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Can the Left save the world?

Written By: - Date published: 7:37 am, November 22nd, 2010 - 194 comments
Categories: climate change, Left, sustainability - Tags:

All leading scientific bodies agree – Our World is Burning Up.

Scientific American:

A new analysis using a standard drought index augurs that by the end of the century devastating drought conditions will take hold over much of the populated areas of the world

So what can be done about it?

Human beings are a socially organised species, there is nothing worth doing, that can be done by individual human beings working in isolation. Whether it is building a house, constructing a car, or erecting a bridge, or laying a road, or crossing an ocean. It takes many people working together to achieve anything really worthwhile.

This also applies to probably our biggest project yet.

Saving a planet.

So why can’t we get started?

This because organised human society based around the market can not do it.

Running society like all other human endeavours takes organisation. The human organisations that take on this task are called political organisations, or parties.

The evidence is that Political Parties committed to maintaining the market can’t do it.

Organised parties of human beings committed to maintaining and organising the market are for the want of a better term deemed “right”.

Organised parties of human beings opposed to this sort of world are termed “left”.

The reason why “right” parties of organised human beings are paralysed when it comes to doing anything meaningful about climate change is because the solution will require the full or partial dismantling of the market system.

Therefore the solution to global climate change must come from human beings informed and organised by left politics.

In my opinion;
Taking the concrete necessary steps to tackle global climate change will increasingly become the defining feature between left and right.

As a self described Left Party, is the New Zealand Labour Party up to the task?

I would hope so, but I feel that it is not.

The reason – The Labour Party, like other Social Democratic Parties around the world are not too dissimilar to the political parties of the Right that openly champion the market. While expressing concerns about the market, the New Zealand Labour Party is committed to preserving the market system, and therefore will not, without a serious change in direction contemplate doing anything that hurts the market.

This narrowness in difference between most major mass membership parties, is revealed by the many elections around the globe where the majorities are often knife edge and hung parliaments and narrow victories have become the norm, with many abstaining from voting and many voters not sure of the issues dividing the main parties.

To save our world, parties like Labour need to differentiate themselves from the right by moving more solidly to the left, they need to advocate for reining in the polluters and controlling the market. To this end they need to vigourously explain in their campaigning why this is necessary.

Can Parties like Labour make this major change in direction by themselves?

I don’t think so.

This is why wider left unity is vital.

New Zealand can save the world.

Though on a much smaller scale than most, New Zealand has a complex, fully industrialised modern economy, very similar to the world’s largest emitting economies.

Because of this, New Zealand can be a template for the rest of the industrialised world.

What is achieved in New Zealand can be copied and replicated in other much larger economies.

If New Zealand achieves these major civilisation changes, the political pressure for other industrialised countries to follow suit would become irresistible.

This was demonstrated when New Zealand led the world in introducing Social Welfare reforms.

The political organisation able to bring the necessary major changes to New Zealand’s economy that will build this template, must be of the left.

What immediately needs to be done?

I will try and quantify the task.

Coal should stay in the hole.

No coal exports and 100% of electricity generation must come from renewables.

Coal mining belongs in 19th Century, not the 21st.

Of all the countries in the world New Zealand is the most likely to achieve this end, as already 90% of our electricity is generated by renewables. (mostly hydro, with some geo-thermal, this must be supplemented with a huge expansion in wind and tidal with investigation of possible upgrading of the existing hydro and geothermal resource for efficiency gains.)

To this end all gas fired, coal fired and oil fired generators need to be immediately decommissioned and their machinery and plant turbines and workforces need to be utilised in the expansion of the renewables sector.

To overcome the shortfall in electricity production, emergency measures similar to those done in war time New Zealand need to be brought into place.

This complete restructuring of the electrical sector may require complete renationalisation similar to that required in time of war.

Also similar to war time regulation, all street lighting and night-time office lighting and advertising must be switched off similar to the war time blackout.* (unless powered by rechargeable stand alone solar during the day).

All motorway construction must be halted and the billions already earmarked for this work to be switched to public transport.

All urban public transport needs to immediately made fare free to the end user and massively upgraded, to make the change from private cars an easy hassle free choice.

All freight movement between centres must be switched from road to rail.

Agriculture needs to be sustainable, to this end methane production needs to be massively curtailed.

Fonterra the world’s biggest dairy monopoly will need to be nationalised and it’s production rationalised. The main goal of Fonterra must be switched from profit, to sustainability and job protection. These must be the two main goals of Fonterra from now on. To this end the creative and inventive power of the whole massive workforce of Fonterra needs to be involved and harnessed in working out how to reduce this company’s massive green house gas emissions.

Legislative limits on carbon production must be imposed on private industry.

None of these actions are unachievable, and to various degrees and in different circumstances are not unprecedented.

All that is missing is the political will.

These are only some of the tasks that a Left leaning administration, serious about saving our world must do.


194 comments on “Can the Left save the world?”

  1. higherstandard 1

    No, only people can ‘save the world’

    Can any post on the site now ? it’s always good to see a variety of opinion.

    • r0b 1.1

      Anyone can submit a guest post (se contribute button or in menu bar). This has always been the case. Most guest posts get published, but not all, it’s up to the editors.

      Great post Jenny!

  2. Carol 2

    I agree that there needs to be an immediate shift from road to public transport. I also would like to see more focus on enabling safe cycling. I would go back to cycling again if there was a cycleway in my home area. Cars and trucks don’t mix with cycles. Why not vastly increase the amount of cycleways? And if making new roads immediately ceased, there should be plenty of resources to do this. I would be willing to pay a cycle tax if it meant a big increase in cycleways.

    • freedom 2.1

      I heard a nice man say he is building some, somewhere, he said so heaps of times, any day now they will be sprouting up all over the place, won’t they?

      • Carol 2.1.1

        I believe the smiling man was talking about a national cycleway, running the length of the country for tourists. But I would like to see cycleways for Kiwi locals, so that we can cycle to work, local shops, friends places etc.

        • freedom

          absolutely agree, i was just being cheeky about Key’s great plan for the nation.

        • Draco T Bastard

          And the tourists would probably use them as well. ZOMG, think of the efficiency that dual use would bring 😮

      • Lazy Susan 2.1.2

        Yes, work is urgently proceeding to ensure just enough cycleway is open for that all important photo-op prior to Election 2011. Gerry and “Smile and Wave” are practising riding with one hand to leave the other hand free. Reports, however, say that progress here has also been slow and media advisors are warning that stablisers and Photoshop may have to be employed. I, for one, can’t wait to see both “on their bikes”.

        In other news, Steven Joyce has urged more Aucklanders to go without luxuries like food and clothing so that they can buy holiday homes north of Auckland. This, he says, will ensure that the “Holiday Highway” will benefit most Aucklanders although he admitted filling the car might be a problem for some of those on tight budgets with big mortgages.

        • M

          ‘ can’t wait to see both “on their bikes”.’

          Gerry’s wouldn’t make it out of the parliamentary grounds, the tyres couldn’t handle the pressure.

          Steven Joyce’s comment is unbelievable – holiday highway indeed, it will be a nice paved walkway/cycleway.

          • Rob

            and this is exactly why the left or any political movement will not save the world, as any broad discussion or action will always revert to low level politicking.

            Some of the theories are relevant , however the nature of change will have to involve people that can affect positive change and very rarely are those people deeply involved in politics.

    • nzfp 2.2

      Why not vastly increase the amount of cycleways?

      Where will you get the money to do this? Have you thought about the economics of the problem?

      I have.

      However a great solution has been outlined in an article titled: “Sustainable Energy Development: How Costs Can Be Cut In Half” written by Ellen Brown on November 5th, 2007. In her article Brown asserts that:

      […] Governments have the sovereign right to create money and to lend it. […] Credit created by governments […] would have the advantage that it could be issued interest-free. Eliminating the cost of interest could cut production costs dramatically. Interest composes as much as 77% of the cost of capital-intensive goods and services such as public housing. […] If money for alternative energy projects were issued interest-free, projects that have been considered unsustainable because of the burden of interest could become not only self-sustaining but highly profitable for the funding governments. […] Government-issued money to fund public projects is not a new idea but has a long and successful history. […] A successful infrastructure program funded with interest-free “national credit” was also instituted in New Zealand after it elected its first Labor government in the 1930s. Credit issued by its nationalized central bank allowed New Zealand to thrive at a time when the rest of the world was struggling with poverty and lack of productivity. […]

      • Jenny 2.2.1

        Great stuff nzfp, In 1939 despite depression billions of Pounds were conjured up for the war against fascism.

        When the need is great, there is never any shortage of money.

        • Colonial Viper

          That was FDR’s leadership. The first and second ‘New Deals’ implemented massive financial sector reforms, massively grew massive Government spending which was focussed on employing ordinary workers to do civil and and societal work (not bailing out big corporations), and allowed the trade union movement to explode in membership gaining millions of new members.

          So I agree with you, there is no shortage of money. Just a shortage of leadership and a mass movement to make that leadership do the right thing for the people.

          In fact, today we have the cleverly engineered situation where a lot of ordinary workers back the very big business oriented groups/parties who are intent on harming the interests of ordinary workers.

  3. Carol 3

    Not only is mining coal dangerous to the future of the world, but it is a dangerous industry for the workers down the mines. As well as the Pike River emergency, there’s a yearly toll of lives in Chinese coal mines:


    A flood in a coal mine in southwestern China trapped 28 workers Sunday, an official said…

    China’s mines are the deadliest in the world, with more than 2,600 people killed in coal mine accidents in 2009 alone.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Per capita that’s equivalent to 8-9 deaths per year in NZ coal mines. Not good at all, but also not as bad as it might first look.

  4. zimmer 4

    And all in this social welfare payments must still be maintained.
    What a croc of ship.

    [Looks like your ban is over so I’ll take you out of moderation. There goes the neighbourhood… –r0b]

  5. The problem is Jenny if not Labour then who?

    The Greens have better climate change policies but have never been within a bull’s roar of being elected.

    You are talking about monumental phenomenol change that will scare much of the population witless.

    Perhaps peak oil will cause the sort of change that you are describing.

    • Herodotus 5.1

      How can Lab manage such a shift, we had a building boom and the adverse consequence that has and will continue to have. So if a govt cannont manage micro issues in issolation, how can we expect a macro change?

    • Olwyn 5.2

      I agree. You cannot just inflict such radical changes on people, they will not let you. But what you can do it make prudent decisions in the light of present knowledge so that the storms (like peak oil) when they arrive are more able to be weathered. Did anyone read Rod Oram in the Sunday Star Times (I can’t find a link), on the mania for road building, for instance?

      We should also be aware that sustainable ways of life are not necessarily lives of hardship and privation: our present way of life is only about 100 years old or less, and the consumerist version of it only about 60 years old.

      • JAG 5.2.1

        Rod Oram’s column rightly points out the dubious economic case for the RoNS…

        But I don’t think fare free public transport is the solution. We’ve got into the mess of over reliance on cars because of subsidising private transport. We shouldn’t also over-subsidise public transport because it will still support people travelling further. Walking and cycling are the modes of transport with the smallest footprint.

