Antarctic 3x warming – ‘complicated’ link to climate change

A study led by Kyle Clem from Victoria University has found that the South Pole is warming nearly three times faster than the global average. This is linked to tropical variability, and the complexity may be related to climate change but may also help mask it.

The study: Record warming at the South Pole during the past three decades

Over the last three decades, the South Pole has experienced a record-high statistically significant warming of 0.61 ± 0.34 °C per decade, more than three times the global average. Here, we use an ensemble of climate model experiments to show this recent warming lies within the upper bounds of the simulated range of natural variability.

The warming resulted from a strong cyclonic anomaly in the Weddell Sea caused by increasing sea surface temperatures in the western tropical Pacific. This circulation, coupled with a positive polarity of the Southern Annular Mode, advected warm and moist air from the South Atlantic into the Antarctic interior.

These results underscore the intimate linkage of interior Antarctic climate to tropical variability. Further, this study shows that atmospheric internal variability can induce extreme regional climate change over the Antarctic interior, which has masked any anthropogenic warming signal there during the twenty-first century.

A lot of detail follows, but it is explained more simply – Klem Kyle (ZME Science): Antarctica is warming three times faster than the rest of the world

Climate scientists long thought Antarctica’s interior may not be very sensitive to warming, but our research, published today, shows a dramatic change.

Over the past 30 years, the South Pole has been one of the fastest changing places on Earth, warming more than three times more rapidly than the rest of the world.

My colleagues and I argue these warming trends are unlikely the result of natural climate variability alone. The effects of human-made climate change appear to have worked in tandem with the significant influence natural variability in the tropics has on Antarctica’s climate. Together they make the South Pole warming one of the strongest warming trends on Earth.

Scientists have been tracking temperature at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Earth’s southernmost weather observatory, since 1957. It is one of the longest-running complete temperature records on the Antarctic continent.

Our analysis of weather station data from the South Pole shows it has warmed by 1.8℃ between 1989 and 2018, changing more rapidly since the start of the 2000s. Over the same period, the warming in West Antarctica suddenly stopped and the Antarctic Peninsula began cooling.

One of the reasons for the South Pole warming was stronger low-pressure systems and stormier weather east of the Antarctic Peninsula in the Weddell Sea. With clockwise flow around the low-pressure systems, this has been transporting warm, moist air onto the Antarctic plateau.

South Pole warming linked to the tropics

Our study also shows the ocean in the western tropical Pacific started warming rapidly at the same time as the South Pole. We found nearly 20% of the year-to-year temperature variations at the South Pole were linked to ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific, and several of the warmest years at the South Pole in the past two decades happened when the western tropical Pacific ocean was also unusually warm.

We know from earlier studies that strong regional variations in temperature trends are partly due to Antarctica’s shape.

The East Antarctic Ice Sheet, bordered by the South Atlantic and Indian oceans, extends further north than the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, in the South Pacific. This causes two distinctly different weather patterns with different climate impacts.

More steady, westerly winds around East Antarctica keep the local climate relatively stable, while frequent intense storms in the high-latitude South Pacific transport warm, moist air to parts of West Antarctica.

Scientists have suggested these two different weather patterns, and the mechanisms driving their variability, are the likely reason for strong regional variability in Antarctica’s temperature trends.

Our analysis reveals extreme variations in South Pole temperatures can be explained in part by natural tropical variability.

These climate model simulations reveal the remarkable nature of South Pole temperature variations. The observed South Pole temperature, with measurements dating back to 1957, shows 30-year temperature swings ranging from more than 1℃ of cooling during the 20th century to more than 1.8℃ of warming in the past 30 years.

This means multi-decadal temperature swings are three times stronger than the estimated warming from human-caused climate change of around 1℃.

The temperature variability at the South Pole is so extreme it currently masks human-caused effects. The Antarctic interior is one of the few places left on Earth where human-caused warming cannot be precisely determined, which means it is a challenge to say whether, or for how long, the warming will continue.

But our study reveals extreme and abrupt climate shifts are part of the climate of Antarctica’s interior. These will likely continue into the future, working to either hide human-induced warming or intensify it when natural warming processes and the human greenhouse effect work in tandem.

So climate changes in the Antarctic are complex and linked to tropical variations, particularly in the South Pacific.

Movement of warm air from the tropics to Antarctica and cold air from Antarctica to the tropics affects New Zealand’s weather and climate.

