climate change

Letter to Shell: Now Stay Away From The Great South Basin

OFO ready response practice run 12 January 2014

Dear Shell NZ,
Yesterday Shell pulled out of drilling in the Arctic. This is such good news for millions of people worldwide. We have one planet and the race is on to save it. The people are winning.
We are writing to demand that you now cease any further plans to drill in the Great South Basin, off the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
Your industry is a rogue industry without the social licence to continue. Already discovered oil and gas must remain unburned for global warming to keep below an un-survivable tipping point. New frontier exploration must cease.
Like the Arctic, the deep ocean of the Great South Basin is frontier territory. Any hydrocarbon discoveries in this region are unburnable if we are to retain a liveable planet. You have no right to continue; your extreme destructive behaviour is putting us all at risk.
Remember the kayaktavists of Seattle? Be prepared for similar opposition in New Zealand. All further efforts to drill here will be strongly opposed.
Shell: pull out of the Great South Basin now, or expect resistance. The people are building a better, fairer world and we are winning. Get out of the way.
Yours sincerely
OIL FREE OTAGO

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Religious or not, got to LOVE that Pope Francis

Catholic or not, the Pope is talking to you! “Faced with the global deterioration of the environment, I want to address every person who inhabits this planet,” the pope wrote. “In this encyclical, I especially propose to enter into discussion with everyone regarding our common home.”

It is a strange day when the Pope quotes modern science. The face of religion is changing, along with the climate. Pope Francis says, “numerous scientific studies indicate that the greater part of the global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases … given off above all because of human activity. ”

The Guardian reports that the “draft is not a detailed scientific analysis of the global warming crisis. Instead, it is the pope’s reflection of humanity’s God-given responsibility as custodians of the Earth.”

The Pope calls on governments to tackle pollution and carefully consider the development of poorer nations.

His holyness also calls out the climate change deniers and those that unravel social progress by saying “the attitudes that stand in the way of a solution, even among believers, range from negation of the problem, to indifference, to convenient resignation or blind faith in technical solutions.”

Besides the calamity of the Pope’s encyclical being leaked before planned release, he will still have the chance to address the United Nations at his upcoming speach in the United States.

The internet has spoken its praise and gratitude to the Pope by creating this satirical and thrilling trailer to the Pope’s hypothetical new movie Pope Francis: The Encyclical. Hysterical! #PopeForPlanet

Wanganui Chronical: Many holes in Norway fairytale

Wanganui Chronical: Many holes in Norway fairytale

6 April 2015

NEW ZEALAND OR NORWAY? Actually, it's Fiordland, New Zealand. We may look similar, but we can never get rich through oil and gas exploration the way Norway did. PHOTO/DEREK ONLEY

NEW ZEALAND OR NORWAY? Actually, it’s Fiordland, New Zealand. We may look similar, but we can never get rich through oil and gas exploration the way Norway did. PHOTO/DEREK ONLEY

WE COULD be like Norway, say oil industry proponents. Norway is rich because of oil and gas. If New Zealand wants a model from a similar-sized country, they say, it need look no further than Norway.

I’m reminded of a childhood fairy tale; remember the goose that laid the golden egg? Jack’s mother was aghast when he exchanged their cow for a few useless beans, but the beans were magic. After a number of near-misses, not without their health and safety risks, Jack got the goose, became wealthy beyond his wildest dreams and he and his mother got bigger digs and reportedly lived a happy, high-consumer lifestyle ever after.

Simon Bridges thinks oil and gas are going to be New Zealand’s golden goose, the way it was for Norway.

But he’s too late. Back in the 1970s the Norwegian Government made a calculated decision to tax the oil companies at 90 per cent. To their surprise, the companies paid the high taxes and kept coming. Norway got rich.

Norway still charge one of the highest tax rates, around 78 per cent, while New Zealand charges oil companies 42 per cent tax – one of the lowest tax takes in the world.

What Norway did in the 1970s is impossible to achieve today. Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries still have large reserves of “easy” oil. Their production is not at full capacity, so they still have the ability to influence world oil prices. Ramping up Middle East production volumes can bring prices down and make unconventional and marginal oil production uneconomic. This is far from the full explanation of the current oil price crash, but it’s been cited as a part of the puzzle.

Even before the 50 per cent drop in Brent Crude (the North Sea oil pricing benchmark), no oil company today could afford the royalties/taxes that Norway demanded back then. For deep sea drilling in New Zealand, described by the industry as a “frontier” region, margins are tight.

