The climate will change by Susan Grimsdell

By the time our children are grandparents, our world will be like nothing we can even imagine.

The planet will have a climate not seen for hundreds of thousands of years.  Oceans over a metre higher, flooding and rainfall like we’ve never experienced, together with severe drought and forest fires, and large numbers of migrants trying to get into New Zealand.  These are the facts, this is what we are facing.

But how many of us are taking climate change seriously?  We give lip service to awareness that the climate is changing, sea level is going to rise and life will never be the same again, but it’s “from the teeth out” as the Irish say.

Keeping cool as it gets warmer

One example is air conditioners, and the irony of this should be appreciated.  The warmer the temperature, the more people want aircon.  But air-conditioners are among the worst emitters of CO2 – even while we turn them on to keep cool, we make the problem worse.  At present there are about a billion single-room air conditioners in the world.  By 2050 there will be 4.5 billion, air-conditioning will use about 13% of all electricity and emit 2 billion tonnes of CO2.  To get an idea of how much that is, NZ emits about 80 million tonnes per year, that’s 8% of one billion.  Electricity accounts for 28% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide because nearly 65% of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas.  But if you want an aircon unit, you will buy one.

Travelling to disaster

Air travel causes vast amounts of CO2 emissions.  No one is refraining from flying.  If you want to fly somewhere, you do. We continue to buy huge gas guzzling cars.  If you want a double-cab SUV ute, you will buy one.   In NZ one electric car is bought for every 63 double-cab utes. We virtuously take our own bags to the supermarket, while we drive, fly, use aircon, buy enormous houses, own more than one car each and still feel we’re “doing our bit”.  We aren’t.  Almost no one is.

We are heading helter-skelter towards an unliveable world, and yet we’re hardly even talking about it.  In 2018, the major TV news networks in the US aired just two-and-a-half hours of climate coverage.  In the three prime-time US general election debates in 2016 there was not a single question on the topic.  Do you talk about it among your friends when you get together?  I doubt it.   Surveys show 80% of us are “concerned” about climate change.   What does that even mean!   It’s like an extremely obese person being “concerned” about their weight while scoffing a plate of cream buns.

Who’s willing to make real changes to their lives, real sacrifices?  Not many hands going up!

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