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.

 

2019 was second warmest year on record

The heating up of the world seems too be confirmed by 2019 records (and debate is likely to remain hot).

AFP: 2019 second hottest year on record

The year 2019 was the second hottest ever recorded and a virtual tie with 2016, the warmest El Nino year, the European Union’s climate monitor says in its round up of the hottest decade in history.

Data released by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) showed that worldwide temperatures were just 0.04 degrees Celsius lower than 2016, when temperatures were boosted 0.12 degrees Celsius by a once-in-a-century El Nino natural weather event.

The five last years have been the hottest on record, and the period of 2010-2019 was the hottest decade since records began, C3S said.

Globally temperatures in 2019 were 0.6 Celsius warmer than the 1981-2010 average. Earth’s temperature over the last five years was 1.1C-1.2C warmer than pre-industrial times.

The year was just 0.04C cooler than 2016, which saw temperatures boosted by a once-in-a-century strength El Nino.

– ‘Alarming signs’ –

C3S also said that atmospheric carbon concentrations continued to rise in 2019, reaching their highest levels on record.

CO2 concentrations are now the highest they have been for at least 800,000 years.

Last year saw the most pronounced warming in Alaska and other parts of the Arctic, as well as large swathes of eastern and southern Europe, southern Africa, and Australia.

In Europe all seasons were warmer than average, with several countries registering both summer and winter temperature highs. December 2019 was 3.2C warmer than the 1981-2010 reference period, C3S said.

Australia was also three degrees hotter than historic averages in December, its Bureau of Meteorology said.

Drought and high temperatures in Australia have contributed to a catastrophic fire season which continue unabated – Fire danger increases again in Victoria as conditions worsen

Rising temperatures, dry lightning and a wind change are expected to cause fires to flare up and even spark new blazes this afternoon, as communities in East Gippsland and the north-east barely begin to count their losses.

Prior to 2019 being added to the warmest year records: The 10 Hottest Global Years on Record

The 10 Hottest Global Years on Record

2019 will add to that at just below 2016, making the ten hottest years now all in this century, with the five hottest being the last five years 2015-2019.

RNZ: The places in New Zealand for which 2019 was the warmest year on record

Parts of New Zealand experienced their warmest year on record in 2019, with some records going back more than a 150 years.

Across the country, the Chatham Islands lead the way, recording temperatures 1.7 degrees above average.

The Chathams started recording their temperatures in 1878, and have never had a year warmer than 2019.

Local fisherman Jamie Lanauze said kingfish, which were common further north, were being seen more often in the Chathams.

The islands weren’t wasn’t alone – Blenheim, Dunedin, Rotorua and Invercargill all had record years.

Back on the mainland near Dunedin – which also had its warmest year since records began 1867 – fishermen are noticing the changes.

Port Chalmers Fishermen’s Co-operative Society president Ant Smith said the fishing quota system needed to reflect the effects of climate change, and believed that was currently not the case.

In the deep south, Invercargill was one degree above it’s average temperature of 8.9 degrees, its warmest since year since records began in 1911.

Rising sea temperatures will have particularly affected the Chatham Islands.

The last five winters or so have been noticeably less cold (fewer frosts and snow) than in the past in Dunedin.

  • Chatham Islands 1.7 degrees above average (records began 1878)
  • Blenheim 1.2 degrees above average (records began 1932)
  • Dunedin 1.1 degrees above average (records began 1867)
  • Rotorua 1.1 degrees above average (records began 1886)
  • Invercargill 1.0 degree above average (records began 1911)

Bushfires and climate change

There have been over the top and unsubstantiated claims made about the causes of the Australian bushfires, but also some plausible explanations.

There is no doubt that drought conditions and very high temperatures are linked to the fires, and also quite possibly have links to climate change.

Climate apocalypse warnings unjustified and unhelpful

The more extreme warnings of mass extinctions and the collapse of civilisation due to climate change are not supported by science or common sense, and are likely to be more damaging to the important measures we should be taking too reduce emissions and pollution, and limit the destruction of important habitats and ecosystems.

There are reports that some young people suffer from anxiety over what apocalyptic events could happen, while it is likely that many people will turn off to the whole climate issue, to an extent at least.

