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  • Rights: Crown Copyright 2020, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
    Published 15 October 2020 Referencing Hub media

    James Renwick, Shaun Awatere, Drew Bingham and Gregor Macara explain a few of the impacts climate change has on us and the environment.

    Questions for discussion:

    • What are two impacts of climate change happening now?
    • What impacts might climate change have on our wellbeing?



    The climate, or the environment that we live in, defines everything about what we do and how we live our lives. Human civilisation is part of the environment. It’s not something we can put over here and control.

    We’re part of the cycle of life. If some parts of the natural world are damaged, if some ecosystems die out, if species go extinct, it affects us. If we do damage to one part of the environment, we’re doing damage to ourselves ultimately. We’re in it, you know, we’re part of it. So if the climate is changing, everything about how we live our lives, how our societies and economies operate is changing.


    With the impacts of climate change, that raises those CO2 levels in our oceans, which then has an impact on life forms within oceans, such as pipi, pāua, kina – the shells of those types of creatures are going to be compromised, they’re going to be softer. That means that those key taonga species are going to be at more risk of dying out. Now that’s going to be a huge and significant impact on the ability of iwi and hapū to be able to manaaki, to care for their people, to care for manuhiri.


    We’re seeing impacts in our wellbeing in a lot of different areas right now. So we’re seeing it in our environment, we’re seeing changes to biodiversity and changing species, we’re seeing impacts in our economy from extreme storms and floods.


    Auckland has just gone through one of its driest 6-month spells on record, and they were suffering major issues with water shortages in their dams and having to restrict water usage.

    Rainfall is a really important resource in New Zealand. We use it to go about our daily lives, to generate power, and our farmers are using it to irrigate their farms – we have vineyards and orchards. As our climate changes, that has implications for things like the types of food or crops we can grow.


    And if we let it change too much, you know the consequences could be really dire in terms of economic damage, damage to properties and risks to human life basically.


    I have a real connection to New Zealand’s snow and ice, and part of that is the skiing that I do, but also I think it adds a certain beauty to our landscapes. And so I find it, yeah, really quite depressing actually to see our ice melting at the rate that it is.


    A lot of people could be affected in other countries, and that’s going to take a toll on everyone. Yeah, the psychological cost of climate change could be huge if we let it get much further away. We all have our own personal cares and concerns. What’s the future going to be like for my children and grandchildren? What’s their life going to be like when they’re middle-aged in another 30 or 40 years?

    Professor James Renwick, Victoria University of Wellington
    Dr Shaun Awatere, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research
    Drew Bingham, Ministry for the Environment
    Gregor Macara, NIWA
    Light airplane research mission and aerials of Southern Alps and Brewster Glacier; Auckland water dam during drought; storm footage, NIWA
    Family gathering kaimoana, 100% Pure NZ, Tourism New Zealand


    This resource has been produced with the support of the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ. (c) Crown Copyright.

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