Houston looked bad. I watched a video of a man catching a fish in his flooded living room.

I paused at photographs of rest home residents swamped up to their waists.

In some parts of Texas, oil capital of America, Hurricane Harvey - later downgraded to a tropical storm - dropped 130cm of rain. It set a record: the most extreme rainfall ever recorded in the United States.

Climate scientists blame unusually high ocean temperatures in the nearby Gulf of Mexico for agitating and increasing the storm's size. There have always been hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, but climate change is making them worse.


It was interesting to contrast Harvey and the headlines on one side of the world with the coinciding headlines on the other.

While climate change exacerbated a record storm in the US, the issue has so far barely registered in New Zealand's election campaign.

The Metiria Turei saga has sidetracked the Greens from pushing their usual bread-and-butter policy, for which the party only has itself to blame.

And that, combined with the justified focus on New Zealand's freshwater quality, has left little space for policy discussion with regards to climate change.

Our changing planet's biggest moment in this election came during Labour leader Jacinda Ardern's campaign launch, and her comparison of climate change and New Zealand's nuclear-free movement.

Given her bold words, I expected Labour to follow up the statement with an aggressive climate policy.

But unlike the Greens and The Opportunities Party, Labour hasn't committed to a year by which New Zealand will be carbon neutral.

It is pushing the issue to a post-election commission that will give guidance on an appropriate target and trajectory.


Don't we already know enough?

National won't include agriculture in the ETS and won't commit to a specific carbon-neutral target. But it will build more roads.

And although Prime Minister Bill English said in an interview this week he doesn't think many Kiwis wake up worrying about climate change, I wonder how true that is for those generations who are likeliest to live with the effects?

I wake up worrying. And how many people in Houston thought the same as English just this time last week?

• Jack Tame is on NewstalkZB Saturdays, 9-noon.