Leading the new Listener is an extensive package on the impact of catastrophic climate change on New Zealand. Ruth Laugesen’s feature begins:
From their seafront home in Paekakariki, Don Polly and Allie Webber look out across a narrow road onto rolling waves and the blue-green hulk of Kapiti Island. In 50 years’ time, according to a hazard map just issued by the Kapiti District Council, the waves will cover the road in front of the house. In 100 years, the house itself will be inundated.
Their home is among 1800 high-value homes up and down the Kapiti Coast expected to face erosion and flooding as a result of rising seas and storm surges from climate change. A thousand of them are expected to be at risk within 50 years.
Polly is not surprised, but he is saddened. “The house is really what Allie and I have,” he says. He is 76; she is younger and still working. He fears if they want to sell it to release funds in coming years, its value will have plunged because of the council hazard map. On the Kapiti Coast and elsewhere, the long-anticipated leviathan of climate change is lumbering closer into view.
At the far end of the globe, the polar ice cap has melted to its smallest ever size this northern summer, in grim confirmation of scientists’ predictions of a warming climate. Early next year at the supermarket checkout we will catch another glimpse of the disruptive potential of climate change as food prices spike in the wake of the massive US drought affecting more than 60% of that country and cutting crop production.
Is there any hope left of averting extreme climate change through an agreement to cut global emissions? And if not, should New Zealand be preparing itself to become self-sufficient and a safe haven for refugees from catastrophic climate change, as one report suggests?
Further reporting comes from science columnist Rebecca Priestley, while Rebecca Macfie writes that our waterways are likely to become cleaner following a landmark environment court ruling restricting pollution from farming.
Bret McKenzie, star of new film Two Little Boys and member of a parody band. dances for Diana Wichtel.
And we present the winner of our Grimm story writing competition, by Renata Hopkins.
Plus a cluster of reviews, columns, and the other usual goodies.