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Wairarapa’s farmers leading way

Climate change speech attendees with Dr Alex Pezza, front left, with climate strike leader Carys Marulli de Barletta and Masterton district councillor Chris Peterson. PHOTOS/SAM TATTERSFIELD

There is little point blaming the usual bogeymen for climate change.

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Greater Wellington Regional Council senior climate scientist Dr Alex Pezza gave an impassioned, data-packed talk at the Climate Change Resource Centre on Masterton’s Queen Street when it opened on Monday.

Unusually for a talk about the planet’s future, the tone he struck, while urgent, was optimistic.

He said blaming usual bogeymen – big business, and farmers – was unhelpful.

He said farming could be, and was, compatible with combating climate change.

“This is their livelihood, and so they always do their own research.”

A few weeks ago, Pezza said he held a National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research workshop in Carterton which was attended by a small group of regional farmers.

Dr Alex Pezza with a graphic showing exponentially growing temperature anomalies since the 1800s

There they discussed the challenges that climate change poses for predicting the seasons, and Pezza said most farmers made the link between climate disruption and extreme weather patterns.

Business decisions made by farmers to protect the environment were justifiable solely for the need for profitable, reliable seasons.

“Last year, for example, we had about three times the average rainfall in December in Wairarapa, followed by a record dry January.

“This kind of pattern is one of the key aspects of climate change – irregular distribution of rain coming in heavy bursts, mostly outside of the normal rainy season.”

He said there were “good examples of successful farmers in our region who have embraced climate action, and are advocating for better practices aimed at reducing their footprint on the environment”.

The turnout to the talk wasn’t large, but there was a stream of passers-by who stepped in, many staying to hear Pezza speak.

He said he didn’t see the numbers who turned up as disappointing.

“It was cold and raining, and it was only the first day of the event.

“We had random people from the streets who came in and sat for the entire presentation, who asked intelligent questions,” he said.

During the talk, a pupil recounted how, when they and a friend were caught discussing the climate strike, a teacher interrupted them and said worrying about climate change was a waste of time.

Pezza said, based on how this reflected on their climate education, he would give the school a presentation.

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