WR Special General Meeting – Monday 1 Dec

Wise Response Society Inc
Notice of Special General Meeting

Monday 1 December, 4.00pm, Centre for Sustainability, 530 Castle St, Dunedin

 Business to be conducted

  •     Apologies
  •     Receive the Society’s Statement of Account
  •     Elect members of the committee and officers
  •     Fix the annual subscription
  •     Appoint an auditor
  •     Consider if appropriate to appoint a patron
  •     Motions to be considered
  •     Rule changes to be considered
  •     General business, including updates on:

    • Royal Society adoption of Climate Change motion and implications/opportunities
    • Regional Policy Statement review
    • Appeal to Parliament – Select Committee stage
    • Communications and website

All welcome.
Sir Alan Mark, ΦΒΚ, Hon DSc (Otago), FRSNZ, KNZM,

THIN ICE Kickstarter deadline approaches

Thin_Ice_DocoThe campaign to fund the edit of a TV version of THIN ICE – the inside story of climate science” for airing on US Public Television this summer has now reached 70% of its target, with a deadline of noon, Monday, 24 November. The team is delighted with the support the project has received so far. They want to remind those still wanting to help others appreciate the integrity and commitment of climate scientists, as well as their message,  that there are only a few more days left to donate. You can help by donating  as little as $10, get a THIN ICE beanie for $70, or give your local school a one year licence for unlimited streaming for $225. Check it out here.

This project will also broaden the appeal of  THIN ICE for schools, community groups and for TV in other countries.”

In order to have the Thin Ice Documentary aired on US Public Television it needs funding to be edited. You can help by donating a little on the kickstarter funding site.

This will also make it more accessible for schools, community groups and for tv in other countries.

WHAT’S THE STORY? Our climate is changing worldwide, with more extreme weather, melting ice and rising sea levels. If it really has been caused by us, we need to know how and why so we can deal with it together. So, what’s your experience of climate change and what do you think? We see climate change stories in the media and hear about it from our politicians. Now our film, an award-winning feature documentary, brings you the scientists’ voice directly from field and laboratory to film viewers at home, community halls and classrooms.  With your support we can edit THIN ICE to TV length to reach a much wider audience. 

At this stage we need numbers of donors more than $$, so this is a pitch for you to check our Kickstarter site. Hopefully it will move you sufficiently to chip in $10! More is of course acceptable, but currently we would be delighted just to have you join us in this effort, and of course the support of any friends you might spread the word to on Twitter or Facebook.

Research confirms ‘Limits to Growth’ correct

Research from the University of Melbourne has concluded the Club of Rome’s 1974 ‘ Limits to Growth’ Report is substantially correct in its findings that civilisation will likely collapse sometime this century.


The British national daily newspaper “The Guardian“ states that new research from the University of Melbourne confirms that the “book’s forecasts are accurate, 40 years on. If we continue to track in line with the book’s scenario, expect the early stages of global collapse to start appearing soon.”

“[…] The book’s central point, much criticised since, is that “the earth is finite” and the quest for unlimited growth in population, material goods etc would eventually lead to a crash.

So were they right? We decided to check in with those scenarios after 40 years. Dr Graham Turner gathered data from the UN (its department of economic and social affairs, Unesco, the food and agriculture organisation, and the UN statistics yearbook). He also checked in with the US national oceanic and atmospheric administration, the BP statistical review, and elsewhere. That data was plotted alongside the Limits to Growth scenarios.

The results show that the world is tracking pretty closely to the Limits to Growth “business-as-usual” scenario. […]”


To find out more about the “Limits to Growth” and about its real message, follow this link.


Labour Party formalises support for Wise Response

Labour_CC_PolicyPress release for immediate use:

The Wise Response Society Applauds New Zealand-wide Risk Assessment Proposed by some Political Parties

The Wise Response Society is heartened to see that Labour’ just released Climate Change policy includes formal support for the Society’s call for a New Zealand-wide Risk Assessment.The Green Party has also formally acknowledged support for the Wise Response Appeal as a key similarity between Green and Labour climate change policies.

Labour’s policy says that it “will implement a comprehensive risk assessment framework to predict and quantify the risk levels across our economy, environment and society, in order to inform policy decisions which can allow us to avert, mitigate against, or adapt to, these risks”.

Wise Response petitioned Parliament in April this year to assess the risks posed to the country in five key subject areas. These risks included the implications of continuing use of carbon-based fuels and their impacts, particularly on climate change; exposure to another financial crash and its implications for business continuity and employment; environmental/ecological degradation; and the risks to increasing inequality and social wellbeing of endlessly chasing GDP as the primary measure of progress. The group is supported by more than 100 notable New Zealanders.

Spokesperson, Sir Alan Mark said they had invited all political parties to support their appeal, seeking a “cross-party” response, and  while Labour, Greens and NZ First supported the petition to Parliament, it is extremely gratifying and hopeful when the request is formally adopted by a party in its policy.

