Posted by: nzydmahara | December 16, 2009

The Six Personas of Climate Deniers

We’ve all been there before. Having a conversation when the topic turns to climate change and someone pipes up with their views that it’s not true and all a great conspiracy. In fact we all know at least a few people like that, in fact I know a few more than a few.
They call themselves skeptics and often cite obscure facts or emails which they don’t really understand and take out of context. Now don’t get me wrong having a degree of scepticism is a good thing. We should all be sceptical and challenge things. However when 98% of the scientific community and all the statistical data supports the fact that climate change is real and human induced perhaps we should take that on board. In fact that is where things move from scepticism to just slowing down progress. In reality they are not sceptics but roadblocks to progress.
The interesting thing is I don’t believe their beliefs have anything to do with the actual science, but is about their own issues. So in today’s blog I will introduce you to the ‘Six Personas of Climate Deniers’.

Persona One –The Pseudo Intellect

These are people that pride themselves on being ‘smarter than the rest’. They want to try and somehow appear moreintelligent by going contrary to the intellectual norm. They are often quick to debate the issue and are often full of facts and figures (however deceptive they may be).

Persona Two – The Salmon
These people like to swim against the tide and appear different to everyone else. These are similar to the ‘pseudo intellect’ and enjoy being different, however this lot tend to do it more on more of a social basis. They want to be the counterpoint in social settings, to stand out amongst the crowd.

Persona Three – The Baron

These people have a vested interest in industries that would be seriously impacted upon by reducing emissions. Baron’s can come in two forms – out and out deniers, and roadblocks. The former is somewhat self explanatory, the latter tends to be more dangerous. Roadblocks are very active in lobbying and will look to protect their patch. They will be more subtle about their viewpoints and tend to use traditional economic models to argue their point.

Persona Four – The Vested Politician
These people have strongly held political beliefs which are at odds with what would be required to address climate change. Almost all respected commentators say that achieving the emissions reductions needed will require strong government intervention. If this is at odds with their political beliefs (e.g. ‘Neo-liberal’) then they would rather deny that climate change is happening rather than forgo their political beliefs.

Persona Five – The Ostrich
These are the head in the sand people. They see climate change as a threat to the way they live their lives, so would rather pretend it isn’t real than actually make changes to their lives. The scary thing is that they make up the largest proportion of the deniers and even within the general population.

Persona Six – The Joey Tribianni
These are the uninformed. They do not really understand the issues but have been influenced by one of the first four personas into holding their beliefs. When probed they often simply reply with a “My friend understands it a lot better than I do”.

So those are my take on the various persona traits of climate deniers. There are probably more so feel free to send me through your thoughts on other ones as well. The interesting thing is that these personas are not mutually exclusive they may all be happening at the same time in a single person.

My key point is that next time you encounter a climate change denier who thinks this is all a great socialist conspiracy take a second to think about what point of view they are coming from. It will go a long way to explaining why they really hold the position they do.

Remember which is the more likely – 98% of scientists and scientific organisations conspired together or somehow misread the multitude of data from all around the world? Or there are a few people out there who have interests or world views that mean they refuse to acknowledge the overwhelming facts?

Posted by: nzydmahara | December 10, 2009

The Business of Climate Change – who really bears the burden?

So here we sit; two young Kiwis at the heart of the United Nations Climate Negotiations in Copenhagen. More than being just a beehive of policy wonks and bureaucrats however, it is also a centre for hundreds of companies and governments from all over the world to showcase innovative, low-carbon solutions to climate change. It really is the new frontier of the global marketplace.
Yet, amidst all this the New Zealand government is unfortunately acting like the world is not changing. In the negotiations, it is pushing for weak emissions reduction targets, working to offload the burden of action onto poorer countries, and publishing inflated and misleading figures on the costs of adaptation.

Contrary to the traditional conservative business rhetoric, we believe these actions are compromising our future economic integrity and prosperity, let alone our environmental and social wellbeing. There are several reasons this is the case. Firstly, by setting low emission reduction targets we’re failing to create the necessity to innovate. This makes us uncompetitive as we head into an increasingly carbon constrained world economy. Secondly, we’re failing to foster development of the next generation of low-carbon technologies that are, and will continue to be, massive areas of growth. Lastly, we’re compromising our clean green brand of 100% Pure, and any business worth their salt protects their brand fiercely.

Fundamentally, we believe that the stance being taken by the New Zealand Government is akin to the protectionist policies of earlier years. It only serves to insulate us from the realities of a changing global marketplace and pushes the burden of adaptation from today’s business on to tomorrows. In the mid to long term, this will compromise the New Zealand economy as it is forced to buy low-carbon technology and skills from overseas, rather than becoming a net exporter. We’d like to remind John Key that ‘fast followers’ still come second.

