Kia ora. What a week! We hope you’ve all come through last weekend’s extreme weather event relatively dry and safe.

Header image: stormwater ponds at Hobsonville Point. Image via Twitter.

The week in Greater Auckland

There’s been a storm of information and debate since the worst of the flooding unfolded on Friday, and a short posting week for us.

On Tuesday, Matt pulled together some thoughts on the deluge and how the city was affected.

Yesterday, Matt responded to news that the Auckland Light Rail project is getting a rethink.

Fuel tax extended

In a week that felt absolutely packed with news, from seemingly endless rainstorms to a new Minister for Auckland issues, one item that may have slipped through was the announcement that the fuel tax cut and PT subsidy will be extended until the end of June. It’s an expensive policy, and not one we’re big fans of. Will June really be the end of it?

The 25 cent cut to the petrol excise duty, a cut to road user changes for diesel, and a half-price subsidy on public transport would cost an estimated $718 million.

“We found sufficient funding to be able to fund this extension. Now this extension takes us through till the end of June, won’t escape anybody, that’s when the new budget period starts,” Robertson said.

Mark Daalder from Newsroom picked up on the Prime Minister’s claim that the reinstating the fuel tax wouldn’t have an effect on emissions, which is, according to Daalder, incorrect.

[…] reduced fuel excise and road user charges would lead to a 1 to 2 percent increase in vehicle kilometres travelled over the five-month period and a corresponding increase in emissions of 54,000 to 99,000 tonnes.

If that rate of emissions persists through the five-and-a-half month extension to the policy, which was announced in July, the tax cuts could ultimately result in more than 200,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution.

There’s lots of other ways cost of living could be eased without contributing to our emissions. How about that ebike subsidy? That seems like one really obvious option. Many other places are trying them out, and we’re predicting ebike subsidies are only going to become more widespread in 2023.

Or what if some of that money was put towards enhancing public transport service reliability, to support David Faitaua in his quest to encourage Aucklanders to embrace public transport?

Understanding the flooding

Despite the day of non-stop rain on Friday, the suddenness and severity of the afternoon’s floods took everyone by suprise, and there’s been some good work done in the days since to try and understand what happened.

Earlier in the week, the Spinoff’s Bulletin newsletter provided this very clear explanation of an atmospheric river:

What is an atmospheric river and how much rain did Auckland get?
Auckland has now had over 769% of its normal January rainfall and over 38% of its annual rainfall. The cause? An atmospheric river. James Renwick of Victoria University explained what one is really well in comments provided by the Science Media Centre. Atmospheric rivers are vast corridors of moisture that extend from the tropics to higher latitudes. The warmer the temperature, the more water vapour they carry. A significant atmospheric river carries as much water as the Amazon river. The Herald’s Jamie Morton outlines what we know about the second atmospheric river headed our way today.

Newsroom’s Mark Daalder, again, summed up several key datapoints of the flooding in a collection of excellent and simple charts.

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The CRL tunnels took on a lot of water, too. The extent of the damage, and how that will affect construction progress, isn’t clear yet, but it sounds like floodwater came into the tunnels at Mt Eden and carried on downhill from there.

And it wasn’t just Auckland that was hit either. In the Coromandel, SH25A has provided us with a stark example of what can happened to infrastructure under sustained pressure from extreme weather. On the 25th of January, just Wednesday last week, Waka Kotahi was on RNZ talking about a series of ominous and deep cracks that had appeared in the road. By Saturday, it had collapsed.

Perhaps one aspect that has made this flooding event feel so catastrophic is the background fear many of us have that it’s a sign of things to come. As Olivia Wannan at Stuff reports, rain records are simply going to keep on falling. Warmer air holds more moisture, so a warmer climate is likely to produce more extreme weather.

“Every tenth of a degree matters. Every decision we make now matters – whether that’s buying an EV instead of a gas-guzzling 4×4, whether it’s taking the bus instead of the car, whether it’s not flying, whether it’s government agricultural policy, everything makes a difference. It is in our power. But the longer we leave it, the harder it gets.”