Back in Norway, it’s not all golden eggs. At current prices, more than half the offshore fields being developed along the Norwegian continental shelf are uneconomic [1].

In the past six months Norway’s kroner has dropped 20 per cent against the dollar. Norway’s partially state-owned oil companies Statoil and its service companies have cut thousands of jobs, and Norwegian unions are calling for government measures to protect the industry [2].

The fairy tale is ending, but Hilde Opoku of Norway’s Green Party says Norwegians are still blind to the coming change. “When we wake up from this oil bubble,” he said, “we will realise we will never have a fairy tale like this again.”

No one will. Climate change now dictates our future, a future where, if we are to keep global warming to the agreed 2C limit, most of our known reserves of oil and gas cannot be burned. Why on earth are we looking for more? Oil and gas will never be New Zealand’s golden goose. It’s time to stop believing in fairy tales.

References:

1) http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/oil-price-plunge-leads-to-lifestyle-shift-in-norway-1.2250550

2) /www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-08/norway-on-alert-as-oil-losses-have-government-exploring-options.html

-Rosemary Penwarden is a freelance writer and member of several environmental and climate justice groups. In between projects, she divides her time between her 3-year-old grandson and elderly mother.

Wanganui Chronicle

By Rosemary Penwarden

ANZ STOP FUNDIN DEEP SEA DRILLING

Oil Free Otago Press Release

24 MAR 2015
ANZ STOP FUNDING DEEP SEA DRILLING

Today Oil Free Otago and 350.org will be at the ANZ bank, 71 George St, to present a letter to the manager asking ANZ to stop sponsoring deep sea drilling.“ANZ is using its customers’ money to sponsor deep sea drilling” said Oil Free Otago spokesperson Rosemary Penwarden.ANZ bank is sponsoring the Advantage New Zealand Petroleum Summit, to be held at Sky City at the end of March, where Energy Minister Simon Bridges will launch the 2015 Block Offer.

This is the third time ANZ has been targeted this week. ANZ Christchurch was yesterday visited by climate activists holding banners and demanding ANZ stop sponsoring the Petroleum Summit. In Auckland, helium-filled black balloons werereleased inside the bank. Stranded against the bank’s ceiling they represented carbon bubbles; future stranded assets of the fossil fuel industry.

“Scientists say we cannot burn most of the already discovered oil, gas and coal and still keep global warming to two degrees” said Ms Penwarden “yet ANZ is using our money to help the petroleum industry look for more! ANZ is sponsoring climate change.”

“ANZ say they are responding to climate change because it poses serious risks to the environment, to the economy and to their clients. But to the oil industry ANZ say they are committed to supporting deep sea drilling. They can’t have it both ways.”

“We are calling on the ANZ Bank NOT to sponsor the NZ Petroleum Summit. We are calling on ANZ to divest from fossil fuels. It’s their customers’ money, so customers have a say in how their banks shape our future. ANZ: stop sponsoring climate change.”
ENDS

Contacts
350@350.org.nz

OilFreeOtago@gmail.com

Public Lecture: Climate Change & Communities

Public Lecture: Climate Change & Communities

Drs Andy Reisinger and Judy Lawrence present: The latest climate change assessments: What do they mean for our communities?

Monday 16 June 2 – 3 pm at Otago University Burns 2 Lecture Theatre, Arts Building, Dunedin Campus

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released its Fifth Assessment reports on the science, the impacts, adaptaion and vulnerability, and mitigation.  Andy Reisinger, co-ordinating lead author of the Working Group II Australasia chapter and Judy Lawrence, NZ Climate Change Research Institute at Victoria University, Wellington, will talk about what these new reports mean for us all.  

Prof Bob Lloyd’s Message to Anadarko, OFO Flotilla 2014-02-09

Professor Bob Lloyd is the Director of Energy Studies in the University of Otago’s Physics Department. In this clip he challenges Anadarko’s ship the Noble Bob Douglas as it arrives to a deep-sea-drilling site off the coast of Otago. Professor Bob Lloyd is a world-class leader in the academic community who investigates the science of climate change. Here he stresses the urgency to stop the expansion of marginal fossil fuels, and why community leaders, like himself, are stepping up and saying “enough is enough”. 

More Marketing Than Science

rodshow

Opinion piece by Rosemary Penwarden, published in the Wanganui Chronicle.

What kid doesn’t love dinosaurs? A big black dinosaur truck parks in the centre of town and smiling young people offer free bottled water and sign you up for some fun stuff.

