How peak oil can devastate the rest of the economy

Written By: - Date published: 1:15 pm, January 14th, 2009 - 24 comments
Categories: economy, Environment - Tags:

We all know the story of the sub-prime crisis that had developed into the credit crisis  – a flood of credit saw mortgage lenders lending to anyone, including people who couldn’t really afford the repayments. To get these potentially bad loans off their books, the banks pooled them together into new, unregulated instruments and sold their returns to others. Problem is, out these instruments turned out to be worth a lot, lot less than everyone thought because a lot more people are defaulting on their mortgage payments than was predicted.

But the question we rarely hear asked is ‘Why did more people default’? Because these people who were poor loan risks (ie, low-income) were also living in ‘energy poverty’ – more than 10% of their income going on buying energy. This made them extremely vulnerable to rapid increases in energy prices. And rapidly increase energy prices did, breaking record upon record from 2004 through to mid-2008. Petrol in the US tripled in price during this period, but oil-use is so embedded in the economy that people could not reduce their consumption in proportion. The result was that people in energy poverty were having to spend a much larger part of their income on energy even while the rising cost of transport sent the value of the houses these people had bought in the US exurbs into free-fall. More people became insolvent and started defaulting on their mortgages in larger numbers, sparking the credit crisis and sending the world into recession. It was the oil shock that sent the world into recession. The credit credit along with last year’s food and commodity price rises was just a vector of the oil shock.

Oil is so pervasive that it affects every other part of our economy. Let’s look just at food. As oil supply falls following peak oil, we will struggle to maintain the supply of food. Not only does food take vast amounts of oil to produce in modern agriculture but the fall in oil supply will put food crops into ever greater competition with biofuel crops for arable land. Already over a fifth of maize production in the US (the world’s largest maize exporter) is used for biofuels rather than food. Plastics, road surfaces, pharmaceuticals, and a huge list of other products are made from oil. With a bit of clever chemistry, they can be made from plant matter instead, which sets up another conflict with food production. In fact, having exhausted the world’s ability to supply ever larger amounts of fossilised plant matter for our fuel and materials production, we will face the choice of using current plant matter instead, setting up a three way fight between fuel, food, and materials for the world’s shrinking resource of arable land.

It comes down to a simple fact: our wealth is based on the use of energy. If the amount of energy we use shrinks, so does the economy. Therefore, to return to growth, or even maintain our per capita wealth, after peak oil we’ll need to replace the energy from the dwindling oil supply and use energy more efficiently (ie waste less of it). Problem is, there is no source of energy that could be expanded rapidly enough to replace falling oil supply, once it starts falling. The prospects for improving energy efficiency, however are brighter. That’s the topic of the next post.

24 comments on “How peak oil can devastate the rest of the economy ”

  1. Sam P 1

    Nice one Steve, am enjoying these peak-oil posts, keep up the good work.

    One question though .. you make some big statements (especially in para 2) about the correlation between fuel/commodity prices and people defaulting on mortgages. Do you have a reference for this or is this your own thinking? I’m just wondering how much this correlation has been empirically tested/studied?

    Cheers

  2. Peter Johns - bigoted troll in jerkoff mode 2

    Forget about planting biofuel crops if the food is needed. Biofuels are one of the cons of the 2000s, it is a feelgood thing only. It adds to starvation. There is not the volume of land around to grow these biofuels in meaningful amounts.

  3. Sam P. It’s interesting that there is little material around dealing with specifically why the number of bad mortages was so much higher than predicted but I’ve seen a number of references to the role of the oil shock. see here http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2009/01/the_oil_shock_a_1.html for example. There were also some references in the recent economics periodicals but not online. There were also a number of news articles in the US media in 2007 talking about falling house prices in the exurbs driven by oil prices before the sub-prime crisis took off. So, no, I don’t have anything fantastic as a source. but I’m sure people will be working on it 🙂

  4. Sam P 4

    Thanks Steve, was just wondering where the thought came from, it is a really interesting link between the two! 🙂

  5. Carol 5

    Actually PJ, there are some good biofuels that don’t add to the problems. I watched the debates in parliament on this during the December sittings. One ACT MP, who had been against such biofuels, changed his mind when he examined the evidence. NZ’s Labour-Green scheme was to focus on NZ using the ‘good’ crops for biofuel, that are an improvement on fossil fuels without adding to starvation etc. I think becuse they use plant sources that aren’t used for food, and that are readily available in NZ.

  6. Peter Johns - bigoted troll in jerkoff mode 6

    Carol – what I think is that the volume of biofuel attained from crops will be small, ie, how much land or T of stock is needed to make say 1000 litres of biofuel. As a chemist I think it will be in-efficient use of land as the yield will be low and processing costs high, remembering the old days of extracting bark, pulp etc.

  7. Carol 7

    OK, PJ. Yes I agree biofuels can only make a small contribution, and with Steve that we need to cut back on energy use and improve energy efficiency.

    BTW I understand farming animals for meat is also an inefficient use of land – ie it requires more support crops to feed the animals than could be used to feed humans.

  8. Peter Johns - bigoted troll in jerkoff mode 8

    Farming can be a inefficient use for land, but there is also uses such as high country sheep farms that use low quality land, hence making it more efficient.

    But, what are we trying to achieve here, kick the cows of the land so we can make a bit more fuel? This will still lead to a distortion of food supply such as milk/meat.

    At the end of the day I would rather have cows/beef for food farting than have this land for biofuels.

    I can see a future where we will be rationed on meat/milk so we can save the planet, I bet this could be a Green agenda, even though they may not have thought of it yet. Certainly they want to tax cows for doing a natural act – farting.