We are already, unfortunately, in a kind of new normal, one in which floods that were once classified as ‘in one hundred years’ may start being redefined. This article on Medium argues that people planning major infrastructure projects are routinely underestimating the increased risk from flooding, and need to urgently adapt.

Climate change has exacerbated the problem by making historic flood data obsolete. But many engineers and policymakers keep using the old data — or make insufficient updates and adjustments — and seem surprised when extreme flooding happens.

But a 500-year event that is becoming more common is not only an oxymoron. It is no longer a 500-year event, but instead a sign of a new normal.

Finally, Tze Ming Mok dug up an epic-sounding 2019 Auckland Council report that paints a range of futures for the city, taking into account different climate change scenarios. (The report was the work of Alec Tang, then sustainability whiz at Council and now the same at Kāinga Ora).

Greening our way to a sponge city

In the weekend, we saw how water inundation behaved all over the city – and it was obvious that some areas were better at being ‘spongy’ than others. ‘Sponge cities’ is an approach to designing urban infrastructure that uses soft green tools instead of concrete and pipes to manage stormwater flows: things like planted swales and stormwater ponds. We’ve got a guest post on the topic coming up next week – but a few others have already been talking about sponge cities in relation to Tāmaki Makaurau.

Councillor Julie Fairey spoke to Kim Hill about sponge cities and invisible infrastructure on RNZ on Tuesday, relating how successfully the regenerated parts of Te Auaunga Oakley Creek carried stormwater and reduced flooding in nearby homes.

A newly restored section of Te Auaunga Oakley Creek, near Wesley. Image via Bike Auckland.

On the same day, The Spinoff published a piece by Dr. Timothy Welch from the University of Auckland about sponge cities, and soft versus paved infrastructure.

The concept incorporates green roofs, rain gardens and permeable pavements to absorb and filter water. Better catch systems hold rainwater where possible and reuse it. More green space and trees are also incorporated into street and neighbourhood designs.

Within the sponge city concept is a way to mitigate flooding using “water sensitive urban design”. With this approach, we create spaces that better manage flooding through systems that mimic the natural water cycle.

And a deep dive into the concept, from The Guardian earlier last year, coins the phrase ‘slow water’ – the opposite of the shockingly sudden flooding that drenched Auckland on Friday night.

But when water slows and stalls on land, that’s when the magic happens, providing habitat and food for many forms of life above and below. The key to greater resilience, say the water detectives, is to find ways to let water be water, to reclaim space for it to interact with the land. Innovative water management projects aim to slow water on land in some approximation of natural patterns. For that reason, I’ve come to think of this movement as “Slow Water”.

Stormwater ponds at Hobsonville Point took most of the floodwaters in the area and prevented widespread damage. Image via Twitter.

And today in Stuff, Nikki Macdonald digs deep on the question ‘We’ve paved paradise, how do we let the water out?’. The article offers some great examples of what lies beneath ordinary looking playing fields and grassy areas, the different between superficially pretty rain gardens and real stormwater contingency planning, and ends with a great question from Prof Welch:

“Every headline is ‘Is this a wake-up call for Auckland?’. But if you look back to three weeks ago when we had Cyclone Hale, that was also a wake-up call and there are other wake-up calls. So at some point, we’re just going to have to wake up and actually do it.”

Turning towards more resilient modes

While cars were floating up off the tar seal all over the city, we heard of a few epic bike rides home through the city as it flooded. As should hopefully be clear to everyone – especially after reading Olivia Wannan’s piece linked above – if we stay committed to fossil fuels and big, high-carbon infrastructure projects, we’re only going to increase our exposure to extreme weather events. So it’s good to remember there’s one very available, very cost-effective solution right under our noses.

Nothing beats the bike when it comes to efficiency for travel. Image via Twitter.

The New Yorker had a great piece recently all about the ebike boom in the USA. It’s a good read if you’re new to ebikes, or just starting to consider trying one out.

