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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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    Before The Birth: Israel’s most fervent supporters set their clocks ticking in Biblical times. They cite the kingdoms of David and Solomon as proof that, in the words of the Exodus movie’s theme-song: “This land is mine.” The majority of Israel’s backers, however, start their clocks in 1933 – the year Adolf ...
    5 days ago
  • Hard News: Public Address Word of the Year 2019: Korero phase
    In an unreliable, strange and confusing world, Public Address is proud to present a measure of comfort and stability by annually asking everyone what words or phrases sum up the year that's been – and then giving some of them consumer goods as prizes for being clever or simply lucky.Well, ...
    5 days ago
  • Generalist to specialist
    Both my parents are pretty handy – and they seem to have the right tools for most jobs in the garage and they know how to fix practically anything. A similar story could be told about their generation’s experience in the workforce – being a generalist was not unusual and ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    5 days ago
  • A “coincidence”
    When it was revealed that NZ First had tried to enrich itself from public office via the Provoncial Growth Fund, the Prime Minister assured us that everything was OK as Shane Jones, the Minister responsible for the fund, had recused himself. Except it seems that that recusal came very late ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Member’s Day
    Today is a Member's Day, and probably the last one of the year. After the marathon of the End of Life Choice Act, most of the bills up for debate today are uncontentious. First up is the second reading of Chlöe Swarbrick's Election Access Fund Bill. This will be followed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Worse than I thought
    The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has reported back on the government's odious and tyrannical control orders bill. As expected, the fraudulent select committee process has made no significant changes (partly because they couldn't agree, but mostly because it was a stitch-up from the start, with no intention of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • The cannabis bill and the referendum
    Yesterday, the government released its draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, which will be put to a non-binding referendum at the next election. I'm not a drug policy expert, but Russell Brown is, and he thinks its pretty good. And pretty obviously, it will be a massive improvement on the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Hard News: The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill: pretty good so far
    As you're probably aware, the draft bill outlining the proposed legal cannabis regime to be put to a referendum late next year was published yesterday, and has already attracted a flurry of comment. It's notable that a good deal of the comment is about proposals that aren't actually new.A minimum ...
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: Alignment
    One of the big problems in New Zealand climate change policy is the government working at cross-purposes with itself. It wants to reduce fossil fuel use, but encourages oil and gas exploration. It wants to reduce transport emissions, but then builds enormous new roads. The problem could be avoided if ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • How climate change will affect food production and security
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz According to the United Nations, food shortages are a threat ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    6 days ago
  • More bad faith
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Banning foreign money from our elections
    The government has said it will ban foreign donations to political parties and candidates, and will be introducing legislation to be passed under all-stages urgency this afternoon. While I agree with the goal, I don't see a particular case for urgency, unless the government is concerned about a flood of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Reforming the Education Acts
    The government introduced the Education and Training Bill to Parliament yesterday. Its a massive bill, which replaces both existing Education Acts, as well as various other bits of legislation (including some which are still proceeding through the House). I'll leave the serious analysis to teachers and people who actually know ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Bite-sized learning
    Amelia SharmanThere’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to micro-credentials, those bits of bite-sized learning that can help workers stay on top of technological change.  What’s a micro-credential? While definitions vary, micro-credentials can be understood as short courses that allow people to learn new skills or have an existing competency recognised. ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • “Not The Labour Party We Once Knew.”
    All Smiles Now: Claire Szabo is taking up her presidential role after serving as the CEO of Habitat For Humanity. Which is absolutely perfect! After KiwiBuild was so comprehensively mismanaged by Phil Twyford, the party has not only elected a new president from a thoroughly respectable not-for-profit, but one who ...