You get your own ID card, swipe it at each display and are welcomed personally to learn about science. How exciting to learn that the exhaust fumes coming out of dad’s car used to be a dinosaur.

Only they didn’t. And it’s not science.

Fossil fuels were not formed from dinosaurs and most of the fossil fuels in the Taranaki region, where this truck has been touring, were laid down in the Cenozoic period after dinosaurs became extinct around 65 million years ago. Taranaki’s oil and gas is produced from decayed plant material, not dinosaur carcasses.

There is some science in the truck and some of the exhibits, along with the truck itself, are hired from the National Science-Technology Roadshow Trust, which New Zealand Oil and Gas (NZOG) sponsors to the tune of $50,000 a year and which has been travelling around New Zealand schools since 1990.

To any unsuspecting parent – and to the kids – it looks like the same old National Science-Technology Roadshow, but when I visited the “What Lives Down Under?” show in Wanganui, NZOG’s external relations manager John Pagani explained that this roadshow is a joint effort by NZOG, Canada’s TAG Oil and Australian company Beach Energy.

About 900 Wanganui kids visited the truck, and the roadshow is visiting Taranaki schools.

Each display emphasised our need for oil and gas and how safe it is, reinforced with images of sleek, shiny cars, expensive boats and planes. My impression of the displays was that they were done by marketing people, not scientists.

For example, the seismic testing display used a cute picture of a bat to explain the sonar technology. There was no mention, or aural examples, of the seismic explosions that have been shown to harm marine life.

There was a lot missing from NZOG, TAG Oil and Beach Energy’s version of “science”, notably any mention of climate change and the effect on the climate of exploring for and burning more oil and gas.

Why tour Wanganui and South Taranaki? Next year the companies will be drilling an exploratory well, Kaheru, 12km off Patea at a water depth of 20-30m in a previously unexplored part of the South Taranaki Bight just north of Wanganui.

The industry knows it hasn’t always managed its external relations well and this, Mr Pagani said, was a way of “trying to start a conversation”.

Why target children? Why not have a public meeting and explain to the adults what you’re planning? He said public meetings didn’t bring people in, while a roadshow would. It brings the parents, too, and staff were there to answer questions.

A young employee in the truck said she had been a bit concerned about the industry targeting children, but her boss thought public meetings disruptive, so they were going for something positive. Does being positive allow you to alter scientific facts?

It takes roughly six to 10 years for a newly-discovered oil or gas field, like Kaheru, to reach full production and, depending on its size, production might last a further 40 years. By then, around mid-century, most of the children at the roadshow will be taxpaying adults and parents.

By then – according to 97 per cent of the world’s climate scientists – we need to have stopped burning CO2.

If we are to take the science seriously, most of the assets on the oil and gas companies’ balance sheets must remain unburned. Only then, scientists say, is there a chance of preserving a habitable future climate.

Mr Pagani said he does not think it fair, all this talk about the destruction of our children’s future. He thinks there is a wonderful future ahead for them.

I agree but it has to be founded on a truthful understanding of climate science, and on the essential but short-term role of his industry as we transition to a low-carbon future.

As long as Mr Pagani and industry investors continue to push – even to kids – their version of a future more related to increasing profit than reality, there is little hope.

Rosemary Penwarden is a Dunedin grandmother, freelance writer and member of Oil Free Otago.


http://www.nzherald.co.nz/wanganui-chronicle/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503423&objectid=11212754&ref=rss

What gift horse?

Clean Green NZ?

by Rosemary Penwarden
Published in The Star

http://digital.thestar.co.nz/olive/ode/str_daily/

“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” was one of my mother’s favourite sayings, a swift reminder of our luck. My mother was our family’s undisputed gift horse. MP Michael Woodhouse thinks Anadarko and Shell are Dunedin’s gift horses. In his recent “MP’s View” he reminds us of our collective luck to have these oil giants circling Otago’s deep oceans.

Mr Woodhouse asked deep sea drilling opponents five questions, admitting that some might consider them facetious but asking them nevertheless. Such dedication to one’s constituents deserves a considered response.

Why do opponents continue to refer to “oil exploration” when they know that if viable deposits are found it will be gas not oil?

Mr Woodhouse may know more than the oil companies, who can’t yet tell what’s in the Canterbury and Great South Basins. We must accept the claim that gas is more likely than oil, but the companies don’t rule out oil, as Mr Woodhouse appears to.