In 2020, Americans bought more than twice as many e-bikes as they did electric cars (score: an estimated 500,000 to 231,000). In China, e-bikes outnumber all cars, e- and not e-, Edward Benjamin, the chairman of the Light Electric Vehicle Association, told me over the phone from his house in Fort Myers, Florida. He went on, “Can Americans change from a four-wheel culture to a two-wheel culture in the next century? I say absolutely! There ain’t enough roadway, there ain’t enough materials to build cars, there ain’t enough wealth to sustain the car culture.”

Are ebikes the new smartphone? This tech analyst thinks they might be. Electric vehicles are just an example of sustaining an existing technology – they are merely better cars. But he thinks ebikes are truly disruptive – and we just haven’t realised yet.

There’s all these small vehicles all over the world, literally hundreds of millions, and nobody’s counting them, nobody’s measuring how many miles [they travel], what’s their impact on carbon, are they being shared, what’s the supply chain, what’s the time to market — nothing.

The ebike subsidies we wish we had: we’re looking longingly at Denver, Colorado, where an ongoing programme of ebike subsidies is proving so popular that the January allocation sold out in less than half an hour.

It seems to be an idea that’s spreading, because in Hawaii a bill has just been passed that will offer school kids ebike subsidies of up to $2000. 

Resident Matthew Rittenhouse put forward the idea that an effective way to tackle school run traffic would be to incentivise the youth to cycle, with some emphasis placed on electric bikes as a solution that would further engage pupils.

Which makes total sense, right? It gets cars that would otherwise have been delivering kids off the road, and it makes the school run much more fun.

These young campaigners in Toronto are pretty clear that they’d much rather be getting around by bike, safely of course, than in the back of Mum’s car.

Bikes might even make one of life’s most onerous chores – moving house – more fun, according to this wonderful story.

A tērā wiki. Have a restful Waitangi weekend, and see you next week.

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  1. Re: Sponge Cities, Martin Brooks seems to make the opposite point: “Second, landowners should limit vegetation removal and make sure stormwater drains properly into reticulated systems, rather than informal soak-aways.”

    He also writes, “With weak soils in a humid climate, a conservative rule of thumb could be a set-back distance of three times the height of the slope or cliff. So, a house on a 30-metre high North Shore cliff, with superb views across to Rangitoto Island, should be set-back around 100 metres from the cliff edge.”

    1. Good points in that article about the problem of changing land use: “the removal of vegetation, which allows more water to directly enter the soil; the creation of impermeable surfaces; and the cutting and filling of undulating slopes to enable roads and buildings to be constructed. All of these affect the near-surface drainage and hydrology.”

      And while he may have a point about informal soakaways, the problems in my area were that the “reticulated systems” were unable to carry the volume. The stormwater drains were under so much pressure they were pushing the stormwater up into basements. This would’ve been exacerbated if people upstream of us were all advised to divert their stormwater from soakaways to the stormwater drains.

      What I take away from his article is that the sponge city concept needs good urban planning; it can’t just be tacked on, household by household. Council needs to better use the knowledge base from our academics, practitioners and the legacy Waitakere City Council.

      Higher rise, minimum car infrastructure, maximum green infrastructure, enforcement around respecting that green infrastructure, a halt to sprawl and road building, road reallocation, stability analysis, setbacks from cliffs. It all needs to be wrapped up in a central planning exercise.

      Did you see the slips that resulted from berms damaged by illegal parking?

      1. I’m wondering if there is any event that doesn’t conclude for Heidi that people should not be allowed to drive cars.
        You could argue that intensifying the city has contributed to the problem. All that infill housing has covered land that previously soaked up rain.
        At the end of the day, this was a 100 year event and while it is a massive blow to the economy and personally to those many effected, it’s just as likely that the next 100 year event will be an eruption, then you can blame the CO2 from MT Albert popping to cars as well.

