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Free Petrol Pt IV

Written By: - Date published: 6:25 am, August 5th, 2016 - 92 comments
Categories: climate change, energy, Environment, global warming, infrastructure, political alternatives, science, transport, vision - Tags: , ,

Remember that wee incident back in 2008 when the banking sector went bust? And remember how governments came up with a number and then started adding zeros on the tail end of it until the banks said – “yup, that’s enough”? If that can be done for banks, it can be done for society and future generations. Do not let anyone tell you that we can’t afford to take the actions we need to take on global warming.

Regardless of balancing accounts or whatever, the truth is that 3.5 degrees of warming has to be avoided at all costs….Well, if you think that the children around you today deserve any kind of future containing prospects, it has to be avoided at all costs. The laws of physics decree that there will be two degrees of warming or that somewhere in the middle of nowhere, a formerly worshipped haruspice will be abandoned to pore over the liver of his disembowled camel – unnoticed and unheeded.

But for all the incurable neo-classical economist types who cling to ideas about the infallibility and omnipotence of price signals, and who think that creating a balance in an artificial financial construct will somehow translate into a balance in the real world, and who place that financial construct before reality, here are some figures anyway.

The IMF calculated that in 2013, the NZ government subsidised the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $US2.5 Billion. Now, if the suggestion of the previous post is followed through on, then it would cost much less than that to give away petrol and diesel for free. Total petrol and diesel sales are about 2 billion litres annually and the wholesale cost of petrol is much less than $NZ 1 per litre.

Then throw the economic stimulus that would come from petrol money remaining in peoples’ pockets into the mix, and allow for the tax take on that extra economic activity. Factor in the necessity of developing our infrastructure too. Might that entail repurposing the army? Could it be necessary to look at some scheme of conscription or national service? It’s that huge.

In some ways free petrol might be viewed as being akin to how in some countries, the steel industry was heavily subsidised and run at a deliberate loss. The downstream economic activity that cheap steel generated more than outweighed any subsidy given to the industry by quite a margin.

You still want more money to be flowing?

Well, of the international shipping that arrives in NZ, something under half of it is carrying non-perishable consumer goods. Those consumer goods are likely what makes up most of the individual carbon footprint of the richest in society. Both Chancel and Picketty and Oxfam have independently calculated that 10% of society produces 50% of carbon emissions.

It doesn’t matter how rich you are, there is a limit on the amount of food you can eat. And sure, you can travel in more carbon intensive ways, but there’s still a limit on how many hours you can travel. So I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable to assume that the richest are consuming far more goods with high carbon costs embedded within them than most of the rest of us. Identify those things and tax them hard.

Actually, while we’re at it, impose stringent standards on electrical goods so that only the most efficient ones can be legally imported. And, as Kevin Anderson repeatedly suggests, tighten the standards with every passing year. Then, with every drop in energy demand, we get a corresponding and opposite relief in terms of how hard and fast we need to expand and develop energy networks and infrastructures.

I’ve expanded beyond the bounds of my own topic a wee bit, but hey, it’s mine. If we want, we can be the type of example that the rest of the world will need to follow if 2 degrees of warming is going to be any kind of realisable target.

Now. China is among the Annex 2 or developing nations that need developed nations to get off carbon fast, so that they can have a bit of time to lay in the infrastructures that will increase the general well being of their people. That’s the equity that our government, through various international accords and agreements, has repeatedly signed up to. So what are the odds that China, with its huge industrial capacity, would be more than happy – even enthusiastic and eager – to help us get off carbon quicker or easier than we otherwise might without their help? I’m thinking somebody really ought to speak to the Chinese.

I did hope to end this short clutch of posts with an uplifting quote from David Lange. But it would appear that today we’re right back in that space he thought we’d left behind some years ago – somnolant and enraptured. So the best I can do is provide a reminder of where he thought we’d got to over 30 years ago in the hope it helps waken us up to reality again.

We in New Zealand, you know, used to be able to relax a bit, to be able to think that we would sit comfortably while the rest of the world seared, singed, withered. We were enraptured! And the fact is that we used to have the reputation of being some kind of an antipodean Noah’s Ark, which would from within its quite isolated, preserve, spawn a whole new world of realistic human kind. Now, the fact is that we know that that is not achievable.

Part one – overview
Part two – aviation and shipping
Part three – roading

Please try leave any comment on the more appropriate of the four posts. Thankyou.

92 comments on “Free Petrol Pt IV ”

  1. GregJ 1

    Hey Bill,

    Just wanted to say thanks for a very stimulating, provoking and, I have to say, somewhat unsettling series of posts. My wife and I have spent the last few days watching and reading a number of things as a result of reading your posts and frankly we are still a bit shell-shocked by some of the stuff we’ve been trying to take in (especially some of the pretty blunt talking from from Kevin Anderson). We’re still trying to process some of it and get a handle on some of your ideas, thoughts & suggestions.

    • weka 1.1

      I love this comment GregJ. As difficult as that process is, this is exactly what we need, people willing to learn and then take the time to deal with the shock and then figure out what to do next. I’m heartened to see that as one of the first responses to Bill’s posts.

    • Bill 1.2

      Thanks GregJ.

