Friday, October 26, 2018

Clive Bibby: A Fight Worth Having

The most recent IPCC summary of the world as they see it is a scary document.

It is meant to be!

We should all take the trouble to read what they are saying even if we think it is a load of cobblers. It is, after all, the considered opinion of a large group of eminent scientists who would appear to have all reached the same conclusion about the effects of climate change to the planet and the steps that should be taken in mitigation of this threat.

They deserve a response from all of us.

Having agonised for ages over the merits of their argument, l am like most people, still unconvinced about some of their key claims, especially the one about it all being our fault.

My reading of the literature from both sides of the debate leaves me between a rock and a hard place - we're damned if we do and damned if we don't.

However, that isn't an excuse for doing nothing.

I am convinced that climate change is real and has the potential to do serious damage to communities in areas where people less fortunate than ourselves are most vulnerable.

There is enough evidence out there to suggest that this phenomenon is going to dramatically affect a huge percentage of the world's population who have no resources that could help them prepare for this onslaught.

If we concentrate on the side issue of who or what is to blame, we will achieve nothing so that aspect of the discussion should be disregarded as we turn our attention to the things we can do something about.

So, let's examine it from the perspective of committing ourselves to programmes that will be effective measures both here at home and overseas irrespective of the outcome of the lPCC predictions.

Like the rest of the world, our immediate problem is in becoming sidetracked into operating outside our own small sphere of influence where we are already capable of making things happen. Even the IPCC states clearly that our planet has no chance if all nations don't accept their individual responsibilities to significantly reduce carbon emissions. 

In that context, we should be wary of our government’s directions to don sackcloth and ashes and introduce self harm policies here at home that will have next to no effect on the reduction of the world's green house gas emissions even if we succeed in achieving our own targets. That seems to me to be nonsensical and a total abuse of administrative power. And of course, if we embark on that fruitless exercise, it will limit our ability to really make a difference in areas where the help is needed most.

This is why l am convinced that our most effective course of action as an equal member of the commonwealth of nations is to prepare ourselves and help those most vulnerable states within our traditional orbit to prepare for the changes that are coming.

We can still make progress in reducing our own emissions by adopting policies that don't require one demonised sector of the community to carry a disproportionate part of the load. It is possible to achieve targets without cutting off the hand that feeds us.

That is why l have been saying for ages that our moral obligations are best served by making changes here in New Zealand based on what are reasonable expectations of likely damage to our environment and local economy from climate change.

There is much we can do to prepare our own communities for the hard times ahead.

Most of ours efforts should be in planning for the conservation and redistribution of fresh water. When we get that right, we are in better shape to spend more time and greater amounts of money helping our more vulnerable neighbours.

Plans to do both can be introduced simultaneously.

Unfortunately this form of future proofing seems to be falling on deaf ears at the moment while we squabble over who owns the water and who should pay for a more reliable method of supply and distribution.

It doesn't need to happen this way.

This government needs to understand that it is possible for it to come out of this period of uncertainty with two of its major objectives achieved without raising the ire of a large sector of the populace unnecessarily.

It could gain at the ballot box from being seen as the saviour of the regions through strategic distribution of the Provincial Growth Fund to regions needing help to restructure their fresh water supply and distribution systems. In most cases, part of that process is the inclusion of policies that will a) significantly reduce water pollution but also b) the creation of industries and transport systems that will take care of enough green house gas emissions to put us at least on a par with the best efforts of other countries. There is absolutely no need to be seen as the world leader in this battle.

Nor is it necessary to subject large sections of this nation's people to hardship that is not of their making or their responsibility.

Will they take this perfectly reasonable advice? Probably not.

Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.

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