The longed for long hot summer seems to have finally arrived with soaring temperatures sending hordes to the beaches. Some farmers however may not be so keen on the rising temperatures as pastures dry out and crops wither. In other parts of the country record dry spells have brought near disaster to many rural industries and water restrictions to urban dwellers. Any suggestion that the drought, and intermittent flash floods have anything to do with climate change brings the usual snorts of derision from those who claim it is all a big hoax. It isn’t. Based on what we know from reliable peer reviewed science Planet Earth is probably not getting any warmer. The earth’s atmosphere, which can be likened to the skin of an apple, however is most certainly increasing in temperature. It is this very thin layer on which all current life forms depend. Earth sciences show that there have been times of intense cold and other times of very high temperatures going back many millions of years. We don’t know for sure what caused all of these changes but our sun no doubt played a significant part in some of them. We also know that most of these changes have taken place over very long periods of time and most life forms have been able to adapt. Those that couldn’t simply died out. When the changes have been rapid there have been massive extinctions among those species which could not adapt fast enough. The current warming of earth’s atmosphere appears to be one of the rapid changes, almost three degrees centigrade over something less than 300 years. That is one of the fastest changes scientists have been able to identify. One of the principle causes has been a rapid increase in carbon dioxide in the upper atmosphere created by the combustion of high-carbon fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas over the past three centuries. The amount of carbon in the world has not increased. We have just taken it from where it was safely locked up underground, turned it into carbon dioxide and released it into…
With the last of the winter tourists hardly out of the country the first of the summer crowd is already on the way and we are still not ready for them. Like a persistent sponging relative no one wants to offend the tourism industry is asking for massive amounts of money from taxpayers and ratepayers to provide much need facilities for the clients. No one it seems wants to ask the question; why should ratepayers fund this self-serving exploitative and damaging industry over and above any other industry? Our district councils appear to lack the courage, common sense or ability to tell the tourist industry to fund their own promotions. When regional councils spend ratepayers’ money it is generally to mitigate and control the adverse impacts of agriculture and other industries. When the Government spends millions of taxpayers’ dollars monitoring and controlling agriculture and the fishing industry it is to ensure those environments are protected from over exploitation. Only the tourism industry it seems assumes the right to tap into ratepayer for promotion and to meet the demand for essential infrastructure they create. Many smaller district councils struggle to provide essential infrastructure for their ratepayers let alone massive increases for an industry which brings little in the way extra rates to pay for them. We don’t need extra funding for tourism infrastructure as much as we need to put urgent and effective constraints on the tourism industry to protect New Zealand from the ravages of visiting hordes while there is still something of our wild and special places to protect. Too many small communities have fallen in the trap of assuming tourism will be good for them. It won’t be. Without checks and balances it will change some communities beyond recognition and drive some people out of their home towns. A visit to Milford Sound at the height of the summer tourism season will shock and sadden those unprepared for the spectacle of over-crowding at was once a remote and beautiful place. Also in summer funeral processions of dangerous campervan drivers on highways, human waste on our bush tracks…
Global Warming. What is fact and what is opinion? Are we really responsible for climate change?
The Kingitanga is, by its very nature, a political organisation but should it dabble in politics or not? Earlier this year the current Maori King Tuheita made the surprising announcement to endorse specific political parties in the lead up to the NZ general election. Was it a desperate move or a mistake?
Does New Zealand need a formal constitution of rights for it’s citizens? Some politicians suggest it would be a hinderance to government. Others say it would be impossible to include the rights of The Treaty of Waitangi (image courtesy of Archives New Zealand).
Opinion column by Tom O’Connor published by Waikato Times 05 Sept 2017
Opinion column by Tom O’Connor published by Waikato Times 29 August 2017
Opinion column by Tom O’Connor published by Waikato Times March 20 2017
Opinion column by Tom O’Connor published by Waikato Times August 15 2017
John Cowell’s trading enterprises must have been profitable as the house was a substantial kit set building purchased from England and shipped as deck cargo on one of the early immigrant ships.