Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Climate Change: Southland doesn't care

Southland - land of coal-burning dairy farmers - has become the first region in the country to explicitly vote against declaring a climate emergency. Their reason? They didn't want to "devalue" the word "emergency". Its an argument addressed powerfully in an editorial in the Otago Daily Times this morning:

Those who remain uncomfortable with the new language discount two crucial considerations.

The first is that the impacts of climate change have arrived and the new consensus is that they are ramping up more quickly than scientists anticipated. The danger is immediate.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report of October last year made it clear ''unprecedented'' measures must be taken now.

The second consideration is that we on this planet share one climate system.

To think that because it is not raining here today, the emergency is not ours, is to fail to grasp this fundamental point.

While the big impacts have been mostly felt elsewhere - heat waves in Europe, drought in India, melting ice-caps at both ends of the planet - eventually it will be our turn. And inevitably, Southland is going to face a drought or a flood or some other climate-exacerbated disaster at some stage in the near future. But then I guess they'll do what farmers always do, and put their hands out to the rest of us to fix it. At which stage we should remember their refusal to lift a finger to prevent it from happening.