Let’s stop kidding ourselves.

Written By: - Date published: 7:01 am, December 18th, 2017 - 131 comments
Categories: capitalism, climate change, Economy, energy, Environment, global warming, making shit up, Propaganda, science, sustainability, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: , ,

Initially, I thought I’d go through the “Adapting to Climate Change in New Zealand”(pdf) report and pick out some of the more obvious shortcomings it was bound to contain. (Some big whoppers there btw.) But as I read it, I started to think more of the bigger picture that gets filled in by the repeated casual omissions and the habitual reliance on previous, deeply conservative and misleading reports.

So what I will say is, that apart from having the wrong focus and suggesting we continue to barrel in the wrong direction – and apart from highlighting how headless like a chicken we are before the threat of dangerous AGW, it’s a worthy report.

If AGW is a brick wall constructed from rather large granite blocks, then capitalism (our current way of living and being; of extracting ‘small m’ meaning from life) is the car whose occupants think there might be a way to shimmy that car through the granite wall up ahead in a way that leaves everyone and everything unscathed, or at least relatively unscathed. It’s madness (“adaptation” in official speak).

And that’s what this report, in common with all other reports I’ve read, chooses to focus on…how to sustain what we do.

Instead of that, figuring out how to remove that wall from our field of vision, by way of some action beyond that of just closing our eyes – now that would be a sensible focus to have I reckon.

So here’s an idea that’s not new, and that you’ve probably heard before – though definitely not from any sanctioned, governmental or official report on AGW. To avoid being so much “meatlovers pizza” sliding down some stonework, we could just stop the car and get out.

I suspect I can already hear howls of protest running along the lines of… “Where would we go?” “What would we do?” and “We’ll all die!” (cue: strange strangulated cry of despair) “Horribly!!”

And everyone closes their eyes, smiles and forgets.

Capitalism requires vast amounts of fossil fuel to function. Fossil fuels are the main drivers of AGW. It’s logistically impossible to switch out fossil for non-carbon sources of energy before hitting the “Welcome!” mat of cold hard physics. So what is there to figure out or debate?

If we really want to avoid dangerous climate change, we have to save ourselves from capitalism.

It’s been a nice ride for a wee few. A  hell of a journey for most. And now it’s over one way or another.

But then, I don’t buy the “we’ll just transmogrify through this granite wall” sales pitch we keep getting. And maybe you do.

Do you?

131 comments on “Let’s stop kidding ourselves.”

  1. weka 1

    No, I don’t either. Thanks for the post.

    One of the hopes is that the closer we are getting to the wall, the more progressives are having to face the fact that the whole being saved thing is based on technology we don’t in fact have.

    What happens when enough people wake up to that is going to be interesting.

    I’ve also been watching the weird weather going into the summer, and hearing people well above the equator talking about their weird going into the winter, and wondering if we’ve moved past the age of normal weather patterns now. Consequently, seeing the stream of articles flowing past me on the webs about the alarming science, I’ve been thinking we might me much closer to the wall than we realised (or, the wall is still in the same place, but we’ve been going faster than we realised). Time will tell.

    Now that we’ve got the distraction of the election out of the way, maybe over this summer here on TS we could have some discussion about what the end of capitalism might look like, or how we can assist it, or why its not as scary as some think, or something like that.

    May as well start today, seeing as how there will soon be comments along the lines of how no-one is going to give up capitalism unless they’re given an alternative that’s as least as good 😉 I think the granite wall imagery will serve us well going forward.

    • Sabine 1.1

      I think we have moved past the normal weather patterns for a while now.

      People will fight, some will die, some will live.

      Capitalism is nothing more then a word to describe as to how we do business. Trade one good for another. Printed money is nothing more then a trading tool. You can replace it with Shells, Rocks and sticks. The one with most of the shells, rocks or sticks will get most of the goods. This has been such at the very least since the beginning of Agriculture. Humans can be the shells.
      Unless we are growing up as a specimen to only take what we need, creating a sharing community, we will have capitalism ….or insert any other term you want to call it. Heck even communism (and i include the US of A under that tag) ended up being some sort of Capitalism, once the masses subdued the ‘elite’ ‘elected’ ‘party members’ had their enforcers the police and army and justice system behind them to subdue the masses, and then everyone went shopping or went to a mega church. Greed is good.

      fact is there are a few billion people to many on this planet. fact is also that those that call the shots don’t care if people die, so as long as they get to decide how they die, i.e. war, removal of services, denial of health care, and so on. They really just hope that no matter what comes next they will still have access to all the water and food. US? peasants, pawns, offerings to the gods with no mercy.

      The day people realise that they are fucked the very best you can hope for is to not live in a centre with large masses of angry and armed people. And if you live secluded you might want to arm up just in case. IF you care to survive.