  9. RedLogix 9

    Problem is, there is no source of energy that could be expanded rapidly enough to replace falling oil supply, once it starts falling.

    In another thread I mentioned nuclear fusion, and that despite decades of research and billions of dollars thrown at magnetic confinement, the results have been dissapointing. In writing that I was concious that there is an alternative electron technique called Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC).

    Googling will give lots of results; the fusor.net site has lots of info and many very capable enthusiasts for these things. SImple non-power producing devices can and have been built in peoples’ garages. But for a long time no-one has been able to get anywhere near a nett-power producing device.

    Dr Robert Brussard (of the Brussard Ramjet fame) spent much of the last few decades of his life (he died in Oct 2007) progressing a breakthrough idea that may yet prove to be the critical piece of human ingenuity which really does solve the Peak Oil problem; a problem Brussard himself was deeply motivated by. He saw a practical IEC machine as humanity’s ONLY hope for avoiding a long downhill slide into chaos.

    This wikipedia page is a pretty good and readable summary for non-technical folk. Polywell Fusor is worth reading.

    Another good overview here

    Right now there is reason to be cautiously optimistic that IEC Polywells MIGHT work. I have to emphasis it that it remains to be seen if a practical, power producing version can ever be made to work, but it could be our very best hope. (And that is a fairly thin thread to be clinging to.)

  10. George.com 10

    so if energy alternatives are going to replace fossil fuels, now (or 3-5 years back even) is (was) the time to get them up and running, proven, manufactured in sufficient quantities, infrastructure installed and consumer products manufactured to take advantage. Waiting until the peak oil crunch is upon us seems a little too late to me. We won’t likely have the abundent financial and energy resources available to quickly retool our economies. If people think the conversaion will be easy and pain free, I think they are in for a shock. War time conditions at best perhaps, rationing and shortages, emphasis on energy at the expense of the more profligate uses of our resources.

  11. RedLogix 11

    The point I think that a lot of non-techie people miss is this. It is quite unlikely that some totally novel and practical source of energy remains to be discovered. Modern science actually has a pretty good idea where all the energy sources are, and the constraints to harnessing them.

    While it is a bad idea to rule out something completely new and game changing, the hard truth is that as the decades have gone by, and theoretical physics has evolved very accurate and reliable models of reality, the room left for a such a discovery has shrunk to virtually zero. Betting the house on such a tenuous possibility is a fools wager. The only known and true sources of energy for a stable, sustainable civilisation are either:

    1. Direct or indirect solar renewables. (Not counting fossil fuels, which are just stored non-renwable solar energy.)

    2. Nuclear fusion.

    That’s it folks. That’s the whole enchilada. There are no other entries without opening the door to the science fiction crowd.

    Solar renewables are by and large fairly straightforward technologies, things like direct conversion solar/electricity cells, or indirect such as wind, wave and tidal energy conversions. The main obstacle is that while a lot of solar energy arrives at the earth’s surface, it is of fairly low entropy (low quality), very diffuse (spread out over a large area) and of course only arrives in useful quantities for about 25-35% of the day (necessitating massive anciliary storage facilities). From a theoretical perspective there is nothing difficult or challenging about these technologies, it’s just that all these factors combined tend to make them rather expensive. Which is why they currently contribute less than 1% of all human energy use. Worse still, scaling this number up does not come with much in the way of extra affordibility.

    This leaves fusion. The Holy Grail.

    Bussard’s Polywell Fusors are a radical, brilliant possibility. You really have to hope against hope that some decent funding allows them to get to a definitive, positive result. If they do, it will change the energy game, and by extension all the possibilities for our technical civilisation forever. Bussard would be remembered as one of the greatest minds ever, ranking alongside Newton, Maxwell and Einstein.

    Yet all the history of fusion research is stacked against them. Everything about fusion is HARD. It is almost as if nature really doesn’t want it to work outside of the deep heart of suns. So yes, human ingenuity just might do it yet, but it is still one hell of a long shot. And if the Polywells, or something very similar, do not work, there really is no feasible, timely fallback position for our world as we know it.

  12. T-Rex 12

    Good man RL, I was going to have you up on that “decades and billions but no closer” comment but then got distracted elsewhere. Pleased to see you found the work Bussard did (I think I read the other day that they now have funding for the next step). There’s also a pulse fusion project going on through NRL in the US that has some promise, and you of course the large ITER and JTER developments in Europe.

    I have more optimism for fusion than some, the decades and billions have actually been pretty sporadically spent when you look into it. Anyway, I’ve got to run off into the mountains (yay!) but before I do just wanted to mention the energy source you left off the list above – namely fission power using plutonium fuel cycle with breeder reactors – it’s proven tech and reserves are good enough for the next 2000 years or so… which is basically the same as saying “forever”, because if we’re not flying around the stars by then we don’t deserve a better source of energy.

    Good series of posts steve. I think the biggest thing for me is not so much preparing for an energy supply crash, but developing infrastructure in anticipation of what might come next, rather than for what we’re about to run out of. Wellingtonmotorwayscough.

  13. Matthew Pilott 13

    The first generation of biofuels rely on crops that are edible, and require top-notch land.

    The next generation, well underway, will be based on the byproducts of edible food and non-edible crops (if that’s not an oxymoron) grown on marginal land.

    After that, biofuels will be microbial – pond-scum, basically. No loss of arable land at all (I gather the benefit there is the concentration of resources – instead of huge tracts of land, we’re talking about stuff bubbling up in vats).

