Arctic Ice

The arctic ice sheet continues to NOT shrink! For the last eleven years arctic ice sheet extent has been stable.

On September 13th the extent of the arctic ice sheet reached its annual minimum at 4.64 m Km2. This is the eight (8th) lowest on record and 1.25m Km2 (37%)above the all time low of 3.39m Km2 recorded in 2012.

Here is a graph of arctic sea ice extent over the last eleven years. The higher three years are 2009, 2013 and 2014.

The lowest horizontal line is 3m Km2, rising in increments of 0.5m Km2. The 2017 line is the blue line (or green depending on your eyes / screen) that finishes in mid-September.

For the last eleven years the arctic ice sheet has been stable at 4½m Km2. For the last nineteen years global temperatures have been stable. It seems that it took some eight years for the arctic ice sheet to catch up with the 0.4oC rise in temperature that occurred between the late 1970’s and 1998.

Figures for annual minima are:

 Year  m Km2
2007 4.16
2008 4.59
2009 5.12
2010 4.61
2011 4.34
2012 3.39
2013 5.05
2014 5.03
2015 4.43
2016 4.14
2017 4.64

There is no trend here. You can inspect my graph here.

Early Voting

In New Zealand we have a system of Advance Voting. A voter can cast their vote up to two weeks in advance of election day. Election day this time is Saturday 23rd September and advance voting began last Monday 11th September.

NZ Labour has come under sustained pressure on tax. Labour is committed to setting up an “independent” review body to review capital gains taxes, retaining the right to implement the findings of this body before the next general election. This is a big deal. For instance though tax on the family home, and the land it sits on, has been ruled out, it is not clear what the “family home” consists of. For instance; for a farmer does it include the entire farm? What happens where you run a business from your home? Will you be able to sell your parents family home without paying tax on that when they pass away?

And yesterday Labour changed its policy! Now any outcome of the review body would only be implemented after the next election.

So those who voted on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday morning voted on one set of Labour tax policies. Those who vote after this are voting on a [significantly] different set of Labour tax policies. And all parties continue to throw out lollies to a range of voters on a daily basis.

Would it be so tough to require parties in NZ elections to publish a manifesto before advance voting starts?

Election Manifestos

I ended my last blog looking forward to the manifestos from the parties contesting the NZ general election. Apparently I will be waiting a long time! The parties in New Zealand have not in the past, and will not this time, be issuing manifestos!

The Green party and New Zealand First have pages on their websites that look like manifestos; without any commitment not to change them, or even a date on which these were their policies.

The Labour party web page contains this caveat “More policy to be announced as we get closer to the election.” The National party web page contains this caveat “This page will be updated throughout the campaign as we announce new policies.”

This leaves voters having to work out for themselves what each party’s policies actually are; from their speeches, websites, blogs, interviews, tweets, and any other social media.

Does it matter, given that the UK elector who reads even one manifesto is a very rare creature indeed? I think it does in the UK. In the UK (First Past the Post), electors can refer back to the manifesto and a government which was elected with a majority can be held to that. In New Zealand (MMP), a one party majority is almost inconceivable, and each governments policies are the result of negotiation after the election results are in.

This NZ election campaign has become a giant “lolly scramble”, as no politician expects to be held to account for all the promises they make. Maybe we all head down the rabbit hole during any election campaign?