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