Archive for category Climate change

Throw another virgin on the altar

Once again, following the “Peace in our time” success of Paris three years ago, “Climate Change” has been adopted as the theme for this year’s global bureaucratic Christmas party with Poland, of all places, the host. 

Never mind the carbon footprint of the twenty thousand plus people who travelled from all over the globe to have a ‘conversation about climate change”. Never mind the irony that it was being held in the heartland of Europe’s largest coal-producing region. The important thing is who hosted the best party of the week?

Once again we are told that the high priests had a resoundingly successful conference as the chairman was able to announce at the Grand Galah dinner that sacrifices have been made and the gods of the climate have been appeased. A signed charter will save the planet from global warming. As if we had not heard that all before. The climate change deniers, including the most powerful people in the most industrialised countries, just ignore them; the hand wringers say it is far too little, far too late, we are all going to fry.

Here’s an interesting climate change footnote: we are currently deep in the depths of an ice age.

Yep, it’s a fact. There have been five known ice ages over the last 4.5 billion years that our planet has been in business and we are still deep in the fifth one. The study of the chemical structure of ancient polar ice cores, fossilised plant matter and lake and sea bed sediments has enabled scientists to accurately map the climatic changes over the eons.

And here is another really interesting climate fact: C02 levels have absolutely zero correlation with temperature. No idea how the alarmists managed to convince everyone that our C02 levels are causing our climate change, but the climate scientists own published research tracking the earth’s climate over hundreds of millions of years show conclusively that C02 change has no connection with temperature change.

As you can see, (click image to enlarge) the earth itself, and life on it, have survived both temperature and C02 levels significantly higher than anything we are currently experiencing.  The temperature has only been as low as it is now at the coldest point of three of the previous four ice ages.

C02 levels at the beginning of the chart (600+ million years ago) were seriously high. They dropped and bounced around for two hundred million years before coming right down and then again the levels bounced around quite a bit for another 360 million years before settling and stabilising over the last two million years to the level we hominids know as normal.

The temperature also bounces around an awful lot but if, as the high priests of climate change claim, the temperature changes are in sync with the dance moves of Carbon Dioxide, it is very hard to identify exactly what dance they are doing.

At the start of the chart the planet is in the depths of an ice age while the C02 levels are at extremely high levels. The correlation between the two is non-existent. And while there are two apparently matching spike and falls, on one of them it is the temperature that leads and the C02 that follows and on both occasions the movements are millions of years apart, not the 200 years that today’s ’cause/effect’ scientists are claiming. 

But look at 440 million years ago and see the temperature plummet to ice age levels while C02 levels spike. Then 320 million years ago the reverse happens C02 levels fall dramatically while the temperature soars to the hottest levels in earth’s record. Exactly the opposite of what today’s hand-wringers claim is proven fact.

Again have  a look at the above chart at the line of 200 million years ago. There you see a big spike in C02 levels having no effect on temperature. 146 million years ago we see the anomaly of a massive temperature drop at the same time as a massive increase in C02 levels. Then as the C02 levels drop dramatically over subsequent millennia, the temperature begins to rise even more dramatically, quite against the theory that there is a correlation between the two. Then around 50 million years ago, between the Paleocene and Eocene epochs, we see one of the most dramatic global warming periods in earth’s history at a time when C02 levels were falling significantly.

So I am not a ‘climate change denier’. The point I raise from the above chart is not whether there is climate change, but in fact why would we ever think that climate change, the warming and cooling of the planet and the raising and lowering of C02 levels, are anything other than normal natural processes that have continued throughout the eons. 

The issue for us is that our ancestor, homo erectus, evolved about 2 million years and our sapiens species is only 200,000 years young; so an ice age with low C02 levels is the only climatic condition our species has ever known. So let’s not be barraged into accepting a doomsday panic and giving the ‘end of the world is nigh’ high priests a blank chequebook to fund global conferences for their ‘conversations’. Let us only consider what impact the current climate observations and speculations might practically have on the lifestyle of our ice age species. 

