):  Global Analysis – March 2016

NASA: 2016 Climate Trends Continue to Break Records

CNN:  NASA – Hottest June on record continues 14-month global heat wave

NIWA: Climate Summary for March 2016

Royal Society of New Zealand: New Zealand vulnerable to the threats of climate change – report finds

Scientific American: Earth Will Cross the Climate Danger Threshold by 2036

The White House: Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address | January 20, 2015

Scoop media: Coughlan says ‘I can win,’ accuses other candidates of hidden agendas

Jo for Mayor: Mayoral Candidate Jo Coughlan – candidates should come clean

Politik: English breaks with National Party convention and endorses Mayoral candidate

Previous related blogposts

John Key – more pledges, more broken promises?

As predicted: National abandons climate-change responsibilities

National ditches environmental policies

ETS – National continues to fart around

National – what else can possibly go wrong?!

National’s moving goalposts on climate change targets

Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett revealed

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 31 July 2016.

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Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett revealed

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70 percent pure NZ

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TVNZ’s Q+A on Sunday 24 April featured an interview with Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett. Her responses were further evidence that  National was  increasingly  unable (or unwilling) to cope with the growing threat of climate change.

Posing a series of surprisingly incisive questions and follow-ups, the ever-youthful-looking Jack Tame held Minister Bennett to account in a way that few other interviewers have done;

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paula bennett - climate change - Q+A - 24 april 2016

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Up untill now, Jack Tame’s presence in the US focused mainly on the theatrics of the  Hollywood entertainment industry or the equally-theatric Presidential primaries. They were for the most part light, breezy stories – even with the increasingly bizarre and somewhat menacing nature of the rise and rise of  Lex Luthor Donald Trump, as the potential Republican candidate.

However, on this occassion,   Tame’s Q+A interview was a masterful deconstruction of Minister Bennett’s waffle, revealing  how woefully unprepared for Tame’s skillful probing she really was.

As the thirteen minute segment progressed, it rapidly became apparent that, aside from platitudes and rhetoric,  Bennett had no real answers or  any actual, meaningful commitment to addressing New Zealand’s increasing emissions of  greenhouse-gas pollution of our atmosphere. It was as it she were still Social Welfare Minister, patiently explaining how National would be “helping” solo-mums with contraception, all the while sounding like an overly-concerned, benevolent, tough-loving  nana.

In fact, not since 2 May 2015 – when Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga was interviewed and demolished by seasoned interviewer, Lisa Owen, on TV3’s The Nation – has a government minister had their ineptitude so publicly paraded for the entire country to witness (if they so decided to tune in on a Sunday morning, at 9am.

Unfortunately, we should not be surprised that National is luke-warm on the looming crisis of climate change. Despite making very clear promises, National has broken one of it’s prime committments to the Emissions Trading Scheme – to eventually  include agriculture.

The time-line to this act of duplicity clearly illustrates National’s early promises and then reneging;

13 May 2007

In a speech by  then Opposition-leader, John Key;

In particular I’m going to speak about the biggest environmental challenge of our time: global climate change.

The National Party will ensure that New Zealand acts decisively to confront this challenge.

The scientific consensus is clear: human-induced climate change is real and it’s threatening the planet. There are some armchair sceptics out there, but I’m not one of them…

… National is committed to growing our economy. Confronting climate change will be a vital part of the policy mix for fuelling that growth…

… In the decades ahead, peoples’ perceptions around climate change will affect the brand image of New Zealand and its exports. New Zealand must take credible steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or risk becoming a trading pariah…

… National will have policies that reflect the fact that living on a diet of carbon will be increasingly bad – bad for the world and bad for our economy. We will have policy that encourages ‘climate friendly’ choices like windmills, hydro power and tree planting, and reduces the desire for ‘climate unfriendly’ behaviours, like burning coal…

… National will bring all Kiwis – industry, energy producers, farmers, mums and dads – closer to a shared and well-understood goal. We need to be united in our pursuit of a ’50 by 50′ target.

8 April 2010

Prime Minister John Key rejects demands  to amend the  Emissions Trading Scheme before it takes effect on the energy and transport sectors in July despite calls from business groups, farmers, and ACT.

Key tells reporters at the launch of the Global Research Alliance’s inaugural meeting on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions,

I’d say it’s unlikely it would be amended.”

6 June 2010

Climate Change Minister Nick Smith announces that whether or not agriculture comes into the emissions trading scheme  in 2015  will depend on technological advances and what other countries do.

9 November 2011

Environment Minister Nick Smith announces,

… It is not in New Zealand’s interests to include agricultural emissions in the ETS yet.“

2 July 2012

Then-Climate Change Minister, Tim Groser,  announces four amendments to the Emissions Trading Scheme;

  • Keeping the ‘one-for-two’ obligation in place until after this year. This means participants in the scheme will continue to surrender units for half the carbon they emit;
  • Maintaining the $25 ‘fixed-price option’ until at least 2015, which caps the price firms will face if carbon prices begin to rise internationally;
  • Introducing off-setting for pre-1990 forest land owners, and allocating the full second tranche of compensation where off-setting is not taken; and
  • Leaving agricultural emissions out of the ETS until at least 2015.

20 August 2012

National introduces  “Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2012”, which will remove agricultural emissions indefinitely, and will,

remove a specified entry date for surrender obligations on biological emissions from agriculture”.

National’s repudiation of it’s 2007 committment to include agriculture was complete. Despite a clear promise by our esteemed Dear Leader, agriculture was permanently omitted from the ETS.

As I pointed out in October 2012;

During National’s four years in office, they have broken several promises and the weakening of the ETS is simply one more on the list. It also further highlights  John Key’s ability to say one thing – whilst knowing full well that he has no intention of fulfilling committments, or will do completely the opposite.

An editorial in the Dominion Post, on 20 April, was no less scathing in it’s condemnation of National’s inertia;

The Government’s climate change policy has been a failure and will have to be rebuilt. There needs to be a fundamental change in the Emissions Trading Scheme, the subject this week of a damning report by the Gareth Morgan Foundation.  But other changes are also needed.

[…]

Bennett concedes, however, that the ETS was “not perfect”, and is now being reviewed. In fact the ETS has been a fiasco. What’s more, it continues to cast its dirty shadow. 

The Government has banned the purchase of  foreign credits, but it could still use the bad credits to meet its climate change targets up to 2020.

It must not do so. Instead, it needs to revamp the whole scheme, starting by ending the subsidies it gives to polluters such as the oil industry. The “one for two” scheme introduced in 2009 allows businesses to pay only half the cost of their greenhouse gas emissions.

It also needs to reverse its decision to keep agriculture, which produces half the country’s emissions, out of the ETS. National argues that making farming pay for its pollution would be unfair because there is no workable way yet of reducing animal emissions and our export industry should not be penalised. 

Farmers, however, are not exempt from the country’s global environmental duties, and will also respond to economic signals – even if this is a pledge to bring agriculture into the scheme within, say, five years

Jack Tame’s superb interview on 24 April merely confirms pathetic National’s track record on this issue and it now appears that  Minister Bennett will simply follow in the footsteps of her do-nothing-predecessors, Ministers Smith, Groser, et al.

Bennett certainly has no intention of adopting any of the bold, radical – but much-needed – policies as advocated by Professor Jim Skea, co-chairperson of the IPCC Working Group III, and interviewed by Radio NZ’s Kathryn Ryan on 27 April;

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How do we wean ourselves off fossil fuel - Radio NZ - Kathryn Ryan - Prof Jim Skea - IPCC

(alt. link)

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Listen to the two interviews and judge for yourself which person is seriously committed to combating climate change – and which person is a politician who has plenty of empty platitudes to offer, but little else.

In her previous role as Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett had much to say about welfare-fraud.

Her empty words on  addressing climate change is a fraud on a much grander, and ultimately vastly more destructive,  scale.

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Postscript1: Memo to TVNZ

Jame Tame’s interview with Minister Bennett reveals a young man with considerable journalistic skills. He should be given every opportunity to make full use of his under-utilised talents.

TVNZ (and TV3) should maximise the talents of their journalistic and production staff by shifting Q+A and The Nation to prime time viewing slots during the early evening.

Why hide excellence early on weekend mornings, where it is not easily appreciated and valued by the general public?

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Postscript2: Memo to Paula Bennett

Ms Bennett, your performance on 24 April was a dismal failure. You are either unwilling to seriously confront the challenges of climate change or, apparently, you are in way over your head on this issue.

Either way, you should resign your Climate Change portfolio. This job is too important to be left to your glib inanities.

