A Readers Submission on the Climate Change Response Amendment Bill

By Bernard 

By way of introduction, I am neither a scientist nor a farmer but have significant commercial qualifications and a lifelong connection to Agriculture.

I have grave concerns that the proposed legislation is heading in the wrong direction and will have a significant adverse impact on the countries overall wellbeing, specifically from a financial perspective but this will then flow on into our standard of living lowering it from levels we currently enjoy. Government action and policy should be all about increasing the standard of living for its citizens, not the reverse.

I do not deny that the climate is changing; it always has changed and it will continue to do so. For evidence of this, you only have to look at the arrival and then the disappearance of the large Ice Ages. There have not been one but five such periods experiencing a reduction in the surface of the earth’s temperature with significant glaciations in the northern and southern hemispheres. It is accepted that the additional heat-trapping gasses emitted into the atmosphere will prevent the next ice age which if it follows the cycle would be expected in around 50000 years. What causes that cooling followed by warming? Possibly changes in atmospheric composition or changes in the earths orbit around the sun, tectonic plate changes, volcanism, or meteorites or various combinations?

On a more micro scale, we have the more recent global warming that took place during the medieval period (800 – 1400 AD). That allowed civilisation to flourish during that time. More recently we have a recent mini ice age commonly called the Maunder Minimum (1645 – 1715) during which time the Thames River was known to freeze over allowing ice skating on it. It is widely accepted that this recent cool period was associated with a time where there was next to no sunspot activity. Here is where we first establish that variation in the suns activity impacts on the earth’s temperature.

We are often told by those most loudly promoting the Global Warming / Climate Change story that we have a consensus of the scientific community and that “The Science is settled” regarding the recent change in global temperatures being fully attributed to human activity. I don’t believe for one minute the science is settled or there is a full consensus. That is not the job of science as we will continue to discover all manner of things and there are always dissenting views and all scientific findings need to be subjected to full peer review to establish full credibility. We definitely do not have consensus. It appears to me that the chorus of consensus comes from an echo chamber happy to accept only those findings that fit with the UN accepted IPPC model.

The most recent climate findings by 2 researchers at Turku University in Finland have found that the human contribution to the rise of 0.1 deg C in global temperatures attributed to carbon dioxide over the last century is in fact just 1/10th of that at 0.01 deg C.

Their paper is titled: “No experimental evidence for the significant anthropogenic climate change” by Kauppinen and Malmi. Their conclusion is that global temperatures are controlled primarily by cloud cover and only a small part of the increased Carbon Dioxide concentration is anthropogenic.
This, the latest of many papers, calls into question claims by the IPPC that those global temperatures changes are driven by human activity.

Then we have further recent research undertaken by Russian Professor Valentina Zharkova leading a team looking at Climate and Solar magnetic field activity. There are over 150 climate models monitoring the solar cycle and she has one of only 2 such models that correctly predicted that the current solar cycle 24 would be weaker than the previous one with her model predicting with 97% accuracy and now suggesting that a Grand Solar Minimum is on the cards from 2020.

These are prolonged periods of reduced solar activity that have in the past gone hand in hand with times of global cooling, I refer to my earlier comment about the Maunder Minimum mini ice age period.
The time of the last grand solar minimum saw 2 of the suns magnetic fields out of phase; this time around it will be four. It is the reversing of the suns magnetic poles that appears to impact on sunspot activity
It is their recent work discovering the long term oscillations of the solar background magnetic field associated with double Dynamo waves generated from the inner and outer layers of the sun that indicate the sun is heading to a grand solar minimum over the next 3 decades (2019-2055).

Also to put it in layman’s term the sun has cycles within cycles within cycles. There is the regular 11-year cycle well understood, and the recently reported grand solar cycle of 350 – 400 years and then further oscillation of 1950 +/- 95 years referred to as a super grand solar minimum. The researches predict there will be a slow increase in temperatures over the next 6 centuries until 2600 followed by a decrease and minimum around the year 3700.

These oscillations of the baseline solar magnetic field are associated with a long term solar inertial motion about the barycentre of the solar system. As I understand it and if I can put into layman’s term all of the bodies circulating in the solar system have different magnetic attraction and depending on where they are in their solar cycle will all impact on each other so the orbits will never be continuously centric but will vary over time.

Of course there are going to be sceptics who disagree but if it is true (in the same way we are told to believe that human activity is impacting the temperature through increased CO2 levels) then what is to be gained by incurring all the costs associated with trying to eliminate the release of carbon into the atmosphere by humans? That carbon that has always been on earth and is the main building block of life on earth

How important is CO2? Are you aware that fruit and vegetables grown indoors have additional CO2 pumped into the glass or plastic house to increase the production output. High levels of CO2 are essential for plant growth and the current increase in global CO2 levels have resulted in Global Greening which means there is more plant life on earth to support the global population and reduce the incidence of famine

We are encouraged to plant tree forests to soak up the carbon; no I’m not against planting trees but they are such a temporary holding vessel in the overall scheme of things. That carbon is not going to be held in those forests forever. They will be milled and those softwoods will be disposed of again at some stage in the future and when they either rot or burn will release that carbon back into the atmosphere.