        If we remove subsidies to private cars, we can expect land use patterns to shift in ways that support more public transport, but especially walking and cycling. This will make public transport more economically viable, and we can actually reduce subsidies to public transport. I don’t think there is a solid case for it being fare free — better that it is frequent, fast, reliable and comfortable.

        [lprent: Fixed the bad link ]

    • Bazar 5.3

      “The Greens have better climate change policies but have never been within a bull’s roar of being elected.”

      “Better” for the earth, terrible for humans.
      They’d kill our dariy indurstry, and make power generation and transit so expensive, that we wouldn’t be able to produce anything competitively.

      They’d build a large train transit system, which we couldn’t afford, and wouldn’t even break even in costs. But it’d be a “green” way of saving the planet.

      The greens have no idea of the value a dollar.

      • robin 5.3.1

        ““Better” for the earth, terrible for humans”
        Ever wonder how we can make money in the first place?
        By using the resources of the earth.

        The “value [of] a dollar” excludes this cost. That’s the whole point of reassessing our current economically obsessed perspective, so that we can continue to live on this planet. End of story.

        The sooner people get this into their heads and can strain their foresight beyond the next financial year, the better. For everyone and everything.

    • Jenny 5.4


      The problem is Jenny if not Labour then who?

      Hi micky,

      My point was not directed against Labour, as I said at the beginning of my post:

      “It takes many people working together to achieve anything really worthwhile.”

      At this time in history I think that All those committed to doing something serious about climate change should be working together.

      I raised the question; Do I think the Labour Party can do it?

      The answer is, not by themselves.

      Most would admit that the Labour Party would be even struggling to get the Nacts out of the the Treasury benches, by themselves.

      And to get the Nacts out at the next election must be a major priority, the economy and the environment cannot wait another 3 years.

      For the Left to work together to oust the Nacts from the treasury benches could be the first step in doing something positive about the environment and the economy.

      To defeat the market driven ideology that is damaging both the environment and the economy, the Labour Party needs to win the support of both the Green Party and the Maori Party.

      I don’t think that the Green Party would have any problem supporting a Labour led administration that was prepared to get serious about climate change, or introduce green jobs. In fact as part of such a government the Greens would ensure that Labour stuck to this task, when the right wing defenders of the market puts the pressure on, to back off.

      Even on getting elected a Labour led administration can’t do it all by themselves. Labour needs to agree to work with anyone else who believes that global warming is real and is prepared to help take the immediate and ambitious steps needed to address it, this may even mean reaching across the political spectrum.

      In the 1940s the Labour government under Fraser sought to work with the National Party because both agreed to the prosecuting of the war against Facism.

      In the case of global warming a coalition to the right of Labour will not be of any use. In combating climate change most of those on the right side of the house are constitutionally unable to challenge the market forces that are polluting the world.

      The only exception to this is the Maori Party.

      Labour needs to seek a coalition with any party that is prepared to agree to put the environment ahead of the market.

      There can be very little doubt that at the next election the Maori Party will be the king maker.

      The Labour Party should already be putting feelers out to the Maori Party to see what it would take, for them to pledge confidence and supply to a Labour led administration.

  6. ray 6

    Well judging by what happened in communist Russia and China (left enough for you) probably not

  7. Bored 7

    Jenny, great post which is very welcome given the fixation of most people on short term acts as opposed to long term actions.

    I found the criticism of the market model interesting but it is again a short term reaction to a historically short term phenomenon. There are some deeper fundamentals at play here: human psyche and its partner language, plus real physical needs and wants. As a society we act in a preprogrammed way arranged by our exposure to concepts by way of language. If our concepts no longer serve a useful reality and the language we use reflects these concepts we have a major problem in changing to fit realities demands.

    The point I am making is that we have more than the “market” to abandon, we have the whole gammut of concepts and language that surrounds it, such as its’ polar opposite but materialist bedfellow socialism, or somewhere in the middle such as a managed market model. All utilise the same concepts that require close examination and scrutiny. The first I would bin is “progress”.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Actually, I’d say that we need to bin “growth” first and replace it with stable state development/progress. We already produce enough to support ourselves and the only reason we’re having difficulty is because all the wealth is going to the rich.

    • Jenny 7.2

      Bored, as you can see from my answer to mickysavage I have tried to answer the short term acts needed, as well.

  8. Soony Blount 8

    Phil Goff, you need to adopt these policies. Please.

  9. vto 9

    Such long posts with so much to digest with such a small brain and so little time so briefly…

    Are you so certain that left types can achieve big things? USSR was left and didn’t last too well. China is/was left and seems to be achieving things of a sort with a great mash-up of left/right. USA has achieved huge amounts (space travel especially) from the right but with left trappings thrown in. Nazi Germany achieved just about more than any of those from a right base.

    I suspect your analysis is a bit simplistic. The required combo is probably a combo…

    • KJT 9.1

      USSR was not “left” they were a totalitarian dictatorship as was Nazi Germany.

      China is State Capitalist. If they were really “left” they would have directed their resources towards upping the standard of living of their population directly instead of producing Gee gaws for the West to make Western big business owners, and a few Chinese, very rich.

      The closest countries to being “left” are the European Western continental democracies. No coincidence they are still the most successful States in the worlds history.

      A mixed economy still seems to work the best. Private competition where that works and State ownership of natural monopolies, infrastructure and services which the market cannot supply effectively or at a reasonable cost. Democratically regulated so it works for people, not corporates.

      The USA’s greatest achievements and progress was when they were a lot further to the “left” than they are today.

      The furthest to the “right”, the USA, UK, Somalia etc are a disaster area for most of their population. The USA and UK with all their so called wealth can’t even feed millions of their people.

      What we need to work on, as with any drastic changes is first to show people why it is necessary, Nothing is going to happen without the majority of people behind it.

    • Bored 9.2

      VTO, you are correct that it is very complex. I wrote above about the language, I would suggest that we can analyse the hell out of it in current terms and get simplistic or sectarian results. The thing which strikes me about comparative analysis (questions like “is communism left or a rightist authoritarianism?”) is that they relate to reality as percieved through a “rationalist” and “materialist” model post Voltaire and Descartes. I am not sure that this language, thinking or concepts are useful in this debate as they “frame” the response. My take is that all of the systems these encompass have brought us to our current position, and are part of the problem. We need to drill through that to even begin to understand and formulate a response to saving ourselves from ourselves.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.3

      USA has achieved huge amounts (space travel especially) from the right…

      The USA achieved space flight through command economic policies supported by their currency being the reserve currency which allowed them to print money at the worlds expense.

    • Jenny 9.4

      Yes Vto, the combo is probably a combo.

  10. Bill 10

    Excellent post.

    I agree that adhering to market principles is a road block to effective action on climate collapse. But your prescriptions would appear to spring from either market management strategies or centralised state control.

    Neither of these organisational structures will deliver us a society or economy that will take climate collapse into full account when making decisions on production or distribution. A command economy certainly has the capacity to hand down edicts to halt such things as mining overnight. Literally. But the price paid in terms of democracy ceded should rule out any such option… if we are seeking an economy and a society that embraces and promotes the fundamental left principles of solidarity, equity, diversity and democracy.

    Even a cursory examination of the command economies of the USSR, China and other such economies/polities shows how such structural arrangements undercut basic left principles.

    Again, paracon is the only comprehensive attempt to address and prescribe alternative arrangements to the shortcomings of market and command economies that I know of. The time required to read through the literature or some of it, would be time well spent for anyone seriously concerned with organising in ways that won’t produce inevitable and undesirable end results that stem from innate shortcomings of given organisational structures.

  11. Therefore the solution to global climate change must come from human beings informed and organised by left politics.

    How fucking arrogant…to assume that a left leaning eurocentric political ideology is the saviour of the world.

    to the average indigenous culture and invisible underclass who don’t make the distinction, and couldn’t give 2 shits if it were a left or right leaning mofo raping their land and seas and creaming the profits, it makes no difference how high and mighty your poltical ideals.

    reminds me of how the ancestors must have felt when sanctimonious missionaries turned up and said ‘only Jesus can save you, but only our brand of Jesus, those other guys are just charlatans after your land and resources’, then proceeded to acquire land and resources to spread the word along with disease.

    whats gonna save the world and the solution to climate change is…technology!!!

    …advanced technology leading to an energy and intellectual revolution. not whether you’re left or right or centre or forward or backward or sideways or upside down.

    that, combined with a more holistic intellectual perspective which comes from ..yep you guessed it, indigenous societies and the invisible underclass, living within their means and desiring of nothing more than they need for themselves and their families and not for their particular political affiliation.

    sure NZ can lead the way, and it will, by showing how multicultural evolution combined with advanced technology can create sustainable living. It’s not going to show anybody anything of note with it’s useless emissions trading scheme, by cutting back on fossil fuelled power generation and limiting vehicles.

    thats just more arrogance in the face of developing nations who don’t have the luxury of ‘clean alternative’ energy production and easily convertible transport systems.

    so yeah pardon me while i laugh in your western biased eurocentric face eh. My advice is, party like theres no tomorrow and bet that neccessity is the mother of invention when it comes to solving future energy problems contributing to global warming.

    backward looking reductionism and instituting some wartime mentality measures sounds like some enforced martial law shit from a desperate political ideology who’s run out of ideas or some green thumbed hippy from golden bay hiding out and living in a yurt in the bush who has no faith in man to become omnipotently godlike with the ability to get off this planet eventually 🙂

    • Carol 11.1

      ummm… isn’t the faith in technology solving everything a pretty Euro-American (colonialist & neocolonialist) outlook?

      • KJT 11.1.1

        Technology will not solve everything, but it is part of the answer. From low energy use buildings to sustainable power sources.

        The whole economic system at the moment however is directed towards ever increasing use of resources.

        It will have to be changed to reflect a steady state where people can live good lives without using more resources than the world can support. This is a “left” viewpoint. That making a few rich at the expense of everyone else should not be the primary aim of Government.

        The attitude of the “right” is to grab what you can for yourself before anyone else gets it.

      • pollywog 11.1.2

        No Carol…it’s a human one and one we Pasifikans have always adopted.

        A new analysis using a standard drought index augurs that by the end of the century devastating drought conditions will take hold over much of the populated areas of the world

        So what can be done about it?

        what can be be done is…stop forecasting doom and gloom based on current technology and extrapolating that for the next 100years then using it as some scare tactic for political advantage.

        they couldn’t predict that shit 100years ago for us. It’s arrogant to assume we can do it for future generations.

        maybe if we focussed on a brighter future that encompassed a genius developing next level technology we’d create a critical mass of peoples with a mindset to make it happen.

        create a vision, hold it, break it down, and work towards building it, not play petty party politics of left, right, eurocentre of the world blah blah blah…

        maybe that’s what 2012 and the end of the age of motion and dawn of the age of light is 🙂

        • Zorr

          Living in a fantasy land as you are proposing is not a viable answer. The forecasters at the moment are working with the best information they have, what are you working with? Candy canes, pink unicorns and rainbows?

          Technology can be part of the answer but expecting it to save us is delusional at best and extremely dangerous to the future of our species at worst.

