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Climate Change & Poverty

Written By: - Date published: 8:04 am, January 9th, 2013 - 54 comments
Categories: capitalism, climate change, Conservation, disaster, Economy, education, health, infrastructure, poverty, sustainability - Tags:

The current heat wave and wildfires in Australia are an immediate cause for concern, threatening large scale damage to homes and life.  They have also caused some to focus on the possibility of an increase in such catastrophes as average global temperatures rise.  Meanwhile, Joseph Stigliz warns of an urgent need for structural change to respond to the simultaneous threats to the long term future of society resulting from climate change, poverty and inequality.

In Australia yesterday, Julia Gillard warned that:

Gillard said extreme bushfires were part of life in a hot and dry country.

”And while you would not put any one event down to climate change … we do know that over time as a result of climate change we are going to see more extreme weather events,” she said.

The biggest disasters in Australia’s recorded history have been during the summer months and such disastrous events are likely to increase.  However, it is not just temperature rises that cause such events, but unusual climatic conditions:

Climate scientists predict average temperatures are set to increase by somewhere between two and five degrees by the end of the century, but it’s not average temperatures that create cyclones and bushfires. The big ones – those that kill scores of people and inflict hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage – occur in exceptional climactic conditions.

This includes a prolonged drought, followed by a day or so of high temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds.  Chris Hammer explains:

Australia’s hot dry summers already ensure that such exceptional circumstances will inevitably occur. They occurred in Victoria and South Australia in the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983, and the Black Friday fires of 1939, long before climate change was perceived as a threat.

Some may take comfort in that, but it would be a misplaced comfort.

An average increase in summer temperatures will increase the frequency of bushfires, perhaps exponentially. The modelling cannot be precise on this, but the direction is clear.

This is because with an increase in background temperatures, climate scientists also expect an increase in climactic volatility. In other words, more exceptional weather events: drier droughts, wetter floods and more catastrophic bushfires.

Such environmental catastrophes are inevitably linked with social and economic conditions as are any possible solutions.  I’m not sure about Stiglitz claim that an adequate response to climate change will “restore adequate demand and growth“, rather than aim for a sustainable, steady state economy. However, he does outline some of the causes of global economic and social problems.  Stiglitz argues that world is needing to adjust from a society based in manufacturing to a service-based one.

While processes of manufacturing necessities have become cheaper and more efficient, the demand for services such as health and education has grown: a demand that is far from being fully met internationally. Stligltiz argues:

New firms must be created, and modern financial markets are better at speculation and exploitation than they are at providing funds for new enterprises, especially small- and medium-size companies.

Moreover, making the transition requires investments in human capital that individuals often cannot afford. Among the services that people want are health and education, two sectors in which government naturally plays an important role (owing to inherent market imperfections in these sectors and concerns about equity).

In this context, Stiglitz points to a crisis of inequality as being one of the major global problems that threatens the long term future for human society.

Indeed, I (and others) have argued that growing inequality is one of the reasons for the economic slowdown, and is partly a consequence of the global economy’s deep, ongoing structural changes.

An economic and political system that does not deliver for most citizens is one that is not sustainable in the long run. Eventually, faith in democracy and the market economy will erode, and the legitimacy of existing institutions and arrangements will be called into question.

The “market” will not provide the solutions to the inter-related problems of climate, environment, inequalities and poverty. It requires “structural transitions” and provisions that include governments taking an active role.  As Stiglitz concludes:

As we struggle with today’s crises, we should be asking whether we are responding in ways that exacerbate our long-term problems. The path marked out by the deficit hawks and austerity advocates both weakens the economy today and undermines future prospects. The irony is that, with insufficient aggregate demand the major source of global weakness today, there is an alternative: invest in our future, in ways that help us to address simultaneously the problems of global warming, global inequality and poverty, and the necessity of structural change.

54 comments on “Climate Change & Poverty”

  1. King Kong 1

    If only you could have sneaked something about gays in then you would have hit the “ranting lefty trifecta”. Climate change, poverty and gays.

  2. Coronial Typer 2

    And it’s not only a threat, it’s an opportunity for New Zealand. We need to prepare for huge storms, both north and south islands, and huge droughts. That requres stronger catchment management. We need a whole bunch of new storage dams like the ones proposed for Hawkes Bay and Canterbury. Storage dams are tough debates within a community and region. But we need them, both to manage floods and to manage droughts, and to sustain production.

