Stuff’s “Ice Age” story has changed

Following up on this post: In response to a complaint from me (and presumably communications from others as well), Stuff has stripped the inaccurate material out of their “Ice Age” story and added an apologetic note at the bottom.

It can’t take away the effects of the earlier version, but it at least ensures that this isn’t another link that can be circulated through the climate change denier echo chamber.

The person I communicated with sounded embarrassed by the whole affair – as they should be, it is a humiliating failure. Here’s hoping the lesson has been learned.

James Hansen talk – Wgtn tonight

Dr. James Hansen, one of the world’s most prominent and influential climate scientists, is in New Zealand to deliver his lecture “Climate Change: a scientific, moral and legal issue”. Tonight – in Wgtn.

Mon 16th May: Wellington
5.45pm public lecture Rutherford House, welcomed by Mayor Celia Wade-Brown

Worth seeing. No question. More info.

Climate in Court

I was mostly intending to stay quiet on the court challenge to NIWA’s temperature record on account of it being nonsense and well-covered elsewhere, but last night while watching Outrageous Fortune (NZ free-to-air = graphic rendition of a twincestuous threesome in an 8.30pm show)(scene played for pathos) I followed a link to Poneke’s blog comments, where Iwi/Kiwi advertising guy John Ansell was holding court.

He referred to the Inconvenient Truth court case in the UK: “the movie was banned from schools” he said. Another commenter challenged him: “Banned?” he was asked. “Yes, banned in its original form.” I couldn’t resist mocking this farcical display, to which he replied with further dancing around the subject and pretending “banned” was an appropriate word to use when of course nothing of the sort was ordered by the judge.

And it strikes me that this is exactly what the court challenge is designed to do – not merely to gain the oxygen of publicity, as I’ve read all over, but to provide another chunk of narrative that can be circulated through the denier infosphere, heavily manipulated into service of their pre-defined conclusions. It isn’t intended to convince anyone of anything – but a year or two down the track, *whatever* happens, this court case will be one of the talking points mentioned by the John Ansells of the world, one more factoid in the rolling maul of misinformation and disinformation thrown out by people desperate to believe in a comforting conspiratorial lie.

Coincidentally, Ansell has just now gone off the deep end on race. Charming.

(See also this headache-inducing Kiwiblog thread where friend-of-FTM Repton tries to take up a wager on the outcome of the court case. The other party has gone strangely silent as of this writing.)

Emissions Trading Begins

The NZ emissions trading scheme launches in NZ today. It’s a market-based mechanism putting a price on carbon emissions as a means of holding back climate change, or more correctly, a step towards full-cost accounting in the environmental arena.

It’s a good thing. The ETS is riddled with holes and problems, according to sources I trust (e.g. this book co-authored by the very smart economist and all-around good egg Geoff Bertram), but fundamentally I’m pleased that we’ve managed to get a price of some kind on at least some of the carbon emissions generated out of NZ. There has been a fair bit of shouting about the ETS, including a protest at Parliament and lots of letters to the editor, but my impression is that these objections didn’t run deep – the public perception is in support of an ETS (c.f. Now We Have Won).

The Key government has delivered something worthwhile here, for all their many flaws. Yes, it is a full six months after the deadline Key set for imposition of the ETS, but it’s still 2010 – not too late to get changes rolling. So Key, in the end, wasn’t a Rodney – well, not as much of one as I feared. I suspect Nick Smith deserves some kudos for this, because you can be certain he was talked to about backing down from the ETS plenty of times but he has withstood this pressure. Well done that man.

The international effects of this will not be small, either. We are another country putting our markets where our mouths are, and even if we’re not nearly at the level the science calls for, we’re part of a growing consensus that action is needed and needed now. Our ETS will influence our trade partner nations and others besides. It’s a worthy and important position in which to be.

It’s important to note, however, that this isn’t the end of the story, but rather the long-delayed beginning. As Bertram & co’s book notes, our ETS needs to be improved, made more fair and comprehensive and convincing. Ordinary households are going to feel the bite at the petrol pump and the power bill, with corporations relatively insulated from the new costs – that needs to change. Popular support for the ETS needs to continue at the current level despite the extra costs starting to pinch. Indeed, popular support for the ETS needs to grow. It’s a massive communications challenge and one the current government will think twice about working on, especially if it starts to hurt their electability. Once again, the responsibility falls at the feet of ordinary people like me and you to think about the scheme, judge the costs worthwhile, and spread that message around.

Anyway. It’s a good day. I’m happy.