Long ago, in another place, lived a man - call him Ishmael - he was very pious, steadfast in his faith, over many years.
After a time there came a flood. Ishmael and his house were in the middle of it. Looking out his first-floor window he saw a boat.
The driver offered transport but Ishmael refused, saying "the Lord will save me".
As the waters rose, Ishmael, on the second floor, again refused evacuation, on the same ground.
A police launch came by as Ishmael stood on his roof, ordered him to get in but Ishmael said again, "I look to my Lord for my help."
Then he drowned. In heaven, his piety earned him an immediate audience with God.
At once Ishmael asked, "Why didn't you save me?"
The Almighty reared back and thundered, "I sent you three boats, didn't I!"
Moral: God helps those who help themselves.
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That's why congratulations are due to our mayor and council for their foresight and bravery to declare our present situation of global warming a climate emergency.
Councillor Alan Taylor has been in the forefront of this development and credit is due not only for the political skills which enabled a clear majority vote (10-3) but for his work to educate the public (Chronicle, December 14), even that portion of us, unwilling to see what's before our eyes.
The debate on human-caused global warming is over.
We don't have to look far westward, to see our cuzzie continent burning, with the smoke coming over here.
To our east and south, Antarctica has seen recent temperatures of 20 degrees. As it melts, our sea levels rise, threatening our coastal areas. To our north and east, Storm Dennis is flooding the UK.
If this writing sounds familiar, it's because Taylor has staked out the territory well and important news bears repeating.
A couple of definitions: "global warming" describes the rising temperature of the surface of the Earth. "Climate change" refers to the many changes and effects that will occur with rising temperatures and accumulated greenhouse gases.
It makes good sense for our local government and our national government to take steps to mitigate these predictable harms.
A declaration of a climate emergency is a first step, the beginning of a long process.
It's important to know what a declaration of climate emergency is and what it isn't.
It is the commitment by the council to recognise the problems posed by climate change in its planning.
The council thereby joins a number of other local government bodies, like Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland. While nothing will change immediately, any further plans for our city's future will have to take climate change into account.
What about the costs to the ratepayers? Nothing right now, but instead this declaration puts us in a better position for central government funding for mitigation of the effects of climate change as that government decides on needed measures.
While our local government considers what may need to be done, we, the ordinary citizens, are encouraged – no, I believe, obligated – to come up with our own ideas as to what we can do as a city, as individuals, as members of our community.
Here is one proposal: Too frequently we are driving our cars as single occupants. An expensive and wasteful choice.
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A better use would be work-mates sharing rides to and fro. In this digital age we could create a sort of home-grown Uber operation. That same principle could work for shopping errands in a neighbourhood, or recycling at Resource Recovery Centre.
The fact is, our planet is sick.
We've got to do all we can to heal it and to prevent its further decline.
The council has taken a first important step in recognising the gravity of the problem, committing itself to find information and inform us, as well as working to develop a climate change strategy.
But it's really up to each one of us to pay attention, to inform ourselves and come with solutions that work.
• Jay Kuten is an American-trained forensic psychiatrist who emigrated to New Zealand for the fly fishing. He spent 40 years comforting the afflicted and intends to spend the rest afflicting the comfortable.