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No One's Happy

Entry 1071, on 2009-08-11 at 20:34:02 (Rating 4, News)

The announcement of the New Zealand government's commitment to emission reduction doesn't seem to have pleased anyone. No one seems to be happy about it, so my conclusion is... they have done well! In these situations if everyone complains about your decision then you have probably done something reasonably fair and balanced.

I do think the decision doesn't really do as much as what we should be doing, especially when you consider that its unlikely to stay in this form and will probably be significantly reduced by the time its carried out. And the people who are against taking action against climate change seem to be happier than those who want more positive action on the issue.

Of course, we should never expect morally courageous decisions from a National government. Their style is more about conservative safety and not changing things too much. Other morally significant decisions have tended to come from Labour - our famous anti-nuclear stance, for example. Sure, National haven't reversed that decision but would they have ever made it in the first place? I don't think so.

That's fair enough though, stable safe leadership is good, and I do agree with many people who say that its ridiculous to cut our emissions by too much unless the rest of the world does the same thing. On the other hand, you could have said something similar about the anti-nuclear policy.

So I thought I would have a look at people's responses to the decision in the Herald feedback section. Here's a representative sample of what I found...

This person obviously doesn't trust science: "How ignorant must people be to believe that man can alter the climate? And if they do manage meddle with the weather, do people really believe that these 'scientists' know what they are doing?" He will then go ahead and use all the products of science in his everyday life without the slightest distrust. Obviously its only scientists who disagree with his opinions who have no clues!

More distrust is shown in this one: "Despite hundreds of studies that go counter to the argument about climate change, I'm surprised our government are still jumping on this political band wagon ... how much money some people are making out of the whole climate change thing?" Cherry picking is the favourite activity of people who are determined to be ignorant. I'm not sure which academic journals this genius subscribes to but I suspect its more likely he's reading right wing and conspiracy theorist sources if he really believes that!

Here's more conspiracy theories: "Global warming is a fraud. It's a perfect example of how you can control the world by what you allow the public to hear and see on the media." That must also include scientific journals, scientific debates and discussions, and every other source. This must be the biggest conspiracy since Project Bluebook! I wonder if this guy thinks the government is hiding the facts about UFOs as well!

There's some bizarre opinions on the opposite side as well: "Its not enough however it lends room for improvement. Business and brilliant minds should be looking at closing the cap. Industrial Hemp is a way forward. Dairy farming will truly be an industry of the dark years." I agree that our farmers are terrible polluters and should be forced to clean up the mess they make, but I can't see hemp solving all our problems!

And finally, someone who quotes facts and knows what he's talking about: "eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the twelve warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature (since 1850). Increasing temperature is indicated by the 100-year linear trend (1906-2005) of 0.74 degrees C which is larger than the corresponding trend of 0.6 from 1901-2000. Observations since 1961 show that the average temperature of the global ocean has increased to depths of at least 3000m and that the ocean has been taking up over 80% of the heat being added to the climate system. Global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year over 1961 to 2003 and at an average rate of about 3.1 mm per year from 1993 to 2003."

The debate is over. Global warming is real and significantly caused by human activity. The only argument left is can we fix the problem. There are technologies which can help but the real issue is whether people are prepared to make the financial sacrifice. Ironically it seems to be those who can most afford it who are less likely to want to. I guess the rich didn't get that way by caring about others and the environment.

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