      It’s not an easy or quick thing to process. The first of Anderson’s presentations I saw was one he gave for the Cabot Institute a few years back. (It’s on youtube somewhere). I had to watch it repeatedly to get my head around some of the information – and every time I watched it, it seemed I picked up on something I’d previously missed – and nothing I’d missed was ‘good’.

      I’m just at the stage now where I want people to cut the crap, call it, and get on with it – policy makers, politicians, NGOs….

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    So what are the odds that China, with its huge industrial capacity, would be more than happy – even enthusiastic and eager – to help us get off carbon quicker or easier than we otherwise might without their help?

    They wouldn’t be at all as they’re dependent upon exports for the ‘growth’ and to keep that growth going they’re presently using a huge amount of fossil fuels. Sure, they’re doing a hell of a lot to move to sustainable/renewable energy but it’s going to take quite a few decades.

    • Bill 2.1

      So what you’re saying is that because China is relying on exports, that there’s no way China would (say) manufacture and export huge quantities of solar panels to NZ on favourable terms because ‘exports’?

      I’m confused.

      If we ‘get ahead’, then China gets huge benefit from that – not least because NZ becomes an example and leverage that can be applied to the rest of the developed world.

      • Peter Ch Ch 2.1.1

        And how are the solar panels manufactured? By power largely generated by coal fuelled power stations. Likewise with steel manufacturing and so on.

        Solar power for water heating is now very common in China but i think you do not appreciate the sheer size of the problems, the difficulty in making changes actually occur in the face of a stifling bureaucracy and pervasive corruption.

        • weka

          There is speculation that China has past peak coal quite a long time before expected. If true that means they’re on the downward curve now, and the ratios should start to look better.

          NZ really needs to develop its own solar manufacturing though, and fast.

        • Bill

          I’m aware that fossil fuels are used in manufacturing. I’m also aware that there’s a carbon budget associated with 2 degrees and that budget says developed nations have to be carbon free (from energy) by the 2030s and that China and other developing nations have to peak emissions around 2025 and be fossil free (from energy) by about 2050.

          Given that fossil is used in manufacturing and we can’t lay in a fossil free energy supply in the time available – we need to crash demand while we get the supply side in place.

          I’m assuming that NZ doesn’t have anything like the manufacturing capacity to produce (say) solar panels in the numbers required. That said, I’m guessing that China has the manufacturing capacity to provide NZ with its needs without impacting too much on its own drive to shift from fossil.

          I could be wrong.

          But if the manufacturing capacity is there, and whatever internal bureaucratic or corruption hurdles that exist within China can be cleared, then its in the interests of both China and NZ, for China to help NZ present an example of what’s possible to the rest of the developed world.

          If NZ isn’t chewing through that global carbon budget (our individual emissions are huge) and that leverages other developed nations to get a move on, then China and other developing nations might get a wee bit more room to develop – ie, they can use more of the carbon budget to increase the general welfare of the Chinese population.

          • Robert Atack

            I new if I skim read a few paragraphs I would find evidence of denial – “carbon budget” WTF ?
            @ 400 ppm CO2 + god knows what the CO2e is of CH4. Idiot humans exceeded the the so called budget about 50 years ago.
            Nature is blowing the budget on it’s own now, its called a feed back.
            Like I keep saying, if we all left the planet tonight, taking our 440 nuclear power plants with us, the environment is still going back to one of it’s very normal mammal free climates. And with the way we have kicked started this period into action (10,000 years faster) the planet faces the oceans evaporating by 2070 ish WASF
            Most of us are going to die from lack of medicines, food, water, security. We are going to face neighborly violence, and government violence, with starvation, or suicide being the biggest killer.
            New Zealand is the last port of call for the oil tankers, we may have as little as 4 weeks stored on shore supply (Ie not in Norway or Japan)
            Auckland for one, is only days away from a bloodbath at any given moment, why the hell people flock to these death traps I don’t know, moths to the flame?

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.2

        That’s not what I was getting at. The only way that China could help us reduce our GHG emissions is by reducing their exports to us. Even solar panels created by China would increase our GHG emissions.

        And we’d simply be better off producing solar panels here from our renewable energy. In other words, we build factories here to produce solar panels. We use the first few large batches to reduce our GHG emissions from power generation and then seek to export the excess until external demand drops at which point we reduce our production of solar panels to suit local demand.

        • Bill

          I’ve nothing against that idea (NZ production from zero carbon production facilities). But the roll out of solar panels has to begin today (yesterday!)

          Do we have the time to construct those facilities in a time scale that would allow us to begin those 10 – 15% annual reductions now?

          Build them by all means, with the aim of them kicking in in three or five years from now. We need shit between now and then though. And China (I believe) is the largest producer of solar panels.

          So buy the fucking things! And yes, China’s GHG emissions kick up short term because of our purchases. And ours tumble because we’re able to expand our energy supply fast enough to keep up with those 10 – 15% reductions being made in the energy sector.

          If those savings are more than the up-tick in China’s emissions, then millions of Chinese gain.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Do we have the time to construct those facilities in a time scale that would allow us to begin those 10 – 15% annual reductions now?

            It’s only a part of the total solution. We’re simply never going to get 10% to 15% reduction per year in fossil fuel use from installing solar panels.

            If those savings are more than the up-tick in China’s emissions…

            That, I suspect, would be a very big ‘IF’.

