FARRAH PADILLA WRITES – New Zealand, a country located in the Southern Hemisphere, is a wonderful place to visit in January and February—the summer months— with its sunny beaches, luscious greenery and “hobbit style,” Lord of the Rings appeal (where the blockbuster series was filmed). No doubt travelers around the world want to go to New Zealand to get their tan on, but this year’s tourists face a gloomier prospect than usual. With 2023 a La Niña year, New Zealand is bracing for heavy rainfall and overall adverse weather conditions.

Worse, La Niña is expected to be increasingly aggressive considering the effects of climate change. Already, Auckland has experienced enough rainfall to cause deadly floods, killing four people and leading to hundreds of evacuations. “An estimated 240 millimeters of rainfall (9.8 inches) – equal to an entire summer’s worth of rain – fell on Auckland Friday, making it the city’s wettest day on record,” states CNN World.

Unfortunately for Kiwis and tourists alike, it gets worse. The country expected another 80 to 120 mm of rainfall over the next few days. The new Prime Minister of New Zealand, Chris Hipkins, spoke to state owned station TVNZ about the damages that swept across Auckland Monday, January 30, mentioning that some 350 people needed emergency accommodation, not counting those thousands stranded in airports and homes damaged.

Ordinarily, La Niña causes a drastic change in climate, given cooler than normal ocean temperatures and lower than normal air pressure over the Pacific. Both increase rainfall, but in recent years, scientists attribute global heating to the worsening of La Niña.

“We are going to have to deal with more of these extreme weather events in the near future; we need to be prepared for that and we need to do everything we can to combat the challenges of climate change,” Hipkins told 1News.

Even though New Zealand has pledged to slow its own potential devastation  through the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment  —a plan established in 2019  to reduce emissions in the country— it still faces consequences of climate change globally. “Climate change is real, it’s with us,” Hipkins told 1News.

Climate change may seem like some mysterious occurrence or like little more than a phrase mentioned in political debates, but it is a real international catastrophe. Scientists predict that with the increase in global temperatures due to man-made greenhouse gases, severe weather damage will worsen, ice caps will melt and sea levels will rise.

So, the next time you plan your vacation, you might want to consider more closely the weather in your favorite destination – and choose another…what’s the next closest, nicest thing to New Zealand?

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