This brings me to the emissions attributed to animals. There were probably just as many and possibly more animals naturally occurring on the planet a 1000 yrs ago well before man started more intensive livestock farming ( the large Bison herds in Nth America have all but disappeared to be replaced with cropping). The digestive systems of these animals haven’t changed so they have always emitted methane into the atmosphere.

Its many years ago when I first heard of the proposed cow “fart tax “ , how stupid that concept is when you look at it from a most basic 3rd form Biology fundamental of photosynthesis.
The cows eat the grass which contains CO2, as does every other plant when it uses the process of photosynthesis to take the CO2 out of the atmosphere, fix the carbon to the plant and emit Oxygen so important for all living animals.
The cows break down the cellulose in the grass and release the CO2 which is then released to the atmosphere by the cows in the form of methane. That methane in the form of CO2 is the reabsorbed by the grass and the cycle goes round and round, no new CO2 is added to the system.

Knowing this ( cars boats and planes don’t reabsorb their emissions) why are we beating ourselves up saying the methane from animal accounts for 1/3 of NZ greenhouse emissions when they are reabsorbed, It’s ultimately a closed system that is not generating any additional CO2.

I understand methane accounts for over 40% of all emissions in terms of global warming potential; however, the dominant sources are from rice paddies and wetlands, not farm animals.
Here we have it again as I mentioned earlier that the CO2 absorbed by trees will be ultimately released when rotting occurs in the same way if is released from rotting vegetable matter in rice paddies and wetlands, the release process just happens to occur quicker in those areas of high moisture content speeding up the rotting process.

The fact that NZ is in a unique position on one hand that we have such high levels of sustainably produced Electricity making our “carbon footprint” a world low in that area. This does not mean that we should be penalising ourselves on the other hand because we have one of the highest per capita emission of greenhouse gas (0.6 t per person being 6 times the global average) derived solely from our unique position of having a very high animal population. Our absolute amount of emissions is minimal.

Do we agree those animals are not producing and additional greenhouse gas but simply part of a closed cycle of continuous absorption by plants and release by animals that eat that grass and round and round it goes as it has for 1000’s of years.

We have some major large industrial countries who openly admit to producing increasing amounts of greenhouse gas over the next 20 – 30 years while we think it beneficial to be working toward eliminate ours when only producing 0.1% of the world’s greenhouse gas while China 29% and India 6.5% continue unabated.

On the subject of weather and climate change some regular changes in the earth’s climate that are accepted as being normal such as the likes of the El Nino / La Nina Southern Oscillation. This phenomenon causes global changes in both rainfall and temperature. Centred in central and the eastern central Pacific Ocean this cycle of warm and cold sea surface temperature accompanied by a different air pressure differential on either side of the Pacific Ocean occurs on average every 4 years with a range from 2 – 7 years.

There were 26 El Nino events recorded last century. It is now understood this has been occurring for 1000s of years with some specimens of coral displaying evidence of chemical signatures of temperature variation dating back 13000 years.
These systems affect global climate, disrupting normal weather patterns resulting in intense storms in some places and droughts in others. We know it has significant effects on the NZ climate with stronger westerly winds in summer leading to rain in the west and drought in the east.
This is an entirely natural phenomenon that has been naturally occurring for 1000s of years exhibiting far more impact on the earth’s climate in a short space of time than man is ever able to, short of release numerous atomic bombs

In summary as a global population, we can accept that what we have been doing to the environment for the last 100 years is not sustainable and we need to make a collective effort to improve the stewardship of our planet on a number of fronts.

I don’t, however, subscribe to any urgency in NZ to impact on our standard of living in any way due to a perceived urgency that we need to do something significant right now. I’m in my late 60s and I can only recollect small changes in weather obviously caused by the likes of El Nina. For anyone to either subscribe to the current Climate emergency scenarios or provide scaremongering advice and teaching to our young people such as we only have 12 years left before the world will implode is plain nonsensical behaviour.

I do however subscribe to the theory of leaving the world in a better place than the way I found it. I owe that to my children and grandchildren and those that follow them to ensure their world is a better place and concentrating on the dubious task of eliminating carbon emissions will not produce a better world for them if it is at the expense of their standard of living.

Yes, we need to talk about these issues and keep them at the top of our minds and the generations that follow us will pick up on them as they can and as the general marketplace is able to come up with solutions like alternative fuel sources. It will be no different to the way a lot of my generation were slow to embrace the concept of recycling, now a mainstream activity but a concept quite alien to most of our ancestors.

There is absolutely no need to adopt a “cart before the horse” mentality and rush into actions like penalising fossil-fuelled cars and subsidizing alternative fuel ones before we are sure we have a viable and sustainable alternative fuel. I reference killing the natural gas industry and then having to import coal to produce electricity that will be used to power electric vehicles.
All I can say to that is stupidity at its absolute best.

I hope you will take on my very basic and inarticulate ramblings and look at what I believe are some very practical considerations to be woven into deliberations on any real and tangible benefits that will accrue to us by adopting the measures in the proposed amendment. I am opposed to any regulatory change that will bring unnecessary cost on society and affect overall wellbeing based on the dubious assumption that man is having a long term detrimental impact on world climate.