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Climate Change – Where do we go from here?

Over the last few weeks the Royal Society of New Zealand has released two reports on climate change. One looks at the implications of climate change for New Zealand and the other looks at what we need to do to limit climate change.

It is not a question of “if” but a matter of how significant the change (that is already well under way) will be.

So what are the Government and Councils going to do? Well from what I have read, probably not a lot at present. Will that change anytime soon? Probably not, unless we see more immediate climate crisis occurring such as; consecutive droughts, 100 year floods or coastal flooding events. Hey, the fact that we are still enjoying summer temperatures in May is just fantastic. Why should we be worried about warmer weather, if this is global warming, bring it on! However, will I feel so enthusiastic in August should we be facing a second abnormal rain event of the winter?

We tend to focus on immediate survival needs and reward our politicians for doing the same. They know what motivates voters and it is certainly not increasing taxes or local rates now, to invest in the future, even if that makes longer term economic and survival sense. Couple that with a three year election cycle and there is more risk of losing rather than winning votes in a problem that is yet to reach a crisis point.

Would you be happy if the FNDC re-designated the land use on your prime Kerikeri acreage for intensive horticulture use only? In today's economic environment you would probably earn far more by selling that for housing subdivision than you could by selling it for intensive horticulture use only. However, that may not be the case in the future where local food production is far more critical (and lucrative). But that future is not necessarily your future, depending upon your age.

The recent rate increase for flood management on the Kerikeri river is another example. Would it not be more prudent and a better long term investment to combine flood protection and water storage as a project? While that may be the case, it would cost more and translate into higher rate demands for delivery of additional infrastructure that we may not need immediately. But we probably will need it, it is just a case of when.

So what should we do?

Well if we continue to do nothing about climate change we really need to consider stop having children because, the future for them and their offspring, is starting to look decidedly bleaker in a “do nothing” scenario.

Alternatively, we could just park the “Ambulances” up at the bottom of the cliff and hope that we have enough of them to deal with the "casualties" when it happens.

The Regional Policy Statement, tthat will be made partly operative on 9 May, gives some not very bold over-riding guidance on how to manage sea level change and building in coastal hazard zones. Our current permissive (Far North District Council) 10 year District Plan must, however, give it effect as the Regional Planning Statement has precedence. The review of that plan is currently under way and does provide an opportunity for some clear thinking about the future as outlined in the Society's reports”.

Further Reading Material

Royal Society of New Zealand Reports:

Northland Regional Council

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