Ryan Longley: Let's share more information on climate change
Ryan Longley says we need to share more facts on climate change. Photo / Supplied I recently emailed the editor to discuss an issue regarding the coverage of the climate crisis. A crisis which is still treated with apathy among some at Hawke's Bay Today , even since the regional council voted almost unanimously to declare an emergency. In reply I was invited to write an opinion article to raise some much-needed awareness, and to try to answer one simple question on the editor's mind. Why is it 16 degrees in the middle of winter? I'm sure this question has been asked by the majority of people reading this too, and the answers may vary from the skeptical - "it just happens every 10 years or so", to the childlike, yet credible - "because the cows are farting more". Whilst alluding to the scientific data indicating that over the past 100 years human activity has directly influenced an average increase in global temperature, I want to use more immediate and undeniable observations which may answer the question more simply. The planet is getting hotter. You just need to look outside the box that is Hawke's Bay to see that the rest of the world is suffering from the same crisis that we are preparing to deal with here. If you keep an eye on reliable global news coverage you will see that there are climate-related disasters happening almost daily. In June the majority of Europe saw record heatwaves where temperatures in France reached an unprecedented 45.9 degrees, and areas above the Arctic Circle saw devastating forest fires, with vast areas of permafrost melting 70 years before originally estimated. The World Meteorological Organisation in Geneva said 2019 was now firmly on course to be among the world's hottest ever years and that 2015-2019 would then become the hottest five-year period on record. This too isn't just a "one-off" - 9 out of 10 of the hottest years ever on record have happened since the millennium, with average temperatures increasing in correlation to the levels of carbon in the atmosphere - which to point out is now over 415 parts per million (280ppm is deemed the pre-industrial benchmark - NASA). So what does this mean for Hawke's Bay? It's suggested that the global south will experience climate change more suddenly than in the north, with hundreds of millions in Asia and the Pacific already being affected. It is expected that extreme weather conditions occasionally affecting this area in the past, such as droughts and floods, will become more frequent and more severe. Questions certainly need to be asked as to whether there will be an infrastructure in place to mitigate the effects of these conditions, and with quite serious drought threats already looming over certain parts of the region this winter, the changes could be happening sooner than expected. Though climate change may not always mean immediate devastation and destruction, and I'm certainly not suggesting that Hawke's Bay will be ripped apart by forest fires or deluged by rising seas by next winter, but the warning signs are absolutely there and the longer we choose to ignore them the further we head towards an unpredictable future. One thing that can be done to combat this unpredictability is to share the facts on climate change that we do know. It is hard for most people to envision how the conservatively estimated 2 degrees of global heating might affect daily life, and the inadequate communication of the clear facts of the crisis has left the door open for widespread misinterpretation and denial of the very existence of the phenomenon. That is why climate activists around the world are raising the alarm and putting pressure on governments and corporations to take radical steps towards reducing the effects of the climate and ecological crisis, and we urge local media institutions such as Hawke's Bay Today to take necessary action by simply telling the truth. Ryan Longley, 25, lives in Haumoana. Originally from West Yorkshire, in the UK and intends heading back to Europe to study a postgraduate degree in Sustainable Development. His undergraduate degree is Mechanical Engineering. Wellington looked to have sealed it with a try in the 73rd minute.