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Daily Review 20/10/2016

Written By: - Date published: 5:30 pm, October 20th, 2016 - 42 comments
Categories: Daily review - Tags:


Daily review is also your post.

This provides Standardistas the opportunity to review events of the day.

The usual rules of good behaviour apply (see the Policy).

Don’t forget to be kind to each other …

42 comments on “Daily Review 20/10/2016 ”

  1. Manuka AOR 1

    Growing food from sea water:
    “In a desert region of southern Australia is a farm that – without the use of soil, fresh water, or fossil fuels – grows and supplies 15 percent of the entire country’s tomatoes through state-of-the-art technology.

    “Earlier this month Sundrop Farms marked the launch of what it called the “first commercial-scale facility of this calibre in the world”, which uses solar power to de-salinate seawater and operate greenhouses in order to grow more than 15,000 tonnes of the red fruit each year. ” http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/10/growing-food-seawater-solar-power-161019174224231.html

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      Mike Dixon, director of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF) – a department at the University of Guelph in the Canadian province of Ontario – told Al Jazeera as “food security becomes a pressing issue with growing populations … energy is usually a limiting variable”.

      He said although Sundrop Farm’s system may work well in desert regions in the Middle East, it would not be practical economically in places with an abundance of fresh water such as Canada.

      I’m pretty sure that we used to have an abundance of fresh water at one point. Now it’s pretty much polluted because of the farms.

      Asked whether Sundrop Farms’ techniques could be applied globally, he said it depends on each case.

      “It all comes down to money. This bussiness plan will last only as long as its profit margin is in the black … if the company can economically use seawater.

      Yep, this guy doesn’t understand economics.

      A farm which massively decreases it’s inputs is, by definition, far more economical than one that doesn’t. Amazingly enough, quite often those processes which use more resources are more profitable which tells us that profit isn’t a good measure.

      You can not compete with conventional farming … it [greenhouse production] will never achieve the same on those staple products. You need hundreds of thousands of acres for staples like rice to produce it in a highly competitive way.

      So, what you’d do is build hundreds of thousands of acres of greenhouses.

      If you’re not having to desalinate the water first then you can use the energy saved for other things.

      • Stuart Munro 1.1.1

        Part of the appeal of the saltwater greenhouse system is that in addition to produce and salt they produce a modest but continuous supply of fresh water. Merge that technology with land with productivity constrained by perenial droughts like the area around Ward and you have a means of generating a gradual sustainable development. Green growth and jobs. We shall see none of those from this execrable government of course.

        • weka

          Monocropping massive amounts of tomatoes under glass (and I’m guessing for mass transport) probably can’t qualify as green or sustainable, even with the solar panels. I doubt that their carbon claims stack up either if you take into consideration cradle to grave and food miles.

          We know how to restore land and grow food in dry climates in actual sustainable ways, might be good to focus on that.

          • Stuart Munro

            Doesn’t have to be tomatoes.

            New Alchemists used to do a polyculture of tomatoes/water hyacinth/tilapia/machobian prawns. 40 years ago.

            Many NZ tomatoes now come from Oz – the energy equation of changing that probably won’t be too bad.

            Knowing how is great but as a country we have to start actually doing it.

            • weka

              Monocropping massive amounts of anything under glass for mass transport isn’t sustainable.

              Polyculture, great 🙂

              We could eat seasonally as well as locally.

              “Knowing how is great but as a country we have to start actually doing it.”

              True, but that’s a different conversation than the one about the link. Fortunately for NZ, many farmers and growers are just getting on with it and I think we will find that the transition will be easier because of that (we’re not doing very dry climate well yet though).

              • Stuart Munro

                I don’t think there’s a single saltwater greenhouse in NZ. You’d need too many permits.

                There was a solar still project in Africa about thirty years ago – producing parasite free drinking water indefinitely at a setup cost of $2 per unit.

                It’s a sunk cost deal – few or no moving parts, very long lifetime given decent design.

                Sundrying makes transport feasible if there were bulk crops – especially in arid areas.

                • weka

                  Sundrying makes sense, and I’m not suggesting all importing/exporting stops. We just need it to be an add on to our local food supply, not something we rely on economically or of sustenance.

                  I hope that NZ never gets to the point of having to desalinate water, but given what we’re doing, who knows?

                  • Stuart Munro

                    Low entry cost – contemporary technology, and, like hydro, a relatively long productive life. The really good feature of the technology is that, unlike other desalination processes like membrane osmosis it leaves no salt fraction to accumulate in soil, and it requires little or no external energy input. Even the marine intake impact is likely to be modest – and warm controlled environments present multiple crop or culture options.

