When you look around and take in some of the complexity of global warming and set that among the other problems we're all facing on a daily basis, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.
For any individual, the question "what can I do about it?" gets quickly put into the "too hard" basket. The bigger the problem seems, the more social entropy accumulates with a pressure to give up and do nothing.
• Speeches, submissions and a march at Whanganui climate strike on September 27
• Whanganui councillors scrap climate 'emergency' declaration, says crisis is "impending
• Whanganui students issue wake up call to climate change deniers, plan strike action
• Leading professor James Renwick gives Whanganui climate change talk
That's why I'm so inspired by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager whose activism in bringing the world's attention to climate change started an international youth movement and caught the attention of the Nobel Committee responsible for handing out the Nobel Peace Prize.
If people can be judged not only by their accomplishments and supporters but also by their detractors, Ms Thunberg is in good company. To call forth the knicker-twisted ire of both Piers Morgan, renowned bloviator, and petrolhead Jeremy Clarkson, whose combined genius it was to call her a "spoiled brat" and "ungrateful for all the wonders of technology" is an accomplishment worthy all by itself.
Snark and snipe is generally the weak defence of those who seek self-comfort when they've not been invited to the party. If any resemblance to that description is found among those parliamentarians who treated our own Thunberg-inspired Children's Strike for a Climate Future with disdain, rest assured it's not coincidental. I'm particularly thinking of Simon Bridges and his "let 'em eat McDonald's" sentiment. It's been pretty clear that with regard to the seriousness of threat posed by climate change that the older generation has much to learn from the younger.
The willingness of those kids to set a good example of civic engagement undergirds my optimism for our future. I'm less sanguine about that present generation with the actual power to act, who steadfastly do nothing and worse, are unwilling to engage in meaningful positive planning for the serious environmental problems that lie ahead and that have been ignored for too long. When she came to New York, Greta was asked to compare the attitudes of people in the US toward climate change with those of people back home, in Sweden. "Here," she said, "it's a matter of belief. Some do and some don't. Back home, it's a matter of fact."
I've been waiting for some time to see a more positive tone and an alternate constructive programme emerge from the opposition National Party parliamentarians. For too long they've employed a failing strategy of simply finding fault with nearly every effort that the present Labour/NZ First/Greens coalition makes. Instead of coming up with a challenging alternative, say, to the Twyford-led housing initiative, National's stance has been to exult in the shortcomings of the scheme. Forgotten was the role they played, when in power, to create and exacerbate the housing problem. Forgotten was Paula Bennett's offer of $5000 to encourage those with inadequate housing in Auckland to move.
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Becoming the party of "No!" is poor politics. A Chinese fortune cookie says it all: It's better to strive for something and fail than to try to do nothing and succeed.
Locally, there are contrasting views on our needs to preserve and foster clean water. National's Nick Smith wanted us to lower our standards. Now with polluted streams and soil, the Government proposes to raise the standards. National MP Harete Hipango is against, while offering no evidence, claims the proposed rule changes will cost too much money - $10 billion by her count. Meantime Rick Burke, Chairman of Farmers For Positive Change writes of the three-legged stool, economics, environment and community and of the successive past governments who have emphasised the economics to the deterioration of the other two, environment and community. He recognises the challenge of the Government's Essential Freshwater proposal and calls for an effort on the part of farmers and the urban industry to work as "Team NZ" to repair the legs of that stool.
Last Word On climate change I'll leave to Greta. Asked what each of us should do, she said, "Inform yourselves."