          • pollywog

            candy canes, pink unicorns and rainbows…grow up zorr !!!

            or go back to scratching round the dirt and living in a cave

            maybe hold tight to thinking some 2000 yr old alien is gonna descend from the sky, raise the dead and take the good people off planet for some godly lessons on divine justice.

            or maybe you believe in the fantasy of taxing carbon emissions beyond set limits from the past and trading the surplus.

            how about we only have one child and lets all ride bicycles.

            technology and an INTELLECTUAL REVOLUTION is the only answer, not advocating we all lean left and enforce backasswards looking policies.

            it may surprise you but a shitload of us don’t even know what being left or right means and can be bothered finding out cos it won’t make one bit of difference.

            • Bored

              Thanks Polly, you summed up the issue when you said “How fucking arrogant…to assume that a left leaning eurocentric political ideology is the saviour of the world.

              I said its the language and embedded concepts we need to change, you have said pretty much the same by rejecting Eurocentric constructs. The whole issue resides outside of the current dogmas, they are what got us to the problem. Well spotted.

        • Carol

          I agree that humans generally have embraced technology for eons. However, it tends to have been western cultures that have elevated this to a belief that it will solve all human problems, and is related to notions of progress and <empire. This is much like western use of Christianity. But many Pasificans people have adopted Christianity, and maybe adapted it too, to their cultures. And some have subscribed to left politics and others to right wing policies.

          I agree with the need for a multi-ethnic solution. But the belief in technology as been the way forward, is the main ethos of US empirialists. Also, many Europeans, from all classes, also have long posited the notion of a mix of left and right wing philosophies. So that on its own, doesn’t seem to me to provide a way forward. It depends on the exact mix of right and left. NZ generally has been a mixed economy, sometimes veeering more to the left, sometimes more to the right.

          • KJT

            “Left” thought is hardly Eurocentric.
            Chinese Philosophy, South American indigenous people, Pacific peoples and many others talk about a social centric model for society.

          • pollywog

            However, it tends to have been western cultures that have elevated this to a belief that it will solve all human problems, and is related to notions of progress and <empire.

            more of the same bullshit Carol.

            it tends to have been that way because NZ is a western culture, so our literature and beliefs indoctrinate us through the eurocentric ‘system’ to regurgitate the propaganda spoonfed us by the powers that be. you talked to any indigenous cultures lately ?

            we’re nothing more than a bunch of chicken littles running scared that the sky is falling if we believe half the shit the left or right put forward as neccessary and enforced for our benefit…

            …and ostritches with heads in the sand if we piss on indigenous beliefs and cultures as some mystical pagan mumbo jumbo or savage nobles with no place in a future dominated by left/right western philosophies .

            seriously, we’re fucked if the best both sides can come up with is the emission trading scheme to halt global warming and our saviour is a political ideology.

            • Carol

              Actually, pollywog, I have talked to many people from indigenous cultures in recent years. And I do have some understanding of the history of colonisation and how it affected indigenous people. I have made an effort to look into such history and to find out what some indigenous people say about it. I can’t say I know what every Maori or Pasifican person thinks, but I do know that there is quite a bit of diversity of views amongst them. And some favour a right wing perspective, some a left, and some a mixed perspective.

              And many say exactly the point I made above that you have rubbished: ie about it being a Eurocentric view to put their faith in notions of eternal “progress” based solely on technological developments. It’s not just the technoogies, it’s about how specific technologies are chosen and the way they are used. eg, Many Maori had/have a strong resistance to technologies of genetic engineering and have debated in depth, whether this technology is compatible with Maori spiritual values. So it’s not a question of Maori adoptng any flash new technology unthinkingly, without seriously condering how it will impact on their communities and values.

              I agree with your comment that the ETS is a pretty poor scheme to combat global warming. In fact, that scheme is the result of pressures on all parties from right wing politics and/or philosophies.

              Many people (Maori, Pasific, European ect) do have mixed left-right views. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t useful to understand right and left wing phiosophies, and the way they are used along a specturm/continuum of left-right beliefs.

          • Vicky32

            I feel it’s important to point out there that Christianity is not Western in origin, that New Zealand Christians (except for the recent American-influenced evangelicals) tend to be left, and finally, that technology is not necessarily a bad thing! It’s all a matter of how it’s used or more usually abused.

      • bbfloyd 11.1.3

        carol… he’s just a bit confused. gets carried away with his own rhetoric.

        • pollywog

          and you’re putting forward cogent counter arguments, your own personal vision thus contributing to a robust discussion how bbfloyd ???…

          oh you’re not… you’re just acting true to form and being an ignorant smarmy prick.

          as you were then….enjoy your blissful life

    • Craig Glen Eden 11.2

      “to the average indigenous culture and invisible underclass who don’t make the distinction, and couldn’t give 2 shits if it were a left or right leaning mofo raping their land and seas and creaming the profits, it makes no difference how high and mighty your poltical ideals.”

      No I understand how the Maori Party got in and why they have failed their people so badly.

      • KJT 11.2.1

        The Maori party are part of the Maori Moneyocracy who are a natural fit with NACT.
        I am not surprised Hone, despite his faults as an honest racist, has problems with their support of the mine, farm use up everything NACT party.

      • pollywog 11.2.2

        If you gave the Maori party half as much time and chance as you have the other parties you might find they could be wayyy more successful…but whatever, i wouldn’t want to shift your paradigm to something more evolved.

        it must be great never having to wear sunglasses cos your brow shades your eyes so perfectly 😛

        • Bored

          On the subject of shaded glasses (from the Young Ones…..)

          A policeman in dark sunglasses quickly runs up and puts his hand
          on the person’s shoulder]

          POLICEMAN: Ho ho ha ha ha! Gotcha, Mr. Sambo-darky-coon! I
          got your number, you’re nicked!

          MAN: [first shot of man’s face. He is anglo-saxon, not african]
          Is there something the matter, officer?

          POLICEMAN: Oh oh oh, don’t we sound proper, Mr. Rasta’s
          chocolate drop! Now, listen here, son. I should warn you, i’ve done a
          weekends training with the SAS! I could pull both your arms off and
          leave no trace of violence! Lord Scarman need never know!

          MAN: Look, what seems to be the trouble, officer?

          [rings doorbell again. Policeman grabs his hand]

          POLICEMAN: That’s white man’s electricity you’re burning
          ringing that doorbell. That’s theft! I’ve got your number, so hold out
          your hand!

          MAN: Officer, I represent Kellog’s corflakes car competition!

          [Man takes off his glove to retrieve a business card. Upon taking
          off his glove, the policeman quickly takes off his sunglasses and
          grabs the man’s hand and stares it. After a while he looks
          at man nervously]

          POLICEMAN: Oh, sorry, John. I thought you was a nigger!
          Carry on! [quickly runs away.

          • swordfish

            @ Bored

            Being a Young Ones fan from way back, I knew that off by heart. All you had to do was give me the first line and I could have recited the lot.

            Not to mention: Darling Fascist Bully-Boy, give me some more money you Bastard. May the seed of your loins be fruitful in the belly of your woman. – Neil.

        • KJT

          Come to where I live and ask what people think about the Maori party abandoning them to poverty with their support for National.

          There are going to be a few less people voting for them next election.

          I am not very impressed with National or Labours efforts in the last 30 years either.

          I suspect the Hone and Matt party, if they ever do it, will pick up a lot of Maori votes.

    • Bill 11.3

      “How fucking arrogant…to assume that a left leaning eurocentric political ideology is the saviour of the world.’

      Yes and no.

      Fact of the matter is that the market is kind of all pervasive these days. And market relations are a product of European thought. Interaction with the market tends to limited by two theoretical poles either a) giving it free reign and b) subjecting it to central command….and that’s the generally accepted right/left divide.

      But, I’d argue that there is far more space on the left lying beyond any notion of command economies that is subject to a cone of silence by the right and the more delineated left. And that space accommodates indigenous cultures, underclasses, women, minorities etc in ways that the more visible expressions of left and right – that are concerned with market and command economies (or some mix thereof) – don’t and can’t.

      • KJT 11.3.1

        The market was around before Europe. Since the first person traded food for an adze.

        Command economies are no more an automatic future of socialism “left” than a dictatorship is of Capitalism.

        A mixed economy has proven to work best so long as it is regulated so cheats do not prosper and externalities such as the environment are taken into account.

        The great experiment in de-regulation of capitalism in the Anglo Saxon countries has failed.

        • Bored

          The market was around before Europe.. I think not. Trade is not a “market”, it is an activity that involves a transaction whereby something changes hands from one party to another in exchange for another something. This trade may be fair or unfair but does not necessarily imply, or require a “market”.

          • Colonial Viper

            Ancient Europe? Pah. The cradles of global civilisation were Iran and China and I would suggest markets using money as a means of exchange were very active there a thousand years before Europe even knew which way was up.

            The great experiment in de-regulation of capitalism in the Anglo Saxon countries has failed.

            The problem clearly is that there was still too much regulation in what should have been highly efficient free markets. Lets give it another go, but this time with fewer rules and regulations eh? I’m sure it will work out better this time around, promise, cross my heart.

            • Bill

              When you use the term ‘markets’ are you merely referring to a place where trade takes place ie a literal market place? If so, fine.

              But if as I suspect, you are using the term as that which determines the dynamics of production and distribution, then that simply didn’t exist in China, or Iran, or anywhere else prior to the advent of capitalism.

            • KJT

              Yeah! If it does not work. We must need to do more of the same?

    • Jenny 11.4

      Polly, as I said in my post for the want of a better terms, I have used left and right.

      As for, “the indigenous culture and invisible underclass who don’t make the distinction, and couldn’t give 2 shits if it were a left or right leaning mofo raping their land and seas and creaming the profits, it makes no difference how high and mighty your poltical ideals.”.

      In my opinion not all are content being consigned to an invisible underclass, many in fact are very outspoken on indigenous rights. As I have said argued many times they will be a big part of the solution.

  12. Lanthanide 12

    “as already 90% of our electricity is generated by renewables”

    From wikipedia:
    “Approximately 35% of primary energy is from renewable energy sources.[1] Approximately 70% of electricity generated in New Zealand comes from renewable energy, primarily hydropower and geothermal power. This is expected to increase over the next 20 years, with wind energy making up much of that increase.”

    35% of primary energy is including oil and gas used for all purposes. So 70% renewables for electricity is directly comparable to your claim of 90%.

    Now going from 90% to 100% seems like it should be doable. But going from 70% to 100%, coupled with an increase in demand over the same period you’re trying to increase renewables, is a much much harder task.

    • bbfloyd 12.1

      Lanth, of course, but you must read the post again. this time, take all the factors written into account… nothing personal, but i do find it irritating when an argument is put up that ignores parts of an article in order to criticize.

      • Lanthanide 12.1.1

        I don’t have anything to say about the rest of the article. The following paragraphs are talking about going to war-era rationing of electricity. But this is based on the premise of going from 90% to 100% renewable, and therefore having a shortfall of 10%.

        But in actual reality, the shortfall would be 30%, and therefore nothing like what is presented in the article.

        There’s no point creating a nice little argument about what we should do in the future, if the very facts you’re basing your argument on aren’t actually correct and apparently made up off-the-cuff.

        captcha: reasonable

    • vto 12.2

      It is a deception to describe hydro power as renewable. The waterway is decimated and not renewed.

