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A Confession.

Written By: - Date published: 5:10 am, June 7th, 2019 - 174 comments
Categories: Environment, global warming, Politics, science - Tags: , ,

A few years back Joe Bennett wrote a book Where Underpants Come From where he shared quirky observations and experiences of his travels to places involved in the manufacture of his underwear. I’ve lost the book, so can’t give a precise run-down of the countries he visited. But whether we’re accurately talking about Malaysia for rubber, Egypt for cotton, and China for fabrication, the point is that every node of production involves a hefty wad of carbon – be that in harvesting materials, processing materials or shipping them.

So as I sit here today, I’m well aware that these underpants I’m wearing contain carbon over and above whatever amount is present in 80kg of middle age spread. And apart from knowing that’s probably a bad image I’ve conjured up for you, I’m also aware that “going commando” won’t save the world – that the root cause of warming doesn’t lie at the level of individuals as consumers, but at a systems or structural level.

But the ideology that sits beneath and behind the structures and systems that bundle us up as complicit actors in an unfolding ecocide – who or what’s halting it in its tracks?

There is somewhere approaching one trillion tonnes of excess carbon dioxide in the biosphere today. That one trillion tonnes translates to an atmospheric concentration of CO2 that’s somewhere around 410 parts per million.

I want to draw attention to the fact we’re talking about excess – ie, carbon that was previously sequestered in the form of coal, gas and oil, but that we’ve been merrily burning back into the biosphere as carbon dioxide by-product. That excess has been accumulating since at least the mid 19th century. That is, carbon dioxide ejected into the air in 1850 is still in the atmosphere today, or mixed into some other part the carbon cycle and merely circulating around the land, sea and air. Very little of all the carbon we’ve reintroduced to the biosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution has actually been sequestered (ie – taken out of circulation). That takes thousands of years.

So I get frustrated when I hear demands for net zero carbon emissions by whatever date, because net zero does precisely nothing to reduce the trillion tonnes of excess carbon dioxide we’ve flung at the world. At very best – that is, assuming no natural feed backs and no scamming in the calculation of so-called carbon sinks – net zero will merely maintain the world’s excess carbon at present levels.

And this is some of what nigh on one trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide (or 410ppm) means for the world.

Last time there was as much carbon dioxide as today, there was no West Antarctic Ice Sheet and there was no ice in Greenland either. Between the collapse of those two bodies of ice, we’re looking at many metres of sea level rise. And the only question is –

“How fast will they collapse?”.

Well, a couple of years back the IPCC was suggesting we prepare for about one metre of sea level rise by 2100. It’s important to know that in making that prediction the IPCC more or less discounted any contribution to sea level rise from either West Antarctica or Greenland (and East Antarctica).

Recent reports that parts of Antarctica (ice shelves) are melting up to ten times faster than previously thought are adding to suggestions from within the scientific community are that we might see one metre of sea level rise well before 2100. And if you think that’s a big deal merely because of the unimaginable upheavals involved in relocating much of human civilisation away from coastal locations, then I’m afraid you’re not seeing anything like the full picture.

According to Professor Peter Ward of the University of Washington, (from 32min and 25sec in the video link) we grow about 25% of our crops on the fertile soils of river deltas. With something not much more than one metre of sea level rise, those deltas disappear under water or, because salt migrates through soil horizontally, they become salinated and unusable.

And beyond that, things get pretty bad.

Ever wondered why, when we’re told about the huge drop in insect numbers, that those numbers are reported to be dropping whether or not insecticides are in the mix, or if habitat is intact? Lewis Ziska (Plant Physiologist working at the US Department of Agriculture) conducted a study around the effects of elevated CO2 levels on the composition of plants that was published in 2016.

He discovered that nutritional value decreased in line with increasing CO2 concentrations. For that study he examined samples of goldenrod going back as far as 1842 and he concluded plants were no longer producing the nutritional density required by healthy insect populations. (His study involved bee populations). That finding was in line with a previous experiment where the growth rate of phytoplankton was accelerated with the notion being that zoo plankton would thrive in the presence of a more abundant food source. The notion was misplaced. In the event, zoo plankton struggled and died off because, by growing it faster, a nutritional deficit was produced in the phytoplankton.

Further to the above, Fulai Liu from the University of Copenhagen has headed up field trials for wheat where “they grew wheat over four generations under high CO2 using seeds from the previous generation for the next one. They found that nitrogen (this means protein too), K and Ca declined more in the 4th gen relative to the 1st gen.”

Right now, and all around the world, we’re adding to the world’s surplus atmospheric CO2, so the nutritional value of plants hasn’t bottomed out yet. And even if we eradicated all CO2 from human activity today, Fulai Liu’s field trials suggest the nutritional value of our food would continue to decrease. So at what point would the health of herbivores and humans become impacted? I don’t know. But scientists are already talking about the possibility of increased rates of malnutrition, associated ill health and death for human populations that source the bulk of protein and trace elements directly from plants.

So where are we at in the overall scheme of things, and what do we have to do? Is there anything we can do? I don’t know.

But net zero is a nonsense, and we have to stop pretending it does much of anything at all – that would be step one. Being realistic. So how do we achieve gross negative emissions? I’m not sure that we can. But eradicating all emissions from fossil fuel and bio-fuel and cement is do-able and necessary. So we should do that.

I’ll largely leave it up to you to figure out the possible impacts that no petrol, diesel, gas, aviation fuel or coal would have on agriculture and land use in general.

Certainly, in a New Zealand context, we’d be looking at the end of export dairy – no thousands upon thousands of cows squeezed onto pasture that requires huge fossil inputs, all just to produce dairy, that in turn requires additional fossil inputs in terms of processing and transportation. And although rewilding farm land wouldn’t sequester CO2, it would soak up a bit more CO2 into one stage of the carbon cycle, and so rewilding of any abandoned agricultural land would appear to be a sensible move.

But beyond that, I’m lost.

As already mentioned, natural processes of sequestration take thousands of years, and although there is plenty of talk around carbon capture and storage, the reality is far more complicated and distant than some talk would have us believe. Even in the unlikely event we discover and develop a do-able carbon capture and storage process, we’d need to be taking somewhere in the region of 10 billion tonnes out from the atmosphere every year and for year after year for … well, about 100 years.

And to put that in perspective, if we add up everything that we produce in the world today over the course of one year – all the steel and cement and the food crops and what not…well, try it for yourself. Simply google search through various sites devoted to global manufacturing outputs. You’ll struggle to produce a cumulative total of ten billion tonnes.

It might seem then, that we’ve reached a point where we have a simple choice of either going out swinging, or of going out swinging. We’ll each decide which interpretation of swinging is right for us.


Having been along to the last two school climate strikes here in Dunedin, I have to say, I’d like it if the adults in the room would stop lying to these kids. We don’t have twelve years or ten years before catastrophe or irreversible climate change hits us. (No scientific body said that we did). Nothing’s bringing insects back. Nothing’s saving the ice sheets.

If today’s children even have a future, it’s not one that will in any way, shape or form resemble the lives of their parents or grandparents. We’ve seen to that.

But could we have the decency to be honest about that, and stop hobbling their ability to cope with what lies ahead by raising them and educating them as though the challenges ahead, as well as the tools they’ll need to develop, will be similar to those of previous generations?

Further to that, if we’re not prepared to pull out all the stops in an effort to at least halt the progression of global warming, then are we prepared to acknowledge that the people we see on the street today may well belong to the last generations of humanity?

Dismiss or answer those questions to your own satisfaction as you will.

