Climate crime is beggaring our children

An impression of what the trial lignite briquette plant in Southland will look like. Image supplied.
An impression of what the trial lignite briquette plant in Southland will look like. Image supplied.
Intergenerational inequity looks set to define the 21st century, Richard Reeve believes.

Ours is the epoch of generational organised crime.

At present, reluctant to put that most efficient slave, the fossil fuel, to bed, we continue a way of life that we know full well will impact on literally billions of lives in the generations to come.

We can no longer hide in historical relativism to protect our lifestyles.

We are both richer and poorer than ever before, and there are more of us than ever before.

In 1936 there were 2.6 billion people; there are now seven billion.

According to the Population Reference Bureau, more than half the world live on less than $NZ2.40 a day.

One percent of the population currently own more than 40% of the global wealth.

At the time of writing, the World Bank reports that high food prices, disconcerting to Westerners, are intensifying a catastrophe in drought-stricken Africa, with 12 million people facing death by starvation.

While New Zealand's sons and daughters grow clinically obese on saturated fat, in the Horn of Africa 40% of children under 5 are suffering from severe malnutrition.

Living in one of the world's more resource-abundant countries, we kid ourselves that these remote isles will be shielded from the fallout of ongoing catastrophe.

Climate change at present remains a mere tax, a speed hump perfunctorily negotiated on the way to work.

Peak oil is certainly a pinch at the pump, but not yet the impending collapse of a type of civilisation.

Instead, smiling politicians still pander, post-2008, to the leveraged material expectations of the most privileged age group in history, the baby-boomers.

From an early age, their children, Generations X, Y and Z, have been encouraged to pursue wealth with a view to maintaining the comfort zone that this demographic established as the norm.

Initially, the comfort zone meant land, four walls and a roof.

Now, notwithstanding an abyss of global debt, it means plasma televisions, weekend trips to Sydney, Blackberries, multiple cars.

Refreshing honesty

Thank you Richard, for being a breath of fresh air. Your comments on consumerism having entrenched itself as the presiding ethos of our times reflect what so many of us are thinking, yet are afraid to say. This ideology is so very entrenched, to the point where it is not seen as an ideology, but just the way the world is. However, we must face up to the fact that change is coming, whether we like it or not. Climate change, peak oil, declining fresh water resources etc are going to force us to change, and the sooner we start talking about alternatives, the easier it will be for all of us. It is hard to imagine a different world from that we were raised in, but that is the reality. We must step away from business-as-usual and start living within our planetary means, for our own sake as well as for those to come.


As a New Zealand youth it is frustrating to see the minority of critics and sceptics attemptin to mislead the general public. There is a scientific consensus that anthropogenic climate change is occuring, a fact that has been recognised by the majority of major organisation and governments around the world. It is not a debate.

Our parent's generation have the opportunity to reduce emissions, minimise the effects that climate change will have, minimise the cost that ours and future generations will have to bear, and begin the transition to a sustainable, zero net carbon future.

Thank you for such an inspiring article! I hope to see more of this nature in the near future!

I would like to thank Mr Reeve

I would like to thank Mr Reeve for acknowledging the challenges which we are facing but so many are ignoring. Climate change is a reality and Richard is right when he says the government is out of touch with a bulk of the country’s youth. Many of us are willing and wanting to make a change now and it’s about time that was acknowledged. We don’t want to become another clog in the intergenerational justice occurring today, but for that to happen we need help.

I agree with Richard that November is an opportunity to make a difference and path a new future. I hope that people take that message and use it.


As a young person, this is a heartening article to read. When you're young you tend to have some basic expectations about the future world you'll inherit. Richard is right that that future world is being threatened, and it's high time something was done about it.

I'd love to believe that climate change was a myth concocted by selfish scientists - it would make thinking about the world I'll grow up in so much simpler. Unfortunately, the facts just don't stack up, and I don't want my future gambled away by a minority who refuse to accept what mainstream science is shouting at us. All we're asking is that young people around the globe can inherit a decent future. I hope that isn't too much to ask.


The comment made in relation to the article that CO2 emissions may not affect the climate is outrageous! How on earth can anyone believe that it isn't doing so? Surely we are now all past that level of analysis?

Delusional parents? Start saving lives?

I'm not sure if the author is advocating for civil disobedience but that is what at least one of his comments (Al Gore is master of that one) could be interpreted by appealing to the young to "stand up to their increasingly delusional parents".

Parents these days hardly need someone to suggest to their children to take there parents on.

And as for "saving lives", the best thing for saving lives is to have a wealthy and strong economy with a high standard of living and healthcare. The science is still not settled on the author's key point on global warming depute what we are told by politicians and the mainstream media.

Most famine while started by drought, are exacerbated by political situations rather than climate, Zimbabwe is just one example.

Utilising natural resources to improve our economic and jobs situation and standard of living should be applauded rather than condemned based on CO2 emissions that may or may not affect global temperatures.