    The debate about the complete commodification of fresh water use in New Zealand is coming at us this year. I think it’s time. Water is our only major natural economic competitive advantage. I don’t agree with the corporatised approach to water – that’s a separate issue to commoditising it so that people pay for what they use and pay for what they damage as a result.

    • Colonial Weka 2.1

      Why do we need more storage dams?

      • Coronial Typer 2.1.1

        “But we need them, both to manage floods and to manage droughts, and to sustain production”

        • Colonial Weka 2.1.1.1

          Dude, I can read. Production of what? Why are ‘more storage dams’ needed in the face of CC? How will storage dams help manage floods and droughts? I agree better catchment management is needed (we need that irrespective of CC btw). Storage dams on their own, esp large scale ones, are not going to save us though.

          • Coronial Typer 2.1.1.1.1

            No they won’t save us. They are not optimal and in some senses damaging. They manage river levels in a flood (even a little), and save water for a long time during drought. New Zealand’s most intensive agricultural land use is highly water-dependent (viticulture, dairy in particular).

            I am definitely in favour of dense riparian planting to soften flood impacts. But they are not enough either. Every centimetre of absorbed flood height saved helps.

  3. Bill 3

    And while you would not put any one event down to climate change..

    (Gillard and ‘a million’ others)

    Just realised that I’m completely over this dishonest and stupid bullshit.

    See, Gillard acknowledges that there is climate change, yet in the same breath, and under cover of supposed reasonableness, asserts that climate change cannot be said to be the determinant factor of particular weather .

    All weather occurs because of the climatic context it take place in. And the climatic context has changed and is changing due to increases in global temperature. And just because today’s weather wherever is recognisable as weather we might have expected during the past 10 000 years or whatever; that doesn’t mean that that weather is not the result of the current climatic context…of course it is! It cannot concievably be down to any other reason.

    Global warming shifts climatic parameters that in turn determine possible weathers. End.

    What the fuck does Gillard and the ‘1001’ apologetic spineless bastard scientists – who should be utterly ashamed of themselves; the ones who are trundled out from time to time to pronounce that ‘we just don’t know for certain if *this* is due to global warming’ think causes fucking weather?! The finer nuances of a cockerel’s crow or what? I’d love to know.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Yeah its word games and games with clever stochastic languaging. While every day the edge of the cliff looms closer and ever faster.

    • One Tāne Viper 3.2

      There is a great deal of money involved. If we start attributing specific losses to Greenhouse events, the next thing you know we’ll be suing polluters for the damages and prosecuting them for the deaths, and we can’t have that, now can we?

    • karol 3.3

      Yes, the “deniers” are leading the agenda. And one of the first things they ask, when someone says such an event is part of climate change, “prove it.” And it’s hard to link any one event to climate change. But the answer is in the evidence of global warming, plus the causes of any one event.

      Pandering to deniers doesn’t help. Politicians particularly need to be leading on the issue.

      • Bill 3.3.1

        Proving it is as easy as looking out the window. *This* weather is determined by the climate. Global warming determines the parameters of climate. *This* weather is the result of global warming.

        Why does this idea; that only ‘shocking’ weather stems from global warming induced climate change persist? All weather…good weather, bad weather, indifferent weather…all of it stems from global warming induced climate change…unless there’s something to the way that cockerel crows afterall.

      • geoff 3.3.2

        There probably won’t be societal change until the frequency of extreme weather events makes business as usual impossible.

        For example, look at the global response to the GFC; no major regulatory changes and very few of the people responsible for it were prosecuted.

      • Jenny 3.3.3

        Yes, the “deniers” are leading the agenda.

        karol

        Rubbish. The deniers have been pushed to the edge of this debate. The “deniers” are not leading the agenda, the apologists and ignorers are. Every rational political leader in every government around the world admits to the reality of climate change. But, apologists like John key say that the economy and jobs are more important than doing anything about climate change. And ignorers like David Shearer, (taking his que from the US presidential elections), simply say nothing, and promise nothing.

        • karol 3.3.3.1

          I think there’s a mixture of both deniers and ignorers/apologists. Julia Gillard may have been anticipating the kind of response she did actually get from the acting leader of the Aussie opposition, as reported this afternoon in the SMH:

          Acting opposition leader Warren Truss says it is ”too simplistic” to link the current heatwave and fires to climate change.
          In Brisbane on Wednesday, Mr Truss acknowledged the record heatwave, but said Australia’s climate was changeable, with hot times and cold times.
          ”The reality is, it’s being utterly simplistic to suggest that we have these fires because of climate change,” he said.
          ”It’s too simplistic to link one hot spell to climate change.”