Here’s an aside. Since the beginning of the school climate strikes, a few governments have declared a “climate emergency”. As we all know, in the case of an emergency, everything else becomes peripheral and drops out of focus “because emergency”, right? Meaning that, unless I missed something, those declarations amount to yet more worthless rhetoric being stacked atop that heap of near thirty years of worthless rhetoric on global warming.

Not that it matters…

Greta Thunberg is among those who have called for a global general strike to commence on the 20th of September this year. That call comes on top of another call by earth-strike for a global general strike to kick off on the 27th of September (the anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson‘s “Silent Spring”).

So we have a choice for when we might want to get our fingers out of our ears and start swinging.

I’ll end with Greta Thurnberg from the piece above.

We have learned that if we don’t start acting for our future, nobody else will make the first move. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

For that to be true, I guess it simply requires that we, underpants and all, acknowledge that we’re better than we’ve been. So spread the word.

174 comments on “A Confession. ”

  1. WeTheBleeple 1

    Bill, you were missed! I was worried…

    Great to hear from you regardless the circumstances.

    I reckon we're cooked too, but another commentor talked me into not giving up only a couple of days ago (thanks RL).

    To reabsorb large quantities of carbon we might set up massive artificial reef structures of timbers that last under the sea and let oysters do their magic of building calcareous reefs on top. Not a short term thing, but it has tremendous potential.

    Stop building with concrete. All structures now made of wood, which is sequestered carbon. Stop building crappy energy hog buildings.

    Switch agriculture over to mostly tree cropping systems with animals cycled through them for fertilising/natural cycling of nutrients/herbal ley.

    Revert back to local manufacture of human neccessities like underwear… clothing, food, shelter… We can easily care for ourselves in these aspects, while global markets are untenable.

    Research/collate existing research on remineralisation of soils and the effects the soil microbiota have on plant nutrients as current practise decimates these organisms e.g.

    "This study shows that AMF play a key role in grassland by improving plant nutrition and soil structure, and by regulating the make‐up of the plant community"


    Much work to be done there.

    Regenerative agriculture as the new standard. Organic green washers should sod off.

    The underwear example is interesting. With a bunch of natural materials you'd think they were relatively 'green' but it's the way we grow things and process them that brings all the pollution. The ferts and chemicals and transporting everything on a world tour. Why have my undies been on a world tour and I haven't? Hows that bloody fair?

    And of course, eat the rich.

  2. r0b 2

    Excellent post. Folks, don’t skim it, read every word.

    • RedLogix 2.1

      Hi. Good the hear from you again r0b. I trust life is doing you well yes

      • r0b 2.1.1

        And you RL. Some bumps in life’s road of late, but it’s stuff that everyone has to deal with at some point. Mostly fine, hope you (all!) are too.

  3. Professor Longhair 3

    Bad idea to start any essay, especially an otherwise thoughtful one like this, by referencing the glib and shallow Joe Bennett.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 3.1

      Haven't read any of Bennett's books, but found his appearances on the 'Moon TV' Book Zone spoof hilarious.

    • Pat 3.2

      so glib and shallow he actually went to where the stuff was made talked to and observed the people and the process….what have you done lately?

      • Andre 3.2.1

        Got up close and personal in the manufacturing process for sockpuppets?

        • Sacha

          Surely Mrs KramHairHasBeen would reject that notion.

          • Drowsy M. Kram

            Sacha (Andre?) – what notion? Will consider, and then accept or reject, unambiguous notions provided that they’re clearly communicated. Is that too much to ask?

            Tbh, thought I'd been clear in rejecting Sacha's notion, as clarified by McFlock, but if that notion, or another notion, is still on the table then please speak up. https://thestandard.org.nz/daily-review-04-06-2019/#comment-1624936

            Sacha, if you'd rather that I don't reply to your comments to The Standard, then please say so and I'll oblige – I don’t need to respond to appreciate/enjoy your comments.

            We see things not as they are but as we are – that is, we see the world not as it is, but as molded by the individual peculiarities of our minds.

            • Andre

              I thought I was fairly clear a bit further down that thread you just linked that I see no reason to accuse you of being a sockpuppet, and that I see quite a few reasons to believe that you are not a sockpuppet.

              • Drowsy M. Kram

                Thanks Andre – initially struggled with the "sockpuppet" concept (I started ‘blogging’ rather late in life, and The Standard is the only blog I submit comments to), but am understanding it better now, with the help of the "Morrissey" and "Professor Longhair" identities as an apparent example.

                Sacha clearly remains upset (if their "Mrs KramHairHasBeen" comment @ is anything to go by) – can only reiterate that it was Sacha who insinuated that "Drowsy M. Kram" was a sockpuppet identity. Now accept that was a genuine mistake, but it did upset me once I understood the acusation. Still, forgive and forget.

                • Incognito

                  Sacha now knows that as far as I’m concerned DMK is not a sockpoppet.

                  https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-08-06-2019/#comment-1625953 and Sacha’s reply to that comment.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Cheers Incognito – I made the mistake of responding to a Professor Longhair comment with something other than derision.

                    Morrissey's and Prof. Longhair's comments often seem to draw a fair amount of venom, whereas I find at least some of them inventive and/or genuinely funny. Probably just a matter of personal preference.

                    • Incognito

                      Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself here and don’t let others dictate or bully you. Sometimes, there’s a bit of a pile on or ganging up on another commenter, usually a so-called ‘RWNJ’, and it is not pretty or uplifting. Best not to join the gang of hoons and stay out of it, I reckon. Feel free to draw the attention of moderators if it looks (very) serious.

      • Morrissey 3.2.2

        Have you heard him pronounce on the situation in the Occupied Territories? I have, and no doubt the Professor has as well. Bennett's glib and shallow all right.

  4. vto 4

    That is well put Bill, thanks…. the looming problem. In the part of Christchurch we were in (no longer – have already 'retreated'), flat, near the sea/estuary, water table less than 1.5m below our floorboards, I see no way out..

    .. I see those parts of Chch really struggling within 20 years or so… that is like tomorrow..

    And so what of our children? We have already been putting strategies in their minds to deal with it.. but they involve more of a survival approach, rather than a remedy approach.

    I think one of the bigger questions is about humanity dealing with this where there are large populations, which we dont have here so much. How will populations at those river deltas cope? Where will they go? How will they feed themselves? The issue is overwhelming in those areas I think and I see only disaster. Complete and total disaster, which will reverberate around the planet, causing a slow panic and mass movement in all locations globally.

    Like you Bill, I dont know the answer, other than to make moves to protect our own family and community.

    Though here is one answer – stop spending. Dont pull the wallet out today. Dont buy anything at all, other than the veges for dinner. I have been doing this the last recent while and it is very liberating. As well as beneficial for this issue – most every dollar spend has a carbon cost.

    And don’t travel. My god, it seems everyone but everyone travels.. euroland, fiji, aussie… how tedious. Just stp already, unless under sail. No more travelling.

    Dunno, but am watching extremely closely….

    • AB 4.1

      "Stop spending" – good idea at the individual level, but unfortunately doing this on any scale puts economies into recession and usually hurts the most vulnerable among us first and hardest. "Don't travel" – yes it's amazing how much old, rich people travel to all parts of the world and brag about it afterwards. So as an individual, it's a good idea not to travel. But if the couple of million tourists who come here every year suddenly don't, then that industry sector collapses and we are in recession again with the usual unequal effects across the population.

      If there are going to be sacrifices (and there will be) they will have y be shared equally – they cannot be allowed to fall where they may. Isolated, individual actions within a market system won't achieve that.

      • WeTheBleeple 4.1.1

        I suggest we redirect spending to restoration and resilience. Solar, electric, gardens, trees, helping others do similar.