                    If we take Draco’s Permian doco seriously this sort of thing is the lowest level of radical change we need to entertain.

                    You don’t of course want a glass monoculture – but break up arid areas somewhat with these and trees and you should have a somewhat diverse and thus robust locality. Something to space the dairy farms out anyway.

                    • weka

                      Why would we need desalination in NZ? I’m not understanding the point. I get it in places where the rainfall is low and the ground water is fucked and the watershed no longer functions properly (although there are other solutions to that). But why here where we still have water?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Why would we need desalination in NZ?

                      Because the excessive farming is polluting/polluted our fresh water?

                    • weka

                      yeah, I was meaning if we stopped doing that 😉

                    • Stuart Munro

                      If you take somewhere like Ward, or parts of central Otago, though they may be lush as compared to the Negev, existing water supplies are already in use – either for commercial or domestic use, or for wild use – (which may be preserving things the importance of which has thus far escaped us).

                      This form of development makes low demands on critical resources like water, in fact it is designed to alleviate water shortage. If my neighbour wants an intensive dairy farm I might have good ecological grounds to oppose them, but if these kinds of systems are properly engineered they are modestly enviro positive. Not needing to fight for water rights in the oversubscribed Waitaki catchment for example, is not a trivial advantage.

                    • weka

                      Are you suggesting desalinating water and pumping it up the Waitaki, or into Central? That’s massive infrastructure and it would use huge amounts of renewable power. We really shouldn’t be building more dams and there is limit to how many wind farms we can build, so wouldn’t it be better to just do sustainable agriculture instead?

                      The problem with the Waitaki is that people are trying to wet climate farm in a very dry place. That shit is going to be a disaster as CC kicks in more, financially and environmentally. Plus peak phosphate. But the Waitaki Valley is a huge water reservoir, much of it being wetland originally. Regenag techniques would work with that to grow food, not ignore that and try and impose something that has to work against the elements all the time.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Monocropping massive amounts of anything under glass for mass transport isn’t sustainable.

                True, but diversity growing under glasshouses probably is. Done properly I believe that it will allow us to return a large part of what’s presently farmed to wilderness and the normal life-cycles that maintain the ecosystem.

                • weka

                  I don’t have too much of a problem with localised food being done under glass. Plastic is a huge problem though, and even with glass there are issues in terms of the whole infrastructure and embodied energy. The energy may eventually be renewable, the materials aren’t. At some point we can probably reach a steady state in terms of long term repair and recycling as well as manufacturing from renewable materials e.g. for framing. But I think the ideal is to use things like glasshouses for specific needs e.g. extending growing seasons, rather than using it as a core technique for our staples.

                  Re farmland and wilderness, there is a third thing, which is managed wilderness. This is what humans have traditionally done. We could restore much of the farmland to true wilderness, and still use some for managed wilderness food production and the rest for intensive sustainable food production.

                  Alan Savory’s work is a good example of managed wilderness, but reading Robery Guyton’s work I can also see the potential for forests.

                • Curious George

                  here you go,
                  all your veggie needs 23 square meters
                  regulations regarding keeping fish (edible) need to be overhauled for NZ,
                  Australia you can breed and own tasty fish, regulations to ensure closed system would be good, not total bans of costly licenses.

                  waste veggies can go back into system as fish food.

                  Some issues, but cuts out transport and makes people self reliant, pros and cons but worth investigating

  2. Garibaldi 2

    I am rather bemused by a couple of things after reading todays posts.
    Firstly the discussions are being overrun by RWKJs, making them boring to the point of skipping large sections.
    Secondly it amuses me to see CV being accused of being of the radical right. What a load of bollocks.

  3. Daphna 3

    Today Labour MP – now mayor of Auckland – Phil Goff has appointed a National Party guy as deputy mayor. That came just weeks after John Key had vigorously supported Helen Clark for the top UN job.

    Yet again we see National and Labour complement each other as the A and B team for capitalism. While it’s true that National are not as xenophobic as Labour, there’s little else that they disagree on. National-Labour really are an alliance, and it’s obvious to all except those who are wilfully blind.

    • Anne 3.1

      @ Daphna
      1) This is NOT about national (small n) politics in any shape or form.
      2) It seems they are good friends and Goff obviously believes he can trust him.
      3) Goff gave the undertaking prior to the Local Body elections that he would do his utmost to bring the Auckland Council together for the betterment of the city.
      4) I do not know this new deputy mayor personally, but from all accounts he is well liked across the board.
      5) To have a National Party member in a senior position will assist Goff to gain positive access to central government over matters that affect the city.

      Just some of the reasons off the top of my head which indicates to me Goff is being pragmatic and sensible.