          This Guardian article by George Monbiot offers as an explanation for why denial is a national past time in Aussie:

          The Australian opposition leader has repeatedly questioned the science and impacts of climate change. …

          Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal – the most carbon intensive fossil fuel….

          As James Hansen and colleagues showed in a paper published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the occurrence of extremely hot events has risen by a factor of around 50 by comparison to the decades before 1980. …

          It requires that they confront some of the powerful narratives that have shaped Australians’ view of themselves, just as we in the United Kingdom must challenge our own founding myths. In Australia’s case, climate change clashes with a story of great cultural power: of a land of opportunity, in which progress is limited only by the rate at which natural resources can be extracted; in which this accelerating extraction leads to the inexorable improvement of the lives of its people.

          However, while Monbiot’s article title promises a “new politics” the article doesn’t live up to that, and Gillard goes no further than acknowledging that a warming planet is a problem for Aussie’s future.

        • klem 3.3.3.2

          Exactly, the deniers are not merely leading it, they have completely dominated and totally won it.

          cheers

    • Jenny 3.4

      The Colour Purple

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/australia/8152723/NSW-under-catastrophic-fire-threat

      The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has added extra colours to its temperature scale for the next week, lifting it to 54 degrees.

      That was well above the all-time record temperature of 50.7 degrees reached on January 2, 1960 at Oodnadatta Airport in South Australia – and the forecast outlook is starting to deploy the new colours.

      While recent days have seen Australian temperature maps displaying maximums ranging from 40 degrees to 48 degrees – depicted in the colour scheme as burnt orange to black – both next Sunday and Monday are now showing regions likely to hit 50 degrees or more, coloured purple.

      “The scale has just been increased today and I would anticipate it is because the forecast coming from the bureau’s model is showing temperatures in excess of 50 degrees,” said David Jones, head of the bureau’s climate monitoring and prediction unit.

      stuff.co.nz

      • karol 3.4.1

        That article doesn’t directly link the adding of colours to the scale, with a warming planet. Other articles do, like this one in the Independent:

        This is thought to be the first time that any country in the world has actually redrawn its charts to take account of temperatures which are thought likely to go off the scale which had been previously applied, and climate scientists indicated it was a warning for the future.

        ‘”The current heatwave – in terms of its duration, its intensity and its extent – is unprecedented in our records,” said the Bureau of Meteorology’s manager of climate monitoring and prediction, David Jones.

        ”Clearly, the climate system is responding to the background warming trend. Everything that happens in the climate system now is taking place on a planet which is a degree hotter than it used to be.”

  4. RedBat 4

    The ‘Market’ (whatever that is) will not, but socialism will?

    • mike e vipe e 4.1

      redbat the market will but it will be to late as with the gfc it will collapse along with life as we know it. Mad Max style!

  5. Bill 5

    From one of the linked articles

    Global warming is a quintessential “public goods” problem.

    (Stiglitz)

    What the fuck does that even mean? Global warming is the direct result of extracting carbon that was buried underground millions of years ago, burning it and putting it all back into the atmosphere. I mean, it’s pretty simple, isn’t it?

    Meanwhile poverty is a direct result of capitalism and it’s inherent market systems that ensure a mis-allocation of resources and of the access to them.

    And Stilgitz reckons that if only we reconfigure the focus of the market economy then everything will be tickety-boo? That’s so disconnected as to deserve being filed under the category ‘Of The Absurd and Insane’ and then just forgotten about.

    • karol 5.1

      Stiglitz is a respected economist, and has some following on the left – mainly because these days he’s against unfettered free markets. He favours a balance between government intervention and market provisions. However, while his constantly evolving theories offer a critique of “neoliberalism”, he doesn’t seem to favour an end to capitalism – just wants a better regulated one

      His linked article is a problem because it flicks over a range of issues, and assumes some background knowledge of economics. However, I think he does correctly identify the inter-linked problems of global economic, social and environmental realities, and that the dominant free-market approaches won’t solve them. It’s his solutions that are open to question. He does seem to still be favouring ‘growth” over steady state.

      A quick online search throws up a range of links about “public goods” in economic theories.
      Climate change, or rather achieving climate stability, is a global public good that present very difficult problems. Public goods are are goods/services that need to be available to all, and there should be no competition over access – once provided they are available to all.

