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Generation Zero: What’s the holdup?

Written By: - Date published: 9:20 am, July 16th, 2013 - 68 comments
Categories: accountability, climate change, disaster, ETS - Tags: ,


The Generation Zero speaking tour kicked off last night to a packed house in Dunedin. Generation Zero are asking – “What’s the holdup?” Why is there no action on carbon emissions and climate change?

Right now, we have the opportunity to lead the way to a safe climate future. The evidence shows it’s 100% possible to create a thriving New Zealand beyond fossil fuels. So what’s the holdup?

We need leadership at every level, from our communities to the politicians we choose to elect. That’s why Generation Zero brings you ‘What’s the Holdup?’, a nationwide speaking tour connecting climate solutions with the people to make them happen.

We’ll be presenting smart energy and transport solutions, discussing obstacles, and showcasing New Zealand’s opportunities to move beyond fossil fuels. Our speakers include high profile experts and young Kiwis who are working on solutions. Join us to find out how we can get moving on climate change, and create a smart, healthy and prosperous Aotearoa beyond fossil fuels.”

We believe that we’re at a crossroads, and that we can choose to make a story that’s worth telling. We’ll make it happen, but only if we all work together!

Sites and dates of future events can be found here, but this map is a summary. Get along if you can.


68 comments on “Generation Zero: What’s the holdup? ”

  1. Sable 1

    Why no change? Because a bunch of greedy old men and women are making too much money off polluting the environment and the government is populated by these said same people or their representatives.

  2. Bill 2

    There is no hold up. The market cannot deliver reducing rates of carbon emissions. Quite the contrary – the market at best excuses and at worst encourages inceased carbon emissions. And since we won’t let the market go as the preferred set of mechanisms to inform decisions around production and distribution…

    Take *any* good technological suggestion from the past 30 years or so that would have helped mitigate this upcoming clusterfuck and you’ll see the same picture and hear the same argument/excuse. Production costs are too high. It costs too much. It isn’t cost effective when guaged against fossil fuels and so on.

    And that fixation on cost and likely profit/loss is just a basic market economy focus.

    Meanwhile. take *any* technological suggestion from the past 30 years or so that would make profit but would add to the problems coming down on our heads about now and you will see, again, the same picture and hear the same arguments. It makes money and creates jobs. Again – a market driven focus.

    And the externalities associated with all those detrimental technologies are again a market mechanism enabling profit to be made – the ‘something for nothing’ mechanism.

    Need I go on? You can point the fingers at the politicians and the industrialists and whoever. And you should – because they should be doing something or trying to impress on us all the seriousness of the situation we are in. But since they truly believe in the market and can’t envisage any other way to produce and distribute the goods and services we need, they can’t do a damned thing beyond place hope in some future sci-fi technological breakthough or the hope against the hope that this ain’t really happening.

    And since ‘Generation Zero’ and similar orgs seem incapable of taking the economic reality into account when they point to all the wonderful possibilities out there…

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    I’m supportive of the awareness raising aspects of Generation Zero but I have to agree with Bill. On a physical basis, a litre of diesel weighing 900g and costing $1.60 can do the same work as twenty men, ahem, people, for half a day. Just think of pulling an SUV loaded up with skis and snowboards up the side of a mountain to the ski field car park.

    Nothing beats that, especially when you consider the stability and transportability of diesel.

    Re: the profit motive of capitalism – Bill is pretty much spot on. There is no money to be made in consuming less, and no market structures which allow people to opt out of the fossil fuel society. We have literally built our GDP and our civilisation on the cheap easy energy of fossil fuels.

    Finally, one of the illusions that Generation Zero does spread is that we can all go on enjoying our current lifestyle expectations when we move off fossil fuels. Impossible. For an iPad, you cannot mine the minerals, refine the metals, fabricate the components, assemble the product, test, package and ship it, without massive amounts of fossil fuels being used at every step.