      The time to change was at the very least 40 odd years ago.

  2. JanM 2

    I’m not protesting at all because I don’t think the way we are now is ok at all, but I’m interested to understand how a change from capitalism would work and what it would change to. Could we do it and how?

    • weka 2.1

      People have to stop wanting it. Enough people that can then influence the culture via politics, media, community, etc. If that seems daunting or unachievable, I find it easiest to think in terms of tipping points. Once we have a certain % of people willing and committed to change, then they will do the work of the next steps, momentum will build, and change will happen. This is how a lot of social change happens already.

      What that looks like to me is many different things. Bill talks about walking away from jobs that support climate change. I talk about creating pathways that people will follow through the various sustainability movements.

      I think immediate things people can do is pull out of and resist consumerism as much as possible. This won’t be enough on it’s own, but it does place one in the position of commitment and being willing to change one’s own life. No-one is coming to save us, there’s not going to be a replacement for capitalism, we’re going to have to do this ourselves, all of us.

      The other big thing is community work (in lots of different forms). Because it’s people that are going to make this happen, and the more we work with people we know, making those relationships good and strong so that people will feel safer in changing the better. Some places we can talk overtly about ending capitalism, other places we can talk about ending neoliberalism, or frame it in CC terms etc. Whatever works.

      • JanM 2.1.1

        Do you think people necessarily ‘want it’ or do you think they are not able to see any realistic alternative? As I have observed it, along with the encouragement of the ‘greed is good’ attitude is the ‘whatever happens to you is your own fault’ message which has produced a feeling of helplessness and powerlessness. Consumerism seems to me to be just another drug like alcohol or whatever else you can get your hands on to help cope. It seems to me that people will remain stuck on this mouse wheel until what they can see as a viable alternative is presented. This is particularly so in the case families with dependent children because their welfare and protection becomes paramount

        • Draco T Bastard

          Do you think people necessarily ‘want it’ or do you think they are not able to see any realistic alternative?

          I see it as people having been trained to fear any alternatives. It didn’t help that the USSR, China and the be-damned DPRK were/are so damned oppressive.

          As I have observed it, along with the encouragement of the ‘greed is good’ attitude is the ‘whatever happens to you is your own fault’ message which has produced a feeling of helplessness and powerlessness.

          The majority of people are helpless and powerless because they’re kept that way through poverty.

          It seems to me that people will remain stuck on this mouse wheel until what they can see as a viable alternative is presented.

          Or until society collapses around them and things have to change. Note that the last time it came close to doing so (The GFC) the governments around the world stepped in and stopped it doing so while putting the bill for it on the poor.

          This prevents a viable alternative presenting itself while keeping the majority poor and powerless.

        • Whispering Kate

          There’s one word for it “growth”. To survive, the “so called” experts say we have to have continued growth. We could slow down growth and not have such an obsession with profits and shareholders continued high expectations. This obsession with growth will swallow us all up eventually. The planet can only hold so many tenants on its land surface so the only way forward now is sustainability and learning to live with what we have now. If we went backwards for 40 years our standard of living would still – here in NZ – be far better than two thirds of the rest of the planet.

          Stop trying to expand all over the planet just for the sake of earning more profits. The world has gone crazy with trillionaires now still wanting to grow and make more profits. What the hell for. At the rate we are going everybody is going to suffer for the greed of a few.

          • roy cartland

            Great talk on the subject of ‘wants’. As Capitalism (growth, consumerism) necessarily depends on people thinking they want things that they don’t, there are more than a few ways to mitigate against this false desire.

            For instance if we get on top of the rampant propagnda (now called advertising) telling us what we want and need, we could get a long way toward changing this thinking.

            Why do we even need ads anyway? They aren’t information. They are merely a necessary tool to keep consumerism fuelling growth. In a real market you would just have a big blank list saying how much a thing was at which location, no sexy models, no distracting imagery or music. Just like the stock market.

        • weka

          I think you are describing two separate things there Jan, albeit with overlaps. One is neoliberalism/libertarianism, greed is good. And it’s true that lots of NZers have bought into that. The ones that are really wedded to it, e.g. they know how bad CC is or might be but still choose neoliberalism, I don’t think we have to focus on them if it stops us from acting. Here on TS we will still go hard against them but I think often our energies get tied up in that when we need to be building the pathways to something else.

          The other thing you describe is the very real issue of security. That’s a human thing not a neoliberal thing. So yes, people worried about their kids, for sure they need something that is going to help them believe that they can keep their kids safe and well (as much as that is possible given the context).