The worst case scenarios that some are promoting as inevitable in the near future are likely to be wrong. Humans have had an impact on the Earth’s environment for a long time, increasingly as the population has exploded and industrialisation has introduced major adverse effects. But we have also been adaptable and resourceful. Most of us will likely survive climate change, and in some ways some of us will benefit.

It is still worth reducing energy consumption and food consumption and pollution, as we will benefit, as will our planet.

Michael Shellenberger (Forbes):  Why Apocalyptic Claims About Climate Change Are Wrong

Environmental journalists and advocates have in recent weeks made a number of apocalyptic predictions about the impact of climate change. Bill McKibben suggested climate-driven fires in Australia had made koalas “functionally extinct.”  Vice claimed the “collapse of civilization may have already begun.”  Extinction Rebellion said “Billions will die” and “Life on Earth is dying.”

The name “Extinction Rebellion” sounds as extreme as there warnings. They have protested in New Zealand recently, but failed to attract much support.

Few have underscored the threat more than student climate activist Greta Thunberg and Green New Deal sponsor Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The latter said, “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.”

Says Thunberg in her new book, “Around 2030 we will be in a position to set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control that will lead to the end of our civilization as we know it.”

They have wider (worldwide) support but specifying years that catastrophe will strike or will become unavoidable seems like nutter territory.

Sometimes, scientists themselves make apocalyptic claims. “It’s difficult to see how we could accommodate a billion people or even half of that,” if Earth warms four degrees, said one earlier this year. “The potential for multi-breadbasket failure is increasing,” said another. If sea levels rise as much as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts, another scientist said, “It will be an unmanageable problem.”

They sound like vague but extreme guesses at best.

Apocalyptic statements like these have real-world impacts. In September, a group of British psychologists said children are increasingly suffering from anxiety from the frightening discourse around climate change.

In October, an activist with Extinction Rebellion (”XR”) — an environmental group founded in 2018 to commit civil disobedience to draw awareness to the threat its founders and supporters say climate change poses to human existence — and a videographer, were kicked and beaten in a London Tube station by angry commuters.

And last week, an XR co-founder said a genocide like the Holocaust was “happening again, on a far greater scale, and in plain sight” from climate change.

There was quite an adverse reaction to that.

Climate change is an issue I care passionately about and have dedicated a significant portion of my life to addressing. I have been politically active on the issue for over 20 years and have researched and written about it for 17 years. Over the last four years, my organization, Environmental Progress, has worked with some of the world’s leading climate scientists to prevent carbon emissions from rising. So far, we’ve helped prevent emissions increasing the equivalent of adding 24 million cars to the road.

I also care about getting the facts and science right and have in recent months corrected inaccurate and apocalyptic news media coverage of fires in the Amazon and fires in California, both of which have been improperly presented as resulting primarily from climate change.

Attributing single weather events like storms and hurricanes to climate change is common, and stupid. There’s no way of measuring long term effects against single events, which have had complex influences.

It’s as stupid to claim, as is common Kiwiblog and The BFD, that some snow somewhere somehow proves climate change isn’t happening (heavier snowfalls and worse cold storms are predicted effects of climate change).

Journalists and activists alike have an obligation to describe environmental problems honestly and accurately, even if they fear doing so will reduce their news value or salience with the public.

There is good evidence that the catastrophist framing of climate change is self-defeating because it alienates and polarizes many people.

And it provides fodder to the ‘nothing is happening, we don’t have to change anything’ brigade.

And exaggerating climate change risks distracting us from other important issues including ones we might have more near-term control over.

I think that’s the biggest problem with overstating and scaremongering.

“I want the issues I’m about to raise to be taken seriously and not dismissed by those who label as “climate deniers” or “climate delayers” anyone who pushes back against exaggeration”

I feel the need to say this up-front because I want the issues I’m about to raise to be taken seriously and not dismissed by those who label as “climate deniers” or “climate delayers” anyone who pushes back against exaggeration.

With that out of the way, let’s look whether the science supports what’s being said.

First, no credible scientific body has ever said climate change threatens the collapse of civilization much less the extinction of the human species. “‘Our children are going to die in the next 10 to 20 years.’ What’s the scientific basis for these claims?” BBC’s Andrew Neil asked a visibly uncomfortable XR spokesperson last month.