    The potential for these fuels is great, but it won’t be a replacement for fossil-fuels (although let’s be realistic, it’s highly doubtful a single source in isolation will be a replacement…)

    Didn’t Fonterra say that it could easily provide enough industry by-product to satisfy New Zealand’s biofuel requirements for an E12 fuel if it were made mandatory, and there was a methinex plant being geared up to take all this on, that has now been mothballed since mandatory biofuel has been recinded?

    As I understood, biofuels were a chance to deal with huge volumes of dairy industry waste and reduce our dependence on imported oil. Cheers, National, keep up the good work. I assume we’ll hit the Industrial Revolution shortly.

  14. Sam P 14

    This may interest you Matt

    When I worked for Fonterra dealing with environmental stuff they were looking into supplying up to 10% of their own fuel with bio-fuel made from milk waste, and that was 6 years ago. The plant I worked at had to subsidise a pig farm so the pigs could eat all the waste milk (a lot is wasted from accidental contamination and backwash when cleaning equipment, etc) which couldn’t be sent to the waste plant as it is highly pollutant and expensive to treat. This waste milk can easily be made into biofuel.

    A lot of criticism of bio-fuels assumes they all come from maize and are inefficient. Sugar-cane is a much more efficient way to make bio-fuel (although not enough to entirely replace oil without felling the entire amazon and probably some more again!). The Brazilians have been driving their cars with sugar cane biofuel for over 10 years!

    So there is a bit more to it then stopping producing food to grow maize

  15. Sam. But if we’re talking biofuels on the scale to replace falling oil supply (let alone increase energy supply) you’re going to need huge areas of land, no matter what the feedstock. And that feedstock has to come from somewhere – either its grown on existing arable land, or it means destroying more of what wild land is left or it means taking a product that is already being used elsewhere. In your example, for instance, what was being fed to pigs is now being turned into biofuel – the deficit in the pigs’ energy intake nees to be made up from elsewhere. No free lunches.

    There are a few decent options for biofuels, appearantly there are some trees that like semi-arid conditions and produce a nut that is very suitable, and there is biofuel from celluose (although you have to ask what the trees are being used for currently)

    I think it could be good for the Pacific Islands, some of them have large areas of fallow land and have extremely high oil costs but I can’t see it being a solution on a global level.

  16. Joanna 16

    Thanks for this series of articles Steve – they are very interesting.

    I would like to draw your attention to this article in New Scientist relating the research of Mark Jacobson. Basically, it lists the top 7 renewable energies and dicusses some concerns with others (eg: biofeuls). Most interesting was the idea that the entire fleet of cars and trucks in the US could be replaced with electric cars and powered by 3 square Km of wind turbines. does anyone have any info for our wind/solar generation in NZ?
    I have seen some interesting lectures recently on H2 generatio/storage and I think that will become very viable eventually but for now, I am sure we could be doing heaps more with the technology we have .

  17. Joanna 17

    hmm, ok i don’t think I did the link-thingy right above so here it is in ugly form
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16419-top-7-alternative-energies-listed.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news
    sorry about that

  18. Sam P 18

    At the moment wind generates about 2.5% of NZ’s electricity (www.windenergy.org.nz) and I don’t think there is a significant solar contribution.

  19. Matthew Pilott 19

    Cheers Sam P – I might scrounge around for what I read from Fonterra. I seem to recall them saying they’d supply the raw material for free – that makes sense if it’s currently a waste product that is difficult to dispose of as you suggest.

    Incidentally I read today that Fonterra wanted to triple their profit outside of the core (milk solids) profit. Myabe they want to get into the fuel industry themselves. There was an $80m methinex plant in the pipeline before the election…

    Steve P – if (as is suggested) biofuels can be made from waste then i think they could be very useful – the cellulose you talk of is a waste product from the timber industry isn’t it? There’s talk of de-maizing maize, and using the stalks for biofuels – so we get the food and the fuel. Not sure whether this is pipe-dreamery at this point though, but I’m hesitant to write off the concept when these sort of ideas are coming thick and fast.

  20. Joanna 20

    Thanks Sam – that site is quite a good read and the figures seem to suggest there is potential for a lot more wind generation.

    One argument i often encounter against a move to renewable energy is that it is not reliable all the time (for example dry weather for hydro or still days for wind)

    The answer for peak oil is going to be a combination of known technologies rather than a new magical one (as others above have pointed out). and with careful planning we should be able to ensure a constant supply of energy (with in reason – I actually think a big part of this is going to be re-learning the value of quality products that need replacing less often)

    The question now becomes, knowing what we know, how can we move more quickly towards inplementing these technologies, and what planning/consnets will be needed etc etc while still ensuring that a thorough job is done?

    If i know anything about opponents to this idea, its that if early adoption of green technology is not a sucess they will use this to hold up any further development for as long as possible.

  21. Con 21

    Joanna wrote:

    One argument i often encounter against a move to renewable energy is that it is not reliable all the time (for example dry weather for hydro or still days for wind)

    Tidal power is a good one. There’s a bit of a lull at high tide and low tide, but it’s very reliable.

    The good thing about having a mix of energy sources is that they complement each other. If it’s not a sunny day, there’s a decent chance it’s windy. Plus there are ways to store wind energy (by pumping water up hill into reservoirs, for instance), so a lack of reliable base-load power can be worked around.