    • Jenny 12.3

      Sorry about that error Lanthanide, I don’t know even where I picked that ‘fact’ up from, only that I remembered hearing it bandied about in the media.

      I should have checked. As you point out it is so easy to do a fact check these days.

      As to whether going from 70% to 100% of renewables is “doable”?

      I think it is.

      All that is missing is the political will.

      We were able to make such changes, and even bigger ones in the 1940s.

      Why not again?

      60 million people died in Word War II. If we don’t do anything about it, the death toll from the effects of runaway global warming are estimated to be many times that.

  13. grumpy 13

    Given that the biggest polluters are Russia and China, both until recently hard left, would suggest the answer is “NO”!

    • Zorr 13.1

      Pay attention grumpy. As was pointed out earlier that both Russia and China are centrally controlled authoritarian nations they are hardly what would be described as “left”

    • Colonial Viper 13.2

      Biggest polluters in what sense? Per capita, those two countries remain far lower users of energy than the US and even Europe.

      Neither China nor Russia conform to any kind of Left wing ideals at this stage, and haven’t done so for decades.

      • burt 13.2.1

        Neither China nor Russia conform to any kind of Left wing ideals at this stage, and haven’t done so for decades.

        Yes well… they didn’t get voted out when the economy took the economic nose dive socialism always creates so instead of living in a fantasy world where they never quite got to their nirvana they got there and found it was ideological BS. The lefties here have never had the chance to completely ruin our econony so they keep dreaming that their ideology actually works.

        • Colonial Viper

          Yes well… they didn’t get voted out when the economy took the economic nose dive socialism always creates

          You think that socialists/communists infiltrated Lehman Brothers and then forced their derivatives traders to take on 50:1 leveraged positions in credit default swaps and collateral debt obligations which then imploded the western shadow banking system and forced governments to give over billions to banks at gunpoint?

          Socialists did all this? Really? I had thought it was a bunch of a-hole bankers out to get their quarterly bonuses at any cost, I guess that shows how much I know.

          • burt

            How much you know… you still think socialism works so you either have your head in the sand or you are to dim to know how failed your ideology really is.

            • Colonial Viper

              I love the way how all the big private banks in Europe are now asking for European countries with socialist political traditions to bail them out. Looks like capitalism needs a hand up (ummm actually handouts) from the socialists.

            • burt

              So you can see that socialism is the ideology behind allowing them to get into such a state and also the ideology behind propping them up… but you don’t see how socialism is a failure. Never mind, a few more years and you might start thinking rather than repeating party talking points.

            • burt

              Think sub-prime mortgage crisis – root cause – political pressure to increase lending to low income families to make political social indicators look good. – IE: Creeping socialism for political popularity.

              • freedom

                Think sub-prime mortgage crisis – root cause – political and corporate greed

                there you go fixed that for ya!

                • burt

                  Political greed: Get the social indicators looking good by encouraging more state money to be spent on high risk lending to improve re-election chances.

                  Corporate greed: Use the fact socialists will do anything for popularity to clip the ticket on social spending.

                  Root cause: Socuialism and people working the angles political popularity at any price creates.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Housing people is a good thing Burt. We like people living in houses because it means they don’t live in parks and under bridges.

                    Where it went awry is where Fannie and Freddie decided to turn it into a grand money making scheme. (And that is a CAPITALIST activity). Lesson – don’t let capitalists get involved in activities for the social good.

                  • burt

                    Housing people is a good thing, no argument there. Dim-bulb intervention in the market to fiddle the appearance of progress is a socialist thing.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      No, socialist things are to do with helping people and part of that is realising that free markets don’t have a goal of helping people.

                    • burt

                      So how did the sub prime mortgage crisis help the low earnes? How are they doing now that their mortgages they can’t afford are bigger than the value of the property the socialists thought it would be nice to help them own… that they couldn’t afford then and certainly can’t afford now.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Sub prime wasn’t caused by socialists. It was caused by de-regulating the industry. The programs that were in place to assist low income people into homes were all in existence well before sub prime loans became an issue.

                      Sub prime loans were mostly issued by banks that avoided those schemes altogether, because usually those schemes had min standards around the loan.

                      All the lies and bullshit banks and brokers were telling people in order to get their hands on loans to feed into their ponzi scheme had nothing to do with socialism. They were just following the incentives of a deregulated market focussed on quarterly returns.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      A couple of links burt:


                      a report explaining what happened. At a stretch you could say that the govt wanted people to own their own homes, and instituted policies to assist this. But the policy they instituted was a derugulation of the market, and monetarist economic policy. ie, not socialism.

                      this one…


                      …explains why the right wing talking points around the CRA are bullshit.

                      The evidence strongly suggests the latter. First, consider timing. CRA was enacted in 1977. The sub-prime lending at the heart of the current crisis exploded a full quarter century later. In the mid-1990s, new CRA regulations and a wave of mergers led to a flurry of CRA activity, but, as noted by the New America Foundation’s Ellen Seidman (and by Harvard’s Joint Center), that activity “largely came to an end by 2001.” In late 2004, the Bush administration announced plans to sharply weaken CRA regulations, pulling small and mid-sized banks out from under the law’s toughest standards. Yet sub-prime lending continued, and even intensified — at the very time when activity under CRA had slowed and the law had weakened.

                      Second, it is hard to blame CRA for the mortgage meltdown when CRA doesn’t even apply to most of the loans that are behind it. As the University of Michigan’s Michael Barr points out, half of sub-prime loans came from those mortgage companies beyond the reach of CRA. A further 25 to 30 percent came from bank subsidiaries and affiliates, which come under CRA to varying degrees but not as fully as banks themselves. (With affiliates, banks can choose whether to count the loans.) Perhaps one in four sub-prime loans were made by the institutions fully governed by CRA.

                      Most important, the lenders subject to CRA have engaged in less, not more, of the most dangerous lending. Janet Yellen, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve, offers the killer statistic: Independent mortgage companies, which are not covered by CRA, made high-priced loans at more than twice the rate of the banks and thrifts. With this in mind, Yellen specifically rejects the “tendency to conflate the current problems in the sub-prime market with CRA-motivated lending.? CRA, Yellen says, “has increased the volume of responsible lending to low- and moderate-income households.”

                    • Pascal's bookie


                    • burt

                      At a stretch you could say that the govt wanted people to own their own homes, and instituted policies to assist this.

                      But your ideology would rather blame nasty capitalists than intervention for the purpose of political popularity…..

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      The intervention they took, the intervention that did the damage, was to remove regulations and controls burt.

                    • burt

                      Remove regulations and controls that were restricting these organisations from making loans of more than 100% to low earners… yes that was capitalists feathering their nests wasn’t it….

                    • Zorr

                      burt, if you don’t understand how the Great Recession came about then you probably should stop now.

                      The way that these capitalists managed to make their money was through making these 100% loans and then trading them through the derivatives market as AAA rated securities in exchange for real cash. Offloading stinkers for cold hard cash at the expense of unaware investors (which was most of the world as we found out).

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Burt, the finance guys saw an opportunity to make their debt sales targets, get their big quarterly bonuses and walk. They didn’t care that low income people would never be able to service their mortgages with escalating interest rates in a year or two’s time.

                      By then they would have walked away from it all, and the banks would have securitised the mortgages, given them a BS AAA+ rating and sold them off at big profits to gullible ma and pa investors making the bad loans someone else’s problem.

                    • burt


                      Perhaps it is you who should stop.

                      See: What Are the Origins of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae?

                      Fannie Mae was created in 1938 as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. The collapse of the national housing market in the wake of the Great Depression discouraged private lenders from investing in home loans. Fannie Mae was established in order to provide local banks with federal money to finance home mortgages in an attempt to raise levels of home ownership and the availability of affordable housing.


                      The Federal National Mortgage Association, nicknamed Fannie Mae, and the Federal Home Mortgage Corporation, nicknamed Freddie Mac, have operated since 1968 as government sponsored enterprises (GSEs). This means that, although the two companies are privately owned and operated by shareholders, they are protected financially by the support of the Federal Government.

                      and best of all

                      Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the only two Fortune 500 companies that are not required to inform the public about any financial difficulties that they may be having. In the event that there was some sort of financial collapse within either of these companies, U.S. taxpayers could be held responsible for hundreds of billions of dollars in outstanding debts.

                      Interventionist socialists – who needs transparency and accountability when social objectives are being managed….

                      Nasty capitalists…. just making profit from low earners…. Try again Zorr.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Remove regulations and controls that were restricting these organisations from making loans of more than 100% to low earners… yes that was capitalists feathering their nests wasn’t it….

                      Quite so. They removed the controls because the great market was supposed to provide all the controls necessary. Enlightened self interest and the invisable hand would be freed to work their magic. That’s not a socialist model, and it’s nothing at all like what you were talking about above:

                      Get the social indicators looking good by encouraging more state money to be spent on high risk lending to improve re-election chances.

                      What did you mean by that? That is what you said caused the crisis. What exactly did you have in mind?

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      1938 burt?

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Interventionist socialists – who needs transparency and accountability when social objectives are being managed….

                      So your argument is that there was a system that didn’y conform to your ideology that just happened to work quite well, without any real incident, for 60 odd years and then they decided to deregulate the market the macs operated in, and it turned to absolute shit inside a decade once the Wall st capitalists got involved. Therefore: bad socialists!!

                    • burt

                      Pascal’s bookie

                      I think you and I are only arguing one thing, why the regulations and controls were relaxed. It’s a bit like you saying the Great Depression was a market collapse while I say it was a series of serious policy chickens coming home to roost. We may need to agree to differ on this one.

                      My only real complaint with the set up is that it was not (and is not) publicly accountable while it participated in a market that is a social policy hot bed. That’s not how capitalists normally structure public services.

            • Jenny

              Burt, what is that funny little picture to the left of your name all about?

        • KJT

          The NZ economy took a nose dive when it lurched to the right. How do you explain that Burt?

          • burt

            When do you claim this happened? See the dim-bulb lefties were claiming the failed policies of the 90’s were still problematic through till about 2006-2007…. Of course in lefty land the left can’t possibly be responsible for the shambles we have now – they only had 9 years of running the economy…..

            • KJT

              9 years of NACT light. Right wing neo-liberalism continued.

              Notice that things got a bit better when the neo-lib dogma was relaxed a bit.

              Not to mention the Neo-libs managing to have a depression when the rest of the world didn’t.

              Hopefully Labour has now figured out the great neo-lib experiment is a failure.

              • Herodotus

                Notice that things got a bit better when the neo-lib dogma was relaxed a bit.
                When did things get better?
                you mean when the housing boom went supersonic and housing became unaffordable to the masses i.e It tyaking 4 years to purchase the average house to over 7!! and an industry that contribute $7+bn to GDP hasw had its economic foundations undermined, with no involvement by govt to alievate the crash when it happens, ther eis still a sense that house prices are still over inflated.
                When interest rates damaged bith individuals and businesses.
                The last Lab govt was as right winged as any Lab governemnt we have seen, and what was worse at least in 84 NZ was a basket case and required immeduiate action, 99 there was no catastrophe at our door, just one that was building up and Lab assisted in the pressure of a failing pyramid or Ponzi scheme. Just look at the debt NZ incurred and the ability taht was given for banks to increase their loaning capacities regarding Res Bank requirements.
                “Hopefully Labour has now figured out the great neo-lib experiment is a failure.” and what solutions have there been ???? Where is this new system and what can we expect and if yet another Lab experiement goes wrong.