“These claims have been disputed, admittedly,” she said. “There are some scientists who are agreeing and some who are saying it’s not true. But the overall issue is that these deaths are going to happen.”

“But most scientists don’t agree with this,” said Neil. “I looked through IPCC reports and see no reference to billions of people going to die, or children in 20 years. How would they die?”

“Mass migration around the world already taking place due to prolonged drought in countries, particularly in South Asia. There are wildfires in Indonesia, the Amazon rainforest, Siberia, the Arctic,” she said.

But in saying so, the XR spokesperson had grossly misrepresented the science. “There is robust evidence of disasters displacing people worldwide,” notes IPCC, “but limited evidence that climate change or sea-level rise is the direct cause”

What about “mass migration”? “The majority of resultant population movements tend to occur within the borders of affected countries,” says IPCC.

It’s not like climate doesn’t matter. It’s that climate change is outweighed by other factors. Earlier this year, researchers found that climate “has affected organized armed conflict within countries.

However, other drivers, such as low socioeconomic development and low capabilities of the state, are judged to be substantially more influential.”

So should be getting more attention and resources.

Last January, after climate scientists criticized Rep. Ocasio-Cortez for saying the world would end in 12 years, her spokesperson said “We can quibble about the phraseology, whether it’s existential or cataclysmic.” He added, “We’re seeing lots of [climate change-related] problems that are already impacting lives.”

That last part may be true, but it’s also true that economic development has made us less vulnerable, which is why there was a 99.7% decline in the death toll from natural disasters since its peak in 1931.

In 1931, 3.7 million people died from natural disasters. In 2018, just 11,000 did.  And that decline occurred over a period when the global population quadrupled.

Also, far fewer people now die from medical epidemics. While the death toll from measles in Samoa is alarming and tragic, it is not anywhere as as bad as The 1918 influenza pandemic: “The total number of deaths attributable to influenza was later estimated to have reached 8500, or 22% of the population. According to a 1947 United Nations report, it ranked as ‘one of the most disastrous epidemics recorded anywhere in the world during the present century, so far as the proportion of deaths to the population is concerned’.”

What about sea level rise? IPCC estimates sea level could rise two feet (0.6 meters) by 2100. Does that sound apocalyptic or even “unmanageable”?

Consider that one-third of the Netherlands is below sea level, and some areas are seven meters below sea level. You might object that Netherlands is rich while Bangladesh is poor. But the Netherlands adapted to living below sea level 400 years ago. Technology has improved a bit since then.

What about claims of crop failure, famine, and mass death? That’s science fiction, not science. Humans today produce enough food for 10 billion people, or 25% more than we need, and scientific bodies predict increases in that share, not declines.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) forecasts crop yields increasing 30% by 2050. And the poorest parts of the world, like sub-Saharan Africa, are expected to see increases of 80 to 90%.

Those predictions of increased food production may be affected by climate change – but those effects could be positive as well as negative.

Nobody is suggesting climate change won’t negatively impact crop yields. It could. But such declines should be put in perspective. Wheat yields increased 100 to 300% around the world since the 1960s, while a study of 30 models found that yields would decline by 6% for every one degree Celsius increase in temperature.

Rates of future yield growth depend far more on whether poor nations get access to tractors, irrigation, and fertilizer than on climate change, says FAO.

So more tractors could be more important than more electric cars.

All of this helps explain why IPCC anticipates climate change will have a modest impact on economic growth. By 2100, IPCC projects the global economy will be 300 to 500% larger than it is today. Both IPCC and the Nobel-winning Yale economist, William Nordhaus, predict that warming of 2.5°C and 4°C would reduce gross domestic product (GDP) by 2% and 5% over that same period.

IPCC reports are rubbished by some, but that is usually superficial dissing based largely on cherry picking and ignorance.

Does this mean we shouldn’t worry about climate change? Not at all.

One of the reasons I work on climate change is because I worry about the impact it could have on endangered species. Climate change may threaten one million species globally and half of all mammals, reptiles, and amphibians in diverse places like the Albertine Rift in central Africa, home to the endangered mountain gorilla.

But it’s not the case that “we’re putting our own survival in danger” through extinctions, as Elizabeth Kolbert claimed in her book, Sixth Extinction. As tragic as animal extinctions are, they do not threaten human civilization. If we want to save endangered species, we need to do so because we care about wildlife for spiritual, ethical, or aesthetic reasons, not survival ones.