        1. Strawman argument. No transit activist argues that cars should be banned – only that car travel should not be nearly as necessary or common. Transit activists argue for greater freedom in choice for urban travel.

          I think you’ll find that these 100 year events are going to be come far more frequent thanks to climate change. The way things are going humanity will have driven themselves to extinction long before the hot spot beneath Auckland pops up a new volcanic cone.

        2. Climate change is not an extinction moment – the internet might be as people flock to like minded groups and call themselves ‘activists’.

        3. Climate scientists disagree – or do you think the permafrost thaw feedback loop or catastrophic disruption of ocean currents is a hoax?

          It is hubris to think homo sapiens will survive 4+ degrees of warming and all that entails. I fail to comprehend the sheer vanity and self-centeredness many humans posess

        4. Some scientists have warned that if global warming led to the extinction of all animal and plant life then humans could become extinct.
          Meanwhile other scientists are working on how to sustain life on Mars.
          Humans are class A predators and totally selfish – no way are we going to die out because of global warming.
          Right now we have the technology to massively reduce CO2 through mechanical carbon capture – we are just not ready to spend billions on it, but you can be sure that long before we die, we will spend the money needed.
          The biggest problem is really that we over consume, we can reduce that in a generation by having less children.
          Meanwhile leave the ‘world is ending’ fantasy to the religious nutters.

        5. We do not deserve to survive as a species. We have committed multiple genocides against nature, and the punishment for genocide should be the death penalty.

          Self-inflicted extinction is what humanity deserves at this point, we do not deserve success, we do not deserve Martian colonies. I hope that Elon Musk and his fanboy cult choke to death or fry in solar radiation if they try to follow his delusions.

          Mechanical carbon capture is a hoax, it produces more carbon than it captures, you have fallen for techbro nonsense, more hubris from a self-entitled cluster of apes.

          You are the religious nutter, convinced in your stuck-up superiority and survivability, thinking you can overcome the Great Filter of environmental destruction. The only kind of life that can thrive in the universe is not the intelligent kind, but the single-celled organism, the plant, and the balanced ecosystem of mere predators and prey. Sentience and civilization is not sustainable.

        6. Not sure why you are bothering to defend metal boxes. They are a means to an end, no point building our society around metal boxes.

          As for climate change, humans will just adapt. There are far bigger threats than some change in weather. Humans survive in frozen wastelands and we live in deserts. Solar power alone, with some big batteries, can provide all our energy needs.

          Africa, India & China aren’t going to choose to remain poor so we can keep our nice lifestyles. The west has refused to do this, so why should they? So global emissions will keep increasing and our only realistic option is to adapt to more droughts, floods and cyclones.

          “Sentience and civilization is not sustainable.”
          Mr Pessimest sounds like a total religious nutter. Most of humanity used to live short, brutal lives and now we live in a time when people have so much free time they can spend it arguing about stuff on the interwebs.

        7. And you don’t see how lives will get shorter and more painful again as temperatures rise, crops fail, water becomes scarse and weather disasters increase in frequency?

          You are a fool Ari. We cannot and will not adapt to the scale of change that is to come.

    2. Does any of these articles mention advantages of large green flooding plains (e.g. Domain fields, golf courses) compared to more natural approaches like a forest or wetlands on the same site? Is there a clear favourite in terms of resilience?

      1. Turning sportsfields into wetlands would take time, but not nearly as long as moving Kiwis from rugby and cricket to bush and stream restoration as a team fitness activity.

    3. Making stormwater flow more “efficiently” into reticulated stormwater systems may well reduce problems at the upper edges of stormwater problems, but it sure creates problems around, and downstream of any discharge point. And increasingly even upstream of overloaded discharge points, as catch pits reverse and manholes lift, causing severe flooding
      The Freemans Bay catchment graphically demonstrated this as the manholes lifted near the Victoria Park supermarket.

      Increasingly common superstorm events must now shape our cities as much as, and in the same direction as, reducing our transport emissions.

      Built up water catchments need to provide a lot more space to absorb and delay stormwater on its flow downhill. In technical terms, to slow it’s time of concentration.

