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Kiwi Konexions: Global Warming

Glen Taylor tells of topsy-turvy weather in New Zealand.

For lots more of Glen's words please click on Kiwi Konexions in the menu on this page.

We are here in sunny Golden Bay only it isn’t sunny it is pouring down and has been for days and likely to do so for many more. The weather forecaster smiles at us from the TV screen and predicts more and more of the same and gale force winds, as a “high,” north of New Zealand, keeps a “low” trapped over us with promise of another to follow in its wake. It is hot, muggy and wet and condensation pours down the inside of the walls. This is definitely not what we expect at this time of the year.

But then the weather isn’t right. Our winter was mild on the east coast but inland snow fell and fell. Pipes froze and power lines came down. For weeks the farming community suffered. Public spirit came to the fore as folk gathered in the homes of those who had held on to the old cooking ranges of the past. Stoically they carried on while our northern cousins, in Auckland, grumbled and hit the headlines when the weather took out their power for a day, depriving them of their lattes and computers and, worst of all, money as ATM’s stopped functioning and the tills in shops wouldn’t work. Were we right to go so far down the technology track?

Yes, things were pretty rough in the winter. Then the thaw came. Burst pipes and massive floods, as rain followed snow, and folk got around in boats instead of cars. The insurance people muttered about “Acts of God” and wondered how they could get out of paying for the roofs which had been blown off and the houses completely wrecked by flood water. Things were pretty bad, bridges out, trees up-rooted and houses on hillsides slid down mud slides as ground eroded.

“The worst in living memory.” “Never known it like this before.”

The road at the bottom of our street became part of the river and getting around the town was a work of art, as one road after another was closed. The poor fire brigade was on call twenty four hours a day.

But after winter came spring. Earlier than usual, a whole month earlier, and it resembled summer. Blossoms and bulbs erupted into masses of colour and were quickly followed by the roses. The grass had to be cut long before its due by date and we started to have our meals outside. The weather man warned us that the hole in the ozone layer was larger than usual this year and advised us to “slip on a shirt, slap on a hat, and slosh on the sunscreen,” and said it would be wise to stay indoors between 11.00am and 3.00pm. What have we done as we sprayed the CFC polishes and air sprays around? Too late now I am afraid.

But we basked in the sun and warmth and planted our vegetable garden and looked forward to our month in sunny Golden Bay.

The first week was great but the sea was COLD! Now that was a turn up for the books, it isn’t usually cold at this time of the year, but I braved the waves and had a few quick, chilly dips and hoped that the water would soon warm up, we had plenty of time. Then it started, the rain and the wind, day after day. A small stream established itself under the ground sheet in our awning and the artificial grass we lay on top of it resembled sphagnum moss. All was definitely not right. Gales tore through North Island and the Cook Strait ferries stopped as rough seas beat the coast line. One three hour crossing took over ten and some very frightened and sick passengers finally got off in Wellington. Planes were grounded, so the two islands were separated, and overseas tourists grumbled about the weather and made us feel that it was all our fault.

And NOW we have got ICEBERGS! Whatever next? A big chunk of the Ronne Ice Shelf dropped off Antarctica six years ago, due to this so called global warming. It found the current moving up towards New Zealand and divided itself into hundreds of icebergs, not little icebergs either. Now they are floating up the coast line and are visible from the headlands of Otago. Helicopters are ferrying folk out to land on them, couples want to be married on them and one notable sheep, Shrek has been shorn there. They are doing wonders for the tourist industry but shipping is being warned of very real Titanic hazards.

This certainly is a first. Exciting but have we gone too far? Is this the beginning of Global Warming?

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