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Three NZ Groups Unite to Mainstream Action on Global Warming
Craig Neilson, 31 Oct 07
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The interlockings of climate change, biodiversity, and social justice have come together in Be The Change, a new campaign launched last Friday in New Zealand by Greenpeace, Oxfam and Forest & Bird. The joint effort is injecting global warming squarely into NZ's mainstream culture.

These three organizations are each leaders in their sectors: Greenpeace for environmental issues, Oxfam for poverty and justice, Forest & Bird for conservation of New Zealand's native plants and animals. While the connection with Greenpeace is obvious, the involvement of groups whose focus lies on poverty and conservation shows that concerns about the widespread effects of climate change have spread to a wider range of organisations.

Forest & Bird CEO Mike Britten says that the organisation is only beginning to discover the widespread effects of global warming; it's the biggest conservation challenge ever faced. Britten says that climate change is already having a direct and noticeable impact on the NZ native ecosystem. In one of many examples, the rising ground temperatures are causing the native tuatara lizard eggs to hatch a greater proportion of males. Since the tuatara is a unique yet threatened species that has existed for millions of years, its' extinction would be a shameful blow to NZ's indigenous biodiversity. Increasingly unpredictable weather is also triggering beech forests to drop more seeds, supporting a greater population of rats, mice and stoats who threaten the nests of native birds.

Oxfam has a long relationship with climate change and counts its involvement with Be The Change as a way to prevent further climate-related catastrophes.

"We're concerned with the injustice posed by climate change, not only for future generations but for people in the developing world who're suffering the worst impacts -- especially those who are poor, vulnerable and least able to protect themselves," says Barry Coates, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand.

The involvement of Oxfam and Forest & Bird in a climate change campaign is evidence that the widespread impacts of global warming are being acknowledged and prepared for across a diverse range of groups, and that an emerging spirit of teamwork will meet the impending challenges.

So what's the program? Be The Change is foremost a micro-action campaign aimed at generating small, positive changes on a personal level by thousands of people. Its' key elements are a tour bus and a website -- each an experiential piece of contact devised to allow participants to learn from each other.

The bus is a 1970's Bedford model, re-furbished and fitted with a new diesel engine. It runs on tallow based bio-diesel, a conversion which cost less than $100 in filters. Its' computers, data projector, outdoor sound system and assorted technology stalls are powered by a roof-mounted array of solar panels. The stalls include demonstrations of alternative heating methods, tips on how to use less energy, demonstrations of energy efficiency, and portals to the open-access ideas-board website. is a Web 2.0 style resource designed to encourage conversation about nifty and practical green ideas. It facilitates all the usual community site tricks -- profiles, blogs, conversations, in addition to "pledges," "stories" and plenty of easily digestible information pages.

The global movement to curb climate change and implement the many energy and other solutions that already exisit needs millions of leaders to give it mainstream appeal. In New Zealand, Be The Change takes it in that direction.

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Have you seen this story, a principal author of the IPCC report turned Denier? What do you think?

Posted by: Ron on 2 Nov 07

Cheers Ron, and sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I'm travelling right now and it's after 2330 so I'll have to be brief, too!

Christy doesn't so much say that he now denies climate change, it's more like he's not really sure. He says we lack evidence and that we should assume we don't know the whole story.

Ok, so not sure. Now, I'm a guy that likes to live on the edge. I'm all for big risks and the like.. but climate change? I'm going with the vast majority of climate scientists on this one, thanks!

In terms of how to react to this, I'm of the opinion that even if we are completely wrong about climate change (though we're probably not), there are plenty of other reasons to reduce our carbon footprint. Pollution, for example - totally obvious and effecting our every-day life.

Christy's article finishes with a cry we hear all too often: that there are more pressing matters at hand that we should deal with first. I find this a bit single-minded - surely if we can see something coming then at least *someone* should prepare for it! I appreciate that there are other things to worry about, but I think the shift we see at the moment is the kind that solves multiple problems as it goes. Stay tuned, I say: if we're wrong about all this climate-change hoo-haa we'll still have done a world of good.

Posted by: Craig Neilson on 4 Nov 07



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