Is it too early to talk about climate change?

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Cyclone Gabrielle is currently bearing down on Tamaki Makaurau.

Locals are nervous.  In my home suburb Titirangi a recent storm that fell well outside the definition of a one in one hundred year storm has caused multiple slips and scarring to the local landscape.  Some people still do not have power and water is limited.  Parts of the area were isolated for extended periods of time.

The thought of even more rain has locals terrified, particularly those who have already suffered slips.

And this is summertime, the time of year where Council is normally urging us to preserve water as the Waitakere dams dry up.  I can confidently say that there will be no water shortage this year.

The two weather events have focussed attention on Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown’s draft budget which proposes widespread cuts.  And people are starting to talk about a pressing need to increase expenditure in mitigation and environmental protection as what appears to be a new norm settles in.  Now is the time to prioritise environmental issues over fiscal issues.

From Matthew Scott at Newsroom:

Forest & Bird’s Auckland regional manager Carl Morgan said cuts to water quality targeted rates and funding to community groups involved in the restoration and care of the region’s wetlands and rivers could exacerbate the destruction of future weather events.

“It seems environmental stuff is the first on the chopping block – I assume that’s because people don’t think they are directly affected by it or haven’t seen the effect,” he said.

But following the anniversary weekend deluge, he said the impact of climate change should increase in visibility.

“We see quite clearly now the real-world implications of climate change,” he said. “It is happening.”

It is clear to see what issue Mayor Brown is treating as a priority:

If we don’t take bold action now, Aucklanders face the unpalatable prospect of over 13 percent increase in rates in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis,” he said in his proposal, aiming for a “prudent and sustainable financial path going forward”.

What he should have said is that if we don’t take bold action now Aucklanders face the unpalatable prospect of parts of the city becoming uninhabitable in the middle of an environmental crisis.  We have to be aiming for a sustainable environment.  Money will be useless on a dead planet.



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