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References

TVNZ: Q+A – Climate Change Paris Agreement signed

NZ Herald: NZ’s greenhouse gas emissions soar

Fairfax media: Beneficiary contraception plan ‘intrusive’

Scoop media: John Key Speech – Climate Change Target

NZ Herald: ETS changes ‘unlikely’ despite pleas

NBR: ETS may exclude agriculture – Climate Change Minister

Interest.co.nz: National would phase in ETS obligations for transport, electricity, industrial sectors; Will review Agriculture in 2014

Beehive.co.nz: Government announces ETS amendments

Parliament: Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2012

Dominion Post: Editorial – Big changes are needed in the Government’s climate change plan

Radio NZ: How do we wean ourselves off fossil fuel ? (alt. link) (audio)

Previous related blogposts

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment y/e 2012 – environment

John Key – more pledges, more broken promises?

As predicted: National abandons climate-change responsibilities

National ditches environmental policies

ETS – National continues to fart around

Dear Leader – fibbing again?!

National – what else can possibly go wrong?!

National’s moving goalposts on climate change targets

“The Nation” reveals gobsmacking incompetence by Ministers English and Lotu-Iiga

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 April 2016.

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Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington, send message to National govt: “Yeah, nah!”

21 November 2015 3 comments

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TPPA - stand up it's not over

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NZ, Wellington, 14 November – Tertiary Education Union national president and veteran anti-TPPA campaigner, Dr Sandra Grey, addressed a gathering of  citizens, in Midland Park, in Wellington’s CBD;

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (13)

 

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Dr Grey told the crowd of  nearly one thousand, that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement  (TPPA) had not yet been signed, and was not due for ratification until early next year.

She encouraged those listening to let other people know that this was by no means a done deal and they should let others know. Dr Grey encouraged people to “flood the internet” and spread the word to lobby National not to ratify the agreement.

As numbers in the park swelled, people brought their own, home-made signs to make their views known;

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (71)

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These citizens not only expressed their dissatisfaction with the TPPA and the shady, secretive process surrounding it, but were working to engage young people in the electoral process. They wanted New Zealand’s youth to exercise their vote and thereby choose their own future;

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (5)

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Some more imaginative signs;

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (72) - Copy

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Banners from the Green Party, Nurses Organisation, and Wellington Social Workers;

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (17)

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The marchers, setting off from Midland Park;

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (18)

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By the time the protest march left Midland Park, numbers had increased to between 1,500 to 2,000 people. However, something very unusual became apparent even before the protesters made their way out onto Lambton Quay.

The view south, with March-Marshalls (in yellow vests) on the road;

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (19)

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The view north, with TV1 reporter and cameraman standing on the center traffic-island;

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (22)

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No police presence.

There was not one single policeman or woman, nor a patrol car, for crowd or traffic control. Traffic and crowd control were left up to the Marshals – all of whom did a magnificent job.

With traffic stopped, the marchers moved out onto Lambton Quay;

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (23)

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With the head of the march behind him, TV1’s reporter was filmed by his cameraman for the 6PM News;

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (26)

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As protesters made their way to Parliament, more people joined the march;

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (27)

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Winding their way along Lambton Quay, numbers had ballooned to around 2,000;

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (30)

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Ben held aloft New Zealand’s current flag – in many ways symbolic of the struggle to retain something of this country’s independence.

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14 november 2015 - tppa march - parliament (31)

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The TPPA could rightly be seen as a radical change for  New Zealand; the submerging of our heritage and culture by forces of globalisation.

Perhaps there is a kind of mad logic to our esteemed Dear Leader’s desperate need to spend $26 million on a flag-referendum when the public has shown little appetite for changing our flag.

If the TPPA is a new, corporatised road for this country, then John Key’s desire to have the silver fern (or some incarnation of it) as our new flag suddenly makes sense. A new flag is the ‘re-branding’ of New Zealand, as part and parcel of a TPPA world.

Having a young citizen – Ben – waving an old, traditional symbol of this country, is made more poignant because of his youth. It is not often that young people hold on to aspects of our Past and Present.

Perhaps, in times of rapid change and uncertainty, we try to hold on to elements of the Past, to anchor ourselves in the  Present.

Amongst all the party and union banners and the anti-TPPA signs, Ben’s little Kiwi flag made more sense as a symbol for resistance.

Reaching the Bowen St/Lambton Quay/Whitmore St intersection, there was still a zero police presence. This left March Marshalls with the tricky task of managing traffic flow and permitting protesters pass through safely;

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I mentioned the lack of police presence to a msm journalist and he agreed; he had noticed the same curious thing. He said it made it him feel nervous.

I agreed, I said. But not because there might be trouble-makers amongst the protesters. I pointed out it would only take one lunatic driver to drive his or her car into the crowd, injuring or killing someone.  I recalled a very similar tragic event happening sixteen years ago, during a picket at the Port of Lyttleton.

The march made it’s way past the Cenotaph;

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Usually, at this point, I make my way up onto Parliament’s grounds. This time, I remained at the intersection, my camera ready.

Sure enough, this dark-coloured SUV slowly nosed it’s way amongst the marchers;

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The driver moved through the procession, at one point only a metre from people in front of his bumper. I moved closer to the vehicle,  continuing to  take photographs, to let him know that I was watching and recording. If the driver became belligerent behind the wheel, I would be recording his behaviour before interceding;

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Heading toward the gates of Parliament, another young protester with her home-made sign;

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Granny expresses her appreciation!

Once the march had moved through the intersection, I noticed a white utility vehicle with its amber lights flashing, to hold back traffic. Whether this was a thoughtful citizen using his/her initiative to control traffic – or had been directed to do so by police or Wellington Council – is unknown;

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A minute later, a sole police vehicle drove past – their role in traffic management (if any), too late for any practical purpose. Protestors had moved off the road and traffic was already moving again;

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As protesters made their way onto Parliament’s grassy lawns, we discovered why there had been no attempt by Police at any form of traffic management. They were waiting for protesters on the forecourt, lined up in front of Parliament’s steps, protecting an empty building;

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The first speaker to address the crowd was environmentalist lawyer, working part-time at Victoria University, Tom Bennion;

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Tom voiced his concern that the TPPA could prevent necessary action being taken to address global warming. The TPPA fell short of environmental protections and gave greater prominence to protecting  corporate rights. He said implementing the TPPA would harm our chances for meaningful action on climate change, and demanded that the issue be more fully debated in Parliament.

The second speaker was local Iwi representative and lawyer, Moana Sinclair;

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Moana told the crowd that with thirty thousand pages of TPPA text and other documents to analyse  was a daunting task. She was scathing on the TPPA and it’s implications for Maori, saying that as Maori “we already know about this kind of bullshit”. She said that “we still don’t know what’s in the Treaty-related clauses.

Moana rejected reassurances from National ministers saying “we’re sick and tired of their lies”. Without legal analysis of the 30,000 pages of the TPPA and supporting documents, she was sceptical that there were no hidden ‘fish hooks’ waiting to be discovered.

The following speaker was Jimmy Green, from “Gen Zero”;

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Jimmy said he first became interested in climate change issues at the age of 14. The more he found out, he said, the more convinced he became that “it is an insult to our ancestors that we ruin the world for our children”.

Jimmy specifically condemned the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions of the TPPA, saying that if investments could be put at risk by governments legislating for social, health, environmental, or education issues, then investors should not have made those investments in the first place.

Jimmy described the TPPA as a castle built on sand and that no government can go against the will of the people and survive. He described the TPPA as “just an idea, and ideas can be undone”. He described New Zealanders as generally good people and that Kiwis had the necessary courage to stand up and walk away. He said people might not fully understand the implications of the TPPA and that it was our role to make them understand.

Jimmy was followed by Peace Action campaigner, Valerie Morse;

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Valerie explained that the TPPA was a vehicle to increase massive concentration  of wealth  to the already rich super-elite. It would benefit the elite ‘haves’ at the expense of the the rest of the world.

Valarie also condemned the TPPA as another means by which New Zealand is increasingly being tied to US and it’s insane war policies. She described the TPPA as part of gangster capitalism. Painting a stark picture of our recent history, Valerie pointed out that New Zealand had been at war for the last fourteen years.

Valerie pointed out there was a massive campaign under way to win the “hearts and minds” of the public to support  the ongoing “War on Terror” in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. She described the Army games in Southland  where “mock” protesters  had been beaten up as part of the exercise. Was that what lay in store for ordinary people who chose to protest against their governments, she asked?