            • Bill

              The reduction doesn’t come from solar panels. The solar panels (and whatever else) are needed to cover any uptake in electricity that results from a yearly 10 – 15% reduction (minus whatever drop in demand results from more efficient appliances etc).

              Why’s it a big ‘if’?

              A one off carbon hit versus on-going carbon savings from their roll out. I’d suspect the carbon savings over 15 years would outweigh the carbon cost of production.

              • Draco T Bastard

                The reduction doesn’t come from solar panels. The solar panels (and whatever else) are needed to cover any uptake in electricity that results from a yearly 10 – 15% reduction (minus whatever drop in demand results from more efficient appliances etc).

                First we need to reduce our fossil fuelled energy generation. That would be a very large part of our GHG emissions reduction. We’d get that reduction from installing solar panels and wind generation. If we don’t replace it then we won’t get the necessary reduction.

                Why’s it a big ‘if’?

                Because of the amount of GHG emitted in their production and transportation to NZ. We probably won’t see any real reduction in such a path for several years. Enough time to build a factory or three here and start producing solar panels ourselves.

                • Peter Ch Ch

                  The solar panel and cylinder are very large. Would seem the type of thing that woukd be well suited to be manufacturered here.

  3. adam 3

    I’ve enjoyed your posts Bill, and I really liked the shipping and aviation post the most.

    They got me thinking, technology and “progress” are not set in stone. The choice made, we made because things were cheap and it seemed like a good idea at the time. We are at a point in history, where we have to put our reflexive cap on, and assess some choices.

    It seems we made some bad ones, but to hide behind ‘progress’ as I’ve seen some people argue, is just wooly thinking. If we lived in a world where the first invention was ‘progress’ and it was always right, we’d live in house with direct current, our ropes would be hemp, and computers would all have massive valves in them.

    We have done it with music, and in particular home stereo’s , we have actually decided that valve amplifiers make sound sound better. That Vinyl records actually sound better, and that if we keep it simple and power consumption is set lower, it actually sounds better.

    What I don’t understand is why we are not willing to look at these other options. The wholesale adoption of the Flettner-Rotor just makes sense. Coastal shipping just makes sense. Coastal transport of goods and people, just makes sense.

    But we are tethered to somthing, and I could theories to the cows come home what that is. But most of all I think it is the majority of people don’t want to think about it, I think the only option is to do.

    By that I mean don’t just sit at the keyboard today, but go out and make change – because that is how it happens. Be a leader, don’t get suckered to be THE leader. Go out and do, make those who are unworthy run from the change you bring.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Have you checked out the Archdruid’s latest chapter in his retro story? Basically there is a progress brainwashed mindset out there which sees the answers that we need as lying in brand new inventions and science fiction. Not in old fashioned answers like rail and coastal shipping and mending stuff at home.

      • Peter Ch Ch 3.1.1

        Rail and coastal shipping were answers that were appropriate to there time (and still are in some places and some situations), but they in turn replaced earlier transport methods such as horse and cart and narrow boats. So change and ‘progress’, by your own admission, can be beneficial.

        But in any case, there is now more rail mileage being constructed each year than at anytime since the 19th century, so clearly the ‘brainwashing’ has not worked too well.

        • weka

          Not in NZ though right? (train mileage increase). One of the most important things we could do now is protect the existing rail infrastructure from the government.

          • Peter Ch Ch

            Absolutely in agreement there. But not supportive of coastal shipping though (such as we have). Duplication with rail.

            • Bill

              Trains can’t cross Cook Strait. So we need shipping.

              Expand electrified rail (or battery powered trains are an option too I believe). And get shipping off carbon. Some freight (goods) will be a better suited to going by rail and some with shipping. Some would be better suited to being freighted by those airships – I really like the idea of airships 😉

              • Peter Ch Ch

                Well thats one out of left field! But probably worth a serious look. I seem to recall that they were being developed for frwight about 4 or 5 years ago, but cannot locate on web.

                Thanks again for stimulating tgread. Much appreciate

            • adam

              Peter CH CH, I think one of the worst and most idiotic ideas that ever happened was the ending of the Ferry from Auckland to Christchurch. That link is essential to any future for the country as a whole. And sea freight is the only answer, cheap, carbon free and the ability to move in bulk.

    • Bill 3.2

      But most of all I think it is the majority of people don’t want to think about it, I think the only option is to do.

      That bit there Adam – I never expected these posts to produce a whelter of comments, given that they’re quite involved and not tailored to any ‘quick fire’ comments regime.

      But I do seriously wonder if people are running scared.

      ie – simply not reading when they twig to the topic, or reading but not wanting to acknowledge, through the act of commenting, what’s been laid out…essentially being too scared to engage because that would mean putting comfortable illusions aside.

      If that’s the case – that intelligent people are being turned away by their fear – then we’re fucked. Truly fucked.

      Wonder how that one will play out when kids of today ask why nothing was done? I suspect “I was scared” ain’t going to go down very well at all.

      And yeah, the concept of the leader is anathema to me.

      • Peter Ch Ch 3.2.1

        I dont think its a case of being scared, but maybe a mix of confusion and feelings of powerlessness.

        For example, our milk is natural and healthy yet in the process destroys not just our domestic environment, but significantly contributes to global warming. Not to mention the contribution to climate change by transporting our goods to the other side of the globe.

