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Awesome responsibility in our hands

Opinion Piece

Re: Councillor Tony Robinson questions GDC's climate change commitment.

Absolutely, without any doubt, climate change should be the “lens over everything” when making plans for Tairawhiti. I'm also pleased Tony repeated his concern about the serious absence of commitment in his What's On In Council column by pushing for a “climate leadership” Long-Term Plan, “to secure our next generation's planet”!

There was also The Herald's online poll on the issue. For me, your “Support for global warming ‘lens' to GDC Long-Term Plan” report should have emphasised the third of respondents who went the other way. To me, that is a big percentage still in denial.

Responding to your supporting editorial, Follow the science to understand reality. Clive Bibby had words to the effect that the science is not settled that human activity is the main driver of climate change, it's probably just part of a planetary cycle, we may be heading for a cooling period.

And Gordon repeatedly asks “what difference would (our actions in Tairawhiti) make to the ozone hole or global warming?” — confusing two different issues.

I thought everyone knew about the greatest story of human collaboration for environmental success, when global industry, science and politics put their differences aside in the late 1980s and ceased using CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) that were rapidly destroying our ozone layer. While the ozone hole over Antarctica expanded to be amongst the largest and longest recorded last October, due to abnormal upper-atmosphere weather patterns, models predict Antarctica's ozone layer will mostly recover by 2040.

Now, to global warming. The world has known since 1824 — when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were 280ppm (parts per million) — that it was a heat-trapping gas warming our planet. Now two centuries on, the level reads at 413ppm — a three million-year high.

The science is clear, human-induced emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) are warming our planet and changing the Earth's climate system.

In 1989, senior United Nations environmental official Noel Brown warned governments we had a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the issue of a growing greenhouse effect before it went beyond human control.

We didn't act then and have ignored many warnings since.

We are well past the time for convincing. We must act. Now!

David Attenborough has said:

“The fact is that no species has ever had such wholesale control over everything on Earth, living or dead, as we now have.

“That lays upon us, whether we like it or not, an awesome responsibility.

“In our hands now lies not only our future but that of all other living creatures with whom we share the Earth.”

Climate change must be the lens over everything. Here, there and everywhere. Thankfully our central government is already doing this.

After already passing the Zero Carbon Act in late 2019 with bipartisan support, our new Labour Government declared a climate emergency and committed New Zealand to urgent action to reduce emissions.

The Green Party's Climate Change Minister James Shaw said there was nothing token about the declaration of a climate emergency, or the commitment for the public service to be carbon neutral in five years.

Whether or not it is too little too late, our district must have climate change as “the lens over everything” and follow it up with a climate emergency declaration — as the Government and most other districts have done.

Bob Hughes

  1. Maree Conaglen says:

    Clive Bibby’s opinion on climate change SHOULD NOT be published. Anyone can have an opinion, but surely those published in The Gisborne Herald should be an “educated opinion”. And Clive’s opinion is most certainly NOT an educated one. These days when you ignore the overwhelming majority of climate change scientists, no body wants to hear your opinion. What a waste of ink. Bob and Tony have done the research and know the facts. Let’s not be distracted by those who haven’t even bothered to learn the basics.

    1. Gordon Webb says:

      “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
      Not bad from America’s first President

      1. Bob Hughes says:

        HI Gordon,
        The climate deniers already stall action by casting doubt.
        This also from George Washington:
        Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after they have got possession.