      Climate stability is a global public good. Public goods at a national level (e.g. public broadcasting) are provided by a mix of taxes, pricing mechanism etc. Doing this at an international level is a big problem. According to this link, it means that many people are likely to leave it to others to solve – if someone makes provisions for climate stability, then we all benefit – so why not wait for someone else pay for it?

      William Nordhaus (1999) argues that markets can’t solve global public good problems. Usually they are solved by treeaties (eg whaling or limiting ozone depletion). He looks at Kyoto, and back then could see it wouldn’t work: it’s way too expensive, has no rationale based in economic or environmental policies, it’s wasteful. Alternatively he argues for using pricing or taxes, rather than limiting emissions. He focuses on a carbon tax, but isn’t totally keen on that either. But he seems more keen on market type approaches (pricing/taxes) over command and control ones.

      So, Stiglitz (and others) is looking for an alternative (global) structure as a way to respond to climate change. But, most still seem to be looking for a solution within capitalism.

      • Bill 5.1.1

        My problem is this dressing up of obvious and simple problems in verbal garbage that is then presented back to us in ways that suggest ‘great minds’ are required to comprehend and solve said problems.

        It ain’t that complicated.

        Taking their hocus-pocus at face value- the greatest ‘public good’ then, is to kill off those things that are creating global warming and inequality. Yes? So, end the burning of fossil fuels and, with that, the market economy that cannot function without burning massive quantities of fossil fuels.

        That gives us affirmative action on global warming and poverty/inequality. Two birds with one stone. Simple.

        • karol 5.1.1.1

          Well, yes. It should be that simple. It’s made complicated because so many governments, economists, etc, are looking for a way to deal with these problems while still retaining capitalism. They want to find some prescription that can be applied globally, that won’t upset the capitalists too much.

          • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1.1

            It’s made complicated because so many governments, economists, etc,

            Those who receive the most privilege, advantage and wealth from today’s system are amongst those most likely to resist real change. Either actively or passively.

            One other aspect is: we still have sufficient wealth and energy in the system to (barely) maintain high levels of hyper-complexity in our governmental, academic and economic activity. Hence Stiglitz et al feel they still have time to pontificate endlessly and demonstrate their worth in a dozen new journal papers over the next 5 years.

            What I see Bill advocating is perfectly sensible – collapse to simplicity right here right now, and avoid the rush (hat tip John Michael Greer). And if idiot governments refuse to take those steps in a timely manner, we do what we can to simplify and make more durable our own lives, homes and local communities.

            • Populuxe1 5.1.1.1.1.1

              However no democratic government on earth is going to be able to sell that to their voters. Hi everybody, we’re going to knock your standard of living back one or two centuries – vote for us. Nah. Think of something else. The only way you could do it would be a dictatorship, something all right-thinking people would rightly reject out of hand.

              • Colonial Viper

                In general, you’re spot on. After all, economic growth is right around the corner. Or maybe the corner after that. Or the one after that.

                The only way you could do it would be a dictatorship, something all right-thinking people would rightly reject out of hand.

                Expect to see multiple instances of “emergency powers” being used in ‘developed nations’ over the next 10 years.

                • Populuxe1

                  I live in Christchurch. I see it every fucking day.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Hi everybody, we’re going to knock your standard of living back one or two centuries – vote for us. Nah.

                    By the way, if NZ does it right, we’d only need to reduce our levels of consumption and energy use back to the 1950’s or 1960’s, and we’d still have many elements of advanced technology. It’d be a good life. But we have to get ready now.

  6. Populuxe1 6

    Bush fires are probably not the best lead in for a piece about climate change and poverty, what with bush fires having always been a seasonal state of affairs in Australia – at least since the Eucalyptus evolved into it’s current explosive form – and the fact that the Australian (or for that matter American) suburbs most affected by bush fires are usually the most affluent (ie, can afford to live surrounded by all that nature).

    • klem 6.1

      Don’t tell that to the left leaning greenies, they might learn something.

      • karol 6.1.1

        *sigh* Did you and Pop read the articles and quotes from them about Aussies fires and climate change? They are saying fires in Aussie always existed, and that they happen under certain conditions. They then say, they will be more prevalent with higher temperatures. As I quoted in the post above:

        An average increase in summer temperatures will increase the frequency of bushfires, perhaps exponentially.

        • klem 6.1.1.1

          “..fires in Aussie always existed, and that they happen under certain conditions.”

