On the international stage, we have as a country made a commitment to tackle and reduce greenhouse gas emissions ̶ and as a developed country we are expected to take a lead on emission reduction targets. While it is up to us to decide how best to address this reduction, a major part of this will be weaning ourselves off fossil fuels. Essentially, our future calls for a very different way of thinking about our lives.
The old story that has guided our lives, that wealth and material consumption are the paths to happiness is based on a world that fossil fuels enabled. Yes, that up-graded car, the renovated kitchen, the larger house, the trip overseas... while all contributing to a sense of success, are based on a fossil fuel dependence and on a system that is no longer sustainable.
So we need a new story to help shape our lives but what will that new story be? As Professor Ryan, from Melbourne University has said: “A new story will have us embracing a non-carbon future; consuming less while having more; valuing diversity and our network connections; and placing a high value on services and natural capital rather than on goods/things. Underlying these changes will be an understanding of our interdependence with others, and our dependence on maintaining flourishing ecosystems and if we are to survive, a value on relationships”.
But do we believe that change is necessary? From a 2015 national survey of over 6,000 New Zealanders we know that over half of us believe in the reality of climate change and its cause by human activity. And yet it is difficult for us to prioritize the work this demands when there are so many other worrying, competing and, dare we say it, more manageable concerns. Internationally, there is concern at the slow pace of change in our thinking: Why are we not threatened by environmental destruction? Why are we moving so slowly to save ourselves? It is possible that our own evolutionary bias makes it difficult for us to come to grips with this new reality. We focus more on our own lives impacted by the vividness of risks and tend to disregard what we cannot see or feel. We are also caught up in unexpected life changes that stall even the most motivated of us...the injured needing nursing, the child requiring an urgent operation, the newly widowed neighbour - all require our attention and we give it without question - our responsibility clearly to family and community. The short term prevails - the future discounted
We are in fact experiencing what is called a slow crisis... a long emergency. So what does this mean for us as people of Marlborough? Are we changing or are we too entrenched in our current lifestyles? If we considered climate change a priority would we still be living and working as we do now? Would we measure success in the same way? What indeed would be our story? To inform your thinking come along to the Earth Day to hear more of what is happening around the country.
Climate Karanga Marlborough
by Tom Powell
‘Live Green’ is one of the six themes for the Marlborough Earth Day Party, planned for A&P Park in Blenheim on the 21st April this year. But what does ‘Live green’ mean in our day-to-day lives?
Living ‘green’ means living in way that does not harm our water, land and air or the life that it supports, including insects, birds, fish, mammals, phytoplankton, plants and micro-organisms . These essential building blocks form the global food chain on which all life, including human life depends.
For most of human history mankind has survived and thrived by extracting the resource wealth of our planet. However it has become apparent in recent decades, as the human population has grown, that our planet’s resources are running out and its capacity to absorb the pollution generated by our industrialised way of life is running out too. In order to leave our children a planet that resembles the one we’ve come to know and love, we need to move away from a lifestyle based on resource extraction, waste generation and pollution and towards one based on living within the planet’s ecological limits. Living sustainably.
Right now we are far from this ideal. Our rubbish dumps and oceans are filling up with plastic waste, carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are increasing in our atmosphere, forests that would naturally absorb carbon dioxide are being cut down to graze livestock, our oceans are becoming acidic and our climate is becoming warmer and more prone to extreme weather events, such as prolonged droughts, more powerful cyclones, increased flooding and greater wildfire risk.
So what can we do at an individual level to help achieve a sustainable lifestyle?
Burning less fossil fuel is the most obvious step but there are some less obvious changes that can also make a big difference, for example by minimising waste.
All of the things we buy, use and throwaway everyday require energy, usually from burning fossil fuel, to grow or make, to package and label, to transport and to dispose of or recycle. So, if we use less of these things we use less energy and that reduces greenhouse gas emissions that come with it, as well as other industrial pollution.
To do this we can follow the 5 “R”s - Reject, Reduce, Re-use, Re-purpose and Recycle.