          The problem there is that the middle classes in particular believe that safe and well is paying off the mortgage and having an increasing standard of living. Both those things are incompatible with not hitting the granite wall. Also, the middle classes have access to shitloads of resources that could be helping us avert disaster, so I think having a vision or even just a discussion about how to rechannel those resources to urgent CC action is imperative.

          So many things that can be done there, mostly it comes down to will and the mental shit away from capitalism as safe. It’s not. There are plenty of other ways to live well, but even if there were not there is still the granite wall approaching really bloody fast.

          So yes, a lower middle class family with kids and with a mortgage is not going to walk away from jobs that give them a certain standard of living esp when they see the potential for poverty not too far away. But there are still choices they can make to not support consumerism beyond what is necessary. And they can make long term plans around what will give them the best chances of security going forward.

          There’s a whole thing here about what we are willing to give up. I haven’t read the report, but what I’m taking from Bill’s post is that it’s saying we can still have all this and reduce poverty and avert the granite wall. I don’t believe that’s true. We will have to give things up. If we make the decision to do that now it will be way easier than it being forced on us later.

          • JanM

            I understand what you mean by the overlap but isn’t neoliberalism just a more extreme arm of capitalism – what you get when a few ‘overlords’ really get a grip, not only on the means of production, but the means of communication? And I’m not sure that a lot of people actually choose neoliberalism so much as have no real idea that there’s any other way. That caper has been going on for the best part of 40 years now, so there are many people in our society who have never experienced anything else

            • weka

              The two things I wanted to pull apart are capitalism/neoliberalism/growth economy etc, and, a genuine human need to be well, look after one’s kids, have some kind of security.

              The first is highly damaging and going to end very badly, but it’s tied up with the latter, because as you say, people don’t see an alternative. The latter is something that has to be attended to whatever we do.

              I’m suggesting that changing the story around what security and wellbeing are is one way to shift the middle classes in particular. They’re the people with the resources (of all kinds) to ‘back’ the rapid change we need.

              So I agree about the lack of choice re neoliberalism, but I think within neoliberalism there are choices we can make that take us in a better direction. For instance, stop buying shit. Don’t renovate our kitchens every 5 years. Stop or reduce flying. Buy things that last. Put money into sustainability infrastructure. Buy local food. Build community. etc. Neoliberalism isn’t stopping people from doing those things (although it’s harder for some than others).

              I don’t think personal choice is enough on its own, but if we personally don’t believe we are willing or able to change or give things up, then nothing will change.

              • Bill

                I’m suggesting that changing the story around what security and wellbeing are is one way to shift the middle classes in particular. They’re the people with the resources (of all kinds) to ‘back’ the rapid change we need.

                When the working class sticks its collective hands in its pockets, the middle class tumbles…fast. Just saying.

                • adam

                  Especially now, as the working class are effectively a servant class. Things would just stop.

                • weka

                  I agree Bill. I feel less qualified to talk about what working class people can or should do. I have a good feel for how to create new stories for the middle classes, much less sure about the working classes.

    • Bill 2.2

      I’ve commented before that we used to have the alternatives ‘sitting at our feet’ , being talked about and gaining traction. Liberal capitalism has been around for about 150 years or so, but it’s position as the economic/political “project” we would follow (or be ensnared by) wasn’t secure until some time far more recent than that.

      We’re in a place now where many people don’t even understand the labels that refer to those other ways, never mind the practical details of them (pro’s, cons etc).

      Let me put it this way. I watched the documentary “13”. (Netflix and well worth the watch btw). A comment was made to the effect that the reason the US establishment was able to roll over the black community after Nixon was because the black community had lost it’s leaders (its ideas) to assassination and jail.

      Going back in time, the US banned anarchists from entering the country around 1914 (same reasoning and action as Trump has tried to apply to Muslims). They also ran a Red Scare up through WW1 that resulted in widespread jailings, deportations and killings of those considered “politically dangerous”

      Throw in the suppression and demonistion of political ideas and individuals associated with them in subsequent years, and just like the narrower example of the black community in the US, people in general got rolled over because leaders and ideas associated with alternatives to capitalism were gone.

      On a personal note, I find it ridiculous and frustrating that only a very few voices hereabouts seem to have a worthwhile grasp of the politics and ideologies that ran and run counter to liberal capitalism.

      We could do far worse than reclaim our history and act from it. And the internet offers a way in.

  3. garibaldi 3

    It is a global problem. Capitalism is playing the end game and there is no stopping it. The best we can hope for is a few more years. Sorry, but that is the guts of it. There is no willingness to address the problems and no technology to “rescue” us. Greed, greed and more greed…. that’s the dumbarse human condition. To suggest otherwise is kidding ourselves. No one is going to ameliorate what we are doing to this planet. There just isn’t the will by humankind to do what is necessary.