When I say climate change, what do you think that means? The scientists work, of course, off average mean temperatures when they get into this global warming issue. You might be surprised to know (I was) that the global mean temperature today is about 14-15 degrees celsius. That, for reference, is the average mean temperature of Wellington, New Zealand or Milan, Italy.  When they talk about the global warming over the past 30-40 years, they are talking about a rise of 1 degree celsius. Back in the Miocene epoch at the last major global warming spike, the global mean temperature was another 4-5 degrees celsius higher than today, or an average of around 20 degrees C (or the current mean temperature of Brisbane Australia, but much cooler than Montego Bay, Jamaica which now averages 27 C).

And there is the misleading result of talking about ‘averages.’ A region that has a summer average of 40 degrees followed by an autumn average of 15 degrees, a winter average of minus 10 degrees and Spring of 15 degrees actually has an annual average of 15 degrees which sounds pleasant enough but in reality has 3 months of blistering heatwaves and 3 months of sub zero conditions which is a dreadful climate. And while our climate scientists at Paris and Poland go on about the C02 emissions creating a greenhouse effect which warms the planet, the reality is quite different. We have regions experiencing exceptionally hot summers at the same time as they are experiencing record breaking cold temperatures in winter across Europe, Asia and the USA. What we are experiencing is not a gradual warming from C02 gas in the atmosphere like we are living in a glasshouse, but in fact the weather become more extreme at both ends of the temperature gauge. And those extremes are not explained by C02.

 In fact if we look at the period of the last 10,000 years we can see temperatures rise and fall quite notably even within the ice age condition, while C02 levels remain very stable throughout. So over this whole period, within the reasonably modern era of homo sapiens, temperatures rose and fell with no change in the C02 levels.

It just puts a little perspective into the debate and perspective is what the current climate hand-wringers seem to be ignoring. Man has been through these climate changes before with C02 having no part to play. Life goes on in those climates. Yes we would probably want to improve our air conditioning systems and some of us may end up with a beachfront property where once we had a main road between us and the sea, but we can adapt. 

Having emerged from the forests 200,000 years ago, we have built our great cities and civilisations because of the ‘sapiens’ gene. We have done so through notable periods of climate change with ice caps expanding and retracting, sea levels rising and falling. We have had the imagination to adapt to our ever-changing conditions and challenges to improve our experience of life on earth.

We now need to focus our energies on more intelligent and imaginative use of resources, recycling and re-engineering to meet the climate challenges that nature and our own activities present us today. Yes we need less air polluting sources of power than fossil fuels and less ground polluting sources than nuclear power. Yes we need to regenerate forests and natural habitats. Yes we need to prepare for higher seas and more extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.

Let’s get on with it and stop wasting time with King Canute conferences that just clog up the process with hand-wringing, progress-stalling bureaucracy. And stop blaming humans as though we created carbon dioxide. For whatever caused the high levels of C02 in the atmosphere in the eons before 1800 ad, we are reasonably sure it wasn’t humans and engines. And the evidence is pretty convincing that there is no direct correlation between C02 levels and temperature.

As a footnote, we are also becoming aware that the magnetic field is on the move with North / South preparing to switch places which is something they have done quite a few times before in Earth’s history. In recent years the magnetic north has been moving 55km a year. I wonder if that change in the electrical magnetic field that surrounds our planet is effecting our winds, storms and weather patterns? To a non-scientist it certainly seems a likely culprit, but that can’t be blamed on us humans and there is not a global conference opportunity in something we cannot explain so the hand wringers are just not interested in investigating that potential cause. 



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Surf’s up…

I presume that, like me, you have spent some time over the summer studying up on the great Biblical flood.

Actually, although I have given the whole subject some philosophical thought over the years, I stumbled on a slightly new take on it with one of the books I bought for my summer reading. It was a book by Graham Hancock, who is a well-established researcher and writer of ancient geology, archeology and astronomy.

He started this book looking at another discovery of megalithic pillars, found in Southern Turkey (yawn more big rocks left by the ancients). The only somewhat interesting feature is that a major part of this structure had been so well preserved that it could be accurately dated to 9,600 bc, much older than any of our previous estimates for great monoliths, including the great pyramids of Giza. But then Hancock actually got my interest a bit more when he then turned to a place referred to as the Scablands of North America.