We’ve been getting a sustained blast of Antarctic air over the past few days and that looks likely to continue through the week, with the next seven day highs predicted to be 8-11 degrees, with lows 4-6 degrees (in Dunedin). It’s deep winter so this isn’t out of the ordinary – except that so far this year snow hasn’t come to much, less than normal, but there’s plenty of winter to go.

While the study shows a rise in temperature at the South Pole since the early seventies it also shows more variability (which is one of the predicted effects of climate change):

Temperature and pressure changes at the South Pole during the modern instrumental record. a,b, Time series of the standardized South Pole annual-mean SAT (a) and running 30-yr SAT trends (°C decade−1) (b), with the 95% CI shaded in grey.

Antarctic sea ice loss

Antarctic had defied climate change with increasing ice extents since recording began in the 1970s, but over the last five years there has been a reversal and a major loss of ice.

RNZ:  Antarctic lost sea ice twice the size of Spain in five years, researchers say

Part of the Antarctic has lost more than one million square kilometres of sea ice over the past five years, new research shows.

An international research team found that a series of severe storms in the Antarctic summer of 2016-2017 caused a reduction in a third of the sea ice in the Weddell Sea.

Ice loss also occurred due to the re-appearance of an area of open water in the middle of the ‘pack ice’ – otherwise called a polynya, the researchers say.

The opening of the ice created more visible ocean for the sun to warm up, causing further reductions, Clem said.

“We already have less sea ice now that the storms have redacted it out and melted it, we also saw open water emerge with the polynya, so the sun started heating the ocean and that has lead to a warmer ocean and less sea ice, which has persisted for the following four years.”

Data on the Weddell Sea only dates back to the 1970s when satellites allowed them to monitor weather patterns, he said.

Because there was only about 40 years of data to learn from, he said it was impossible to predict long term weather trends.

While these storms were unprecedented from the patterns over the past 40 years, it was unclear if that would be the case over a longer period of time, Clem said.

The study’s lead author, professor John Turner, who is a climate scientist at British Antarctic Survey, said the Antarctic continued to change and created problems for wildlife.

‘”Antarctic sea ice continues to surprise us. In contrast to the Arctic, sea ice around the Antarctic had been increasing in extent since the 1970s, but then rapidly decreased to record low levels, with the greatest decline in the Weddell Sea.

“In summer, this area now has a third less sea ice, which will have implications for ocean circulation and the marine wildlife of the region that depend on it for their survival.”

Turner said this rapid sea ice loss was not limited to the Weddell Sea ecosystem, but the wider Antarctic wildlife, plants and animals.

The ice loss is over too short a timeframe to know what the longer term implications are, but it adds to the knowledge of ice extents and climate change.

NZ climate change survey – most have some concern, 6% dismissive

An online survey of more than 2000 New Zealanders has found that most people have some concerns about climate change – about 70-80 per cent of the population believes climate change is real- with just 6% are dismissive, and they were more likely to be men over 55.

 

Stuff: Six New Zealands of climate change: Which one are you?

The survey confirmed what many middle New Zealanders will know already – often, people simply don’t think about climate change. While multiple studies have shown climate disturbance is already increasing severe drought, flood risk and fire risk, on average, people think any impacts on them are still 30 years away.

Boomers (aged 55-75) in the survey were six times more likely to dismiss climate change than New Zealanders aged 16-24 (Gen Z.

Gen Zers are 50 per cent more likely than Baby Boomers to consider the environment and/or climate change to be the most important issue facing New Zealand, but represent a cohort roughly half the size.

“That cohort (of Baby Boomers) is quite big and they vote a lot. They have a 90 per cent intention to vote, whereas for Gen Z, even when you only consider those who can vote, it’s more like 40 per cent,” says Winton. “That means there are roughly eight times more Baby Boomers who are likely to vote than there are Gen Zers, and they are six times more likely to vote actively against climate action.”

Women were less likely than men to be Dismissive, and more likely to be Alarmed or Concerned. That means the Dismissive are over-represented in the older male demographic that is most likely to be running company boards.

SIX NZs: WHICH GROUP ARE YOU?

Alarmed (14 per cent): Fully convinced of the reality and seriousness of climate change and already taking individual, consumer, and political action to address it.

Concerned (28 per cent): Also convinced that climate change is happening and a serious problem, but have not yet engaged in the issue personally.

Cautious (8 per cent) and Disengaged (27 per cent): Average scores for Cautious and Disengaged people are almost identical, however the Disengaged have stronger belief in climate change and want stronger societal action, but display weaker behaviours and personal involvement.

