Humans 'don't have 10 years' left thanks to climate change - scientist
There's no point trying to fight climate change - we'll all be dead in the next decade and there's nothing we can do to stop it, a visiting scientist claims.
Guy McPherson, a biology professor at the University of Arizona, says the human destruction of our own habitat is leading towards the world's sixth mass extinction.
Instead of fighting, he says we should just embrace it and live life while we can.
"It's locked down, it's been locked in for a long time - we're in the midst of our sixth mass extinction," he told Paul Henry on Thursday.
But Professor James Renwick, a climate scientist at Victoria University, says people should not use his words more as an excuse to give up.
While he agrees that climate change is possibly the "biggest issue humanity has ever faced", he says "giving up is not really helpful".
Instead, Prof Renwick says he hopes Prof McPherson's 10-year claim will encourage people to take action.
"This is a really big issue and the consequences could be catastrophic," Prof Renwick says. "Though certainly [humans won't all die off] in 10 years or even 1000 years."
The effects of climate change were first noticed 30 years ago and Prof Renwick says the sooner we get onto working against it, the less there will be to do.
"I'd love to see [people] take it on board as it is a very serious issue."
Prof McPherson's comments come just days after Climate Change Issues Minister Paula Bennett appointed a 10-strong team to advise the Government on how New Zealand can adapt to climate change.
But if the visiting professor is right, it could all be a waste of time.
"I can't imagine there will be a human on the planet in 10 years," he says.
"We don't have 10 years. The problem is when I give a number like that, people think it's going to be business as usual until nine years [and] 364 days."
He says part of the reason he's given up while other scientists fight on is because they're looking at individual parts, such as methane emissions and the melting ice in the Arctic, instead of the entire picture.
"We're heading for a temperature within that span that is at or near the highest temperature experienced on Earth in the last 2 billion years."
Instead of trying to fix the climate, Prof McPherson says we should focus on living while we can.
"I think hope is a horrible idea. Hope is wishful thinking. Hope is a bad idea - let's abandon that and get on with reality instead. Let's get on with living instead of wishing for the future that never comes.
"I encourage people to pursue excellence, to pursue love, to pursue what they love to do. I don't think these are crazy ideas, actually - and I also encourage people to remain calm because nothing is under control, certainly not under our control anyway."
New Zealand has been criticised by the international community for not doing enough to fight climate change - this month being awarded two Fossil of the Day awards at the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech.
The awards are for the country's failure to live up to climate promises and the continued use of "dodgy" carbon credits.