        So what do we do? Revert to a lifestyle of the 1950s era?

        • Bill

          Or we could proceed to a lifestyle of the 21st century instead of reverting to one from the 20th. Asking exactly what that will look like is a bit like asking someone in the 1930s what the 1950s or 1970s would have looked like.

          The “What do we do?” is the subject of these posts. As far as transport is concerned, I believe that what I’ve outlined in the posts would work in terms of bringing that sector to zero carbon with much not too much disruption.

          I haven’t seen any comments offering up any other possible workable alternative. I also (so far) haven’t seen any intractable problems being presented in comments in relation to the post’s proposals. So I assume it’s about on the mark. (As I commented on the Free Petrol II post, I got the aviation scenario wrong and so changed my thinking on that one a wee bit))

          Obviously the wider energy sector needs to be considered (but not in these posts) and agriculture/land use needs to be looked at (but not in these posts).

        • weka

          For example, our milk is natural and healthy yet in the process destroys not just our domestic environment, but significantly contributes to global warming. Not to mention the contribution to climate change by transporting our goods to the other side of the globe.

          So what do we do? Revert to a lifestyle of the 1950s era?

          We find a different way to make a living. Export dairy is completely unnecessary.

          In terms of transport emissions, supporting local economies and buying local food is key. Local needs to be defined, because shipping from overseas has less of a carbon footprint than trucking from Auckland to the South Island. The big supply chains have to stop, because once you factor carbon in from the transport, they simply don’t work in terms of efficiency. So maybe not 1950s but earlier, where milk was grown where it was consumed, but still in the 21C in terms of safety and some of the tech.

          I can’t see any good reason why we can’t replace export dairy with relocalised, organic dairy that is processed on the farm and then shipped short distances to the local markets (or by train/sea within NZ assuming those get sorted).

          • Bill

            Since the idea is to have zero carbon from transport, and since that’s just one component of getting to zero carbon from all energy – and if we choose to pursue policies to bring about zero carbon, the length of supply chains become moot.

            At that point, there would be no reason pertaining to a global warming perspective as to why milk couldn’t be dried and shipped where-ever.

            Conversely, if we don’t reach that point (zero carbon) then I think the length of supply chains is going to be among the very least of our worries.

            • Poission

              Milk transport up until 1984 in nz was not carbon neutral either.


            • weka

              Not sure what you mean there Bill. Do you mean we will have tech to replace FF that allows us to make milk powder and ship it globally? What would that be?

              • Bill

                I thought you’d read the posts.

                Hmm. Coal fired drying plants weren’t mentioned. Electrically driven drying processes with the electricity coming from a zero carbon source. The tech’s there. The capacity’s another matter.

                And the shipping options have been well covered.

                And the land or air options have been well covered.

                • weka

                  I don’t know what you mean. If you think that we can produce milk powder and ship it globally and still attain zero carbon for transport can you please explain how. Because I can’t see how it can be done.

                  Yes, I’ve read the posts and I still don’t understand what you are saying. The reason I’m pursuing this is that I think you just said that relocalisation of food wasn’t necessary, which is a pretty alarming thing to say in a post dedicated to reducing transport emissions across the board.

                  Maybe you can start by explaining how the length of supply chains are moot.

                  • adam

                    Weka, the way I read part 2 was that the tech exists, which means we are able to actually move large shipments of food now in a way that does not use carbon. For example Airships, and boats using the Flettner-Rotor, both methods can move large amounts of food.

                    I agree more local food production, but we need to produce surplus, becasue of environmentally extreme weather events. I think as we are interconnected the moving food, will be necessary.

                    • weka

                      The food miles are usually across land not sea. So if you want to do the existing milk powder export business to say China, you have to look at the whole supply line not just the ocean part (and that’s not even getting into the farming and milk drying aspects). All the trips to and from the farm, then from factory to storehouse to port etc.

                      Then there is the issue of all the infrastructure involved in that and how that can be produced and maintained and decommissioned without using fossil fuels. That’s not transport emissions, but unless the argument is that the only CC action we need is to go carbon zero on transport, then it’s an issue.

                      There is also an issue of how robust those supply lines are in extreme weather events.

                      Far better minds than mine that have been working on sustainability for a long time, say we need to relocalise food as part of reducing emissions. I think that small amounts of shipping are still possible, but the bloated global export for profit thing, nah.

                      That’s all in reference to Peter’s original point was about milk and the global economy.

                  • Bill

                    Given that you couched your original comment in the future tense “Do you mean we will have…”

                    With a zero carbon transport network as part of a zero carbon energy network, you can move as much stuff as you like as long a distance as you like without affecting AGW.

                    Now sure, there are plenty of other environmental reasons as to why intensive food production or whatever might not be the flashest of ideas.

                    • weka

                      “you can move as much stuff as you like as long a distance as you like without affecting AGW.”

                      So you assert, but you still haven’t said how. Most people would disagree with you, including myself who has read your posts. If you don’t want to explain your thoughts, that’s fine, but it’s hard to see how to progress the ideas if we don’t actually discuss them.

                      In the absence of an explanation, I’ll hazard a guess that you think that electricity can be used to replaced fossil fuels in a BAU sense. I just don’t think that is possible once you factor in cradle to grave and EROEI issues, and if that is what you are suggesting then I think it’s a major flaw in your proposal (although I’m not sure the proposal is dependent on that belief).