    • Bill 3.1

      I’ve always found sticking my hands in my pockets quite an easy thing to do. It doesn’t even require much thought or will power. And it’s amazing how much stuff can just be stopped dead in its tracks when a few people do that. Imagine a majority of people doing it.

      The engine that’s spewing CO2 (ie, our economy) would judder to a halt.

      • garibaldi 3.1.1

        Imagine the American military machine stopping dead in it’s tracks….no chance…… we haven’t got a shit show of stopping them Bill.

        • Bill

          I’d punt that most people in the military are from poor back-grounds seeking a way out. Unless you’re suggesting they’d happily slaughter “their own” in the case where “everyone” disengaged, then the military can be stopped. It stops itself – soldiers with hands in pockets. It’s happened before – disobeying orders.

          • garibaldi

            Americans will not give up their Empire Bill …. their religious fervour and total propagandisation (a new word!) are something the rest of us don’t properly understand. They are not going to give the world to anyone else, they would rather ” destroy the world to save it”….just like the villages in Vietnam.
            As you say, let’s stop kidding ourselves.

            • ropata

              Probably the best option for the USA now is for the military to formally take power and get rid of the current farce that is Washington and Wall St. Surely they can’t be as corrupt as the current administration. The Bankster Mafia has taken over America and the existing uncorrupted institutions need to take drastic action to get rid of the cancer. The FBI is on the right track but the power of the Trump White House should not be underestimated.

            • Bill

              When you say Americans will not give up their Empire which Americans or strata of American society are you referring to?

              You surely can’t be suggesting that the folks rotting off into the ground in trailer parks, inner city ghettos and housing projects or tent cities actually quite like the America they’re in?

              British elites didn’t want to give up their empire, but that didn’t stop late 19th C Britain from being a hotbed of political agitation that lasted in through the early decades of the 20th C and beyond (It waxes and wanes)

              But lets come at this from a different angle. Do you think the priests or whatever of theocratic ancient Egypt ever wanted to give up their political and social powers? Well no, of course not. But for whatever reason or reasons, people stopped doing the things that were necessary for the upkeep or maintenance of that power. And that’s the simple reason why today we don’t see any evidence of an ongoing political reach from theocratic ancient Egypt. The elites never gave up their power and didn’t have to want to give it up. The people just stopped being conduits for it and at that point the priests and who-ever had no power. That’s all it takes.

              • mpledger

                You surely can’t be suggesting that the folks rotting off into the ground in trailer parks, inner city ghettos and housing projects or tent cities actually quite like the America they’re in?

                The problem is that all those people are conditioned to believe that America is the greatest country in the world and that if they were anywhere else they would be worse off (if they even think of anywhere else). They are also conditioned to believe it is there fault for their predicament, that they didn’t work hard enough or want the dream enough.

                • weka

                  I think there are lots of US North Americans now under no illusion of just how fucked up their country is. Yes there are others still beating the drum of the created count on earth, but there’s a been a huge shift since 911 around more Americans understanding what is going on.

                • Bill

                  The problem is…

                  So propaganda. Not an impossible obstacle.

                  As I’ve commented many times, the centre (ie – the ground the status quo rests on) is shaky as all hell. In the US there was Sanders and in the UK there’s Corbyn and other places are expressing political will that has that centre flummoxed.

                  I’d also suggest you watch some older news programmes and compare them o those we get today. Once was they kind of reported half way intelligently And yes, it was propaganda and it was bias, but it was built on half way decent analysis that served to underscore the message.

                  Now we just have news as vacuous repeating of stuff that doesn’t bare any kind of close examination – it references itself if it references anything at all. Y’know, so all this Russia crap (just to pick an example) is underpinned wholly and solely by other vacuous news reports about Russia that themselves rely on previous vacuous reports about Russia,

                  I saw just the other day that an attempt was finally being made to explain away the swell of support for independence in Scotland before the referendum by, yup, you’ve guessed it – fake news from unnamed or unidentified Russian sources that “Kremlin!”

                  I’d been waiting for that one 😉

              • The people just stopped being conduits for it and at that point the priests and who-ever had no power. That’s all it takes.

                That is what’s needed but, as I point out above, people have been trained against that action. Through being told that there isn’t a better system and fear of what happens if we stop supporting the rich getting richer.

              • garibaldi

                I am referring to the ,shall we say ,the Zionists / Neocons/ Banksters, you know, the ones with all the power behind the scenes. The ones who have been running the show for the last century. The ordinary folks rotting off into the ground are inconsequential to them.
                Nationalism and fundamentalist Christianity are the cornerstones of how these bastards control the place. I can’t see that changing in the US of A as you seem to think it will. Well, not before they destroy the world first anyway.