      This requires changes on how, and where we use our land to house an increasing population. Housing structures need to use their surface footprint much more efficiently by being taller, multistorey, to allow more permeable, and more temporary water storage around them, more landscaping, and more local amenity.

      Currently being built suburban McMansions, on their fully built up plots, are the antithesis to what is required here.

      Our huge reliance on the motor car for the bulk of out transport needs has very much exacerbated rain storm effects.
      Building out, rather then up, has meant car dependence to function, and those longer car journeys, requiring even more paved surfacing to move and store those vehicles.
      Those square kilometres of paved surfaces, all carefully designed to provide super fast run off, are merely moving the problems further down the hill.

      Compare the runoff from a double tracked railway line to that of a similar capacity motorway. And that is not allowing for the runoff from the required car storage areas at both ends of each car journey.

      We need to look far more to how Singapore provides housing, and transport needs in a rainstorm vulnerable location.
      What we are doing now is simply not sustainable.

    1. They supplied it themselves, and didn’t sound like it was a big deal in their email. Lets hope that was more than just PR spin, or too-early conclusions.

  2. As usual AT are showing their stunning lack of communication. We checked the trains and walked from Aotea Centre to Britomart at 10pm last night. By the time we got to Britomart the train had been canceled. Surely they could have notified that earlier. While waiting for the Tamaki Link we found out Tamaki Drive was closed Parnell to Mission Bay, so that took out our 2 bus options. It was a 10 minute walk back up Queen Street to another bus, so we opted for an Uber. I know these are unusual times under a state of emergency but we are avid public transport users and we are losing faith in AT.

    1. Emma, you must have an enormous tolerance that you are only now losing faith in AT.
      On the reverse side, I want to applaud some amazing service. I went to Smales Farm Service Centre yesterday to get a new Hop Card. The two staff could not have been more engaging, helpful and knowledgable. They helped our homestay student through the complete process of setting up a new card. Great.

  3. Bikes are like cockroaches,despite concerted efforts from sections of society to “kill them off”,they just keep crawling out from under the fridge,and like cockroaches when the conditions are right,their numbers increase.
    Politicians both local and national have never really “got” bikes,but they (bikes),now hold the key ,to addressing most of societies problems. It is hard to think of a societal issue,where”bike” would not go a long way to be part of the solution,examples health(mental and physical),poverty,crime,and of course people movement.
    That billions of dollars is poured into other solutions,while shunning an inexpensive remedy,shows mankind’s true failings. How can a bike improve my mental health?,easy ,get on one and go for a ride,you will soon find out.

  4. I usually don’t grow broccoli this time of the year too dry and white butterfly. But for some unknown reason I ended up planting a dozen seedling and now have a bumper crop. Also delicious carrots but the corn has falling down but still growing. So the rain is not all bad. No doubt dairy farmers will be flat out growing more grass but vegatable growers will be struggling to harvest crops.
    But my thoughts go out to the floods victim. In 1984 my house was flooded in South Canterbury so I know what it’s like.

  5. Reimagining cities in a few simple questions
    What would happen if public transportation were free?
    What if it were paid for by congestion pricing, digitally implemented?
    What if public toilets were safe, beautiful, well-appointed and consistently maintained?
    What if there were a tax on empty storefronts, payable after three months of vacancy?
    Shortly after the invention of the car, society made many decisions about how cities should work. These choices led to parking lots, suburbs and a definition of what a normal city was supposed to be like. Robert Moses and others pushed for a specific sort of urban environment.
    It’s surprising how quickly and inexpensively that could begin to change.
    Doing the same thing since the dawn of the expressway, year after year, without seeing the pattern, is a little Groundhog’s Dayish.
    It helps to see it and then to talk about it.

    1. If public transport was free then people would be queuing up to use it for low value trips while the operators would have no incentive to increase services. People who rely on it to get somewhere would find they couldn’t get on. Why do people think free is some nirvana? Just looks at the roads in any peak hour and you will see free degenerates into worthless.