And exaggerating the risk, and suggesting climate change is more important than things like habitat destruction, are counterproductive.

Scientists overwhelmingly warn of climate change risks, but some are concerned about the over-egging.

Climate scientists are starting to push back against exaggerations by activists, journalists, and other scientists.

“While many species are threatened with extinction,” said Stanford’s Ken Caldeira, “climate change does not threaten human extinction… I would not like to see us motivating people to do the right thing by making them believe something that is false.”

I asked the Australian climate scientist Tom Wigley what he thought of the claim that climate change threatens civilization. “It really does bother me because it’s wrong,” he said. “All these young people have been misinformed. And partly it’s Greta Thunberg’s fault. Not deliberately. But she’s wrong.”

And media who have promoted Thunberg as some sort of messiah should be more careful about the message they send.

Part of what bothers me about the apocalyptic rhetoric by climate activists is that it is often accompanied by demands that poor nations be denied the cheap sources of energy they need to develop. I have found that many scientists share my concerns.

“If you want to minimize carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2070  you might want to accelerate the burning of coal in India today,” MIT climate scientist Kerry Emanuel said.

“It doesn’t sound like it makes sense. Coal is terrible for carbon. But it’s by burning a lot of coal that they make themselves wealthier, and by making themselves wealthier they have fewer children, and you don’t have as many people burning carbon, you might be better off in 2070.”

There have been similar ‘counter-intuitive’ arguments here about the problem with shutting down cleaner gas recovery which pushes is to rely more on dirtier energy from elsewhere.

Emanuel and Wigley say the extreme rhetoric is making political agreement on climate change harder.

“You’ve got to come up with some kind of middle ground where you do reasonable things to mitigate the risk and try at the same time to lift people out of poverty and make them more resilient,” said Emanuel. “We shouldn’t be forced to choose between lifting people out of poverty and doing something for the climate.”

Happily, there is a plenty of middle ground between climate apocalypse and climate denial.

Can our politicians put more focus and efforts in this middle ground?

And while our media has moved recently to not provide publicity to denialist cranks, they should apply the same sort of restrictions to apocalypse cranks. Neither are supported by most science, nor by common sense.

“Another 1,000 years” of coal reserves on West Coast

Not surprisingly this tweet from National list MP Maureen Pugh got a lot of reaction on Twitter.

Economics and ecology of electric vehicles questioned

Electric vehicles are becoming more available and more popular, but there are questions about how much sense they really make as far as emissions and convenience go.

The range of EVs (fully battery powered vehicles) is improving, but recharging still takes substantially longer than refueling a fossil fueled vehicle, which is an issue if you want to travel further than the range of a battery powered vehicle.

There is also a major issue of where all the electricity will come from to charge the batteries.

On top of that, a study claims that even the supposed emissions advantage is questionable.

Stuff:  When will we finally admit that electric vehicles aren’t the solution?

Replacing fossil fuel cars with electric vehicles seems to be a logical, correct, and even necessary solution to our climate problem. But the issue is far more complex than our intuition tells us.

The banning  of further production of internal combustion engines by 2050, 2040 or as soon as 2030 is talked about, even though it could take us into dangerous uncharted territory we know almost nothing about.

A few months back, German physic professor Christoph Buchal, with his colleagues from the IFO think tank in Munich, published a study – subsequently widely challenged – in which they found that electric vehicles in Germany produced 11 to 28 per cent more carbon dioxide (CO2) than  “dirty” diesel cars.

More than diesel powered vehicles? Not surprisingly that was controversial.

“Considering Germany’s current energy mix and the amount of energy used in battery production, the CO2 emissions of battery-electric vehicles are, in the best case, slightly higher than those of a diesel engine, and are otherwise much higher,” says the think tank’s release.

Even Volkswagen, the German car maker, joined the discussion. Despite VW’s response being clearly “pro-electric”, it admitted that in current German conditions its new electric Golf emits more CO2 than the one with an internal combustion engine.

It depends a lot on how the electricity needs to be generated.

And it’s not just emissions that are a problem. Batteries need materials that need to be mined. Ecologists (like the New Zealand Green Party) tend to oppose mining.