With a little thought and effort, we can leave a cleaner and greener world for our children and future generations to enjoy – just like the one we have now.
Photo caption – ‘Peter Deacon of Climate Karanga Marlborough proudly displaying his well-organised recycling bins’.
By Don Miller
Living in Marlborough we are surrounded by opportunities for recreation. For some of us this may have been why we moved here, while others have had this privilege all of their lives. In my case it was the decades old memory of sailing in Pelorus Sound in an old yacht – one so small that we had to camp on land at night, that brought me back here. The silence of the night followed by the dawn chorus is an integral part of those memories.
What do we mean by “Play green”? To me it is just recreation that has minimal negative impact on the environment.
Playing green is almost synonymous with the sounds of nature, while burning fossil fuel is generally a noisy activity.
While steady progress is being made toward using silent renewable energy for transport, we already have many options to Play green. For those living near the Sounds the marine options include kayaking, rowing, stand up paddleboard, sailing and swimming. A kayak lets you drift quietly along a forested shoreline and allows maximum exposure to our birdlife. Some might prefer rowing which may be more convenient for groups which include small children.
I have been surprised at the wildlife dramas being played out on the water that would be entirely missed in a power boat. Have you ever watched the performance put on by a shag building its nest in a shoreline tree? Despite the apparent chaos the nests do get built, although one does wonder how.
An exception to noisy powerboats is the recent advent of the electric outboard motor. There were electric boats in use decades ago and my dentist in the 1950s had one made so that he could cruise on the Mahurangi River without making a great disturbance, but the development of the Lithium Ion battery has increased the range and reduced the weight of electric outboard motors and made them a viable alternative. Battery drills have even been modified for use as improvised kayak motors.
The amount of power wasted by conventional petrol and diesel marine motors was brought home to me on a kayak excursion early on a recent wind-free New Year’s Day. Once the power boats started heading out from Waikawa their combined wakes soon made the sea so choppy that our trip was abandoned. Human, and wind power has many advantages for our health and our planet.
Cycling is an obvious “Play green” choice but for older folks whose joints might be a bit worn the electric bicycle is a dream come true. The knees benefit from this type of movement but the stress on them can be adjusted to almost zero as the motor provides the required power. Look at the tracks available for the mountain biker now too. The Queen Charlotte Track and the Link Pathway connect Picton to the Sounds already, with Kaikoura being on the horizon.
There is now a Fossil Free Multisport event, where competitors have to tow their kayaks with their bicycles. Considering that one event involved cycling and kayaking from Christchurch to Port Levy over Dyers Pass, it was no mean feat. http://cyclingchristchurch.co.nz/2018/03/13/fossil-fuel-free-multisport-2018/
If you want to know more about how you can Play green, enjoy the outdoors, improve your health and avoid polluting our environment – come to the Marlborough Earth Day Party, Saturday 21st April A&P Park, Blenheim
By Peter Deacon
At the Marlborough Earth Day Party on Saturday 21st April at the A&P Park, Climate Karanga will be encouraging all Marlburians to ‘Travel green’ - but what does ‘Travel green’ really mean?
You probably know about global warming, climate change, sea level rise and ocean acidification and how these are being caused by humans spewing billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year. One of the major sources of these gases are our cars, trucks, buses, trains, planes and ships burning fossil fuels inside their engines. These account globally for about 15% of human greenhouse gas emissions.
So if we want to stop putting these gases into the atmosphere we need to - STOP BURNING FOSSIL FUELS!! It really is that simple.
The only problem is that our entire economy and way of life has become so dependent on energy from burning these fuels that we don’t know how to quit. We have unwittingly become oil addicts, but now it is clear we have to find alternative sources of energy quickly, if we do not the planet to continue warming, and extreme weather, droughts and floods to become more frequent and damaging.
So what are some of the solutions?
There are dozens of things you can do to reduce your own transport emissions but the obvious first step is to choose alternatives to using internal combustion engines or at least use them less often.
The easiest and cheapest option is to leave your car at home and either walk or use a bicycle, an e-bike, a mobility scooter if you own one, or public transport if available.
