Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Envoy yourself

Speaking of Simon Upton, I see the Government has
appointed him as a special envoy to promote the idea of
what John Key calls a ‘Global Alliance’ on research into
ways of mitigating agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.
The idea of the alliance, announced by Key during his New
York visit, is an astute political move, as it gives the
impression that this government really cares about such
matters as agricultural emissions, when in fact it has done
nothing but back away from decisive action on the matter.
The choice of Upton makes it doubly astute, because he
has some ecological cred, and, as my last post indicated,
he's capable of thinking outside the usual narrow limits of
political discourse, even if he did belong to a government
(the National one of the 1990s) that allowed little scope for
such unorthodox behaviour. He may well wind up, again,
being the poster boy for National government greenwash;
if they really cared about agricultural emissions they would
have put serious funding (not the piddly few millions
currently allocated) into research as soon as they took
office—as indeed should the previous Labour government.
For at least 15 years now it has been clear that agricultural
emissions would be the achilles heel of any international
commitment New Zealand made to reducing its carbon
footprint. Yet for 15 years we fiddled while cows belched.

3 comments:

Truth Seeker said...

To be fair, for much of the 15 years, there was some doubt about the scope of climate change, if not the fact of it.

But the past 5 years have seen a tidal wave of increasingly worrying indicators that not only is the problem serious, but we may already be past the tipping point. When the Greenland glaciers are thinning by 84m / year and racing into the now ice-free Arctic Ocean.....it becomes hard to see how a little less carbon than what has already caused the *current* effects will make much difference in the near term. Perhaps it will lessen the severity of consequences 30 or more years from now....and that may be the best we can hope for even with drastic, immediate action.

A large chunk of Kiwi voters have voted - encouraged by APN and Fairfax - to vote for the big backward step that the present government represents with respect to climate change (and many other issues).

One can well imagine the Easter Island Tribune doing much the same.....and similarly defending the vested interests of the leaders of that community "for the good of everyone".....until the last tree had been cut down and their society collapsed as a consequences of their collective ability to deny realitty and do what was required to avoid disaster.

Old Geezer said...

Revisionism. There was less scientific doubt about the status and impact of global climate change in the early 1990s than we are now being encouraged to think.

Upton ignored the advice he got from his own advisers while he was so-called Minister for the Environment, in favour of inaction and stalling. He favoured big business then, and he'll do so again because that's his mindset and his riding instructions.

Truth Seeker said...

Old Geezer: I tend to agree. The Rio conference on greenhouse gas emissions that lead to the Kyoto protocol made it clear enough THEN that the problem was one that required immediate attention to avoid irreversible change.

To some extent irreversible change is now, obviously and measurably - underway.....and at a rapid rate.

It seems to be a feature of the modern human character that most pay no attention to 'bad news' and think it will go away if they ignore it and someone else is left to do something. Democracy by neglect....or dictatorship by default. Whatever.