  22. Joanna 22

    Con- has much development been done on Tidal power – it is something I haven,t heard much about in terms of potential generation.
    I totally agree with you about the mix of energy sources complemententing each other – and I think we are well placed in NZ to take advantage of most of them – and we should. This is an area I think the government should be investing in especially as the ecconomic future looks bleak – a great way to get some new industries going with new jobs in research, enginerring and also in manufacturing, marketing etc etc, and hopefully some great products to export to the world.

  23. Phil 23

    But the question we rarely hear asked is ?Why did more people default??…. It was the oil shock that sent the world into recession.

    Your argument in the second paragraph is interesting, and i’m sure to some extent holds true for an individual household. However, i’m not convinced of it’s accuracy on an international level . After all, one countries imports of oil are another countries exports. Broadly speaking, the net effect of oil prices (as distinctly separate from volumes) on global GDP should be roughly nil. 🙂

    One of the major factors that you haven’t mentioned, but has been well documented internationally, was the effect of ‘teaser rates’. Put simply, lo-doc home loans were provided to people with initially very low interest rates attached to them. Two or three yeas down the track, when they’re up for refinance, the rate being faced is two, three, or even four times larger than what they’re used to.

    It was refinance costs that sent the world into recession.

  24. george.com 24

    Steve. A couple of interesting discussion starters covering when peak oil may arrive and what potential damage it can do. This got me considering what are the permutations of a peak oil society and what possible pathways are there out of the crisis. I formed 3 broad groupings – the optimists, realists and pessimists. dealing with each in tern.

    The optimists see (broadly) business as usual. We could term them the ‘she’ll be righters’. yes, there may be the odd hick up with transition to a post oil world however we have the altermative technologies, there is enough power and the technology and infrastructure will come together at about the same time to avert any significant problem.

    Pessimists see great potential for society to step back several hundred years in its development, some dramatic collapse and even a return to some type of tribalism.

    realists walk perhaps between the other two. Society will not get bye without some fairly severe and/or prolonged problems but will have the ability to remake itself – a process of gradual (or maybe bumpy and uneven) down-powering.

    I don’t relish the realities of life in the pessimists world. Some people might actually enjoy it, if for no other reason than they can use the extensive gun collections they have amassed.I don’t automatically subscribe to the optimistic view of development either. Some of our liberatrian & neo-liberal friends will place great faith in the ability of the market to solve the problem. I don’t. There is the possibility of either scenario emerging as peak oil starts to bite. My view of reality is a little different.

    There is open the chance for a fascist style state to develop, that doesn’t excite me greatly. I see the possibility for a collective negotiated society as possible, perhaps with more emphasis on localism than globalism. This type of society will not make the libertarians/neo-liberals very pleased. Collective and negotiated versus individual and market.

    It might involve the prioritisation of resources – transport fuels prioritised, public provision of transport and other goods and services rather than privatised. It might also involve urban farming of various descriptions.

    How likely? Maybe no more of no less than the other possible scenarios. I haven’t bothered to do a probability tree. Difficult to conceive of perhaps in our market dominated and individually fetished society. That said, our parents/grandparents had little inkling of what a war time society would be like until hitler & stalin thought it a good idea to divide up Poland. There are examples of this style of economy – society.