      I don’t care all that much about political allegiances in Local Body politics. I want to see a united council working in the interests of the city as a whole. Goff is the best person available to bring this about.

      • Chris 3.1.1

        “I don’t care all that much about political allegiances in Local Body politics.”

        How about when councils predominantly made up of right wingers start selling assets off? For example:


        • Anne

          Regardless of the political affiliation, if they showed any propensity to sell off assets they wouldn’t get my vote. That would probably rule out the majority of the rw candidates. But as a case in point. There was a National Party candidate in my part of Auckland who has a very good cv. Had it not been for the fact there was a lw candidate with an equally good cv, I would have considered voting for her.

    • Tamati Tautuhi 3.2

      Crony capitalism.

    • weka 3.3

      Goff’s not left wing, and I suspect that many in Labour are relieved to see him not a Labour MP. I don’t think Labour can be held responsible for his actions as mayor except at the level of having endorsed his career all these years. Which is a substantial responsibility but not a lot current Labour can do about it.

  4. Whispering Kate 5

    Gable Tostee verdict has come through – he has been aquitted. Phew, I don’t know how to comprehend this, it was a very weird case from the start. I thought the jury might come through the middle and give a manslaughter verdict. It is a case which will perturb some for the difficulty of it, certainly it is disturbing and hopefully we won’t see another like it.

    • mickysavage 5.1

      Yep I thought he was a real obnoxious dickhead and I would shudder if he was around my daughters. But I did not think he should be convicted of murder on the facts.

      • TheExtremist 5.1.1

        Fully agree. Seems to be death by misadventure rather than any sort of intentional plot

        • Stuart Munro

          Looked a lot like the Sounds murder to me – frightened guy departs to cook up defence. Scot free doesn’t do it for me – he didn’t let her out, he effectively imprisoned her on his property.

        • mauī

          Misadventure? This wasn’t some drunken game to emulate spiderman. From my read of it his manipulative and threatening behaviour played a big part in her death, there’s just no smoking gun. The justice system has really failed in this case in my view.

          • McFlock

            yeah – the jury asked whether words could be considered force. Judge said no.

            In NZ, assault includes the threat of force. Must be different in Aus, or a gap for an appeal.

            Murder is a big ask, but I’m surprised he walked completely.

      • RedLogix 5.1.2

        I think lot of people would struggle with the fact of his recording the entire drama. If he had not done this, absolutely no-one would have believed his version of the events.

        And oddly enough resonates with the emerging reality that we are rapidly heading to a world where everything everyone does gets recorded 24/7/365. We are remarkably close to ubiquitous surveillance now, and within two decades it will be complete.

        Having said this, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tostee finishes up facing other charges.

        • Lanthanide

          “absolutely no-one would have believed his version of the events.”

          There is a witness who saw her climbing down his balcony, before she fell off.

          So that there is fairly good evidence that he didn’t push her. May be difficult to infer that he wasn’t on the balcony threatening her in some way, though.

      • RedLogix 5.1.3

        Prior to the trial Tostee had fully admitted that he had a long-standing problem with binge-drinking. Plus being a good looking bloke he seemed to have no problem with finding any number of women happy to have sex with him. Perhaps it’s not terribly surprising this resulted in an unhealthy, cynical attitude towards women. While it’s true many young men are far too naive and idealistic about relationships, Tostee’s experience seems to have pushed him to the other extreme.

        And a recipe for trouble. Prior to the trial he said the reason why he was in the habit of recording his drunken escapades was to “protect” himself. How and why he learned that little life lesson is an interesting question in of itself. I’m not aware of him using the recordings afterwards for any other nefarious purpose, so we have to take him at face value on this.

        Nor can we entirely overlook Warriena’s behaviour that night. What I cannot help but wonder is that if the gender roles were reversed here, and it was Gable who’d been repeatedly violent, Warriena who’d managed to lock him onto the balcony for her safety, and he’d plunged to his death … would this have ever gotten to trial?

        A sad, sorry and tragic glimpse into two lives that should never have met.

  5. pat 6

    “The problem with these and many other scenarios that emerge in the mainstream, is the intellectual editing that occurs before they even begin. Most share two overwhelming, linked characteristics that strictly limit any subsequent room for manoeuvre. Firstly the demand for energy itself is seen as something innate, unchallengeable and unmanageable. It must be met, and the only question is how.

    Secondly, the assumption remains that the principles and practices of the economic model that has dominated for the last 30 years will remain for at least the next 30 years. There is no sign yet of the ferocious challenge to neoliberal orthodoxy happening at the margins of economics shaping mainstream visions of our possible futures. The merest glance at the history of changing ideas suggests this is short-sighted.”

    …unfortunately the current paradigm is short sighted in spades


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