Problems with Christchurch

open thread

From the earthquakes which devastated its previously stable landscape and brought down its vibrant CBD to horrific repeated flooding, seemingly interminable planning for a new cathedral and a firm civic belief in future catastrophic man-made sea-level rise, Christchurch certainly has problems.

They present the devil’s own difficulties if you’re living through them, but whether you’re trying to deal with them, leave them behind, or you’re simply looking on curiously from afar, you can learn about them here.


Only threat to Christchurch is Salinger’s alarmism

the beginning of the Christchurch earthquakes

From the Christchurch Press today comes alarming news:

Rising sea levels are a greater threat to Christchurch’s seaside suburbs than previously realised, a climate scientist is warning.

Speaking at Canterbury University this afternoon, Jim Salinger said latest estimates could have major implications for Christchurch’s earthquake rebuild.

Christchurch City Council should be working to a one-metre estimate for sea level rise, he said.

“It’s the opportunity for Christchurch in its rebuild, it should be looking at at least a metre. Some local bodies in Australia are using one metre.”

Salinger plucks the same alarmist harp strings he’s been picking for decades. He specifies one metre: does he include those places which are 500mm higher after the earthquake? They should get a discount.

But the Coalition chairman Barry Brill decisively puts this loose cannon of a climate scientist down, demanding evidence: Continue Reading →

Epicentre of kinship

the beginning of the Christchurch earthquakes

In ordinary times, that people gather and lend their hand to help those in need is a comforting cliché. Then, when people remain during a time of earthquakes, tunnel into moving rubble to pull out survivors, from their own goodness bring hot drinks and food and treat the injured and raise an army of their fellows to help out people they’ve never met, they make an extraordinary tale that can nourish a nation for generations to come.

The Christchurch earthquakes raise in us a rare gamut of raw emotion. Seldom are we witness to events of such outrageous, capricious cruelty and it has been hard to watch as each day delves deeper into the city’s tragedies. Some of us have learned of surprising, unforeseen effects of earthquakes.

We knew of buildings shaking and toppling and the earth opening up to engulf the unlucky, but who imagined mud spurting from the solid ground, spewing like volcanoes or suddenly undermining the foundations of buildings or swallowing vehicles?

Then, after that misfortunate marvel, who suspected the black mud could set like concrete in just a few hours? What miseries it has caused.

The focus has been on the urban catastrophe. In surrounding farmland, the earthquake induced maybe a mild crease in the pasture, or caused perhaps the northern half of a shelter belt to be forever two metres east of the rest, or gave a railway track an alarming twist.

But in the city, similar minor movements of the earth created havoc with our puny buildings, roads and bridges. People were trapped or killed outright as their familiar, everyday buildings betrayed and crushed them.

We hear now tales of courage, kindness and steady compassion which inspire us with new zeal as New Zealanders. Fresh new zeal is just what the world needs, and New Zealand is just the place to find it. We’re a naturally retiring people, but when we treat each other like this, we cannot conceal from a watching world what’s truly in our hearts. Continue Reading →