      1. What is the difference between a low value trip and getting where you need to go? People use cars for these ‘low value trips’, causing WAY more damage thus cost than what it it would take it increase services.

        Plus you’ve missed the missing piece to the puzzle which is both active transport and building better neighbourhoods. Under MrPlods suggestion (I don’t agree with free PT by the way) if I have a choice between paying congestion charge, waiting for a bus or easily and safely walking to my ‘low value trip’ that is closer because planning laws have allowed it then that surely frees up PT for people that ‘need to go somewhere’

  6. We seem to be more accepting of the science of climate change and the need to do something.
    Labour, the Greens, some media and now National use the words.
    But the high number of cruise ships, road congestion and record numbers flying overseas makes me wonder if we really want change.
    There is strong resistance to public transport and biking.

    1. It takes a pretty strong push to change decades of habit.
      The good news (actually, bad news) is that the sort of flooding we saw on the weekend could become more frequent.
      That alone will help change minds and habits, but insurance companies deciding not to insure buildings in flood prone areas will also be a big push.
      History feels slow when you’re living it, but I think we’ll look back in 50 years and be amazed at how quickly we changed.

      1. I don’t share your optimism. It is over 30 years since the Earth Summit in Rio. What has been achieved on climate change in that time? Emissions have increased. We now know how wedded major emitting countries are to fossil fuels. We know that many poorer countries see fossil fuels as the means to a western standard of living. Nothing major is going to change any time soon. Restricting fossil fuels is not seen as a benefit, it is seen as an act or war.

        In my view the best we can do is tax emissions and spend the money on getting ready for the worse that is coming.

        1. Sadly I’m with Miffy. There is going ot be a tipping point of no return, if this is 1.2 degrees above Industrail revolution levels then what n earth is 2 degrees target going to look like? Bearing in mind that’s a target we have never in the history of mankind been on track to achieve. Add to that the snowball affect of things like melting ice cpas, warm arctic winters etc, speeding up that race to 2 degrees and beyond.

          Oil companies are posting record profits year on year. Wild!

        2. sadly I agree Joe, though I do not agree with miffy’s assessment that humans are even capable of weathering the worse that is coming. Homo sapiens is going to go extinct, if not by the end of this century then certainly by next century.

        3. Sadly I also am with you Miffy. NZ has hopelessly under achieved in reducing emissions. We have legislation that has been held by the Courts to only be aspirational. We have clean car legislation that has caused the highest number of car sales ever, and most of the top 10 sales car models are SUVs. Genesis dirty coal plant at Huntly, due to close in 2019, carries on its merry way. The petrol tax reduction remains in place causing an emissions increase between 1 and 2%. And the last and biggest act of stupidity, the government will charge our largest polluter, the farming industry, the least amount possible, likely ensuring that there will be little change in farming practices.

    2. Cruises and overseas trips are taken by a small minority of the population and their current untaxed and unregulated nature has allowed them to grow excessively. More leadership linking them to the damage they cause would be a good start.

  7. Most of my paid career was working as an economist in and around the edges of public policy. Naively I still live in hope that careful analysis will lead one to the right answers. So I still get shocked when I see clearly stupid policies like extending the fuel tax when clearly it works against what we are trying to achieve in emission reductions and giving some relief to the poorest members of our communities. But locally I also see full speed ahead on the Otaki to Levin expressway. Maybe we do just have to accept Parliament will be a beachfront property and the navy are trying to repel the climate refugees. Hard to accept when one has children and grandchildren.

    1. Paul C – in defence of the Otaki to Levin road though, the current road is criminal. It is seriously bad. Something needs to be done… I’m not agreeing with the whole of the O2L route – but it really is just waiting for tragedy to keep it as it is. Similarly with the road from Tauranga to Hamilton – ye Gods, that is hair-raising driving that. The locals are used to it so they all drive hell for leather – leaving the occasional tourist like me to fear for their lives. Both these roads not only go wildly from side to side, but they go up and down at the same time. Rapidly.