Even though the Society’s concerns are with the sustainable management of resources generally,Wise Response considers Labour’s proposal to set up an independent Climate Commission might provide the vehicle needed for a wide-ranging risk assessment programme for New Zealand’s future.

Alan F. Mark, FRSNZ, KNZM. Spokesperson for Wise Response Society Inc.

White House examines Cost of Delayed Action on Climate Change

The White House has released a new report from the Council of Economic Advisers that examines the economic consequences of delaying action to stem climate change. The report finds that delaying policy actions by a decade increases total mitigation costs by approximately 40 percent, and failing to take any action would risk substantial economic damage. These findings emphasize the need for policy action today.

The Executive Summary is reproduced below:

Executive Summary

The signs of climate change are all around us. The average temperature in the United States
during the past decade was 0.8° Celsius (1.5° Fahrenheit) warmer than the 1901-1960 average,
and the last decade was the warmest on record both in the United States and globally. Global sea
levels are currently rising at approximately 1.25 inches per decade, and the rate of increase
appears to be accelerating. Climate change is having different impacts across regions within the
United States. In the West, heat waves have become more frequent and more intense, while
heavy downpours are increasing throughout the lower 48 States and Alaska, especially in the
Midwest and Northeast. 1 The scientific consensus is that these changes, and many others, are
largely consequences of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. 2

The emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) harms others in a way that is not
reflected in the price of carbon-based energy, that is, CO 2 emissions create a negative externality.
Because the price of carbon-based energy does not reflect the full costs, or economic damages,
of CO 2 emissions, market forces result in a level of CO 2 emissions that is too high. Because of this
market failure, public policies are needed to reduce CO 2 emissions and thereby to limit the
damage to economies and the natural world from further climate change.

There is a vigorous public debate over whether to act now to stem climate change or instead to
delay implementing mitigation policies until a future date. This report examines the economic
consequences of delaying implementing such policies and reaches two main conclusions, both of
which point to the benefits of implementing mitigation policies now and to the net costs of
delaying taking such actions.

First, although delaying action can reduce costs in the short run, on net, delaying action to limit
the effects of climate change is costly. Because CO 2 accumulates in the atmosphere, delaying
action  increases  CO 2 concentrations.  Thus,  if  a  policy  delay  leads  to  higher  ultimate  CO 2
concentrations,  that  delay  produces  persistent  economic  damages  that  arise  from  higher
temperatures and higher CO 2 concentrations. Alternatively, if a delayed policy still aims to hit a
given climate target, such as limiting CO 2 concentration to given level, then that delay means that
the policy, when implemented, must be more stringent and thus more costly in subsequent years.
In either case, delay is costly.

These costs will take the form of either greater damages from climate change or higher costs
associated with implementing more rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. In practice,
delay could result in both types of costs. These costs can be large:

  • Based on a leading aggregate damage estimate in the climate economics literature, a
    delay that results in warming of 3° Celsius above preindustrial levels, instead of 2°, could
    increase economic damages by approximately 0.9 percent of global output. To put this
    percentage in perspective, 0.9 percent of estimated 2014 U.S. Gross Domestic Product
    (GDP)  is approximately $150 billion. The incremental  cost of an additional  degree of
    warming beyond 3° Celsius would be even greater. Moreover, these costs are not one-
    time, but are rather incurred year after year because of the permanent damage caused
    by increased climate change resulting from the delay.
  • An analysis of research on the cost of delay for hitting a specified climate target (typically,
    a given concentration of greenhouse gases) suggests that net mitigation costs increase,
    on average, by approximately 40 percent for each decade of delay. These costs are higher
    for more aggressive climate goals: each year of delay means more CO 2 emissions, so it
    becomes increasingly difficult, or even infeasible, to hit a climate target that is likely to
    yield only moderate temperature increases.

Second, climate policy can be thought of as “climate insurance” taken out against the most severe
and irreversible potential consequences of climate change. Events such as the rapid melting of
ice sheets and the consequent increase of global sea levels, or temperature increases on the
higher end of the range of scientific uncertainty, could pose such severe economic consequences
as reasonably to be thought of as climate catastrophes. Confronting the possibility of climate
catastrophes means taking prudent steps now to reduce the future chances of the most severe
consequences of climate change. The longer that action is postponed, the greater will be the
concentration  of  CO 2 in  the  atmosphere  and  the  greater  is the  risk.  Just  as  businesses  and
individuals  guard  against  severe  financial  risks  by  purchasing  various  forms  of  insurance,
policymakers can take actions now that reduce the chances of triggering the most severe climate
events.  And,  unlike  conventional  insurance  policies,  climate  policy  that  serves  as  climate
insurance is an investment that also leads to cleaner air, energy security, and benefits that are
difficult to monetize like biological diversity.

