Bruce Bisset: Buy into change or pay the price

By Bruce Bisset

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The climate change minister you have when you don't want one, Tim Groser, left, declined to comment at all, writes Bisset. Photo / APN
The climate change minister you have when you don't want one, Tim Groser, left, declined to comment at all, writes Bisset. Photo / APN

You'd be forgiven for thinking the impacts of climate change on New Zealand will be negligible and our economy can carry on as it is without worrying if you were to examine what the government is doing in response to the threat.

Which, in essence, is nothing. Zip. Nada. Zero.

In fact, worse, it's in the negative; a day after the IPCC's latest report painted a picture of "severe, pervasive and irreversible" global impacts, Energy Minister Simon Bridges gleefully announced huge new oil and gas exploration zones covering some 41 million hectares on and around the country.

Clearly, National has made its choice between green and black, and plumped for the dirt it knows.

Too bad that industry has a finite life and, thanks to it, so perhaps do we.

Mind you, jaundiced credit where it's due: ExxonMobil, prime backer of most of the major collegiate deniers and think-tank sceptics world-wide, has finally admitted that climate change is real and even that fossil fuels shoulder some blame - but only in defence of its profits, which it smugly says will be unaffected even post-Peak Oil.

The company's reply to shareholder concerns was, in short, that they'll keep digging the stuff out and we'll pay through the nose and investors' bank accounts will remain rosy, and that's all that matters.

Is anyone surprised by that attitude? I hope not.

As nor should you be by National's willingness to buy into the same "eat your cake while you can" approach to impending calamity.

Certainly with sea levels rising by up to a metre and "one-in-100" drought and storm events becoming semi-annual over the next decades, there's no need to panic and change course, is there?

After all, as Bill's brother Conor assures, farmers are adaptable and they'll weather the changes somehow. Nice to have such faith, eh?

Meanwhile, the climate change minister you have when you don't want one, Tim Groser, declined to comment at all, other than to say it was up to each region to decide how to deal with the various effects of climate change and he saw no need to change government policy on adaptation or reducing emissions.

So, no effective policy now, and none to come later, either. Only advice equivalent to "women and children first".

Contrast these clowns with no lesser person than John Kerry, US Secretary of State, who in the wake of the IPCC report said: "Unless we act dramatically and quickly, our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy.

Denial of the science is malpractice.

"There are those who say we can't afford to act.

"But waiting is truly unaffordable. The costs of inaction are catastrophic."

The implication, at least, is cheering; but with countries just starting to dicker about who might pay the bill should they act, we're still a long way from the paradigm shift needed to redress this crisis.

In small ways, however, we're moving forward: the ruling that Japan's "scientific" whaling must cease is a precious example of sanity. Whether it does anything to save the whales from the effects of ocean acidification and carbon saturation is moot, but it should prevent direct slaughter.

Through all this I'm left wondering if the recalcitrants wilfully allowing our society to stultify and die instead of adapting and blooming can be forgiven. I suppose it depends on whether we survive.

But I'll share an anonymous quote on the subject: "Forgiveness doesn't excuse their behaviour - but it prevents their behaviour from destroying your heart."

Just don't forgive so much you vote for them, eh?

That's the right of it.

Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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