Bruce Bisset: Our fear of change will kill us

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The problem in trying to address climate change is that no one wants to face up to it - because it will cost. Big time.

And one of the biggest "costs" we refuse to confront is we cannot keep doing things we do in the way we now do them.

So even though business-as-usual may toll an end to the human race, we continue to take no action to alter society as we know it to begin to walk a sustainable path. Yet no action will at the least result in a descent into chaos.

Are we mad? Yes. We are so scared of losing our lifestyles we seem prepared to condemn our children to subsistence amid the ruins in selfish support of our artificial "status". That's insanity in any book.

Well, arguably excepting the Bible and those of its adherents who callously believe that because we're living in the "end times" we can do what we like.

Though clutching religious texts as you sink into the cesspool wondering where the saviour is does appear a tad unbalanced.

Of course, it doesn't help to be led by a government that proves by example it denies climate change and cares not that our resources are finite.

For the record, National has: scrapped the moratorium on new fossil fuel generation, cut climate research to the bone, scrapped the biofuels sales obligations and vehicle efficiency standards, gutted the emissions trading scheme and allowed the carbon market to collapse and refused to recommit to the Kyoto Protocol - perhaps because our emissions were 42 per cent above target for 2012 - on top of which they're busy promoting new coal mines and deep-sea and on-shore drilling, while increasing tax breaks for oil companies.

Gee, now there's a recipe for change.

Add to that the almost-complete mismanagement of our most precious resource, water, with the basis for its allocation and use having nothing to do with preservation and everything to do with intensification of farming (especially dirty dairy) and, voila, you have New Zealand: 10 per cent pure if you're lucky. And that much only because no one can make a buck from those bits. Yet.

Oh, did I mention stripping the RMA of any real protection for the environment in favour of economic imperatives that empower rapacious development?

You know we're in trouble when the Minister for the Environment won't talk about the environment.

Meanwhile those who have charge over local eco-systems persist in promulgating old-school industrialist thinking.

Take regional council CEO Andrew Newman (on the subject of developing a collaborative process): "To get something better people need to understand they will need to give something up."

No, Andrew: they simply need to focus beyond the cheapest options and personal agendas.

This against a background of another year of record ice-melts, record extreme weather events, record pollution, record sea-level rise, plus the looming prospect of a colossal methane "burp" when Arctic permafrost melts sufficient to release gigatonnes of ancient gas, precipitating a catastrophic atmospheric change.

But I guess none of that worries the "have-alls" busy accumulating while their kids are indoctrinated to make happy-afterlife "decisions" at school. Sigh.

Okay, I've vented enough. I don't expect a rush to answer the 64-trillion-dollar question posed by the methane alert; but it would, round about now, be nice to see some evidence humanity is getting serious about transitioning away from joining the fossils.

Cause it's hard bringing up kids to be responsible citizens without being able to offer them a future.

That's the right of it.

Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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