    The truth is rather more stark – we will all be going back to old fashioned notions of quality of life. The only sustainable “growth” going forwards is qualitative eg in our relations to other people and our families, in the skills in our own hands, not quantitative.

    Local community, neighbourhood and family action is likely to be most effective. Wellington is unlikely to lift a finger.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      For an iPad, you cannot mine the minerals, refine the metals, fabricate the components, assemble the product, test, package and ship it, without massive amounts of fossil fuels being used at every step.


      1.) The minerals could be mined using electric tools which means that we don’t need fossil fuels to mine them.
      2.) Refining the metals doesn’t need fossil fuels either, i.e, both the aluminium smelter and iron smelter use electricity to refine the metals. The iron does need a carbon source to be turned into steel the best source of which is coal but even then we could could other sources.
      3.) Fabrication uses electricity and thus we don’t need to use there either.
      4.) Assembly could use electricity. It’s only the use of labour and the needed transport that makes it require fossil fuels but even that could be done away with by the use of trolley buses.
      5.) testing, packaging and transport could all be done with electricity and that means could be done with renewable energy.

      The problem is that fossil fuels have helped build the illusion that there aren’t any limits to what we can do but moving to renewable would bring the limits back into everyone’s focus and highlight the obvious delusion of capitalism.

      • Populuxe1 3.1.1

        And where does the electricity come from – to be sure a portion of it might come from solar, wind, tidal, hydro or geothermal – perhaps even nuclear – but until those facilities are created in the first place (using large amounts of fossil fuels) you are reliant on fossil fuels.
        you’re treating this like it’s a zero sum game when in fact increasing amounts of energy have to be contunually put into the system to create and maintain the infrastructure in the first place. You can’t just pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Demand and entropy both increase.

        • Colonial Viper

          Yep agree on all the points you made.

        • Draco T Bastard

          but until those facilities are created in the first place (using large amounts of fossil fuels) you are reliant on fossil fuels.

          Actually, I’m pretty sure we could produce those facilities without using fossil fuels. The first windmills didn’t use them after all. Pretty sure the first steel wasn’t made with fossil fuels either. If fossil fuels completely disappeared from NZ tomorrow we could rebuild without them. It would be easier though if we planned for the transition.

          My whole point is that iPads and computers aren’t going to disappear with fossil fuels. We’ll still have them and their availability will still be universal.

          you’re treating this like it’s a zero sum game when in fact increasing amounts of energy have to be contunually put into the system to create and maintain the infrastructure in the first place. You can’t just pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Demand and entropy both increase.

          That’s because it is a zero sum game and all the added energy required falls from the sun. Even wind generation is powered by the sun (which is why even wind generation is limited).

          • Populuxe1

            “The first windmills didn’t use them after all.”

            Then you had better reintroduce slavery if you want to deforest the country to build all the tow tech inefficient windmills you’d need to provide anything near an adequate power supply. Nor does one magically pull solar pannels out of one’s arse

  4. r0b 4

    Gen Zero aren’t blind to the challenges, but they are assembling the evidence that it is 100% possible. Check out the readings pages linked here:

    • Bill 4.1

      Yeah – nah. It’s one thing to go on about renewable energy, energy efficiency and so on. But if there is no acknowledgement of what it is that drives or compels us to continue using subsidised fossil fuels and ignore energy efficiency in favour of so-called economic efficiency (ie, profit), then no solution is on offer.

      Having gone through those pages searching for any analysis on the foundation of our economic activity and any alternative suggestions, all I coud find was a link to ‘Pure Advantage’. But ‘Pure Advantage’ has not a thing to offer insofar as it remains cleaved to market driven solutions and, well, there are no market driven solutions. Green growth is market driven growth. In other words it’s exactly what we have right now with a green ‘feel good’ factor thrown in. And the inclusion of that ‘feel good’ factor doesn’t take into account basic market dynamics that will continue to encourage and reward profitable means of production and distribution. Well okay, it does acknowledge the existence of a profit motive. But it sees no problem there. And so comes out with such tripe as:-

      Pure Advantage was formed in the belief that the private sector has an important role to play in creating a greener, wealthier New Zealand.

      edit: an assumption I’ve made is that by ‘wealth’ they mean financial gain/accumulation. If they mean ‘wealth’ along the lines of what CV does in his comment above, then they sure as shit ain’t being obvious about it.