Doubtful (17 per cent): Generally question climate change or don’t believe it is a problem, however their behaviours show they are not engaged in the issue.

Dismissive (6 per cent): Actively disbelieve in climate change and want a weak or no response from society. Actively oppose national efforts to cut emissions.

The online panel – polled in November and December 2019 – was modelled on the Six Americas survey developed by Yale and George Mason Universities. Polling company Dynata conducted a similar survey in New Zealand for a climate action start-up, the 1.5 Project. With the help of funding from fitness business pioneer Phillip Mills and the Tindall Foundation, the study took a sample of 3500 and whittled it to 2034 to get a representative mix of sex, age, location, ethnicity and income.

Respectful conversations between people with varying opinions are crucial on climate, but we often avoid them, says researcher Jess Berentson-Shaw, whose consultancy The Workshop studies how to have constructive conversations.

There is a hard-core group in opposition who are virtually unpersuadable, says Berentson-Shaw, but there’s also a huge majority in the middle who care, but don’t know what to do. This group steps back from issues they see as difficult and polarised, she says.

I don’t fit into those groups. I’m not alarmed, I’m concerned, but have taken some individual and some political action to address climate change and environmental issues generally. I guess that makes me out of step with a bunch of male baby boomers (who probably are over-represented on Kiwiblog).

 

Redesigning the economy and the climate change opportunists

We are experiencing major economic disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the actions of Governments around the world in locking countries and regions down. The effects of this will be felt for months and probably years. Some business and businesses will bounce back, but some, especially air travel and cruise ships (and tourism in general) – those that survive – will likely have a long and slow recovery. The numbers of unemployed have surged, the number of people going out of businesses is likely to also surge (we won’t find out until lockdowns ease off) and will drop only gradually.

Governments have been piling large amounts of money into financial support for personal and business and that looks likely to continue for a while at least.

We have had some minor murmurings for Ministers over future economic refocussing, but there’s no solid sign of what we have coming from Government, they are still in reactive rescue mode.

This is a very good opportunity to redesign the economic and social systems of countries, and the idealists and opportunists are already out pushing their favoured reforms.

Here are some suggestions being made by various lobbyists.

Russel Norman at Greenpeace: Climate change is harder to visualise than coronavirus, but no less dangerous

The Covid-19 Coronavirus has so far caused more than 145,000 deaths worldwide.

These are grim numbers from the World Health Organisation, the actual human suffering is impossible to measure.

By comparison, the WHO predicts that climate change will kill 250,000 people every year between 2030 and 2050.

A total of five million people. Starting in ten years’ time.

Given those figures, why does the global response to the climate crisis compared to Covid look like a tortoise versing a hare?

One of the crucial differences – Covid has been with us just over a hundred days. Climate Change became front page news more than 30 years ago.

The pandemic is much easier to see and visualise. It doesn’t affect us, it infects us. Watching those awful scenes of coffins piling up in Italy and mass graves in the US, you need little imagination to grasp the threat to you and your family.

By contrast we may feel that climate change is unlikely to kill us. A dangerous misconception.

The neoliberal argument against society acting collectively via the government is dead. As the Financial Times editorial put it recently: “Radical reforms — reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades — will need to be put on the table.

Governments will have to accept a more active role in the economy.”

Transforming agriculture, electrifying transport, embracing wind and solar power. We can do this.

Best of all we can start now. If we are going to spend 20 billion dollars stimulating the economy, let’s spend a bunch of that money on a Green Covid Response – infrastructure projects that hasten us towards a zero carbon future – rather than landing us slap bang in the middle of another existential crisis.

That was posted at The Standard on Friday and only got six comments – does this suggest there isn’t a lot of public support for the climate change switch, or Norman or Greenpeace?

Associate Professor Janet Stephenson, Director of the Centre for Sustainability at the University of Otago: Covid-19 has nothing on what’s coming

Covid-19 and its aftermath will be the greatest disruption that New Zealand has faced since at least the Great Depression in the 1930s.  It is already causing untold misery and trauma and will bring both economic hardship and health consequences for some years to come.

Yet these impacts will be trivial compared to the likely economic and social disruption if we continue to destroy the environment. Climate action failure, biodiversity loss, extreme weather, human-made environmental disasters and water crises are five of the top 10 global risks identified by the World Economic Forum in 2020. Infectious diseases are just one more.

The sudden shock of the coronavirus pandemic has shown how quickly governments and societies can act to deal with an imminent existential threat. We’ve been able to make massive personal and business sacrifices to respond to this emergency. Lockdown is working and even greater costs, and deaths, are being avoided.