          Conditions, like a car and a cigarette. In North America when someone tosses a cigarette from their car, it starts a bushfire. When someone in Australia tosses a cigarette from their car, its called climate change.

  7. Colonial Weka 7

    Here’s one for bad12 😉

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/temperatures-off-the-charts-as-australia-turns-deep-purple-20130108-2ce33.html

    “The Bureau of Meteorology’s interactive weather forecasting chart has added new colours – deep purple and pink – to extend its previous temperature range that had been capped at 50 degrees.

    The range now extends to 54 degrees – well above the all-time record temperature of 50.7 degrees reached on January 2, 1960 at Oodnadatta Airport in South Australia – and, perhaps worringly, the forecast outlook is starting to deploy the new colours.
    Advertisement
    “The scale has just been increased today and I would anticipate it is because the forecast coming from the bureau’s model is showing temperatures in excess of 50 degrees,” David Jones, head of the bureau’s climate monitoring and prediction unit, said.”

    • klem 7.1

      Wow, only 54 degrees. When I held my thermometer out there it read 62 degrees.

      Which one was correct?

    • bad12 7.2

      Yeah right, have seen that, why tho is it ‘one for me’, i have simply pointed out, as have others, that Australian bush-fires have been happening for 1000,s of years,

      Rather than point at bush-fires screeching climate change you should be worrying how much CO2 is pumped into the air year on year by these fires and those in the US and Africa…

  8. Rogue Trooper 8

    Well, an overview of the world sharemarkets suggest they’re not bovverd.

  9. infused 9

    Yeah, because this never happened hundreds of years ago. This is the reason no one takes posts on climate change seriously. Because you link it to some bullshit.

    I cringe every time there is some type of extreme climate, as I know it will be follow by countless, retarded articles on climate change.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Try shifting your focus further than the tip of your nose.

    • One Tāne Huna 9.2

      Infused:

      The distribution of seasonal mean temperature anomalies has shifted toward higher temperatures and the range of anomalies has increased. An important change is the emergence of a category of summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations (3σ) warmer than the climatology of the 1951–1980 base period. This hot extreme, which covered much less than 1% of Earth’s surface during the base period, now typically covers about 10% of the land area.

      Hansen and Sato, Perception of Climate Change. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 September 11; 109(37): E2415-E2423.

      The data used covers the period up to 2010. In 2012, 3,215 high-temperature records were broken or tied in the US, and record-breaking Australian temperatures just yesterday required new colours to be added at the top of the scale.

      Karol’s post is entirely apposite

  10. Galeandra 10

    infused tries confused.
    ( ‘retarded’ is just her way of describing anything she doesn’t agree with. )

    Pity about the indications of a mid-century 3+ degree temperature rise.
    Just a super-conspiracy concocted by those ivory-tower dullards scattered across the globe who rort all us honest-to-God job-creators through their pointless studies on melting ice and methane plumes?

    • karol 10.1

      How can there be such a conspiracy, when, in the wealthiest of nations, the climate deniers are given the strongest public voice?

      A US mediamatters study shows that evidence of climate change is being marginalised in the MSM:

      Study: Warmest Year on Record Received Cool Climate Coverage

      A Media Matters analysis finds that news coverage of climate change on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX remained low in 2012 despite record temperatures and a series of extreme weather events in the U.S. When the Sunday shows did discuss climate change, scientists were shut out of the debate while Republican politicians were given a platform to question the science.

  11. Jan Freed 11

    I wonder how many cynics simply just don’t give a damn about what happens to the victims in Bangladesh, or the Phillipines, or whether we, the emitting nations, are the cause of the extremes. They are poor, brown and far far away.

    “Screw it!”, they crow; “turn up the A/C,blah, blah, blah” (O, what dashing, swashbuckling, indifference)

    I am reminded of Psalm 41: “Happy is the man who considereth the poor; the Lord will deliver him in the day of evil”

    • karol 11.1

      A good point, Jan. It does look like those that are well off are doing their best to maintain their privilege – perhaps hoping if there is a climate-driven economic decline, they’ll be alright & will leave the least well-off to suffer the worst effects.

    • >I wonder how many cynics simply just don’t give a damn about what happens to the victims in Bangladesh, or the Phillipines<

      Most people …. well about 99.6% don't even give a flying fuck about their own children, let alone some pore bugger in another country.
      And that goes for all politicians, and all local governments, they know every thing they do is going to kill future generations, but they chose to ignore the facts.
      This is just one example of some of the information they have been given and have ignored, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd1Y3u-4SUk I don't know why Kevin bothers.
      And lets not forget the media.

