Making climate change an issue

Too much choice. Too much confusion.

When you walk into a shop, whether you know what you want or not, and get distracted by snazzy displays or a vast range of products, it’s likely you will walk out again with the wrong thing or having forgotten why you came.

As we drift closer to the shopping mall that is this year’s general election, each party is setting out its wares to attract the eyes of those passing by, hoping to pick up some new customers.

Election-year offerings, in the form of policies, promises and pats on babies’ heads, should always be taken with a tonne of salt.

Generally, they tend to be preaching to the converted.

Labour and National have been hard at it in recent weeks offering morsels which seem rather similar to one another’s.

Smaller parties eyeing up the 5% threshold to get list MPs into Parliament are pandering to those with, to put it politely, more specific concerns or radical views, who would probably have difficulty finding somewhere else to shop.

The Green Party, which currently has nine MPs and which latest polling shows has about 12% support to form the next government, is not immune to cutting its cloth to suit.

It does, however, have a major drawcard, in that it seems to be the only one of the larger parties to recognise climate change and the climate crisis for what they should be — as the most, or one of the most, important issues of this election.

Climate change is not going to go away. Neither, realistically, are crime or the cost-of-living crisis, or poverty or potholes. However, the trouble with climate change is its effects will continue to accelerate and in doing so will make all those other issues worse.

While Labour and National continue to disappoint in their approaches to climate change — and their vision for big new highways — the Green Party has just announced a very sensible Climate-Safe Communities Plan.

With a price-tag of $750 million, this promises to protect towns and cities vulnerable to flooding, like Westport and South Dunedin, by empowering councils and developers to build resilient houses in more appropriate locations, and to more optimally use green space to filter and drain floodwater.

The policy will presumably also do something about the stupidity of so many new homes being built right on the coast.

Marama Davidson and James Shaw. Photo: NZ Herald
Marama Davidson and James Shaw. Photo: NZ Herald
The Greens deserve a pat on the back for this plan. Nothing could be more important than looking after the future of our communities in the face of more extreme weather.

And another thing

Awww, poor partying students in North Dunedin. It’s just not as much fun making life for local residents a misery by drinking dangerous volumes of alcohol, setting fire to things, yelling and screaming drunkenly, smashing glass and vomiting as it once was.

So, who are the party poopers who are ruining this seemingly crucial part of some students’ educations?

Why, it’s the "packs of up-themselves rich kids straight from ... private schools in Auckland", according to some.

Students who want to get totally tanked-up and damage property and belongings in their bibulous state also believe the University of Otago’s Campus Watch is getting too officious, and complain there aren’t enough venues in Dunedin for them to let off steam at.

It’s true that the days of nearby pubs have gone, with the closure of the Captain Cook, the Bowler, the Gardies and the Oriental.

And it’s true that Campus Watch is a more visible presence than it once was.

But other factors will be at play which are apparently ruining all the fun for some.

Attitudes to many things have changed since Covid-19 raised its ugly head and perhaps not all students want their flats wrecked, but instead want to study and get their qualifications.

The "demise of a proper mad party scene is the demise of Dunedin", as one student put it, shows a breathtaking level of arrogance and self-absorption.

Yes, Dunedin loves its students, most of whom are well-behaved citizens while they live here.

But the city can carry on quite nicely thank you without the intoxicated idiots who think their banal boozing is the reason for existing.