Channelled ScablandsThroughout the 20th century there had been much debate around the formation of these monumental channels. To put them into perspective, what is referred now to as “The Dry Falls” would have, at the time they were formed, been almost three times higher than Niagara Falls and 50% higher than the Victoria Falls in southern Africa. They would also have been six times wider than Niagara. So the great debate in the 20th century community of geologists was the cause. The geological establishment always favoured the gradual erosion theory following the end of the ice age around 12,000 years ago when Canada and this northern part of North America was under two kilometres of ice. A few geologists who did not buy this gradual erosion, arguing the impact on the landscape was just too dramatic for erosion and had to be the result of a catastrophic event. The two camps argued for a few decades and the community eventually ‘met in the middle’ with the theory of the collapse of a glacial lake causing the dramatic creation of the channels. But neither side really believed in this middle ground. The gradual erosion side were just of that geological religion and the catastrophic geologists just thought that the lake in question, Missoula, would never have contained anywhere near enough water volume to result in the scouring today visible.  But they simply had no alternative theory to seize.

But enter the 21st century and geologists are now studying an apparently unrelated geological feature: nano diamonds. A team of 25 Geophysicists, with Richard Firestone, a nuclear physicist as its team leader and including Jim Kennett, an oceanographer at the University of California, presented a paper in 2007 claiming that evidence found in a number of 12,900 year old carbon-rich sites (in the form of nano-diamonds) across North America and one site in Belgium, convinced them that a comet had come into earth’s atmosphere in the time of the last ice age, with North America taking the biggest hit, and caused the extinction of the great animals that once roamed through North America. The absence of a crater was explained by the fact that it would have impacted on the 2km deep ice sheet over Canada and Northern USA. The nano-diamond evidence was created by thermal heat up to, or greater than, 2,200 degrees centigrade. The evidence of glass-like carbon is the smoking gun, or at least the residue from a smoking gun. The evidence began to mount over the next few years. The search has now found evidence of this residue over North America and Northern Europe.

meteorAha, say the catastrophic geologists of the Scablands study. We have our cause. A 2km wide comet (as estimated from the nano-diamond evidence) impact landing on the 2km ice sheet of North America would account for an instant melting of 10% of the icecap which volume of water would certainly be supported by the evidence of the scablands. Further Geophysical evidence from Greenland core studies of the earth’s temperature movements over the millennia show that the earth was emerging from an ice age 13,000 years ago and warming up again quite nicely before it was suddenly plunged back into another ice age. Game, set and match. It’s not rocket science, the idea of a comet hitting earth is not outrageous sci-fi. A little one did land in Siberia in 1908, a meteor land in Russia back in 2013. These things happen. But if this big 2km one hit Canada 12,800 years ago spraying debris over two continents, melting 10% of the Canadian ice cap ice cap in minutes and also some of the ice sheet along northern Europe, then that would have been one very big wall of water plunging into the ocean and sweeping across the globe. Bigger than any tidal wave we have ever known. The Indonesian tidal wave disaster a few years ago would have been just a kid jumping into a paddling pool incident by comparison. So was this the great flood, made most famous by the story of Noah in the Bible but also turning up in other ancient myths? The climatic impact would have caused massive tidal waves, rains for months and the dust in the atmosphere would have blocked the sun and plunged the planet back into ice age conditions.

We learn from the Bible that this event was foretold to Noah who built an ark to survive the impending flood with only his immediate family of wife, three sons and their wives, with plants and animals as the only survivors on the planet. That is where the story beggars belief. That a mating pair of every animal with all the seeds of plants survived on this ark is a bit far-fetched. That the whole of humanity today was based on the interbreeding of first cousins from three marriages is a bit scary.