      • r0b 4.1.1

        Well you can keep waiting for the glorious revolution Bill, and do nothing, and the world burns.

        Or you can work with what you’ve got, and make progress, and maybe there’s a chance.

        I prefer the second option, and I don’t think that you can write off the arguments and resources assembled by Gen Zero / 100% Possible so easily.

        • BM

          I had a brief look at the websites.
          Very noble goals and all that, but how do these groups think the transition is going to occur.
          In less NZ votes the Greens the majority party for ever it’s never going to happen.

          • r0b

            how do these groups think the transition is going to occur

            By convincing a majority of people that it is necessary and possible.

            • BM

              There’s the answer to the post heading “What’s the holdup?”
              So what, give it another 20-30 years?

              Unless there’s a revolution where President Norman takes control, this is a very long term project.

              • McFlock

                Really? It might take a while? I’m sure everyone thought that if genZero got a thousand facebook likes then society would change attitudes and the entire energy structure of the economy overnight.

            • Colonial Viper

              As Bill said, its theoretically feasible to run quite a neat society on renewable electricity, but its a society that would have to look very different economically, and the transition would need massive subsidies (public transport, electric car charging network, import substitution etc).

              The other aspect is the one you have raised – the politics and the political will.

              The upside: One way or another, 95% of people are going to be using a lot less fossil fuels in the next 20-30 years.

              • BM

                Yep, it’s going to be fusion all the way.
                Exciting and boom times ahead.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Haha mate I hope you are right, however I put the probability of commercial fusion power within 20 years at less than 5%.

            • Rosetinted

              I think one way of galvanising us and directing concerted effort to show what we can achieve together, and encouraging interest in finding more personal ways to act for a sustainable future, would be to have monthly projects that receive nationwide attention over the month. Sort of like Earth Day once a month.

              1 We could see how much power we could save in a day by turning off half our electric lights.
              2 We all alter our house heating thermostats to 18 degrees or a bit lower – 16 the lowest.
              3 We walk to a nearby shop and buy some of our everyday requirements there
              so cutting down on one supermarket visit in the car.
              4 We get an opportunity to call on an advisor to inspect our roof and get offered rain barrels at a special price through volume purchasing.

              Some leadership like this would get us started doing and thinking about sensible measures. Help and funding from government agencies to do such things is essential instead of Highways of NACTional importance and Monuments (under-harbour tunnel in Auckland) to the Ministers of Largesse Importance (Key and Brownlee) and the co-recipients VIFA (Very Important Funders/Advisors).

              • Draco T Bastard

                1 We could see how much power we could save in a day by turning off half our electric lights.

                Better idea is ti develop an electricl system that goes into every home and business and shows people which appliance is using electricity and how much it’s costing.

                2 We all alter our house heating thermostats to 18 degrees or a bit lower – 16 the lowest.

                So, you want people to be cold and come down with disease?

                4 We get an opportunity to call on an advisor to inspect our roof and get offered rain barrels at a special price through volume purchasing.

                Or the government sets up a factory that makes them and supplies them free on an as needed basis.

          • Bill

            There is no transition. *These groups* leave the fundamental driver of our evironmental degradation untouched and in place.

            • weka

              “There is no transition”

              I think you are missing something. We can’t get from where we are now to where you are talking about, or even from where Gen Zero are to where you are talking about, in a straight line.