Earlier this year, scientists from the University of Technology in Sydney published a study, in which they concluded that the rising production of electric batteries will increase the need for certain metals such as lithium, manganese or cobalt. The research “shows that as demand for these minerals skyrockets, the already significant environmental and human impacts of hardrock mining are likely to rise steeply as well”.

For example, the cobalt is found predominantly in the Democratic Republic of Congo and mining in this African country is detrimental to the whole region. Amnesty International warned about the increasing demand for these metals, but its researchers have also noticed the exploitation of child labour and violation of human rights during mining.

So there are a number of benefits and problems.

We also know that electric cars aren’t very popular among blue-collar workers. Indeed, cars with alternative propulsion are – as various statistics show – a matter of predominantly richer social groups; poor people cannot afford them despite government incentives. As a result, they subsidise the rich to buy their new, shiny Tesla.

“In effect, the wealthy owners of electric vehicles will enjoy the benefits of their clean, silent cars, while passing on many of the costs of keeping their vehicles on the road to everyone else, especially the poor,” pointed out Jonathan Lesser of the Manhattan Institute in an article for Politico.

Poorer people not only are less likely to be able too afford an EV, they are more likely to use older less efficient, more polluting petrol or diesel powered vehicles.

At least if this unprecedented change could be justified by the fight against environmental pollution, for the future of our planet, people would be willing to accept the radical transition to electric vehicles regardless of their ideology.

But we cannot even say with certainty what consequences such a 100 per cent transformation would have on our society and the environment itself; we don’t know where we will take the extra electric energy, how to solve the metal problem and what it could do to  our economy.

However, because climate change makes us all so nervous, citizens demand some kind of action, and as politicians don’t know exactly which kind, they chose the most populist one that could cost our society and the environment much more than we are willing to admit.

Maybe our Government has effectively admitted something.

Newsroom:  Govt quietly abandons electric vehicle target

There are 15,473 vehicles in the government fleet and only 78 are electric. When the coalition Government came into power in late 2017, the agreement between Labour and New Zealand First stipulated that the entire fleet would be emissions-free by mid-2025, “where practicable”.

Making the government fleet fully emissions-free would have been a daunting task, even with the “where practicable” caveat. The Government’s progress so far has been abysmal.

Out of around 15,000 vehicles, less than half of a percent of the Government’s fleet is electric. This has been the case for at least the past nine months, according to data from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Electric vehicles have trickled into the fleet at a snail’s pace. In the third quarter of the 2018/2019 financial year, there were 71 electric vehicles. The next quarter, that number rose to 73 and has now reached 78.

In the most recent quarter, in addition to adding five electric vehicles, the Government added a net of 514 non-electric vehicles.

That sounds like Kiwibuild scale underperformance.

Although it was repeated as recently as June, that goal has been quietly revised to a commitment that, after mid-2025, all new vehicles entering the fleet will be emissions-free.

And that sounds a bit like an Animal Farm style revision of the wording.


I have been looking at getting a new vehicle at some stage. Currently I’m tending towards a hybrid that uses a petrol powered engine to power low capacity batteries. I think these are a good balance now that they cost little different to petrol only vehicles. They are more efficient than petrol only cars, using about two thirds the fuel, so i think they make economic sense and they don’t have the range and recharging disadvantages of electric only vehicles.

But I am currently waiting and seeing how things evolve.

Planned climate extremist disruptions risk alienating wider support

Growing significant support for taking more urgent and more meaningful and effective action to minimise and mitigate predicted possible effects of climate change may be jeopardised by extremists who claim extinction and who seem to be using climate change as a reason to drastically change the world economic and political systems.

Following a widely popular series of countrywide protests last week, more extreme action is threatened for Wellington on Monday, with more extreme goals. I think that this risks alienating popular support.

The future of the human race could be in jeopardy due to pollution, over-consumption and climate change, but using that threat to force what would effectively be a revolution – ironically one goal is to undemocratically impose a different sort of (unproven) democracy – could be a bigger risk.

The cure could be worse than the ailment.

Stuff: Wellington will be first city targeted for ‘disruption’ in worldwide climate change protest

Monday morning commuters could face delays, with climate change activists set to “disrupt Wellington” with protest action in the central city from 7am.