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    This morning I did something I seldom do, I looked at the Twitter newsfeed. Normally I take the approach of something that I’m not sure is an American urban legend, or genuinely something kids do over there. The infamous bag of dog poo on the front porch, set it on ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    4 days ago
  • Helm Hammerhand Anime: First Pictures and an Old English ‘Hera’
    We have some news on the upcoming War of the Rohirrim anime. It will apparently be two and a half hours in length, with Peter Jackson as Executive Producer, and Helm’s daughter Hera will be the main character. Also, pictures: The bloke in the middle picture is Freca’s ...
    4 days ago
  • Farmers get free pass on climate AND get subsidies
    The cows will keep burping and farting and climate change will keep accelerating - but farmers can stop worrying about being included in the ETS. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: My six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty on Wednesday, June 12 were:The ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • Six ideas to secure Te Huia’s Future
    This is a guest post by our friend Darren Davis. It originally appeared on his excellent blog, Adventures in Transitland, which features “musings about public transport and other cool stuff in Aotearoa/ New Zealand and around the globe.” With Te Huia now having funding secure through to 2026, now is ...
    Greater AucklandBy Darren Davis
    4 days ago
  • The methane waka sinks
    In some ways, there may be less than meets the eye to the Government announcement yesterday that the He Waka Eke Noa proposal for farmers to pay for greenhouse gas emissions has been scrapped. The spectre of farmers still having to pay at some point in the future remains. That, ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    4 days ago
  • At a glance – Does positive feedback necessarily mean runaway warming?
    On February 14, 2023 we announced our Rebuttal Update Project. This included an ask for feedback about the added "At a glance" section in the updated basic rebuttal versions. This weekly blog post series highlights this new section of one of the updated basic rebuttal versions and serves as a ...
    4 days ago
  • Climate Change: Farmers get what they wanted – for now
    Since entering office, National has unravelled practically every climate policy, leaving us with no effective way of reducing emissions or meeting our emissions budgets beyond magical thinking around the ETS. And today they've announced another step: removing agriculture entirely. At present, following the complete failure of he waka eka noa, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Presumed Innocent?
    The blue billionaireDistraction no interactionOr movement outside these glazed over eyesThe new great divideFew fight the tide to be glorifiedBut will he be satisfied?Can we accept this without zoom?The elephant in the roomNot much happens in politics on a Monday. Bugger all in fact. Although yesterday Christopher Luxon found he ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    5 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on our doomed love affair with oil and gas
    What if New Zealand threw a fossil fuel party, and nobody came? On the weekend, Resources Minister Shane Jones sent out the invitations and strung up the balloons, but will anyone really want to invest big time in resuming oil and gas exploration in our corner of the planet? Yes, ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    5 days ago
  • Building better housing insights
    This is a guest post by Meredith Dale, senior urban designer and strategist at The Urban Advisory. There’s a saying that goes something like: ‘what you measure is what you value’. An RNZ article last week claimed that Auckland was ‘hurting’ because of a more affordable supply of homes, particularly townhouses ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    5 days ago
  • Putin would be proud of them
    A Prime Minister directs his public service to inquire into the actions of the opposition political party which is his harshest critic. Something from Orban's Hungary, or Putin's Russia? No, its happening right here in Aotearoa: Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has announced the Public Service Commission will launch an ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Resources for debunking common solar and wind myths
    This is a repost from a Yale Climate Connections article by SueEllen Campbell published on June 3, 2024. The articles listed can help you tell fact from fiction when it comes to solar and wind energy. Some statements you hear about solar and wind energy are just plain false. ...
    5 days ago
  • Juggernaut
    Politics were going on all around us yesterday, and we barely noticed, rolling along canal paths, eating baguettes. It wasn’t until my mate got to the headlines last night that we learned there had been a dismayingly strong far right result in the EU elections and Macron had called a ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    5 days ago
  • Numbers Game.
    Respect Existence, Or Expect Resistance? There may well have been 50,000 pairs of feet “Marching For Nature” down Auckland’s Queen Street on Saturday afternoon, but the figure that impresses the Coalition Government is the 1,450,000 pairs of Auckland feet that were somewhere else.IN THE ERA OF DRONES and Artificial Intelligence, ...
    5 days ago
  • Media Link: AVFA on post-colonial blowback.
    Selwyn Manning and I discuss varieties of post colonial blowback and the implications its has for the rise of the Global South. Counties discussed include Palestine/Israel, France/New Caledonia, England/India, apartheid/post-apartheid South Africa and post-colonial New Zealand. It is a bit … Continue reading ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    5 days ago
  • Policy by panic
    Back in March, Ombudsman Peter Boshier resigned when he hit the statutory retirement age of 72, leaving the country in the awkward (and legally questionable) position of having him continue as a temporay appointee. It apparently took the entire political system by surprise - as evinced by Labour's dick move ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • PSA: NZ's Richest Company, Zuru, Sucks