      • cleangreen 3.1.2

        Bloody good string of fine minds here on a very good article thanks Bill we commend you for this.

        We at 70 + yrs old have already gotten out of the rat-race Capitalistic world.

        I think we need to remember that NZ and our US cousins were once “Pioneer stock” in days before the ‘capitalist society that the US bought to us all
        back in the 1930s.

        Our forefathers fended for themselves as ‘self sufficient made survivors’ – and our society has been highjacked by total Corporate control to make us become lazy and reliant on them for sustaning our lives.

        That is there we decide to get off that disasterous treadmill of reliance, by moving into the NZ hilterland where we now have and old farmhouse with addons (non-compliant) to live in virtual self sufficiency.

        We have no virtual council services except to measerly grade the dirt road once a month; – that comes out of our looming rates bill.

        They dont provide any amenities at all or even just a garbage service, nor sewage, or water services either.

        We do all these things ourselves all on our own eight arcres of land now.

        All we need (should we choose to have is electricty, but we now have wind tubine ability asnd may soon have solar panel power also.

        We have a private dish supplying us rural internet and thats it.

        We can and do have some sheep and crops when we want, but family do supply some now and then so we are slowly being weaned off the “great Capalitist treadmill” folks as our forefathers had needed to do back in the 1840s when they came from England.

        The experience is heartwarming when you get used to it, as we have now been here 75kms from any city now for 12 yrs, and only go to town once every week.

        You all can do this as we are not special folks just retired working class people who like our own life back again.

  4. Sanctuary 4

    Our civilisation is built on cheap energy.

    The bald fact is 80% of our energy needs are supplied by fossil fuels. Around 10% is from biomass, 5% nuclear and 5% renewables.

    If we aimed for the doable target of quadrupling both renewables and nuclear in the next 20 years we’d still be getting 40% from fossil fuels and only 20% from renewables.

    If we want to save ourselves, our standard of living and the planet without a climate changed induced Malthusian catastrophe we need a Manhatten project to get fusion power over the line.

    I can’t believe the lack of urgency in fusion research, which dwaddles along at a sedate pace. The USA has spent 30 billion on fusion research in adjusted dollars since WW2. They spend one trillion A YEAR on defense and fork out 400 billion a year in subsidies to the US oil industry.

    The EU plans to spend around 80 billion euros over next fifty years on Fusion research. The main European NATO powers between then spend around 180 billion euros a year on their militaries, or to put it another way they will spend nine trillion euros on weapons over the same period of time.

    Astonishing. We seem to be more happy to get prepared for the coming climate change wars than to developing technologies aimed at actually stopping climate change.

    • mauī 4.1

      Sounds like you just bought a new Ford Ranger and turned the aircon on. It might feel nice but the end result is burning more gas.

      • Sanctuary 4.1.1

        “…Sounds like you just bought a new Ford Ranger and turned the aircon on. It might feel nice but the end result is burning more gas…”

        No. There are currently somewhere between five and six billion extra humans alive due to fossil fuels consumption. If we can’t reduce carbon emissions to safe levels AND replace the energy equivalent of the fossil fuels currently used with something else then within a couple of centuries (at most) billions and billions of humans will die of war, starvation, and the associated diseases.

        • Bill

          There are currently somewhere between five and six billion extra humans alive due to fossil fuels consumption.

          That’s simply and demonstratively not true. The majority of humanity has very little direct or indirect access to meaningful quantities of fossil fuel.

          • Sanctuary

            “…That’s simply and demonstratively not true. The majority of humanity has very little direct or indirect access to meaningful quantities of fossil fuel…”

            Really? What powers the food distribution networks, or fuels the powerplants the supply energy to the factories that provide ammonia via the Haber–Bosch process or as a byproduct of the ssteel industry that creates fertilizer to maintain the phenomenal crop yields needed to feed all those people? We currently put over 110 million tonnes of fertilizer every year on our fields. Or what keeps the lights on and the sewage pumping in the mega cities of the world?

            • Bill

              When you say “we”, are you including the vast numbers of farmers and others throughout Asia, Africa, Latin and South America (for example) who have no access to any of that?

    • Bill 4.2

      It’s not new technologies we need. It’s different ways of organising (of living) that we need. And sure. Technology has a role. But it’s not the solution.

      Those fusion reactors (if they worked) would take how long to build and be required in what sort of number? How much time do you think we have on the 2 degrees front Sanctuary? (Hint: it’s bugger all)

      • SpaceMonkey 4.2.1

        “It’s not new technologies we need. It’s different way of organising (of living) that we need”.

        This. I have maintained for a while now that the next big revolution will not be a technological one but a sociological one. We have to find better ways of living together.