              The middle classes have to change (the people with the disposable incomes), and they won’t change by talk of revolution nor talk of belt tightening for the good of the world. So you have to have something bright and shiney that can engage the conversation at a level they can cognitively cope with.

              It’s depressing as fuck, but I think Gen Zero are one way to do that. They are attempting to put AGW on the agenda, and they’re doing it in language and visuals that will appeal to the middle classes, and they’ve got cred. The fact that are young is crucial, because they will be influencing people younger than them better than anything else going on re AGW. Let them get it wrong re the economics (and other things), because that’s not where their value is.

              Re the economics, I don’t think it’s Gen Zero’s responsibility to solve that (at least not yet). If they started talking about that stuff, they would lose credibility and support. I’m not sure who should be talking about it, but until the middle classes are willing to change themselves in response to AGW, the economics aren’t going to change.

              Because of all that, I think by all means critique the bits that are missing/failing with Gen Zero, but otherwise support them, or at least don’t undermine them. Or come up with solutions that work alongside them.

              • Bill

                Could agree with most of those sentiments/thoughts. But y’know, I’m not suggesting or asking that Gen Zero or whichever liberal org. solve the economics behind AGW. Neither have I mentioned revolution or belt tightening. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that they at least acknowledge that the dynamics driving fossil fuel use are firmly embedded within the defining structures/features of market economics. And so it’s also not too much to ask that they then not promote absolutely bogus ‘cures’ or ‘solutions’ based on that self same market economy. It’s just an appeal to excercise basic honesty.

                Meanwhile, don’t know about ‘straight lines’ or whatever. All I know is we either do what needs to be done – and in very short order – or we don’t.

                And since ‘doing what needs to be done’ mostly, merely involves not doing things we currently do, well…can you think of a simpler solution? I mean, it’s like banging your thumb repeatedly and deliberately with a hammer. You want the pain to stop? Don’t do it. Simple.

                • weka

                  “I don’t think it’s too much to ask that they at least acknowledge that the dynamics driving fossil fuel use are firmly embedded within the defining structures/features of market economics.”

                  Hmm, I’m not so sure. Cognitive dissonance is a powerful, powerful force. It’s possible that many or all of the Gen Zero team can’t cope with the full truth. Should they stop what they are doing?

                  It’s also possible that some/all do understand the full truth (or much of it) and choose the direction they have for strategic reasons, because they want to get something done (I suspect this is true of many organisations eg the GP).

                  And of course, some might just not get it yet.

                  Or a combination (mind and emotion aren’t linear or rational).

                  It’s the difference between understanding what needs to change, and having a strategy that might actually work – that’s what I mean about a straight line. We know what needs to change. We know what stops that change from happening*. We don’t know how to change that second thing. Yet.

                  *so while we are here, should we name that? I’d say (in no particular order):

                  political will

                  cognitive dissonance in the general population

                  and in the people with the most power

                  economic structure

                  the neoliberal agenda and how it has affected culture and society in the last 30 years (not just economics)

                  If we get lucky we might be at a tipping point and something might push any of those things to collapse or change radically, which would change the game. Efforts like Gen Zero aren’t enough on their own, but I still reckon they’re critical.

        • Bill

          I’m not writing off the information they’ve assembled. I’m saying it’s not sufficient. And I’m saying that because it’s so obvioously not. And because it’s so obviously deficient it only offers false hope to those who buy into it as a possible solution or as pointing to a possible solution.

          Like CV I can support the awareness raising aspects of what they are doing. But who are we kidding when/if we claim that Generation Zero and/or the likes of Pure Advantage are offering or even working on a solution?

          Also r0b, who says I do nothing? But anyway, I’m not waiting for any glorious revolution because when I look back in history all I see are inglorious revolutions. Any vain hope I might have is that ordinary people like you and me or anyone reading this ‘get real’, acknowledge the shit we’re in and stop waiting for someone or something from on high to hand down a ribbon tied box full of fixes. It ain’t going to happen.