But at the same time, like frogs oblivious to a pot of heating water, we’re failing to take serious action to avoid the slow-boiling yet increasingly visible emergencies caused by human over-consumption, over-exploitation and radical destabilisation of natural systems. These are existential threats but, like the frogs, we are failing to make the leap.

This is our chance to kick-start a shift to a sustainable future. A chance to safeguard future generations, to re-design our direction, to define a new normal and make it our way of life. To re-lay our track unerringly to a sustainable future so that the young among us can face it with confidence and their elders can leave it to them without regret.

Right now, we have an unprecedented opportunity to re-set our direction to a sustainable future. But it won’t happen unless visions are translated into actions that align with all seven whetū, not just the one or two that seem easiest.

Allbirds’ Tim Brown: How Covid-19 will help us unite against the climate crisis

New Zealand has made solid progress towards declaring goals for developing a carbon zero economy but now has an opportunity to accelerate the urgency of that action. We can build on the collaboration between business and government in the face of Covid-19 to imagine closer partnerships to tackle climate change. The primary industries must be brought into that conversation not as a roadblock to progress but as a potential source of the solution with innovation and regenerative farming practices aligned around carbon reduction initiatives.

Let’s use the challenges of this moment to propel us not back to normal but forward to something better.

Rod Oram: A message for the timid, fearful and selfish

If we want a better future, we’ll have to fight for it. Better means for all people and the planet. Fight means to overcome, by all ethical means, those seeking a return to the pre-Covid status quo.

Many people hope such profound improvement is underway. The great rupture caused by the virus makes blindingly obvious the weaknesses of our economic, social, political and ecological relationships; yet it also shows us how people can come together to cope with the coronavirus epidemic in ways magnificent, creative and effective.

– From the Yunus Centre in the business school at Griffith University in Brisbane comes a model for developing a regenerative economy. “Stimulus and rescue measures will be critical to recovery. We have a choice about how to shape these measures however. We could apply rescue measures that seek to get us back to where we were and likely achieve a degraded ‘business-as-usual’ economy, with a significant fiscal hole to fill,” the Centre writes.

“Or, we could intentionally design these measures to reshape our economy for recovery plus regeneration. This would mean an economy in better shape to withstand the longer term effects of the pandemic, and also deliver a broader range of outcomes for people, places and planet into the future.”

– From Volans, the British sustainability adviser to global corporates, long-led by John Elkington, comes the Tomorrow’s Capitalism InquiryIt aims “to accelerate the emergence of a regenerative economic system where companies thrive because their business model – and financial value – is inextricably linked to creating social and environmental value.”

– From Kate Raworth, the British economist, comes a city-scale application of her work on regenerative business, economic, social and ecological systems. This draws on, and takes to a deeper level, her insights in her 2017 book Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist.

The conversation between the three of them is essential watching for anyone wanting to help create our better future. Hopefully it might also persuade the timid, fearful and selfish that they too can contribute to and benefit from this vital project.

I don’t think that labeling people with alternate views as timid, fearful and selfish is a great way to gain wider support, but there could be a groundswell of public support for radical change that becomes unstoppable.

There’s obviously a lot of lobbying ramping up. The Government will be busy just dealing with Covid, but may also be able to be influenced in what they may do with their economic and social recovery plans.

I presume there are other lobbyists promoting other policy directions.

It’s important that if there are significant changes in policy directions being considered that the wider public are included in discussions and decisions, and there isn’t some sort of reform by stealth going on.

 

Emissions and Freshwater reports from the Beehive this week

One topic continues to dominate our lives, the news and Government at the moment, but what else has come out of the Beehive this week? Not much. Just two other media releases, one on carbon emissions which is a bit out of date (2017-2018), and another on a the Freshwater 2020 report just released.

Emissions report shows progress, and the work ahead

New Zealand is making limited progress to reduce its emissions, but not nearly quickly enough, the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, said today in response to the release of the latest annual inventory of New Zealand’s greenhouse gases.

“The report gives us the most up to date picture of how much we still have to do to solve climate change. Narrowing the gap between where we are now, and where we need to be, is the difference between handing our children a better world, or more crises in the future.

Net emissions fell by 3 percent in 2018 compared to 2017 levels. Gross emissions in 2018 decreased by 1 percent on 2017 levels. However, between 1990 and 2018, gross emissions increased by 24 percent.

Over the same period economic growth increased by 3.2% so it is possible to do more and pollute less.