However Graham Hancock went down this same path of study linking the Comet strike of 12,800 years ago with the great flood myths. One part of his research led him to the writings of the prophet Zarathustra who is reported by Pluto to have lived 5,000 years before the Trojan War. Exactly when that was no one is quite sure, but it is known that Zarathustra borrowed from more ancient writings. His writings talk of the prediction of a great serpent that would sweep through the sky and bring forth a great winter. That sort of aligns with the comet and subsequent plunge back to the ice age. But then the Zoroastrian texts, as they are known, talk of the building of an underground shelter to survive this impending great winter. Into this underground shelter, called a Vara, some remnants of humanity would take refuge, keeping safe the seeds of all animals and plants until the dire winter passed and spring returned. The texts specified that no lepers, lunatics, impotent or deformed humans would be taken into this Vara; and only the seeds of the fruits and vegetables that are ‘fullest of food and sweetest of odour’. Vara was to be constructed on three subterranean levels, each smaller than the one above, the largest with nine streets, the middle with six streets and the smallest three streets. It also described the use of “uncreated lights that shine from below’ since the sun and moon would not be visible. Someone called Yima was given responsibility by the Gods for the construction. He was to bring the seeds of men and women, the seeds of every kind of fruit and of tree. Finally we learn from these texts that ‘every fortieth year, to every couple two are born, a male and a female. And thus it is for every sort of cattle.’ There is also a note that the humans live in Vara for 150 years. Moreover, intriguingly, the births of offspring to every couple do not result from sexual union but from the seeds deposited in the Vara. Actually as sci-fi as this Zorastrian text sounds, it resonates with how we would try to survive a cataclysmic global event today and is much more plausible than Noah and his sons and the animals on their ark being the source of all life today.

Cabbadicia ancient underground city, Turkey

Now here’s the thing, being a great traveller and researcher, Hancock went in search of such underground laboratory/ depository and did find that in Turkey’s Cappadicia region there are a large number of underground structures carved out of solid rock and usually, as described with Vara, consisting of multiple levels. He actually visited the one called Derinkuyu, in 2013.  Eight of its levels are open to the public, but there are others below still closed off. It also features a subterranean tunnel several kilometres long connecting with another underground ‘city’. Large stone doors shaped like millstones and weighing around half a ton were located ready to be rolled into place to block access. They had a remarkable system of ventilation shafts connecting from the bottom levels to the surface. It was a remarkable feat carved from volcanic rock and extending over four square kilometres. In Turkey over two hundred underground complexes have been found, forty of them at three or more levels. These may have been built before the great Flood to survive the climatic catastrophe of a comet strike or built much later as defence against marauders. We just don’t know.

I will very briefly paraphrase Hancock’s further research, as I am sure you have had enough for one blog already. But he studied ancient scripts in Egypt and Mesopotamia relating to this same period, roughly 12,000 years ago, and found reference to “the seven sages who set forth in ships to all parts of the world to take with them humans, animals and seeds with which to repopulate a world that had been devastated by the great flood”. Possibly Noah was one of these seven sages? And while they may have repopulated the species of a highly civilised and technically advanced race that existed before the flood of 12,800 years ago, no doubt there were still many thousands of simplistic hunter-gatherer humans around the globe, such as those in southern Africa, southern Asia, Australia and South America who had survived the great flood. They were well south of the North American ice sheet and also out of range of the main impact of the comet so possibly were the ones who witnessed the arrival of these god-like humans from the Middle East with their hi-tech magic who came to show them how build great pyramids and temples and how to fashion metals and gems. Uluru, virtually in the centre of Australia, may even have its secrets from the dreamtime.

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What a lovely day…

I had a lovely stroll in the 20+ degree sunshine this morning and thought, as my dad would say, “On a day like this, I wouldn’t be dead for a sackful of five-pound notes.” But somehow niggling in the back of my mind was that little green voice of guilt that has become my constant companion after countless years of relentless trendy-lefty propaganda. It was hissing at me:

‘Lovely day is it? You selfish, ignorant bastard. That sun you see is heralding in a drought! El Nino is here, climate change is here. The crops will fail. We won’t survive and all you can say is “what a lovely day.” Didn’t you take any notice of the global climate change marches last weekend? Didn’t you read the placards? Don’t you see the news about the drought in Marlborough and Wairarapa? The planet is doomed and you want to enjoy this sunny bloody day?’

But having endured a thorough soaking through the Spring, which followed a pretty decent amount of lake, river and reservoir build-up during winter, I thought maybe, just maybe, I might be allowed to indulge myself with a day or two of vitamin D to cheer up the old soul.

As someone quite rightly pointed out recently in relation to food shortages, the earth has no shortage of food, it is only a question of distribution from areas of gluttonous over-supply to areas of mild to severe under-supply. But that of course involves an embracing of the concept of globalisation and those who would protest loudest about the plight of the starving are categorically opposed to any form of globalisation. That such inter-national agreements from those businesses at the top end of the food chain might become a vehicle for international co-operation in resolving the inequality of food distribution just does not occur to them. Tribalism is the only mantra they know when it comes to the food chain.