                      I’m not that interested in arguing about it tbh, but I’m also struggling to see how the discussion can be fruitful if pretty solid sustainability and resiliency theory gets written off without an explanation.

                    • Bill

                      What the hell you on about Weka?

                      The shipping and aviation post is pretty explicit in laying out how both shipping and aviation can be (and could have been) brought to be zero carbon on existing technology.

                      In your original comment you said…

                      In terms of transport emissions, supporting local economies and buying local food is key.

                      Well, it might be desirable, but it isn’t key. And from an AGW perspective, it’s irrelevant in the context of a zero emissions transport sector existing (the ‘how’ is explained in Pt II and the global context/prospects touched on towards the end of Pt I) as part of a zero emissions energy sector (topic not covered).

        • Colonial Viper

          For example, our milk is natural and healthy</blockquote.

          Hardly. From heart disease to autoimmune disorders, cows milk is best suited to calves not humans.

          And how you call cows lactating all year "natural" is an interesting twist on things.

          • weka

            How you call gardening natural is an interesting twist on things. I’ll bite my tongue before we get much more off topic 😉

            • Robert Guyton

              Too late, weka 🙂
              Everything is natural. What’s important is outcomes. Natural activity “A” leads to a particular outcome and natural activity “B” leads to another. Smart humans choose a path that benefits the whole of the natural world over a long time, rather than a sliver of it, for a brief flare.

      • weka 3.2.2

        If that’s the case – that intelligent people are being turned away by their fear – then we’re fucked. Truly fucked.

        Wonder how that one will play out when kids of today ask why nothing was done? I suspect “I was scared” ain’t going to go down very well at all.

        I don’t think it’s as straight forward as that even though we want it to be. Fear is a very complex emotion, with millions of years of evolution behind it. Fright, flight, freeze, or tend and befriend are all hardwired responses in humans to threat, and at the best of times we’re not necessarily good with those because modern humans are in such odd situations in terms of evolution. Worse, we literally have no evolutionary adaptation to deal with something like CC, so we’re having to learn on the hoof.

        If too many people are scared to face up to CC currently, we’re not ‘fucked’. We’re just at the point where the next thing is giving people the skills to deal with the fear in a different way. Whatever skills you and I have, logic dictates that people that don’t have the skills probably need assistance. Taking the position that they should just get on with despite the fear is not a winning one in terms of getting most people to change.

        Plus I think there is more than fear going on. There is overload, stress, denial, cognitive dissonance, anxiety, depression and often just plain ignorance etc. I think we need to be careful to not lump people into large unweildy categories. All of those things have solutions though, for most people.

        • Bill

          Nope. It’s that straight forward. Christ! We’re only talking about engaging in discussion or in exploring ideas. People simply fear exposing themselves to any, even remote possibility of having to make decisions that might fly in the face of their comfortable, or stupid, selfishness with its trajectory of a successful life and pleasant lifestyle that’s going to land them up in heaven (earthly or otherwise) some day.

          It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with being fearful of climate change and a lot to do with bullshit and hypocrisy.

          • weka

            “We’re only talking about engaging in discussion or in exploring ideas.”

            I don’t think so. We’re talking about waking up to a reality that requires radical change and huge challenges on almost every level that humans exist. That’s pretty confronting. Unless these posts are simply an academic exercise, they’re going to induce emotion as much as thought. And that emotion needs processing. GregJ’s comment at the top of this thread is a really good description of that process, so maybe it’s about why he can engage and others don’t.

            I’m scared, and I’m having to spend time working through that. I know other people who are too. And I recognise people who don’t have the skills to do that yet, or the time and space. Or courage.

            (besides, you said above that people are scared, now you are saying they’re not they’re just selfish?).

            Which doesn’t mean that hypocrisy and selfishness aren’t also factors. Some people are going to choose their short term wellbeing over the survival of the planet. That’s a different kettle of fish, that needs a whole different set of stratgies. But I think most people when confronted with the reality are struggling rather than deciding they don’t care.

            But let’s say there is a sizeable chunk of people who are simply being selfish. That still requires a solution. It doesn’t mean we’re fucked.

            • Bill

              I said (essentially) that people are scared of exposing themselves to change. What was the story I read of the woman who went off to her job at the bank even though the news reports were saying that the war had arrived in her city? It didn’t hit home until she turned a corner and there was a tank sitting in her path.

              She didn’t refuse to change because she was frightened of war. She more than likely refused to act intelligently because, like most of us, she liked the safety of habit.

              Look at this another way. I read climate change stuff and tried to get my head around it. That involved being “unsettled” and “shell-shocked” – just as GregJ indicates in the top comment.

              But if I was really rather taken by whatever life I was leading and didn’t want it upset in any way, then it’s not that I’m scared of climate change – I’m just that woman going off to work in her high-heels (as she did) stubbornly determined to carry on as usual because, well…why not? (I’m not reading anything about AGW, I’m not listening to anything about AGW and I’m not discussing AGW…except maybe in relation to that cancelled skiing weekend.)

              edit – and ‘the authorities’ are saying they have it covered. 1.5 degrees they say. Reductions by 2050 they say. Everything is A-OK they say….