“War is not a by-product of US capitalism”, Valerie explained, “it is an integral part of it”. She warned that we should expect New Zealand to become more deeply involved in the US killing campaign;

“If we organise against the TPPA, expect to be labelled a terrorist.”

Valerie’s sobering warnings was followed by poet, Cory Brian;

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Corey read his thought-provoking poem to the crowd, who listened in silence;

My journey begins fresh, anew,
the rush of a city, no longer we west coast few,
day to day select few pray,
for those around them to share their stay

you enjoy that which ancestors build,
your over payed politicians form the Decisions Guild,
to guide a nation as they see fit,culture and heritage not cared for one bit
our farms, our river all sold to market,
and before you find out the hope you’ll kark it,

For if we were ever collectively aware,
then that fat old Decision Guild would have something to fear 
But alas that is just not the case,
you all turn away, afraid to face
the fact that generations to come,
may have difficulty seeing the sun,
not only through our cause of pollution,
but also that we struggle for a simple solution 
to stem the flow that society has made
its ever pushing tide for culture to fade.

Continue on mankind this path 
so it shall read your epitaph:

Man was here but a few hundred years 
molesting the earth without any cares
digging, polluting, No consequences,
mother natures only choice left?
to dismantle mans fences,

individually the choices, signs and roads we take
each day increases whats at stake
what would happen if we thought as one?
could we possibly redirect the gun?
away from our mouths that cause this harm,
towards our futures and fast track calm?

It will not be those that we follow,
but us, the new with minds as swift as the swallows,
we are that our past envisioned
the future to mend is our decision!

But how you ask your eyes to me?
Open your Eyes…. Not just those two,
and you shall see,
the page is blank our chapters to write
now take up your pen and create YOUR sight.

With a pen you say thinking im mad
now wait for it and IL point out whats sad

laws are made with but a pen
yet dictate the actions of nearly all men
your headphones occupy your ears,
so that mother culture can lullaby all your fears
your are bound, constricted, unconsciously gagged,
cameras posted everywhere ensure you remain tagged,
livestock bumbling through these concrete streets…

now compare that to the stupid animals you raise, feed, and eat.

Following Corey, Pala from ‘Real Choice NZ’, was given the microphone;

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Pala told the crowd that people think that democracy goes with capitalism. He shook his head and said, “No, capitalism has always tried to squash democracy“. He said this was especially true for indigenous peoples’ rights.

Pala said that the TPPA will benefit only a few and “is at the forefront  of the wedge to sharpen inequality between people”. He warned that even if the TPPA fails, corporate power  would remain in place, subverting public institutions for private gain, and needed to be constantly fought.

Echoing the sentiments of many other New Zealanders, Pala condemned this government for squandering $26 million on a flag referendum, while insisting there was insufficient money to spend on child poverty. He demanded to know why a referendum could be held to determine our flag, but not on the issue of the TPPA.

Pala ended by reminding us;

” We are in the middle of a serious assault on democracy. Democracy is a living thing, but also a fragile thing as well.”

Pala was followed by long-time anti-TPPA campaigner and Mana Party activist, Ariana;

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Ariana told the crowd that thousands of people across the country were standing up today “for what we believe in”.  She condemned the current government as treasonous, saying,

“We need to get these neo-liberal bastards out of our country. It is a mockery of democracy when this important issue will be decided by only twenty people in Cabinet!”

She said there was only one way to get rid of this government, and that was to get everyone voting in 2017.

Ariana said that the TPPA was not good for New Zealand and certainly not good for small businesses. She wanted to see support for local businesses grow, and not the empowerment of multinational corporations.

Ariana encouraged everyone to put up “TPPA Free Zone” signs, as New Zealanders did in the 1980s, during the nuclear-free campaign. The signs could be downloaded from Facebook and other websites.

As many others have pointed out, Ariana stated that the TPPA was an investor-corporations “bill of rights” and not about free trade.

Citizens listened intently to the speakers;

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The last speakers were also the youngest, Tracy and Katie, who have played their part in the anti-TPPA campaign;

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Introducing Tracey and Katie, Ariana  told the crowd how they forfeited  “Trick or Treating” at the Robbie Williams Concert, and instead worked through the evening handing out TPPA leaflets to the concert-goers.

This elicited a mass-cheer and clapping  from the crowd.

Tracey told the crowd that her annual school speech was on the topic of – the TPPA!

“Kia Ora My name is Tracey… I am 13 years old… Today I am here as I am worried about what will happen to mine and my friends’ future if the TPPA is signed!!!! I have on many times handed out fliers and chalked for people to google TPPA…Many people have seemed interested in what I have had to say whilst handing out leaflets… Though some people have not and have been quite nasty!! Ha ha Mum was always there to give them some facts! This year we had to write a speech for school the topic was “There is a problem in New Zealand and I can solve it by? well you can just guess what I talked about – Yes, the TPP… It was very one-sided as there was nothing from the government because it was a deal being done in secret, but there were plenty of articles about why we shouldn’t sign it from lessons learned overseas … This is my future this government is playing with and I say Don’t SIGN the TPPA.”

Katie spoke passionately on climate-change affecting her future;

“Kia Ora My name is Katie …. I am 12 years old. Today I am here like you because I am worried about what will happen to mine and my friends’ future if the TPPA is signed!!!! I have on numerous occasions handed out fliers and chalked for people to google TPPA… The reason I do this is because I have been to many very interesting discussions where people have passionately spoken about our Country and the TPP, And NO never any good news, if there was, the bad was way worse than the good! … I have been to many TPP rally meetings and rallies… Mum has made sure we are at most of them!… Her point of view is, We will not go to her in a few years time and say, but Mum you guys could have done something to stop it!!! Why didn’t you???? So here we are!! And look at all of you, so I am guessing you all agree with us as you are here too! Thank you for helping stand up for a better NZ for us all… TPPA NO WAY!”

Tracey and Katie are ambassadors for the generations that will inherit our country – indeed our planet. We cannot ignore their voices.

Finally, no protest rally is ever really completely done without at least one excellent artist to perform for the crowd. In this case, Matiu Te Huki belted out two great songs, to everyone’s joy;

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Matiu’s voice did real justice to the songs he sang.

On that ‘note’

Whilst I won’t point out which policeman or woman it was, I spotted one  in the police-line tapping his/her foot, in time to the music. Constables – you’re allowed to enjoy the music. We really, really don’t mind.

The last word, I leave to the maker of this simple – but insightful – message;

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Tomorrow: The TPPA March – Something concerning regarding the Police presence at Parliament on Saturday afternoon.

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References

NZ Herald: Sentence for Lyttleton picket line fatality too light – union

The Daily Blog: Keith Rankin – White Trite

Facebook: TPPA Free Zone and Action plans

Te Papa: Nuclear free sign

Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

Opposing the TPPA – the Heavens hold their deluge ’till the People speak

Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

Support groups

Facebook: Oil Free Wellington

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Website:  It’s Our Future

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Action Stations: A Secret Trade Deal So Terrifying That Parliament Isn’t Even Allowed To Know What It Says

Facebook: TPPA Action Group – Wellington

OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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tppa - everyone's a winner

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 November 2015.

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National’s moving goalposts on climate change targets

23 July 2015 5 comments

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global carbon dioxide rises - NASA

This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.)

global temperature rises - NASA

Temperature data from four international science institutions. All show rapid warming in the past few decades and that the last decade has been the warmest on record.

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Top image: NASA

Bottom image: NASA

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1. The Promise

What John Key said to the National Blue-Green Forum, on 6 September 2008, one month before the up-coming election that year;

What global Leaders know, and what the National Party knows, is that environmentalism and a commitment to economic growth must go hand in hand.  We should be wary of anyone who claims that one can or should come without the other.  And we should always measure a Government’s environmental rhetoric against its environmental record.

In the years ahead it will be increasingly important that New Zealand marries its economic and environmental policies.  Global climate change awareness, resource shortages, and increasing intolerance of environmental degradation will give environmental policy renewed relevance on the world stage…

… And, in seeking the balance between environmental and economic goals, National will never forget that New Zealand’s outstanding physical environment is a key part of what makes our country special. Kiwis proudly value our forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, and oceans.  They are part of our history and they must continue to define our future.

Significantly, Key added;

National will also ensure New Zealand works on the world stage to support international efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  We are committed to honouring our Kyoto Protocol obligations and we will work to achieve further global alliances that build on the goals agreed to at Kyoto.

Pre-election, Key had unequivocally committed National to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and  honouring New  Zealand’s Kyoto Protocol obligations.