But in relation to the water crisis, my first thought was the obvious one, if it’s too dry where you live, move to the West Coast of the South Island. Plenty of room for development there. The land is quite cheap and there is certainly no shortage of water. “Are you crazy?”say the drought-stricken, “who would want to live there, it rains all the bloody time.” I love the sun and the warmth, the barbecues and the pool; I just need water without cloud and rain and I will be happy.  Quite right. Ok well lets have a look at another option.

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See all that pink stuff down the left side of the South Island? That is water; bucket-loads of water. Or more precisely, 2 million hectares of land upon which falls 6400mm pa of rain, free from the clouds, which, if old brother Ryall (toke to his mockers) did a halfway decent job of teaching me maths, amounts to 20,000,000,000 (or 20 billion) cubic meters of the wet stuff per year, and since there are 1,000 litres in a cubic metre that means 20,000,000,000,000 litres pa which is just too many zeros for me to comprehend. Most of which disappears into the substructure. If I bring things down to a manageable number it would be a trickle of 55 billion litres a day. That is all hypothetical, I understand, but still with those numbers it does leave a bit to come and go on.

If I read things right, that is about one third of the water volume of Lake Taupo at 59,000,000,000 cubic metres which spreads over an area of 616,000 square kilometres, has a circumference of 193 kilometres and a maximum depth of 186 metres.

Now I look at the dry bits on the map, only one little piece in Central Otago is in the red zone under 400mm pa; (to put in context, the Simpson desert in Australia averages 150mm pa and the Sahara desert averages 25mm pa.). If we add the orange bits (400-600mm) to the red bit, again mostly Central /North Otago, I think 55 billion litres of water a day should go a fair way to helping turn those colours from red-orange to yellow. Isn’t it just a question of distribution? Of getting surplus water from the West Coast across to parts that are a bit parched?

At the end of the 19th Century the Australians embarked on a water pipeline 530kms, pumping a paltry 23 million litres of water a day from Perth to the Kalgoorlie goldfields.

It seems on my casual observation that the driest bits of the country look like those where the trees have all been chopped down to provide bare pastures for our crops and other farm stock. 

WorldPop 0-2000But since we, as a species, insist on breeding prolifically we need our farmers to keep producing more and more food: wheat, corn, potatoes, turnips, beans, broccoli, cauliflowers, grapes, apples, peaches, olives, hens, sheep, cattle etc, etc and so they must turn more and more land into cleared farmland and consume more and more water to grow these crops.

So unless/until, we reverse our breeding trends, we are going to just have to keep coming up with new solutions to the problems that our agricultural practices inflict on our planet.

That brings us back to the cyclical El Nino weather pattern. The last one was in 1997 and was pretty severe. El Nino brings rain to the west and the mountains. Those drawing water out of Canterbury’s Alpine rivers courtesy of irrigation schemes should not have a problem. It’s more the dry-land farmers that are going to be affected.

Just as nature provides for irrigation via its Alpine rivers, it must be also possible for a humans, through a West Coast Water Distribution Industry, to supply water to areas that do not get natural alpine river irrigation? Create huge reservoirs all along the Coast. Pipe these reservoirs and then pump water to where it is most needed, for a price. Or maybe truck it to mini reservoirs on farms that need it. I know little of engineering except that I know greater engineering feats than this have been achieved.

It seems to me that we just need to figure out how to get surplus water to dry areas. If we have enough water, possibly the West Coast could even develop an export market to Australia? Ships and trucks loaded with water sailing across the Tasman? No idea if its feasible, but its worth a look. Its either do that or join the doom merchants running around with a placard in our hands and a knotted hanky on our heads wailing the end is nigh, the end is nigh.

A bit of selective breeding control probably isn’t a silly idea either. Would sir like just a little snip snip today? You just settle back, this won’t hurt a bit.


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Plant a tree, man

“Cocky, Cocky, the most exciting news…” spluttered Henny

“Tell me?” responded Cocky, eyes wide with anticipation.

“Its official! its from the most impeccable source; the Parliamentary Environment Commissioner’s Report no less. They have confirmed our astute predictions and it’s better than we could have ever hoped.” Henny was simply beside herself with excitement.

“What did they say?” Cocky leapt up and down on his perch with anticipation.