        Sustainable business, local merchants, etc. The economy can keep running just divest from the ne'er do well companies and green washers because who cares if they tank. Takes a bit of homework.

        I'm saving so much just by gardening. But you got to (learn to cook and) eat it too, not grow it while shopping for pies…

        The Achilles heel in my vegetarian plan: mince and cheese pies.

    • greywarshark 4.2

      OMG We live. make a living by trading. When I go to the supermarket I go through the checkouts where people are working and packing and being paid which they then pay to other people.

      The trouble with so many ardent greens is that they are so narrow-minded. Maybe they talk to the trees as in an old song, but I like to talk to people who are involved with others, working in their community, and getting paid for it. I buy fish and chips and say hello to the elderly owner and the young things that work the till and organise the raw materials, and I advised one of them to get a check at the doctor about an ailment, just to be sure. People I like them, in the main!

      What about the children is a cliche wail in comedy like the Simpsons. But someone must consider them. And the parents too. My birthfather left NZ and ended up a year later dying in his bomber with his crew over Europe. He was thinking of others, and after WW2 we had a time when everything seemed possible. Now it is a different sort of conflict and we have to think of each other again. Spend less widely, think more locally and go to Trade Aid. Think of carbon, but don't stop travel – I'm going by bus when I can now. We can't stop being human, we have come so far, and need to keep with each other and enjoying things because much of the damage is done, just try and do our best to save what we have and plan how we will manage as bad things unroll. There was a tornado at Coopers Beach in Northland, a lightning strike somewhere, a new bacteria, insect, the capitalists are addicted to getting more. It is just a game actually and if they could transfer their addiction to something less harmful, we could all be a bit happier.

      But let us have euthanasia within reasonable criteria so we can start lessening the burden of people on the world, and it on us. Let us old people die in quiet and resignation of getting old, or go in a blaze of colour, whatever, but let it be a celebration of life not as a ravaged customer of life who has insisted on getting every last bit and complains and demands more till the end. And love young parents and help them with their great job of bringing the next generation into a world they can be good loved people in. I would say that we need to stop being mean and self-centred, toss a coin to the busker, spread some generosity around to those why try, give help and kindness to the young – just don't spoil them so they think they have entitlements to pleasure at others' expense; and don't spoil our world for them.

  5. Your posts on this subject always make me think "Well, if we're fucked anyway, I might as well stop donating money to the Greens, switch my vote to my actual class representatives, National, and make the most of the time we've got left." I should stop reading them.

    • koreropono 5.1

      I don't know, Bill's posts always make me think, 'we ought to at least do something' because the 'something' is better than 'nothing'. Or the pretend 'somethings' that duplicitous politicians try to reassure us with, all while maintaining the systems that have humanity on a suicidal trajectory.

      What is the 'something'? Well perhaps deciding that those politicians are no longer fit for purpose and shutting down our suicidal economic system – a system that will kill us. Seems quite straight forward to me.

    • WeTheBleeple 5.2

      I reckon you have too much social awareness and conscience to be a Nat guy. We all like to do well, but it's how we go about it.

      • Psycho Milt 5.2.1

        Ha ha, yes can't picture myself actually doing it, that would suck. Could also result in divorce if I were to do it and then later on it slipped out when I was drunk.

        • greywarshark

          You are more of a go forward nobly aren't you? Better to band together and tackle our Everest than sit around degrading ourselves in a den of vice and thieves and viciousness which seems to be the result when people stop trying to live a life of integrity.

    • Siobhan 5.3

      "switch my vote to my actual class representatives, National"..that's weird PM..how do Labour, or the Greens for that matter not represent your class?.

      Unless you are in the very top percentile and have no need for any publicly funded or subsidised services. Even then, your Doctors, childrens teachers, etc are all relying on decent wages and conditions so they can take care of your important self interests, heck, even the gardener for the estate will need public services, health, training, bus transport.. to keep them in top shape to maintain things to your high standard.

      And house prices, as a property investor I'm sure you are well aware that property values increase even more under a Labour Government. Not to mention they keep things rolling for the peasants so they can afford your rentals, not to mention keep up consumption at all the companies you are a shareholder with?.

      • Psycho Milt 5.3.1

        Oh sure, I find the Greens represent me pretty well and I wouldn't have any problem voting for the current version of Labour either, but I'm referring to the class interests the various parties represent. People may dispute the idea that the modern Labour Party represents workers, but it remains clear that National represents the people who are well off.

    • Incognito 5.4

      Nah, most of us are not fucked, but all of our children most definitely are.

  6. Sanctuary 6

    Most people are not going to give up their standard of living voluntarily to save the planet. In the west, we'll piously or reluctantly recycle and ban plastic bags – but we'll also quietly vote for the party that promises more prosperity, lower taxes and cheaper energy. And the 3rd world/totalitarian states are no better – either they need massive increases in consumption to keep their populations quiescent or they are all like "hell no, we ain't missing out on the party."

    We've really only ever had one option.

    A Manhattan project to develop geo-engineering solutions (carbon sequestration, sun shields, cloud seeding, whatever) and new technologies (asteroid mining, fusion power etc) that will shift the Malthusian equation once more. Culture (via technology) got us into this pickle, and unless we want a catastrophe of untold suffering from the consequences of over-population and over-consumption we are going to have to rely on cultural solutions to save us.

    Like it or not, the only people who will deliver this technological solution are the huge corporations who are currently part of the problem, because until (for example) they can make more money out of fusion than they can from coal and fossil fuels they won't stop burning coal and heavy oil.

    So we are going to have to pay Exxon, and Mobil, and Boeing, and Lockheed-Martin, and all the rest to transform our energy grid and deploy the zero carbon economy, and we are going to have to pay them to build the rockets that will deploy the space shileds and all the rest.

    Hoping that people will see the light and live less extravagant lives is a pipe dream.

    • WeTheBleeple 6.1

      Wishful thinking and paying oil companies…

      That's some nasty BS right there.

      How about we bombard the west with the actual truth of the matter, especially the young, and watch these wishy washy politicians get turfed out on their ass.

      How about we use proven technology to regreen the world's deserts wherever feasible


      Much smarter than wishful thinking and a call to pay corporates. Fuck the corporate world.

      • WeTheBleeple 6.1.1

        Take a look at sea level rise estimates for NZ. Waterworld was not meant to be prophetic…


        • Gosman

          Ummm…. Waterworld was a planet with almost zero land above sea level. That map is nowhere near that even in the worse case scenario.

          • WeTheBleeple

            Yeah I picked you for a Kevin Costner fan.

            I liked The Bodyguard best. He was brilliant, Whitney was brilliant, and when Barrymore came over he did a take of the balcony scene that had the town hall in tears.

            Good times.

            • RedLogix

              And oddly enough I always had a soft spot for Kevin. I probably shouldn’t say this and maybe it speaks to my utter lack of social couth, but I never quite understood the scorn poured on Waterworld.

            • Morrissey

              He was brilliant, Whitney was brilliant….

              You're joking, right?

              What was so brilliant about old Leather-Lungs' destruction of this beautiful song?

        • joe90

          Oceanographer John Englander on rising sea levels.

          • RedLogix

            Yes that is an especially good talk. I watched it a few days back. It's not just the problem he outlines, but some clear ways to think about it and how we might better respond which I got a lot from.

      • Sanctuary 6.1.2

        Errrr…. I will see your youtube and raise it by mine.

        • WeTheBleeple

          Unfortunately this guy doesn't understand the nature of forests.