    1 week ago
  • Marxist versus liberal methodology on transgender ideology/identity politics
    While much of the NZ left has transitioned to postmodern and identity politics in relation to transgender ideology, there are some very good articles about that deploy Marxist methodology in relation to this subject.  The one below is from the British marxist group Counterfire and appeared on their site here ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Book review: The Farm by Joanne Ramos
    by Daphna Whitmore At Golden Oaks, a luxurious country retreat in the Hudson Valley, pregnant women have the best care money can buy. From the organic food, personalised exercise programmes, private yoga instruction and daily massages Golden Oaks looks like a country lodge for the upper class. Set some time ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Loosening the purse strings
    When Labour was running for election in 2017, it felt it needed to demonstrate "fiscal responsibility" and signed itself up to masochistic "budget responsibility rules". It was a fool's errand: the sorts of voters who demand fiscal responsibility are also the sorts of voters who believe that labour can never ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: How to get there
    Writing in Stuff, Joel MacManus looks at what we need to do to meet the Zero Carbon Act's targets. The core of it:1. Convert 85 per cent of vehicles on the road to electric. 2. Eliminate fossil fuels from all industrial heating up to 300 degrees Celsius. 3. Double our ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • anti-vaxxers in a measles epidemic: so many ways to be untruthful
    “Anti-vaxers are a pro-death movement,” those comments from Dr Helen Petousis-Harris speaking about six more Measles related deaths in Samoa over the past twenty-four hours. “Anti-vaxers are a pro-death movement,” those comments from Dr Helen Petousis-Harris speaking about six more Measles related deaths in Samoa ...
    SciBlogsBy Alison Campbell
    1 week ago
  • Is Youth Vaping a Problem in New Zealand?
    Professors Janet Hoek and Richard Edwards, Emeritus Professor Phil Gendall, Jude Ball, Dr Judith McCool, Anaru Waa, Dr Becky Freeman Recent media reports have presented conflicting evidence on youth vaping in NZ. While some NZ school principals report concerns about increasing vaping on school grounds and confiscating vapes, ASH Year ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • In pursuit of “Freedom and Democracy”: Forever Wars in “America’s backyard”.
    “America the Beautiful!”, staunch defender of democracy, freedom and… a whole lot of despotic tyrants that play nice with what is called “the Washington Consensus.” America is indeed capable of immense good, but like any Nation, and most assuredly any aspirant to the mantle of Empire, great, immense evil. All ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    1 week ago
  • November ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: The beginner’s guide to blogging I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your blog is ...
    1 week ago
  • Whodunnit? Finding the mystery 1080 testing lab
    1080 is used to control pests in NZ. Its use is contested by a noisy few. A new report claims high levels of 1080 in rats washed up on a beach. Flora and Fauna of Aotearoa (F&F) won’t name the laboratory that did their testing. It has sparked a hunt ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • Authoritarian Friends, Democratic Enemies.
    What Kind Of Empire? The thing for Kiwis to decide is what kind of empire they want to belong to. The kind that, while offering its own citizens democratic rights, demands absolute obedience from its “friends”? Or, the kind that, while authoritarian at home, takes a relaxed attitude to the ...
    1 week ago
  • Boris Johnson Goes Down
    It hasn't been a good week for the Conservatives, pollwise.  All major recent polls are showing their lead shrinking.Comparing each pollster's current (between 29/11 and 22/11) and previous most recent poll.Com Res - Conservative lead down 3 points.You Gov - Conservative lead down 1 point.Kantar - Conservative lead down 4 ...
    1 week ago
  • Interesting
    Within quick succession, Countdown maths wizard and twitterer Rachel Riley, alleged comedian David Baddiel and prominent lawyer Andrew Julius have all expressed very similar opinions / ideas:
    These #3billboards are going round London today, organised by ex-Labour people, horrified by what their party has become. Their principles haven’t changed, they’re ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Damn the Polls
    So, there have been a bunch of bad polls out for Labour, and even the Leftie's friend, Survation, have recently given the Conservatives a rip-snorting 11% lead.  You Gov's much vaunted MRP poll - which pretty much nailed the result in 2015 - is currently predicting a comfortable majority for ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Europe declares an emergency
    The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to declare a climate emergency:The European parliament has declared a global “climate and environmental emergency” as it urged all EU countries to commit to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The vote came as scientists warned that the world may have already crossed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Bi-Partisan Commitment To X-ing “P”.