                • KJT

                  You can hardly say Labour has been left wing.

                  The economy did perk up after a few years of Labour because they did not keep to the dogma as much as National. Watch for the recession to continue after it has ended in Europe as NACT keeps to the meanness of the Richardson years.

          • Pascal's bookie

            It was Labour’s fault.

  14. hateatea 14

    All new houses should combine the best solar energy technology and people should be assisted/ encouraged to use as much energy reducing technology as possible. Likewise, retrofitting houses with technologies that reduce energy consumption is very sensible. Our energy producing companies should be encouraged to investigate the possible benefits to them of purchasing surplus electricity from domestic and commercial consumers who are able to produce electricity surplus to their own requirements thereby minimising the need to build more hydro schemes as rivers are important too.

    There is obviously no one simple answer except this: we all need to make as many changes as we can within our own lives independent of any that come about as a consequence of political and commercial decisions. We can be activists for change on the macro level but we need to each make change at the micro level, voluntarily, and lead by example.

    Thank you for writing a thought provoking post, Jenny. I may not agree with everything you wrote but I applaud the sentiment behind it as well as celebrating the opportunity it has provided for us to have a discussion of the potential to lead change independent of political ideology.

    • Lanthanide 14.1

      “All new houses should combine the best solar energy technology and people should be assisted/ encouraged to use as much energy reducing technology as possible.”

      The technology already exists and is proven to work. I don’t know why everyone in the world isn’t doing this:

      “In Ireland, it is calculated that a typical house built to the Passive House standard instead of the 2002 Building Regulations would consume 85% less energy for space heating and cut space-heating related carbon emissions by 94%”

      • KJT 14.1.1

        You may be interested in the NZ entry in a sustainable house competition in the USA.

        Also SANZ, http://sites.google.com/site/strongsustainability/ and the former Waitakere Council. http://www.waitakere.govt.nz/abtcit/ec/bldsus/energy.asp , the NZ business council for sustainable development, http://www.nzbcsd.org.nz/ and http://www.sustainabilitynz.org/

        Just retrofitting present housing and requiring all new buildings to use passive solar principles can save at least 15% on future energy usage of buildings.

        • hateatea

          Thank you for the links.

          I am aware that the technology exists. My point really is that the use of solar energy systems, good insulation and design and low energy appliances are things that could happen quite quickly if all new houses and commercial premises had to incorporate the maximum possible into their design as well as offering incentives to retrofit as many buildings as possible. Just one step in lowering energy use and the need for more power stations.

          Of course there need to be many, many other changes in the life style expectations of the developed world if human life is to continue on Planet Earth.

          I suppose that my other point is that it isn’t political parties, whether of the right or the left, that will need to make the changes. Rather, the change will be need to be made by each of us, voluntarily, individually and as part of collectives, communities and nations. Waiting for any particular political party to legislate is abrogating our personal responsibility to make effective and immediate change to our personal consumption and choices.

          captcha: existence

  15. john 15

    In my Opinion We can’t save the current civilisation let alone the Planet! The current fossil fueled civilisation is doomed by:1.Oil and coal and eventually gas all on the way out permanently 2.Climate change can’t be stopped now,it doesn’t matter any more what we do!3.Earth’s Oceans and land devastated by over exploitation4. And of course overpopulation which doesn’t allow us to retreat.
    Our best approach is adaptation meaning retreat to smaller population organic food production, conservation and the end of growth and to get used to a contracting economy. growth is over now anyway as we are well past peak oil production. We are at PEAK OVERSHOOT and by the end of this century we will be lucky to have still a billion people on the Planet!
    Refer following websites for more info on this:

    These opinions are not mine originally I have been convinced by reasoned logical argument as to these facts. Sorry to be strident I know these facts are upsetting, the last 65 years of human history are unique never to be repeated also refer heinberg’s book “Peak Everything” I hope I have more EQ than R.A.!

    • lprent 15.1

      In my Opinion We can’t save the current civilisation let alone the Planet

      The planet can pretty much take care of itself. Given 100k years you’d be pushed to see that humans ever occupied the earth after their extinction apart from a few odd sedimentary patterns. The biosphere might show signs of a mass extinction, but there have been many of those already. 100k years is an extremely small period of time in geological terms (and I did train originally in earth sciences where a million years is a small period of time).

      The question is about the extinction of humans and their civilization. The two are intertwined because it is difficult to see how humans can survive for any length of time without their civilization, which is at its base a agricultural civilization. After all we’ve nearly gone extinct as a species many times over the last 3 million years, and many of our cousin hominids did go extinct. The key to our survival has been cooperation and using technology. If we can’t cooperate enough to use our technology wisely and stop crapping on the economic resource base that funds agriculture then we will probably drive ourselves to extinction.

      I suspect that Jenny is aware of this and is just using some over-blown rhetoric to refer to saving our human world rather than the actual planet.

      • Colonial Viper 15.1.1

        Yeah the earth has remade its entire biosphere several times since it came into being, we like to think highly of ourselves but really the human race is nought more than a pimple on the ass of the planet today. lprent is quite correct, 100K years after we are gone, an alien archeology team is going to be hard pressed to find many signs of our existence.

        By the way, not sure why Fonterra is being described in such grandiose terms, I was under the impression that it supplied <5% of the world's dairy output.

        • Lanthanide

          In terms of overall world market share, it is only a fraction, not more than 10% or so I believe. But they’re the single largest company, and provide access to all of NZ’s high-quality (world-renowned whether deserved or not) milk. This makes them notable – if you want NZ milk, you have to deal with Fonterra.

          captcha: sex (really! Slightly NSFW, could you strip out all the offensive words from the dictionary list lprent?)

          • Draco T Bastard

            the word “sex” is offensive?

            • Lanthanide

              NSFW = not safe for work. If ‘sex’ is in there, what else is potentially in there?

              • Draco T Bastard

                I know what NSFW means. Sex doesn’t fit the bill – just think of all those people (doctors, nurse, vets etc) who wouldn’t be able to do their jobs if that word was removed from their lexicon.

                Basically, I think you’re over-reacting.

                • Lanthanide

                  By that rather stupid definition, almost nothing is NSFW because there is a job out there somewhere that involves it.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    If it’s not a swear word then it pretty much isn’t NSFW. Generally speaking, they’re just words. It’s the context that’s important. If it was sex in the middle of a porn scene then it would be NSFW but somebody asking another person what sex their new puppy or in a captcha is isn’t.

                    • Lanthanide

                      Personally I would prefer not to have a co-worker catch a glance at my screen with the only discernible word being a giant pink “SEX”.

                      captcha: sets

          • felix

            What the fuck, Lanth?

            • Lanthanide

              I take your point, however what you’ve typed is in little black letters on my screen. Whereas my current captcha, gardens, is in approximately 32pt font and bright magenta.

              • felix

                So what?

                What’s wrong with “gardens” at work?

                What’s wrong with “sex” at work?

                How old are you?

          • Lprent

            There are too many potential offending words in English, many of which are largely offensive only by context (try prick for instance). I’m not really interested in trolling thru 10 of thousands if words looking for ones that may offend in the right circumstances. Think of suffocate for instance in the current major news story of the moment.

            Incidentially my captcha on the cell (I’m not logged in) was actions.

            • Lanthanide

              I’m pretty sure you could find a dictionary list of offensive words and bash together a little script that takes all the words in list A and removes them from list B. There are also a few words with spelling mistakes (triple letters in some cases) and a few that aren’t words at all.

              • felix

                But why? No-one has found any offensive words in the captcha yet have they?

              • lprent

                Yeah it wouldn’t be hard. But it’d be even easier to just put in a random character generator. The only reason to have it there is to stop spambots.

                But there is always code to do and getting the outstanding code in to fix the registration for instance is a much higher priority. Not to mention getting some things operational for next years election, migrating some antique code from vbscript to php, learning how to get all of the cross compiling I want from a single code base and platform, and learning how to get lyn’s techie needs done…

                All priorities and not enough time. Fixing a working system for aesthetic reasons isn’t all that high on my list…

                But what the hell. Fired up the laptop (editing lists is a pain on the pad), and removed sexand sexy.

                • felix

                  I hope you didn’t forget sexual and sexuality and sexualisation.

                  And what about asexual and desexed and oversexed and undersexed and sexism and sexist?

                  I can’t even imagine the horror that poor little Lanth would suffer if she came across a sexton or a sextant. Disgusting.

                  ps stay away from jazz clubs too, Lanth. Wouldn’t want you to run into a sextet.

                  • lprent

                    checked for anything with sex in it… 😈

                    Hard to see what isn’t offensive about a sexton bearing in mind their traditional grave watching duties…

                    We are currently sexless*.

                    * Of course this may change when Lyn gets back from IDFA in Amsterdam next week (the doco is displaying there, up for an prize over there and it is also a major trade show).

            • Vicky32

              Lanthanide, you ought to log in, and avoid captcha! (I do….)
              I am reminded of something I read in New Scientist some months back – some American had done a find-and-replace job on a heap of websites and replaced a word Americans consider offensive.
              Result – a heap of websites referring to things like ‘The United Nations Buttembly” – hilarious!
              (I have been having fun explaining the differences between AmE and BrE to my Italian students…)

              • lprent

                That is amusing. Happens to me whenever I do global search and replace across files. There are always inadvertent effects.

                Registrations is currently on my list of things to fix (broke a few upgrades ago and I’ve been busy at work), so if L doesn’t have a login then can’t get one until I get it fixed.

        • vto

          100k years after we have gone there will be no trace?

          Sheesh, more likely 10k years. I mean, what is there other than some pyramids and South American stonework that is older than 8,000BC?

          If we disappeared tomorrow I would guess there would no sign of anything at all except perhaps parts of earth dams like Benmore or cuts into mountainsides for roads like Otira. There would certainly be no buildings, no cellphone towers and no toyotas. Probably just a giant statue of Winston Peters sticking crookedly out of a sandy beach while gorillas rule the roost…

          • Lanthanide

            What’s bigger, the pyramids of giza, or New York City?

            captcha: miles

            • vto

              Lanthanide, size has nothing to do with it. All those buildings will crumble and disappear into the ground very (relatively) quickly. There may be some concentrated traces of aluminium, copper etc in the ground but the buildings themselvces will completely evaporate. The concrete will simply and quickly breakdown and melt into the ground (check how old concrete performs after just a few years). The steel will rust. The glass will drip away and breakdown.

              Check out where and how the main Giza pyramids are built and ask yourself whether modern man has built anything of similar quality. The answer is absolutely far from it.

              Plus, think about it … the pyramids are about 150m high (or about 45-50 stories) and are solid stone all the way through, sitting in pretty much the most geologically stable place in the world. Empire State Building is just over twice that height (including mast) and is hollow and made of steel, concrete and glass with stone cladding which will fall off.

