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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Climate change, things just got hotter

8 August 2018

Reports began appearing in the media this week which indicate that AGW is now growing at such a rate that the "tipping point" may be upon us in less than a decade or two.

Hmmm... that's funny, I seem to recall being told quite some time ago that we may have already reached the tipping point.

I guess we'll just have to assume that the definition of "tipping point" has changed.

Now I'm not a climate change denier, it's pretty hard to argue with the figures we're seeing. However, what I do call into question is the amount of this change which can be put down solely to mankind's contributions.

Whether it's GW or AGW is rapidly becoming a moot point, with forecasts that we'll have passed the point of no return within our own lifetimes painting a bleak picture of the future.

Apparently, once the tipping point is reached we will be buggered.

The rising temperatures will result in an even faster thaw of permafrost, releasing massive amounts of methane (a potent GHG) and turning currently green parts of the planet into arid deserts, devoid of carbon-sequestering plant life.

As sea temperatures increase, the amount of dissolved CO2 could fall (try heating a glass of Coca Cola to see how this works) and thus further adding to the CO2-load being carried by the atmosphere. The same goes for melting ice-caps which themselves have sequestered CO2 as a dissolved gas that could be liberated as they thaw.

I read some time ago that even if we stopped all CO2 emissions right now, we'd still hit the point of no return due to the rate at which we're destroying forests which reduces the ecosystem's ability to keep CO2 levels in balance.

So what do we do?

Unless the scientists are wrong, or unless we can come up with some really cool way to rip the CO2 from the air around us and store it safely away -- things do not look good.

New Zealand should be ashamed of itself from the perspective of avoiding the tipping point scenario.

For over a century we've been chopping down wonderful forests and replacing them with grasslands on which we graze ruminant animals in the form of sheep and cows. These animals belch huge amounts of highly potent greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the forests they have replaced are no longer sequestering carbon to retain that all-essential balance.

Sure, we pride ourselves on the fact that most of our electricity is generated from renewable sources -- but that's only a tiny part of the overall problem.

Instead of pushing hard for the uptake of EVs (as some countries overseas have done by way of tax-rebates, etc), we're still burning our way through huge amounts of transport fuel in our cars, buses, trucks and trains.

"Clean Green" and "100% pure" New Zealand is speeding full-steam ahead to the tipping point and nobody (in power) seems to give a damn.

Sure, we're a tiny nation so as a percentage of the problem we are also very small... but I would wager that we are disproportionately large for our size.

Regular readers will recall that I have often droned on about an indigenous EV industry and offering tourists a low-guilt "carbon neutral" holiday experience by promoting us as a destination where the electricity comes from renewables and you could tour the country in an electric vehicle.

The NZ government, which uses an inordinate amount of our tax dollars to allegedly promote the country as a tourist destination, as done *nothing* in this area -- however, it was refreshing to see a local rental company stepping up to the plate and preparing to offer EV camper-vans as an option. Can someone remind me why we're paying so much tax again when the government's efforts consist of simply lying to the world and telling them that we are "100% pure", despite our fouled waterways and high levels of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions?

Anyway, I for one have enjoyed the milder than usual winter and am looking forward to what I hope will be another summer of record-breaking high temperatures.

The future? Well I guess everyone has decided that the future is for other people to worry about.

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