Immigration, climate change and the Pacific

Immigration New Zealand is planning to deport a Tongan woman with a heart condition back to Tonga. She is from the island of Ha’apai, recently devastated by a cyclone and yet to recover. Her husband has already been deported and is subsisting on the ravaged island.

Labour’s Su’a William Sio has picked up the Tongan community’s request for a 2 month halt on deporting people back to Ha’apai. I absolutely support this call. Immigration New Zealand has said that as there’s no airport in Ha’apai, it will be deporting her back to Nuku’alofa – despite her being designated unfit to travel by her doctor. This move is disingenuous. Do they expect she’ll live in Nuku’alofa even though her husband is on Ha’apai? Do they not think Tonga as a whole has also been impacted by the cyclone in terms of its economy and social fabric?  I would think the Canterbury earthquakes would have taught us more than that.

The government needs to think a little more deeply about our place in the Pacific and how we respond in future as climate change increases the severity and frequency of extreme weather events in the region. New Zealand needs to be working in partnership with our Pacific neighbours to develop a comprehensive and humane immigration policy that meets our domestic needs and the needs of our neighbours.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully yesterday welcomed the launch of the UN International Year of Small Island Developing States, which focuses on challenges and opportunities faced by small island developing states. McCully said part of this was about “addressing climate change issues”.

He clearly needs to talk to his colleagues who are making decisions around immigration, because that is where the climate change rubber is really going to hit the road.

The Green Party has long been calling for the government to start work on a climate change immigration policy. This week again demonstrates the need for one.


14 Comments Posted

  1. BJ
    The data includes floods and droughts. As for heat, shall we talk about the 20 year pause? Happy to have a conversation about Climate Sensitivity if you like.
    I hardly think that data collated for over 100 years is a “limited” range.
    Good to see you are looking at ENSO. Look at the PDO and AMO as well.

  2. In addition you seem to make several other significant mistakes.

    1. You don’t count flood drought and heat,
    2. You look beyond the limited range in which any change could occur, seeking historical assurance against a future prediction from conditions that will NOT prevail in the future.
    3. You assume that the surface temperature “hiatus” in the tropics and mid latitudes has no effect on the likelihood of hurricanes and tornadoes.

    Basically you are taking “not enough information yet” to mean “this isn’t going to happen” and that’d be a bit further than I’d be willing to push a prediction.

    Let the ENSO reverse and the warming accelerate and we’ll have another look. After all, the trend in the tropics in the 15 years immediately preceding the “wonder years” you’ve all been so fascinated with, was DOUBLE the long term trend. Scientists didn’t make a big deal about that… being smarter than the average pseudo-sceptic. Apparently by quite a bit.

  3. “Make of that what you will…”

    Hey no, Roman- I do think I get it. You think that climate change is a fraud, and that because scientists state there is insufficient data to back certain conclusions, that must mean they agree with you. But you refuse to say that- you want others to draw their own conclusions.

    You think that when scientists say that they can’t predict the weather that they cannot make accurate predictions about climate.

    The trouble really is that you have no grasp of what certainty in science means, or what the difference between weather and climate is.

    Or am I mistaken? Do you believe climate change is real? If so, do you believe that climate change leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration, and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events?

    Why refuse to answer?

    Maybe it is because you know that is exactly what your cited IPCC report states (see page 7). Or maybe you really don’t believe scientists. Who knows. You won’t say.

    So instead of believing what you claim the IPCC report states, let’s look at what the IPCC report really says. First in the preamble to this section they specifically tell you not to draw the inane conclusion you both are making.

    Assigning ‘low confidence’ in observed changes in a specific extreme on regional or global scales neither implies nor excludes the possibility of changes in this extreme. Extreme events are rare, which means there are few data available to make assessments regarding changes in their frequency or intensity. The more rare the event the more difficult it is to identify long-term changes.

    But their warning didn’t stop you. Really- it is hard to believe your misrepresentation of the report was not deliberate, because they went to some lengths to explain the reason for that nothing definitive can be stated at this time:

    The uncertainties in the historical tropical cyclone records, the incomplete understanding of the physical mechanisms linking tropical cyclone metrics to climate change and the degree of tropical cyclone variability provide only low confidence for the attribution of any detectable changes in tropical cyclone activity to anthropogenic influences.