Some parents and schools organise ‘walking buses’ where they supervise groups of children walking to school each day, or one day a week, and this helps the children become fitter and healthier as well as eliminating vehicle fumes. Imagine how many car journeys are saved by this simple step?
Another option is to car share with friends or work-mates so instead of 2 or 3 cars being on the road each day with one person inside, there is just one car with 3 people. This reduces overall fuel and running costs, alleviates traffic congestion, reduces pollution and helps lower greenhouse gas emissions.
If you are likely to replace your car in the foreseeable future you could consider purchasing either a plug-in hybrid vehicle such as a Toyota Prius or a fully electric vehicle (EV) such as the Nissan Leaf or Hyundai Ioniq. Vehicles powered by electric motors and battery technology are clearly the future for road transport as they are cleaner, simpler to make, have fewer moving parts, cost much less to maintain and operate than petrol and diesel vehicles and emit much less greenhouse gas.
Most car companies are now rapidly converting their vehicle ranges to be fully electric or hybrid and several countries/states including Britain, France, India, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands and California have stated their intention to completely phase out all internal combustion engine vehicles within the next few decades.
Finally if you must use your car you can now offset all your emissions by purchasing carbon credits from either:-
EKOS:- https://www.ekos.org.nz/ OR
These organisations invest the money you pay for the credits into permanent reforestation programmes that sequester the equivalent amount of carbon you have emitted from your car and store it in the trees. This helps lower greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and conserves habitat for our wildlife.
by Marion Harvey
'Act Green' means focusing on positive things we can all do to create a healthier and safer environment. The need for action arises from the many threats our water, air and soil now face due to population growth, increasing consumption of limited resources and growing pollution from our waste products. Plastic rubbish is now to be found on beaches worldwide, floating in vast rafts in the middle of all the major oceans and even at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean – our own back yard.
The natural world is also being impacted by loss of native plants and animals due to invasive species and diseases that are reaching our shores, encouraged by changing climate that extends their range. The remaining Kauri forests are threatened with extinction, nearly half our lakes and around 90% of our lowland rivers are classed as polluted and our native bee populations are collapsing. In order to promote a cleaner and less polluted world with thriving habitats and wildlife we must find new ways to live more sustainably.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed when we look at the size of the problem, but the fact is that even a small contribution can make a difference.
Positive action can start at home and immediately, with simple things such as establishing a garden, planting a tree, starting a compost heap, using reusable bags, bottles and cups instead of the ‘use once and throwaway’ variety. You can also reduce your carbon footprint easily by walking more, cycling, sharing transport or having a weekly meat-free day.
There are also many opportunities to become involved in voluntary work that will directly help to protect or conserve local habitat, such as at Grovetown Lagoon or Kaipupu Reserve. You can join a local group and work to protect our bird life, clean up our beaches or waterways or join a tree-planting project, and there will be a range of such local groups at the Marlborough Earth Day Party – so come along and get involved!
Concern about climate change spurred me to action. I am very concerned about what sort of legacy we are leaving to future generations if we allow our greenhouse gas emissions to push Earth's temperatures beyond 1.5°C - 2°C. Scientists have described this level of warming as 'dangerous’ as it will have irreversible and devastating effects on global food security, fresh water availability, extreme weather events, heat-waves, droughts and wildfires. I joined Climate Karanga Marlborough to link up with other people who are willing to work hard to inform and motivate others around them to create positive change and persuade our leaders to stop avoiding the problem of excessive fossil fuel burning and do something about it.
You are therefore invited to come along to Marlborough Earth Day Party on April 21st, see what others are already doing to make a positive difference to our future and be inspired to join in. No one can solve these tremendous environmental challenges alone, but working together we can.
The Blog posts are a collection of opinion articles written by CKM member Tom Powell for the Marlborough Express. Tom is a retired geologist who came to New Zealand in 2004 to work in the geothermal industry on the North Island, is a New Zealand citizen and now lives in Blenheim.