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2. Agriculture and the Emissions Trading Scheme – Timeline of a Broken Promise

On  May 2008,  John Key stated,

National supports the principle of the ETS and is following the select committee process closely. National has had reservations about the timing of new taxes on motorists and households when there has been no personal tax relief for so long.”

On 8 April 2010, Key confirmed that the ETS would be preserved unchanged,

I’d say it’s unlikely it would be amended.”

By 6 June 2010, the then-Climate Minister,  Nick Smith announced that whether or not agriculture comes into the emissions trading scheme  in 2015  would depend on technological advances and what other countries do.

And on  9 November 2011,  Nick Smith announced,

… It is not in New Zealand’s interests to include agricultural emissions in the ETS yet. The lack of any practical and real technologies to reduce agricultural emissions means it would only impose a cost or tax on our most important export industry. It would also have New Zealand too far ahead of our trading partners on climate change mitigation measures. National will review the position in 2014 and only include agriculture if new technologies are available and more progress is made internationally on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

By 3 July 2012, Key began to publicly vacillate,

John Key says the Government will wait for other countries to follow suit before introducing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme…

And on 20 August 2012, National introduced the “Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2012″, which would remove agricultural emmissions indefinitely, and;

“…remove a specified entry date for surrender obligations on biological emissions from agriculture”.

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Farmers' ETS exemption progresses

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It took them four years to do it, but with some cunning public manipulation (and outright lies) –  National achieved it’s real agenda,

  1. Watering down the ETS until it was toothless,
  2. Keeping agriculture (the worst emitter of greenhouse gases in NZ) out of the ETS
  3. Abandoning the Kyoto protocol

It was National’s worst broken promise (one of many), and it successfully slipped under the public and media radar.

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3.  Gagging the Watchmen

Part of National’s strategy to cope with embarrassing  data on unpalatable problems – is to eliminate the data. This is Standard Operating Procedure for this government, and has been used to prevent data collected on Child Poverty and foreign investors buying up farms and houses.

By eliminating (or not collecting) data, it becomes difficult for the media and public to assess problems and determine how effective the government is in dealing with them.

The public, media, Opposition parties, and other critics become reliant on hear-say, anecdotal evidence, and evidence obtained through back-door methods. The recent release of a list of non-resident/citizen Chinese investors in our already over-heated property-market is perhaps the best example of this pressing problem.

National also employed the same tactic  by no longer requiring five-yearly State of the Environment Reports from the Ministry of the Environment;

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State of the Environment report stopped

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National’s minister explained;

Environment Minister Amy Adams said the ministry is continually tracing environmental performance using 22 core indicators and the change is to ensure new information is released as it comes to hand.

Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright was not impressed, and said as much;

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright said that is not good enough, because the data is not compiled, analysed, or compared.

Ms Wright is correct. This was National’s clumsy move to silence critics and hide evidence of our on-going environmental degradation. (See Addendum1 below)

Because really, if Minister Adams wanted “to ensure new information is released as it comes to hand” – there is absolutely no sound reason why that could not be done and still have five yearly State of the Environment Reports produced.

The only possible reason for State of the Environment Reports being scrapped by National is that they were fearful of the information that would become public.

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4. National abandons Kyoto Protocols

At the same time that National was quietly abandoning it’s pre-election committment to include agriculture in the Emissions Trading Scheme, our esteemed dear Leader, John Key, was announcing that New Zealand would not commit to the second state of the Kyoto protocols;

Prime Minister John Key has defended the Government’s decision not to sign on for the second stage of the Kyoto Protocol, saying the country is playing its part in combating climate change.

The climate change treaty’s first commitment period expires at the end of the year and New Zealand expects to slightly exceed its target.

The treaty aims to curb international greenhouse gas emissions through binding national commitments but some countries have questioned its effectiveness.

New Zealand would be joining other countries in going following the “convention track”, Mr Key said on TVNZ’s Breakfast show today.

“Next year New Zealand will name a binding commitment to climate change – it will actually have a physical rate that we’re going to hit – but instead of being what’s called a second commitment period that is likely to run from 2012 to 2020, we’ll be able to set our own rules around that,” Mr Key said.

As Fairfax’s Vernon Small reported at the time;

The Government has opted not to sign up to the second Kyoto Protocol commitment period from 2013 and will instead take its pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the parallel “United Nation Convention Framework”.

Protocol targets are legally binding, and the convention ones are not.

[…]

That would mean from next year New Zealand would be aligning its climate change efforts with developed and developing countries responsible for 85 per cent of global emissions.

 “This includes the United States, Japan, China, India, Canada, Brazil, Russia and many other major economies,” Groser said.

In other words, our government has put us into a ‘club’ with the world’s major polluters.

Key wants to  “set our own rules around” climate change. It is fairly apparent what those rules are; doing as little as possible.

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5. Shifting Goalposts

Even less known by the msm (mainstream media)  and public is how National has moved targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions since 1991. For the the past 24 years, successive National governments have quietly and with little scrutiny,  changed targets for reducing emissions.

  • First Target

In September 1993, the Bolger-led National Government signed up to  the  UNFCCC  (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) .  Four months after the UNFCCC came into effect, in July 1994, National announced a number of very specific climate change committments, as the State of New Zealand’s Environment 1997 report outlined;

◊ a target of reducing net emissions to 1990 volumes by the year 2000,

◊ a target of slowing growth of gross emissions by 20%,

◊ increased carbon storage in plantation forests

◊ energy sector reforms

◊ an energy efficiency strategy and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA),

◊ renewable energy sources

◊ use of the Resource Management Act; and,

◊ voluntary agreements with industry.

(Source for precise bullet-points – Wikipedia)

Even the initial target –  reducing net emissions to 1990 volumes by the year 2000 – was the bare minimum, being set at net levels, rather than gross.

National stipulated that if emissions were not stabilised at 1990 levels, by 2000, a (low-level) carbon charge would be introduced in December 1997.

  • Second Target

By July 1996, plans were under way to water down those targets set only three years earlier. Then Environment Minister, Simon Upton “committed” his government to;

…take precautionary actions to help stabilise atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in order to reduce risk from global climate change, and to meet New Zealand’s commitments under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, including:

•  To return net emissions of carbon dioxide to no more than their 1990 levels by the year 2000 (but aim for a reduction in net carbon dioxide emissions to 20 percent below their 1990 levels by the year 2000 if this is cost-effective and will not harm our trade) and to maintain them at this level thereafter; and

•  To reduce net emissions of other greenhouse gases, particularly methane, by the year 2000 where possible and maintain them at those levels thereafter.

Cost effective“, “not harm our trade“, and “where possible” – the weasel words of a government determined not to be bound by any committment.

One could imagine the reaction if those terms were included in marriage vows or other social or legal contract.

  • Third Target

Two years later,  on 22 May 1998,  National ratified  the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC. This time, National “committed” New Zealand to a target of limiting greenhouse gas emissions for the 2008-2012 period to five times the 1990 volume.

Worse still, New Zealand could either reduce emissions or  obtain carbon credits from the international market or from domestic carbon sinks, to meet those “targets”.

The relevant Kyoto Protocol stated;

New Zealand’s emissions management task

•  New Zealand’s initial assigned amount (translating into a corresponding holding of “emission units”) for the commitment period is 365 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This is equal to five times the 73 million tonnes that New Zealand emitted in 1990, times 100%, which is New Zealand’s target under Annex B of the Protocol.

•  New Zealand is projected to gain, during the commitment period, additional assigned amount (“removal units”) of 110 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent due to the growth of trees planted on land that has been converted (or reverted) to forest since 1990.

Like a desert mirage, New Zealand’s targets were continually receding under National.

  • Fourth Target

December 2014 – National’s Climate Change Minister Tim Groser, announced New Zealand’s latest emissions reduction target of 5% below 1990 levels by 2020.  This pushed the target date from 2008-2012 to 2020.

  • Fifth Target

July 2015 – National’s Climate Change Minister Tim Groser announced new emissions target, a 30% reduction on 2005 levels, by 2030.

Not only is the target date pushed further out, from 2020, top 2030 – but the baseline is now 2005 instead of 1990.

Five different targets in twentytwo years – each one more watered down; pushing target dates further and further into the distant future.  Which begs two questions;

  1. What will be the next emissions reduction level and  target date? When does it begin to sound patently ridiculous? 2050? 2099? Next century?
  2. How has no one noticed that National has been surreptitiously shifting the goal-posts?

