Flying into Hawke's Bay a few weeks ago I was surprised to see a subdivision on what appeared to be land that emerged in the 1931 earthquake.
Though it was pleasing to see that Napier's population is growing, the subdivision is just above sea level, close to the coast and surely threatened by rising sea-levels that will accompany global warming.
This kind of development symbolises the muddled thinking surrounding climate change.
At the same time as rising tides are progressively rendering houses on the seaward side of the coast road at Haumoana uninhabitable, the local authorities are issuing permits for house building on low lying land just a few kilometres away.
This double-think around climate change also seems to have National Party leader Simon Bridges in its grip and is contributing his consistently low levels of support in the preferred PM stakes.
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Although Simon Bridges publicly states that he is not a climate change denier and touts the fact that his private vehicle is an electric Nissan leaf, his actions belie his words and he and his party seem hell-bent on opposing any government proposal that would seek to reduce our output of carbon dioxide and the other atmosphere warming gasses.
When the Government announced that no further fossil fuel exploration licences would be issued, National opposed this and promised to restore the previous position when next in power.
This was politically counterproductive and a gross over-reaction to a mild measure that will have no effect on the oil, gas or coal industry for many decades. The reality is that there was, and is, very little demand for new exploration sites as vast areas of the most promising acreage had already been leased and there was no proposal to stop companies drilling on these territories.
Bridges may have helped Jonathan Young hang on to his New Plymouth electorate, but by developing this kind of track record, he's surely jeopardising Nikki Kaye's 1500 vote hold on Auckland Central.
National is also going out of its way to publicly oppose a government proposal that would put a levy of up to $3000 on the price of gas guzzling, CO2 belching behemoths like Range Rovers and Landcruisers to subsidise the price of electric and hybrid vehicles by up to $8000 in the policy's first year of operation.
This policy would accelerate the uptake of low pollution vehicles and has been judged a success in countries that have adopted similar policies.
Bridges' opposition to this policy looks like hypocrisy or at least having a bob each way. The following quote I copied dircectly from the National Party website:
"National proposes to consider developing further robust incentives to encourage New Zealanders to take up renewable transport. National is open to all options – including subsidies for electric vehicles, increasing regulations on older, less efficient cars, and encouraging older cars to be scrapped."
I'd urge Simon Bridges to sort out his thinking by seeking an invitation to a research facility in England I had the good fortune to visit some years go.
As part of a trip to the UK granted to me by the British Council when I was first elected Labour Party president, I visited the Hadley Centre.
Officially called "The Hadley Centre for Climate Sciences and Services", it was set up in 1990 on the initiative of the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, a former research chemist. She was responding to the first studies of serious man-made climate change that were circulating in the scientific community at that time.
This visit meant a fascinating day. I was amazed at the vast quantity and range of information that was available to the centre.
I was told, for example, that ships of the Royal Navy had been taking and recording the overnight sea temperature wherever they were located for something like 400 years.
One scientist who analysed the wind speeds and directions from around the globe complained that by automating our lighthouses we had reduced the volume of the reports he collected from New Zealand.
All this information was crunched using two Cray computers, then the most powerful machines available.
The large panel of scientists that I was able to question had no doubt that our planet was warming because of fossil fuel burning.
At the end of the day we assembled in a theatre with 20 TV monitors on the end wall with maps of the world showing what institutions like Harvard, Oxford and Auckland universities projected the world to be like next century.
With Eastern Australia and the central plain of India turning into deserts, it was a chilling experience I will not forget.
Those thousands of kids who marched to save the planet will be voters in Mr Bridges' political lifetime. He could at least start by reading his own propaganda.
- Mike Williams grew up in Hawke's Bay. He is CEO of the NZ Howard League and a former Labour Party president. All opinions are his and not those of Hawke's Bay Today.