But this isn’t very up to date, it doesn’t include last year and of course there’s major disruption this year so it’s hard to know what will happen.

Measures introduced by this Government to help drive down emissions include the Zero Carbon Act; the creation of the Climate Change Commission; reform of the Emissions Trading Scheme; the first set of emissions budgets; billions of dollars invested in rail, light rail, buses, walking and cycling infrastructure; a Joint Action Plan for Primary Sector Emissions; the Billion Trees programme; and the end of new offshore fossil fuel exploration.

In 2018, New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions comprised of 44 percent carbon dioxide, 43 per cent methane, 10 per cent nitrous oxide and 2 per cent fluorinated gases. The agriculture and energy sectors were the two largest contributors to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions at 48 percent and 41 percent respectively. Increases in emissions from dairy cattle and road transport remain the largest contributors to the growth in emissions since 1990.

The full inventory report and a snapshot here.

Freshwater report highlights need for continued efforts to protect and restore healthy waterways

Our Freshwater 2020, released by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, underlines the importance of government efforts to ensure healthy freshwater, protect native freshwater biodiversity, make land use more sustainable and combat climate change.

Environment Minister David Parker said the report will help inform the work already underway, to protect and restore waterways and the life in them.

The report highlights the inherent connection between people and the environment: our activities on land are having a negative effect on our freshwater ecosystems and the plants and animals that live in them.

Each catchment is different, so it is challenging to present a national picture of the state of our freshwater, but some conclusions are clear; our native freshwater species and ecosystems are under threat; water is polluted in urban, farming, and forestry areas; and the way we change water flows can have a range of impacts on freshwater ecosystems.

These issues combined, and with the impact of climate change, add up to significant pressure on our freshwater species and habitats.

David Parker said the Government has work underway to address the issues presented in the report.

He  noted that the Resource Management Amendment Bill is currently before Parliament, which will also benefit freshwater health and help mitigate climate change impacts.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw said all the issues in the report are made worse by climate change and that is why this government is so determined to take strong action.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said the report highlighted the importance of law changes last year to protect native fish, and the work the Department of Conservation was leading to develop a new national biodiversity strategy.

“The freshwater report outlines well the pressures on native fish such as īnanga/whitebait and the importance of reducing sediment and nitrogen pollution and barriers to fish migration to ensure healthy fish populations,” said Eugenie Sage.

The Our Freshwater 2020 report is available here.

 

Daily health update – +61, total 708

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay today.

47 new confirmed, 14 new probable (+61) – total now 708

The increase is similar to yesterday (58) so even with more testing the case numbers are not growing faster.

2 of 14 in hospital are in intensive care, condition stable

Still just 1 death

82 recovered

Summary

As at 9.00 am, 1 April 2020
Total to date New in last 24 hours
Number of confirmed cases in New Zealand 647 47
Number of probable cases 61 14
Number of confirmed and probable cases 708 61
Number of cases in hospital
Number of recovered cases 82 8
Number of deaths 1

New case definition for diagnosis and testing will be issued today, still relying on clinical judgment

Anyone with respiratory symptoms regardless of travel history

Capacity 3,700 tests per day, but will increase from 8 to 10 labs by the beginning of next week.

 

New Kiwisaver rules will ban ‘investing in fossil fuels’

The Government plans to impose new rules on Kiwisaver.

One makes sense – changing default Kiwisaver schemes from conservative to balanced. Most people starting on Kiwisaver will have a long time until retirement, and should be at least in balanced funds if not in growth funds until they get closer to retirement (except perhaps for now when the share market is tanking). People are still free to choose what scheme they are on.

One seems a waste of time – banning Kiwisaver investments in “companies making land mines, cluster bombs, and other illegal weapons”. I hope that will affect just about no Kiwisaver schemes, although it can get complicated where large companies do many things, and have a lot more suppliers and contractors.

One may be more controversial – banning Kiwisaver investments in ‘fossil fuels’.

RNZ: New KiwiSaver rules to ban investing in fossil fuels and illegal weapons

Commerce Minister Kris Faafoi said banning investment in fossil fuel companies would help combat climate change and carbon emissions.

“It also makes sense for the funds themselves given that there is a risk of investing in stranded assets as the world moves to reduce emissions.”

He said the Superannuation Fund quit such investments more than two years ago and its investment returns had not suffered.

‘Not suffered’ on it’s own is meaningless.

It may be interesting to see what the rules actually define for ‘fossil fuel companies’. Exploration and drilling and mining should be clear, but what about distribution and sales? Airlines, shipping and transport companies that use a lot of fuel? Car manufacturers?


