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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 23rd year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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NZ, a nice place to visit but...

10 April 2017

Wow, this country is sure taking a hammering.

We've had a succession of really strong earthquakes which have stretched the insurance industry to breaking point and now it looks as if climate change is turning those "once in a hundred year" weather events into almost monthly occurrences.

It would appear that Godzone is now becoming an environmental war zone.

How long before the quakes and floods push insurance premiums even higher than they already are and make housing even less affordable for young Kiwis?

Just how long can this country's primary producers keep taking the hammering that nature is now dishing out on such a regular basis?

How long can urban Kiwis withstand the rock'n and a roll'n that seems to becoming increasingly common?

Just last night there was another quake swarm around the lower North Island, some reaching 4.5 in magnitude.

Reports suggest that the Kaikoura quake back in November was the most violent ever recorded in this country, with the energy equivalent of 400 nuclear bombs.

Mind you, I don't know that we can really ascribe much credibility to the news report in which this claim was made because it also stated:

"Readings taken at the North Canterbury town of Waiau during the November event proved a new record for vertical ground acceleration - reaching 3g, or 30 times the force an airliner passenger feels at take-off".

Seriously?

Who writes this twaddle?

When we're at rest on the surface of the earth, we experience an acceleration of 1G -- that's the force of gravity. Surely a 3G acceleration (such as that created by the quake) is only three times that amount -- not THIRTY times!

They go on to try and qualify this piece of crap journalism by stating:

"passengers on airliners feel accelerations of around 0.1g on take-off".

Well crap again. Unless it's close to free-fall, you actually experience an acceleration of 1.1G on takeoff -- thus the quake force was LESS than three times the acceleration felt on take-off, not the thirty times claimed.

Hair-splitting?

No -- attention to detail.

Doesn't this border on that most popular of topics right now: fake news?

Whatever the case, it's clear that seismic activity is quite high right now and we need to be financially prepared for the chances that we could see more significant damage to population centres and infrastructure. If/when this happens, we could find ourselves effectively uninsurable.

What insurance company would want to touch NZ, even as an underwriter, if they think that they'll only lose money due to the frequency and scale of claims?

Then there are the changes in climate that see vast tracts of the landscape flooded like Edgecumbe was last week.

If these areas flood now, how will we handle an increasingly flood-prone nation as we face more regular flood-events brought about by increased surface temperatures over the oceans and the more regular torrential downpours that this brings?

Relocating entire populations is hideously expensive -- but nobody will want to insure houses in now flood-prone areas so there's really no option.

Perhaps we've grossly underestimated the effects of climate change -- having been lulled into a false sense of security by the slow pace at which things have changed so far. What if we've reached a tipping-point where suddenly, all that stored thermal energy is about to push weather patterns over an edge into wildly different forms -- much to this nation's cost?

It strikes me we've still got our heads in the sand. There's no sense of urgency and one could be forgiven for thinking that people are simply pretending that if they continue to ignore these issues they'll just go away.

Of course they will go away -- for a brief period -- but then they'll be back, worse than ever and we'll all be the worse off for our complacency.

What do readers think?

Are we asleep at the wheel?

Should government be working very hard right *now* to come up with mitigation strategies and adapt our infrastructure, industries and housing to cope with what will almost certainly be an ever-increasing frequency of natural disaster in the years and decades to come?

Or will each new government consider this to be the job of the next government?

Ah... of course, I forgot the national mantra: "She'll be right mate".

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