Massey University climate change expert, Professor Ralph Sims, was not impressed with National’s subterfuge;

Prof Sims said 2005 was the year of New Zealand’s highest emissions and the 2030 target gives New Zealand “10 extra years to produce very little extra reduction.”

By Prof Sims’s calculations, based on gross greenhouse emissions set under the Kyoto Protocol, New Zealand needed to cut emissions by 63,384 kilotonnes under its previous target and by 59,150 KT under the new one.

In essence, he said New Zealand is now doing less than its fair share.

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6. The Problem Worsens

Meanwhile, our emissions have continued to worsen, whilst National fiddles;

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NZ's greenhouse gas emissions soar
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New Zealand’s net emissions of greenhouse gases climbed 42 per cent between 1990 and 2013.

Gross emissions, which exclude carbon flows relating to forestry and land use change, rose 21 per cent between 1990 (year zero for carbon accounting purposes) and 2013, to be the fifth highest per capita among 40 developed countries.

Two decades of goal setting; and goal-post moving; and the results have been disappointing, if not predictable.

This has been National’s legacy.

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Addendum1

University’s Environmental Performance Index has highlighted  New Zealand’s falld on international EPI rankings.

In 2008, New Zealand ranked seventh out of 149 nations.

In 2012, our ranking had  dropped seven placings to number fourteen.

Last year, we fell a further two spots, to number sixteen.

As John Key stated seven years ago;

“And we should always measure a Government’s environmental rhetoric against its environmental record”.

On every indicator and policy, New Zealand is doing poorly in the field of conservation. We are going backwards.

Addendum2

“I think we never wanted to be a world leader in climate change.” John Key, 12 November 2012

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References

National Party: John Key Speech – Environment Policy Launch

Fairfax media: ‘Carbon neutral’ policy added to scrap heap

NZ Herald:  ETS changes ‘unlikely’ despite pleas

NBR:  ETS may exclude agriculture – Climate Change Minister

Interest.co.nz: See: National would phase in ETS obligations for transport, electricity, industrial sectors; Will review Agriculture in 2014, will only put it in if technology to help is there

Radio NZ: Govt puts off including agriculture in ETS

National Party: Government announces ETS amendments

Radio NZ:  Farmers’ ETS exemption progresses

NZ Herald: Measuring poverty line not a priority – Bennett

Otago Daily Times: Foreign buyers still in market

TV3 News: Govt – Foreign buyers not part of housing problem

Radio NZ: State of the Environment report stopped

NZ Herald: Key defends decision not to stick with Kyoto Protocol

Dominion Post: Government shuns second Kyoto committment

Wikipedia: Fourth National Government of New Zealand

Ministry for the environment:  State of New Zealand’s Environment 1997 (ch5)

Beehive.govt.nz: Environment 2010 Strategy

Otago Daily Times: Groser – NZ’s emission impossible

NZ Herald: NZ commits to post-2020 emissions reduction target

NBR: New 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target far weaker than 2020 goal – climate change expert

NZ Herald: NZ’s greenhouse gas emissions soar

Yale University:  2008 Environmental Performance Index

Yale University:  2012 Environmental Performance Index

Yale University:  2014 Environmental Performance Index

Other Blogs

Green Party: Govt’s emissions reduction target 100% pure spin

Hot Topic: Climate Action Tracker analysis: NZ emissions targets inadequate, not doing our fair share

Hot Topic: Renwick on NZ’s 11% cut: follow us down the path to catastrophe

No Right Turn: Are fossil fuels really an industry we want to promote?

Open Parachute: Talk of “mini ice age” bunkum

The Daily Blog: Using freezing temperatures to claim global warming is a hoax

The Standard:  Emissions targets an admission that we don’t care

The Standard:  It’s just too expensive to act on climate change

The Standard:  Voices of the people on emissions targets and climate change

Additional

NASA Goddard Insititute for Space Studies: Global Climate Modeling

Skeptical Science:  Global Warming in a Nutshell

Previous related blogposts

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment y/e 2012 – environment

John Key – more pledges, more broken promises?

As predicted: National abandons climate-change responsibilities

National ditches environmental policies

ETS – National continues to fart around

Dear Leader – fibbing again?!

National – what else can possibly go wrong?!

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 July 2015.

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Letter to the Editor: Is doing nothing really the best we can hope to achieve?!

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From the Dominion Post, on 3 April, I was struck by the sheer head-in-the-sand attitude of this writer;

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letter to editor - bruce utting - dominion post - frank macskasy

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FROM:   "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Sat, 03 May 2014 13:25:47 +1200
TO:     "Dominion Post" letters@dompost.co.nz 

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The Editor
Dominion Post

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When it comes to a "head in the sand" attitude, Bruce
Utting's letter (3 April) giving excuses why New Zealand
should do nothing to reduce our greenhouse gases emission,
is up there with the worst.

Utting said, "the fact is that no matter what we, in this tiny
country at the bottom of the world, do, or how much oil, gas
or coal we discover or use, it will not make the slightest
measurable difference to world climate..."

If we had adopted that defeatism in the 1970s, New Zealand
would never have led the world in stopping French atomic
bomb testing in the South Pacific.

If we had adopted that defeatist in the 1980s, New Zealand
would not have led the world in it's opposition to sporting
contact with the apartheid regime in South Africa.

New Zealand may be a small country, but our international
reputation is based on "punching above our weight" - not
hand-wringing and whining "woe is us, we're too small to
effect change".

Like the damage caused to the Ozone Layer by human-produced
chloroflourocarbons (phased out in 1992), unless we do our
part to reduce CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions, we
will continue to wreak havoc on our environment.


-Frank Macskasy
[address & phone number supplied]

 

 

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References

Wikipedia: Cloroflourocarbons/Ozone Layer


 

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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2013 – The Year of The Big Dry – Part Rua

15 March 2013 2 comments

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Continued from: 2013 – The Year of The Big Dry

Looking south from the Kennedy-Good Bridge (Fairway Drive),

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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The river, looking south. Don’t be fooled by the width of the water-flow, as subsequent photos will show,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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Looking down from the bridge, the shallowness of the river is clearly apparent. Note the six stones in the middle of the river,

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March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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A close-up of the the six stones. They are breaking the surface of the water,

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Looking north again, toward the Tararua mountains. The sky is mostly clear, and what few clouds there are, show little promise of water,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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Away from the river, the nearby Avalon Park is parched. Again, it looks like something that our Aussie cuzzies might be more familiar with,

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March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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Another angle of the Park. Curiously, the park is devoid of it’s duck population. Normally, there are hundreds of the feathered critters all over the place. But this blogger couldn’t find one. Only a couple of dozen seagulls – eternal scavengers and survivors – were standing around, waiting for a free meal from a few people in the park,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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Moving north, at the Totara Park Bridge, this horse paddock was as parched as  Avalon Park,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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The river  flowing under the Torara Park bridge, with parched river banks to either side,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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The river, looking north, toward the  Tararuas. Again, don’t let the width of the river fool you – it’s actually quite shallow. Note the patch of rocks, left-of-center, and the one rock in the vcenter of the photo. They are breaking the water surface,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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A close-up of the photo above, showing  stones in the middle of the river breaking the surface,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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The river level is so low that even the river bank plant life is parched,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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Looking south, it’s easy to see how far the rive has dropped. In some places it’s more like a stream than the Hutt River we’re used to,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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By comparison, the Hutt River as it  normally is,

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Acknowledgement: Tourism Properties

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Acknowledgement: The Valley Club

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*** Newsflash***

The entire north island is now officially in drought. See: Drought status for entire North Island.

Our household is supporting local the call from the Greater Wellington Council to cut back on water usage. Specifically,

  • not washing the car (yay!)
  • stopped watering our vege garden or lawn
  • short showers – less than 5 minutes
  • cutting back on washing machine usage
  • only flushing the toilet when necessary; “if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down
  • giving dirty dishes and utensils a quick rinse in a bucket (containing water and detergent)  and putting aside to  wash in one big lot
  • not running water when brushing our teeth
  • preparing meals that require minimal water usage

When we’re faced with 20 days of water left – it focuses the mind not to waste the precious stuff. (See: Wellington has ’20 days of water left’ in drought)

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Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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2013 – The Year of The Big Dry

15 March 2013 1 comment

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NZ, Wellinton, 13 March 2013 –  In 2011, it was the Year of the Big Chill, as snow blanketed the entire country.

Two years later, as climate change impacts globally, New Zealand is no longer immune to extreme weather patters. In the Hutt Valley, just north of Wellington, the Hutt River’s levels are significantly lower than seen in a long time.