          The solutions lie with you and me and the things we do and don’t do. Mostly, the solution lies in not doing things that we do currently – things that have the effect of perpetuating an insane economic system and the institutions that are tied to it and that has inherent to it dynamics that reward activities that are putting any meaningful future existence on an ever more precarious basis.

          • r0b

            I’m not writing off the information they’ve assembled. I’m saying it’s not sufficient. And I’m saying that because it’s so obvioously not.

            So obviously not that you didn’t even read it first. There are a lot of links there Bill.

            The Royal Society of New Zealand thinks it’s possible. Did you read their material? No.

            Greenpeace thinks it’s possible. Did you read their material? No.




            Why do you prefer “so obvioously not” to even trying?

            I’m not waiting for any glorious revolution

            I am pleased and relieved to hear it, and apologise for misjudging you.

            The solutions lie with you and me and the things we do and don’t do.

            Yes – which is exactly what Gen Zero are saying. Were you at their talk last night?

            • Bill

              What is it that they say is possible r0b? They say it is possible for NZ to move to 100% renewable energy etc. This, I agree, is theoretically possible and absolutely technologically possible. But when you enter economic realities into the picture, it all falls over.

              The market economy is predicated upon generating profit. And that motive unleashes dynamics that are utterly at odds with what we must do in terms of production and distribution…whether we’re talking about reconfiguring energy systems or the production of goods and services, many (most?) of which add to our environmental woes while blithely satisfying that singular over riding demand to make money.

              And no, I wasn’t at last nights talk but have heard them and their representatives at other events. They struck me as well meaning individuals enmeshed in current, absolutely unsustainable, economic orthodoxies and cultural expectations.

              • r0b

                But when you enter economic realities into the picture, it all falls over.

                Does it? Here’s another of the resources that you did not read:

                I take it that you are familiar with the economic realities of the Stern Review? The economic reality is that acting is much much more economically viable than not acting.

                • Bill

                  What the ‘Hot Topic’ argues is that it’s financially feasible (ie, affordable) to move to 100% renewable energy. What the ‘Hot Topic’ article doesn’t account for is the likely effect of any entrenched market dynamics – or the future trajectory and sustainability of any resultant market driven system of production/distribution. And if and when the change to 100% renewable energy is made (engineering wise we have to be talking 30 years away for the supply side while according to the scientific literature we only have until the end of 2015 to bring C emissions from energy use down 40% if governments are going to honour the Copenhagen Accord they signed and avoid 4 degrees C (+?) warming)

                  And Stern underplayed the current state of global warming in that report by a massive margin. (From memory, his rate of warming was out by 250% – refer to Kevin Anderson’s analysis for more detail) That then skewed his economic analysis which (he was told) must accord with a reduction in carbon that didn’t exceed (again from memory) 5% p.a. Post collapse USSR was the only place where ongoing C reductions have been 5% year on year…and post collapse USSR was an economic hell.

                  But just to be clear. I’m not arguing that no action should be taken under market conditions. Simply that the market will not and can not be the mechanism for a solution to warming. The stark choice we have is that either the market goes or both the environment and the market goes. Our choice.

                  edit: oops. Strange half sentence up in that first para. Can’t remember where I was going with it though, so will leave it as is.

                  • Poission

                    your argument is wrong re Kyoto The Montreal protocol has by 2010 reduced the emissions of ODS (which are also radiative gases) by a factor of 5 greater then the full commitment of the KP. eg Velders 2007


                    • Bill

                      Where the fuck was it I mentioned or argued anything to do with the Montreal or Kyoto Protocols on Ozone? The Copenhagen Accord is the Copenhagen Accord ffs!

                  • Colonial Viper

                    I would solidify the question this way by asking about 5 very influential groups in NZ society:

                    – When will the banks and financial institutions come out and back a move off fossil fuel use?

                    – When will the news media and their editors come out and back a move off fossil fuel use?

