West Coast Regional Council wants to be persuaded about climate change

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Climate change is, in my personal view, the most important issue that the world is facing. If we do not drastically alter the way we live we will bake the planet.

The proof seems to be extraordinarily clear. And each day there are actual events which fit into the scenarios predicted by climate change scientists. Things like disappearing glaciers, mass extinctions of different species, record low amounts of Arctic and Antarctic ice, increasing sea levels and more powerful and destructive storm events.

Maybe these are random events unrelated to increasing CO2 levels. But surely the precautionary principle applies and elected representatives should prepare for the worst and do everything they can to at least mitigate the effects. Like slashing the amount of green house gasses that we are emitting.

But it seems that the West Coast Regional Council is taking an alternative view.

From Kate Gudsell at Radio New Zealand:

The West Coast Regional Council wants more scientific evidence to prove human-driven climate change is happening before it will commit to reducing emissions.

The council does not support the government’s Zero Carbon Bill and is the only regional council in the country to reject it.

In its submission, the council said if West Coasters were to commit to emissions targets, “the evidence proving anthropogenic climate change must be presented and proven beyond reasonable doubt”.

The council’s planning, science and innovation manager Hadley Mills said there was too much uncertainty about the economic and social impact from the bill.

He said a lot more work needed to be done so they could understand how jobs and communities would be affected.

He said the council was not denying climate change but it was a struggle to understand it.

“We must be objective and base our decisions on science and that’s why we want the science presented really simply; we don’t have climate change experts on our staff so we just want everyone to understand it.”

And one of the Councillors took a rather extreme view. Again from Radio New Zealand:

Councillor and miner Allan Birchfield said the bill and climate change was a fraud and said it would end up costing locals.

He said the government needed to pay attention to what had happened in France with the so-called yellow jackets, the protesters who wreaked havoc in Paris, demonstrations sparked by rising fuel prices.

If the test is do all elected representatives have to understand the science before we do anything elected bodies will never do anything. And refusing to accept what is a very strong scientific consensus is retrograde. It is like refusing to accept urgent heart surgery because you do not sufficiently understand the cause.

The Waitakere Ranges Local Board has always considered climate change to be one of our most important issues. Local events such as the failure of the Huia Sea Wall show what will happen to other areas over time. We have always been vocal opponents to off sea oil drilling off the west coast and supported the Government’s ending of block offers. Our limited transport capital fund has been spent on walkway and cycleway projects. We are strong supporters of tree protection in part because of their carbon sequestering ability.

This is the only responsible thing that in my view an elected representative can take.

Perhaps at the next meeting of the West Coast Regional Council they could play this video. So that they can get into perspective the relative states of the arguments for and against the existence of human made climate change.

Update: To be fair one of the West Coast Regional Councillors, Stuart Challenger, opposed the submission questioning the existence of climate change. He is a specialist stormwater engineer. Clearly he can understand the science.3



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