Hottest on record:

Last year was New Zealand’s hottest year on record, according to the country’s National Institute of Water and Aeronautic Research (NIWA), and seven of the past nine years are among New Zealand’s warmest ever. The country’s steadily rising temperature brings increased risk of major floods, bushfires and storms.

And – surprise! – that’s not going to change.

The increases won’t end anytime soon without significant action on climate change, said Victoria University of Wellington’s Dr Nathanael Melia. “Every year we spin the roulette wheel of weather variability; however, like a casino, we have rigged the game, and the hothouse always wins in the end.”

In July 2021 heavy rain engorged the West Coast’s Buller River, accelerating its flow to 10 times its normal rate – the highest recorded in a New Zealand river since 1926. The resulting flood devastated the town of Westport. Many residents had to be evacuated after hundreds of houses were inundated, causing an estimated NZ$132m in damage. Development West Coast’s chief executive, Heath Milne, expects the rebuild to take up to two years.

Meanwhile in the Pacific Northwest a fire destroyed a British Columbia town. Tomorrow is today. Next year is tomorrow.

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