    Pure Fear: Worse than Heroin, this drug’s addictive power was terrifying. People under its influence didn’t drift off to Elysium. Nor did it persuade inadequate individuals that they could conquer the world. No, this drug – pure crystal methamphetamine, “P” for short – unlocked the gates of Hell itself. It ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Advice about measles: when ignorance is definitely not a virtue
    As the rate of measles infection, and of deaths, continues to climb in Samoa, antivaccination activists infectious disease proponents seem intent on doubling down on their claims about vaccination. (Check pretty much any news-media FB post about measles & you’ll see exactly what I mean.) Unfortunately, some of them have ...
    SciBlogsBy Alison Campbell
    2 weeks ago
  • Samoa’s devastating measles epidemic – why and how bad?
    Samoa are experiencing a devastating measles epidemic. It is possible that 2-3% of the population will ultimately be infected by the time it is over. Hopefully the mass immunisation campaign currently under way can mitigate some of this, for many it is too late. The first question many people ask ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    2 weeks ago
  • “It’s basic rights we are defending”: the Meghan Murphy interview
    Meghan Murphy is a Canadian writer and journalist She runs the Feminist Current website which she founded in 2012.  She was a keynote speaker for the Feminism2020 conference in Wellington this month. When Massey University cancelled the original venue booking Feminism2020 was hosted in Parliament by MP David Seymour. Meghan ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • A week of protests in Colombia
    Text and photos by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh Colombia has lived through one week of protests against the economic measures taken by president Duque. What looked like a protest that would fizzle out after its first day on November 21st is still going strong. Part of the reason for the continuance ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Anti-neutrinos–When you are your own opposite
    Around a million billion pass through you each second, almost all originating from our sun, but few of them are likely to interact with you enroute. I was reading in a physics magazine earlier in the week about the nature of neutrinos. These are extremely numerous elementary particles, but only ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    2 weeks ago
  • Exoplanets, life, and the danger of a single study
    By Pallab Ghosh There’s value in covering new research advances, even when the underlying science is unsettled. But there are also risks. The recent announcement that scientists discovered water on the planet K2-18b, 110 light years away, prompted a media swoon. News stories, including a piece written by me, billed ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • The Intersex Continuum
    I wrote this review a couple of years ago when I was still in the process of getting my head around the politics of transgenderism, and specifically the claim that intersex conditions lend support to the notion that sex is ‘socially constructed’. Since writing this review I have come across ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Leaving us with the bill
    Two weeks ago, Malaysian-owned oil company Tamarind declared it was insolvent and went into administration after a failed offshore drilling campaign. Tamarind apparently specialises in buying oil fields at the end of their life and trying to squeeze out the last few drops of pollution. But part of their scam ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • How much does flying contribute to climate change?
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz How much does our use of air travel contribute to the ...
    SciBlogsBy Shaun Hendy
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: The task before us
    Two weeks ago, the Zero Carbon Act became law. Right this moment, the Climate Change Commisison will be working on its initial budgets for 2022-25 and 2026-2030, and the UN has just given them a very clear steer:Countries must make an unprecedented effort to cut their levels of greenhouse gases ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Among my favourite asteroids: (2309) Mr. Spock
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    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    2 weeks ago
  • Measles deaths and antivax misinformation
    Today the death toll from measles in Samoa rose to 32. All but four of the dead were less than 5 years old. Absolutely terrible, heartbreaking, news. That statistic alone should be enough to give the lie to the common claim by antivaccination activists plague enthusiasts that “measles is a ...