      Got to ask Australia "Hot enough for ya cobber?" ….. not sure how our wheat and rice is growing at the moment?

  12. No if buts or maybes ……. quite simply we are SCREWED.

    http://guymcpherson.com/2013/01/climate-change-summary-and-update/

    Climate-change summary and update

    Sun, Jan 6, 2013

    ——————————-SNIP—————————————–

    Large-scale assessments

    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (late 2007): 1 C by 2100

    Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (late 2008): 2 C by 2100

    United Nations Environment Programme (mid 2009): 3.5 C by 2100

    Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (October 2009): 4 C by 2060

    Global Carbon Project, Copenhagen Diagnosis (November 2009): 6 C, 7 C by 2100

    International Energy Agency (November 2010): 3.5 C by 2035 2100

    United Nations Environment Programme (December 2010): up to 5 C by 2050

    —————————————————————————

    Positive feedbacks

    Methane hydrates are bubbling out the Arctic Ocean (Science, March 2010)

    Warm Atlantic water is defrosting the Arctic as it shoots through the Fram Strait (Science, January 2011)

    Siberian methane vents have increased in size from less than a meter across in the summer of 2010 to about a kilometer across in 2011 (Tellus, February 2011)

    Drought in the Amazon triggered the release of more carbon than the United States in 2010 (Science, February 2011)

    Peat in the world’s boreal forests is decomposing at an astonishing rate (Nature Communications, November 2011)

    Methane is being released from the Antarctic, too (Nature, August 2012)

    Russian forest and bog fires are growing (NASA, August 2012)

    Cracking of glaciers accelerates in the presence of increased carbon dioxide (Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, October 2012)

    Arctic drilling was fast-tracked by the Obama administration during the summer of 2012

    As nearly as I can distinguish, only the latter feedback process is reversible. Once you pull the tab on the can of beer, there’s no keeping the carbon dioxide from bubbling up and out

  13. Mark 13

    Just checked in to visit The Standard, God you people are deluded..
    ”There are ominous signs that the earth’s weather patterns have begun to change and cool dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production – with serious political implications for just about every nation on earth. The drop in food production could begin quite soon. The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologist are hard-pressed to keep up with it.” – Newsweek, April 28, (1975)

    “This cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people. If it continues and no strong action is taken, it will cause world famine, world chaos and world war, and this could all come about before the year 2000.” – Lowell Ponte “The Cooling” (1976)

    “The continued rapid cooling of the earth since WWII is in accord with the increase in global air pollution associated with industrialization, mechanization, urbanization and exploding population.” – Reid Bryson, Global Ecology (1971)

    “The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer.” – Prof. Paul Ehrlich – The Population Bomb (1968)

    “In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.” – Prof. Paul Ehrlich, Earth Day (1970)

    “This cooling trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.” – Peter Gwynne, climatologist, Newsweek (1976)

    “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder by the year 2000…This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.” – Kenneth Watt, Earth Day (1970)