In a Dunedin meeting last year Shell emphasised the benefits of gas as a “green” fossil fuel, but when asked if they would therefore leave any discovered oil in the ground, answered that since they are a profit-making corporation, of course they would be pleased to strike oil. It would, after all, provide a much easier and larger profit than gas.

As for gas being “green”, burning gas releases about 75% the greenhouse gas emissions of crude oil, doing the same damage to the climate in four years that oil does in three. Gas is like the low tar cigarette version of fossil fuels – takes a bit longer but has the same effect in the end.

Is it [Oil Free Otago] opposed to deep sea drilling, any sea drilling, or any drilling whatsoever?

Human-induced climate change is a fact, as Mr Woodhouse appreciates. Of course we can’t suddenly stop using fossil fuels tomorrow. But to delay the transition in a wilfully blind dismissal of reality is only narrowing our grandchildren’s chances of survival.

Opponents of deep sea drilling are choosing to respond to the science. We want progress, using the fossil fuels we can safely use, keeping within the two degree limit of global warming agreed to by the world’s governments, to build a low carbon future.

How does it [Oil Free Otago] reconcile its protest last weekend with the use during the protest of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, petrochemical product-produced kayaks, wetsuits, oars, life jackets and other technologies that re the product of oil and gas extraction?

The argument that it is hypocritical for deep sea drilling opponents to use fossil fuel products diverts us from useful discussion. We all live in the same world. It’s a world that has been maxing out on cheap fossil fuel energy to the point where a limit is now making its presence felt from the Australian tennis open to California’s driest year on record.

While many Oil Free Otago members choose to cycle, drive electric cars and grow our own food, Mr Woodhouse’s government’s policies make a mockery of individual attempts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions trading scheme (ETS) invites the country’s largest polluters to use the atmosphere as a free carbon sewer. Fugitive methane emissions from a newly discovered gas well in the Canterbury Basin would cancel out all the individual emissions reductions of the ‘greenest’ Dunedin residents in one foul swoop.

Oil Free Otago members are calling for change. In the meantime we will happily make use of all fossil-fuel tools and products at our disposal in our opposition deep sea drilling.

How does it [Oil Free Otago] reconcile Green MP Gareth Hughes flying around the country in fossil fuel-powered airplanes protesting against the very thing he relies on to articulate his message?

Until government and policymakers take climate change seriously, beginning with transferring the $46 million subsidy from the fossil fuel industry into clean tech industries, put a realistic price on carbon and begin the other changes needed for a low carbon future, there can be no better use of fossil fuels than to fly Gareth Hughes around the country building the movement against deep sea drilling. Far better that Gareth takes the seat than an oil executive.

What is unethical about a product that the whole world relies on for its social and economic prosperity and is vital for developing countries to grow?

My first suggestion is for church-goers to attend an Anglican service, and discuss with their Anglican colleagues the reason for their decision to divest from fossil fuels. Learn why we have a moral duty to preserve the planet, not only for future generations but for all of creation. If that’s not your thing, try looking at the hard economic facts surrounding the “carbon bubble” and why it is economically irresponsible to invest in fossil fuels long term.

To continue digging up and burning oil, gas and coal in the way Mr Woodhouse’s government intends is to condemn the next generations to an unsurvivable future. Those in developing countries stand to suffer more than us. Unfair but true.

Some of us want to make damn sure our back yard is not contributing to that unsurvivable future. There’s a hell of a lot of work to be done, jobs to be had and money to be made building solutions instead of adding to the problem. Oil Free Otago want to be part of that solution.

The future is in renewable energy jobs and industries, Mr Woodhouse. I can hear my mother now: don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Just who is crazy? – Guest Post – Bob Lloyd

Just who is crazy? – Guest Post – Bob Lloyd.

Deep Sea Oil Drilling in NZ : just who is crazy?

I think the time has come to ask the question just who is crazy, regarding exploring for oil off the NZ coast? The numbers coming from climate change scientists vary from being very scary to the “oh shit it’s too late” variety. The very scary numbers suggest that we have around two decades to completely decarbonise the world’s economy. This decarbonisation must be done while there are over 1000 large coal fired power stations on the world’s drawing boards, non-conventional tight oil and gas are being exploited by fracking and the deep ocean scoured for new resources. The “too late” variety include NASA scientist Jim Hansen, who has researched the earth’s past climate to obtain a safe limit of 350 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere. We are now close to 400ppm and so according to Hansen’s numbers we should stop all CO2 emissions immediately and then start sequestering carbon by tree planting and burying biomass as carbon in the soil.

