DO WE have a problem? It is educational to look at different countries and compare their belief in climate change.
The important ones are those with a large fraction of non-believers. These tend to be countries with the most to give up, developed countries such as United States and Australia.
The US is probably the most worrying, because the Republican party has a high level of scepticism.
The Democrats are far more concerned but have had little influence. The Democrats are hated by the right wing for interesting reasons.
Several newspaper reporters have recently suggested that the cause of this is the perception that the Democrats are trying to change radically the way Americans live.
This wouldn't matter so much to us except that climate change is in danger of becoming the whipping boy, and a big focus of their wrath.
None of the Republican candidates now say they believe in climate change, or any government regulation relating to guns, pollution, healthcare or social security programmes, which they would like to abolish.
The sad fact is that although most countries change and evolve, social values in the US are falling behind.
This is the rub. The effort to at least ameliorate climate change needs quick, decisive action from everyone, and although many businesses, local government and members of the general public have taken the scientists' advice to work on cutting CO2 emissions and limiting waste, it needs bipartisan political belief, assistance and leadership from local and national governments.
Most importantly, the movers and shakers need to completely buy in to the problem. This means us - all of us. If this could happen it is widely believed that there is a small window of opportunity for action that should ameliorate the early effects of climate change and send the global warning curve heading downward.
How does this affect New Zealand?
As economist Ralph Chapman, in his 2015 publication Time of Useful Consciousness points out, until the current Government came into power, New Zealand pulled considerable weight in ecological circles around the world.
Partly, I suspect, this is due to our long-standing clean and green image, which unfortunately has taken several major hits lately.
Now New Zealand is not considered to be pulling its weight. This is shameful.
We could, and should, work to reinstate our reputation by having a policy target of 100 per cent renewable electricity in the next decade and 100 per cent renewable energy within 50 years.
Both these targets are eminently achievable. This does, of course, need rapid policy changes, probably a carbon tax with fully recycled revenues, and big changes to our energy systems and patterns of energy production and consumption.
Planning, legislating and regulating for this will require a bipartisan approach, an anathema to many.
The secret to achieving co-operation will depend on the methods used to accommodate both conservative and progressive voters.
I believe it can be done. It is so important for our future that it must, although there will be numbers of uneasy bedfellows for some time.
And New Zealand could lead the way again.
-Ian Sutherland is a retired pathologist who has lived and worked in many, predominantly warm, countries and has always had an interest in conservation and environmental matters.