“Global warming is here to stay! South Dunedin is doomed, just as we predicted; over 2,600 homes, 116 businesses and 35 kilometres of road. Isn’t that simply the most wonderful news? Oh Cocky, I am so so excited I think I have just laid an egg, probably a double-yolker.” 

“So what do you think we do now Hen?

“Oh we will have so much to do Cocky it is hard to know where to start. Imagine it ! Imagine the meetings; the new committees set up; the new chairmanships allocated; all the reports, the consents hearings, the amendments to the District Plan. Just imagine Cocky!”

Yes another “official report” designed to spook the population about the impending doom for the planet has been produced by who knows who at who knows what cost. And, on cue, our City Council henhouse is all full of feathers, dust and squawking as announced on the front page of the ODT on 20 November with the mayor seeking government emergency handouts for a disaster that has not happened.

So is global warming happening? Of course it is; the climate is in its natural recovery phase from the last ice age. It would be really scary if the climate stopped changing because that would be unnatural. The question to ask is, is this current climate trend unusual? is it unnatural?

Temperature Trends

Global temperature 450,000BC to 2013

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Global mean temperature 1998 to 2013

The chart on the left trending global temperature trends over the past 425,000 years showing the natural cycle of ice ages and inter glacial periods. Clearly we are, today, in a predictable inter-glacial warming period. We are at the same level the planet was 410,000 years ago and again 240,000 years ago. But we but still well below the  earth’s temperature 340,000 years ago and again 135,000 years ago. As far as we know, there were no combustion engines back then.

And if we focus on the most recent 15 years, there is no apparent concern that anything is any different from previous centuries.

The question that we need to address is whether the analysis of these actual global temperature trends should give us any concern that areas of our city are on the brink of being inundated. Is it going to get significantly warmer in coming decades or will the little line drop back down as it has before?

The question is will the trend move upwards towards a burnt out planet or back towards our next ice age over the next couple of thousand years?

The answer is, quite simply, we don’t know. Just like we don’t know about life after death even though there are many religion merchants who preach the doomsday message and try to persuade us that they do have the exclusive agency and, for the very reasonable price of a 10% wage tithe, they can sell us an eternal home in paradise. But for a more generous bequest you can get an upgrade, its all location, location, location in paradise. So we can each place our bets wherever we choose, and for whatever motives, but nature will do what nature does; without consultation with us humans.

That is not to say we should carry on clearing the forests and jungles, polluting the air and fouling the waterways. That is just the global extension of people living in domestic squalor; an unhealthy concrete jungle with open sewers. The original greenies started off as being well meaning, relatively harmless, hippies; but that movement just became corporatised by the GreenPeace Organisation with its doomsday marketing strategy and its political ambitions for global economic and social policy control  through its Green Party division? Old school hippies are now replaced by High Street hipsters buying into the GreenPeace branding, merchandising and social tribalism.

The GreenPeace Geniuses don’t see the hypocrisy of flying all around the globe to knock on our doors to tell us that if we don’t reduce our carbon footprint the planet will die. They don’t see the irony of explaining their wind-power alternative for energy production on i-pads and smartphones that leave behind the legacy of lakes of toxic waste from the extraction of rare earth minerals required for the making of those very i-phones, i-pads and for the magnets required to make the wind generators work.

People just get overwhelmed with a constant, illogical squawking about the hopelessness of our situation and. as a result, the positive message of we humans having a bit of a clean up of our habitat and planting a few trees just gets missed. There are still some very good, positive ecologically minded citizens in our communities, grown-up hippies they may be, but the GreenPeace Corporation simply bulldozes over the top of them with their doomsday message, an age-old trick for making a buck without doing anything of use. And in our panic we agree to committing monthly direct debit contributions to their crusade and to tick a vote for their political division.

“Do you think we should sweep up the autumn leaves in South Dunedin a bit earlier and more frequently next year Hen?”

“What on earth for Cocky?”

“Well, to reduce the risk of more flooding, Hen.”

Are you serious, Cocky? How can people take global warming seriously if we interfere with nature by sweeping up leaves? Leaves are part of nature; the fall of leaves is a natural cycle. We cannot interfere. We must reinforce to the fools that flooding is the result of our car emissions. Cycling is the only alternative. Cycleways are essential. How many times do I have to repeat this before you get it into your silly little cocky brain? 