          It takes about 6 km of contiguous forest to create rain. The bacteria in the phyllosphere are released in updrafts (also an emergent property of forests) and catalyse the formation of ice crystals. Thus the irrigation of such projects is not a continuous energy input but a set up cost. In the long term this will replenish, rather than deplete, the aquifer. Aquifers are only non-renewable when you fail to provide rain making infrastructure, namely forests.

          • Robert Guyton

            Large forests attract moisture-laden winds. Those release their water as rain. The trees pump it back into the sky. Elegant. You'd have to be daft to stop that draft.

            • greywarshark

              I seem to remember Sir Kerry Burke of Environment Canterbury talking down clumps of trees at the head of rivers because they use up too much of the water wanted downstream. Sounded dangerous talk to me – IIRR.

              I don't know whether he was talking just about pinus radiata which might not be the best ecological ones for the soil and water and undergrowth.

              • WeTheBleeple

                Sounds like nonsense to me. So, you start the erosion at the headwaters…

                Did he say it while driving plastered or pontificating politically?

          • greywarshark

            Have put in How to Get There… a piece that is an extensive look at past and present efforts of tree planting in Africa touching on Northern Sahara and the Sahel.

    • RedLogix 6.2

      Yes. In essence this is something similar to what I have written below at 9.0. But we keep seeing this problem through a Western lens only, when at scale the problem is global. The big challenge is not the out of balance resource consumption of the developed world, it is going to be ensuring that the developing world leapfrogs our technical models into next generation, zero carbon, total recycling systems.

      And for that I totally agree, it will indeed be the big corporations who we need to see this as the enormous economic opportunity that it is.

      • WeTheBleeple 6.2.1

        Handing them a blank cheque though… folly. They covered this all up as long as they could, absolutely not to be trusted.

        Should they want to step up, sure, provide a service that isn't choking out life, ok.. We can pay for it when we see it.

        Until then, screw em.

        • RedLogix

          The reason why we do not trust the big global corporates is because they are not subject to a democratic global accountability. Because historically we have failed to adequately constrain their activities from a global perspective, they treated the world like the Wild West. They found ways to play one nation off against another, tax havens, regulatory loopholes and games that they were largely free to exploit.

          The good news is that we are rapidly getting better at reigning them in; their ability to dodge tax is being curtailed, their ability to circumvent labour laws and environmental regulations is being reduced everywhere. We have some distance to go, but we are heading in the right direction.

          In that sense I understand why no-one wants to hand them a 'blank cheque'. Yet it's a tough reality that it's these big corporates who have the resource and skills that are required to act on the scale needed. We just have to be competent and hard nosed enough to play their own games right back at them, and insist they play by our rules.

          • Gosman

            Where are the examples of the big corporates ability to dodge tax,their ability to circumvent labour laws and environmental regulations being curtailed?

            • RedLogix

              Tax dodging is an issue that had gained increasing attention in the past decade and regulators, especially in Europe, are sharpening their teeth. A simple search shows plenty of serious articles presaging action.

              Environmental laws are getting harder to circumvent; local regulations are being enforced and we see examples like plastic waste being returned to their country of origin.

              Labour laws often become the subject of activist attention, Asian sweatshops are no longer as common or as oppressive. Shareholders are increasingly sensitive to being exposed on these sorts of matters.

              Big mining companies these days will speak to a concept they call 'social licence to operate' … that unless they win the trust and confidence of locals they can find themselves shutdown or frozen out of future development.

              Progress is patchy and incoherent, but the days of global corporates being able to get away with any old shit are numbered. The momentum to a coherent global structure of regulation is gaining steam.

              • Gosman

                Discussing doing something and actually doing something are two different things. Curtailing something involves the second not the first.

                • RedLogix

                  Well I guess the positive here is that I can rely on you to pick up on these details cheeky

            • WeTheBleeple

              Amazon tax 2018 $0.

              "But according to government watchdog groups, the drop off in fines in 2018 is part of a broader pattern under the Trump administration of lax enforcement of environmental laws."

              "Both reports make the case that the EPA is neglecting its mission and letting bad actors off the hook."



              You just live to waste peoples time don't you. Next time you have a question' why don't you google it.

            • Robert Guyton

              By their actions shall we know them.

    • AB 6.3

      I saw Arundhati Roy make a similar point – though perhaps with different conclusions. She said that unless the people who profited from creating the problem, can also profit a second time from resolving it, there is no way our current economic system will permit effective responses to occur.

    • Pat 6.4

      except 'they' arnt the ones burning copious quantities of coal and oil

    • lprent 6.5

      We've really only ever had one option. A Manhattan project to develop geo-engineering solutions (carbon sequestration, sun shields, cloud seeding, whatever) and new technologies (asteroid mining, fusion power etc) that will shift the Malthusian equation once more.

      That isn’t a solution. That is simple stupidity by someone who doesn’t understand the problem.
      There is no known technical solution that isn't likely to cause at least as much of a problem.

      FFS every possible technical process involves throwing enormous amounts of energy or chemicals into the earths volatiles (just have a think about the energy and volatiles through involved in launching ANY payload into orbit).

      Doing sufficient cloud seeding would require probably as much aircraft as those currently flying – and that is assuming that it can even work (most of the scientific evidence is that it doesn't). Plus forming clouds in CO2 rich environment is just about as likely to raise temperatures as it is to lower them if the wrong cloud formations occur.

      The only solution that I can see for the existing CO2 load in the oceans is twofold.

      Adapt to higher sea levels, a much more extreme climate, lower food productivity, and stop throwing crap into our biosphere like chickens crapping in a farmyard.

      As the sea level rises encourage the growth of swamps, marshes and estuaries and other forms of washing soil and vegetation into the sea. Help it along by killing anyone draining swamps and marshes as a basic eugenics measure against stupidity.

      Unlike planting trees or reefs with their transient sequestation, that is an effective carbon sink – and one that is hard to burn.

      • WeTheBleeple 6.5.1

        Wetlands! Thank you I was having a mental glitch while trying to paint a picture of possible (natural) sinks yesterday.

        Don't be too hard on those transient forests and reefs. Grow forests and make wood for structures, useful economically and ecologically thus easier to get people on board. Likewise kelp (chem ferts will go, kelp will help remineralise abused soils) and oysters (human nutrition).

        Hempcrete seems promising or is there an issue? – e.g. scaling up.

        • lprent

          First degree was earth sciences. Trees die so fast that in geological terms they only exist if they get swamped and appear as coal.

          • WeTheBleeple

            I kinda get your point but trees are multifaceted life support systems and an integral part of the hydrological cycle.

            • greywarshark

              A new Manhatten project solution for today's problems –

              'Ebola Gay!'

      • Pat 6.5.2

        funny (?) you should mention eugenics against stupidity….I suspect as things progress that may gain something of a following….yet another problem to add to the mix

  7. Sacha 7

    Thank you. I haven't seen the nutritional value of plants declining discussed anywhere before. Makes sense.

  8. Gosman 8

    CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has been higher in the past and the planet still maintained healthy levels of plants and animals.

    • WeTheBleeple 8.1

      Ermm, how do I put this politely, you are deliberately trolling, how about you just fuck off.

      Dear Editing staff. The planet will burn. How about you remove this insect who likes to detract from any conversation regarding educating and maybe saving ourselves.

      • WeTheBleeple 8.1.1

        I'm getting it now. I guess I was taking opposing views like I do hecklers, shoot down or ignore, bastards!

        But… Gosman, despite asking inane questions he can easily find answers for (hint, better questions please) has generated a lot of useful conversation from others here, and with it information.

