WR Submission to Otago Regional Council Regional Policy Statement

Wise Response has made preliminary comments on the Otago Regional Council’s Regional Policy Statement.

The comments are below or can be downloaded here: Wise Response Preliminary Submission to ORC RPS


Preliminary comments on the Otago Regional Council’s
Regional Policy Statement

To: Regional Policy Statement Review Team,
Otago Regional Council.
From: Wise Response Society
Contact: Sir Alan Mark,

What in Otago is important to you?

Wise Response Society encourages all levels of government as well as all New
Zealand citizens to ensure that our way of life and priorities are not leading us, either
wittingly or unwittingly, to deny our children the opportunity of a viable and fulfilling
Specifically the Society seeks to have addressed systematically this key 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?”
Evidence-based science on several fronts, shows that, due in large part to
encountering limits, New Zealand in general and Otago in particular are
environmentally, socially and economically vulnerable. Therefore, until we address
the implications of limits, planning is unlikely to be realistic; it may even undermine
critical needs over the next decade or two.
Following the Precautionary Principle, Wise Response asks the Otago Regional
Council to base its revised Regional Policy Statement (RPS) on an objective,
uncompromising assessment of the relevant science and associated risks. The risks
identified need to be prioritised and logical principles and policies developed
dispassionately from the consequent outcomes.
From these analyses, we anticipate that the RPS will need to place greater weight on
genuinely securing the longer term future and accordingly, given our current situation,
a level of near-term inconvenience will be unavoidable for us all if this is to be
achieved.  Plan wording will need to be tough, explicit and unambiguous to make a
real difference and minimise legal challenge.
Relying on the free market and handing the management of our key resources over to
local management groups that may not be truly representative of the public at large or
have the necessary breadth of understanding, are policies that appear unlikely to
achieve sustainable management of the available natural and physical resources.

What do you think the major issues facing Otago are?

Wise Response Society considers the following issues to be the most urgent:
1.   Lack of willingness by most of our leaders and citizens to accept credible
scientific evidence about the adverse impacts of our current living
arrangements and practices on the environment, and therefore our failure to
recognise the urgent need for transformational (mitigation) rather than
incremental (adaptive) change.
2.   Vulnerability, due to the high level of dependence of our communities and
businesses, including farming, on carbon-based fuels and financial shock, as
well as the loss of diversity, loss of local control, and loss of skill base in
production and manufacturing.
3.   Our failure to genuinely arrest and reverse a steady deterioration in the quality
of our land-based and marine ecosystems and their natural processes and
ecosystem services.  In this respect we note that much better outcomes could
be expected if many of the polices in the current RPS were just properly
4.   Our collective preoccupation with the accumulation of material wealth above
other measures of progress and quality of life.
A range of other issues flow from our failure to address these primary issues.

How do you think these issues should be addressed?

Wise Response suggests Council address these issues primarily in these ways:
1.   demonstrates in the RMAct S32 analysis that it has systematically assessed the
scientific evidence relevant to the above issues and risks, then sets down
clearly what constraints and assumptions it will adopt as a basis for each of the
Policy Statement’s objectives and policies.  The rationale for omitting or
altering any existing policies should also be clear.
2.   acts consistently in accord with the Precautionary Principle as expressed in the
New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 (Policy 3), as an underlying tenet
of the Regional Policy Statement and makes building both urban and rural
resilience its first priority in the face of growing uncertainty.
3.   formally accepts the duty of each Otago resident, business and organization to
mitigate as well as adapt to serious threats to a living planet which appears
inherent in the Precautionary Principle.
4.   accepts the implications of rigorous research and statistics, and the established
principles of physics, ecology and environmental management as a basis for
adopting principles and policies that will significantly reduce risk exposure,
including strongly sustainable approaches to infrastructure and economic
5.   shifts the focus of its activity away from promoting economic development
throughout the RPS, and returns to sustainably managing the natural and
physical resources, as required under S5, RMA.
6.   takes into account the global as well as the national context to give
“sustainable management” a fully integrated and defensible bio-physical
7.   actively informs the general public of the need for any transformational policy,
and explains how citizens can best aid the process of sustainable management
of our natural and physical resources, at the same time as improving their
personal security and contentment.

Other matters

Wise Response Society would like to submit further on the ORCs draft plan, and
produce further relevant evidence in support of our submission, once the draft plan is
prepared, and wish to be involved in the formal planning process, post-notification.
Meanwhile, the Society would be happy to liaise further on this preliminary
submission if that would assist the Council.


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