A goal breathtakingly scant


2 July, 2018

Dear Prime Minister,

I wish to register my disagreement with your decision to make us reduce our so-called “carbon” emissions to zero by 2050. You commit the nation to this significant goal without knowing, as your joint statement makes quite plain, what it means, how to achieve it or, extending by simple logic, what it might cause. That is unreasonable.

Attached is a pdf of a brief article I posted today at the Climate Conversation Group giving some reasons to question the wisdom of “fighting climate change” and obliging the nation to reach for an objective so breathtakingly scant.

The lack of science in your announcement and its fulsome references to mutual trust raises the distinct possibility of mistaking it for a decision of the Anglican synod.

You should know that the Royal Society recently refused to provide evidence of dangerous global warming caused by human activity. We must now ask what you know that they apparently do not.

You cannot, indeed, you must not tell Kiwis to do things without reason — you would bridle at that.

You should be aware that the CCG blog I operate receives considerable attention. It’s been visited in the last six months over 280,000 times by over 130,000 visitors — at least 50% of those visits originated in New Zealand. That’s over 1500 visits per day (by over 700 different people).

There is much opposition here to the notion that either carbon dioxide or human activities control the climate. People laugh.

With great respect,

Richard Treadgold


The PM’s PA advised me the very next day that the responsible minister is James Shaw, whose PA in turn told me my letter had “been placed with” the great man himself. I am agog.


Tēnā koe Richard

Thank you for your email. On behalf of Hon James Shaw, I acknowledge receipt of your correspondence dated 2 July regarding the science behind reducing carbon emissions to zero by 2050 .  Your correspondence is acknowledged and has been placed with the Minister for his consideration.

You may be interested in the ongoing consultation on how New Zealand responds to climate change. You can find further information on the Ministry for the Environment’s website –   https://www.mfe.govt.nz/have-your-say-zero-carbon).

Ngā mihi



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10 Thoughts on “A goal breathtakingly scant

  1. Simon on 02/07/2018 at 5:30 pm said:

    The Royal Society did provide you with information but you couldn’t or wouldn’t understand it. They gave up on your second request when it was evident that you had ignored what they previously sent you.
    The UNFCCC agreed that future global warming should be limited to below 2.0 °C relative to the pre-industrial level. The Paris Agreement set a target to keep warming below 1.5 °C. To do that, global carbon neutrality must be achieved within 20 years at current emission rates. The faster the reduction, the more time we have.

  2. Richard Treadgold on 02/07/2018 at 6:23 pm said:


    The Royal Society did provide you with information but you couldn’t or wouldn’t understand it. They gave up on your second request when it was evident that you had ignored what they previously sent you.

    Information perhaps, but no evidence. But make up your mind: did we fail to understand what they sent or did we ignore it? Anyway, how do you know this — where do you get your information? We understood very well what they sent us because we’d already studied it. It contained no evidence, not even a tentative description of a mechanism by which our emissions might dangerously warm the climate. We didn’t ignore what they sent; they ignored our repeated question.

    The sad truth is that of course there’s no evidence. If you believe they sent us evidence, kindly mention the page/s on which it appears. The Royal Society couldn’t.

    I don’t really care what the UNFCCC agreed to. After all, they’ve decreed that the IPCC should not address natural influences on the climate but assume it’s all anthropogenic.

    global carbon neutrality must be achieved within 20 years at current emission rates.

    We cannot affect the global climate. To reduce global emissions, you must talk to China, US, Europe, India and Russia about their wondrously growing emissions, pulling all those poor people into the middle classes. Aren’t you pleased for them? Of course, the US is the only country whose emissions have been dropping for about 11 years. Thank God for fracking.

    However, this post addresses a letter to the PM about the NZ policy of zero carbon emissions, which will drastically reduce production, the awful lack of details in that and the futility of doing any good against China’s increasing emissions (which of course you would have noticed if you’d read it). You can ignore China if you wish.

  3. Andy on 02/07/2018 at 6:54 pm said:

    The UNFCCC and the IPCC can’t even agree with each other on what the definition of “climate change” is

  4. Stephanie Hawking on 06/07/2018 at 10:01 am said:

    @Richard Treadgold. Is it just climate science that you think can be evaluated without the relevant expertise? What about theories in quantum mechanics, relativity, nuclear physics, plate tectonics, evolution…

    Almost without exception experts regard the evidence for disruptive anthropogenic global warming as overwhelming, and, insist we must reduce emissions as soon as practicable.

    Rational informed people accept this is true.

    The something like 1.3C mean global land surface warming is over and above natural variation. Until man started burning large quantities of fossil carbon Earth had been slowly cooling.

    Why do you think New Zealanders should be excused from doing their share to leave a planet fit for humans?

  5. Andy on 06/07/2018 at 10:21 am said:

    So we just need to “accept the science” and destroy our economy for no gain whatsoever. Makes a lot of sense.

  6. Brett Keane on 06/07/2018 at 1:12 pm said:

    Quantum Mechanics is involved because quantum oscillators are where radiative energy can interact with molecules. Downwelling photons, CAGW’s motive force, are not accepted by the oscillators if they have less energy than they do. Any more than you can push a speeding Ferrari with your hand. Folk who can copy long words are common in alarmist-space. Those who understand them and are also honest, are not found there.