      On the other hand, your phrase is bang on: “Maybe we do just have to accept Parliament will be a beachfront property and the navy are trying to repel the climate refugees.” Yep, its coming.

      1. The road is bad, but the improvement since the speed limit was lowered to 80 is spectacular. There are many other small steps like this that can be done.

        Isn’t the central issue that a new motorway is seen as something that is nice to have when you don’t have to pay for it? Try polling locals to see if they would still want it at $20 a trip.

        1. The expressway is a development road: Wellington’s version of the Waikato expressway. It doesn’t need to make sense. Gotta keep up with the Jafa’s.

          “Perhaps one aspect that has made this flooding event feel so catastrophic is the background fear many of us have that it’s a sign of things to come.”

          I thought that the first Sunday afternoon of 2020 where the sky turned dark orange, due to Eastern Australia burning, was pretty portentous!

          Bonus points for the Prime Minister of the Australia going on holiday to Hawaii whilst the country burnt!

          Current leadership is still elsewhere on climate change.

        2. Robert, I completely agree with you. What if all NZ s major highways had a toll like Italy has. Would we find that suddenly alternative forms of travel become more popular, or not travelling?
          Our spending on roads is keeping us poor. Auckland is about to embark on a conversation about all the amenities that will be cut or sold, and yet selling underutilised parking buildings does not appear on the list. Neither does raising parking revenue.

  8. It always amused me how somebody counts watts for normal commute walking and cycling, I seen somebody on the internet saying nonsense that e-biking actually causing less emissions than normal mechanical cycling. Human anyway going to consume approximately same amount of energy no matter how they travel, one is not going to eat 10 eggs for breakfast instead of 4 just because he or she is getting to cycle today. Unless you’re running a marathon walking won’t make a difference to emissions even in comparison with being completely idle.

    1. Plus, each hour of cycling adds three hours to your life at the end when you don’t even really need it. Think of the extra emissions that will cause.

      (Yes I am joking)

    2. So? It’s a straw man discussion anyway. The difference is between ANY kind of walking or cycling and driving around a massive box instead.

      If we made it safe, cycling would be everywhere.

      1. The difference between walking/cycling and driving is that the CO2 emissions from the former come mostly from digestion of food which is a bio-fuel. Carbon that has been captured from the atmosphere to grow food is cycled back via respiration. With a fossil-fuel powered car, carbon that has been safely sequestered underground for millenia is liberated into the eco system. This is a one-way transaction. Big difference. And even EVs are only as clean as the source of the energy that powers them, which for much of the world is still fossil fuel.

        1. Dave, I think this is mostly food production carbon footprint, rather than what humans exhale.

  9. I think we have some visible progress on electrification in Auckland South.
    During the week I found a cache of about 50 lengths of steel, about 6 metres long
    and with flanges fixed at each end. They were lying by the rail lines that run
    through the old Paerata village . I don’t have the tech knowledge to ID them,
    but they would seem to be either poles/masts for the electric wires or stands for
    the rail “traffic light” system (I don’t know the proper term for the lights).

  10. I just saw on NewsHub that the reason for the flooding was intensification. Yep, not climate change, intensification. I couldn’t believe it. Kumeu, Titirangi, Owhiro Bay, the Coromandel presumably – all intensification. But the ex Mayor was so convinced, and Mike Lee, and the reporter (was he one of the drongos?)
    So a pause of intensification is proposed. I wonder if we will build on more fertile land; and the new less intensified land owners will drive further? But it must work, it was in the media.

    1. This is what will kill our species. The establishment forever pushing the status quo, appealing to old fuddy-duddies dreaming of a rose-tinted past. Delusions of electric cars and carbon capture, the rich leading the masses along like gerbals jumping off a cliff.

      Because comfortable people won’t change their lifestyle, and they won’t see their folly until their lifestyle becomes impossible and uncomfortable thanks to their actions.

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