        I'm sure most of you realised how this works long ago, I just clicked… cheeky

    • vto 8.2

      I dont think thats right gosman – factually incorrect

      • Gosman 8.2.1

        No, I am factually accurate. What is different is that there wasn't a global civilisation that required a degree of climate stability. That is the challenge we face not the prospect of imminent global extinction.

        • left_forward

          So don't get you knickers in a twist Bill, Gossy has it sussed – seems he and the cockroaches will survive and will be perfectly healthy to boot.

    • Andre 8.3

      The difference is that those times in the past with higher CO2 concentrations and thriving plant and critter populations were arrived at by slow changes over millenia and millions of years. Slow enough for random evolution to adjust.

      Extremely rapid changes in CO2 concentration like we have caused and are continuing to cause are associated with mass extinction events.


      • Gosman 8.3.1

        There is this idea that climate has changed slowly on the planet in the past and that is the default. There is little evidence that it is more inclined to change slowly versus rapidly.

        • RedLogix

          Unfortunately it seems you didn't spend nine months of your life as a field assistant to a geologist who enjoyed impromptu tutorial sessions in the tent most evenings. Geologists have a completely different sense of time to normal people. To them a thousand years is less than an eyeblink. Ten thousand years is starting to rise out of the noise signal.

          Of course this doesn't rule out some events happening quite rapidly. There is good evidence that the West Antarctic Ice sheld is prone to disintegrating abruptly and there has been other similar catastrophic events when land bridges suddenly failed. But in the bigger scheme of things the orbital cycles are quite gradual and the paleo records trend gradually with them.

          What has not been seen at all is CO2 rising from 300 ppm to over 400 ppm in about 100 years. That is unprecendented.

          • Gosman

            That is exactly what I stated. Climate has changed both gradually AND rapidly in the past.


            • RedLogix

              You must know by now that I tend to read links like that devil. What is says is:

              The researchers say that the increase in atmospheric CO2 from the peak of the last ice age to complete deglaciation was about 80 parts per million, taking place over 10,000 years. Thus, the finding that 30-45 ppm of the increase happened in just a few centuries was significant.

              The rate of change during these events is still significantly less than present-day changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The Keeling Curve record of atmospheric carbon dioxide, launched by the late Scripps geochemist Charles David Keeling, recorded levels of 315 ppm when it began in 1958. In 2014, monthly average concentrations reached 401 ppm, an increase of more than 85 parts per million in less than 60 years.

            • Andre

              That paper is talking about "pulses" of CO2 that raised atmospheric concentrations 10 to 15 ppm each in three discrete events each taking around a century, separated by thousands of years.

              What we have done is literally an order of magnitude more extreme, raising the concentration 130ish ppm over the last 150ish years, with an accelerating increase and no relief in sight.

    • Pat 8.4

      and fish can breath in water…can you?

    • lprent 8.5

      CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has been higher in the past and the planet still maintained healthy levels of plants and animals.

      FFS Gosman – where did you learn your science? From comic books?

      Actually not. The biosphere was severely strained during several of those episodes of strong shifts in the atmospheric concentrations.

      The two largest known extinction events were in the pre-cambrian to cambrian extinctions and the devonian extinctions. Both were a direct result of atmospheric changes involving changes in concentrations of CO2 from natural events spanning millions of years.

      We look like we are managing to replicate that kind of change over 300 years. Go figure what that will mean to our apex species – currently humans.

      Basically if you are too lazy to learn enough to not make such a childish mistake – why bother wasting anyone elses time in reading how ignorant you are?

  9. RedLogix 9

    Hi Bill. Good to have you back yes

    I've been aware of this issue since the early 80's when I worked for a Physics Dept for some years. I played a tinsy little role in confirming the existence of the Great Oceanic Conveyor currents and one of my friends from that era is a bona fide climate scientist. I've spent years of my life working with infra-red instruments and I've read extensively of the more accessible literature on the topic. I'd certainly fall well short of being an expert of any kind, but I consider myself well informed and have a decent grasp of the many sciences involved. It's the story of my life, jack of all trades master of none 🙂

    And I've been through every permutation imaginable of how one might reasonably, and unreasonably respond to this issue.

    I've said this before, but it's central to the problem, so it stands repeating. There are 1 billion 'golden' people in the world who live modern developed middle class lifestyles. There are another 3 billion who have escaped poverty in the past two decades and have entered a basic middle class life and are rapidly gaining ground. There are another 3 billion or so who are closing in on this within the next two decades. The majority of people who live in absolute poverty are concentrated in just two countries, India and Nigeria.

    The reason this is critical is two fold. People living in absolute poverty are terrible for their local environment, they deforest, overfish and eat anything they can catch. Getting them out of this state is essential.

    The other bigger reason this is critical to understand, is that even if the so called 'golden one billion' in the developed world were to cut their resource consumption to zero, emit zero carbon from today onward, it would make only a marginal difference as the other developing six billion (and closer to nine billion if we count future growth) escape poverty and enter the modern world.

    It is not ethically supportable to have a plan which demands the world's population of potentially nine billion people slide back into poverty. On that road lies certain destruction. The only path forward is to redesign our economies from the ground up, taking these planet scale natural cycles into account. There are a number of critical cycles involving water, carbon, nitrogen, calcium and more that for the first time in human history we now have a decent understanding of.

    Since the Scientific Revolution we have passed through a number of energy phases, starting with coal, then oil and gas. We are now transitioning to renewables and next generation nuclear. In terms of materials, the big ones are concrete and steel, both will have to be transitioned to next generation materials, composites, carbon graphenes and the like. We are already transitioning industry to new highly efficient AI based production models. There is a huge amount of work being done to permit 100% recycling of resource streams, we will mine our old landfills, we will get all the plastic out of the ocean, we may even be able to extract excess CO2 from the atmosphere.

    This will not avoid some very big impacts. There is already at least 1m of sea level rise baked in this century. There will be heat waves that render parts of earth unihabitable, there will be more droughts, cyclones and floods that will tip the scales and cause mass migrations toward the temperate regions. We have only seen the start of political instability caused by climate change. Yet we have, or soon will have, most of the tools we need to mitigate climate change and it's impacts. At a science and engineering level it is not only solveable, it's also a huge economic opportunity. As the next nine billion people on earth enter the middle class, they must leapfrog our current technologies and go straight to zero carbon, total recycling.

    The barrier is political. Coal and oil have been essential tools to get us to this point, but we must now transition off them. This means we must stop subsidising them and prevent individual corporations and nations from cheating. This is a global problem in every sense of the word, the rules must be applied globally. China, USA, India, Russian and Germany represent more than half the total emissions of fossil CO2. Unless we compel them,and all other nations, to abide by the same rules, they will cheat.

    The nation state works because we have agreed on rules and conventions that most people abide by. Anyone who cheats on them is punished. The same principle must now be applied at the next level up, climate change is a global problem that can only be effectively addressed with universal action.

    • Gosman 9.1

      Except people tend to rail against supranational organisations. You just have to witness the objections to the EU and even the UN by many nations. Your proposal requires an ability to deal with this type of opposition. Do you have any potential solutions?

      • RedLogix 9.1.1

        Except people tend to rail against supranational organisations.

        This is normal. Consider just the history of Europe and how the formation of the modern nations like Germany and France are the end result of hundreds of years of resistance and war. I am totally aware of why people feel like this; yet the nation states are entirely fabrications of the human mind. If we invented them, we can also modify them.

        Ultimately the benefits of widening the scope of human cooperation outweigh the costs. Historically the process was bumpy and uneven because we didn't have a global perspective on it; now we can. Again for the first time in all of human history global governance is something that can be understood and is a realistic possibility.