    Hi,Today the New Zealand press is breathlessly reporting that the owners of toy company Zuru are officially New Zealand’s wealthiest people: Mat and Nick Mowbray worth an estimated $20 billion between them.While the New Zealand press loses its shit celebrating this Kiwi success story, this is a Webworm reminder that ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    6 days ago
  • Bernard's Dawn Chorus and pick 'n' mix for Monday, June 10
    TL;DR: The six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty in the past day to 8:36 pm on Monday, June 10 were:20,000 protested against the Fast-track approval bill on Saturday in Auckland, but PM Christopher Luxon says ‘sorry, but not sorry’ about the need for ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • In Defence of Kāinga Ora
    Given the headlines around the recent findings of the ‘independent’ review of Kāinga Ora by Bill English, you might assume this post will be about social housing, Kāinga Ora’s most prominent role. While that is indeed something that requires defending, I want to talk about the other core purpose of ...
    Greater AucklandBy Connor Sharp
    6 days ago
  • Baby You're A Rich Man
    “How does it feel to beOne of the beautiful peopleNow that you know who you areWhat do you want to beAnd have you traveled very far?Far as the eye can see”Yesterday the ACT party faithful were regaled with craven boasts, sneers, and demands for even more at their annual rally.That ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    6 days ago
  • Stopping a future Labour government from shutting down gas exploration
    A defiant Resources Minister Shane Jones has responded to Saturday’s environmental protests by ending Labour’s offshore oil exploration ban and calling for long-term contracts with any successful explorers. The purpose would be to prevent a future Labour Government from reversing any licence the explorers might hold. Jones sees a precedent ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    6 days ago
  • 2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #23
    A listing of 32 news and opinion articles we found interesting and shared on social media during the past week: Sun, June 2, 2024 thru Sat, June 8, 2024. Story of the week Our Story of the Week is Yale Climate Connection's Resources for debunking common solar and wind myths, by ...
    6 days ago
  • Fission by the river
    This is where we ate our lunch last Wednesday. Never mind your châteaux and castles and whatnot, we like to enjoy a baguette in the shadow of a nuclear power plant; a station that puts out more than twice as much as Manapouri using nothing more than tiny atoms to bring ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    7 days ago
  • Fact Brief – Is the ocean acidifying?
    Skeptical Science is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. This fact brief was written by John Mason in collaboration with members from the Gigafact team. You can submit claims you think need checking via the tipline. Is the ocean acidifying? Acidification of oceans ...
    1 week ago
  • 20,000+ on Queen St.
    The largest protest I ever went on was in the mid 90s. There were 10,000 people there that day, and I’ve never forgotten it. An enormous mass of people, chanting together. Stretching block after block, bringing traffic to a halt.But I can’t say that’s the biggest protest I’ve ever been ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Josh Drummond's Columns
    Hi there,I wanted to put all of Josh Drummond’s Webworm pieces all in one place. I love that he writes for Webworm — and all of these are a good read!David.Why Are So Many “Christians” Hellbent on Being Horrible?Why do so many objectively hideous people declare themselves “Christian”?Meeting the Master ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    1 week ago
  • Bernard’s Saturday soliloquy and weekend Pick ‘n’ Mix for June 8/9
    Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: On reflection, the six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty this week were:The Government-driven freeze in building new classrooms, local roads and water networks in order to save cash for tax cuts is frustrating communities facing massive population ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • The no-vision thing
    Hello! Here comes the Saturday edition of More Than A Feilding, catching you up on the past somewhat interrupted week. Still on the move!Share Read more ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • When Journalists are Disingenuous
    Hi,One of the things I like the most about Webworm is to be able to break down the media and journalism a little, and go behind the scenes.This is one of those times.Yesterday an email arrived in my inbox from journalist Jonathan Milne, who is managing editor at Newsroom.I don’t ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    1 week ago
  • Me, elsewhere: Just say you’ll do the thing
    Wrote something over at 1/200 on a familiar theme of mine: The way we frame the economy as a separate, sacred force which must be sacrificed to, the way we talk about criminals as invaders who must be repelled, the constant othering of people on the benefit, people not in ...
    Boots TheoryBy Stephanie Rodgers
    1 week ago
  • A Voyage Among the Vandals: Accepted
    A nice bit of news today: my 4600-word historical fantasy-horror piece, A Voyage Among the Vandals, has been accepted by Phobica Books (https://www.phobicabooks.co.uk/books) for their upcoming Pirate Horror anthology, Shivering Timbers. This one is set in the Mediterranean, during the mid-fifth century AD. Notable for having one of history’s designated ...
    1 week ago
  • Ministerial conflicts of interest
    Since the National government came to power, it has been surrounded by allegations of conflicts of interest. Firstly, there's the fast-track law, which concentrates power in the hands of three Ministers, some of whom have received donations from companies whose projects they will be deciding on. Secondly, there's the close ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The 2024 Budget Forecasts Are Gloomy Prognosis About The Next Three Years.
    There was no less razzamatazz about the 2024 Budget than about earlier ones. Once again the underlying economic analysis got lost. It deserves more attention.Just to remind you, the Budget Economic and Fiscal Update (BEFU), is the Treasury’s independent assessment and so can be analysed by other competent economists (although ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • A government that can't see twenty feet ahead
