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What are they thinking?

By April 5, 201112 Comments

The news that the National Party are putting their hopes in fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) as NZ’s export future seems daft. Haven’t we established that Climate Change is a result of human activity? – specifically activities such as burning fossil fuels.  The two graphs below seem to make the point.  Since the Industrial Revolution we have been pumping huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, and since that time global temperatures have escalated.

If we don’t want to fry, be drowned by sea level rises, and be traumatised by erratic floods, bush fires and heat waves (a la Europe 2003 when 30,000+ people died), we need to stop emitting carbon as soon as possible.

Exporting coal for other people to emit doesn’t make us ecological angels (regardless of how sustainable the energy we use is), and it doesn’t mean we won’t be affected by the flickle and extreme weather patterns which will eventuate.  Reducing carbon emissions is particularly critical because once it’s in the atmosphere it hangs around – not just for weeks or months, but for thousands of years.

“So what?” you might say – “I’m an angel, I recycle and use low-energy light bulbs.  My electricity is from a sustainable source, and I never drive a car.”  Great, fabulous – and no doubt you bring this thinking into your design practice too.  As discussed in the current issue of the Listener, renovation rather than new building, and building small, rather than large, not only saves materials, but future-proofs space from high-heating needs.  We need to bring sustainable design and living into architecture – but we also need to become political if we believe that Climate Change is happening and it needs to stop.  Being informed and voting to reduce carbon emissions is important.  Letting your local MP know you care wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

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Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • richard says:

    shouldn’t this blog be called “Are they thinking?”

  • Guy says:

    What are they thinking? Not a lot. Or perhaps: Short term only.

  • tomek says:

    I may be stirring a bit here but simply put we are not good at all as a nation at the whole “long term” thing.

    I posit that citizens of old countries (five centuries old at least) have a different outlook on the idea of long term thinking because they subconsciously understand that certain things take a long time. This subconscious understanding is constantly reinforced through explicit exposure to their cultural heritage. For example, one might walk every day past a 600 year old building on one’s way to work, many countries have days set aside to celebrate centuries old traditions, governments often appeal to people’s national pride. I myself remember running around on old fortification walls that were about 600 years old, we had all sorts of crazy old traditions and the government went out of their way to tell us that nation of 1000 years is sure to prevail after a 1000 more.

    We don’t have any of that in New Zealand. We don’t respect the past and that is evident in our built environment. The ubiquitousness of high-tech in our daily lives further exacerbates our “fast food” mentality—we pay for something now and we want it now. Now!

    One could argue that we’re only a young nation, still growing and finding out identity, but I don’t think that our identity is something to be suddenly discovered (you most certainly won’t find it on FaceBook). Identity is something that is created and we’re not really doing any creating. We’re mostly consuming and riding on some old slogans which are losing their credibility rather rapidly. For example, the only reason that we’re supposedly “clean and green” is because we have 4 million people instead of 40. If there were 40 million of us and we behaved the way we do at the present we’d be living in a stinking pit full of our own refuse.

    It is inexcusable for the government to display such a short sighted “vision” and such a lack of leadership. They should be inspiring us as a nation instead of dragging us down into their narrow minded colonial gold rush mentality. I’m, for one, sick of living in the metaphorical “colonial hut” slapped together in a rush because “she’ll be right” and “we’ll do a better one once we make a bit more money”.

    We really need to do better than that. I know that we are capable as nation but we need some strong, positive leadership, brave to not only look forward but to reach forward too.

    -t

  • richard says:

    nicely put Tomek

  • Guy says:

    Tomek for President!

  • m-d says:

    …of Arch centre, or the world? (or both, that could be quite handy)…

  • tomek says:

    Now steady on fellas. I did this psychometric test and apparently I’m not a leader of men but an organiser of men 😉

    -t

  • richard says:

    are you really running for Parliament this year?

  • tomek says:

    Errr, no. I don’t like politics. It’s a twisted game.

  • Alan says:

    you’ll be perfect then. Politics needs twisted men

  • richard says:

    … and back to climate change and fossil fuels discussion?

  • tomek says:

    What’s pretty scary is that in the wake of the Pike River disaster we are now hearing noises that since underground mining is so dangerous we should just do open cast. Open cast?! What is this, the 19th century?

    -t