The following photos were taken on the Hutt River, from  Avalon to Totara Park …

Hutt River, adjacent to the Moonshine Bridge, looking north. The river level  normally swirls around  bridge pillars in the foreground. The pool in the foreground is usually part of the river flow,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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Stagnant pools, covered by green slime-algae, where only a few months ago the river flowed,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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Looking north, we see how far water levels have receded,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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Looking south, most of the Hutt River at this point is dry rockbed,

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An overview from a higher vantage point. The river flow normally reaches all four concrete pillars of the rail-bridge,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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The width of  the river at this point is mis-leading; the water is extremely shallow. The water level reached to a swimmer’s  (not in image)  hip’s at the deepest point,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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Looking north, on the Moonshine Bridge. Half the river is dry,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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A view from beneath the Silverstream railbridge (parallel to the Moonshine bridge), with a view of a mainly dry part of the river,

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Looking north: at Avalon, part of the rivebank. Despite being close to the Hutt River, the grass is all dried and dying,

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The grass was so brown and dry, it reminded me of Australia, where “The Sunburnt Country” is a literal description,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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Looking northward; the Hutt River at Avalon.  The water waters are at extreme low-levels. Just how low will become apparent in the next few photos,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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Looking north; the width of the river is illusory. Note the seagulls to the left-of-center in the photos,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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A close-up of the gulls. They’re standing in the water, indicating how shallow it is,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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The river curves around and under the Kennedy-Good Bridge (Fairway Drive). Note the tyre just off-centre, to the right, in the photo,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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A close-up of the above photo. Note the tyre? It’s not floating – it’s sitting on stones. That indicates the low level of the river,

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2013-the-big-dry-new-zealand-drought-hutt-valley-181.jpg

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Looking north; seagulls standing in the water; tyre sitting on stones (bottom of photo) and Avalon TV Centre, near top of pic,

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  March 2013 - new zealand drought - the big dry - climate change

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To be continued: 2013 – The Year of The Big Dry – Part Rua

*** Newsflash***

The entire north island is now officially in drought. See: Drought status for entire North Island.

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Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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John Key – more pledges, more broken promises?

13 November 2012 6 comments

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Continued from: As predicted: National abandons climate-change responsibilities

As if John Key’s broken promises on environmental concerns  and reneging on pledges expressing  “National’s commitment to addressing global climate change.  We view this as the most serious environmental challenge of our time was not enough (see:  John Key, Speech: Environment Policy Launch), Dear Leader has made a new committment to New Zealanders,

Next year New Zealand will name a binding commitment to climate change – it will actually have a physical rate that we’re going to hit – but instead of being what’s called a second commitment period that is likely to run from 2012 to 2020, we’ll be able to set our own rules around that.”

See: Key defends decision not to stick with Kyoto Protocol

This blogger demands to know from John Key why on Earth we should take him at his word?  This is a man who has broken so many pledges; back-tracked on so many policies; and paid lip-service to committments – that it has become a standing joke.

Some of Key’s previous statements on the environment include,

What global Leaders know, and what the National Party knows, is that environmentalism and a commitment to economic growth must go hand in hand.  We should be wary of anyone who claims that one can or should come without the other.  And we should always measure a Government’s environmental rhetoric against its environmental record.

In the years ahead it will be increasingly important that New Zealand marries its economic and environmental policies.  Global climate change awareness, resource shortages, and increasing intolerance of environmental degradation will give environmental policy renewed relevance on the world stage…

… And, in seeking the balance between environmental and economic goals, National will never forget that New Zealand’s outstanding physical environment is a key part of what makes our country special. Kiwis proudly value our forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, and oceans.  They are part of our history and they must continue to define our future.

See: John Key, Speech: Environment Policy Launch

National will also ensure New Zealand works on the world stage to support international efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  We are committed to honouring our Kyoto Protocol obligations and we will work to achieve further global alliances that build on the goals agreed to at Kyoto.

See: Ibid

Up until April/May 2010, Key maintained National’s supportive position on the ETS,

I’d say it’s unlikely it would be amended.”

But by 9 November, National had completed a 180-degree turn on the the Kyoto Protocol, and completed what can only be deemed as a covert policy to repudiate the ETS and our committments to Kyoto. As Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said,

The Government has decided that from 1 January 2013 New Zealand will be aligning its climate change efforts with developed and developing countries which collectively are responsible for 85% of global emissions. This includes the United States, Japan, China, India, Canada, Brazil, Russia and many other major economies.”

See: New Zealand Commits to UN Framework Convention

John Key has backtracked on the ETS and Kyoto Protocols – and now expects us to take him at his word at new committments announced today?

I don’t think so.

To rationalise National’s abandonment on Kyoto, Key stated,

We are a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of world emissions … New Zealand needs to play its part, it is playing its part, it’s already part of the emissions trading scheme and we’ve made quite a lot of other changes – we are there doing things about climate change. But I think we never wanted to be a world leader in climate change.

I don’t think anyone could ever accuse Dear Leader of   “wanting to be a world leader in climate change“. He’s right on that score.

As for his laughable assertion that “New Zealand needs to play its part, it is playing its part, it’s already part of the emissions trading scheme” – that is the same ETS that National has gutted by excluding agriculture from, despite prior pledges to include it by 2015.

By October of this year, National  scrapped the five yearly State of the Environment Reports, despite John Key having endorsed it in September 2008.

See: National scraps crucial environmental report

No one could ever accuse John Key of keeping his pledges.

He is not to be trusted.

Addendum

For a full time-line of National’s slow dismantling of the ETS and backttracking on Kyoto Protocols, see: ETS – National continues to fart around.

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Other blogs

Tim Groser misleads Parliament

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As predicted: National abandons climate-change responsibilities

9 November 2012 12 comments

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Continued from: National ditches environmental policies

As predicted eight days ago, National has abandoned all pretences at meeting our Kyoto Protocol obligations, and cutting back on air pollution,

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Full story

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As this blogger wrote on 1 November, John Key was adamant that National was committed to reducing greenhouse gases, and making environmental concerns a priority for his “government”,

What global Leaders know, and what the National Party knows, is that environmentalism and a commitment to economic growth must go hand in hand.  We should be wary of anyone who claims that one can or should come without the other.  And we should always measure a Government’s environmental rhetoric against its environmental record.

In the years ahead it will be increasingly important that New Zealand marries its economic and environmental policies.  Global climate change awareness, resource shortages, and increasing intolerance of environmental degradation will give environmental policy renewed relevance on the world stage…

… And, in seeking the balance between environmental and economic goals, National will never forget that New Zealand’s outstanding physical environment is a key part of what makes our country special. Kiwis proudly value our forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, and oceans.  They are part of our history and they must continue to define our future.

Our environment isn’t just a bonus.  It’s part of being a Kiwi.  It underpins our enviable quality of life. It gives us an in-built edge over many of our economic rivals.  I’m thinking, for example, of what Australia would do for our abundant water resources.  And, increasingly, New Zealand’s environmental credentials will underpin our prosperity and our trade profile…

… One of National’s key goals, should we lead the next Government, will be to stem the flow of New Zealanders choosing to live and work overseas.  We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere…

… Labour has talked big talk on the environment but all too often it has failed to deliver.  

• Labour promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% – but instead they have gone up by 20%.
• Labour promised a target of 90% renewable electricity by 2021 – but the actual proportion of renewables has sunk to an all-time low.
• Labour promised 250,000 hectares of additional trees by 2020 – but the past three years has seen the worst deforestation since records began…

Source:  John Key, Speech: Environment Policy Launch

Key was emphatic in demanding stronger environmental protections for our country,

I urge you to read our environment policy in full. But let me pick out some highlights.

First, this policy underlines National’s commitment to addressing global climate change.  We view this as the most serious environmental challenge of our time. 

National believes that New Zealand, as a responsible international citizen, and as a country that values our clean, green environment, must act to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This policy sets out our commitment to that goal.

National will set an achievable emissions reduction target for New Zealand.  We seek a 50% reduction in New Zealand’s carbon-equivalent net emissions, as compared to 1990 levels, by 2050.  50 by 50.  We will write the target into law.

National will also ensure New Zealand works on the world stage to support international efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  We are committed to honouring our Kyoto Protocol obligations and we will work to achieve further global alliances that build on the goals agreed to at Kyoto.

Our approach to future international negotiations will be to work with fellow countries on finding a pragmatic way to include large emitters like China, the United States, India, and Brazil.  It’s clear that the absence of these large emitters from any post-Kyoto agreement would severely compromise global progress on this issue.