        • emergency mike

          Well said weka, one dimensional caricatures of the complex lives of large swathes of the population won’t get us there.

          • Bill

            I agree. But saying that disengaged people are scared of AGW is just plain wrong. How can they be?

            The people who experience fear or misgivings etc are those who’re already engaged.

            • weka

              Lots of degrees of disengagement/engagement too. There are people who know about CC that wouldn’t get involved in this discussion for instance.

    • b waghorn 3.3

      “the majority of people don’t want to think about it”

      Every other day there is an article in the herald or on the news about climate change,
      so the time is right to make people think about it, an incoming government could start an advertising campaign informing and educating people on real world problems and solutions around cc.

    • Peter Ch Ch 3.4

      Agree Adam, these posts of Bill are very interesting. So thank you Bill!

      I disagree though on your conclusions, for example on coastal shipping. I guess there a number of reasons why coastal shipping fell out of favour, but the slowness and extra costs of double handling would have to be big reasons. Same with rail. Without doubt rail and coastal shipping are efficient for point to point, bulk and non time sensitive goods. But extremely inefficient for many other consignments.

      For example, just in time manufacturing is very efficient by minimising wastage and excess or dead stock, but requires a very reliable and fast supply chain. Coastal shipping especially, and rail to a lesser extent, struggles in this.

      And nz just too small a market to have both rail and coadtal shipping, as they will compete with each other to the detriment of each other.

      Progress or constant innovation and change i believe is essential and beneficial.

      • Colonial Viper 3.4.1

        And nz just too small a market to have both rail and coadtal shipping, as they will compete with each other to the detriment of each other.

        Wrong again. If you understood NZ history you would know that we had both way back when NZ’s population was under 1M people.

        • Peter Ch Ch

          Yes, when we had no realistic alternatives as trucks had a low payload and roads were poor. The worlds moved on. We now have aircraft that have huge freight capacity. Powerful trucks and great roads.

          And the country is different. We gave gone from a society where farming communities were connected by rail to the nearest port to an urban economy. We are now part of the global.economy. the world has changed cv.

          • b waghorn

            There is still rural communities it’s just they have been gutted of the industries and population to make rail work in the pursuit of profit and efficiency . Although with the amount of logs coming out of the hinter land if the will was their the work for rail would be there.

            • Peter Ch Ch

              And of course rail is ideal for these types of bulk and non time sensitive goods. At least i see that rail will play a key role in the movement of logs from the wairarapa area to Centre port

              • Colonial Viper

                I addressed your point that rail and coastal shipping cannot exist together. Yes they can and yes they have.

                As for your rumblings about road transport and roads. Wake up mate. The fossil fuel era is going away. In case you hadn’t noticed this is what this post is about.

                How many electric milk or logging trucks have you seen?

      • weka 3.4.2

        “And nz just too small a market to have both rail and coadtal shipping, as they will compete with each other to the detriment of each other.”

        So subsidise them as part of the public good.

        I think we have to change our expectations. So if supply chains for immediate goods need road transport to be efficient, then we have some choices. Use smaller amounts of electrified trucks, and have less goods. And/or suck up the lowered efficiency (is that an economic thing?). We have to get past this idea that we need tech to replace FF so we can carry on as usual. We actually have to change the underlying processes and demands on the infrastructure.

    • weka 3.5

      “But most of all I think it is the majority of people don’t want to think about it, I think the only option is to do.”

      I don’t think that it’s that most people don’t want to think about it. I think that was true 5 years ago, but not any more. It’s in our faces more and more each day. Lots of people I know want something to be done. But they don’t know what to do, or feel powerless, or think it’s the government’s responsibility, or are not ready yet to commit to change, or don’t want to go first. Those are all different things for different people and we need to be careful not to prejudge people en masse.

      I agree about the getting on and doing.

  4. Graeme 4

    Thanks Bill, a great piece of lateral thinking. You sent me to some places I hadn’t been before.

    But I think you might be a bit pessimistic about the speed new technology displacing fossil fuels. Your “Free Petrol” whilst providing a strong incentive to change, is predicated on there being resistance to change. There have been quantum leaps in transport technology before that were very swift once a better thing came along.

    The change from horse propulsion to ICE and electric happened over only 10 -20 years and in response to quite major problems in cities.

    “One commentator predicted that by 1930 horse manure would reach the level of Manhattan’s third-story windows. New York’s troubles were not New York’s alone; in 1894, the Times of London forecast that by the middle of the following century every street in the city would be buried under nine feet of manure. It was understood that flies were a transmission vector for disease, and a public-health crisis seemed imminent. When the world’s first international urban-planning conference was held, in 1898, it was dominated by discussion of the manure situation. Unable to agree upon any solutions—or to imagine cities without horses—the delegates broke up the meeting, which had been scheduled to last a week and a half, after just three days.

    Then, almost overnight, the crisis passed. This was not brought about by regulation or by government policy. Instead, it was technological innovation that made the difference. With electrification and the development of the internal-combustion engine, there were new ways to move people and goods around. By 1912, autos in New York outnumbered horses, and in 1917 the city’s last horse-drawn streetcar made its final run.” ( http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/11/16/hosed )

    Once electric propulsion is better than ICEs the uptake will be beyond rapid. In the same way the horse shit problem went from no foreseeable solution in 1898, to no horse trams in 1917, I can easily see virtually no ICE vehicles in 10 -15 years with the way the technologies are going. In road power may be the trigger but it could be something quite different and new. But once the scale goes out of petrol distribution the cost will go up dramatically accelerating ICE’s demise.