UPDATE – the Beehive has released clarification and more details. The ban on investing in fossil fuels only applies to default funds, so it’s more gesture than a comprehensive government interference in what you can invest your own money in.

Default KiwiSaver changes support more responsible investment

New Zealanders’ savings in KiwiSaver default funds will soon exclude investment in fossil fuels, the Ministers of Finance and Commerce and Consumer Affairs announced today.

Rule changes mean that investments in fossil fuel production will be excluded from future funds that are default providers.

Default providers are funds that are allocated to people who do not actively choose a fund when they join KiwiSaver.

“This reflects the Government’s commitment to addressing the impacts of climate change and transitioning to a low-emissions economy,” Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said.

“It also makes sense for the funds themselves given that there is a risk of investing in stranded assets as the world moves to reduce emissions.

“In 2017, the $47 billion NZ Superannuation Fund adopted a climate change investment strategy that resulted in it removing more than $3 billion worth of stocks that exceed thresholds for either emissions intensity or fossil fuel reserves, without negatively affecting performance. So we know that moving away from investments in fossil fuels doesn’t have to mean lower returns.”

Climate Change Minister James Shaw said rules set down by previous governments have allowed New Zealanders’ hard-earned money to be used to support the fossil fuels companies that are the leading cause of the climate crisis.

“No New Zealander should have to worry about whether their retirement savings are causing the climate crisis. That’s why our Government is moving default KiwiSaver funds away from fossil fuels, putting people and the planet first,” James Shaw said.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the Government wanted to ensure people who remained in default funds got the maximum benefit from their investments.

The terms of the existing nine default providers expire in June 2021.

“As we go about appointing new providers, the Government is also improving the settings for investors,” Grant Robertson said.

“We’re changing default fund settings from ‘conservative’ to a ‘balanced’ fund. The change is intended to make a real difference to people’s financial wellbeing in retirement,” Mr Robertson said.

“We’re also focusing on ensuring New Zealanders get greater value for money from their fees, which we know can make a big difference in the amount of money people have for their retirement. So the fees each provider charges will be factored into the providers we select during the procurement process,” Mr Robertson said.

Kris Faafoi said another key area of focus would be to ensure members have all the information they need to make good decisions about their fund.

“We want all New Zealanders to enjoy the benefits of KiwiSaver. No fund will be right for everyone so we’re requiring default providers to do more to engage with their members and help them make the right decision for their circumstances. This will help with things like understanding what fund is best for KiwiSaver members and how much they should be contributing so they are on track for the type of retirement they want”, Mr Faafoi said.

About 690,000 New Zealanders have stayed in default KiwiSaver funds, which they were automatically enrolled in when they started a new job. Approximately 400,000 of those have not made an active choice to stay there.

Notes:

Improvements the Government is making include:

  • changing the investment mandate from ‘conservative’ to a ‘balanced’ fund
  • ensuring KiwiSaver fees are simple and transparent, and using the procurement process to put pressure on fees
  • obligations on default providers to engage with their members to help them make informed decisions about their retirement savings
  • excluding investments in fossil fuels and illegal weapons. While default fund providers have in recent years divested any investments in companies involved in illegal weapons like cluster munitions and anti-personnel landmines, the changes now enshrine that requirement in default fund settings
  • requiring default providers to maintain a responsible investment policy that’s published on their website
  • transferring non-active default members[1] of any provider that is not reappointed to one of the appointed default providers[2] (so that these members retain the benefits of being in a default fund).

KiwiSaver default fund providers

When people enrol in KiwiSaver but don’t actively choose an investment fund, the Government allocates them a default fund. Around 690,000 people remain in a default fund, and approximately 400,000 of those have not made an active choice to stay there.The terms and conditions that apply to a default provider’s appointment are contained in an instrument of appointment, which is agreed to prior to the term of appointment. There are currently nine default fund providers, and their terms expire in mid-2021.

Every seven years, the Government reviews the settings for default providers ahead of appointing a new selection of default providers through a competitive tender process. The new settings will apply to the default funds that are in place from mid-2021. The procurement process to appoint the new default KiwiSaver providers commences later this year.

Nikki Kaye on climate ‘indoctrination’ in schools, Plunket petulant

Sean Plunket is back on talkback, playing to his audience that seems to like grumping about climate change. He asserted that the inclusion of guidelines on teaching about climate change in schools is ‘indoctrination’ as he tries to indoctrinate his listeners with his own views on thee topic.