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    The statistics for hip and knee electives under this Government make depressing reading, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Under the last Labour Government we achieved a 91 per cent growth in hip and knee elective surgery. Sadly under this ...
    3 days ago
  • Parata’s spin can’t hide cuts to early childhood education
    No amount of spin from Hekia Parata can hide the fact that per-child funding for early childhood education has been steadily decreasing under the National government, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “In the 2009/10 year early childhood services received ...
    3 days ago
  • Nats will jump at chance to vote for KiwiBuild Bill
    National will welcome the chance to vote for a real solution to the housing crisis after their many, many failed attempts, says Labour MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis. Kelvin Davis’s Housing Corporation (Affordable Housing Development) Amendment Bill was ...
    3 days ago
  • Million dollar houses put homeownership out of reach of middle New Zealand
    35% of New Zealanders now live in places where the average house costs over a million dollars, and it’s killing the Kiwi dream of owning your own place, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. Latest QV stats show that Queenstown ...
    3 days ago
  • Opportunity for political parties to back Kiwi-made and Kiwi jobs
    The First Reading in Parliament today of his Our Work, Our Future Bill is a chance for political parties to ensure the government buys Kiwi-made more often and backs Kiwi jobs, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. The reading ...
    4 days ago
  • Solid Energy must open the drift
    Solid Energy is showing no moral spine and should not have any legal right to block re-entry into the Pike River drift, says Damien O’Connor MP for West Coast-Tasman.  “Todays failed meeting with  representatives from the state owned company is ...
    4 days ago
  • 20,000 at risk students “missing”
    A briefing to the Minister of Education reveals 20,000 at-risk students can’t be found, undermining claims by Hekia Parata that a new funding model would ensure additional funding reached students identified as at-risk, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    4 days ago
  • Crime continues to rise
    Overall crime is up five per cent and the Government just doesn’t seem to care, says Labour’s Police Spokesperson Stuart Nash. ...
    4 days ago
  • Treasury fritters $10 million on failed state house sell off
    The Treasury has wasted $10 million in two years on the National Government's flawed state house sell off programme, including nearly $5.5 million on consultants, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. "New Zealand needs more state housing than ever, with ...
    4 days ago
  • National slow to learn new trade lessons post TPPA
    Yesterday, the Minister for Trade misused economic data in order to try to make the case for more so-called ‘trade agreements’ like the TPPA which are actually deregulatory straitjackets in disguise. In welcoming a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    5 days ago
  • Skilled migrant wages plummeting under National
    Wages have plummeted for people with skilled migrant visas working in low-skilled occupations, driving down wages for workers in a number of industries, says Labour’s Immigration Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “Documents acquired by Labour under the Official Information Act reveal that ...
    5 days ago
  • Child abuse apology needed
    The Government's failure to act on recommendations from Judge Henwood, based on years of work by the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service (CLAS) will further undermine any faith victims may have put into the process, says Labour’s Children’s Spokesperson Jacinda ...
    5 days ago
  • Reserve Bank again highlights National’s housing failure
    National’s failure to deal with the housing crisis in New Zealand is once again being exposed by the Reserve Bank today, in a scathing assessment of the Government’s response, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson “Governor Wheeler is clearly worried ...
    5 days ago
  • Palm Oil Labelling: Possible Progress?
    On Friday, the Minister for Food Safety, along with her Australian colleagues finally looked at the issue of mandatory labelling of palm oil. We’ve been calling for mandatory labelling for years and we were hoping that the Ministers would agree ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    5 days ago
  • National: Fails to achieve
    The ineffectiveness of the National Government’s approach to schooling has been highlighted by the latest Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) report released overnight, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. ...
    5 days ago
  • Faster into Homes – a new pathway for first home buyers
    This week Parliament will select another members’ bill from the cookie tin (I kid you not, it really is a cookie tin) and I’ve just launched a new bill I’m hoping will get pulled – to help people get into ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    5 days ago
  • Selling off our state housing stock isn’t working for NZers
    I want to end homelessness and ensure that everyone has a warm, safe, dry home. This National Government has let down New Zealanders, especially the thousands of New Zealanders who are struggling with something so basic and important as housing. ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    5 days ago
  • Government needs to ensure fair deal on EQC assessments
    Kiwis affected by earthquakes might not get a fair deal if the Government pushes ahead with secret plans to let private insurers take over the assessment of claims, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Under questioning from Labour the Government ...
    5 days ago
  • Key’s priorities the real ‘load of nonsense’
    The Prime Minister’s fixation with tax cuts, despite a failure to pay down any debt and growing pressure on public services is the real ‘load of nonsense’, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “We’re getting mixed messages from National. John ...
    5 days ago
  • Free Speech and Hate Speech
    Last week we were very concerned to hear that an Auckland imam, Dr Anwar Sahib, had been preaching divisive and derogatory messages about Jewish people and women during his sermons. It was a disturbing incident coming at the end of ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    6 days ago
  • Young Kiwis struggling under record mortgage debt
    The Government needs to step in and start building affordable homes for first homebuyers now more than ever, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    6 days ago
  • Tairāwhiti says No Stat Oil!
    Tairāwhiti says yes to a clean environment for our mokopuna today and for generations to come. Tairāwhiti are have a responsibility to uphold their mana motuhake over their land and their peoples and are calling on the Government to honour ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    6 days ago
