Are we past the point of no re­turn?

Franklin County News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JOHN ALLEN

We were lucky.

We suf­fered only mi­nor flood­ing from the 220mm of rain across last week’s two down­pours. The flood­ing was much more se­vere in other parts of our re­gion, with many peo­ple suf­fer­ing prop­erty losses.

Was that lo­cal del­uge a con­se­quence of cli­mate change?

The sci­ence to prove that, or not, has not been done yet so we do not know for sure.

But in other parts of the world, it is clear that cli­mate change is driv­ing ex­treme weather events.

The Amer­i­cans were not shy in look­ing for the driv­ers of their ‘‘freak­ishly’’ warm Fe­bru­ary. The World Weather At­tri­bu­tion team is very clear about cau­sa­tion: ‘‘The warm spell is just the lat­est piece in a grow­ing body of ev­i­dence that cli­mate change is play­ing a role in al­most all ex­treme heat events.’’

The Aus­tralian Bu­reau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy is­sued a re­port on their pro­longed and ex­treme heat­wave in early 2017. Their ‘‘Spe­cial Cli­mate State­ment 61’’, warns that Aus­tralian an­nu­ally av­er­aged tem­per­a­tures have warmed by around one de­gree since 1910. They ac­knowl­edged an in­creas­ing fre­quency of warm events, con­sis­tent with that ob­served for the globe.

We ig­nore those warn­ings to our own peril. Like the faith­ful Chris­tian man in that old story about God sav­ing us:

Fac­ing ris­ing flood wa­ters, the man de­clined to evac­u­ate when the au­thor­i­ties told him to, say­ing to him­self, ‘‘I will trust God and if I am in dan­ger, then God will send a di­vine mir­a­cle to save me.’’

He re­fused of­fers of as­sis­tance from his neigh­bours, a man in a ca­noe, a po­lice mo­tor­boat and a he­li­copter, say­ing to each, ‘‘No thanks, God will save me.’’

Inevitably, the house broke up and flood­wa­ters swept the man to his death.

Ar­riv­ing in Heaven, the man stood be­fore God and asked, ‘‘I put all of my faith in You. Why didn’t You come and save me?’’

And God said, ‘‘Son, I sent you a warn­ing. I sent you a car, ca­noe, mo­tor­boat and a he­li­copter. What more were you look­ing for?’’

Wait­ing for a di­vine mir­a­cle, a new tech­nol­ogy or gov­ern­ment ac­tion is not go­ing to save us from ma­jor cli­mate im­pacts which, sci­ence tells us, are now in­evitable.

Sci­en­tists warn that we are now past the point of be­ing able to bring our chang­ing cli­mate back un­der con­trol.

Stay­ing calm I can do, but sim­ply ac­cept­ing that sit­u­a­tion I will not.

If we are to min­imise the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts, we need to take ac­tion. In the ab­sence of gov­ern­ment lead­er­ship, it falls on us, as in­di­vid­u­als and house­holds, to both re­duce our car­bon emis­sions, and to re­move car­bon diox­ide from the at­mos­phere. What ac­tion will you take?

* Satur­day, April 22 is World Earth Day. Pukekohe’s St An­drews Angli­can Church has a car­bon se­ques­tra­tion event planned for that week­end.

HAVE YOUR SAY

Let­ters should not ex­ceed 250 words and must have full name, res­i­den­tial ad­dress and phone num­ber. The edi­tor re­serves the right to abridge or with­hold any cor­re­spon­dence with­out ex­pla­na­tion. Let­ters may be edited for sense, pa­per’s style, brevity or good taste. Write to Let­ters to the Edi­tor, Franklin County News, PO Box 14, Pukekohe or email julie.kaio@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz with your views.

John Allen

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