    There are two failings that consistently characterise a National government. One is a lack of imagination, the other is their willingness to look after their mates, no matter what harm it might do to everyone else.This is how we come to have thousands of enormous trucks carving up our roads. ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • A post I hope is incorrect
    In May, we learned that National MP David MacLeod had "forgotten" to declare $178,000 in electoral donations. Filing a donation return which is false in any material particular is a crime, and the Electoral Commission has now referred MacLeod to police, since they're the only people who are allowed to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Māori Cannot Re-Write New Zealand’s Constitution By Stealth.
    The Kotahitanga Parliament 1897: A Māori Parliament – at least in the guise of a large and representative body dedicated to describing the shape of New Zealand’s future from a Māori perspective – would be a very good idea.THE DEMAND for a “Māori Parliament” needs to be carefully unpicked. Some Pakeha, ...
    1 week ago
  • Cowpats and Colonials.
    Dumbtown, is how my friend Gerard refers to people like ZB listeners - he’s not wrong.Normally on a Friday I start by looking at Mike Hosking’s moronic reckons of the week which he vomits down the throats of his audience like helpless baby birds in a nest, grateful for the ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Gordon Campbell on cutting the sick leave of vulnerable workers
    Should sick leave be part and parcel of the working conditions from Day One on the job, just like every other health and safety provision? Or should access to sick leave be something that only gradually accumulates, depending on how long a worker has been on the payroll? If enacted ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    1 week ago
  • Nobody Move: Ageing Boomers, Laurie & Les, Talk Politics.
    So long as we live in a democracy, economic policy can never be anything other than social-democratic.“HEH!”, snorted Laurie, as he waved his debit card over the EFTPOS machine. “Same price as last week. I guess budgets aren’t what they used to be.”“I wouldn’t know,” replied the young barman, wearily, ...
    1 week ago
  • In Search Of Unity.
    Kotahitanga: New Zealand’s future belongs to those who do not fear a nation carved out of unity and solidarity, and are willing to trust the carvers. Some New Zealanders will be required to step up, and others, perhaps for the first time in their lives, will be expected to step ...
    1 week ago
  • Weekly Roundup 7-June-2024
    Welcome to another Friday roundup! Here are some recent links and stories that caught our eye, perfectly timed for your watercooler discussions and weekend reading. As always feel free to share more in the comments. Our header image this week is by Patrick Reynolds, and shows Te Komititanga from above. ...
    Greater AucklandBy Greater Auckland
    1 week ago
  • The Hoon around the week to June 7
    As Workplace Relations and Safety Minister, ACT’s Brooke van Velden is fronting proposed changes to sick pay regulations and The Holiday Act. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The podcast above of the weekly ‘hoon’ webinar for paying subscribers features talking with:The Kākā’s climate correspondent talking about the ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • Did we boil the oceans by cutting pollution?
    Lowering aerosol emissions from shipping has altered clouds, with potentially drastic effects. Photo: Getty ImagesTL;DR: Here’s the top six news items of note in climate news for Aotearoa-NZ this week, and a discussion above between Bernard Hickey and The Kākā’s climate correspondent Cathrine Dyer:New evidence is increasingly pointing at efforts ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #23 2024
    Open access notables Abrupt reduction in shipping emission as an inadvertent geoengineering termination shock produces substantial radiative warming, Yuan et al., Communications Earth & Environment: Human activities affect the Earth’s climate through modifying the composition of the atmosphere, which then creates radiative forcing that drives climate change. The warming effect ...
    1 week ago
  • Fragments
    The best observation I’ve read this week about the deep, profound harm Trump is doingTrump has hurled threats and smears at witnesses, jurors and the judge (including his family)... [he] has tried to intimidate witnesses and delegitimize the New York courts as corrupt. In continuing to incite his mob (that ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • March for Nature
    Do do do do do do do doDo do do do do doDi di di di di di di di di di diNature enter me…In 2018 the Labour lead government banned new oil and gas exploration in Aotearoa. A change welcomed by those who care deeply for our environment and ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Bernard’s Dawn Chorus and pick ‘n’ mix for Thursday, June 6
    The Transport Minister is trying to push through urgent legislation that would allow him to change emissions standards for car imports without approval from Parliament, after only consulting car importers. Photo: Lynn GrievesonTL;DR: Just as two major reports showed fossil fuel burning was warming the planet to dangerous levels and ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • A Better Broadway: Act 2
    This is a guest post by reader Grant A, the second of a pair about how to fix Broadway. If you missed the beginning of the show, here’s the link to Act 1 from yesterday. Yesterday, I discussed changing traffic circulation around Broadway in Newmarket. This included implementing a car-free ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    1 week ago
  • National breaks another health promise
    National has broken another manifesto health promise, apparently to save only $550,000. It will now train an additional 25 med students next year rather than the 50 it promised. This comes on top of the delays caused by National’s coalition partners in pushing ahead with the Waikato Medical School and ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    1 week ago
  • Climate Adam: Coping as the world’s best known climate scientist
    This video includes conclusions of the creator climate scientist Dr. Adam Levy. It is presented to our readers as an informed perspective. Please see video description for references (if any). Katharine Hayhoe is quite possibly the world's most famous climate scientist. She's produced wide ranging research, and communicated climate change with ...
    1 week ago

