In our own team, Lucy watched as her possessions suddenly floated away. She had to pack up her life and move out. She’s safe now, but says there are plenty of people in worse situations. It’s just one of countless stories of people’s lives being uprooted.
Let’s be honest, this shouldn’t be a surprise. We’ve been expecting it. We are now experiencing the impacts of climate change. It will happen again – and again. It will become more intense. The cost of clean ups and, in some cases, relocation will be into the many billions.
Dr Luke Harrington from the University of Waikato has produced a graph comparing our wettest days since 1962, published in the NZ Herald. It shows the deluge last week was on a different order of magnitude to previous ‘wet days’.
Dr David Hall has reminded us that scientists warned only last year that global heating will result in increased frequency and intensity of these kinds of extreme rain events. Their findings were published in the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Working Group 2 report. Meanwhile Professor James Renwick has explained why the floods are a sign of things to come. Essentially, every degree of warming results in, on average, 7% more water in the air. This directly feeds into bigger and more dramatic weather events.
There are immediate actions we need to take. Many adaptation measures are laid out in Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland Climate Plan already. But this requires investment from those of us lucky enough to own houses in Auckland, including paying higher rates to fund this work. This article puts the case for a new policy framework to fund climate adaptation.
Delaying this spending is simply pushing the issue onto our children and their children. It is no wonder they are so disappointed in our generation. Our lack of action is extraordinary.
SBN’s network has a number of organisations that provide better solutions for our cities. Companies like Morphum focus on circular solutions for the infrastructure we need now. However, funding for green and blue infrastructure projects, that use nature to address the climate challenges facing cities, is desperately needed.
Piet Tuinder and our Nature team are focused on getting scaled-up investment from organisations into nature. This includes funding for waterway planting and wider regenerative action, engaging local communities. This helps build skills within communities and moves us from despair to positive action. Anyone can get involved. Here’s how.
As individuals, there are many actions you can take. This month is the Aotearoa Bike Challenge, which encourages cycling rather than driving. Even riding a bike for short distances counts. You can join as an individual or for fun get your team to join – you might even win a prize. SBN takes the challenge each year and we once won a fabulous morning tea, which we all enjoyed.
Dr David Hall suggests a range of different funding and financing mechanisms for climate adaptation. You can find out more here. Crucially, however, we need to spend the funds allocated to infrastructure ‘better’ - whether it is new infrastructure, upgrades or rebuilds after disaster events.
We need the grey infrastructure of stormwater systems, yes, but also the green infrastructure of bioretention systems, permeable surfaces, urban forests, green swales (vegetated landscape depressions to capture and treat stormwater) and other nature-based solutions.
We need action in both in order to adapt to extreme weather events as we clean up this one.
But we must also get ahead of the problem. We need to invest in circular solutions, climate action and building back our nature infrastructure. We need to stop putting up roadblocks and invest as communities, as businesses, as individuals.
The impacts are already upon us. Our kids are scared. I am scared too. And we have all the solutions needed – we simply have to act.
If you want to donate to people in need in Auckland right now, City Mission have organised a Givealittle crowdfunding campaign: - https://givealittle.co.nz/donate/fundraiser/support-auckland-city-mission-flood-relief