Letters to the Editor: rising seas, MPs and Buckfast

Many Scottish people think Buckfast should be banned. Photo: Getty Images
Many Scottish people think Buckfast should be banned. Photo: Getty Images
Today's Letters to the Editor from readers cover topics including the rise of climate scientists, the art of good business, and getting blasted on Bucky.


Ice melt, rising seas, and wilful blindness

Thank you for the stark warning that new houses in South Dunedin could soon be uninsurable due to sea-level rise (ODT 25.3.24).

Meanwhile, in the northern hemisphere, Greenland is losing a shocking 30 million tons of ice an hour. In their video Greenland: Ice Loss Accelerating, Peter Wadhams and Peter Beckwith show how storm surges will raise sea levels to 1.2m above high tide by 2030, when children born today will be 6, and 1.5m by 2050, when children born today will be 26. What will their lives be like?

Once all the ice in Greenland melts, as seems more than probable, there will be 7.6m of sea-level rise by 2100, says James Hansen, a leading climate change scientist known for being alarmist but also right. And that’s a big headache for every coastal city.

In the southern hemisphere, Antarctic ice is also melting faster than expected. How can the current government be so blind about polar ice melt and rising sea levels?

Not just blind but irresponsible, for instead of trying to slow down climate change and protect the New Zealand public against its effects, they seem to be doing everything in their power to speed the process up. What an appalling legacy to future generations.

Jocelyn Harris


Doing business

Businessman: "Good morning minister. I've got a regionally significant project that I'd like to get fast-tracked. It'll create dozens of jobs, attract thousands of tourists and earn squillions of dollars for our shareholders."

Minister (Eyes sparkle. Lips frame the words "jobs" and "growth".): "Sounds good to me. What've you got in mind?"

Businessman: "There's 50 hectares of land in South Otago. Right next to the beach. ‘Catlins Disneyland’ is the plan."

Minister (Hearty chuckle): "No rare frogs around I hope."

Businessman: "No. But there are some endangered penguins nesting near where the Big Dipper will go."

Minister: "Toughen up birdies. Toughen up. Anything else?"

Businessman: "Well, your expert panel gets to suggest conditions for approval. There's 10ha of native bush on the property, which would get in the way of the zip line. They mightn't want us to chop it down."

Minister: "No prob. I don't have to take any notice of them."

Businessman: "What about the neighbours – maybe not too keen on the idea of all the bright lights and loud music?"

Minister: "Keep schtum and they won't even get to know about it. The panel doesn't have to put your proposal out for public submissions. Once it goes in for fast-tracking you're home and hosed."

Bye bye democracy.

Jane Young


Please stand up

Will our new Minister for the Environment please stand up and identify herself? Thus far, she has stood by as her government colleagues have voiced crude disregard for our native species (Jones), sought to undermine progress on significant natural areas (Hoggard), and dismissed anyone with a concern for the natural world as being part of an "obstruction economy" (Willis).

And now the government in which she serves has introduced its Fast-track Approvals Bill, which – if enacted – will give just three ministers unprecedented power to approve mineral mining, seabed mining, dams and any other projects they deem to offer regional and national benefit – all this with minimal (if any) proper consideration of their environmental impacts. On her (non-)performance to date, we can only assume that she will continue to sit on her hands and support this Bill, which will – most notably – exclude her from the decision-making process.

Andy Barratt


Buckfast certainly not a blast for everyone

I was intrigued to read the opinion article by Jean Balchin (ODT 25.3.24) entitled "Blasted on Bucky no great feat of daring."

While I think it is laudable that the ODT have a regular correspondent from Edinburgh, I would suggest that Buckfast is neither "widely popular", nor is it a "rite of passage for every young person in Scotland to partake" of this foul beverage.

The vast majority of Scottish people of all ages think this beverage, which is like a cheap and sickly cooking sherry, is unpalatable and many think it should be banned.

Indeed it is predominately young working class men in certain parts of the west of Scotland that indulge in Buckfast.

It is certainly not popular across Scotland.

I am sure Ms Balchin will be aware that Scotland is the home of malt whisky and like New Zealand has a successful bourgeoning brewing industry for craft beer.

We might not have the climate for wine but many varietals are available and popular including ones from Otago.

Ms Balchin may know that 2024 is the 50th anniversary of Dunedin and Edinburgh becoming twinned cities (although obviously our links go much further back) and this year Edinburgh celebrates its 900th anniversary.

I would hope that Ms Balchin will update us on her sampling of some more popular and palatable beverages and will share other aspects of her experiences of the rich culture and history of our twin city in this important year.

Alex Foulkes
Deputy chairman, Dunedin- Edinburgh Sister City Society


Address Letters to the Editor to: Otago Daily Times, PO Box 517, 52-56 Lower Stuart St, Dunedin. Email: editor@odt.co.nz