1 For a fuller treatment of the current and projected consequences of climate change for U.S. regions and sectors,
see the Third National Climate Assessment (United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) 2014).2 See for example the Summary for Policymakers in Working Group I contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC WG I AR5 2013).

Incorporation of Wise Response

To become a more effective force for change and assist with fund raising etc we have decided to adopt a more formal structure and we are now in the process of incorporating Wise Response.

The rules state:
The purpose of the Society is to persuade the New Zealand Parliament, Government and New Zealand society in general to confront and respond effectively to any confirmed threats arising from the question “As demand for growth exceeds earth’s physical limits causing unprecedented risks, what knowledge and changes do we need to secure New Zealand’s future wellbeing?

There is no membership fee.

To become a member of Wise Response Society Inc and help the new organisation achieve its purpose please fill in the form below:

Join Wise Response Incorporated Society



MiStory Book Launch

7tynf8rzAuthor and Wise Response committee member Philip Temple is about to publish a book exploring a future left unchecked. Anyone wishing to order a copy or copies, at the recommended retail price of $35, before 18 July, will receive signed copies at their postal address when they become available in early August. The price includes GST, packing and postage and a donation of $10 to Wise Response. Purchasers should contact Philip directly at strongbeak@xtra.co.nz with their postal address and for a bank account number for payment. This offer will be available until 18 July.

Is this what our future looks like?
The surveillance society, climate change, global financial crises, the end of oil, incurable diseases, all these and more are threats that constantly make news headlines. So where do we go from here?
Following Annie’s strange death, her partner is forced to think about what has happened to his life, his community and his country. His diary, kept during the year of The Change, reveals how the example Annie left him, and the mission of his young sister Sophie, drive him to escape the life of a bureaucratic cipher and work with the Movement in its fight to bring back a free and fair way of life.
In  this gripping novel, underpinned by wide research, award-winning author Philip Temple  tells a tale of life at mid-century and reveals what the future may hold if we ignore the threats that face us and carry on with ‘business as usual’. Philip’s last novel The Mantis was described in the New Zealand Listener as ‘at the summit of fiction writing’. 
This is Philip Temple’s tenth novel and the latest addition to a remarkable array of work that has won him awards and fellowships for his fiction and non-fiction, TV documentaries and children’s books. He has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to literature and received a Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement. 
Format:    230 X 252mm Extent:    272 pages
Binding:    Limp bound
ISBN:    978-0-473-28204-2
Pub date:    August 2014
RRP:    $35

WR Appeal tabled in parliament by Dr Kennedy Graham

An hour ago, I received on the steps of Parliament this petition. I undertook to bring it immediately to the attention of the House. The Clerk has tabled the petition today. It is fair to say that this is perhaps the most important petition ever to be delivered to Parliament. It is called “The Appeal to Parliament for a New Zealand Risk Assessment”. It calls for the 50th Parliament to commit to an all-party risk assessment of how and where New Zealand might be exposed to key global threats. No single undertaking could be more important. The petition comes just 2 days after the fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the assessed impacts of climate change for the world in the 21st century.

Text_InsertAs the petition puts it, we live on a biologically complex and exquisite planet, home to 7 billion people and a myriad of other unique life forms. We believe, say the petitioners, that it is our human responsibility to maintain the integrity of life support systems and the natural processes that sustain and renew them. It follows, they contend, that our generation must satisfy our present material needs in ways that do not diminish the prospect of their realisation for future generations. The petitioners express a concern. So far, they say, New Zealand has failed to truly face up to such unprecedented threats to its collective security. Yet with scientists saying that certain critical thresholds are upon us, the consequences of not taking the proper action will, in all probability, be disastrous and irreversible. “Therefore,” they say, “in the name of all our children and grandchildren we, the undersigned, call on the New Zealand Parliament to face up to this situation now… We believe that Parliament should build on its proud tradition of foresighted collective response to risks, and initiate a risk assessment as the first step in achieving a more secure future.”

This petition is signed by some 6,000 New Zealanders, with a leadership group of 100 signatories. They include a former Prime Minister and past MPs; the mayor of a major city; leading Māori; a number of former All Blacks and Black Caps; a university pro-vice-chancellor and other prominent academics; a former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment; a poet laureate; some of the country’s leading artists, authors and broadcasters; and several leading scientists who serve on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change itself. I choose to cite one name, Sir Lloyd Geering, professor of religious studies at Victoria University. I cite him because, at age 96, Professor Geering is a member of the Order of New Zealand, the highest honour this country can bestow. This is no ordinary petition. It is no disparagement of any others brought to this House to recognise that this petition is of unprecedented magnitude and import. It essentially appeals to Parliament to consider the future of the planet and our nation, and it does so in light of the enormity of what lies before us.