The main task in ensuring a habitable climate for future humanity and at the same time providing energy for our continued social existence is to stop carbon dioxide emissions and transition to a sustainable energy economy. With the present (unsustainable) world economy so closely linked to fossil fuel use it would be clearly very difficult to stop all emissions immediately. Even Jim Hansen realises this and so some years ago he suggested a transition program which envisaged developed countries closing down all coal fired power plants by 2020 and developing countries doing the same by 2030. In addition Hansen is opposed to any further exploration or exploitation of non-conventional hydrocarbons and has been arrested several times for opposing the pipeline to transport oil from Canadian tar-sands to the US. There is of course no evidence that his advice is being followed.

I have been looking at this problem for some years now and it has made me very pessimistic as to our future. Why are people not waking up to the situation and trying to do something about it? How can people go on with their normal everyday lives, ignoring the profound and catastrophic implications of not making an urgent transition away from fossil fuels? Is there something wrong with the way the human mind is constructed that they can see the problem but be paralyzed in terms of action? My pessimistic reputation in this regard led to a group of students at the University of Otago running a lecture titled “Cheer up Bob” in which they tried to prove to me that change was possible and that the young people of the city of Dunedin were up to the challenge. This year Greenpeace NZ, together with concerned residents of New Zealand, formed a consortium called “The Oil Free Seas Flotilla” to challenge the exploration for deep sea oil and or gas by Anadarko and Shell in NZ waters. The deep sea oil and gas that they are looking for are not part of the world’s known reserves and so by all scientific accounts cannot be used if we are to keep our climate habitable.

The Oil Free Seas Flotilla group are thus trying to preserve the climate of the earth for future generations. They want an orderly transition to sustainable energy sources that don’t emit the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. They are not wanting to shut down the world economy by preventing all existing emissions, they are not protesting the existing extraction of known resources in Taranaki . They realise that there needs to be clear market signals that a transition away from fossil fuels is the only way to go. That NZ should be investing in wind energy, solar energy and its biomass resources. One of my recent students found for instance that it is currently economic to put solar PV on your rooftop in nearly all parts of NZ.

The opposition to deep sea oil drilling does not want to stop conventional oil from being exploited especially for uses that don’t emit carbon into the atmosphere. In fact the best use of remaining oil reserves may well be to use them for construction materials, pharmaceuticals, fertiliser production and lubricants. Future generations may suggest to their parents on past use of oil “you actually used to burn this valuable stuff?”

In terms of the possible discovery of gas instead of oil, it is true that natural gas is a lower greenhouse gas emitter than coal by weight, so its use in power stations is to be preferred, but if this means that world gas use will increase, as it is at present, then a 50% improvement in emissions reduction will be wiped out in a mere ten years and such a substitution will not send the right signals in terms of a transition to sustainable energy sources in the time available, which is also of the order of ten years. In addition such a substitution will deliver profits to the very companies, such as Anadarko, that will use the money to search for yet more oil and gas and so again deliver more CO2 into the atmosphere. Finally the delivery of the gas is likely to come just too late. We have to stop the cycle of fossil fuel dependence, not extend it. The gas transition argument is just not valid.

So is the protest against oil drilling a crazy objective or is it that the people ignoring the climate change problem that are crazy? That is the serious question that must be answered by the residents of New Zealand. Are short term profits for a few worth the incredible risks involved? Certainly vested interests want to continue the status quo, that is using all the oil, gas and coal until the earth is wrung dry by fracking, deep sea oil and gas extraction and mining the dirtiest coal that can be obtained from the ground. The two thirds or so of existing fossil fuels that cannot (should not) be extracted add up to hundreds of trillions of dollars of profits. But what do profits mean when the earth is uninhabitable? Or more to the point what do dollars mean when there is nothing to spend them on?

While the visible signs of global warming are increasing every year, world governments are obviously incapable of acting to mitigate climate change. Why? – Due to their focus on economic growth and their subservience to the fossil fuel lobby. Thus unless the general population of all countries, including NZ, express their concern by protesting and trying to stop the insanity, governments will continue not to act. It may be that to just sit on your backside vaguely contemplating the problem and not protest is crazy.

Guest post by Associate Professor Bob Lloyd. He is Director of the Energy Studies and Energy Management degrees in the Physics Department, Otago University, Dunedin.

http://www.otago.ac.nz/physics/staff/BobLloyd.html

Selling Future By Buying Debt

rosemary

This article by Rosemary Penwarden first appeared in the Wanganui Chronicle:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/wanganui-chronicle/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503423&objectid=11180816

My mum is 89 and needs 24-hour care. Despite multiple strokes, she can still smile and, when the clouds in her head part, the old sense of fun is not faraway. She holds a blue stone day and night.