    So Roman or Chris: Kindly show me where the report states “just the opposite” of what Jan asserted. Somewhere it must state: “climate change does not increase the severity and frequency of extreme weather events”. It must be in there somewhere, because you and Chris says it does.

    Or maybe you really are charlatans who were only interested in peddling yet another climate denial theory, making all sorts of silly claims that scientists support your nutty theory that climate change is some sort of fraud being hyped by fanatics. I don’t know. And you won’t say.

    So why not just clear the air and state whether you believe Climate change is real or not? Why not state whether you believe that climate change leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration, and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events?

    Why indeed.

  4. Heatwaves, Heavy Rainfall and Drought. Which are also negatives for folks in the tropics.

    With respect to Hurricanes and Typhoons, no assurance whatsoever, the scale is too small for the models to make any predictions at all.

    Nor is it clear that the conditions that give the hurricane or typhoon a start aren’t influenced by the ENSO state as well, just as we’ve learned that surface temperature is.

    It’s dangerous on YOUR part to ignore the point Jan was actually making, which is that climate change is VERY likely to create conditions that stress our immigration policies. She’s not a tech-weenie… but she’s pointing at a BIG problem at the policies level.

    You guys are just being distracting.

  5. John
    Chris’s and my point is that the evidence collated by those august scientific organisations based on observation and recording over 30-160 years is that today we are not experiencing any increase in extreme weather events, in fact, events of that nature have declined and reduced in number.
    Make of that what you will,but it seems clear that increased extreme weather is not a form of climate change the world is experiencing.

  6. I see- so you are saying Chris’s point is that climate change does have an effect on weather- admitting that rises in global temperature results in extreme weather events? Specifically- the likelihood of increased severity and incidence of extreme weather events in our region?

    Because it seemed to me he was not willing to admit that.

  7. John, I’m perplexed with your logic. ChrisM quoted a specific factoid from the IPCC report, representing the current scientific consensus, and that factoid does not simplify to “climate change has no effect on weather”. It says exactly what it says. No more, no less.

  8. This thread poses exactly the same question as Jan asked on her recent thread entitled “Climate Change and Immigration – the time is now” [link]. Given the entire comments section is just a few posts, it isn’t an onerous read…

  9. So you are saying that climate change has no effect on weather? Really- I am baffled if that is your takeaway from the IPCC report. You did attend a school that provided you some background on science, right?

  10. John

    If you bothered to read the head post, you would see that it is Jan who is casting doubt. To justify why overstayers shouldn’t go home, she says “as climate change increases the severity and frequency of extreme weather events in the region.” Roman and I quoted chapter and verse of scientific organisations like IPCC that say the opposite. What science do you believe in?

  11. Roman, Chris- I am confused what point you are attempting to make. Is it
    1) Climate change does not exist -and/or-
    2) Climate change is not projected have any harmful effects (extreme weather, desertification, sea level rise)?

    Because neither is disputed by science. I am startled people are even trying to peddle such doubts about climate change- especially on a Green site. You guys do believe in science, right?

  12. Jan,
    You could also look at the data detailing “extreme weather” from:
    Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) 1970 – 2011. No increase in fact a decrease of “extreme weather”
    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Storm Prediction Unit(NOAA) 1851 – 2010. No increase and again a slight decrease.
    National Climatic Data Centre (NCDC) 1910 -2014, No increase, in fact slight decrease.
    Inconvenient facts huh.

  13. Jan

    Please read the full IPCC report, not the edited highlights or the soundbites.
    The experts on WG1 do not believe the severity and frequency of severe weather events are increasing and have low confidence it changing in the future. They even are forced to say things like ” There is low confidence in basin-scale projections of changes in intensity and frequency of tropical cyclones (TCs) in all basins to the mid-21st century.” and “These projections carry a large
    uncertainty, even in the sign of change, as discussed below and as evident in 14.1”
    If even they don’t know what will happen, how do you?

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