Government 'policy' on climate change: ecocide and homicide


The New Zealand government ignores and even ridicules dire health warnings about climate change.

The minister and the doctors

A press release on 6 November by a group of New Zealand doctors concerned with averting health catastrophes due to climate change was immediately described as 'absurd' by the minister for trade Tim Groser.

The minister for trade also happens to be the minister responsible for international climate change negotiations, an outstanding example of putting a fox in charge of the henhouse. It is not surprising that during his tenure the weak emissions trading scheme has been weakened further, to the point of complete ineffectiveness, and the NZ government has decided not to take part in the second phase of the Kyoto treaty on climate change mitigation.

Climate change diseases - WHO report

Diseases and deaths due to global warming are not just something to be feared in future. While the health effects from climate change can only be estimated approximately, a World Health Organisation assessment, taking into account only a subset of the possible health impacts, concluded that the modest warming that has occurred since the 1970s was already causing over 140 000 excess deaths annually by the year 2004.

Specific examples were the heatwave in Europe in the summer of 2003, when high air temperatures contributed directly to deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory disease, particularly among elderly people, and more than 70 000 excess deaths were recorded. High temperatures also raise the levels of ozone and other pollutants in the air contributing to cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Urban air pollution causes about 1.2 million deaths every year.

Globally, the number of reported weather-related natural disasters has more than tripled since the 1960s. Every year, these disasters result in over 60 000 deaths, mainly in developing countries.

Floods are also increasing in frequency and intensity. Floods contaminate freshwater supplies, heighten the risk of water-borne diseases, and create breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes. They also cause death by drowning and physical trauma, damage homes and disrupt the supply of medical and health services.

Rising temperatures and variable precipitation are likely to decrease the production of staple foods in many of the poorest regions – by up to 50 per cent by 2020 in some African countries. This will increase the prevalence of malnutrition and undernutrition, which currently cause 3.5 million deaths every year.

Malaria is strongly influenced by climate. Transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes, malaria kills almost 1 million people every year – mainly African children under five years old. The Aedes mosquito vector of dengue is also highly sensitive to climate conditions. Studies suggest that climate change could expose an additional 2 billion people to dengue transmission by the 2080s.

Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.

The direct damage costs to health (i.e. excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation), is estimated to be between US$ 2-4 billion/year by 2030.

World Bank weighs in

Recently the World Bank has released a report listing its concerns about the economic effects, many of them caused by human health problems, due to climate change. It covers most of the WHO report's concerns about failure of clean water supplies, agriculture and ecosystems which will impact on the health of people as well as the health of their economies. Developing countries will be most vulnerable.


New Zealand and the wider world are paralysed on climate change because fossil fuels are central to our current wealth. This state of economic wellbeing is illusory, given the harm it will mean for future generations by the ecocide and homicide that human-induced climate change is already beginning to wreak on the planet.

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The article below also went up on Znet after the world meteorological organisation presented their findings to this week's UN climate talkfest. I especially like his last lines "Those in power only respond to power, and the only power capable of displacing corporate power is when people unite and act collectively...".

If you're lost and not doing anything, please start doing something now. There's heaps of work to be done to stop greenhouse gas emissions and put them back in the ground. Try here for some tips:

[...have to publish this in three parts, no idea why. Indy?]

Why UN Climate Agreements Fail

By Shamus Cooke

"History will undoubtedly deliver the harshest condemnations of the UN climate talks currently underway in Doha, Qatar. But the conference was laughable before it began; the inept "goals" of the talks stand in tragic-comic opposition to what we already know about climate change — that the climate has already changed in profound ways and its trajectory spells doom for civilization if drastic, coordinated steps are not taken in the immediate future.

For example, the Doha talks began with a shocking dose of reality: the World Meteorological Organization reported to the UN conference that an area of Arctic sea ice bigger than the United States melted in the past year, a rate faster than the most pessimistic scientists imagined only a couple of years ago.

This profound news didn't manage to get on the front page of any mainstream newspapers or websites in the United States; it was safely tucked away in the back pages, if it was reported at all.

The politicians at the UN climate talks thought the news equally unimpressive; they continued on their previously agreed route of doing absolutely nothing of substance, unmoved from their mutual suicide pact of inaction.

The Associated Press summarized the World Meteorological Organization's report to the UN:

"... the Arctic ice melt was one of a myriad of extreme and record-breaking weather events to hit the planet in 2012. Droughts devastated nearly two-thirds of the United States as well as western Russia and southern Europe. Floods swamped west Africa and heat waves left much of the Northern Hemisphere sweltering."

One could also mention Hurricane Sandy, or the ever-increasing ferocity of U.S. wildfires, or the quickly rising acidification of the ocean, not to mention the alarming rise of atmospheric methane levels — a stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide — due to the arctic warming.

A thousand other global examples could easily be given.

We now know that many of these catastrophic weather patterns are due to warmer climates; warm air holds more water than cold air, equaling more droughts for arid climates, and stronger storms and flooding for non-arid climates.

Armed with this knowledge, the Obama administration was once again challenged to join the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty that aims at collective reduction of greenhouse gasses (itself already sadly inadequate to address climate realities). Like Bush before him, Obama has placed the United States as the biggest barrier to climate progress internationally.

[Agh, k, go to the Znet link above for the rest of this article...]

@Em I think you were running into the 3000 character limit on comments. There should have been an error message at the top of the page, but maybe you were missing i because the page was skipping down to the comment field.

Perhaps this needs to be made a bit bigger.

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