  • High Court Judge appointed
    Attorney-General Judith Collins today announced the appointment of Auckland King’s Counsel Gregory Peter Blanchard as a High Court Judge. Justice Blanchard attended the University of Auckland from 1991 to 1995, graduating with an LLB (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts (English). He was a solicitor with the firm that is now Dentons ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Health workforce numbers rise
    Health Minister Dr Shane Reti says new data released today shows encouraging growth in the health workforce, with a continued increase in the numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives joining Health New Zealand. “Frontline healthcare workers are the beating heart of the healthcare system. Increasing and retaining our health workforce ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Government to overhaul firearms laws
    Associate Justice Minister Nicole McKee has today announced a comprehensive programme to reform New Zealand's outdated and complicated firearms laws. “The Arms Act has been in place for over 40 years. It has been amended several times – in a piecemeal, and sometimes rushed way. This has resulted in outdated ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Government delivers landmark specialist schools investment
    The coalition Government is delivering record levels of targeted investment in specialist schools so children with additional needs can thrive. As part of Budget 24, $89 million has been ringfenced to redevelop specialist facilities and increase satellite classrooms for students with high needs. This includes: $63 million in depreciation funding ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Major health and safety consultation begins
    A substantial consultation on work health and safety will begin today with a roadshow across the regions over the coming months, says Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Brooke van Velden.  This the first step to deliver on the commitment to reforming health and safety law and regulations, set out in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Growing the potential of New Zealand’s forestry sector in partnership
    Forestry Minister Todd McClay, today announced the start of the Government’s plan to restore certainty and confidence in the forestry and wood processing sector. “This government will drive investment to unlock the industry’s economic potential for growth,” Mr McClay says. “Forestry’s success is critical to rebuilding New Zealand’s economy, boosting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government cancels forestry ETS annual service charges for 2023-24
    Annual service charges in the forestry Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will be cancelled for 2023/24, Forestry Minister Todd McClay says. “The sector has told me the costs imposed on forestry owners by the previous government were excessive and unreasonable and I agree,” Mr McClay says. “They have said that there ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Speech to the LGNZ Infrastructure Symposium
    Introduction Thank you for having me here today and welcome to Wellington, the home of the Hurricanes, the next Super Rugby champions. Infrastructure – the challenge This government has inherited a series of big challenges in infrastructure. I don’t need to tell an audience as smart as this one that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government boosts Agriculture and food trade with China
    Trade and Agriculture Minister Todd McClay and Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard welcomed outcomes to boost agricultural and food trade between New Zealand and China. A number of documents were signed today at Government House that will improve the business environment between New Zealand and China, and help reduce barriers, including on infant formula ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • NZ and China launch Services Trade Negotiations
    Trade Minister Todd McClay, and China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, today announced the official launch of Negotiations on Services Trade between the two countries.  “The Government is focused on opening doors for services exporters to grow the New Zealand’s economy,” Mr McClay says.  As part of the 2022 New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement Upgrade ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Prime Minister Luxon meets with Premier Li
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang at Government House in Wellington today.  “I was pleased to welcome Premier Li to Wellington for his first official visit, which marks 10 years since New Zealand and China established a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” Mr Luxon says. “The Premier and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government and business tackling gender pay gap
    The coalition Government is taking action to reduce the gender pay gap in New Zealand through the development of a voluntary calculation tool. “Gender pay gaps have impacted women for decades, which is why we need to continue to drive change in New Zealand,” Acting Minister for Women Louise Upston ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Funding Boost for Rural Support Trusts
    The coalition Government is boosting funding for Rural Support Trusts to provide more help to farmers and growers under pressure, Rural Communities Minister Mark Patterson announced today. “A strong and thriving agricultural sector is crucial to the New Zealand economy and one of the ways to support it is to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Latest data shows size of public service decreasing
    Spending on contractors and consultants continues to fall and the size of the Public Service workforce has started to decrease after years of growth, according to the latest data released today by the Public Service Commission. Workforce data for the quarter from 31 December 23 to 31 March 24 shows ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Speech to the Law Association
    Thank you to the Law Association for inviting me to speak this morning. As a former president under its previous name — the Auckland District Law Society — I take particular satisfaction in seeing this organisation, and its members, in such good heart. As Attorney-General, I am grateful for these ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • 25 years on, NZ reaffirms enduring friendship with Timor Leste
    New Zealand is committed to working closely with Timor-Leste to support its prosperity and resilience, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “This year is the 25th anniversary of New Zealand sending peacekeepers to Timor-Leste, who contributed to the country’s stabilisation and ultimately its independence,” Mr Peters says.    “A quarter ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Inquiry requested into rural banking
    Promoting robust competition in the banking sector is vital to rebuilding the economy, Finance Minister Nicola Willis says.  “New Zealanders deserve a banking sector that is as competitive as possible. Banking services play an important role in our communities and in the economy. Kiwis rely on access to lending when ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Ministry for Regulation targets red tape to keep farmers and growers competitive
    Regulation Minister David Seymour, Environment Minister Penny Simmonds, and Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard have today announced a regulatory sector review on the approval process for new agricultural and horticultural products.    “Red tape stops farmers and growers from getting access to products that have been approved by other OECD countries. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government to reverse blanket speed limit reductions
    The Coalition Government will reverse Labour’s blanket speed limit reductions by 1 July 2025 through a new Land Transport Rule released for public consultation today, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.  The draft speed limit rule will deliver on the National-ACT coalition commitment to reverse the previous government’s blanket speed limit ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Chair appointments for NZSO, CNZ and NZ On Air
    Minister Paul Goldsmith is making major leadership changes within both his Arts and Media portfolios. “I am delighted to announce Carmel Walsh will be officially stepping into the role of Chair of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, having been acting Chair since April,” Arts Minister Paul Goldsmith says.  “Carmel is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government focus on long-term food, fibre growth
    Food and fibre export revenue is tipped to reach $54.6 billion this year and hit a record $66.6b in 2028 as the Government focuses on getting better access to markets and cutting red tape, Agriculture Minister Todd McClay and Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones say. “This achievement is testament ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Govt consulting on cutting red tape for exporters
    A new export exemption proposal for food businesses demonstrates the coalition Government’s commitment to reducing regulatory barriers for industry and increasing the value of New Zealand exports, which gets safe New Zealand food to more markets, says Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard.  “The coalition Government has listened to the concerns ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand and Philippines elevating relationship
    New Zealand and Philippines are continuing to elevate our relationship, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “The leaders of New Zealand and Philippines agreed in April 2024 to lift our relationship to a Comprehensive Partnership by 2026,” Mr Peters says. “Our visit to Manila this week has been an excellent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Paid Parental Leave increase to help families
    Workplace Relations and Safety Minister, Brooke van Velden says paid parental leave increase from 1 July will put more money in the pockets of Kiwi parents and give them extra support as they take precious time off to bond with their newborns. The increase takes effect from 1 July 2024 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Defence increases UN Command commitment
    The number of New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel deployed to the Republic of Korea is increasing, Defence Minister Judith Collins and Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced today.  NZDF will deploy up to 41 additional personnel to the Republic of Korea, increasing the size of its contribution to the United ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New Zealand to attend 'Summit on Peace in Ukraine' in Switzerland
    New Zealand will be represented at the Summit on Peace in Ukraine by Minister Mark Mitchell in Switzerland later this week.    “New Zealand strongly supports Ukraine’s efforts to build a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace,” Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “Minister Mitchell is a senior Cabinet Minister and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Big step forward for M.bovis programme
    Farmers’ hard work is paying off in the fight against Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) with the move to a national pest management plan marking strong progress in the eradication effort, says Biosecurity Minister Andrew Hoggard.  “The plan, approved by the Coalition Government, was proposed by the programme partners DairyNZ, Beef ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Build To Rent opening welcomed by Housing Minister
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Housing Minister Chris Bishop formally opened a new Build to Rent development in Mt Wellington this morning. “The Prime Minister and I were honoured to cut the ribbon of Resido, New Zealand’s largest Build to Rent development to date.  “Build to Rent housing, like the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Agriculture to come out of the ETS
    The Government will deliver on its election commitment to take agriculture out of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) and will establish a new Pastoral Sector Group to constructively tackle biogenic methane, Coalition Government Agriculture and Climate Change Ministers say. Agriculture Minister Todd McClay says New Zealand farmers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Luxon Tokyo-bound for political and business visit
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon will travel to Japan from 16-20 June, his first visit as Prime Minister.   “Japan is incredibly important to New Zealand's prosperity. It is the world’s fourth largest economy, and our fourth largest export destination.  “As you know, growing the economy is my number one priority. A strong economy means ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Bayly travels to Singapore for scam prevention meetings
    Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Andrew Bayly, travels to Singapore today to attend scam and fraud prevention meetings. “Scams are a growing international problem, and we are not immune in New Zealand. Organised criminal networks operate across borders, and we need to work with our Asia-Pacific partners to tackle ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • More help for homeowners impacted by severe weather
    People who were displaced by severe weather events in 2022 and 2023 will be supported by the extension of Temporary Accommodation Assistance through to 30 June 2025. Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston says the coalition Government is continuing to help to those who were forced out of their ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government to reverse oil and gas exploration ban
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