Police, Wellington City Council and NZTA are gearing up in anticipation of the protest, which is part of what has been called a “global rebellion”, with Wellington the first of more than 60 cities worldwide targeted for climate activist disruption.

The protest is organised by the Extinction Rebellion, a group formed in October last year in the UK, with branches all over the world, including New Zealand.

The action is coinciding with a “Rebel Camp” running in Paekākāriki from Saturday to Wednesday, which will include training in “non-violent direct action”.

Extinction Rebellion Wellington spokesperson Dr Sea Rotmann said the New Zealand branch would disrupt Wellington traffic with a street party and expected arrests.

The news report includes odd looking staged photos of Dr Rotman who seems to be trying to depict themselves as something extraordinary:

Dr Sea Rotmann, Wellington spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, says "it is time to draw the line and to take whatever non-violent action is necessary".

Weird, and I’m not sure that will attract a lot of support.

The Extinction Rebellion website said it aimed to “support and encourage a citizens’ uprising in Aotearoa New Zealand”.

That would involve “low level and higher risk acts of civil disobedience by some”.

“When ready, create a participatory, democratic process that discusses and improves a draft manifesto for change and a new constitution.

“This will involve creating a genuine democracy, alongside an economy to maximise well-being and minimise harm.”

So they intend using a revolution to create “a genuine democracy”. That doesn’t sound very democratic.

Suddenly and drastically changing the economic system would be at more risk of maximising harm and adversely affecting wellbeing.

This all seems like an idealistic experiment that if forced on us could cause more disruption and harm than climate change.

What does Extinction Rebellion want?

Extinction Rebellion has three demands of Government:

1. “Tell the truth” and declare a climate and ecological emergency

2. Act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse emissions to net-zero by 2025

3. “Go beyond politics” and set up a “Citizen’s Assembly” on climate and ecological justice

I wonder if they are aware that a “Citizen’s Assembly” should be inclusive of and represent all citizens, and not just a minority of extremists.

Drastically changing all of the world’s governments immediately seems to be a totally unrealistic aim.

Extreme action and extreme demands are much easier to dismiss as extremist nutters.

And more immediately, disrupting Wellington traffic on Monday is likely to alienate a lot of people rather than attracting popular support.

I think that we should be doing significantly more to address possible affects of climate change, and reduce waste, and reduce pollution, but I think that Extinction Rebellion could be counter-productive to getting support to do this.

Their website home page says:

JOIN THE REBELLION

Enter your details to join Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa. Stay up to date with our latest direct action events, news and volunteering opportunities.

To create the change the world so desperately requires we need everyone’s support, we’re in this together.

You’ll be joining part of a larger global movement dedicated to preserving life on earth.

ISSUES

We are unprepared for the danger the future holds. We face floods, wildfires, extreme weather, crop failure, mass displacement and the breakdown of society. The time for denial is over. It is time to act.

Conventional approaches of voting, lobbying, petitions and protest have failed because powerful political and economic interests prevent change. Our strategy is therefore one of non-violent, disruptive civil disobedience – a rebellion.

Historical evidence shows that we need the involvement of 3.5% of the population to succeed – in Aotearoa New Zealand this is 170,000 people.

We are the local branch of the Extinction Rebellion International. We are everyday New Zealanders just like you. We are supported by journalist Naomi Klein, academic and renowned dissident Noam Chomsky, and around 100 other prominent international progressives calling on “concerned global citizens to rise up” and join us.

OUR VISION

A world where we build thriving connections within our society and environment, bringing hope and enabling us to decide the direction of our lives and futures. An inclusive world, where we work consciously to ensure fair processes of collective decision-making, where creativity is prioritised, and where our diversity of gifts are recognised, celebrated and flourish.

OUR MISSION

To spark and sustain a spirit of creative rebellion, which will enable much needed changes in our political, economic and social landscape. We endeavour to mobilise and train organisers to skilfully open up space, so that communities can develop the tools they need to address Aotearoa New Zealand’s deeply rooted problems. We work to transform our society into one that is compassionate, inclusive, sustainable, equitable and connected.