National spokesperson on education, Nikki Kaye:

National are supportive of climate change being taught in schools. However, the process around developing the curriculum and Ministry led curriculum resources needs to be balanced and communicated well. We have concerns that this decision combined with Ministers press release has caused confusion and angst with some parents because people have thought that this particular resource is now a change to the curriculum.

There has been no change to the curriculum so it is totally up to schools as to whether they use this particular resource or not. We are aware of genuine concerns raised by parents and groups about a lack of balance in this material and also striking the delicate balance of informing children about these issues while not causing unnecessary anxiety. While some material looks fine National has concerns about some of the document.

Seems like a reasonable and considered response, but Plunket isn’t happy (or at least makes out he isn’t happy):

Well this is hardly taking a stand against indoctrination in state schools.

Plunket has also been griping about Jimmy Neesham.

Newshub:  James Shaw thanks Blackcaps star Jimmy Neesham for supporting climate change interview

James Shaw has thanked a Kiwi cricketer for supporting an interview the minister gave about teaching climate change in school – described by an Opposition MP as a “shocker”.

Shaw, co-leader of the Green Party, clashed with Plunket in the interview earlier this week, after being invited to discuss a new teacher resource announced on Sunday for educating year 7-10 students about climate change.

Shaw defended the syllabus in his interview with Plunket, telling the radio host the teaching resource is “based on the science so you can dispute that all you like”.

Plunket shot back: “Well, clearly you can’t dispute that all you like if you’re an intermediate school kid… you’re going to be told you can’t dispute it.”

Shaw replied: “Of course you can, but you’d have to go to town against the entire New Zealand scientific community and suggest that they were wrong.”

Blackcaps star Jimmy Neesham said on Twitter he wanted to take his hat off to Shaw for his “calmness” during the interview with Magic Talk’s Sean Plunket.

The New Zealand cricketer, 29, has been outspoken about his support for climate change activism, recently telling the BBC he feels a responsibility to be a good role model.

“As role models, it is important to keep abreast of what is going on and have at least a passing knowledge of global social issues like politics and climate change.”

So Plunket took a swipe at Neesham: Sean Plunket slams Blackcaps cricketer Jimmy Neesham over climate change comments

But since the interaction, Plunket has hit back at Neesham.

“Well, Jimmy I feel like throwing my bloody phone at the wall often watching the Blackcaps.”

Plunket criticised the cricketer for speaking out about climate change while flying “all over the world”.

“Is that why you catch planes all over the world to play cricket Jimmy?”

He continued to berate the cricketer, seeming to suggest that Neesham’s career is “completely pointless, yet burns up tonnes of carbon”.

The MagicTalk host then commented on the number of Neeshan’s Twitter followers, saying the “number is a lot less than the runs or wickets he’s got”.

This is a pathetic attack in response from Plunket, but I guess Magic and Newshub are trying to start the year with some sort of controversy to get their audience back. They are in fighting for survival as broadcasters, but I doubt this sort of petulance will help, apart from play to a small demographic. It’s unlikely to widen their appeal.

 

Curriculum encouraging climate activism and capitalism

Should the school curriculum be limited to bland academic subjects, or should it also encourage critical thinking, care about important issues and advice on capitalist activities?

Should kids be taught about dealing with outrage expressed on Twitter?

I did reasonably well at school academically, but was often bored and uninspired. I left after getting University Entrance in the 6th form to get a job, wanting to avoid another year of tedium and years of university.

One stand out period at school was when Grahame Sydney (who gave up teaching after a few years and took up painting) plaayed us Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant.  We were too young to be potentially affected by being balloted into the New Zealand Army and being sent to Vietnam, it provoked thought about the a big issue of the time and got some interesting discussion going.

The Taxpayers’ Union put out a media release:

Climate change curriculum skirts close to taxpayer-funded propaganda

The Government’s new climate change educational material for year 7 and 8 students skirts close to taxpayer-funded propaganda, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “The new taxpayer-funded curriculum promotes the campaigns of Greta Thunberg, School Strike for Climate, and even Greenpeace. Students are encouraged to reduce their feelings of climate guilt by participating in this kind of political activism.”

“Left-wing campaign groups would be spewing if the national curriculum ever promoted the Taxpayers’ Union vision of a prosperous low-tax New Zealand. The national curriculum should not be used to promote particular political groups or agendas.”

“A sensible climate change policy would focus on the science and policy options. But even on these points, the course is weak: it promotes a tax on carbon while failing to mention that we already have an Emissions Trading Scheme.”