In order to achieve domestic emission reduction, National will pursue sound, practical environmental policies.  We want to reduce emissions in ways that result in least cost to society and the economy.

To that end, we consider a well-designed, carefully balanced emissions trading scheme (ETS) to be the best tool available for efficiently reducing emissions across the economy.

Source:  Ibid

Up until April/May 2010, Key maintained National’s supportive position on the ETS,

I’d say it’s unlikely it would be amended.”

But as New Zealanders have now come to expect, what National sez – and what National does, are often two completely different things.

If one was sufficiently uncharitable, one could say that National was highly dishonest as it back-tracked on it’s committments. But seeing as this blogger is not uncharitable, let’s just call them lying bastards and settle at that.

By  November 2011 Environment Minister Nick Smith announced,

… It is not in New Zealand’s interests to include agricultural emissions in the ETS yet.

And true to word, in August of this year,  National introduced legislation to remove agriculture and the egg industry from the ETS, entirely.

By October of this year, National had scrapped five yearly State of the Environment Reports, despite John Key having endorsed it in September 2008.

See: National scraps crucial environmental report

Today, National completed what can only be deemed as a covert policy to repudiate the ETS and our committments to Kyoto. As Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said,

“The Government has decided that from 1 January 2013 New Zealand will be aligning its climate change efforts with developed and developing countries which collectively are responsible for 85% of global emissions. This includes the United States, Japan, China, India, Canada, Brazil, Russia and many other major economies.”

See: New Zealand Commits to UN Framework Convention

Which is an outrageous admission from a National minister, and makes a mockery of  Key’s fuzzy-wuzzy words just four years ago.

Groser went on to state,

 “I want to emphasise that NZ stands 100% behind its existing Kyoto Protocol Commitment. We are on track to achieving our target – indeed we are forecasting a projected surplus of 23.1 million tonnes. Furthermore, we will remain full members of the Kyoto Protocol. There is no question of withdrawing. The issue was always different: where would we take our next commitment – under the Kyoto Protocol or under the Convention with the large majority of economies? We have decided that it is New Zealand’s best interests to do the latter.

If  New Zealand was “on track to achieving our target – indeed we are forecasting a projected surplus of 23.1 million tonnes” – then why withdraw from the Second Kyoto Protocols?

This makes no sense unless National is continuing to bullshit the public.

This is another broken pledge from John Key, and a failure by National to meet it’s own committments.

Key and National will be held to account at the next election. Broken promises are not a sound basis on which to base an election campaign.

Addendum

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Full story

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National’s media release is headed, “New Zealand Commits to UN Framework Convention” – as if National was undertaking meaningful committments to environmental protection.

It is a laughable attempt to ‘spin’ National’s broken committments in a positive light.

The truly offensive thing here is not that John Key’s credibility is now shot to hell; nor that National has shown itself to be utterly untrustworthy – but that the Nat’s Party (taxpayer funded) spin-doctors thought that the public was so stupid that we wouldn’t notice.

All they’ve done is drawn more attention to their lies, broken promises, and secret agendas.

Tossers.

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Sources

Government shuns second Kyoto committment

New Zealand Commits to UN Framework Convention

Additional

Fairfax Media: AgResearch stalls ‘damaging’ report

Radiolive: Nats are sacrificing our environment… for what?

Other blogs

Tumeke: John Key’s invisible New Zealand

Truthdig: The Fallacy Behind Environmental Protection and Economic Growth

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Bloomberg, Canute, and lapping waters at your feet

4 November 2012 5 comments

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“Frankenstorm” – the media-given nickname for Hurricane Sandy -was named after Frankenstein, the fictitious scientist who attempted to cheat the gods by creating life from lifelessness, and instead created the titular “monster”. Ironically,  we may well have created “Frankenstorm” from our irresponsible polluting of the atmosphere.

Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury raised a point in one of his blogposts on “Tumeke”, regarding the recent devasting storm that devastated the East Coast of the US,

I love how a US election campaign that hasn’t mentioned global warming once is being impacted by a climate change Frankenstorm. Seeing as man made pollution is causing the planet to heat (a fact the right wing blogosphere in this country refuse to accept) these types of Frankenstorms will become more frequent and more powerful.

We should be introducing this storm as ‘welcome to your new winter America’.”

Source: Climate Change storm stomps on US election #Schadenfreude

Someone must have been paying attention – or arrived at the same conclusion – because a day later, the Mayor of New York, right-wing Republican/Independent billionaire, Michael Bloomberg, seems to have experienced a road-to-Damascus revelation,

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Source

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As Bloomberg said,

Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be—given this week’s devastation—should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action. “

Indeed.

I guess it was inevitable. Eventually the effects of climate change would begin to impact on the coastal areas of the United States –  one of  the worst serial polluters on this planet.

Other nations – also guilty of dumping vast quantities of pollutants into the atmosphere – will also not escape the consequences of air pollution that has already begun to affect our climate.

In the 1970s, the world learnt that emitting    CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons ) into the atmosophere was slowly destroying the ozone layer. This delicate layer of  O3 is all that stands between us, and the full-on deadly solar UV radiation that would sterilise the surface of our  planet.

See: The Ozone Hole – CFCs

And we were slowly wrecking it with a pollutant commonly found in refrigerators, aerosol cans, etc.

Thankfully, we realised the gravity of the crisis in the nick of time and began the phasing out of CFCs (except in certain situations) has meant that the Ozone Hole is slowly shrinking.

See: The Ozone Hole – 2012 Antarctic Ozone Hole Second Smallest in 20 Years

Possibly this was made possible because corporate muscle-flexing by  the fossil-fuel industry (oil companies, coal mining, etc) and agricultural interests profits were not affected by the phasing out of CFCs. And because a direct correlation could be quickly shown between CFCs and Ozone depletion.

To our sorrow – especially those on the East Coast of the USA – we have been slower to accept a similar correlation between increasing levels of CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide and the gradual increase in global temperatures.

Perhaps it’s because of the glacial slowness of  this increase in temperature (measured in fractions of a degree) – like the slow progress of continental drift – coupled with a propaganda campaign financed by vested corporate interests (that I believe verge on criminal behaviour), that made clarity and decision-making unnecessarily cumbersome.

It has taken time. Whilst the science pointed steadily at climate change being an undeniable reality, politicians (especially the right wing variety) were less willing to commit, for fear of losing votes. And campaign donations.

I suspect that Hurricane Sandy may be the “wake up” call that the Human Race desperately needed.

Climate change – like the earlier Ozone Hole crisis – is a global problem. It will affect every nation on this planet; powerful or powerless; big or small; wealthy or poverty-stricken.

None will be exempt.

And ironically, it will be highly developed nations such as the United States that will be worst affected as the severity of storms increase and weather patterns become more extreme. The complex infra-structure of Developed Nations will be more vulnerable to the onslaught of extreme weather.

Mayor Bloomberg belatedly understands this reality. His city has been brought to it’s knees – humbled by forces of nature that are beyond our control.

Other coastal cities in the US, China, Japan, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere will be facing similar fates. It is only a matter of time.

Mayor Bloomberg has said,

When I step into the voting booth, I think about the world I want to leave my two daughters, and the values that are required to guide us there. The two parties’ nominees for president offer different visions of where they want to lead America.”

Nothing focuses the mind like a laser when we, and our children,  are threatened by an external force.

In this case, that external force was “Frankenstorm Sandy”.

We can start by throwing out National, which has totally abrogated it’s responsibilities to curtail greenhouse gas emissions (and other pollutants), in the name of “economic growth”. (And failed dismally at both.)

See previous blogpost: ETS – National continues to fart around

See previous blogpost: National ditches environmental policies

Governments around the world no longer have a choice in this matter. It is no longer a “Game of Politics”, this is a matter which will affect us all. There is no place to escape to; no place to hide; no sanctuary for any of us.

Consider, if you will, that being an island nation, nearly all our major cities and towns are coastal. We are no less vulnerable to extreme storms than our American cuzzies and right about now I would not be buying any beach-front properties.

There is no escaping the consequences of what we have wrought.

Now we have to focus our human ingenuity at undoing what we have wrought.

We have run out of options and time.

Now’s good.