OUR PURPOSE

Support and encourage a citizens uprising in the Aoteaora New Zealand involving low level and higher risk acts of civil disobedience by some (with others willing to support those that take actions). When ready, create a participatory, democratic process that discusses and improves a draft manifesto for change and a new constitution. This will involve creating a genuine democracy, alongside an economy to maximise well being and minimise harm.

 

General strike 4 climate in Aotearoa

A strike or protest against inaction over climate change is planned around the country today.

The Spinoff:  General strike for climate: everything you need to know

What and when?

The School Strike 4 Climate movement has invited people of all ages to a nationwide strike today. More than 40 rallies and marches are planned around the country and upwards of 90 businesses, including The Spinoff, have committed to downing tools and joining the movement.

In Auckland, protestors will gather at noon at Aotea Square.

Hamilton protestors are meeting at Civic Square at 1pm.

In Tauranga, it’s a 12pm start at the south end of The Strand.

Wellington protestors are meeting at 11am at Civic Square ahead of a march on parliament.

In Christchurch, protestors will gather at 1pm in Cathedral Square.

Dunedin’s strike kicks off at 12pm outside the Dental School ahead of  a march to the Octagon.

Events are also planned in Whangārei, Lower Hutt, Dunsandel, Porirua, Greymouth, Golden Bay, Thames, Whanganui, Foxton, Nelson, Kāpiti, Hawke’s Bay, Alexandra, New Plymouth, Timaru, Whakatāne, Gisborne, Great Barrier Island, Palmerston North, Invercargill, Kaitaia, Kerikeri, Marlborough, Taupō, Motueka, Karamea, Coromandel, Opunake, Rotorua, Opononi and Wānaka. In Oamaru, Forest and Bird and the Waitaki Girls’ High School Environment Club will be planting trees after school at Cape Wanbrow.

School Strike 4 Climate NZ’s Sophie Handford said opening the strike to workers and employers strengthened the movement and diversified their base.

Newsroom – Uni scientists: Why we’re marching for climate action

Professor Quentin Atkinson from the School of Psychology studies the evolution of language and human cultures. He has contributed to a book on how New Zealanders can tackle climate change and is founder of climate action group Claxon

What troubles me most about the climate crisis is the profligate insanity of the whole thing. The stakes could not be higher. Livelihoods lost. Lives lost. Species gone forever. Real threats to our planet’s life support systems. Positive feedback loops like dieback of the Amazon rainforest or methane released from thawing permafrost causing truly scary runaway climate change. And these warnings are coming not from some lunatic or charlatan, but from hundreds of scientists, the best minds in the world, paid to question every assumption and temper every conclusion. Indeed, climate change is hitting sooner and harder than they initially predicted.

Dr Brendon Dunphy from the School of Biological Sciences studies the metabolic strategies animals employ to adapt to environmental change and potential effects of climate change on seabirds, fish and invertebrates

It’s a struggle to capture the complexity of what I feel as I fluctuate daily between outright despondency to a more pragmatic “Right, let’s get on with solving it”. However, it is one unimpressive number that really captures me…3mm. A small number, but 3mm is the annual sea level rise attributed to climate change we are currently seeing.

It’s a slow march. From talking with people, I get a sense that the thinking is one day we simply won’t wake up, that we will have undergone a cataclysm that sterilizes the planet of life. But it won’t be like that. It will occur slowly, but surely, in increments of 3mm per year. The struggle I have as a parent is trying to alleviate the anxiety my children have for their future. However, I remain positive that we will respond…there’s no other choice.

Professor Shaun Hendy from the Department of Physics is a physicist and science commentator whose book #NoFly: Walking the Talk on Climate Change will be published next month. He is director of the centre for research excellence, Te Pūnaha Matatini

The discovery that fossil fuel emissions are heating the planet is one of science’s greatest achievements. The scientific detective work that led to this discovery was a collective effort, built on the inquiry and insight of many minds, over many decades. For the first time in human history perhaps, we are not only able to see centuries into our future, we also know how our actions will shape that future. Despite this we have struggled mightily to decide how to use this knowledge. While we must each take responsibility for reducing our own carbon footprints as best we are able, it is only by acting together that we will avoid dangerous climate change.

