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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Jellyfish and climate change


Hills in New Zealand are supposed to be green, right?
So Easter was great. I got stung by a jellyfish and the rain was sideways. I sat in a campsite just past Leigh, nursing a jellyfish sting on my leg and staring bleakly into the distance as I became painfully aware that the hills were the wrong colour. Hills in New Zealand are supposed to be green, right? I mean, like, we even have posters. I've fucking seen them. But, no, these hills were beige. Dry, scorched, lifeless, 'I'm considering turning into a desert' - beige. I remembered what the man in the pie shop in Leigh had said “...driest summer on record up here mate.” and what the woman at the beach had said “...we've been coming here 18 years and I've never seen this many jellyfish before.” Was all this a conspiracy to ruin my weekend or is the planet actually fucked. I had to know. Later when I got home, and after I'd finished cleaning the sand out of my brain, I began to research climate change. What I discovered was more frightening than that time my friend gave me party pills and made me stay up all night watching the Saw movies.

Man-made greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet. Scientists predict that by 2100 the planet will be hotter than it's been since the time of the dinosaurs and that both polar ice caps will melt. They say that as the world warms extreme weather events will become more common and that this means water shortages, rapidly rising seas and superstorms. In 2012 the US saw its worst and most widespread drought since the mid-1950s and New Zealand is currently experiencing the worst drought in 70 years. This is just the beginning.

But what about the jellyfish you say? The science says that 18 out of 24 temperate jellyfish species have been reported to increase in warm waters and as atmospheric CO² increases the ocean becomes more acidic creating less favourable conditions for crustaceans and more favourable for jellyfish. Oh lovely you think, they'll go magnificently with all the wasps, rats and cockraches in a post-apocalyptic ecosystem of doom. You might not be so far from the truth.

Blame the corporations. Blame the oil industry. Blame capitalism. Blame John Key and David Shearer and all the other muppets who don't tackle the root cause of any problem whilst our planet becomes uninhabitable.

We should all take a leaf out of James Hansen's book. He is a leading authority on climate change and was the longest standing director of NASA's Goddard Institute. He recently quit to become a full time climate change activist at the age of 72, saying, that he senses a mass movement on climate change is beginning, led by young people, which he plans to support.

-Shane M., SA

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