      • Sanctuary 4.2.2

        “…It’s not new technologies we need. It’s different ways of organising (of living) that we need. And sure. Technology has a role. But it’s not the solution.

        Those fusion reactors (if they worked) would take how long to build and be required in what sort of number? How much time do you think we have on the 2 degrees front Sanctuary? (Hint: it’s bugger all)…”

        The world isn’t run by the United Federation of Planets and Star Trek’s Utopian vision is science fiction.

        Fusion power is the only possible source of energy capable of replacing enough fossil fuels to fundamentally reduce emissions without the intervention of catastrophic climate change resulting in a population crash.

        And I am going to say something else that is really unpopular. The only people who can deliver us to this fusion powered world are the big corporations. Trying to put them out of business just means they fund climate deniers and politicians who will do nothing to affect their bottom line. If we want the big corporations to do something about climate change, then we have to let them make a good profit doing so.

        If you told BP, Mobil, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Samsung etc etc etc there was 10 trillion dollars up for grabs over the next ten years to get a viable commercial fusion reactor operating, you can guarantee they’ll have one going in that time.

        • Bill

          How many fusion reactors would need to be built across the world, how long would it take, and what time do we have left in which to avoid more than 2 degrees C of warming?

          Kevin Anderson (quoted below at comment 10.1) gives us a handful of years.

          So unless these fusion reactors are bulk run cardboard cut-out affairs, it ain’t happening in time.

  5. Ieuan 5

    ‘If we really want to avoid dangerous climate change, we have to save ourselves from capitalism.’

    Given the choice, I’d rather live with climate change that live in a world where we have ‘saved’ ourselves from capitalism.

    Capitalism is certainly not perfect but it’s the only system that works.

    • JanM 5.1

      How do you know?

    • weka 5.3

      So you’re ok with keeping capitalism and then capitalism being destroyed by climate change? That’s a strange position to take.

      • Ieuan 5.3.1

        It’s only a ‘strange position’ if you buy in to one of the ‘fringe’ doomsday scenarios.

        • Draco T Bastard

          The fringe doomsday scenarios that almost all research shows is going to happen?

          Yeah, that’s not fringe. Fringe is your position of denial.

          • cleangreen

            1000% Perfectly correct Draco this person has his/her head buired in the sand like an ostrich!!!!!!!

            Capitalism is a failed experiment that was brought to us in the shaddow of the 1929 depression under urgency but now so well thought though and now see see the burnt out remains it has became.

            Time again for a new way forward.

        • tracey

          And therein lies most of the problems that face us today “If I am going to be ok I don’t give a shit about anything else”

    • mauī 5.4

      As Gareth Morgan said on the campaign, the wider economy would fall over without the 1 million kiwis who do volunteer work. So clearly something else is possible.

    • Ad 5.5

      Works for a few.

      Not most.

      Works the same with climate change.

    • Philg 5.6

      “….Given the choice … ” Do we have a choice?

    • tracey 5.7

      That is like those who see a problem with democracy or law and say the same thing. It is a substitute for thinking, for changing and more importantly for doing. It is not the only system that works. To my knowledge we do not even have pure capitalism so that renders your comment even more vacuous.

      You may get to “live with climate change” Ieuan but the point is you are removing the choice from those who follow by standing stock still to stay comfy.

  6. Philg 6

    Isn’t this a health and safety issue too. Lol not.

  7. Capitalism requires vast amounts of fossil fuel to function.

    This is an incorrect statement. Capitalism worked fine during the Roman Empire, the Ancient Greek ‘democracy’, and even in Ancient Egypt and other collapsed and disappeared civilisations. They didn’t even know about fossil fuels. It still managed to collapse those civilisations as it’s doing to today’s globalised civilisation as well.

    The difference that fossil fuels have made is that it’s allowed capitalism to do even more damage faster. Instead of just collapsing civilisation this time it’s likely to bring about an Extinction Event.

    Of course, since we are using huge amounts of fossil fuels there’s almost no way we can stop using them in a rapid manner as we need to. It would have been easier if we’d kept down the renewable route that was started in the 1970s.

    If we really want to avoid dangerous climate change, we have to save ourselves from capitalism.

    Even without the fossil fuels we’d still have to save ourselves from capitalism. The fossil fuels just make it that much more urgent.

    It’s been a nice ride for a wee few. A hell of a journey for most.

    Yep, we have to get rid of the rich because we can’t afford them. Thing is, we’ve never been able to afford them.

    • weka 7.1

      If we don’t use slaves and theft we need something else to build empires. We have fossil fuels now. I think we have decided that slavery is barbaric but we have just enslaved nature instead.