        And crucially the benefits are rapidly becoming obviously greater than the costs.

        • Gosman

          I have yet to see a proposal how global co-operation on the level you are proposing can be put in place anytime soon. The amount of sovereignty that would be required to be surrendered would be unprecedented and that is not going to fly with voters in many countries.

          • RedLogix

            We have already gone through two major cycles of globalisation, one starting from around 1840 and ending catastrophically in 1914, the other starting in 1945 with the formation of the UN, World Bank, WTO, IMF and the like, and currently showing signs of dangerous stress.

            There are massively important technical standards organisations which play a critical role enabling global trade, travel and communications. We have legal entities that prosecute war crimes, and numerous multilateral organisations, treaties and trade agreements that already encroach on the unconstrained sovereignty of the nation state far more than most people realise.

            The reason why people are suspicious of globalisation and resistant to the idea, is not so much that it's a bad idea, it's because they don't have faith that it will be carried out properly. They reasonably conclude that the collectively the governments we have are pretty damned uninspiring, therefore a global government must be worse. My response is, the only thing worse than bad government is no government. In a global sense this is what we have, a poorly implemented, incoherent set of ad-hoc arrangements that have no underlying philosophy or rationale.

            • Gosman

              That may well be the case but just because you feel that is the case does not make it likely that enough people will agree with you and make the proactical steps to create this Global governance structure. It is relatively easy to attack a supranational organisation because it essentially can be painted as the outside "other" imposing the will of an out of touch elite on to society.

              • RedLogix

                Why does Germany not disintegrate back into the tiny warlord states it was 400 years ago? Because the benefits of the wider nation state greatly exceed the costs.

                It is relatively easy to attack a supranational organisation because it essentially can be painted as the outside "other" imposing the will of an out of touch elite on to society.

                Which is why we need to think constructively about how to operate such a system, how to hold it to some form of credible democratic accountability. It's not an easy problem, but then nothing worth doing ever is.

    • Andre 9.2

      Thanks RL, that's pretty much what I was working up the energy to write.

      I'd add that we have the technology right now to get to a net-zero emissions world. Even to a slightly net-negative. What we lack is the political will to get there.

      Part of the lack of political will comes from the conservative end of the political spectrum, who simply aren't of a personality type to accept the necessary disruptions for a zero-emissions world. Let alone embrace it. Which is kinda ironic, since the massive effort needed would actually be a massive economic booster worldwide, and conservatives are normally all for economic growth.

      Part of the lack of political will comes from activists for particular causes that block small steps towards a better future and the grounds that that one small step isn't the solution. Sadly there is no single solution, there's only a huge long list of things that by themselves are only small improvements. Some of which will turn out to have unintended consequences that will also need to be dealt with.

      To get to a better place, we're gonna need a wholesale bloodbath of sacred cows. Some of those sacred cows are opposition to technologies to as GMO, nuclear power etc that tend to be more popular on the left. Some of the sacred cows will be ideas popular among the right such as unfettered markets, maximising production and minimising capital investment and so on. Some of the sacred cows may even need to be a rethink around some ideas commonly held to be basic rights such as unlimited reproduction (although I really hope those can be achieved by shifting cultural norms rather than getting to the point where coercion becomes acceptable).

      • RedLogix 9.2.1

        Yes, yes yes. This is exactly the thinking needed. Taking responsibility for our own sacred cows and positively framing the opportunities in terms that make sense to conservatives and progressives alike.

        Keep in mind we need conservative people to maintain the existing systems essential to the transition. There is no point is promising zero carbon electricity in a decades time if the power goes off today.

      • lprent 9.2.2

        I'd add that we have the technology right now to get to a net-zero emissions world. Even to a slightly net-negative. What we lack is the political will to get there.

        We do for some of it. Concrete production would be hard to deal with at present.

        But even if we do right now it still just means that we stop adding to the existing immense stockpile of CO2 in the oceans. And we have no viable technology paths to deal with that.

        Remember that will keep popping out of the oceans at the tropics for thousands of years on centuries long ocean conveyors.

        As is stands right now, even if everything stopped I would expect the long term sea levels rise to exceed the 30m over the next few centuries and the long term climatic stability that our current agriculture depends is just toast.

        • Macro

          Yes that is true – the current concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is as "low" as it is because a huge part of what we have emitted is in the oceans. Prof Doug Mackie at Otago Uni did an excellent series on this on Skeptical Science some years back.

          Here is one of his rebuttals to a common climate myth written in 2015


          The continued acidification of the oceans is another environmental catastrophe we are simply not addressing, and yet it will have a serious impact on our survivability as well

        • Andre

          Concrete production would be hard to deal with at present – because of the costs involved, not a lack of technologies to eliminate the CO2 emissions.

          About half the emissions from current concrete production come from the calcination of limestone. This can be done in a closed chamber and the emitted CO2 easily captured and stored. Storage isn't quite so easy, but can be done by a variety of methods such as pumping it underground.

          The other big contributor to CO2 emissions from concrete production is from burning fossil fuel for process heat. But that process heat could come from renewable energy. Again, it's a cost barrier, not a technological one.

          Interestingly, over its lifetime concrete continuously reabsorbs CO2. After a long enough time, a piece of concrete will reabsorb a substantial fraction of the CO2 as was emitted during the calcination process for the cement used.

          So if cement production changed to capturing and sequestering the CO2 emitted during calcination, and changed to getting the process heat from renewable electricity, then the concrete industry could change from being a large CO2 emitter to being a small and slow CO2 sink.

          https://www.cement.org/for-concrete-books-learning/concrete-technology/concrete-design-production/concrete-as-a-carbon-sink yeah it's an industry puff piece, but it's backed up by more credible academic stuff that comes through as big pdfs so not ideal to link to them here.

          Then there's all the ongoing efforts to make concrete with different chemistries and processes that don't require a CO2-emitting chemical process.


          • Pat

            and then theres the transport part of the equation…extracting the lime, moving it to be processed, packaged and again transported to be mixed and further transported to location of use…theres a recurring theme.

            • Andre

              The land transport part of it all is probably going to be the first to get fully electrified. With renewables.

              I'm still picking that when sea transport has to go zero-emissions, it'll be with small modular nukes.

              • Pat

                heavy industry/transport is further away than electric transport (if even feasible at scale)….how much time do you think we have?

                • Andre

                  It's not a question of how much time we have – we're already fucked.

                  The question we're facing now is in how many orifices simultaneously and how bad the fucking is going to get. The decisions we make now can have a big influence on that.

                  • Pat

                    then it may pay to be realistic….not all energy is equal….the energy from electricity will not replace the dense mobile energy of oil…..so it may pay to start realising that aside from anything else we cannot substitute, we must reduce…and crucially we must prioritise

                    • Andre

                      From the perspective of not all energy is equivalent, burning fossil fuel to turn it into mechanical or electrical energy is incredibly wasteful of the chemical energy in the fuel.

                      The petrol engine drivetrain in a car turns maybe 20% of the input chemical energy into useful forward motion. Diesel trucks maybe 35%. Huntly turns maybe 40% of the coal or gas chemical energy into electricity (maybe 55% in its one combined cycle gas unit). A big ship might get to 50%.

                      But a battery electric vehicle will turn 80% to 90% of its input electrical energy into useful motion. That's before considering energy recovery from regenerative braking, which can be very significant for rubbish trucks, buses, cars in stop-go traffic etc.

                      But when fossil fuels are burned for process heat, almost all the input chemical energy ends up as useful heat.