My Christmas was spent feeding mum, helping her stand so she felt safe to take those few excruciating steps to the bed, the wheelchair, the commode. I changed her, washed her and read to her. I held her hand when she was upset in the night.

Except for a few phone calls and visits from family, that was our Christmas.

I turned off the radio and the TV. We didn’t have to participate in the nation’s most obscene display of conspicuous consumption ever recorded – a record-breaking 148 electronic transactions per second at 12:24pm on Christmas Eve.

Nor did we join the Boxing Day scramble when sales rocketed 12 per cent past last year’s record.

And when more than 20,000 new items got listed on Trade Me.

Mum’s carers came as usual to shower her at Christmas. They used their own cars, paying the first 10 kilometres themselves and then earning 30 cents per kilometre on top of a minimum hourly rate of $13.75.

Along with their 40,000 care worker colleagues, they sit at the bottom of the Kiwi income ladder, where half of New Zealanders earn less than $24,000 per year. At the top, a chief executive’s average salary is $1.5 million.

So who was ringing up $235 million through the nation’s tills on Christmas Eve while mum’s carers worked and we sat home? Who owns what in Godzone?

New Zealand’s 2.9 million adults own almost $470 billion in cash and assets, but it’s not shared evenly. In fact, the wealthiest 1 per cent own three times as much as the poorest 50 per cent combined. Around 1.45 million of us own just 5 per cent of the nation’s wealth.

At the bottom end of the asset ladder, it’s not wealth but debt, debt, debt. Hence, for many, Christmas becomes the most stressful time of year. On go the carols, up goes the tinsel and out comes the hard sell. Off we trot, clocking up debt that half of us can’t afford to repay.

My friend, physics professor Bob Lloyd from the University of Otago, talks about another, bigger kind of debt – and not just at Christmas. He talks of energy inputs and outputs.

One output is atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Since the discovery of coal, cheap oil and gas, we’ve been on an energy spending spree like there’s no tomorrow. The burning of these fuels has dumped massive amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, warming the planet.

This is a proven fact, but vested interests – mostly with connections to the fossil fuel industry – try to confuse us. You can see why – they have a lot to lose. Eighty per cent of their already discovered coal, oil and gas will soon be worthless because they will have to remain unburned for the planet’s atmosphere to keep to two degrees of global warming.

Go above two degrees, the world’s governments have agreed, and we are on a trajectory toward mass extinction within a few short generations.

It may already be too late. Weather patterns are changing faster than predicted, ice is melting and excess dissolved CO2 is acidifying the oceans.

Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for many hundreds of years, so even if we stopped burning fossil fuels today, multiple changes are already in the pipeline. Put bluntly, the world’s output of CO2 has become the main limiting factor to future human existence. We’re in debt, big time.

But Bob sees global warming as a symptom rather than a cause. Our CO2 debt, like our household debt, is a symptom of the same addiction. The cause, up in lights this Christmas, is conspicuous consumption, rampant consumerism, the myth that we can keep on growing in a finite world already choked to the brim.

Bob’s cure is a strict treatment regime with three main remedies.

One: We need to reduce inequality. Why do we allow a chief executive to earn more than 62 times what we’re prepared to pay someone to toilet him when he’s old?

Two: We need to change the economic system to reverse the emphasis on conspicuous consumption.

Three: We must halt the vested interests that, until now, have kept the “business as usual” machine ticking along – vested interests like those described by English journalist George Monbiot in a February 2013 Guardian article about two secretive organisations working for US billionaires that have spent $118 million to ensure that no action is taken to prevent man-made climate change.

Who doesn’t want the best for their kids? Our Christmas gifts to them include an atmosphere choked with CO2, slowly dying oceans, record storms and droughts far into the future. Right now we are stealing from their future to give them something they may just put on Trade Me the next day.

It’s not going to be easy. We need to get honest and stop pretending there’s no tomorrow. Tomorrow belongs to our kids.

And here’s a gift for next year. Find an old person, turn off the TV and radio, and be with them for Christmas.

Rosemary Penwarden is a Wanganui grandmother, freelance writer and member of Coal Action Network Aotearoa, a group that wants to see the sensible phasing out of coal mining, and Oil Free Otago.