                    – When will our ag/hort sector come out and back a move off fossil fuel use?

                    – When will Treasury come out and back a move off fossil fuel use?

                    – When will the transport industry come out and back a move off fossil fuel use?

                    If you can get 3 out of 5 of these groups backing the change, it’ll be politically possible. If you can get 5/5 it’ll happen.

                    • BM

                      Every answer will be “when there’s something else we can use, which is affordable and doesn’t involve significant change”.

                      People what solutions, they don’t want problems, if young people want to save the world they should get into science and engineering.

                    • weka

                      You missed the point BM. There is no green or brown tech solution to AGW.

                    • BM

                      sez who?

                    • weka

                      People who have analysed AGW and PO in the context of the global economy, and taking into account EROEI, and the amount of time we have.

                      How about you show me some credible tech solutions that are viable (not just theoretically).

                    • weka

                      That’s theoretically viable, and it’s singular, so doesn’t answer my request. Are you really willing to gamble humanity’s survival on something that might be ready for adoption in a decade when it’s never been done before? Any idea of how many of these kinds of speculations get put out on the internet, and then go nowhere?

              • Draco T Bastard

                But when you enter economic realities into the picture, it all falls over.

                Actually, it’s the economic realities that will force the move over. It’s the financial system which is trying to stop it and the financial system is not related to economics in any way, shape or form.

  5. Lanthanide 5

    “it’s 100% possible to create a thriving New Zealand”

    Depending on your definition of “thriving”, I guess.

  6. Ad 6

    Why don’t they just put candidates up, or support a specific political party?

    If that doesn’t change the system fast enough for them, why don’t they focus their minds on forming a company – I don’t know a bicycle manufacturing company?

    Or do they just want to remain an NGO with and whole bunch of friends? That’s pretty limited in effects.

    I hear their submission to the Unitary Plan went down well. Let’s see its effect when the draft comes out.

    Meantime, righteousness doen’t win. Plain old hard politics does, as much as politics changes things.

    • McFlock 6.1

      Isn’t the Red Cross an NGO? seems to have a pretty good effect.

    • weka 6.2

      Ad, I’m guessing they are seeking to influence voters. We already have a political party to move us in the right direction, but not enough of us vote for them

      • Ad 6.2.1

        What do you evaluate their net effect to be then? I am struggling to figure out their expectations here.

        • weka

          Looks to me like they want to keep AGW in the public eye, get people talking about it again, make the issues obvious etc ie change culture. They’re not waiting for politicians to solve this, and they’re taking a leadership role.

          Also, gettting young people esp to vote with AGW in mind, which pretty much means GP or Mana. But it’s smart that they’re not politically aligned.

          Did you see this?


          • Ad

            Good link there. Certainly the Zero ones I have met make me feel old and compromised. So if their net effect is to keep shunting the debate to face the facts rather than the retreat into self interest, all the better.

            I hope they tilt at the Young Nats just as hard as the converted. There’s unfortunately even chance that they will be the next rulers.

    • handle 6.3

      Was the Business Roundtable a political party? We are still suffering the damage they helped cause.

      • Ad 6.3.1

        If Generation Zero has a sliver of the Business Roundtable’s patronage, force, and media reach (in their prime) then they may as well cut out the middlemen and just form their own party.

        Meantime, AT and NZTA Auckland have the priorities for spending $10b well sewn up. What would change that?

  7. Oscar 7

    AGW be damned. Everyone knows that CO2 doesnt cause rain or sunshine. Sunspot numbers are headed for what looks to be either a dalton or maunder minimum. What then? Human induced gw causes a little ice age? I can see it now!

  8. German meteorologists say that the start of 2013 is the coldest in 208 years – and now German media has quoted Russian scientist Dr Habibullo Abdussamatov from the St. Petersburg Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory, who says it is proof that we are heading for a “Mini Ice Age.”

