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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Open Letter to NZ MP's

You will have heard the report yesterday by the International Panel on Climate Change and the subsequent comments by the head of the UN, Ban Key Moon.

In the vernacular, we are F$%#&d if we don't take immediate and drastic measures to reduce our carbon foot print.

This letter is predicated on the hope/belief that you agree with what was said.  Namely that we must wean ourselves off fossil fuels and rather rapidly at that.

To my mind the ideal function of government is to set the stage so that others do the work.  In addition, I believe that subsidies are very rarely a good solution for anything.  to collect money cost money.  To distribute money costs money.  It is far more efficient to leave the money in the hands of the people who will use it.

  To give a simple example.  Suppose you wanted to encourage people to buy and install solar electric systems.  It would be far more efficient and effective to wave GST on solar panels and inverters than to collect the GST and give a subsidy to people who buy solar equipment.

I'll leave you to fill in the gaps and suss out the measures you could take to actually have an effect on our carbon foot print.  Or alternately, there are a list of links at the end of this blog to troll through for ideas.

We, in New Zealand, must not hide behind the fallacious argument that nothing we do will make any difference.  The argument given is that even if we stopped emitting any green house gasses, this would have no effect on the worlds output of these gases.  That is completely correct but countries are even more sheep-like than individual people and follow a leader.  We have been the leader many times in the past and the rest of the world has followed.  Besides, we emit 10 times the green house gasses per capita than the average country of the world so we should be making an effort commensurate with a country of 43 million people.

If we do take effective measures to greatly reduce our use of fossil fuels there are a number of  possibilities.
#Suppose for the sake of the argument that the conclusions of all this research into climate change are nonsense and we will have reduced our use of fossil fuels for nothing.  If you believe this, have a look at the following link.  There are many many positive outcomes from ceasing to use coal, oil and gas for energy completely unrelated to climate change.

There is the possibility that the climate will continue to change gradually, as it is doing now and that the climate zones will continue to creep poleward (in the northern hemisphere) at about a km per year and we might just be able to adapt to this.  There is however the possibility that there will be a sudden change in the climate.  The stratigraphic record shows that this has happened in the past and  many scientists believe that we are pushing the climate into another sudden change.    A sudden lurch poleward of climate zones would likely wipe out the seed crops (wheat, barley, corn, rape seed etc.) of the Northern Hemisphere and the result of that doesn't bear thinking about.  By setting an example we might just drag the rest of the world kicking and screaming to follow our example.

#  It could be that sudden climate shifts will occur but only in the Northern Hemisphere.  There are some reasons, which I won't go into here that suggest that this is possible.  Sure, here in New Zealand we will have some pretty radical weather.  You can't shift the climate of the whole Northern Hemisphere without some effect on the southern half but there is a reasonable chance that we won't see the drastic shifts in climate zones that will occur in the North.  Don't get too comfortable with the thought.  We are an agricultural exporting country and our markets in the North will be trashed.  At first it may be to our benefit as food prices skyrocket and we will accumulate lots of money.  This is probably pie in the sky thinking.  With a collapse of their economies, the money of the northern hemisphere countries will be highly unstable and likely worthless.

Add to this, billions of refugees trying to get into some relatively safe country and the belief of certain parties that we gain a benefit from rich  people paying their way into New Zealand and it is not a pretty picture.

New Zealand has been the leader so many times in the past.  The stakes now are so much greater than for any of the initiatives we have previously taken.  Let's be the leader again and set the example.

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