Time of useful consciousness. A great phrase -- it's what pilots term the time between something going seriously pear-shaped and being conscious enough to do something useful to remedy the situation.
It's also the title of an excellent little pocket book on climate change published by Bridget Williams Books (viva this audacious NZ publishing unit and their sassy collection of big ideas in little packages). It's a great title for a book on climate change -- because navigating the sea of conflicting information on this issue for the lay person is like being told to boogie board a tsunami wave and hope for the best.
Unless you have a really thorough knowledge of maths, and some sophisticated physics, chemistry and biology, climate change conversations deteriorate into the fanatical yelling to the deaf who then relay the message to the blind via sign language.
It often feels like an exercise in Olympic level idiocy underscored by ideological vehemence on both sides. The people I know who don't believe humans are having any effect on the climate -- who are very clever and who all have science degrees -- tend to have made their money in either mining or the oil industry, which takes something from their arguments for me.
The ones who are equally vehement that climate change is happening and that it is caused by human industry don't all have science degrees and tend to eat far too many organic carrots, which, again, fickle as I am, undermines their authority to speak on pretty much anything.
It comes down then for Jo Average to; who am I going to listen to? Who has the most scientific swag? Who seems to know what is going on and even better still, what we should do about it if the risks or consequences of ignoring 'it' (whatever it might be -- 10cm to 7m sea level change, drought, take your pick) could be catastrophic?
Watching Mr Key at the Paris climate change talks didn't help. It was like watching your dodgiest, inappropriate uncle after a few drinks, go on a histrionic rant about the evils of touching children so you start questioning if perhaps they might be protesting too much.
His advocacy of cutting subsidies to the fossil fuel industries would have been really welcome if ... um ... we weren't er ... subsidising fossil fuel industries back home.
We couldn't get a government more committed to drilling, digging up and shipping out the very fossil fuels that contribute to carbon emissions and giving as much of a helping hand to the foreign companies who wish to do so in the process. I hope no one there finds out. Perhaps it was the theory that Key appreciated without feeling the need to actually follow through with any practice. The very same way I feel about joining gyms.
So far that's not really working out very well. The plan? I'll work my way through the Bridget Williams Books collection and by this time next year I won't have to rely on the climate change opinions of fossil fuel junkies or wearers of too much ethnic jewellery.
The year of useful consciousness -- 2016.