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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:

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(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:

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…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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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2013-the-big-dry-new-zealand-drought-hutt-valley-6.jpg

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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 11 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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Full story

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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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Source

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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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Source

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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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ETS – National continues to fart around

28 October 2012 30 comments

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Beginning of the ETS

September 2008

Labour introduces and passes the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading) Amendment Act 2008.

As David Parker said, on 10 September 2008,

For the first time we will start factoring in the true cost of greenhouse gas emissions into our economy. This is in line with developments in the rest of the world.

The sooner we get on top of this challenge, the sooner we can reap the benefits of providing low carbon goods and services that are attractive to affluent overseas markets. There is much to be gained by grasping this opportunity.

While there will be extra costs for some sectors, I am confident that the support the government is providing both to households and to businesses will smooth the transition we absolutely must make, if we are to play our part in the global struggle against climate change.”

Source

National’s Track Record

13 May 2007

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.

Source

6 May 2008

Mr Key says,

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.”

Source

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.”

Source

24 May 2010

John Key states that  there is “no chance” New Zealand will follow Australia and cancel the Emissions Trading Scheme and rejects assertions it will impact on New Zealanders’ pockets,

The question is for a household, are they prepared to pay $3 a week for the insurance premium of our environment? I think the answer to that is ‘yes’.”

He adds,

Of the 38 countries that signed the Kyoto protocol, 29 of them have an ETS. All 29 have almost double the cost that we have.”

Source

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.

Source

9 November 2011

Environment Minister Nick Smith announces,

The scheme currently steps up on 1 January 2013 to a full obligation for the transport, electricity and industrial sectors. National’s intention is to phase this in three equal steps on 1 January 2013, 1 January 2014 and 1 January 2015 as recommended by the ETS Review Panel…

… 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. “

Source

19 November 2011

National plans to  delay  implementation of the ETS until after a Select Committee review is completed, according to National-ACT coalition deal.

Key states that  he believes human-induced climate change is real and it’s still possible National will pass an amended ETS into law before next October.”

Source

2 July 2012

National announces that farmers will not have to buy carbon credits to offset livestock and pasture emissions until at least 2015.

Source

3 July 2012

National announces that  the two-for-one carbon credit scheme for emitters such as the  oil and electricity industry  will remain in place instead of ending  this year (2012).

Source

John Key says the Government will wait for other countries to follow suit before introducing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme…

…The Government says it will leave agriculture out of the ETS until at least 2015, despite 47% of the country’s emissions coming from that sector

Climate Change Minister Tim Groser told Tadio NZ’s  Morning Report on Tuesday there is no point in New Zealand leading the way if other countries such as the United States and China are doing nothing.” – Radio NZ

Source

6 July 2012

John Key announces four amendments to Emissions Trading Scheme saying that,

New Zealand is still the only country outside Europe [see comment 24 May] to have a comprehensive ETS in place, and we’re on track to meet our Kyoto obligations for 2008-12. “

Source

The four changes are,

  • 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.

Source

So much for Key’s statement on 8 April.

20 August 2012

National introduces  “Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2012”, which will remove agricultural emmissions indefinitely, and will,

remove a specified entry date for surrender obligations on biological emissions from agriculture”.

Source

27 October 2012

National’s  “Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2012” passes second reading by 1-vote majority, supported by National, ACT, and United Future.

Source

Conclusions

National’s rejection of the ETS for the farming industry and removing egg producers from the ETS is now complete.

It must be clear to practically everyone by now that despite National’s ongoing  “firm assurances” from May 2007 to May 2010, that they would support and maintain  an Emissions Trading Scheme, that their real agenda all along was entirely the opposite.

The entry of agriculture into the ETS  was accepted;  “reviewed”; postponed; and then cancelled altogether. Only a procedural law change now remains to make it fully legal.

It has taken four years to achieve it, but National’s pledges to commit to an ETS are now shown to be the lies that they are.

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.

Remember what Key told reporters at the launch of the Global Research Alliance’s inaugural meeting on the ETS, on 8 April 2010,

I’d say it’s unlikely it would be amended.”

Key’s pledge that agriculture would enter the ETS in 2015 has been broken, and our Prime Minister further shown up as the untrustworthy, lying,  manipulator that a growing number of critics are labelling him.

If there is one lesson that National has learnt from our recent history is that if you’re going to break promises – do it slowly so no one notices.

Unfortunately for John Key and his cronies, New Zealanders have noticed.

Update

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Full story

Acknowledgement: Kay

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Unsurprising and inevitable, I guess.  This was National’s agenda from Day One.

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Sources

Scoop media: John Key Speech – Climate Change Target (13 May 2007)

Beehive Press Prelease: Historic climate change legislation passes (10 September 2008)

Parliament: Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading) Amendment Act 2008 (25 September 2008)

NZ Energy & Environment Business Week: National-Act Coalition Deal Puts Emissions Trading Legislation On Hold (19 November 2008)

NBR:  Govt keeping open mind on agriculture ETS inclusion (26 May 2010)

NBR: ETS may exclude agriculture – Climate Change Minister (6 June 2010)

National Party: Policy 2011 – Environment & Climate Change (2011)

Fairfax Media: PM accused of taking sides on mining (22 March 2012)

National Party: Government announces ETS amendments (2 July 2012)

National Party: Doing our fair share on climate change (6 July 2012)

NZ Herald: Carbon credit price crash could force sales (25 October 2012)

Radio NZ: Farmers’ ETS exemption progresses (26 October 2012)

Additional

Wikipedia: New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme

Other blogs

The Worlds Worst Emissions Trading Scheme

Abdicating our global responsibility

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When the future arrived…

30 January 2012 2 comments

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Global warming… pollution… over-population… decaying inner cities… rising crime and mass poverty… food shortages…  collapsed fish-stocks… corrupt government and police…

It’s hard to tell whether this is a description of current human civilisation, 2012AD… or the nightmarish vision of humanity in 2022AD,

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As nations scurry to gain control of arable farmland in Africa, New Zealand, and elsewhere,  we may have taken another step closer to the dystopian futureworld of  “Soylent Green“,

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Unfortunately (for us), as CO2 levels,  temperatures, and acidification rise, these will impact on the state of our oceans. What profound impact these changes will have on the oceans’  eco-systems is anyone’s guess – but it’s not looking too flash for us,

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Even if global warming doesn’t kill of the fish stocks – human over-fishing, it seems, will do the job. And by the year 2050AD – when the human population is expected to rise to an estimated 9 billion – is precisely when food supplies will be desperately  needed more than ever.

Little wonder, then, that demand for farmland to grow protein for burgeoning populations is rising.

We may have sold our farms too cheaply.

 

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