This House is the arena for party rivalry and the contestation of ideas. We devote our time to critiquing each other and competing for electoral support. It is pluralistic democracy and that is fine, but there are issues that transcend domestic political competition—above all, the fate of the planet. There is no other phrase that can do it justice. It requires that we lower our swords and come together to reason our way through. There is something primordial occurring here and we need to be up to the task. We need to be up to the task, for future generations, not only our own, depend on the decisions we make in this House now and in the critical next few years. I advance this admonition to myself as much as to colleagues opposite. I have on occasion been critical—trenchantly so—of Government policy, but I have also held conferences in the neighbouring Chamber designed to enable us to come together in a different setting and spirit and reason our way to a cross-party consensus. May this appeal assist us in that endeavour. May it be favourably received.

Mo tātou, a mo ka uri, a muri ake nei

Green Party: Kennedy Graham’s speech on Climate Change

WR Appeal presented to Parliament


Jimmy Green (Green Wig) from Generation Zero supports the Wise Response Appeal presentation on paliament steps.


The Appeal was presented on the steps of parliament, April 9th with support from Generation Zero.

Please note we will continue to collect signatures and support from organisations with a view to submitting them to the Select Committee.


Economist Geoff Bertram gave the following address:

My name is Geoff Bertram.  I’m an academic economist and much of my work focuses on the role of markets as instruments of human wellbeing. But wisdom in policy-making lies in acknowledging and understanding the limits of markets.

Those limits come in at least two forms:

  • There are things the market fails to do in the absence of policy intervention: pricing carbon, for example, or giving due weight to the interests of the poor and dispossessed.
  • There are things that money can’t buy, involving human values that often have to be protected from the encroachment of market values

Future generations are not well represented in today’s markets, but their interests deserve acknowledgment and respect from today’s policymakers. The precautionary principle is important here: do not do irreparable damage to the natural systems on which humanity depends.

Thorough and open-minded risk assessment is inherently part of the precautionary principle.
So I encourage all political parties to take this appeal seriously.


Bryan Gould, (Former Vice-chancellor and Chair Research Science and Technology, Hamilton). supported the presentation:

“Conventional thinking has for far too long seen the sustainability of our environment as a side issue – at best, as a mere adjunct to, and at worst, as an annoying distraction from, the real business of running an economy. We need to change that mindset. There can be and will be no economy, and no business, if we fail to take the long view – if we fail to act now to ensure that our environment is sustained into the future.”


 Professor Bob Lloyd gave the following address:

“My name is Bob Lloyd and I teach energy studies at the University of Otago.

Honourable Members. As parliamentarians you have been elected to govern New Zealand.
This duty is often interpreted as meaning that you should facilitate the growth of the New Zealand economy for the betterment of its people.
Unfortunately at this point in time we are at a unique point in the history of civilisation.
According to my research we have two significant problems, first our use of fossil fuels is reaching the limit of what the earth can supply.
Second the carbon dioxide produced is reaching the limit of what the atmosphere can safely absorb and is causing the earth’s climate to change.
Despite approaching fossil fuel limits there are, however, sufficient reserves remaining to cause major climate effects, as documented by the latest IPCC reports.
It is apparent that growing our economy using fossil fuels, is going to cause unprecedented risks for the continuation of society, both in NZ and elsewhere.
At present rates of growth of fossil fuel use we will have a one in three chance of exceeding the 2 degree temperature limit, agreed at Copenhagen, by 2030 or around 15 years from now.
I believe that this parliament must show leadership before we cross tipping points that will make further action pointless.
It is clear that an urgent transition must be made to a fossil fuel free economy.”


Gerry Te Kapa Coates MNZM

“Kia ora koutou, e hoa ma.

When I started Engineers for Social Responsibility in 1983 the major threat to humanity was nuclear war. Now 30 years later the major threat is human-induced climate change, or global warming.

Did we do anything about the threat of nuclear war? Yes, global leaders took action by making deep cuts to the number of nuclear armed missiles, and other major political steps. The threat is still there but it is much reduced.

What are we doing about climate change? What is New Zealand doing about it, and what are global leaders doing about it? Very little. The average person still thinks that engineers and scientists can solve the problem, and it will go away. The tools to do that are already around. Renewable energy based mainly on solar energy could be a reality if there was a political and economic will to do it. We, the people need to asks the Government for a Wise response to reports such as the IPCC issued two weeks ago. Governments will act if we, the people, demand it.”


The Green Party, Labour and United Future indicated support for the Appeal:

Green Party: Greens support high profile Kiwis’ call for climate action

Labour Party: Wise heads want wise response

United Future: ‘UnitedFuture is broadly supportive of the direction of your Appeal and petition to Parliament, and will be willing to work with other parties to further the issues you have expressed concern about.’ Hon Peter Dunne