Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Climate change: impacts on New Zealand

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is currently finalising its Working Group II report on "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability". The report includes chapters on regional impacts, and the expected impact on New Zealand was revealed at a briefing by NIWA today. The news isn't good: more droughts in Northland and the East Coast, increased risk of erosion from sea-level rise, more floods and extreme weather events, and possible invasion and southward shift of agricultural pest species. There are benefits - warmer temperatures and fewer frosts will mean enhanced agricultural and forestry yields in some parts of the country - but these are likely to be outweighed by reduced access to water.

It's not the end of the world. It probably won't even be particularly unpleasant unless one of the "large-scale, high-impact, non-linear and potentially abrupt changes" (like the melting of West Antarctica) happens. But it will have a major impact on the lives and fortunes of some New Zealanders. Ironically, most of those New Zealanders will be farmers - the very people currently fighting tooth and nail to avoid taking responsibility for their emissions. Somehow, though, I don't that refusal to act will stop them from demanding handouts from the government to compensate them for the consequences of their own stupidity and pig-headedness.