“But what if the water level does not actually rise above ground level in South Dunedin while we are still on Council Hen?”

“Precisely Cocky, that is why we must not hinder the natural process by sweeping up leaves, nature’s little autumn blanket. One more decent sized flood and we will have an open cheque-book for cycleways.”

And so we just get overwhelmed by the hopelessness and we keep paying the money. But why not start with planting a tree or three? Start a movement. Maybe we cannot prevent Indonesia cutting and burning their forests, but we can easily double or treble the number of trees growing here. Plenty of land available for that. And if New Zealand can do it how many other countries would follow suit to replace the destruction in Indonesia and the Amazon regions?

And we cannot force people out of cars and onto bicycles, but we can promote a trend of walking a bit more. I recently decided to give up on the frustration of driving around and around a block to park my car within a few short paces of my destination. Now I deliberately stop about half a kilometre or more away and spend five or ten minutes walking to my destination. The parking cost is either free or cheap; the exercise is absolutely the most beneficial thing I can do for my health and general well-being; I see many very interesting things along the way that I used to miss; I meet up with people whom I haven’t seen in a while; and I reduce my fuel consumption and carbon emissions by about 10%. A minimal amount of time management has quickly become an enjoyable pattern that I just would never go back from. Imagine that simple practice getting some social-media global traction?

The GreenPeace doomsday industry is not part of the solution. They peddle the same snake oil as so many religions. We just need to deal with the challenges. The solutions are there and life is beautiful. Plant a tree, take a walk; and stop your cow shitting in the creek. Its not socket rinse, man.


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Relax everyone…….

Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, and friends are collectively in charge of how things run in the Dunedin City Council and have everything under control.

It is hard to imagine that such a major statement by a Mayor of any city as: “we need to talk about the end-game for a significant area of our city’ would be received so passively by the population. But that is exactly what happened after the Mayoral declaration that South Dunedin would be meekly conceded to the forces of climate change.

As a statement it was so contradictory to current Council investments in the development of the warehouse precinct below the Exchange (which sits on the same reclaimed harbour as South Dunedin), the cycleway that circuits the whole reclaimed area through South Dunedin and the Sports facilities at Logan Park (formerly Lake Logan) including the Stadium, that it simply shows him as being unable to think logically from one related subject to another. Of this being no more that Dunedin’s own version of Henny Penny convincing Cocky Locky and friends that ‘the sky is falling’.

People have not taken to the streets in panic at this mayoral announcement; they have not swamped the newspaper columns; they, or any that even bothered, simply shook their heads and wondered how did it come to this, that we have got a Cocky Locky for our mayor. That must be terribly disappointing to the Mayor who is presumably trying to use this announcement as a P.R. stunt to persuade the population, before the next election, that he has relevance.

But even worse than being a Henny Penny/ Cocky Locky re-run, is the sheer meekness of the statement. If indeed nature is a genuine, imminent threat to human habitation of South Dunedin, then this is the biggest challenge Dunedin has faced since it was established as a city. This is the primary focus of the next election. This is a ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’ moment. This is a time, if it is true, that we need leadership, bravery, vision, determination. We got meekness and concession.

What was he thinking that, out of the blue, he would just announce in a newspaper article that, ‘by the way, residents, we need to talk about abandoning south Dunedin’. Where are the climatic reports? the flood-response analysis? the engineering reports ? Will the stadium be underwater before we have paid for it? Will it be converted to an indoor water sports stadium?

The announcement of this impending crisis should have provided a link to the DCC website which contains all the supporting research and reports  that led up to it. The people must be informed. 

So lets see some facts about this impending climatic doom, Mr Mayor, or we may just think that the flood happened because you forgot to make sure someone would sweep up the autumn leaves before we got a decent rainfall.

Was the flood no more indicative of the end of South Dunedin than a falling nut was Penny Penny’s falling sky?

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South Dunedin! the end is nigh….

Flooding in South Dunedin is one of the biggest issues facing the city over the next two decades, according to Mayor Cull (ODT 13 June 2015).

The devastation caused by 175mm rain falling in 24 hours on 3rd June 2015 has the Mayor talking of the real possibility of abandoning South Dunedin to the elements. Our drainage systems just could not cope with this rain event.