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King Canute of Bosham (Born circa AD 994 – died 12th November 1035)

Legend of the waves

King Canute is best remembered for the story of how he commanded the waves to go back in Bosham. According to oral tradition, he grew tired of flattery by the locals. “You are the greatest man that ever lived,” one would say. “O king, there can never be another as mighty as you,” another would say. “Great Canute, you are the monarch of all, nothing in this world would dare to disobey you.” When one such flatterer said the king could command the obedience of the sea, the King proved him wrong by practical demonstration on the foreshore.

“Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings. For there is none worthy of the name but God, whom heaven, earth and sea obey”.

So spoke the King, seated on his throne with the waves lapping around his feet. “Go back, sea!” he commanded time and again, but the tide continued as expected. Canute put it to his courtiers that the sea was not obeying him and insisted they stay there until they admitted it.

Source

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National ditches environmental policies

1 November 2012 14 comments

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Continued from: ETS – National continues to fart around

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Continuing an analysis of National’s track record on environmental concerns…

“Green Key”

From a speech given by John Key in September, 2008 – about three months prior to being elected Prime Minister,

What global Leaders know, and what the National Party knows, is that environmentalism and a commitment to economic growth must go hand in hand.  We should be wary of anyone who claims that one can or should come without the other.  And we should always measure a Government’s environmental rhetoric against its environmental record.

In the years ahead it will be increasingly important that New Zealand marries its economic and environmental policies.  Global climate change awareness, resource shortages, and increasing intolerance of environmental degradation will give environmental policy renewed relevance on the world stage…

… And, in seeking the balance between environmental and economic goals, National will never forget that New Zealand’s outstanding physical environment is a key part of what makes our country special. Kiwis proudly value our forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, and oceans.  They are part of our history and they must continue to define our future.

Our environment isn’t just a bonus.  It’s part of being a Kiwi.  It underpins our enviable quality of life. It gives us an in-built edge over many of our economic rivals.  I’m thinking, for example, of what Australia would do for our abundant water resources.  And, increasingly, New Zealand’s environmental credentials will underpin our prosperity and our trade profile…

… One of National’s key goals, should we lead the next Government, will be to stem the flow of New Zealanders choosing to live and work overseas.  We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere…

… Labour has talked big talk on the environment but all too often it has failed to deliver.  

• Labour promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% – but instead they have gone up by 20%.
• Labour promised a target of 90% renewable electricity by 2021 – but the actual proportion of renewables has sunk to an all-time low.
• Labour promised 250,000 hectares of additional trees by 2020 – but the past three years has seen the worst deforestation since records began…

Source:  John Key, Speech: Environment Policy Launch

Key went on to say,

I urge you to read our environment policy in full. But let me pick out some highlights.

First, this policy underlines National’s commitment to addressing global climate change.  We view this as the most serious environmental challenge of our time

National believes that New Zealand, as a responsible international citizen, and as a country that values our clean, green environment, must act to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This policy sets out our commitment to that goal.

National will set an achievable emissions reduction target for New Zealand.  We seek a 50% reduction in New Zealand’s carbon-equivalent net emissions, as compared to 1990 levels, by 2050.  50 by 50.  We will write the target into law.

National will also ensure New Zealand works on the world stage to support international efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  We are committed to honouring our Kyoto Protocol obligations and we will work to achieve further global alliances that build on the goals agreed to at Kyoto.

Our approach to future international negotiations will be to work with fellow countries on finding a pragmatic way to include large emitters like China, the United States, India, and Brazil.  It’s clear that the absence of these large emitters from any post-Kyoto agreement would severely compromise global progress on this issue.

In order to achieve domestic emission reduction, National will pursue sound, practical environmental policies.  We want to reduce emissions in ways that result in least cost to society and the economy.

To that end, we consider a well-designed, carefully balanced emissions trading scheme (ETS) to be the best tool available for efficiently reducing emissions across the economy.

National’s pledge to  “consider a well-designed, carefully balanced emissions trading scheme (ETS) to be the best tool available for efficiently reducing emissions across the economy” has turned into a farce.

Up until April/May 2010, Key maintained National’s position on the ETS,

I’d say it’s unlikely it would be amended.”

“Greenish-grey Key”

But by  November 2011 Environment Minister Nick Smith announced,

… It is not in New Zealand’s interests to include agricultural emissions in the ETS yet.

On August of this year,  National introduced legislation to remove agriculture and the egg industry from the ETS, entirely,

…remove a specified entry date for surrender obligations on biological emissions from agriculture”.

See previous blogpost for full timeline: ETS – National continues to fart around

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So there we have it.  From noble promises made in 2008 – to the abandonment of agriculture being included in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Another broken promise from a broken “government”.

Did John Key ever really intend to include agriculture  in the Emissions Trading Scheme? I suspect not. As with so many of  National’s fine-sounding promises, it was all electioneering. They told us what we wanted to hear.

“Coal-black Key”

As if the gradual, covert,  watering down the ETS was not enough – there are now indications that National intends to abandon New Zealand’s obligations under the Kyoto Protocol,

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Key seemed more supportive of the Kyoto Protocols  in 2008,

National will also ensure New Zealand works on the world stage to support international efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  We are committed to honouring our Kyoto Protocol obligations and we will work to achieve further global alliances that build on the goals agreed to at Kyoto

So let me be very clear today: National is serious about reducing New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.  We will ensure that a New Zealand ETS is introduced on 1 January 2010.

As usual, John Key and the National Party have been big on rhetoric and promises – but poor on action. Sadly for New Zealand,  the reality of their policies has been a sustained undermining of  environmental protections.

From La La Land…

To really highlight what National thinks of environmental concerns, one need only consider their plans to scrap the  vital State of the Environment Report.

There is an element of absurdity  to this issue that is difficult to fathom,

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From the same speech John Key gave in September 2008,

Environmental management has been further compromised by the poor performance of the Environment Ministry and the lack of independent monitoring of New Zealand’s progress towards environmental goals.

National believes Kiwis are ready to do things differently.  We want to strengthen the incentives for co-operation in the pursuit of shared environmental goals. 

So, National will invite stakeholders to work with us to reach agreement on up to 20 national environment goals to be achieved by specific dates, at the latest by 2030. To give those goals some real resonance we will introduce a new Environmental Reporting Act.  This will require the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to conduct independent five-yearly State of the Environment Reports.

This is the same pledge, to demand independent five-yearly State of the Environment Reports, that the Minister for the Environment, Amy Adams, now dismisses,

Waiting five years to measure the state of our environment might be good enough for the opposition parties but not this Government.”

See: National scraps crucial environmental report

The absurd irony is  that a National Minister is dismissing a policy that her boss – the Prime Minister – advocated four years ago! The five-yearly State of the Environment Reports was not Opposition policy – it was John Key’s idea!!!

This is Orwellian re-writing of history at it’s most ludicrous and laughable: dismissing National Party initiatives by blaming them on opposition parties!

Folks, New Zealand politics doesn’t get more Monty Pythonesque than this!

100% 48% Pure!

As a result of  National’s covert disregard for our environment, ongoing poor environmental policies and actions have become manifest in ways that are becoming harder and harder to hide from public attention,

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What New Zealanders fail to comprehend is that the degration of our environment doesn’t just mean we’ll be able to swim less and less in our once-clean rivers – but that the rest of the world will soon begin to realise that our “100% Pure” and “Clean & Green” image” is bogus.

That’s when our reputation for environmental protection will be revealed as a sham and our exports for  primary produce will begin to be affected.

How long will it be before international media turn their gaze upon our slowly degrading environment?

How long before our rivers are as polluted as China’s?

And how long before international markets turn away from our products, or pay us less for our produce?

If we’re going to treat our rivers as toilets, why should tourists come here to New Zealand?

If anything has demonstrated Dear Leader’s change-of-heart from 2008, it is his ‘sudden’  conversion from Environmental Champion to backer of the minining lobby.

Green Key is gone.

Coal-black Key has arrived.

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Track records, broken records

In 2008,  John Key encouraged,

“I urge you to read our environment policy in full.”

So do I –  Speech: Environment Policy Launch

In doing so you, the reader, will find out for yourself just how dishonest Key and National have been, and how badly our environment – which forms the economic backbone of this country – is now being systematically degraded for narrow, short-term gain.

True to form, even as John Key smiled benignly upon the country – he has let New Zealanders down.

And we should always measure a Government’s environmental rhetoric against its environmental record.” – John Key, 6 September 2008

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Additional

Fairfax Media: AgResearch stalls ‘damaging’ report

Radiolive: Nats are sacrificing our environment… for what?

Other blogs

Tumeke: John Key’s invisible New Zealand

Truthdig: The Fallacy Behind Environmental Protection and Economic Growth

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