“A major portion of the material is fluffy, condescending rubbish. Students will have to sit through five different sessions focused on their feelings about climate change, with activities including a ‘feelings splash’ and a ‘feelings thermometer’.”

The teacher resources even include a 15-page ‘wellbeing guide’ for teachers and parents, which warns: Children may respond to the climate change scientific material in a number of ways. They may experience a whole host of difficult emotions, including fear, helplessness, frustration, anger, guilt, grief, and confusion. When discussing the material, teachers may encounter students who cope through avoidance, denial, diversionary tactics, wishful thinking and a range of other coping mechanisms.

“This isn’t teaching kids how to think – it’s telling them how to feel.”

It would be terrible if schools dealt with feelings about important issues. (Actually schools do deal with feelings, especially when there are deaths and disasters that could impact on kids).

Should discussing the Australian bushfires and their possible causes be banned in schools?

Should anything that could be construed by someone as political be banned?

@GraemeEdgeler points out

And here is teaching resource encouraging students to become property developers, selling off and subdividing publicly-owned land.

https://t.co/eeSHElhKqB?amp=1

He asks:

Why are schools encouraging capitalism and not socialism?

Should schools stick to reading, riting and rithmetic, and ignore everything else in the world?

 

Just two choices, fossil fuels or ‘sustainability’? No.

We have problems with climate change.

We also have problems on both sides of the climate change debate.

On one side their are arguments like ‘it’s all natural’, ‘we shouldn’t do anything’, ‘we can’t do anything that will make any difference’. here are organised dissers and dismissers – I’m not sure what their actual motives are. Perhaps some are trying to protect status quo big business, or they fear change so resist change that may slow down change.

This side of the argument often tries to rubbish science they don’t like (while liking science and pseudo science that supports their argument or supposedly debunks the overwhelming weight of evidence). A lot of their arguments are fairly easily dismissed.

I think that some the other side of the argument is more of a problem – those who urge drastic change to mitigate climate change without giving any idea of how that would be done or what the possible consequences might be.

David Slack (Stuff): Is it hot enough for you yet?

We have just two choices, they both take us into the unknown, and we have to pick one: give up fossil fuels and move to sustainability, or remain unsustainable and live with the consequences.

We don’t have “just two choices”.

If we “give up fossil fuels” (and some go as far as saying or implying this should be immediate and total) the consequences would be enormous. Virtually no more flying. Virtually no more shipping. Drastically reduced private and public transport. Countries that rely a lot on on fossil fuels, like the US, China and Australia, would have extreme energy deficiencies, with no way of switching to electric transport to any degree.

The flow on effects of these changes alone would have a massive impact on our way of life – and would cost lives. We rely on fossil fuels for emergency services.

There would be massive impacts on food production and distribution.

Any sort of rapid change away from fossil fuels would cause far more problems than continuing on much as we are.

Slack has omitted the obvious choice – work towards alternative energy options as as quickly as we can – far more quickly than we are at present – but without putting civilisation on Earth at risk of catastrophic collapse.

The lack of urgency on some things, especially energy conservation, seems negligent to me. All homes and offices should be well insulated and double glazed at least, and this could be done quickly. It would cost quite a bit, but the risks are negligible, and I think we are better off not requiring as much alternative energy.

But if activists and journalists push for extreme measures this distracts what is do-able and what would actually be sustainable. One of the worst effects is that their demands are easily dismissed as extreme and unworkable, but this allows the other side of the argument room to dismiss all efforts to mitigate climate change effects.

Progress has been made in New Zealand this parliamentary term on a plan towards net zero emissions, this is a long term and fairly vague aim – the target is 2050, thirty years away.

We should be doing much more, starting this year.

I think that Jacinda Ardern may have made a mistake claiming that dealing with climate change is our modern ‘nuclear’ issue.

New Zealand made a symbolic stand against nuclear weapons in the 1980s (and i supported that) – but all we had to do is oppose some ship visits and protest against bomb tests a long way away from here. We didn’t need to change our way of life.

What we should be doing about climate change, and energy conservation, and pollution, requires actual significant change in how we live, now. Some will resist this, but I think most would get behind leadership on this and shift their way of living towards a more sustainable future.

A lack of significant action by the Government leaves rooms for people like Slack to propose stupid choices.

We should be radically changing our thinking about how we live, and we should become more environmentally aware.

We need a plan that is somewhere in between the extreme anti-change brigade and the extreme change/massive vague experiment proponents – closer to the latter, but a plan that reduces risks as quickly as possible without creating bigger risks.