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August 13, 2018 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Weathering Signs on Global Warming

A series of infernos is charring Europe. Greece in particular suffering the worst wildfires since the Second World War, with over 90 people have been confirmed dead and several are still missing from a flash fire which engulfed a seaside resort near Athens.

An unprecedented heatwave has descended on Britain, turning “England’s green and pleasant land” into a dusty heat bowl, and is seeing numerous small-scale fires sweep through otherwise picturesque farmland, causing millions of pounds of damage.
Moving on to our American friends, California itself has experienced the worst fire on record, with officials stating that it will likely continue to blaze away until at least next month. So far, the “Mendocino complex fire” has charcoaled 290,000 acres, destroyed 70 buildings, and forced thousands to flee before the flames. On top of this, several slightly smaller fires burn across the state, with the “Carr” fire killing at least seven and destroying over 1,500 buildings.
New Zealand has dispatched several contingents of Kiwi firefighters to help the Americans try and reign in the numerous destructive fires crackling away. There and several more Kiwi firefighters being sent to Canada to learn firefighting techniques for when the dry summer months roll around to our side of the globe.
Yet people still ask how these apparently disparate events are linked. The answer is quite simple: climate change. As we continue to burn record amounts of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas, and continue to pump billions of tonnes of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, the climate will slowly but surely warm up. As numerous scientists have repeated ad nauseum, this will cause more volatile and unpredictable weather, with more frequent and stronger storms and longer periods of drought forecast to affect various parts of the globe. We can look just across the ditch to New South Wales, where the entire state was officially declared to be in a state of drought on Wednesday 8 August.
These volatile climate patterns really shouldn’t come as a surprise to people. Such warnings have been coming thick and fast from experts for some time now, despite ignoramuses like Mr Trump et al. peddling claptrap conspiracy theories like global warming being a myth invented by the Chinese.

The Economist has weighed in on the current debate. In sobering terms, they outline how the ongoing battle against climate change appears to be less than optimistic, not because it is a hopeless cause, but simply because countries are not doing nearly enough to combat it, in spite of the Paris Agreement.
But what does this all mean for New Zealand? After all, European and American problems can seem rather far removed from our little island paradise. But New Zealand, despite its small population, is still a relatively bad offender when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, principally from our dairy industry.
While New Zealand may be an island, it is not an island unto itself, and the effects of global warming will affect us just as much as others, with damage to our wildlife and ecosystems,rising sea levels putting coastal communities in danger, and the other myriad negative effects of a changing climate all playing their part to make our lives miserable.


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