              I know which I would bet my money on.

              And, what structures other than the pyramids are around today that are older than about 10,000 years? I know of none but am happy to be proved wrong (sort of…). If pyramids could be built back then, and were built, what other structures were also built back then that have since disapeared into the ground? You cannot tell me that whoever built the pyramids didn’t build anything else during their time…. so where is the stuff?

              Modern man’s trace will be just that – a trace. There will be no structures – just shapes that have been cut into solid ground rock. (and on that – New York will be a site with pock marks of the basements of the buildings cut into the granite that underlies the city).

              • Colonial Viper

                Where have Babylon, Thebes and Troy gone?

                Yes there are some traces remaining but this is after just a couple of thousand years let alone 100K years.

                Ten x ten thousand year earthquakes plus ten x ten thousand year floods is a great leveller 😀

              • lprent

                New York will be a site with pock marks of the basements of the buildings cut into the granite that underlies the city


                Probably not even in a 10k timespan. The holes will get filled with debris pretty fast. But also while the quartz in granite doesn’t weather particularly fast, but the feldspar and micas weather out to various clays within a geologically short timespan anywhere where water has access to it.

              • Lanthanide

                You seem to be under the impression that I am saying buildings, in recognisable form, will last hundreds of thousands of years. I never said that. All I’ve said is that evidence that civilisation was here will be hanging around in traces on the earth for a long long time.

                Obviously all the concrete buildings will fall over and become rubble, in time. But that rubble has to go somewhere. It will eventually be spread out and carried away by erosion, and then buried, but there’ll still be a strata of concrete rubble and concentrations of metals not normally found together in nature. Take huge cities like London and NYC that are far bigger than Thebes, Troy and Babylon and the traces will stay there a long time.

                Note I’m working from the assumption that humans disappear tomorrow. A big part of why Thebes, Troy and Babylon leave little trace in the archaelogical record is because they were sacked or destroyed by disasters and the remains scavenged for new building materials. In a world without humans, these mega-cities would remain intact and only be subject to natural erosion.

                • vto

                  Yes no it is an interesting question – how long remnants of modern culture would survive and in what form. It is something I have pondered and considered and mildly researched for some time.

                  The pyramids are very fascinating in this regard. Their physical structure is quite something. Something, in fact, I think modern day methods would struggle with.

                  Without going tangential too much – how did they cut the various massive granite blocks so incredibly accurately when we today need diamond-tipped saws to do similar? And how was it actually built? I mean, does anyone seriously believe that slaves hauled them up ramps with ropes? Take a 10tonne block (there are some up to 200 tonnes) – or 10,000 kilos. If I personally had to haul such a weight I reckon I could haul maybe 20kg max up such a ramp – which means 500 people – which means 250 people pulling on ropes and 250 people pushing from behind. And all coordinated precisely.

                  In addition there are such a number of blocks that if the pyramid (the biggest one only) was to be built in 20 years then it required one block to be laid every 20 seconds of the day, and night and year for 20 years. Can you see it? Even over 100 or 200 years? Because I certainly can’t.

                  Anyways, very large subject – feel free to ignore.

          • lprent

            You’d find something in dry areas for quite some time.

            I used 100k because I can’t think of anything apart from maybe ultra geologically stable areas (like the salt domes that they’re storing radio-actives in) that is likely to last.

      • Lanthanide 15.1.2

        “Given 100k years you’d be pushed to see that humans ever occupied the earth after their extinction apart from a few odd sedimentary patterns.”

        Doubtful. We can still find evidence of proto-humans from ~80,000 years ago. Sure it’s few and far between, in caves and such. But civilization has drastically changed the landscape on large scales, and a good amount of this would still be evident after 100k years, Maybe something more like 500k or longer would wipe out most traces, but even that might be a stretch, and the changes may be evident for millions of years yet.

        The main evidence will of course be the remains of cities, which are constructed of many many metals and other compounds that simply do not exist at those levels of concentration and purity in nature. This sort of evidence will stay around until the entire area is subducted or eventually sinks into the mantle and is melted. Given how old various pockets of oil are which we exploit, and the depth to which they’re buried in the crust, realistically we could be looking at tens or hundreds of millions of years before most cities are destroyed in that way.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Lprent did say that there would be some archaeological evidence left.


          • Lanthanide

            I know, I quoted him: “a few odd sedimentary patterns.”

            I would say that most major cities in the world is a bit more than “a few odd sedimentary patterns”. There’d be quite a lot of them, and quite big in area.

            • lprent

              Not really. Just think that most cities are located close to water sources like lakes, rivers or seacoasts. Water and water courses migrate and erode. What you’d be likely to find are odd sedimentary patterns downstream or offshore.

              You’re more likely to find residues in dry areas. But even those aren’t climatically stable. Remember that the stable climate of the last 10k years is an abnormality in the climate record of the current ice-age of the last 40 million years since Antarctica drifted fully into the southern polar zone. During the last 10k years the area that is now the Sahara has changed climate pretty drastically. About 2k years ago much of it was the foodbowl of the Romans and Carthaginians

            • Draco T Bastard

              Not really

      • Frank Macskasy 15.1.3

        “The key to our survival has been cooperation and using technology.”


        Such a simple truism which we ignore at our peril…

        • burt

          They key to our survival has been the ability to adapt. Technology has nothing to do with survival unless we limit our scope to things that make life easier rather than possible.

          • Draco T Bastard


            the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial arts, engineering, applied science, and pure science.

            So, yes, technology does have to do with survival. Our ability to adapt is based upon our technology.

          • burt

            Umm, Our technology is based upon our ability to adapt.. You know make/use tools…

            Or have I got it wrong and in lefty land the tools came first and they helped the people adapt to use and benefit from them?

            • Draco T Bastard

              No, we developed technology to help us adapt. Our ability to adapt is based upon our ability to learn and use that knowledge (technology) in new ways.

              • burt

                Our ability to adapt is based upon our ability to learn and use that knowledge (technology) in new ways.

                See when we just look at it for what is is rather than try and spin ourself as soo important and let ourselves think we are the centre of the universe it is really simple.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  You didn’t change anything. Without our ability to learn we wouldn’t have technology and without that we wouldn’t be here. We are technology dependent.

            • burt

              So without technology we die ? I don’t think so Tim.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Yes, without technology, we die. We’re nowhere near strong enough to survive in the wild without it.

              • burt

                You really believe that ? Or are you just sucking up to lprent who said we need technology to survive?

                • Draco T Bastard

                  It’s not belief burt – it’s simple reality.

                  • burt

                    Either you think every single thing humans have invented is technology or you define survival as maintenance of todays lifestyle.

                    Now them Maori people who arrived in NZ all them years ago. They had canoe’s – was that technology ? They hadn’t invented the wheel so that would imply they had no chance of survival in the wild – man they must have been excited when the white folk turned up and saved them from certain death.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      They had canoe’s – was that technology ?

                      Yes. So was the basic spear, the development of making a fire and sewing clothes so that we didn’t freeze to death.

                    • lprent

                      Not to mention the food producing technologies of kumura growing and other agricultural techniques. There is a reason that most of the Maori population was in the kumura growing areas after they’d hunted the big game to extinction.

                    • hateatea

                      ‘Now them Maori people who arrived in NZ all them years ago. They had canoe’s – was that technology ?’

                      Of course it was. Transport is technology as was the building of the transport. Because it was a so-called ‘Stone Age’ technology doesn’t negate the fact. Gosh, I do tire of the Eurocentric definition of what we primitives managed to do before all the clever white men arrived to rescue us from our primitiveness!

                    • KJT

                      Actually it was Maori crops that saved the early settlers.

                • lprent

                  Burt: technology is a wide term for a variety of techniques use by humans – not just those developed over the last few thousand years. In this case I was specifically referring to our agricultural technology developed over the last 10k years. Most of that is predicated on having a reasonably stable climate. When that fails persistently then you usually get famines.

                  Prior to developing agricultural techniques, humans were a fragile species always hovering on the edge of extinction. It is hard to maintain a civilization without a stored food surplus. I suspect that losing climate stability with the consequent die backs is likely to lose us the technology of having a civilization.

                  Btw: I tend to ignore flattery, so there is no real point in you using it….

                  • burt


                    Under that definition of technology, sure we wouldn’t cut it for very long naked and tool/weaponless with no means of storing/carrying water.


                    I was taking the piss, really I was. No offence was intended and I certainly don’t think the white fellas saved the Maori from certain death. Arguably back then it could have gone the other way if it were not for the superior survival skills of the less technically advanced Maori people.

                    And how about that eh, people today can’t find their way to the hardware store without a GPS yet with a Canoe, no written language, knowledge passed from generation to generation and stone age tools the Pacific was navigated.

                    • lprent

                      It is the inability to store food that is the most difficult to live without. That is the underpinning of our civilization.

                      If you look closely at civilizations over most of our recorded and archeological history, you’ll find an massive amount of effort expended on food storage technologies. Maori are pretty typical..

                      There are very few environments that humans currently live in that are particularly good at providing year round food sources without agriculture. To store it, you first have to be able to grow a surplus. An unstable climate is a massive food surplus reducer.

        • Puddleglum

          The fact is, as a species, we’re exploring a niche that no other species has explored. I don’t think any of us know how it will turn out. In evolution, a good strategy is only ‘good’ so long as it is.

          At the individual level, that niche involves the experience of a self (to some degree or other) and a symbolic and reflective ability. At a social level, it involves ‘intersubjectivity’ (I guess that is roughly ‘coordination’ between people in terms of tasks, purposes, meanings – whatever word you like).

          Those commenting here might like to look at this link for an account of how the human self is thought to have evolved. Read from about half way down page 4. Also, they mention their debate with Leary and Buttermore (2003). Sadly, you’d have to go beyond the paywall to get their article.

          One of the intriguing questions about human evolutionary history has been why it took so long for the ‘take off’ to happen – in terms of technology, culture, etc.; the so-called cultural explosion somewhere around 50,000-70,000 ybp. There’s been lots of suggestions – encephalisation (proportion of brain to body), language development, social life, the reflective/symbolic self (as above), etc.. Then again, perhaps it was just one of those ‘singularities’ that arose from a convergence of events.

          There’s also been debate over whether or not such cognitive capacities that supposedly underpinned the cultural explosion were liberating (hence progress, species success, our amazing consciousness that makes the sky the limit for homo entrepreneuris or homo technologis, yadda, yadda, yadda) or actually constrained us to particular cultural pathways.

          All (non-hunter gatherer) cultures today – including the vast majority of indigenous cultures – involve aberrant and experimental forms of human social organisation from an evolutionary perspective. What happens next is anyone’s guess. I have no idea.

          We’re too far down the tunnel of our reflexive abilities to back out now, I guess. But, having said that, I wouldn’t put my hope in any ‘intellectual revolution’ – at least not the ones that people can claim to articulate. The change that we need is bigger than all of us put together (it always is in evolution). Chances are it won’t be ‘change you can believe in’ – it’s more likely to be ‘change no-one saw coming’.

          So, perhaps I do have some idea of how this will resolve.