Professor Niki Harre from the School of Psychology studies the human drive to participate in the common good. Her books The Infinite Game: How to Live Well Together and Psychology for a Better World: Working with People to Save the Planet, were published in 2018

For well over a decade I’ve been aware the climate change threat is my problem. Along with other citizens of industrialised nations, I live within social systems damaging to the ecology of our planet and it is up to us to change those systems. I am marching to show I will accept whatever is required for an effective response. This includes more limited, expensive travel options; government-backed insurance for people with homes vulnerable to sea level rise; creating employment for those whose income-stream is not viable in a climate friendly society. I am not asking others to bear the cost of these changes,

I am also prepared for a significant rise in my taxes to support transition that protects the wellbeing of all. I am not afraid of reduced access to material goods and consumer experiences. I am afraid of a world where people are pitted against one another in a scramble to survive in a harsh environment. I want to live in a world that brings out the best in us – pulling together and focusing on what really matters.

Professor Richard Easther is Head of the Department of Physics and a leading theoretical cosmologist who is a regular commentator on science issues and science research

Our nervous systems respond quickly to clear and present danger — the clench in the gut if we see a child at risk of harm and our instant response. As a physicist and astronomer I know why carbon dioxide traps heat, and why we can’t blame the sun for increasing temperatures: I can follow the math and appreciate the complexity of the data. But it is still more head than heart.

For most adults, climate adaptation is like saving for retirement — present desires often take priority. But if the detached perspective of adulthood is “mature”, the flipside is that kids do a better job of appreciating the urgency climate change deserves. The students I interact with are smart, articulate, thoughtful, committed and passionate – and my strongest emotional response is admiration for the commitment and composure of the kids participating in the climate strikes.

And that’s why I’ll be marching.

RNZ:  Climate change report underlines sea level rise threat

The latest international climate report sends a stark message about the fundamental importance of the world’s oceans, a New Zealand scientist says.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report revealed the clearest information to date on the future of the planet’s oceans and frozen regions, and the price civilisation will pay if there is not urgent action.

“Changes that have been under way in these systems imperil the health and wellbeing on life on this earth. It’s a pretty stark message for us to listen to and to act on,” Massey University professor Bruce Glavovic said.

Prof Glavovic, one of more than 100 authors from 36 countries who worked on the report, said sea level rise was an immediate and real issue, not a problem for future generations to worry about.

“Importantly it’s not going to stop. Even if we stop greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow sea levels will continue to rise for centuries.”

Global sea levels are rising at 3.6mm a year, more than twice as fast than during the 20th century, the report said.

Even if greenhouse gas emissions were greatly reduced and global warming is limited to well below 2C, sea level rise could still reach 30-60cm by 2100. That would increase to 60-110cm if greenhouse gas emissions continue to strongly increase.

Prof Glavovic said if any country should be concerned it was New Zealand, with 90 percent of the population living within about 10km of the seashore.

“The struggle for sustainability is essentially going to be won or lost in the boardrooms in the communities in the government offices in the cities and towns of our coastlines.”

Newsroom – IPCC: Ocean’s future depends on emissions

The ocean has protected us from experiencing even worse effects from global warming, but changes to fisheries, coasts and cyclones are beginning to bite. What happens next depends on us, says the latest IPCC special report.

The state of the ocean will enter “unprecedented territory” this century, and it will take an unprecedented social transformation to stop things getting worse from there, according to the latest IPCC special report.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere is out, drawing on more than 6,000 studies, reviewed and synthesised by a panel of 104 scientists from 36 countries.

The fate of the Antarctic ice sheet and the Southern Ocean – two areas of intense research and monitoring by New Zealanders – feature heavily in the report’s gloomier findings, regarding ocean heating around Antarctica and the potential for surprise runaway ice melt.

The report’s key messages are that we’ve already locked in significant changes to ocean levels, cyclones, fish stocks, glaciers and beaches, but we can avoid more extreme changes by acting fast. That would require “unprecedented” social change, though.

It’s hard to ignore the the overwhelming numbers of scientists and growing number of people warning and demanding more action climate change.

Naysayers will keep naysaying, but they are now losing the PR battle. The tides of science and opinion are rising against them.

The question is not whether we have climate change, it is how bad the effects could be.

The question is not whether we should we do anything about it, but how much we should do and how quickly.

And what we do will generally benefit us and our planet regardless of the extent of climate change and how much we manage to minimise the effects.

One way or another this will affect all of us.