Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The record-breaking heat continues in New Zealand

In response to the RNZ item below I sent the following letter to the journalist, copied to Brent Edwards, political editor.

Dear Laura,

I refer to your item, «A Warm End to Winter» which I was (to put it very mildly) disappointed in.

When you say "The forecast will be welcome news to those dreading another month of winter, but Canterbury farmers will be worried» you are normalising what is, in fact a dire situation.

If you do not believe me (and I suspect you do) then please take it from the very same Chris Brandalino of NIWA in an interview with Paul Henry who regretfully makes a better job than anyone on RNZ ever did.

He is being very honest in saying that that we have a global climate emergency and that the el-Nino (which was being talked about at the time) was just a small part of the sdituation.

It has not escaped my attention that now that the el-Nino has gone but we are still seeing record (or near-record) temperatures that NIWA has finally noticed the ananamously warm waters surrounding NZ - something that I have ( as a lay person) been aware of and following for at least six months.

I feel sure that you are aware that:

--Arctic ice is at record lows and is likely to melt completely for a period, if not this year then in next two year or two

- the northern Jet Stream has completely broken and every country in the world is seeing extreme weather of one sort or another;

- huge wildfires (peatfires) in the boreal forests of North America and Siberia are burning adding to CO2 levels which are now more than 400 ppm which is unprecedented durign the period of human civilisation;

I feel sure that you will realise that to take weather conditions in New Zealand and isolating them from regional and global conditions is at best disingenuous.

In turn, I am aware that if you have taken the time to learn all this and more you are not free to communicate it and are subject to editorial constraints.

My eternal hope (against all odds) is that Radio NZ will one day decide to inform the public and tell them the truth about what is a dire global climate emergency.

I also realise that that is very naive.

Your sincerely,
Robin Westenra

I got a fairly quick response from Brent Edwards,political edior of RNZ

Hi Robin,

Thanks for your email but I do dispute your view that RNZ is not covering climate change as a significant threat. A quick search of our website reveals a large number of stories about climate change although I admit we might avoid alarmist headlines. But we don’t avoid reporting hard scientific evidence about human induced climate change and what that means for not just NZ, but Pacific Island nations and elsewhere.

We also – and I think we were the only NZ news agency to do so – sent a reporter to the UN talks in Paris last December, which was a hefty commitment for us to make but recognition or how seriously we take climate change.

Brent Edwards

To which I responded -

Dear Brent,

I, in turn have to take issue with you.

I do follow RNZ quite closely and have yet to find any reference to any of the things I have mentioned (global extreme weather, broken Jetstream, 400 ppm CO2 etc.), each one of which are FACTS, not "alarmist headlines".

If we are talking about "alarmist headlines" I sincerely hope that you, as a journalist don't mean things that would cause alarm but are nevertheless true.

I would see that as a betrayal of your calling as a journalist.

I have to point out that the research of scientists such as, for instance James Hansen and the extremely conservative IPCC reports with their 5 year delay and POLITICAL concensus are not identical.

To reflect only the one, and not the other, is a distortion.

Radio NZ, I'm sorry to say, in my estimation is grossly negligent in this regard.

Yours sincerely,
Robin Westenra

P.S. You, too can respond by email to brent.edwards@radionz.co.nz

A warm end to winter
New Zealanders can expect more above-average temperatures for the next three months as the country moves from winter into spring.

Laura Bootham Journalist @LauraBootham laura.bootham@radionz.co.nz

1 August, 2016

The warmer than usual temperatures are here to stay through August to October, although there would be cold snaps and frost, NIWA predicted.

The forecast will be welcome news to those dreading another month of winter, but Canterbury farmers will be worried.

In its latest Seasonal Climate Outlook the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) said the very dry conditions in Canterbury, which has been in the grip of the longest official drought ever, would continue.
Its principal forecasting scientist Chris Brandolino said rain was expected to be either normal or below normal in Canterbury, but it would not be enough to return soil moisture to normal.

Watch NIWA's video for the latest weather outlook

"It will be very dry in northern and eastern Canterbury. Even with normal rainfall the soil moistures are expected to remain below average. Hopefully we get some rain down there, but it doesn't look likely, at least more than usual.

"Because of so many months of dryness you're going to need sustained or consecutive periods of rainfall to get things back up to where they should be, so perhaps an early start to the irrigation season in that area... that's a distinct possibility."

Rainfall would be normal or below normal, with equal chances for either outcome for the Eastern part of the South Island, said Mr Brandolino.

"Areas north of Canterbury, roughly Christchurch northbound are particularly dry and they could use the rain.

On the east coast of the South Island there will be above average temperatures, including in the Nelson-Marlborough district.

"On the West Coast of North Island, there's a 65 percent chance for above average temperatures again, cold snaps are possible and as far as rainfall goes, as it's closer to the warmer Tasman Sea, about an equal chance of normal or above normal rainfall.

"The east coast of the North Island, it's likely temperatures will be above average and the most likely outcome for rainfall is normal."

Mr Brandolino said there was an equal chance of rain for the north of the North Island.

"Dry conditions for the next three months are pretty unlikely, but normal temperatures, forget about it! There's a 70 percent chance of above normal temperatures."

New Zealand's climate was being driven by the exceptionally warm waters surrounding New Zealand, he said.

"They are responsible for the higher temperatures and those will continue to remain warm.

"There is a 50 percent chance that La Nina, the opposite of El Nino, could develop over the coming months, and its impact is still up in the air, but even if it were to occur La Nina expected to be short-lived and weak.

As a postscript,
you can hear Chris Brandalino's evolution from this

To this - 

I rest my case.

Now tell me there is no political interference to prevent the truth being told.

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