What is the True Picture on Global Warming?

Opinion by Tony Orman

SQ River Jim.jpeg

If ever it falls your lot to travel up the Wairau Valley along Marlborough’s state highway to the West Coast, the road is flat and invariably straight, although it does imperceptibly climb. The monotony is suddenly interrupted by crossing Saltwater Creek and then wending up and over a low hill before then descending to the Branch River bridge. That hill marks the morainic debris of a glacier that existed some 8,000 -10,000 years ago.

When the Wairau glacier advanced to just downstream of the Branch River bridge, the climate must have cooled. When it retreated, the climate must have warmed. Today no glacier exists in the Wairau valley.

The cooling and warming was just part of the normal dynamic cyclic nature of the earth’s climate.

Sub-Tropical Central Otago

Shift south to Central Otago and in particular the St Bathans area. Reading scientist George Gibbs’ comprehensive and fascinating book “Ghosts of Gondwana” (published 2016) the reader is confronted with the astonishing tale that about 15 to 20 million years ago, there was a large freshwater lake ecosystem that by evidence of fossils, had crocodiles, turtles, eucalyptus trees and other warm species. “Their presence is indicative of a sub-tropical dry climate,” wrote George Gibbs.

The climate must have warmed to allow sub-tropical species to not only exist but thrive. Then it cooled to its present day climate of cold winters and hot summers – again proof of the dynamics of climate change.

There has always been periods of global warming – off and on.

In the North Island there is the case of the Ruahine Range which runs north from the Manawatu Gorge to end in name at the Napier to Taihape road. In 1845 there were no roads crossing to the Taihape area. In 1845, a missionary explorer 34 year old William Colenso wished to visit Maori pas near Taihape to teach the Christian religion. To do so from his base in Napier he had to cross the Ruahine Ranges.

The Remarkable Colenso

In February 1845, William Colenso became the first European to enter the Ruahine Ranges. His diary records significant observations on the mountains and the natural forces at work. He found creek beds “so narrow and steep and partly choked with dead trees and shrubs and masses of stone.” Resorting to spurs and ridges,  Colenso and his party struggled through “old fallen trees” and at times “passing along the very edges of extensive land slips down which it was fearful to look.”

In the 1980s a hydrologist/botanist Dr Patrick Grant chanced upon William Colenso’s observations. Dr Grant was intrigued. Catchment boards and extreme green groups like Forest and Bird had long blamed the “extensive land slips” and “creek beds choked with dead trees and masses of stone” on wild deer.

But Colenso’s diaries clearly showed the land slips and choked stream beds had been there decades before the first deer were liberated. So Dr Grant set about researching the causes. The clue was in climate. By 1985 he had defined at least seven periods of accelerated erosion since the great Taupo eruption,1800 years ago. These naturally destructive periods “may strike at any time but always greatly intensified during periods of warmer, windier climate.”

“The erosion and forest damage that Colenso saw in 1845 and 1847 was no doubt the effects of gales and heavy rainfall,” said Dr Grant.

Tropical Cyclones

The warm periods are often accompanied by severe storms such as Cyclone Alison (1975) and Cyclone Bola (1988).  In the Pohangina saddle in the Ruahine Ranges, during Cyclone Allison, a rainfall gauge recorded a 24 hour rainfall of 400mm (16 inches).

William Colenso’s diaries testify tropical cyclones and extreme weather events are by no means a recent phenomenon.

Natural climate cycles with warming and cooling and extreme weather events have always been.

However the problem I have with the current alarm calls being sounded about climate change is the lack of distinguishing between natural climate change and human induced climate change.

Therein lies the big flaw in the raging extreme advocacy of today’s climate change debate, fanned by the current government and its attendant Green Party.

To revert to basic mathematics, the equation is represented by “Natural Climate Change” plus or minus “Human Induced Climate Change” equals the “Actual Climate Change”.

Missing in Action

In the frantic debate that rages the factor of “natural climate change” is mostly missing. Even scientists disagree on the human factor. For politicians it’s a populous bandwagon to hitch a ride on to popularity and power. And the compliant media  with monetary inducement, follow the dictates of government.

But dare to challenge it and the accusations of “climate denier” hurtle through the air. By the way is the name calling, “hate speech”?

I’m not a denier.  Because of the ignoring of natural climate change, I don’t know what the true situation is.

I do believe there are worrying environmental effects being exerted by Man’s over-exploitation of resources fuelled by greed, paranoia about wild natural relationships between predator and prey within food chains (e.g.Predator Free 2050)  and an ignorance and disrespect for ecosystems and their functioning.

That understanding is often absent in debates over global warming – or is it climate change?

Footnote: Tony Orman, is an angler and deerstalker and a conservationist who “cut his teeth” in the Save Manapouri debate in the 1970s.


William Colenso – his diaries record the devastation of natural climate change cycles.

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9 Responses to What is the True Picture on Global Warming?

  1. Lew says:

    Certainly the weather is changing but it’s been doing that for millions of years. Fiords in Fiordland.
    We continually bombarded with the fact that “sea levels are rising’? maybe they are, I often wonder if the hundreds of millions of cubic metres of sediment deposited every year by the world’s major rivers has anything to do with it or large amounts of land reclamation, millions of tonnes of shipping that has gone to the bottom ect, something has to give.