      • Grafton Gully 7.1.1

        The enslaved/free, us/nature distinctions are challenged by the role of microorganisms in evolution and the gut microbiome in animal behaviour.


        “The hologenome concept of evolution postulates that the holobiont (host plus symbionts) with its hologenome (host genome plus microbiome) is a level of selection in evolution. Multicellular organisms can no longer be considered individuals by the classical definitions of the term. Every natural animal and plant is a holobiont consisting of the host and diverse symbiotic microbes and viruses. Microbial symbionts can be transmitted from parent to offspring by a variety of methods, including via cytoplasmic inheritance, coprophagy, direct contact during and after birth, and the environment. A large number of studies have demonstrated that these symbionts contribute to the anatomy, physiology, development, innate and adaptive immunity, and behavior and finally also to genetic variation and to the origin and evolution of species. Acquisition of microbes and microbial genes is a powerful mechanism for driving the evolution of complexity. Evolution proceeds both via cooperation and competition, working in parallel.”

        • ropata

          True, we are a part of Nature but “civilised” humanity in its comfortable megacities tends to view nature as something “out there” or a hostile force to be tamed. We get periodic interrruptions from natural disasters reminding us of our precarious and temporary status as a species on this planet but we aren’t listening. Reminds me of the deer population in US National Parks, they were allowed to multiply out of control and they denuded all the vegetation, but when the “nasty” wolves were reintroduced it restored balance to the ecosystem and within a few years the trees, meadows and streams were a lot more pleasant.

      • tracey 7.1.2

        Zero hour contracts, casualisation of work, importation of labour is a form of indentured slavery. It doesn’t seem barabric but in my vie is worse because of its dishonesty.

        • Bill

          Putting the restrictive laws around strike action aside for a second.

          Why, when I was involved in unionism, was it well nigh impossible to get workers to down tools? Debt and the servicing thereof.

          • tracey

            A combination of apathy , guilt and fear of losing their job? We who have been employed all know there are ways to get rid of employees. Guilt that they are harming others by withdrawing services and apathy cos we have all been dulled into thinking this is as good as it gets and our own laziness has stopped us becoming wealthy.

  8. Sanctuary 8

    “…This is an incorrect statement. Capitalism worked fine during the Roman Empire, the Ancient Greek ‘democracy’,..”

    The ancient Greeks and Romans were familiar with the collected works of Adam Smith?

    The ancient economy was not a capitalist one. Modern capitalism emerged from the Enlightenment in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As such it was an attempt to apply scientific natural law to economic behavior. Adam Smith’s work exemplifies this. Modern capitalism is built around this rational framework.The Greek and Roman economies had elements of what we would now call capitalist behaviour, but they were primarily affected by cultural attitudes that today would seem to us to be incredibly cruel or wasteful.

    It is dangerous to assume that pre-Christian ancients saw the world anything like we do. A good example is the “Meditations” of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, a Stoic treatise “rediscovered” by various new age hipster types every ten years or so. Without understanding the Roman world or the Roman mind people rave about them as a fabulous source of ancient wisdom for self-improvement, forgetting the same “wise” emperor was quite happy slaughtering Germanic tribespeople and sponsoring the savage barbarity of the Roman circus.

    • Bill 8.1

      I generally just leave DtB to that little fixation he has. Trust me. I’ve been though similar arguments to what you’re putting up (the specific nature of capitalist exploitation) and finally decided my time would be better spent in the bath having a conversation with my rubber duck.

      In the event, it was no less productive.

      • ropata 8.1.1

        Isn’t DTB just echoing Marx in his view of the ancient world? Marx saw it in terms of systemic oppression of the working (slave) class…

        This accumulation of wealth can become a mass phenomenon even before the appearance of the capitalist mode of production; a sort of ‘primitive accumulation of capital’, as Marx called it, through different forms of violence, especially war. Already at the beginning of historical times, with the Babylonians and the Egyptians, we find from time to time such mass accumulations. The Roman army offered the most gigantic example of this phenomenon in antiquity, as Salvioli’s book clearly shows.

        Each one of these accumulations always ended up, sooner or later, with the decline of the state in which they took place. The separation of the mass of the workers from their means of production finally led to the paralysis of economic and political life, to the downfall of the state that plundered its more barbarous neighbouring peoples, living under more primitive conditions. That was the end of every higher culture of antiquity about which some historical records have been preserved, in the basins of the Euphrates and the Nile as well as on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

        • Bill

          Liberal capitalism incorporates or produces a very specific type of oppression.

          And Marx suffered from the notion of historical determinism. Meaning, that among other things, he was for ever projecting an analysis of the present (his present) onto the past.

          Anthropologists constantly wrestle with it – trying to escape their cultural prejudice with all its “received” or “self evident” truths.