    SciBlogsBy Alison Campbell
    2 weeks ago
  • Colombia: the state murder of Dilan Cruz
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh It is late here in Bogotá, almost 11.30pm on Monday the 25th of November as I write this. The day began full of hope with yet more massive marches throughout the country, a mix of the International Day of Non-Violence Against Women and the National Strike. ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Anti-fluoride propagandists appear not to read the articles they promote
    Anti-fluoride activists are rubbing their hands in glee over what they claim is “yet another study” showing fluoride harms the brains of children. But their promotion relies on IQ relationships which the paper’s authors acknowledge disappearing when outliers or other factors are considered. And they completely ignore other relationships ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The rise and collapse of classical political economy
    The feature below is the conclusion of A History of Economic Thought, whose author was a leading Marxist economist in Russia in the early 20th century, Isaac Ilyich Rubin.  The book arose from a course he ran at Moscow University following the Russian Revolution.  First published in Russian in 1929, ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Among my favourite asteroids: (2472) Bradman
    There are many thousands of asteroids with formal names, some humdrum but other more noteworthy (depending on your predilections). One of my favourites, the name of which I was involved in suggesting, is (2472) Bradman, named for the Australian cricketing great.  As a minor planet (synonym: asteroid) spotter, I have ...
    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    2 weeks ago
  • Some cheap soundbites i thought up while reading about the underwhelming Conservative manifesto
    Tory manifesto: big on austerity, low on promise, non-existent on delivery. The Tories: the party so big on ambition they couldn't be arsed writing a manifesto. MLK: "I have a dream!"BJ: "I'll just have a nap." Labour: Broadband!Tories: Narrow minds! Labour have hope, dreams and ambition. The Tories will save ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Measles vaccination required to travel to islands and Phillipines
    The Ministry of Health has announced that “people under the age of 50 travelling from New Zealand to Samoa, Tonga, Philippines and Fiji” are now on the list of national priorities for MMR vaccination. Given the outbreaks of measles in Samoa, Tonga, Philippines and Fiji, the Ministry of Health is ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    2 weeks ago
  • Giving the finger to Beijing
    Hong Kong has been protesting for six months for, demanding democracy, human rights, and an end to police violence. Today, they went to the polls in district council elections - a low-level of government with virtually no power, similar to community boards in New Zealand. But while the positions themselves ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Colombia’s national strike
    Text and photos by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On Friday 22nd of November a curfew came into effect and troops were deployed on the streets, here in Bogota. It was the first time since September 1977 that a curfew had been imposed on the city. The decision was a cynical pre-planned ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago

  • Final steps for racing industry reform
    Racing Minister Winston Peters has welcomed the first reading of the Racing Industry Bill in parliament today. This is the second of two Bills that have been introduced this year to revitalise New Zealand’s racing industry. “Our domestic racing industry has been in serious decline.  The Government is committed to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Funding to promote New Zealand Sign Language initiatives
    Minister for Disability Issues, Carmel Sepuloni, is pleased to announce that $291,321 is to be awarded to national and local community initiatives to maintain and promote the use of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). “New Zealand is one of the few countries  in the world where Sign Language is an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 hours ago
  • How New Zealand defines and recognises veterans
    Minister for Veterans Ron Mark has announced today the Coalition Government’s initial response to work completed by the independent statutory body, the Veterans’ Advisory Board. “When Professor Ron Paterson completed his review of the Veterans’ Support Act in 2018, he made a number of recommendations, including one which I referred ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 hours ago
  • Government to fund lion’s share of Ohakea water scheme
    The Government will fund the bulk of the cost of a rural water supply for the Ohakea community affected by PFAS contamination, Environment Minister David Parker announced today at a meeting of local residents. This new water scheme will provide a reliable and clean source of drinking water to the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    24 hours ago
  • Prime Minister statement on White Island eruption
    I have had the opportunity to be briefed on the details of the volcanic eruption of Whakaari/White Island, off the coast of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty.  The eruption happened at 2.11pm today.  It continues to be an evolving situation.  We know that there were a number of tourists ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    24 hours ago
  • Govt funds $100k for weather-hit communities
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare have today confirmed initial Government support of $100,000 for communities affected by the severe weather that swept across the South Island and lower North Island over the weekend. The contribution will be made to Mayoral relief funds across the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Death of NZ High Commissioner to Cook Islands