The truth is high legally binding emission reduction targets are not anywhere near the death-wish some people make them out to be. Those who claim that New Zealand is a special case because of its high agricultural emissions fail to recognise two key points. Firstly, that bold commitments will provide us with the incentive to develop technologies that will be valuable the around the world in the years to come. And secondly, that we have already started making progress towards reducing our agricultural emissions. An Agresearch trial farm in Waikato has preliminary results showing a 20% reduction in their carbon footprint. This is supported by further research in the Waikato, oftentimes showing 12-15% reductions with no significant impact on farm profitability. This progress highlights that higher emission reduction targets are within our reach.

We believe that with the right policies New Zealand has the potential to leverage our strengths (high education, great brand and entrepreneurial culture) to develop a knowledge economy based around low carbon and sustainable solutions. But to take advantage of this in an increasingly carbon constrained world economy we need:
• Strong binding (minimum 30-40% by 2020) commitments for emissions reductions;
• Supportive governmental policies that actively encourage emission reductions, and
• Financial and institutional support for research and development of sustainable technologies and businesses.

New Zealand has always been a home of innovation. Seeing the opportunities that are being showcased here in Copenhagen, we know New Zealand has something to add. As budding young entrepreneurs we see the opportunities to lead in a range of industries are abundant, but at risk of passing us by.

New Zealand can be at the forefront of low-carbon business development which would only further our position as world leading innovators. But without solid commitment now, we risk passing up these opportunities and laying the burden of change on future generations.

Mahara Inglis and Oliver Bruce

Posted by: nzydmahara | December 5, 2009

Moving from absolutes

Kia ora all,

Well its been a long day at the Conference of the Youth. This is where youth from around the world get together to increase our understanding and network together.

While I could diarise my actions for the day, you could probably get an outline of that anywhere. Here I want to talk about moving away from absolutes.

I get the feeling that amongst some people they hold true to ‘absolutes’ that reflect their political ideology, not necesarily the best outcome.

Now I am not talking about reduction targets or science (350ppm) which for me are absolutes, but more about how we achieve them.

An example lies in the Clean Development Mechanisms and offsetting. This seems to be pretty well divided along ‘left’ and ‘right’ political ideologies. With the left being more skeptical about its use, and the right being proponents of market mechanisms.

I hate to be one to sit on the fence but I believe the best option will come as a combination of both, as well as some new stuff. The risk is that we get the worst of both instead of the best.

I believe this attitude can be applied to many of the scenarios we face. It is about moving beyond the traditional arguing points and reaching new ground.

So far this blog has been fairly ambiguous and non-specific (maybe its just because its late). But I just wanted to highlighted my belief that there is still political baggage dragging on the negotiations. We need to leave all that behind and break new ground on how we want things to be achieved.

(Insert Albert Einstein quote here)

Anyway, just something to ponder.

Posted by: nzydmahara | December 3, 2009

Update from CPH

Kia ora all,

Been a while. We arrived with the delegation in Copenhagen just a few days ago. We’ve been busy sorting out a variety of logistical requirements and getting an idea of Copenhagen.

As a note most of the delegation are pretty pleased that our Prime Minister has decided to attend the conference. We look forward to working with the NZ Delegation for positive action on climate change.

The lead up to COP15 was pretty busy so blog posts have been pretty non-existant. However I hope to have more time from now on to post blog updates and feed back information. This will be based upon meetings I attend but also what I can around the impacts and opportunities for business.

Posted by: nzydmahara | October 8, 2009


Kia ora all and welcome to my first ever blog!

I’m assuming that because I havent told anyone about this blog you either know me or are incredibly lost!

But to make things easier I’ll start from the beginning and give you a bit about this blog, myself and what I’m going to discuss.

As a member of the New Zealand Youth Delegation we are all attending this years vital conference in Copenhagen in December. This conference will decide the future of international climate policy. As such it is vital that the youth of the world, and New Zealand are represented at the conference. Also that we inspire, inform and empower New Zealand Youth to get involved in what is arguably the greatest risk (and opportunity) facing humankind. AND as part of us connecting with everyone we will all be keeping a blog.

Anyway, a bit of background about me. To put things simply I’m a 26 year old Kiwi bloke. I enjoy rugby, BBQ’s having a few beers etc. But namely I am passionate about sustainability and regeneration, AND business. It has been my passion for many years. Even going so far as to study it at University then work in the field as a career since.

Now many people still see sustainability and business as somewhat contradictory. Despite the stacks of evidence and multitude of case studies there is still reluctance. I believe the complete opposite. I believe that not only is sustainability good for business, business can be good for sustainability.

The aim of my blog is to simply run through my thoughts on the matter, and provide you with some fantastic case studies that I have seen around the place that further highlight that the benefits of sustainable/regenerative business.

Posted by: nzydmahara | September 28, 2009

Hello world!

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!