    Then it’s about how we feed, clothe and house everyone with minimum carbon impact.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Once electric propulsion is better than ICEs the uptake will be beyond rapid.

      Electric propulsion has always been better than ICEs so that was never the problem. The problem is that the capitalists can make far more profit selling 72 cars than they can selling one bus. And that’s not just the capitalists selling the cars either. It’s also the capitalists extracting the iron ore, the steel makers, the rubber producers, the oil industry, the tech industry, the car maintenance industry and probably a few that I’ve missed.

      Because of this they lobbied for councils and countries to support cars rather than public transport. Public transport could always have been run on electricity.

      Cars are massively uneconomic as they use far more resources to produce no more benefit. Just think about what we could do if we freed up all those resources and people to do something else. How many car mechanics would be freed up just in NZ?

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    Giving container ships a new nose saves hundreds of tons of fuel

    To cut down on resistance, Kyokuyo Shipyard developed the Semi-Spherical Shaped bow (SSS bow), which reduced wind resistance by as much as 50%. In real-world terms, the new bow cuts energy use by 11% which on a container ship capable of carrying 2,000 cars (540 TEU) means 807 tons less fuel consumed each year, equating to 2,500 tons less CO2 emissions. Imagine using it on a 10,000 TEU ship? As the TEU of the ship goes up, so does the fuel saving, and it’s most effective on very tall ships which suffer the worst wind resistance.

    Sounds good.

    [Any chance you can cut and paste that comment to Part two? I’d move it if I could, but can only shift stuff to open mike. Cheers] – Bill

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      Nope, sorry. If I still had edit capability I could but it just tells me that I’ve already made that comment now.

      • Bill 5.1.1

        Hmm. Any objection to me cut and pasting the body of text then?

        • Draco T Bastard

          No but if you ask Lynn nicely he could probably just move the comment and thread (well, this thread could be deleted now).

          [Cut and pasted to Pt II. I’m just going to leave these comments. They aren’t much of a distraction] – Bill

  6. b waghorn 6

    Mini hydro could up nz.s power supply to levels that would leave solar in the dust , both for security of supply and the amount of emissions released getting there.
    Every valley in the country has a creek and only a percentage of the water needs to be removed for a short time.
    Instead of having a huge fee just to get the ball rolling(with no guarantee of acceptance) around the feasibility of a small scheme , there needs to be a government funded department to review applications.

  7. Hi Bill. May I ask, what do you hope to achieve as a result of your series?

    • Bill 7.1

      What could possibly result from putting up informative posts? What about informative posts that make people think or that give people information they didn’t previously have?

      What would you like to see result from it all?

      • Well, I wonder if we need more “information”. Isn’t there a surfeit of information? What we all need, I believe, is confident story telling. You’re good at that, Bill.
        What I would like to see is the generation of the new story. Churning through the mechanics; coastal shipping, rail… is not a new story. Tell us a story, Bill.

        • Bill

          On the one hand I could try to convince you this bean will grow a ladder to a nice place in the the clouds. Or I could just tell you the truth – it’s a bean….a dwarf variety. On AGW, every bugger seems to be promising big beans or believing in big beans.

          Really boring story, I know. But you see, there’s information and then there’s information. That’s all that’s in the bag.

          • Robert Guyton

            A bag of information? Is that what you’re offering?
            How about a bag of innovation?
            Information’s cheap and easy these days and we are swamped by it. Cut to the chase and inspire us, Bill! A bag of inspiration! Yes please!

            • Bill

              You didn’t discern anything innovative in any of those posts Robert? Nothing inspiring either? Oh well, that was that – for whatever its worth I guess.

  8. corokia 8

    Thanks for these posts Bill. There is no credible argument against the need to reduce emissions drastically and urgently. It would be wonderful if many of the ideas you have suggested could be implemented.

    My question is HOW do you make any of this happen?

    Back in May when I commented that it would be useful to get informed people in local body elections, you replied with ….

    3 May 2016 at 11:26 pm So, I’m just going to say – fuck the local body elections and that layer of bureaucratic ‘overseer’ nonsense. It’s down to us – to you and me and you and you and you.. Our current institutions are incapable of doing or managing what must be done…the evidence of that is right before our eyes – our institutions have instigated nothing this past quarter of a century”

    So, really good ideas about WHAT we ought to do. But HOW do we get people to accept the need for change? Because I don’t see how “you and me and you and you” etc can stop the tv ads encouraging people to fly to family weddings, we can’t stop people needing cars to get to their jobs, we can’t stop the ships crossing the world full of non essential shit etc etc etc.

    You were totally correct when you said “ Our current institutions are incapable of doing or managing what must be done”

    SO HOW do you think this could all happen?
    (On the same side, really wanting my descendents to live on a planet that supports human life)

    • “Our current institutions” = our current mind-set. Change the mind set or, no cigar.
      How to change the current mind set?

