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I followed them to Mosgiel, where former Invermay head Jock Allison addressed a crowd of about 100 people and Dunedin organiser Gill Marshall read the Groundswell NZ Position statement (available from groundswellnz.co.nz).
I was shocked Dr Allison used the opportunity to promote his view that there is no climate emergency. He argued that human-caused climate change is a myth, the globe is not warming, and that, in any case, a warm planet is a much healthier place to be than a cooling planet.
I assume Groundswell NZ, or at least the Dunedin group, holds views similar to Dr Allison’s or it would not have invited him to speak.
The Groundswell NZ Position statement mentions climate change only once. It states: “The unworkable elements of climate-change policy which are crucifying farmers and growers must be withdrawn.”
There is no suggestion of any climate change policies they believe might be workable (or necessary). Indeed, there is no clear acknowledgement that climate change due to human activity is real and constitutes a real emergency that requires immediate and ongoing attention and action from all of us.
When New Zealand declared a climate emergency in December 2020, we joined 32 other countries that had already done so. The motion tabled in our parliament recognised “the devastating impact that volatile and extreme weather will have on New Zealand and the wellbeing of New Zealanders, on our primary industries, water availability, and public health through flooding, sea level rise, and wildfire”.
Farmers and rural professionals deserve our support, gratitude and respect for the hard and demanding work they do to provide us with essentials we cannot do without. They are resourceful, innovative, and highly capable. They have learned to work through adversity. They are not quitters.
In order to be able to deal with what Jacinda Ardern called “one of the greatest challenges of our time”, we are all going to need these skills and we are going to need each other. We will have to become better listeners and more effective collaborators. We will need to share the effort, knowing we will also share the sense of accomplishment if we achieve our goals.
The problem statement is clear enough. Now, we have to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
- Dr Mark McGuire taught and researched design at the University of Otago for 25 years.