Gareth Renowden

Gareth Renowden (MA Oxon) is the author of the award-winning The Truffle Book (Limestone Hills 2005), The Olive Book (Canterbury University Press 1999) and Video – The Inside Story (Collins (UK) 1983). He has written for and worked on a wide variety of magazines and newspapers in Britain, NZ and the US. He is trying to grow truffles, olives and grapes on a small farm in North Canterbury, and is immediate past president of the NZ Truffle Association. He is a member of the committee of the NZ Meteorological Society, deputy chair of the North Canterbury Radio Trust, and a founder member of the Waipara River Protection Group. Gareth is on Twotter @grenow

Cheaper solar power and electric vehicles are going to change our world over the next 5 years - Hot Topic

Sep 17, 2017

This will be the best hour you’ll spend in front of a screen this week, I promise.     Tony Seba explains how the plunging costs of battery storage and solar power generation, coupled with the rise of electric vehicles and autonomous driving technologies are going to first disrupt and then transform both the transport and power industries worldwide, and very, very soon. Watch this, and then ask yourself why this isn’t being reflected in the policy discussion in this NZ election. Why are we not encouraging rooftop solar? Why are we still building motorways? Drilling for oil? The timeline on this stuff falls within the lifetime of the next parliament! Shamelessly lifted from Peter at Climate Crocks. Thanks for the lead, Peter, you just delayed my Sunday work programme by an hour! … Read More

Guy McPherson and the end of humanity (not) - Hot Topic

Dec 12, 2016

by Professor James Renwick Is climate change going to wipe out humanity over the next 10 years? Prof Jim Renwick doesn’t think so… Ecologist Guy McPherson Ecologist Guy McPherson has been touring New Zealand for the past couple of weeks, explaining why humanity has only 10 years to live (a kind-of Ziggy message that has immediate appeal to me). After his appearance on the Paul Henry breakfast show, I was called by TV3/Newshub for comment. Based on my understanding of climate change science I said that though the situation is very serious — dire even — extinction in 10 years is not going to happen. When I gave my remarks to Newshub, I knew little about McPherson but I understood that he is a very knowledgeable biologist who should not be dismissed … Read More

When the world warms, the Arctic burns - Hot Topic

May 19, 2016

The Arctic has been ridiculously warm this last northern hemisphere winter. The sea ice maximum in March was the smallest in the record (by a small margin). April was another warm month in the far North — especially over Greenland — and May is continuing the warm streak. The sea ice is showing the effects of prolonged unusual heat, as Tamino noted a few days ago at Open Mind. Any way you look at it, Arctic sea ice during May has fallen far below previous May values. My first reaction was to go looking at graphs — Neven’s Arctic Sea Ice blog has a comprehensive selection here — and in particular at the “plume” sea ice graph created and maintained by Jim Pettit (below). It’s a very clever device: it shows what would … Read More

Coming soon: RSNZ reports on NZ climate impacts and mitigation options - Hot Topic

Apr 15, 2016

Last year the Royal Society of NZ set up two panels to look at what our current understanding of climate change means for New Zealand, and the findings are due to be published over the next two weeks. The first report, Climate Change Implications for New Zealand, will be released on Tuesday, April 19th. It was put together by a team led by VUW’s Prof Jim Renwick, with a brief to: “prepare a succinct summary of existing New Zealand information around the risks associated with recent and projected trends in greenhouse gas emissions, and the likely consequences for New Zealand in future decades and centuries.” The second report, Climate Change Mitigation Options for New Zealand, was prepared by a panel led by Prof Ralph Sims, and will be published on April 27th. The Implications report will be launched … Read More

Too hot (and here comes the surge) - Hot Topic

Jan 22, 2016

2015 was the hottest year since records began in all of the major global temperature datasets, and by a huge margin. The world is now more than 1ºC warmer than pre-industrial temperatures — pushed there by rapidly rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and helped a little by the current very strong El Niño. And because El Niño’s major impacts on global temperatures happen as an event declines, we can expect 2016 to be even warmer. Carbon Brief has an excellent analysis of the new record here. See also NASA and NOAA’s joint announcement, the NASA press release, and Hansen et al’s overview (pdf). Here’s the latter on the outlook for the rest of the decade: We can also say with confidence, because of Earth’s energy imbalance (energy absorbed from sunlight … Read More

Funding climate action: Sarah Thomson’s judicial review of NZ climate policy - Hot Topic

Dec 09, 2015

Sarah Thomson, the Waikato law student who made news last month when she announced her intention to sue the New Zealand government for its weak climate targets, has launched a crowd-funding campaign to help cover the costs of a judicial review. The Give A Little campaign, created by former Hamilton City councillor Daphne Bell, launched today. At the time of writing, it has already raised over $1,000. Mrs Bell explained why she supports Sarah’s initiative: The Give A Little page will enable the many people around the country who support her an easy and practical way to help. They include those who cheered her speeches at the climate change marches in Auckland and Hamilton, and many more around New Zealand who applaud her ground-breaking legal action. At the Auckland climate march last month, Sarah … Read More

Postcards from La La Land: Wishart falls through Thin Ice - Hot Topic

Sep 28, 2015

Allow me to pose a question. Which fearless investigative reporter, magazine publisher and author could be bothered to attend a school showing of Thin Ice, the excellent climate documentary put together Simon Lamb and scientists from VUW and Oxford? And did he stand up at the end and make a fool of himself? Well, by his own admission he stood up and asked questions. Whether he made a fool of himself is another matter, but there’s some handy evidence we can look at… Any New Zealand reader with a passing interest in climate issues will know that I’m talking about Ian Wishart, a writer with an extensive track record of misunderstanding climate science and a tendency to shout about it from the rooftops. Last week he published a “review” of Thin Ice at his Investigate … Read More

The advice of fools: Newman and Kelly risible on rising seas - Hot Topic

Sep 16, 2015

Former ACT MP Muriel Newman — an extreme right-winger and no stranger to the wilder shores of climate denial — has waded into the debate about sea level rise and coastal hazards in Christchurch in a long-winded and unhelpful article at her NZ “Centre for Policy Research” web site. In many respects, her piece is par for the Hidebound course — full of misdirection, misrepresentation and schoolgirl errors of fact, motivated by a weird world view: The reality is that unfortunately, carbon dioxide is being used as a political football. When radicals embraced the environmental movement in the seventies, driving out people like Dr Patrick Moore the founder of Greenpeace, they used the climate debate to conceal their real agenda – the global redistribution of wealth. Newman takes as the text for her sermon a … Read More

How Climate Change Deniers Sound to Normal People - Hot Topic

Sep 11, 2015

Ssomething for the weekend: US comedy team Girl Pants Productions with a commentary on denier arguments. John Cook will be particularly pleased with the condom consensus argument… And a date for the diary of Wellingtonians: next Tuesday Steve Rintoul from CSIRO’s Oceans & Atmosphere Flagship and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre in Hobart will be giving this year’s ST Lee Lecture on The Fate of the Antarctic Ice Sheet: Lessons from the Geological Past and How they are Informing Future Predictions at VUW. From the Royal Society alert: This lecture will review recent progress in understanding the role of the Southern Ocean in the earth’s climate system, how the Southern Ocean is changing, and the consequences of those changes for climate, sea level and the future of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Sounds … Read More