      • Corokia 8.1.1

        I wish I knew Robert. Changing the messages everyone is being bombarded with everyday?
        That’s why I am asking Bill how he envisages these changes being brought about, especially when he has previously rubbished me for suggesting local government might be useful.

    • Bill 8.2

      Well, way I see it…

      essentially we (the public) have to develop and use whatever leverage we can on the central government of the day. They have abrogated their responsibility on AGW and in spite of the Agreements they’ve signed up to, they continue to spin the line that it’s all A-OK. Well, it’s not.

      I’d suggest working on existing NGOs – Greenpeace, Gen Zero, 350.org and whatever others there are. Of all the orgs I’ve looked at, they base their demands and courses of action on make believe (unrealistic figures and unrealistic expectations of science).

      If they can be brought to adopt the raw numbers of AGW and base demands on those raw numbers, then they’d be looking to demand zero carbon by the 2030s.

      I asked in the first post for people to drive a coach and horses through everything I ws going to put up. At the time of writing that hasn’t happened.

      So unless someone comes up with different scenarios that actually achieve the reductions we need (10 – 15% per annum), then the stuff I’ve written would seem to be a fairly good framework to work from, no?

      If the various NGOs adopt the stuff in Pt III as a central demand (and I honestly can’t imagine any buyer/seller scenario that would work), then government has to be forced to accept it as an AGW policy.

      From that, I’d think everything else flows – from the shipping to aviation and on to the wider energy systems that I haven’t written about in these posts, but that yield the reductions we need if subjected to fairly similar courses of action.

      So, unless you know of, or come to know of other scenarios that would work, sell these ones to NGOs on the basis that it cleaves to the science and doesn’t entertain wishful thinking. They’ll resist. Unfortunately, they’ve spent a fair amount of time, money and energy constructing courses of action that will most assuredly fail. And they’re not going to want to hear that.

      So, for example – any scenario that suggests 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 is about 20 years too late and 20% too high if we’re talking about energy. Basing action on IPCC reports means whatever course of action that’s being proposed has negative emission technology built in as a default. Anything that uses bio-fuel into the future (beyond about 2030) hasn’t grasped the difference between a zero carbon scenario and a fossil free scenario, or the absolute need for the former. Any scenario that talks of net zero (for energy) will absolutely wind up north of 2 degrees. Anything that relies on price signals will not work – the studies have been done. See the Chrematistic Camel post for links.

      If you have the stomach for it, go to the pages of Greenpeace, 350.org or Gen Zero with those things in mind and see what you reckon. Then get along to any of their meetings that you can and lay it out for them.

      Talk to workmates, neighbours, people at bus stops or in the supermarket where appropriate. Basically be a seed pod for workable ideas or necessary demands.

      And any time a politician says they’ve got it in hand, challenge them and challenge them hard. Hold the bastards to account. They made commitments. They failed.

      Any time someone suggests a tax or ‘more time’, challenge them hard. Taxes haven’t worked and won’t work (small reductions at best) and we have no time.

      And do it in whatever small or larger capacity you can, every single day. But y’know, don’t be a raving nutter about it 😉

      That help?

      • Pat 8.2.1

        “If the various NGOs adopt the stuff in Pt III as a central demand (and I honestly can’t imagine any buyer/seller scenario that would work), ”

        how about a tradable variation on Andersons inevitable rationing?

        • Pat

          p.s. love the attached clip (Suzuki)

        • Bill

          Isn’t a hard sinking cap ‘rationing’? Why bring trade into it when the lack of price assures equity?

          • Pat

            the trade aspect incentivises reduction, and as we know the wealthy use a disproportionate amount and unfortunately the non wealthy don’t have the income to take advantage of low/no C tech……this acts as a cross subsidy from high user to low….or rich to poor if you prefer….sell half your ration, bike to work and use the funds to install solar panels i.e.

            and doesn’t impact total use which still decreases at the required rate

      • “essentially we (the public) have to develop and use whatever leverage we can on the central government of the day.”

        Focusing on “the central government of the day” is futile, Bill.
        Develop your story and be the story everywhere you go, here on TS included. That’s power. That’s influence and that’s change.

      • Corokia 8.2.3

        Reply to Bill
        Not wanting to be too negative here, but that sounds a bit like passing the buck to other people (the NGOs ) albeit after getting them to strengthen their message.
        Hey, but I like the don’t be a raving nutter bit

  9. Don’t worry about “everybody”, corokia, or bombardment. What message to you have for us?
    Speak it clearly for those who are listening.

    • Corokia 9.1

      I expect most reading this post are already completely aware of the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Like many here probably do, I have dreams of how we might live a zero carbon life.
      I imagine the countryside repopulated with thousands of people working on small scale organic farms. I imagine towns and cities based around multiple hubs of workplaces, schools, shops and services which people can walk, cycle to. Electric mini buses for when we are too tired, frail or juggling kids or the weather isn’t good. Linking up to larger buses and trams etc. Home delivery of heavy bulky goods. Reusing, reducing, recycling properly ( refilling containers, fixing things, building things out of “waste”) Watching the inter club soccer, rugby, netball game instead of hundreds of people flying thousands of miles every week. Doing the OE thing, if you must, slowly by ship, bike, train. Eat local, live local.
      There’s lots more, but that’s not the sort of life that people are encouraged to want because of. ….. capitalism, basically.

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