          • pollywog

            You really should post more PG 🙂

            and to expound on the ‘intellectual revolution’. yup…it would have to come from some sort of next evolutionary step leading to an intellectual ‘re-evolution’. a total rethink.

            something to unlock the full potential of the human brain…maybe a human /computer biolinked interface/implant ala ‘the matrix’, ‘johnny mnemonic’, ‘ghost in the shell’ or ‘inception’.

            dunno eh, i just refuse to believe that it’s all doom and gloom from here on out just cos of peak oil and global warming.

            technology/consumption and lack of intellect got us into this mess, technology, less consumption and greater intellect will get us out.

            and seriously, without going all reptilian shapeshifter on it, can anyone rule out alien intervention either in the past, present or immediate future


            • Bill

              “…can anyone rule out alien intervention either in the past, present or immediate future.’

              Yup. Because if there are creatures intelligent enough to travel across space, they’re intelligent enough not to.

              We’re cunning rather than intelligent. So we develop cunning technologies and use them in not altogether intelligent ways or cunningly develop technologies that no intelligent creature would develop.

              If there are creatures that are merely more cunning than us and they have the technological capacity to travel across space, then they would be of no help to us whatsoever.

  16. We are at PEAK OVERSHOOT and by the end of this century we will be lucky to have still a billion people on the Planet!

    yeah, maybe we’ll have solved the energy crisis, eliminated big business control of the market, joined the intergalactic federation of peaceful entities and terraformed other planets such that only a billion decide to stay here and co exist sustainably with the planet 🙂

    the fact is, analysis and predictions don’t take into account hidden variables such that if the system as an experiment were run again we could end up with wildly divergent results…chaos theory

    all it takes is a butterfly to flap its wings or an apple to drop on someones head to make things change fast and make best or worst case scenario forecasts based on current information, and the people who make them, look decidedly stupid.

    • Jenny 16.1

      As any military leader will tell you, any plan disintegrates when it comes in contact with the battlefield. But if you don’t have a plan you are in headless chicken territory.

      capcha – “TRY”

  17. OleOlebiscuitBarrell 17

    Running society like all other human endeavours takes organisation. The human organisations that take on this task are called political organisations, or parties.

    The trains always ran on time in Franco’s Spain.

  18. A 18

    “A mixed economy has proven to work best so long as it is regulated so cheats do not prosper and externalities such as the environment are taken into account”

    One reasonable answer in the entire thread.

    The “left” is incapable of solving the environmental crisis because most of the “left” use it as an excuse to advance their ridiculous anarchist/hippie/indigenous totalizing solutions to all society’s problems.

    • Bored 18.1

      And the “right” is similarly incapable because of their entrenched need for “growth” and for “externalising ” costs onto everybody else (thats what profit is, somebody elses labour, plus other unpaid things).

      To reiterate what I said prior, Left and Right are mere mirror images of the real issue, they have lead us to the problem, the paradigm in which they reside has passed its usefullness date.

      • Carol 18.1.1

        Really? Well, I guess it depends what you mean by “right & left paradigms”? ie National vs Labour? US Republicans vs Democrats? Right wing Singapore vs left-leaning Scandanavian social democracies? Or more generally, right wing versus left wing policies? The latter does provide a useful categorisation of differences in approach, IMO.

        The corporate MSM & neoliberal politicians have done a good job of undermining and smearing “socialism”, while also peddling distortions and misinformation about what left wing politics and/or socialism is. They were quick to denounce socialism/communism …. and thus the left generally…. is dead following the fall of the USSR. But the USSR, was more state capitalism, than true socialism. The US has had such a long-term hate campaign against anything that hints at “collectivism”/communism, and that challenges their (inequality-producing) belief in the sovereign individual, that their two main parties are largely on the right of the spectrum these days.

        And NZ Labour has gone pretty far to the right of the left wing in recent times.

        IMO it’s better to look more closely at the specific left wing policies, rather than continuing down that road of distortion. For myself, I favour something closer to the left-leaning Scandanavian social democracies, with a large amount of welfare state policies and public sector provisions, plus selected private enterprise initiatives.

        • Bored

          Carol, IMHO all materialist constructs such as left and right are symptoms and causes of the current problem…if we decide we want to carry on blithely, and not address the real issues (regardless of the ideology in which they reside) we could go down a specific path, such as Scandinavian socialism. This path resides within an industrial and consumer complex that will destroy our world. To follow this path is to carry on our destructive habits whilst redistributing more equitably. End result, equally dead world as you get doing it with the market model. How does that help?

          • Colonial Viper

            Because maybe a populace which is highly educated, values driven and socially aware will be much more able to show principled leadership and take the necessary decisions to move to a new paradigm of human civilisation, as compared to a populace struggling to merely survive in a capitalist environment of fear and inequality.

          • KJT

            Well, for everyone on Earth to live at the same average standard as Scandinavians we need 2.5 earths which is a lot closer than the 7 needed to live at the US average.

            In other words the wealthy in the USA consume many times their share of the worlds resources whereas in more equal/socialist societies there is less consumption overall.

      • A 18.1.2

        “And the “right” is similarly incapable because of their entrenched need for “growth” and for “externalising ” costs onto everybody else.”

        That is also true.

        “To reiterate what I said prior, Left and Right are mere mirror images of the real issue, they have lead us to the problem, the paradigm in which they reside has passed its usefullness date.”

        Perhaps that is true, but I’m guessing not in the way you suspect. Both left and right have spent the last 30-40 years on a crusade against authority. The left against the traditional authority of class and entrenched capital, and the right against the authority of the state. This is one of the reasons that neoliberalism has been such a politically successful ideology, as both “sides” find it somewhat acceptable.

        Hence, neither will countenance a solution to the environmental crisis that involves the imposition of restrictions on the population against their will – that is, the imposition of the sort of authority that both contemporary leftists and rightists dislike on principle. The problem is that this is exactly what is needed in the near term until the transformation to sustainable forms of living is relatively complete, and people are used to it.

        The comical thing about anarchist solutions to the environmental crisis is that they are contradictory. Getting there will involve imposing the solution by force on people who disagree, which will require exactly the sort of massive exercise of authority that anarchism is supposed to rescue us from.

        • Bored

          A, I quite like your line of thought on this one as I agree that there is something very paradoxical about objecting to authority. In the case of massed movements (and their attendant thinking) when they become dominant they become the authority. I would argue that this is because our society and language precondition us toward a particular type of authority, and that lingual preconditioning is a problem. We therefore perpetuate the problem.

          What is really needed to solve this issue is a circuit breaker: a totally different language and paradigm.

  19. randal 19

    up against the wall mutha.

  20. JonL 20

    We can’t “save” the world – the world basically doesn’t care what inhabits it…it’ll just roll on, changing and adapting, just as it always has, totally oblivious to whatever is happening on it’s surface!
    If you mean, “save the planet as it has been the last 100 yrs, in a niche that just happens to suit we Humans”, then it will take the concerted efforts of everyone on the planet to actually do their bit, however small and insignificant it may seem, along with the will to make compromises and adaptations that may seem unpalatable, but will be necessary. A lot less “me,me,me, money at all costs” and a lot more, “what can I personally do to help”.
    It’ll never happen.
    So no, neither the Left, the Right, nor the Centre can save the world – to many egos at play!

  21. Irascible 21

    I note, with irony, that the UAE, Qatar, Saudi, Oman, Bahrain & Kuwait are working to build a rail net work to remove the number of heavy trucks from the roads, reduce dependence on the internal combustion engine for transport of produce around and through the countries and to reduce their carbon footprints. And this in the states producing the oil the world depends on!!!!
    In NZ, on the other hand, while the Labour Govt brought back the rail system with a view to redeveloping it so that the transport of heavy products around the country would be more efficient the NACT govt is committed to the fascination is with building more roads and putting heavier and heavier trucks on the roads without producing the oil to support the trucking industry!!!

  22. The only party that has tried to get a cross party commission on peak oil and climate change has been the Maori Party.
    Alas all the left wing parties ignored Hone, Peta,Tariana, and Te Ururoa
    So no a ‘left wing’ party will not ‘save the planet’ …. which doesn’t need saving, it was doing fine before us and will do better without us.

    Need for Cross Party Commission on Peak Oil
    Thursday, 6 December 2007, 3:35 pm
    Press Release: The Maori Party
    Maori Party Repeats call for Cross Party Commission on Peak Oil
    Hone Harawira, Climate Change Spokesperson for the Maori Party
    Thursday 6 December 2007
    The Maori Party has today reiterated the call it made on 4 September 2005 to establish a cross-party parliamentary commission on peak oil.
    “Right at this moment in London an All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas and the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group are meeting to focus on the interaction between oil depletion and climate change and whether a combined solution can be developed” said Hone Harawira, Climate Change Spokesperson for the Maori Party.

    • Time for cross-party talks on peak oil 16/06/2010
    • Peak oil strategy would help Kyoto response 10/06/2008
    • War and “Peak Oil” 28/09/2007
    • Cross-party Commission on Peak Oil – Invitation 10/04/2006
    • Maori Party Want Cross Party Oil Crisis Commission 05/09/2005
    “Just prior to the 2005 elections, we issued a challenge to all parties that we work together to address the issues around oil shortages” said Harawira.
    “Our intention then – as it is now – is to reduce this country’s reliance on non-renewable energy sources – and to make that a priority issue for this Parliament” said Harawira.
    “It appears the Brits have picked up on this great idea – and are now looking at cross-party solutions to address what they are describing as the ‘twin crises’ of peak oil and climate change” said Harawira.
    “Listening to world experts such as Professor Richard Heinberg, the Maori Party understands that the Peak Oil period is here now; and given that a ten year planning phase is needed to strategise how to meet the challenges of Peak Oil – New Zealand is already ten years behind the eight ball” said Harawira.
    “The government is being incredibly short sighted by continuing with their position of Peak Oil hitting in 2030. It’s an immediate crisis that needs to be dealt with urgently or we all suffer the consequences – and given our huge reliance on oil and petrol, the consequences will be huge”.
    “There’s a whole lot we can do – making a couple of phone calls before the hui to organise one carload going instead of three; building power walking into our means of travel and putting pressure on your council to increase public transport options; pumping up the tyres on the bike; replacing the petrol guzzling machine with the lean, mean model – or even doing our homework and reading up on renewable energy sources (hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, waves) as substitutes for oil-gas in transport and industry” said Harawira.
    “I know that a lot of the marae up North are investing in the environmental future of Aotearoa and looking at ways to create alternative sources of energy” said Harawira.
    “We have to be calling on our brightest minds to look at ways that to encourage community transformation and political co-operation, as we come to grips with the challenge of depleting petroleum resources” said Harawira.
    “I came across a statement from Torsten Slock, an economist at Deutsche Bank which seemed to sum up the big three issues facing us here – “there are three sharks stalking the economy, the oil shark, the credit shark and the housing shark’”.
    The All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas (APPGOPO) and the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group(APPCCG) are meeting in the Grand Committee Room, House of Commons, London on Wednesday 5th December; 7.00-8.30pm

    And another attempt


    Time for cross-party talks on peak oil
    Wednesday, 16 June 2010, 4:43 pm
    Press Release: The Maori Party

    Time for cross-party talks on peak oil

    President Obama’s statement today that the world is running out of places to drill oil, confirms the need for political parties in Aotearoa to start cross party talks on the global peak oil crisis, Maori Party energy and climate change spokesperson Rahui Katene says.

