Climate change: Rodney Hide ignores main findings of IPCC report

Rodney Hide’s depiction of me and my colleagues (‘Zombie Greens chant false science mantra’) makes selective use of facts and conclusions.

I have, of course, read the IPCC report; in fact I convened a parliamentary briefing on it with leading NZ scientists. Green and Labour MPs attended but not one from National or ACT.

Mr Hide seeks to take me to task and cites the report’s findings on droughts and storms. But he selectively quotes. The report  states, for example, that “It is very likely that increases in Arctic, Northern European, North American and southern hemisphere winter precipitation by the end of the century (2081-2100) will result from more precipitation in extra-tropical cyclones associated with enhanced extremes of storm-related precipitation [Ch. 14, p.5]."

Little is achieved when politicians collide over science; best simply to acknowledge the primary findings in the report, which is available for anyone to read.  

They are:

1. “It is extremely likely that human influence on climate caused more than half the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010. There is high confidence that this has warmed the ocean, melted snow and ice, raised global mean sea-level, and changed some climate extremes in the second half of the 20th century. (SPM, P10)

2. “Each of the last three decades has been warmer than all preceding decades since 1850, and the first decade of the 21st century has been the warmest.  … in the Northern Hemisphere, the period 1983 – 2012 was very likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 800 years (high confidence) and likely the warmest of the last 1400 years (medium confidence).” (p.3)

3. “Continued emissions of greenhouse gases would cause further warming. Emissions at or above current rates would induce changes in all components in the climate system, some of which would very likely be unprecedented in hundreds to thousands of years… Many of these changes would persist for many centuries. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions of CO emissions.” (P12)

4. “It is virtually certain that, in most places, there will be more hot and fewer cold temperature extremes on daily and seasonal timescales as global mean temperatures increase. (P13)

5. “It is very likely that more than 20% of emitted CO2 will remain in the atmosphere longer than 1000 years after anthropogenic emissions have stopped... A large fraction of climate change is thus irreversible on a human timescale, except if net anthropogenic CO2 emissions were strongly negative over a sustained period.” (P17)

The day the report was released (Sept 27), the UN Secretary-General said he was deeply concerned by its conclusions and that climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

In September 2009 the Secretary-General submitted a report on Climate Change: Its Security Implications to the General Assembly (UN doc A/64/350), including concern over the likelihood of storms (para 25).  In July 2011, he advised the Security Council that climate change is a threat to international peace and security.  The council expressed concern that the possible adverse effects of climate change could, in the long-run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security. (SC/10332, July 20, 2010)

The Alliance of Small Island States warned then that their very survival was threatened by the adverse impacts of climate change. Australia noted that sea-level rise could reach one metre by the end of the century, resulting in more severe storm surges, coastal inundation and loss of territory. 

New Zealand said that, for low-lying small island States, climate change posed the ultimate security risk – ceasing to exist as states. The Asia-Pacific region had faced a devastating series of natural disasters, and in the coming years such events would become even more frequent and severe. Those forecasts were "deeply worrying."

In September 2008, Mr Hide advised the NZ Parliament " that the entire climate change - global warming hypothesis is a hoax, that the data and the hypothesis do not hold together, that Al Gore is a phony and a fraud on this issue, and that the emissions trading scheme is a worldwide scam and swindle.” [Scoop. Hide, Rodney (Sept 3, 2008) Emissions Trading Bill Speech. ACT Press Release: Speech to Parliament]

The Insurance Council of New Zealand recently estimated that the cost of storms in 2013 to date (primarily those of April, May, June and September) was $157 million. In response to the IPCC report, executive director Tim Grafton observed that “the real risk is that nothing is done, assuming insurance will be there to pick up all the pieces when weather disasters strike. The IPCC’s analysis is the most compelling to date of the risk posed by severe weather events. Improving community resilience to extreme weather events is the responsibility of government, local authorities, policymakers, businesses and the public alike especially if we are to ensure the on-going availability and affordability of insurance in the future."

I can humbly accept being likened to a zombie by Mr Hide – it comes with the terrain. The only thing that is important is that members of Parliament, past and present, do justice the findings of the scientific community, and work in the interests of our children’s generation.  

Kennedy Graham is a Green Party MP

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