    Talking to German media, the scientist said that based on his sunspot studies, we are now on an “unavoidable advance towards a deep temperature drop.”


  9. Macro 9

    Bill – and CV
    Having read your comments re the impossibility or otherwise of weaning ourselves off Fossil Fuels the Maths is really quite straight forward although it makes some fairly broad assumptions:

    1. That 450ppm CO2 will be sufficient to limit AGW to 2 Degrees C.

    2. That 2 Degrees C is the absolute max beyond which we dare not go if we are to avoid catastrophic Climate Change, and

    3. That runaway feed backs will not influence the calculations significantly.

    The above makes the assumption that Climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 above pre-industrial levels is in the order of 3 Degrees C (most studies support this value with a reasonable degree of variation – but 3 Degrees is around the mean value). We already have warming of the order of 1 Degree, and CO2 levels are at around 398 ppm. ie around 50 ppm CO2 left to go. There is warming still in the system until equilibrium – one study published recently notes at least another 0.3 Degrees of warming to come, if we were to stop burning FF tomorrow.

    So we have approximately 500 Giga tonnes of FF left to burn. Currently humans burn around 30 Gigatonnes per year, and that value increases at about 3% per year. ie we have about 30 + years left to stop burning fossil fuels. I wont be around to witness the consequences (nor will Key and Joyce), but our children and grandchildren will. It is they who are taking charge of the situation now because they understand the threat if they don’t.

    What do they plan? Firstly subsidies to Fossil Fuel companies must stop. Secondly organisations with a public responsibility are being urged to divest from stokes and shares in Fossil Fuel companies ie Ethical Investment. Thirdly, the true cost of burning Fossil Fuels must be placed upon both the producers and the end users of Fossil Fuels. CV notes that its way “cheaper” to burn a litre of diesel that to employ people to do the job – but that cost overlooks the external costs of burning that litre of diesel. Fourthly, taxes collected from Fossil fuels, reinvested in social and abatement costs to people and adaptation and mitigation programmes addressing Climate Change.

    Things are starting to happen
    The world bank is to limit financing of coal fired plants
    China plans to quadruple its Solar Power generation by 2015. (behind a paywall)
    Obama has finally decided to lend his shoulder to the wheel of tackling Global Warming.
    There are signs that even Abbot if elected in Australia will still retain the Carbon tax or amend it only slightly – he would be immediately off side with the USA if he abolishes it. Furthermore China are taking a strong approach to reducing CO2 emissions as well. ie he would upset Australia’s main trading partners.

    • Bill 9.1

      Under 17 years – ignoring any increasing rate of emission before 30 gigatonnes amounts to 500 gigatonnes.

      World Bank, Price Waterhouse Cooper, International energy Agency and other conservative institutions are looking at 4 degrees C increase by as early as 2040-2050.

      2 degrees is a purely arbitrary figure decided by policy makes and politicians that has absolutely no scienctific basis regards ‘safety’. Science points at a far lower figure as ‘safe’.

      The quotes are out there showing that politicians privately concede that 2 degrees is in the rear view mirror. They won’t state it in public yet as, well…will we just say that they don’t want to alarm the horses?

      Put all that aside and the measures you mention all ignore the simple fact that the market encourages and rewards externalising costs. It also would appear that the relative power of economic actors is being overlooked.

      If those realities are taken into account, a widely touted option would see us enter into the political dungeon of a command economy. Or we could allow the likes of ‘Plan B’ and other forms of corporate control to sort it for us.

      Way I see it is that unless we sieze our democratic rights and excercise them in a meaningful fashion and make the radical step changes we desperately need to take, we’re cooked by either climate or tyrrany.

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        The only valid option left for NZ now is to spend big and set up community and nationwide infrastructure and frameworks to cope with the coming 100 years of extreme climate change.

        China plans to quadruple its Solar Power generation by 2015. (behind a paywall)

        Macro, you have the best intentions, but have you considered how much fossil fuel energy is required to manufacture and set up GW scale solar generation?

