On Wednesday eminent climate scientist Prof James Renwick spoke to a packed public meeting in Thames. Given the limited publicity about the meeting, the turnout of over 100 was impressive. Some people had traveled from north of Coromandel, and from Whitianga to attend.
James began his presentation with a “climate 101” introduction to climate change, and then followed through with an in-depth discussion on the latest science and projections for CO2, temperatures and sea level rise. James included some graphics showing potential sea flooding maps for Thames, taken from the Regional Councils sea flooding inundation tool and showed projections of how even a moderate sea level rise would result in one in 100 year extreme storm surges becoming an annual and eventually a daily event.
James also touched on the psychology of climate change. He emphasised that rather than being “alarmist” or “scaremongering”, providing accurate information on the impacts of climate change and sea level rise was essential if we are to have any chance of reducing emissions and mitigating the worst effects. He concluded with discussion about the remaining rapidly reducing “carbon budget” that we have left before catastrophic climate change effects begin to bite, and of the need for urgent mitigation action in the next 0 – 5 years if we are to have any hope of avoiding more than 2° of warming.
At the end of his address, James took questions from the audience. Apart from one question from an infamous local denialist correspondent who repeatedly distorts the science of climate change, (who was firmly but politely challenged) the questions from the floor were well-informed and added to the discussion.
On Thursday morning James met with around 30 Thames-Coromandel District Council staff and councillors in a closed-door session.
Overall a highly successful visit and plaudits to Transition Towns Thames (T3) for organising it, and to James for making the effort to visit .