    New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands, Tessa Temata, died in Palmerston North over the weekend, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said today. Ms Temata, 52, had recently returned to New Zealand for medical treatment. "On behalf of the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we extend ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Wellington rail upgrade full steam ahead
    Transport Minister Phil Twyford today announced construction is underway on Wellington commuter rail upgrades which will mean more frequent services and fewer breakdowns. The upgrades include converting the Trentham to Upper Hutt single track section to a double track, with a new signalling system, upgraded stations and level crossings, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Defence Climate Change Implementation Plan released
    Minister of Defence Ron Mark and Minister for Climate Change James Shaw have announced the release of a Defence Climate Change Implementation Work Plan, titled Responding to the Climate Crisis: An Implementation Plan.  The plan sets out a series of recommendations based on the 2018 New Zealand Defence Assessment, The ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Govt releases funding to support South Canterbury
    A medium-scale adverse event has been declared for the South Canterbury district, which will see up to $50,000 in funding made available to support farming communities which have been significantly affected by recent heavy rain and flooding in the area, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “Two weeks of solid rain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Speech at launch of Rethinking Plastics Report
    Thank you Professor Juliet Gerrard and your team for the comprehensive and extremely helpful report and recommendations. Thank you too to all the stakeholders and interested parties who have contributed ideas and thinking to it. “Making best practice, standard practice” is a great framework for change and the action plan ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Govt pledges next steps on plastic waste
    The Government will phase out more single-use plastics following the success of its single-use plastic bag ban earlier this year and the release today of a pivotal report for dealing with waste. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has welcomed the Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealandreport, released by her Chief Science Advisor ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • International student enrolments grow in universities and the regions
    International education continues to thrive as the Government focuses on quality over quantity, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. The tuition revenue from international education increased to $1.16 billion last year with the average tuition fee per student increasing by $960. The total number of international students enrolled in New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Speech to Government Economics Network 2019 Conference
    I want to talk about one of the most pressing issues in our national life: the housing crisis and the poor performance of our cities. The argument I want to make to you is that generations of urban land use policy have lacked a decent grounding in economics. The consequences ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • DHB leadership renewed and strengthened
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says new appointments to DHBs represent a significant changing of the guard, with 13 new chairs including four Māori chairs. Today 76 appointments have been announced to complement elected board members, as well as eight elected members appointed as either chair or deputy chair.  Four ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Tabuteau to advance New Zealand’s trade and political interests with European partners
    Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Fletcher Tabuteau, is travelling to Germany, Poland, Austria, and Spain next week to bolster New Zealand’s political and trade relationships in Europe. While in Spain, Mr Tabuteau will represent New Zealand at the 14th Asia-Europe (ASEM) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Madrid. “New Zealand strongly supports ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Statement from the Prime Minister on Kris Faafoi
    “I’ve spoken to Minister Faafoi, who has apologised for his poor handling of this issue,” Jacinda Ardern said. “I have confidence in Kris as a hardworking and effective Minister, but this should have been dealt with in a much clearer manner, and I’ve made my views on that very clear ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Tonga-New Zealand Joint Ministerial Forum
    Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters met with Tongan Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa in Wellington today. The pair signed a Statement of Partnership setting out joint priorities for cooperation out to 2023.  “We welcomed Prime Minister Tu'i'onetoa on his first visit to New Zealand as Prime Minister. Tonga ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Shooting in Kurow
    The Minister of Police Stuart Nash says his sympathies are with the family of a man who died after being shot by Police in Kurow. “Initial reports are that Police were called by a family member to help the man who was threatening to harm himself,” Mr Nash says. “However ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government delivers funding boost for ethnic communities
    Ethnic communities will be able to plan and deliver more community initiatives thanks to an increase in Government funding, Minister for Ethnic Communities Hon Jenny Salesa said today. “Ensuring Aotearoa New Zealand is a place we can all be proud to call home has been a key priority of our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Govt supports Southland farmers in sustainability