  • Swimmable Rivers tour – Ōkahukura/Lucas Creek
    When Environment Minister Nick Smith said in Parliament that some waterways – like Auckland’s Lucas Creek – are not worth saving because no-one wants to swim in them, he forgot to ask the locals we met last week who have put ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    6 days ago
  • Wellington business relief package needs flexibility
    The Government’s Wellington business support package is welcome news but needs to be implemented so that all affected businesses get the help they need, says Labour MP for Wellington Central Grant Robertson. “Wellington businesses will be pleased that the Government ...
    6 days ago
  • EQC’s staff cuts show disregard for quake victims
    The Earthquake Commission’s stubborn insistence on slashing its workforce and its operational funding by nearly half shows callous disregard for victims of the Kaikoura earthquake and the thousands of Cantabrians still waiting to resolve claims, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan ...
    7 days ago
  • Maori Land Court job losses must be delayed
    Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell must request that pending job losses at the Māori Land Court are put on hold until the Māori land reform process is resolved and the risk of losing centuries of collective institutional knowledge is ...
    7 days ago
  • Financial support needed for urgent earthquake strengthening
    The Government must provide urgent support to residents for important earthquake strengthening work so that it happens quickly, says Grant Robertson, Wellington Central MP.  "I support the call from Wellington Mayor Justin Lester to bring forward work to strengthen the ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour welcomes equal pay
    Labour has long appreciated the value of women’s work and welcomes the Government’s decision to address pay equity for women, say’s Labour’s associate Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Sue Moroney. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Surgeons’ letter a damning indictment
    A letter from Waikato Hospital’s orthopaedic surgeons claiming that hospital managers are stopping them from making follow-up checks on patients is a damning indictment of the health system, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “It’s terrifying that one woman’s elective ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Out of touch Nats continue state house sell-off
    The Government should be focused on building houses for families to buy and more state houses for families in need, not flogging them off, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “National’s state house sell-off does nothing to help people ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Joyce drags feet while Capital businesses suffer
     Wellington businesses affected by the earthquake are continuing to struggle while the Government drags its feet on getting a business assistance package up and running, says Grant Robertson, Wellington Central MP.  “Steven Joyce needs to front up with an assistance ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Health and Safety Act fails to reduce work fatalities
    After the Pike River tragedy, New Zealanders realised that workplace health and safety culture needed to change. Last Saturday marked the 6th anniversary of the tragedy that killed 29 miners at the Pike River mine on the West Coast of ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 weeks ago
  • What is the point of education?
    The proposed Education (Update) Bill is the Government’s statement about what the point of education is, and what it means to people. This week we had a day of Select Committee hearings in Auckland on the Bill. It’s a huge ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Earthquake exposes training shortfall
    Kaikoura’s earthquakes have exposed the Government’s under investment in critical building and construction skills training, says Labour’s Building and Construction spokesperson Phil Twyford. “The Government needs to urgently ramp up the training of Kiwis in construction and engineering in the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More cops needed to get P off our streets
    National’s cuts to Police funding and drug enforcement officers has seen a surge in cheap P on our streets, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Who’s calling the shots? Bye bye surplus
    I would love to know who is calling the shots in the National government’s cabinet when it comes to deciding how best to spend taxpayers’ money.  On the evidence of the last few weeks, it definitely isn’t Finance Minister Bill ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    2 weeks ago
  • Urgent rethink needed on workplace safety
      An urgent rethink is needed on the Government’s new workplace safety laws with the number of deaths this year already at the same level as at the same time in the 2015 calendar year, says Labour’s Associate Workplace Safety ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Rubble and rubbish: spending time in post-quake Kaikōura
    I visited Kaikoura over the weekend – basically to see how the community was coping with all the rubbish and rubble created by last week’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake, and to see my brother Rob. I may have mentioned before that ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 weeks ago
  • Time to pull the plug on state house sell-off
    The collapse of the planned sell-off of state houses in Horowhenua is an opportunity for the Government to call time on its troubled state house sell off policy, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Treasury sounds warning bell – but National’s not listening
    Today's long term fiscal outlook issued by The Treasury is a welcome wake-up call on the need to dramatically improve and diversify our economy and properly plan for the future, Grant Robertson, Labour’s Finance Spokesperson says. “Through our Future of Work ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Don’t believe the hype – debt has skyrocketed under National
    The reckless dangling of tax cuts by the National Government is all the more irresponsible when it is put alongside the failure to pay down debt or put money aside for future superannuation costs, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Our kids deserve better
    We don’t know how many children are affected by having learning support needs. I do know that far too many children are not getting the support they deserve for conditions like autism, dyslexia, and dyspraxia. When these conditions are not ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Talk of tax cuts is plain crazy
      John Key’s talk of tax cuts when the Government has $63 billion of debt, superannuation costs are rising by $1 billion a year and the cost of meeting another natural disaster, is just plain crazy, says Labour Leader Andrew ...
    2 weeks ago