                      So from that perspective, the low-hanging fruit is more likely to be in electrifying transport and other users of internal combustion engines. With process heat users changing later on. But that picture is partly muddied by the way electrical heating is generally a lot safer and more controllable than burning fuels. The industrial oopsies involving process heat that I've been near have involved burning fuels rather than electrical heat.

                  • Pat

                    Currently around 13% of world energy demand is met by non carbon emitting technologies (in their operation, not their construction) so a near 8 fold increase in carbon free electricity production will be needed just to stand still (not counting energy loss from battery storage etc) and then there is environmental/resource constraints…and in the foreseeable construction of any infrastructure requires the use of massive amounts of carbon emitting fossil fuels….breeders are not a reality and may never be…the individual efficiencies are not the issue.

                    • Andre

                      Oh well then. If the problem is that insurmountable you may as well just assume the position now and kiss your ass goodbye.

                      Meanwhile those that want ways to make things better will keep beavering away, with greater or lesser support from those that want to improve things and opposition from those that want to keep pushing their own barrows.

                  • Pat

                    it is always of interest when those touting technology as a solution fall back to the"you have given up" line in pique when the point being made is not to give up but to stop dreaming and start realising that our high energy/consumption lifestyles cannot be maintained and reality dictates reduction.

                    Realisation will come at some point, the later the more damage

                    • Andre

                      Kinda like the way those using climate change as a stalking horse for a separate agenda first fall back on "how much time is left" then "the problem is too big for anything other than my solution".

                      Improvements will come from taking things that work from the entire spectrum of possibilities.

                  • Pat

                    lol…you may claim stalking horses and hidden agendas….me, I'll stick with the facts.

                  • lprent

                    The question we’re facing now is in how many orifices simultaneously and how bad the fucking is going to get. The decisions we make now can have a big influence on that.

                    Which is pretty much my basic point as well. Except I’d say that what we are determining now is not what happens to people living now – it is more a case of how much more fucked our descendents next century will be.

                    It is so damn hard to reverse out VERY large amounts of CO2 already dropped into the oceans and due to reappear within decades or centuries (probably mostly the latter).

                    As far as I can see we’re not even seeing more than a trace of what has already been applied to us from last century. I suspect that a lot of what we are seeing in the atmosphere now is just from the reducing ability of the oceans to absorb CO2 …

    • WeTheBleeple 9.3

      I think leapfrogging third-first world entirely feasible.

      Permaculture. Earthworks, solar, wind, hydro, food forests, BAM, good life.

      And yes, those new reactors don’t look nearly so bad as the old ones. The old ones… NIMBY!

      • greywarshark 9.3.1

        Talking to clued-up Turkish chap today. Touching on the Ottoman Empire, early 20th century. The Turks were able to hold Muslims together, now acting against each other. (Don't start on Armenia, this is just a general look at the world divisions prior to WW1.) He says that after WW1 Turkey was left alone after losing all the countries previously connected with it then. Turkey was the only democracy and had stepped away from sharia law. He feels that Turkey is more stable than NZ and offers better conditions for work and education.

        Now where the Ottoman Empire extended, there are lots of states at odds with each other, separated and there needs to be some cohesiveness rather like the EU. Perhaps there could be a Balkan united entity that would be similar to the EU.

        I think it would be harder to pick off countries and destroy them physically and culturally if there was a group identity.

  10. Robert Guyton 10

    We're all talking about climate change.

  11. Ad 11

    Welcome back Bill.

  12. WeTheBleeple 12

    Some notepad calculating:

    13.5 billion acres of agricultural land.

    Improvements to retain water and fertility can increase carbon sequestration by ~ 0.16 ton of carbon per acre (on grassland) in relation to typical practice (plough and erode). Forestry is higher, but fires can decimate progress. Forests will need to be better planned than current practise due to increasing drought/wildfire.

    But yeah, improving agricultural lands will only sequester a further ~ 2.16 billion tons per annum. This does not account for reducing the oil based machinery, fertilisers and pesticides currently used.

    Fully restorative agriculture (animal and plant cycling, nitrogen fixing plants, no till) could improve that figure considerably.

    You say we have an excess of ~ 1 trillion tons CO2? That's only 400 years for very basically improved agriculture to sop it up.

    Regreening the deserts will give a much larger return (improvement on current sequestration levels), but will only be feasible in some places. It might bring us down to two hundred years.

    Large scale reef building could also help, and kelp forests walk all over terrestrial systems for CO2 sequestering (about 20x). The oceans take the bulk of the earths surface area but shallow water (where the benthos/some surface area for things to grow on is in the euphotic zone, or upper 80m) is only a portion of that. How big a portion – can't find the number…

    I do see kelp farming and reef building will take off once we get our heads round how beneficial it can be (industry and restorative practise). I wish I could get that number – if we could have as much kelp forest/oysters building reefs as we do Ag land – reverse all that excess in a couple of decades.

    Bad agricultural practises (and land use in general) are killing off aquatic ecosystems that are highly important global players.

    So, we start with cleaning up Ag, forestry and other land users, this in turn aids oceanic restoration. We plant (mixed) forests, we restore grasslands, we green deserts, we seed reefs and kelp forests.

    We get cracking.

    It's possible to turn this shebang around. But daunting!

    • Robert Guyton 12.1

      1:08 on…

    • RedLogix 12.2

      Agreed. I have always instinctively had one foot in each camp, the engineering one and the natural systems one. It would be a terrible mistake to set one against the other … they both must play their optimum role.

      Fortunately it's my sense that the younger generations of life sciences people understand this better than we do and will naturally tend to merge the two approaches into a broad stream of multiple disciplines.

      Besides there is every good reason to experiment with all reasonable options.

      • WeTheBleeple 12.2.1

        At university they were beginning to mouth accolades about multi-disciplinary work but they were still trying hard to jam everyone into their box.

        Multi-disciplinary individuals are relatively rare, but it is improving as some protean types are refusing to be boxed anymore.

        I agree we'll require all hands on deck, I can only really speak to the biological/ecological side of it, but I can contribute from cetaceans to cyanobacteria…

        • greywarshark

          I've got an idea for multi-disciplinary but will have to stop brooding on it otherwise it will never hatch. I agree that we have to bring skills and knowledge together to make up the magic positions that will save much of the earth and civilisation. Big sounding themes. But too real man for words. Don't worry Be Happy. Maybe we can do good and at the same time have some fun.

          • WeTheBleeple

            Give me purposeful work I'm laughing all day. Leave me feeling hopeless it aint pretty.

            The touring company, it has ulterior motives, to talk about climate change in every town we go – with jokes!

            • greywarshark

              Besides transport what would expedite, help you, in this project WtB? What if NZ Rail would strike a bargain with you and give you cheaper rail in exchange for you advertising their services even unfolding major sized posters encouraging its use. It is time we use every new idea that we can to get the country moving on tracks literally and figuratively.

              • WeTheBleeple

                I had considered rail. I still recall the idea of a rail tour and shows on the way. A workshop idea we had. Still a great idea and something I might put together in future. Till then we just need to get rolling.

                The issue is transporting sound gear as well as artists. This is heavy equipment I can't just chuck on the back of an e-bike. I have looked at e-bike trailers and all sorts of options but really, artists and equipment need door to door (home to venue to hotel to next venue…) service. Especially in inclement weather.

                I will work it out there's not too much detail to it now.

                • Macro

                  Here was a production I was very familiar with:


                  Sounds a bit like what you have in mind.

                  • WeTheBleeple

                    I do enjoy a show at the basement.

                    That shows material sounds really interesting – challenging to present.

                    I'll just be presenting stand up and other stand up comics which is easy to set up.

