Climate change action needed

Climate change – whether or not you think it’s real, and man-made, we are already having to cope with it.

Last summer’s wildfires in Christchurch, and the endless rain, floods and ruined paddocks of this winter, are all symptoms of what we have been told to expect.

In the Northern Hemisphere’s current summer there have been wildfires in many countries, and anyone who has had friends visit the UK this summer will have heard about the ‘excessive’ heat they’ve been experiencing.

As usual, I have read a number of science papers and journal articles, as the science fraternity continue to find more indications, and produce more prognostications on what can/will happen when and where. And then one reads something else which shows that what we have been warned about is happening right now. Look at the Larsen ice shelf breaking off.

Uninhabitable Earth

The scariest article of late was titled ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’ by David Wallace-Wells, published in the New York Magazine. This worked through nine different scenarios leading to the extinction of humankind, a number of which are already under way. Excess heat, lack of food, plagues of old when the ice melts, air pollution, perpetual war, economic collapse, marine dead zones – any of which will kill millions, and all of which will accumulate, probably rapidly.

When the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s most recent report ‘Stepping Stones to Paris and Beyond, climate change, progress and predictability’ was published in July I was stunned by the number of ‘disbelievers’ who commented on it.

Are they waiting for a dramatic drum roll and an announcement that ‘climate change began today’? Putting climate change work in the hands of ‘experts’ and not ‘vested interests or central government’ seemed eminently sensible to me, and it’s working in the UK and a number of other countries, even if not in the USA.

Some countries are getting on with doing things differently, but so far New Zealand has just watched its emissions rise and rise. As the PCE stated, we supposedly have ‘targets’ but absolutely no plans about how any of these could be reached.

We may be small on the world stage, and with huge agricultural emissions which are different from highly industrialised nations, but by doing seemingly nothing we are putting our international reputation on the line, and if our customers take umbrage and stop buying, we’re sunk.

Control the levers

While ‘big business’ can seemingly control the levers on funding, requiring our science community to keep ‘toeing the line’ on what gets looked at, I feel the status quo will prevail here.

Those trying to promote ‘Mother Nature’s methods’ are told they are living in the past or talking rubbish, and only technology has any chance of making the desired changes. But while we hear about the new technologies being investigated, not one has yet proved either ‘up to the job’ or ‘without the possibility of making things worse’, despite the millions in grants spent on them.

Storing carbon forever in our soils, and stopping using the chemicals which upset animal rumens, is an idea becoming more obvious to many farmers. But until our ‘advisors’ stop telling farmers to keep on doing the things that caused the problems in the first place, and we begin teaching real soil science again, we are going nowhere.

Soil is a living being, containing trillions of workers who know how to work together. Once we’ve killed it off, as has already happened in places worldwide, we’ll all go hungry.

One small ray of hope reached me recently. A small group, including some well-known names, has created a declaration which spells out what needs doing and how it might get done here.

Go to and see what you think of their ideas. It’s not a petition, but designed to get people thinking that their view matters and every step we all take helps.


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