Tom and Marg are milling around the kitchen, watching the latest storm raging outside.
“So, what do your friends at work think of the government’s new ‘feebate’ scheme?” Marg looks over at Tom from the kitchen table.
Tom: “The ‘what’ scheme?”
Google Assistant chimes in: “Tom, the New Zealand Government has recently announced a Clean Car Discount program, which some have called the new car ‘feebate’ scheme. It provides a cash subsidy for imported new and second-hand electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles starting this month, and an added fee on high emissions vehicles starting in January 2022.”
Tom: “GOOGLE, YOU KNOW HOW I HATE IT WHEN YOU LISTEN TO OUR CONVERSATIONS!
Google: “Sorry Tom. It is part of your subscription. You’d have to purchase our premium option if you want limited privacy. Would you like me to direct you to the Google Store now?”
Tom: “Never mind, Google. Now, where was I?”
Marg: “The car feebate scheme.”
Tom: “Oh, yeah. Well, most seem OK with it – especially the ones thinking about buying an EV. A few have grumbled about the extra cost of new utes and some just don’t like the government interfering”.
Marg: “Interesting. And I suppose the ones who don’t like the government interfering don’t believe climate change is real?”
Tom: “No, they don’t seem to disagree with climate change, they just feel that the car they drive is a personal choice. They feel we each should have the freedom to address the problem in our own way. The government shouldn’t be telling us what to do.”
Marg: “Hmmm…I see their point. No one likes to be told what to do. I know you bristle a bit when I remind you whose turn it is to cook dinner.”
Tom gives her a look of indignation.
Marg: “So, how did your friends feel about the Covid lockdowns? That was a classic case of the government telling us what to do.”
Tom: “Well, that was different. Everyone agreed with it. They knew the virus was dangerous and didn’t want people getting sick and dying. They all have families, you know.”
Marg: “But how different is it? We all know that as climate change progresses, people are going to suffer from more extreme weather. Some are going to lose their homes and their livelihoods and some are even going to lose their lives. We are already seeing this in other parts of the world. Look at what the West Coast has been going through. It’s horrific!”
Tom: “I suppose Covid was more immediate – we needed to get after it in a hurry. It seems like there is still time to get after climate change. The climate is still pretty comfortable and we’ve always had nasty weather from time to time.”
Marg: “Not according to the scientists. They say we should have been reducing our emissions long ago. And, the longer we wait, the harder it is going to be to turn things around.”
Marg: “Remember, it is advice from the scientists that is helping us keep Covid out of the country. They have a pretty good track record with giving good advice, in my opinion. “
Tom: “I guess they have gotten us through Covid pretty well. But it sometimes seems like they are trying to run our lives, just like the government – always telling us what to do.”
Marg: “Well, I guess that’s the issue, isn’t it? Do we trust the scientists and give up some freedoms in order to do what is best for everyone, or do we push for our individual rights, no matter what?
Tom: “These rights we have are important – I’d hate to give any of them up.”
Marg: “But you need to remember that it is our special country that allows us those rights. Not everyone in the world has them. We can’t take them for granted. And, they come with obligations. Sometimes, like during emergencies, we need to work together to help everyone pull through, for the good of the country and for the rest of the world. And, global warming is an emergency.”
Tom: “OK, I get it. You’re saying we have both rights and obligations, and they go together.”
Marg: “Good. You got my point. And now, Tom, is a time of obligations.”
Tom: “What obligations?”
Marg: “It’s your turn to cook dinner.”
These are a collection of opinion articles principally 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. Some articles have been written by other CKM members, and their names appear with those articles.