    Healthier waterways, better productivity and farmer wellbeing are front and centre in a new project involving more than 1000 Southland farmers and growers. Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor today announced that the Thriving Southland Change and Innovation Project is the first region-wide extension programme supported by the $229 million Sustainable ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Flood of support for Top of the South catchment
    Work to look after nature and restore freshwater quality in Te Hoiere/Pelorus River catchment is getting a significant boost, thanks to new Government funding support Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage announced in Canvastown today. “Every New Zealander should be able to swim in their local river without getting sick, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Eight Queen’s Counsel appointed under new criterion
    Eight Queen’s Counsel have been appointed under a process that includes the new criterion of a commitment to improving access to justice, Attorney-General David Parker announced today. “The new criterion was included this year. It emphasises that excellence and leadership in the profession can be seen through a wider, community ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Major expansion for Wellington’s Onslow College
    Onslow College in Wellington will get 20 new classrooms for more than 400 students, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. The much-needed investment will relieve growth pressure the school has been experiencing for some time. Seven existing classrooms which have deteriorated over time will also be replaced, bringing the total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Talented young Kiwis awarded PM’s Scholarships to Asia and Latin America
    More than 250 young New Zealanders will add international experience to their education, thanks to the latest Prime Minister’s Scholarships for Asia (PMSA) and Latin America (PMSLA), Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. This round of scholarships supports 252 recent graduates or current students to undertake study, research or internships ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government to improve competitiveness and transparency in the retail fuel market
    Consumers will benefit from a more competitive, transparent retail fuel market as a result of changes the Government will be making in response to the findings of the Commerce Commission’s study of the fuel sector. “We accept the Commission’s findings and, as the Prime Minister has said, we’re ready to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • More cancer medicines for more people
    Five new cancer medicines have now been funded this year, meaning thousands of people have more treatment options PHARMAC has today announced that it has approved two new medicines for funding – fulvestrant for breast cancer and olaparib for ovarian cancer. This follows earlier decisions on advanced lung cancer treatment alectinib, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government acts to sort out electoral ‘coin toss’ problem
    The Minister of Local Government, Hon Nanaia Mahuta says the Government will consider making changes to local electoral legislation before the 2022 elections to fix the problems that have arisen where elections are settled by a coin toss.  The Minister says the recount process in the Murupara- Galatea ward at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • NZ to Join IMO Convention to Reduce Ship Emissions
    New Zealand will sign up to new international maritime regulations to reduce ship emissions and lift air quality around ports and harbours, Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter announced today. Subject to completion of the Parliamentary treaty examination process, New Zealand will sign up to Annex VI of MARPOL, an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Bill to empower urban development projects
    New legislation to transform our urban areas and create sustainable, inclusive and thriving communities will tomorrow be introduced to Parliament, Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said. “The Urban Development Bill gives Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities the tools it needs to partner with councils, communities, mana whenua and private developers to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Early Learning Action Plan to kickstart long term change
    Today’s launch of He taonga te Tamaiti: Every child a taonga: The Early Learning Action Plan 2019-2029 provides the foundation for long-lasting changes to early learning, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says.   “Early learning will be one of the Government’s top education priorities going into 2020,” Chris Hipkins said.   ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Climate change lens on major Government decisions
    Major decisions made by the Government will now be considered under a climate change lens, Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. “Cabinet routinely considers the effects of its decisions on human rights, the Treaty of Waitangi, rural communities, the disability community, and gender – now climate change will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New Tertiary Education Commission Board announced
    Education Minister Chris Hipkins today announced the appointment of Māori education specialist Dr Wayne Ngata and Business NZ head Kirk Hope to the Board of the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). Dr Alastair MacCormick has been reappointed for another term. “Wayne Ngata, Kirk Hope and Alastair MacCormick bring a great deal ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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