  7. Andy on 06/07/2018 at 1:40 pm said:

    Indeed Brett. Freeman Dyson is somewhat critical of climate science and has, I believe, been labelled a “denier”, yet he is a pioneer in Quantum Electrodynamics and related fields

  8. Stephanie Hawking on 07/07/2018 at 5:34 am said:

    This heatwave is just the start. Britain has to adapt to climate change, fast. Simon Lewis. Fri 6 Jul 2018

    Water, housing, farming … almost every aspect of public life needs to change. Why isn’t this top of the political agenda?

    Much of the world is in the grip of a heatwave. Britain is so hot and dry that we have Indonesia-style peat fires raging across our moorlands. Montreal posted its highest temperature ever, with the deaths of 33 people in Quebec attributed to the scorching heat. And if you think that’s hot and dangerous, the town of Quriyat in Oman never went below a frightening 42.6C for a full 24 hours in June, almost certainly a global record. While many people love a bit of sun, extreme heat is deadly. But are these sweltering temperatures just a freak event, or part of an ominous trend we need to prepare for?

    Earth’s climate system has always produced occasional extreme weather events, both warm and cold. What is different about now is that extra short-term warmth – from the jet stream being further north than usual – is adding to the long-term trend of rising global temperatures. The warming trend is very clear: the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that all 18 years of the 21st century are among the 19 warmest on record; and 2016 was the warmest year ever recorded. Overall global surface air temperatures have risen by 1C since the industrial revolution. It is therefore no surprise that temperature records are being broken. And we can expect this to become a feature of future summers.

    The long-term warming trend is driven by the release of greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide. Many alternative causes have been tested by scientists: the effects of sunspots, volcanic eruptions and other natural events. Only greenhouse gas emissions, dominated by fossil fuel use, explain the warming over the past century. This understanding isn’t just retrospective: 30 years ago this summer, climate scientist James Hansen told a US Senate committee that the climate was changing and fossil fuels were the main culprit. He made headlines worldwide with predictions that if emissions continued our planet would continue to warm, which it inexorably has.

    Today’s heatwave is not related, as some have suggested, to the every-few-years shift of Pacific Ocean currents that affects global weather patterns, known as El Niño. A new modest-sized El Niño is predicted for later this year but is not yet detectable. Today’s heatwave is what is expected as Earth moves to an ever warmer state. But it is worth watching the news for the coming El Niño later this year: if it turns out to be a large event, next summer could bring more extremely hot weather. And beyond that, as the climate warms, summer heatwaves will escalate in their severity.

    So what is to be done? The amount of warming we see is directly related to the cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide. Stopping the warming requires moving to zero emissions of carbon dioxide. Despite the Paris agreement on climate change being designed to do exactly that, progress has been slow. Today 80% of world energy use is from fossil fuels. While the share of renewables is rising rapidly, so is energy use, meaning that globally, carbon emissions are flatlining, not declining. Commitments made so far under the Paris agreement show that we are on track for an additional 2C warming this century. Such large and rapid change will make it very difficult for societies to cope.

    We will therefore also need to adapt. There is a lot we can do. At an individual level, we can cool our homes by keeping the curtains and windows shut on the sunny side of our house during the day to slow the rate at which it heats up, and then open windows at night to cool it down. We also need to keep a close eye on the very young and very old because they cannot regulate their temperatures very well, and suffer most in the heat. The major 2003 European heatwave killed 70,000 mostly older people. Changes to social care, for example, to attend to the needs of people who are vulnerable to high temperatures, can help avoid such death tolls in the future.

    Climate change is a greater threat to the UK than EU directives, terrorism, or a foreign power invading
    Beyond this, many aspects of society will require deep and difficult changes, including to our own mindsets. In the summers of the future, particularly in the south of England, we will regularly live in Mediterranean-type conditions. Adapting our national infrastructure, particularly around maintaining our water supplies, updating our housing stock as it is built to retain heat, and altering how we manage our land to avoid further catastrophic fires, will all be required. It is under-appreciated that climate change will transform the very fabric of the experience of living in the UK.

    This coming new reality is not high on the political agenda. Climate change is a greater threat to the UK than EU directives, terrorism or a foreign power invading. Yet the scope of our political discussion on future threats is limited to Brexit and spending on defence. Instead of this blinkered view where the future is the same as the past, we need to step out of the intense heat and take a cool look at what we are doing to our home planet.

    The development of farming and rise of civilisations occurred within a 10,000-year window of unusually stable environmental conditions. Those stable interglacial conditions are over. Human actions are driving Earth to a hot new super-interglacial state. What scientists call the Anthropocene epoch, this unstable time, is a new chapter of history. Today’s heat is a forewarning of far worse to come. To live well in this new world needs political action to catch up with this changing reality. Fast.

    • The Human Planet by Simon L Lewis and Mark A Maslin is published by Pelican
    • Simon Lewis is professor of global change science at University College London and the University of Leeds

  9. Brett Keane on 07/07/2018 at 11:21 pm said:

    And the weather next week will be……

  10. KillerBean on 10/07/2018 at 12:35 am said:

    Its cool and cloudy today in the UK, must be global cooling.

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