                    My favorite play I worked on was probably Priscilla. Great cast, crew, lots of heavy work though, as we had to reinforce the stage for the bus.

                    • Macro

                      Priscilla would have been great fun to work on I would think. And yes getting a bus on stage would have been an undertaking!

                      Production is just as essential as the rest but for much of the audience it is something that can be seen but never fully appreciated.

  13. greywarshark 13

    Bill – you are a heroic figure whatever your size. Glad to see you back and giving us the dope. Without the opportunity to read and ruminate about such things as you and lprent reveal we will stay dopes.

    And Bill has been telling us for a while – the three past posts featured at the base of his present one are from him. 2014 Idiots Cowards and Bastards (very catchy),
    2016 Free Petrol – apparently part of a series, and 2018 something about Chremastatic or something. Plenty to read and I think we owe it to Bill to ingest the message he conveys.

  14. Robert Guyton 14

    Readers of The Standard; I could use your help. In a few days time, I will be pressing the Southland Regional Council (Environment Southland) to declare a 'climate emergency' as Environment Canterbury, The Nelson City Council and Dunedin City Council have done. There is reluctance amongst my fellow councillors to do this but they are subject to influence from the public, so I ask, could you email the chairman Nicol Horrell and press him to lead the council into declaring a climate emergency. You'll have your own reasons to give, no doubt, but it needs only be a short message; such input really has a powerful effect, especially when cited at the point when voting on an issue is concerned. The address is:


    Thank you.

  15. left_forward 15

    Spot on Bill – tautoko with equal desperation.

  16. WeTheBleeple 16


    We can build houses that produce energy already. I'm going to be visiting this exact place next weekend. Yay.



  17. joe90 17

    Drought and assorted weather related catastrophes cause mass migration, political upheaval and ultimately, war. Sounds about right.

    A harrowing scenario analysis of how human civilization might collapse in coming decades due to climate change has been endorsed by a former Australian defense chief and senior royal navy commander.

    The analysis, published by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, a think-tank in Melbourne, Australia, describes climate change as “a near- to mid-term existential threat to human civilization” and sets out a plausible scenario of where business-as-usual could lead over the next 30 years.

    The paper argues that the potentially “extremely serious outcomes” of climate-related security threats are often far more probable than conventionally assumed, but almost impossible to quantify because they “fall outside the human experience of the last thousand years.”

    On our current trajectory, the report warns, “planetary and human systems [are] reaching a ‘point of no return’ by mid-century, in which the prospect of a largely uninhabitable Earth leads to the breakdown of nations and the international order.


    • greywarshark 17.1

      I suggest it will lead to the breakdown of local order too. Things may be tough, you are assiduously planting, mulching, watering, picking off bugs from the plants that will be your main sustenance.

      Then the sort of guys that think it is okay to rape young girls because they can and nobody wants to confront them, start early morning raids and coming home with vegs for their accepting females who do the cooking and care work. You have to put out warning tin-cans on strings, and have a shotgun to keep them off. That would show up the feral nature of much of the so-called civilisation we have already a significant number of which is unwilling to live in a sharing, respectful, communal and fair-trading way.

      • WeTheBleeple 17.1.1

        I grow a lot of plants people wouldn't recognise as food. May I get many more smiley

        And growing my own food takes so little effort (after set up). Less than a couple of minutes a day if that. Heavy mulching is key which requires growing support species to provide mulch (along with all non-edible plant parts of harvested materials).

        Robert’s got it sussed, but I don’t think you can get production running quickly with plant and watch…. Best to block out weeds agressively, put in the trees but run annuals between them to get a harvest. Start eating healthy, it’s on!

        Make beautiful food and watch the trees grow. Superb.

        • greywarshark

          I hope and pray it will be as easy to grow as you say. The answer lies in the mulch it seems.

          • WeTheBleeple

            The mulch does many useful things, but in this context it gives desirable plants a (significant) chance to get going without the need for poisons or ploughs. As the season progresses it starts to break down and you begin to build topsoil out of it. Lovely.

            Have compost on hand and make wee holes in new mulch and add a handful of compost and then plant veg to get going fast.

  18. WeTheBleeple 18

    It has been observed, using a sample size of one, that Dan Carter in his undies promotes conversation on climate change. I think we should make Dan an ambassador of climate change, and trot him out for a countrywide underpants tour.

    Whatever it takes, we all have to make sacrifices.

  19. greywarshark 19

    Is this going to be a good thing to do with plastics or is it going to have downsides?


    It's hoped the test of a new blend of asphalt – Plas Mix – will offer a solution for the thousands of tonnes of difficult to recycle plastic grades – three through seven – collected in New Zealand each year.

    New Plymouth District Council infrastructure manager David Langford said after finding himself stuck with about 200 tonnes annually of plastics nobody wanted, he started looking around for solutions.

    • WeTheBleeple 19.1

      If the plastic is in the surface layer it's not good. If it's buried out of the light it can last forever. Reads article… It's in the aggregate. I like it (with caution).

      I do recall considering this type of construction for swamp/peatland which we have a lot of in the Waikato. My idea was to have roads that 'float' rather than the existing huge maintenance/rapid misshaped dangerous mess we get. Perhaps we could have a high plastic aggregate for such terrain. Great that people are receptive to such ideas all of a sudden.

      We pay too much for new roads, I want them to actually last. That's another story which I'm sure our resident rail fans could expand on way better than me.

      That article made me miss Pukekura Park. I wrote a lot sitting on top of the crest of the hill that almost overhangs the North boundary of the lake. Magic fungi growing right there under the bench I wrote from.

      • greywarshark 19.1.1

        Sounds great WtB. I haven't been to Womad and seen the rhodos or been to Parihaka but will get there some day. Seen Lye's wand and briefly at Govett-Brewster and the 'Snug' at the White Hart. So had a taste of Taranaki.

    • lprent 19.2

      It isn't too bad. Takes a lot of work to get asphalt to burn

  20. Pat 20

    WB Bill….thanks for an accurate summary but suspect your desired honesty is the last thing that will happen….at least in the short term.

  21. Adrian thornton 21

    Hello Bill, really great to see you back, was just saying to a friend how I missed your input on TS a couple of days ago.

    Look forward to having a little more balance around here.

  22. adam 22

    A one day strike, ffs.

    A week would be better!

  23. Cinny 23

    Dear Media, please would you start spotlighting the companies that cause the most environmental damage so everyone can be informed about which products to boycott.

    Here’s a start….


    Dear Cinny, most of us won't because our companies own the media.

  24. WeTheBleeple 24

    An interesting interview re: China's re-greening the Gobi Desert. Climate change, climate refugees… 66 Billion trees so far (end of 2017).


    • greywarshark 24.1

      It might be better if we could plant food forests of trees and people living nearby would have the trees for their own use and trade with other tree groups in each group's season. They would be kaitiaki of the trees and land, grow crops under, and have a basic sufficiency. Rather than rows on rows of plantation forest even to green the desert. At the sides of a road like the above, at regular intervals, there could be little villages that acted as kaitiaki and lookouts to put out small fires, and able to call on a big local firefighting force.

      • WeTheBleeple 24.1.1

        I doubt any food trees of value will grow there at present. Once the system begins to mature they might start including them. Those will be mostly deep tap rooting nitrogen fixers and drought tolerant species of local origin.

        We can plant food straight off because we have topsoil. Even then a lot of productive trees struggle without other species or mycorrhizal hookups or shelter or shade…

        The Loess plateau project went straight to production but by vastly different methods. I'll share a video tomorrow that's quite uplifting, at least to me.

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