  2. Bud jones JonesQSM says:

    As a new hunter from USA IN THE 1970’s I made several trips to the upperRuahines Makarora River, [ actually catchment wise was just the upper tributaries of the Waipawa], at Mak Hut ,there seemed to be good numbers of deer & I never failed to cart out a good load of venison for my freezer.
    The tussock grass ridges looked down on Lake Colenso, land mark of Colenso’s crossing, wonderful hunting country. Hiking into the Upper Mak. Hut was on a raised flat rocky riverbed sand/boulders with ghost like tree sticks poking up out of a submerged by river aluvium debris, quite a stark scene with enormous50acre land slides diving into the river,looking very earthquake induced a violent earth movement scene.
    Picture a deep V valley,filled to tree top height with gravel.We were told ignorantly it was deer caused erosion.A Europepean mind view of rolling grassy mountain meadows as seen in Sound of Music Bavaria/Switzerland didn’t fit this mountain scape, alarm bells rang that since it didn’t look right, something must be wrong, the giant leap of ignorance pointed the finger, a culprit was required.The nearest easy one was deer, had so eaten the veg. as to have induced nassive land movement in steep country. A bit like that scene in “the Heat of the Night when cop, Rod Stiger has a crime so he needs a criminal & runs down innocent Sydney Poitier running across a bridge.Stiger has the gum chewing sunglasses standard southern cop look, he radios in to headquarters…chewing vigorously–“OK, I got ’em!”.Once fingered ,no escape; hence the deer once given the epithet of blame, were forever to wear it.

  3. J B Smith says:

    The anti-wild animal culture is well ingrained into New Zealanders thinking. DOC and Forest and Bird even brainwash primary school children. I know for my two daughters experienced it at a primary school at Motueka.
    But if people stop and think, instead of naively accepting the dogma, it is really so logical that in a country as geologically young as NZ is, slips on mountain sides are inevitable. The Colenso observations and Patrick Grant’s research shows it so well.

  4. Jack Tuhawaiki says:

    For the last century or so, the remnants of Gondwana have been managed on the fallacy that there was never a significant population of browsers or grazers of vegetation. Browsing moa and other birds that for 60 million years browsed the forest at ground level and up in the forest canopy, are extinct or largely gone. Their place has been taken by “exotic” herbivore wildlife such as deer, tahr, possums etc., No matter how much eco-0hate and poison is directed against them, they are now part of our land in an evolved 21st century ecosystem.

  5. Susan Francis says:

    Mr. Jack Tuhawaiki, you have put it so well. The hardest part is going to be to erase the ‘anti-wild animal’ mindset as the public have had in that century or so, from DOC and Forest and Bird Society propaganda.
    Predator-prey relationships need to be understood and taught. One kea chick being taken by a rat or stoat pales into insignificance against the official 150,000 bounties paid for a dead kea with at least that total killed by culling. Then there are the kea deaths from the blanket poisoning with 1080 over thousands of alpine public lands.
    The ERMA review into 1080 was a farce. Requested by DOC and the Animal Health Board, (the latter now OSPRI) the two major 1080 poison users, the ERMA review self revealed its sham when the decision to approve 1080 was taken before the public submission process had finished.

  6. F.H. says:

    The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment who lauded 1080 Jan Wright was not qualified in ecology, biology or such science. Her qualifications were in physics, chemistry and business management. It seems illogical.
    The current Commissioner is Simon Upton, qualified in degrees in English literature, music and law from the University of Auckland, and an MLitt in political philosophy from Oxford University – nothing to do with ecology or biology. Again illogical. However I do expect Simon Upton to be much more realistic and logical than Dr Jan Wright.

  7. Teddy Roosterveldt says:

    The Ardern Government wasted an awful lot of money setting up the Climate Change Commission and although I am sure Rod Carr is a very well meaning bloke his report is utter garbage. Not altogether surprising for a non scientist whose expertise is in business and economics. Why didn’t they appoint a geologist, someone with a deep understanding of how climate changes over millenia not just since last week? Could it be they wanted the climate change report to stick closely to the WEF agenda of wrecking our country? If that is so then it certainly counts as one of Ardern’s more noteworthy successes…..her only one.

  8. Roger Dewhurst says:

    Of course that is what ALL politicians do. They appoint people who can be counted on to tell them what they want to be told.

  9. Charlie Baycroft says:

    Not that long ago we were told to fear another ice age.
    Then it didn’t happen so they changed the terrorist narrative to global warming
    That was not happening as predicted so they changed the name of the story to climate change.
    Warmer or colder does not matter any more. Both are climate change.

    Most of the vegetation in NZ is not counted as respiring CO2 and retaining the carbon to grow.
    Farm animals cannot emit more carbon than they take in from the vegetation they eat unless they stop growing and living.

    Even accepting the crooked accounting the emissions of NZ don’t mean squat and reducing them will male no difference to the global climate.
    So, why are we pretending we can fix a problem that we are not causing?

    The real reason is so that the authoritarian socialists who call themselves the government can have more authority, control and power and the failed consumer economy can be perpetuated by making us buy more new things with money we do not have.

    What if it does get a little warmer and wetter? Plants will grow better. Agriculture will be more productive. People will not have to heat their homes so much.

    One of the founders of a Greenpeace says that if what we are doing effects the global climate it is more likely to be preventing another ice age than endangering us.

    Someone always says “the sky is falling” people become scared and confused but believe it.
    After a while they start looking up and see that the sky is not falling because it never was.

    Climate change is just another of many scary stories that will not happen.
    More people are understanding this.

    The twrrorists will have to make up a new scary story to control us and take our money from us.

    Terrorists are dangerous people who further their own ambitions by making other people fearful and anxious.

    Stop believing the scary stories and let’s get on with living.

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