    “The time has come for all political parties to come together and take action on what we are going to do about the global oil crisis and how it will affect this nation,” Mrs Katene said….. end snip

    Helen agreed
    NZ Prime Minister out of the closet on Peak Oil
    Friday, 21 April 2006, 2:47 pm
    You can hear Helen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxIp5h0Xtuc
    Matt Simmons energy investment banker and Peak Oil advocate argued that 2006 would be the year Peak Oil would be absorbed into the public consciousness as much as climate change and it seems he may be right. This week Helen Clark, New Zealand’s Prime Minister joined a rapidly growing but exclusive club, the penny has obviously dropped – she openly admitted the real reasons behind high oil prices, “because we’re probably not too far short of peak production, if we’re not already there” [1].

    This watershed statement, which incidentally went over the heads of most of the media turkeys in attendance, has enormous economic and social implications. Firstly it absolves Trevor Mallard (acting Minister of Energy) from having to regurgitate International Energy Agency nonsense that Peak Oil is at least 30 years away. “Not too far short of peak production, if not already there” surely can’t mean the same thing as 30 years away. The minister can now base policy in geological reality rather than the flawed economic “business as usual” fantasy that has cheap abundant oil production growing alongside the economy for all eternity.

  23. RobertM 23

    No. The free market and the basics of capitalism, the law of contract and the joint stock companies with their corporate veil basically replicate the working of nature. Company law is just a very useful veil in which money is removed from the old and stupid and given to the young and vigorous to enjoy and invest in new enterprises. Like nature its creative destructive. Old outdated cities and people die and new ones arise, sometimes out of the ashes.
    Capitalism has never been tried her. Douglas and Richardson had the opposite views to Hayek. Act even more so. Giving the individual and the market power means that the socialist state, the planner, the doctor and the social worker and specialist are disempowered. Of course public transport is a good idea and economically beneficial but only if it goes to where there,s life, parties, bares and bars not to serve outdated white and black dormitory suburbs.
    Climate change can not be reversed by democratic politicians. War, disease and bad dictatorships will probably halve the global population in a hundred years and nuclear power might be worse.

    • You are right Robert, except I think it will be 30 years and most of the population @ 90%?

      «The point is not that the events will not occur, but that the kinds preparations and precautions that a democratic government can take before the risk becomes so imminent that everyone recognises it, are so limited as to be a waste of time or worse.»
      Stephen Franks …………. late 2003 or early 2004:

      yes, from a politician !!!!!!!!!!!

      «According to some energy analysts, over half the world’s oil has already been consumed and, at current rates, 80 percent will have been consumed by the year 2020 (Laharrere, 1995; Campbell, 1996). The remaining 20 percent is in reserves that are more difficult to access. Oil reserves in the US and Europe are expected to be depleted in 15-20 years. Middle Eastern supplies will be plentiful for some decades, but at higher prices.»

      (Simon Upton, State of New Zealand’s Environment, 1997)

      and just for a laugh

      «The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life.»

      – Adolph Hitler, My New World Order
      Proclamation to the German Nation at Berlin, February 1, 1933

      I’m sure we could find several by GW along the same lines .
      Unfortunately it will take a lot of blood in the streets Rwanda comes to mind …. nothing will change … for the better.
      Spam word revealing

  24. Jenny it sounds like you have been reading the Hirsch Report http://oilcrash.com/articles/hirsch.htm
    Well like your suggestions, it was ignored in 2005, to quote Robert Hersch
    “We have a people problem, simply the people do not want to know”
    I can confirm what Robert said is true, people are the problem, their built in ability to recognise bad news before they have to listen to it is uncanny, politicians have perfected it, us commoners have to use denial when the odd fact slips through the screen, but as a rule the old saying “it won’t happen to me/us” is the mantra of the masses )
    Having short memories helps e.g. we vote, and soon enough we will vote for the clowns that say they will give us green pastures for the rest of our lives, hope, change, and all that stuff. But ‘the people’ will swallow it hook line and sinker.
    Without at least the advertising budget of McDonald’s (and even then ?) ‘the planet’ (well the mile or so thick bit we live in) hasn’t a snow balls chance ….. and neither has the snow ball…. “What is a snow ball Mom?”

  25. Pascal's bookie 25

    I guess the real questions are:

    “Will the left try to save capitalism (again)?”


    “Should it?”

  26. What I get from this is – to ‘survive’ the best we can, as we go through the bottle neck, basically everyone has to stay home and live off a govt ration, apart from the people conscripted into supplying food etc.
    It could be a nice friendly society for a while, we could have the time to grow food, meet our neighbors, etc the only negative point I see for the ignorant masses is ‘we’ would have to stop breeding.
    The “bad news” is that “peak oil” marks the beginning of the end of capitalism and market politics because many decades of declining “net energy” [1] will result in many decades of declining economic activity. And since capitalism can’t run backwards, a new method of distributing goods and services must be found. The “good news” is that our “market system” is fantastically inefficient! Americans could be wasting something like two billion tonnes (metric tons) of oil equivalent energy per year!!

    In order to avoid anarchy, rebellion, civil war and global nuclear conflict, Americans must force a fundamental change in our political environment. We can keep the same political structures and people, but we must totally eliminate corporate-special interests from our political environment. A careful review of the progressive assault on laissez faire constitutionalism and neoclassical economics, from the 1880s through the 1930s, explains how this can be done legally and without violence. These early progressives showed how we can save our country. All that is lacking now is the political will. I call this adjustment of our political environment “America 2.0.”

    The reason that America 2.0 is so important and should be implemented as the first in a series of many political reforms is because it’s “constitutional politics” (politics that changes politics). The modification that I am proposing would fundamentally alter the nature of politics in America.

    To achieve America 2.0, we must first separate and isolate our political system from our economic system so that government can begin to actually address and solve societal problems rather than merely catering to corporate interests. The second step is to retire most working American citizens with an annuity sufficient for health and happiness, as government begins to eliminate the current enormous waste of vital resources by delivering goods and services directly. This would allow most adults to stay at home with their families but still receive the goods and services they need to enjoy life.

    America 2.0 is based on the biological principle that organisms respond to environmental cues. If one changes an organism’s environmental cues, then one also changes an organism’s behavior. If the voting public and political decision-makers only receive cues designed to mitigate our crisis, then all choices they make will be aimed at mitigating that crisis. This is an extremely simple way to implement a science-based government.

    After America 2.0 has been implemented, all the choices made by elected officials will be, by best calculations, “good” for the public. Officials will decide among a selection of public “goods.” Corporations will become the public utilities that they were before 1860.

  27. M 27

    Space-age technology will not save us because there may not be enough energy to run it but a reversion to older, simpler technology will have to do, e.g. bicycles instead of cars or old-fashioned kitchen implements like egg beaters instead of electric cake mixers. Of course as things tighten even these items will become expensive and difficult to get.

    The way I see it is that the future is not set and forecasts as to what the future may look like will have to look at trends rather than carved-in-stone predictions. I don’t doubt climate change may get us all in the end but it may turn out quite unlike anything we had envisioned, good or bad – the whole black swans idea comes to mind.

    The initial step-down of the energy descent may have people in NZ living like they did in the 1950s and then living like many did at the beginning of the twentieth century. There may be areas where the decline is sharper and nastier and very non-linear but for others it may be a gradual diminution.

    I am currently reading ‘The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization’ by Bryan Ward-Perkins and it shows that in many parts of Rome’s empire things got bad very quickly and violence was the order of the day but in other areas there were truces with the invaders which lasted varying amounts of time with a more undulating decline. The thing that this book shows is Roman production of goods was very efficient, highly technological for its time and allowed a complex society to flourish. Oil and grain were brought in from Africa and pottery making was very sophisticated and varied but when things started to break down the knowledge of making a great array of pottery items disappeared and even rudimentary items were only available to the affluent.

    The disappearance of libraries and decline in literacy plunged the West into darkness and if not for the monks in boggy Ireland labouriously copying texts and protected in large part by geography there might have been no recovery.

    Conservation in the future will be the order of the day and it will happen either through seeing the problems and adoption of lower energy and simpler lifestyles voluntarily or will be forced on us through breakdowns in supply of everything and a panicked populace.

    In short humans being the selfish creatures they are will keep doing what they’re doing until they can’t do it anymore. I don’t know if the left can save civilization as the truth and bad news does not win elections and most people will not give up their accustomed to comforts easily.

    One thing’s for sure, mental toughness will be important in the future as will an ability to roll with the punches.

    • Jenny 27.1


      I don’t know if the left can save civilization as the truth and bad news does not win elections and most people will not give up their accustomed to comforts easily.

      It has been done before.

    • Colonial Viper 27.2

      Transport, industry and agriculture are going to be hardest hit. Saving energy use in households is OK, but the production of chemical fertilisers and the transport of raw materials and finished products is extremely energy intensive. I am under the impression that in NZ, the production of aluminium uses more electricity than every Auckland household added together.

      Big city commuting is going to be over at $4-$5/L petrol. Most people will have to get jobs close to home, and many activities work and leisure will be restricted to daylight hours as well.

      • M 27.2.1

        ‘Big city commuting is going to be over at $4-$5/L petrol. Most people will have to get jobs close to home, and many activities work and leisure will be restricted to daylight hours as well.’

        Spot-on CV and so right about activities being restricted and there sure as hell won’t be any gas patio heaters running so people can chin wag late into the night outside – those things really piss me off.

        On one of the PO blogs I visit one woman made the interesting comment that even though there may not be many jobs in the future there will still be a lot of work to do such as umemployed people tending home gardens.

    • Fill up your attic with brand new shoes
      a pair a week until the oil-crash news
      pick sizes and styles that will sell and last
      because when there’s no cars shoes wear out fast

      Don’t tell a soul (I intend no pun)
      you can’t defend against a grim mans gun
      pack some for you – you’ll need some too
      and maybe some tacks and maybe some glue

      and all the things that strugglers need
      some axes and shovels and long-life seeds
      and fishing tackle and guns and bows
      and books on things that nobody knows

      and needles and thread and lots of wool
      and keep it up ’til your attic is full
      tell no-one at all not even your kin
      just store it and wait for the fun to begin

      and maybe those shoes will be worth more than gold
      and worth more than diamonds whenever they’re sold
      and with care and with skill your attic will be
      a bank for your future, just try it and see


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  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
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  • Government working to keep air freight moving
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    7 days ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
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  • New Zealand temporarily closes diplomatic posts in Barbados and Myanmar due to COVID-19
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  • NZ and Singapore commit to keeping supply and trade links open, including on essential goods and med...
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  • Joint Ministerial Statement by Singapore and New Zealand -Covid-19 situation
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  • Transit between Australia and New Zealand
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    1 week ago
  • $100 million to redeploy workers
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    2 weeks ago
  • More support for wood processing
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    2 weeks ago
  • Govt steps in to protect Air New Zealand
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    2 weeks ago
  • Stronger border measures to protect NZers from COVID-19
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  • Action on indoor gatherings and events to protect public health
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