        Also look at the chart in this article and tell me where you think China is going in terms of fossil fuel (coal) consumption. (China burns almost as much coal as the rest of the world added in together, and its coal consumption is still growing rapidly)


        • Macro

          “have you considered how much fossil fuel energy is required to manufacture and set up GW scale solar generation?”

          Yes – and perhaps you should read this:

          “(China burns almost as much coal as the rest of the world added in together, and its coal consumption is still growing rapidly)”

          Perhaps that is why China is trying desperately to cut back its burgeoning coal consumption with increasing hydro and solar installations. They realise the damage that increasing consumption of coal is doing and seeking ways to deal with the problem.

      • Macro 9.1.2

        Yes under 17 years if we continue with BAU and do nothing. to reach 450 ppm.
        30 + years if we reduce carbon consumption at a rate of about 4% per annum.
        A reduction of GDP of 4% per annum is of course unrealistic IF the world continues to believe in the conventional wisdom of continued growth and “growing the cake” so everyone gets a share. The sad fact is that the planet is finite and such a world view is complete and utter nonsense.
        The western world already has enough. We do not need to grow the economy and use scare resources any more than those needed for replacement. To continue with unmitigated consumption is in effect to steal from our children and grandchildren. What we need now is an economy which places people rather than things at the centre. We need a Happiness/Well-being Index, and the success of any government would be the improvement in the whole populations well-being – not just the wealthy few. GDP would be consigned to its rightful place – the rubbish bin.
        One way to achieve this is to move towards a steady state economy, with amongst other things a fairer distribution of wealth, and a monetary system that promoted local produce and services.

        • Bill

          Okay, let’s consider a steady state economy. Where does a market economy fit in that scenario? Well, it doesn’t; a market economy needs growth…it promotes it and rewards it while ‘killing off’ anything that doesn’t grow or, in scenarios of widespread non-growth, it siezes up completely (recessions and depressions). So, if the usual range of left and right economic wisdom is to be accepted, that leaves us with the sole option of a command economy. So maybe a steady state economy can be achieved in that scenario. But it’s a dungeon as far as political freedom goes and is absolutely woeful in terms of managing distribution equitably.

          Meanwhile, you’ve indicated you’d rather see people instead of ‘things’ placed at the center of any future economy. Is there any way to do that other than developing an economy that has widespread and deeply rooted particpatory democracy structures at its core – where workers and consumers of products (ie, all of us) collectively decide what is to be produced and how those things get distributed?

          And a final point. If there is no other mechanism besides widespread participatory democracy able to satisfy those needs (putting people first and proceeding, economically, on a steady state basis), then what part, if any at all, can present Social Democratic structures/institutions play in developing that necessary future state of affairs?

          • Macro

            Markets fit in to a steady state economy at the local level. The consumption of locally produced goods and services. This can be developed using local monetary systems there are numerous examples world wide

            ” Is there any way to do that other than developing an economy that has widespread and deeply rooted particpatory democracy structures at its core – where workers and consumers of products (ie, all of us) collectively decide what is to be produced and how those things get distributed?”

            In a word “No”. At present our production and distribution systems are controlled by large corporates – this is both undemocratic and non participatory.

            • Bill

              Markets – where things are merely bought and sold are completely different to market economies – they set rules, encourage and reward dubious behaviours, concentrate power and give it a momentum while determining what will be produced and how things will be distributed.

              I’ve never had anything against trade…markets in the sense you mention. It’s just unfortunate that the name for the type economy we have leads to this confusion all of the time.

          • Colonial Viper

            In the simplest sense of the phrase, market economies do not require growth. A debt/usury based monetary system combined with a rentier economy with incentives for promoting never ending consumption is what requires growth.

            Further, “growth” can be restyled from being quantitative in nature (more resource units being consumed) to being qualitative in nature (same number of resource units being made to last longer and better).

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