The Government's ban on new oil or gas exploration caused understandable pain and disappointment in regions where economic hopes were pinned on carbon-based industries.

The locals can practically smell the riches out there in the ocean, but can't touch them.

However, that's the sort of pain and disappointment that's going to have to happen and fast if we're to avoid the even greater pain and disappointment of living on a planet that's unrecognisable.

And the ban is a passive measure, merely a decision not to do something. It doesn't affect the status quo. It won't solve the problem. But it will stop an industry continuing to make the same mistake that's been made for decades.


It's so easy to keep adding to the problem, but only when we stop will there be an impetus to develop alternatives.

Many people seem only now to be realising that ending our dependence on carbon-based energy is going to have to involve not depending on carbon-based energy.

And no one is going to work very hard on alternatives to oil and coal if oil and coal continues to be cheap and accessible. Carbon credits, tree planting and pieties haven't worked so far.

The oil and gas exploration ban will inevitably cost jobs and stop jobs from being created.

But as psychology professor Nikki Harre observes in her thought-provoking new book The Infinite Game, "it is almost never the case … that the only way to keep people in work is to pay them to wreck the environment".

Countries from Madagascar to the Maldives are already experiencing food shortages and other problems as a direct result of the havoc humans have wrought on what is still the one habitable planet to which we have access. Here in New Zealand our glorious South Island glaciers are vanishing before our eyes.

The global efforts to address the challenge of manmade climate change will inevitably be small to begin with. That France is now our environmental international ally is a piquant irony to anyone old enough to remember the Rainbow Warrior and all that.

Countries such as New Zealand are puny in international terms but our moral authority and influence are not inconsiderable. When we speak, as has been demonstrated in the past, others will listen and are likely to follow.

Meanwhile, the Sunshine Girls, the Jamaican netball team that recently beat the Silver Ferns, has not been allowed to take home the Taini Jamison Trophy, for which they were competing and which no one is denying they won. For a long time now, the notion of winning has included the concept of retention.


Thus it is my expectation that when, for instance, I win Lotto I'll be allowed to keep the money. In a trophy competition teams speak of playing "for" the trophy. But according to New Zealand Netball operations director Kate Agnew, the Taini Jamison Trophy is a "perpetual onshore trophy".

This phrase and indeed the very concept was new to me and probably anybody else. A Google search of the exact words showed just eight uses– all of them from the mouth of Kate Agnew. If Netball New Zealand has any intention of burnishing it's currently tarnished reputation it will relent and let the Jamaicans have their prize.

In the meantime, the Sunshine Girls will have to content themselves with taking home their dignity and reputation for being good sports.

You may not have noticed that a US medical team has reported the world's first successful penis and scrotum transplant, on a seriously injured solder. The story came and went very quickly from the news cycle. That's probably because no one wants to even think about it.