Flooding is not new in South Dunedin. It is, as the Mayor observes, built on a drained swamp and history records a number of significant floods since European settlement. Ten years ago residents were kayaking around South Dunedin Streets; fifty years before that they were canoeing the same streets. Thirty something years before that was another great flood of South Dunedin. But our civic leaders previously had never talked about abandoning ship (or suburb). They tidied up the mess and thought about what drainage improvements could be implemented. So why does this event now have a Mayor talking about “the end game”?

Because this time it comes from a firm Mayoral belief that a second flooding event in a ten-year period confirms that dramatic and long-term climate change is now alive and well and coming to a street near you. The Mayor tells us that no renewal of the drains will turn the floodwaters back next time. For it is not only the rains and the encroaching ocean that are the threats, but also the rising water table which, at places, is only centimetres below the surface.

“The writing is on the wall that this is going to happen” states Dr David McKay of the University of Otago’s Centre for Sustainability about the impact of climate change; he is a supporter of the ‘managed retreat’ option with no houses left in South Dunedin. The Mayor and his intimate advisors are obviously right on top of the climate change issue. More than most of us they have studied the engineering reports on the impact of the waves on the sea wall at the Esplanade, the threatened breach of the sand dunes between St Clair and St Kilda and they have studied forecasted climate change impact reports.

Mayor Cull is also quoted (ODT 13 June 2015) as saying that ‘managed retreat might be a controversial concept and one sure to divide the community, but it was time to start talking about it.’ He also states that he would support it if we looked at the alternatives and retreat was clearly the most efficient and cost-effective.’

We also learn that Council has already deferred, indefinitely, major engineering projects to protect our sea wall and sand dunes and so we can assume that the Council do not consider these to be ‘efficient and cost-effective’. And now we also learn that building regulations are already in place for South Dunedin requiring new buildings to have higher floor levels and for new homes to be relocatable. There is also a proposal, that the Mayor is considering, to build an artificial island on the marshland and / or to create a lake in Tainui to act as a natural sump.

So when Mayor Cull says we need to start talking about a managed retreat, leaving unspecified parts of South Dunedin to become a swampy nature reserve and allowing the sea to redefine the beachfront, it really sounds very much as though his end-game plan is actually already in play.  And, if we accept this in the next election, it will challenge civic leadership and management skills to an unprecedented level. 

But if all that is true and if we will, over the next couple of decades, have no certainty about what parts of South Dunedin will still be above water or returned to a sea-bed or marshland, then what on earth is the Mayor doing spending millions of dollars building cycleways all through existing streets of South Dunedin? How do cycleways become a number 1 priority for investment in South Dunedin? The cycleway seems to meander right through the lowest lying parts of South Dunedin which will be most under threat from the encroaching sea and rising water table.

In an ODT article last week Mayor Cull said the cycleways were a key part of the Council’s vision to attract new residents. Why would he try to attract new residents to these suburbs with such an uncertain future? And while he sees investing in new cycleways in South Dunedin as priority #1 for the Council, Mayor Cull says it is this flooding threat that raises questions about the wisdom of investing in a new library and other expensive infrastructure for South Dunedin. So how does that logic work?

But if Mayor Cull and his Greater Dunedin Council are ready to abandon parts of South Dunedin because from marsh it came and to marsh it will return, then what are they thinking about Logan Park, which last century was actually Lake Logan, or the Exchange which is where the first Scottish settlers stepped ashore. Climate change will not differentiate between North, South and Central Dunedin when it comes to raising the water table and allowing the sea to reclaim its borrowed domain. 

There must have been several Council meetings over recent years where the item “end-game options for South Dunedin” was on the agenda within a reasonably close time-frame of the agenda item “South Dunedin cycleway project”. Surely someone in Council saw the anomaly and asked the question? Oh yes, I remember now, Cr Vandervis has done so regularly and has found himself censured, and even ejected from a meeting, by the Mayor for challenging the cycleway sacred cow. 

That is why we should never have Greens in positions of government. They spend all their time squawking like hens on heat about the sky falling in, but when it comes to rational solutions we are probably better off asking the hens. At least they wouldn’t suggest underwater cycleways as a strategy for attracting new residents to live in an uninhabitable marshland.

Emperor Nero played his fiddle, Mayor Cull rides his bike.





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