    • The ancient Greeks and Romans were familiar with the collected works of Adam Smith?

      What’s that got to do with the price of fish?

      The ancient economy was not a capitalist one.

      Yes they were. In fact, many of our property laws come straight from Ancient Rome. And many of those probably started in Ancient Greece.

      Modern capitalism emerged from the Enlightenment in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.


      As such it was an attempt to apply scientific natural law to economic behavior. Adam Smith’s work exemplifies this.

      It may have been an attempt but was it actually a good one?
      Did it answer the questions? Did it ask the right questions? Did it, as a matter of fact, bring about an economic system that didn’t produce poverty?

      BTW, IIRC, Chinese philosophers and bureaucracy were discussing a ‘free-market’ back in the 12th century.

      It is dangerous to assume that pre-Christian ancients saw the world anything like we do.

      And probably even more dangerous to forget that is where most of modern Western Civilisation started.

      • Sanctuary 8.2.1

        This comment so riddled with misconceptions I can only marvel at the certitude of your level of brazen ignorance.

        Really, the Romans were capitalist and they thought just like we do.

        Got it.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Really, the Romans were capitalist and they thought just like we do.

          That’s not what I said so I suggest you stop twisting my words just because you’re wrong.

  9. Ad 9

    Bill, what is the best that you see this government being able to achieve in three years for climate change?

    In particular, section 6.4 p. 95 states:

    “Based on these findings, we can conclude that while some specific actions are being taken to adapt to climate change, the current decision-making framework does not support or incentivise effective adaptation at the scale we consider necessary for maintaining and/or improving the well-being of New Zealand’s current and future communities in the face of a changing climate.”

    Are there specific adaptations being proposed under the coalition agreement that will address the reports’ concerns?

    • weka 9.1

      Russel Norman‏ @RusselNorman

      If you are serious about climate change there is no case by case option when it comes to new oil, gas and coal permits. They all have to be declined. We can’t even burn existing known reserves if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change

      that was in response to Ardern saying that coal and oil permits will be looked at on a case by case basis.


    • Bill 9.2

      In the context of the whole document, the well-being referred to is well-being that’s contingent upon current arrangements. And so the adaptation being looked for is an adaptation of current socio/economic and political arrangements. In other words, it’s an illustration of a locked in mindset that can’t imagine anything being done in any way that isn’t some linear socio/economic/political ‘progress’ from now to then, or here to there.

      Meanwhile, if we focused on people (individually and collectively) rather than our principal focus being on the existing structures we’ve gathered around ourselves and that ‘guide’ our behaviours, actions, expectations and priorities…in the wrong direction – then we might get somewhere.

      The adaptations and concerns of the report are misguided, wrongly focused and, or so I would argue, dangerous.

      We could be off fossil in about 15 years from now. It could be done without causing complete mayhem. But it won’t be done because it requires abandoning economic shibboleths who’s existence and attempted preservation is seen as being beyond question by far too many.

      • Ad 9.2.1

        Since you reject the document, if you were advising the Minister of Climate Change, what would you advise his programme to be to achieve your goals?

        • Bill

          I don’t “reject” the document Ad. It’s just that it’s not very useful.

          I’ve written posts on achieving zero carbon from energy in the timescale we have left.

          On the adaptation front, I’d be urging the precautionary principle be adhered to. The IPCC deliberately did not factor in Antarctic melt in sea level scenarios. Scientific researchers appear to agree we’re looking at 3m to 6m this century. Yet government is working off recommendations that assume 1m max this century.

          (I’ve a post in the works on Antarctic melt – how much, how fast and why)

          There’s a cogent argument to be had for re-purposing the army. The scales associated with what we should be doing (if we’re serious) are immense. And we don’t get to hang on to our current economy (it pushes everything in the wrong direction).

          • Ad

            Like that army idea.
            More like a marine corps engineers division.

            • Bill

              NZ$15 billion is apparently the cost to NZ of ending all future coal mining, offshore oil drilling, and fracking</em>

              NZ$14 Billion was what National wanted to spend on buying cabon credits.

              NZ$72 Billion of infrastructure is the fairly rough and ready cost of a very conservative estimated sea level rise according to the report.

              Do you baulk at the suggestion of an anti-market solution to a market driven problem?

              It being that we (ie the government) buys all the petrol and diesel sold in NZ (cost ~ NZ$2 billion in the first year) and distributes it for free under a sinking cap regime that sees us using zero fossil in a decade or so?

              • Ad

                Buying all the oil would make effectively a carbon version of Pharmac. That’s a big, blunt control with a fair few unintended consequences.

                I would prefer a target like China and other countries that have put a specific time limit on stopping the sale of all combustion-engined vehicles. We need to follow where our dominant markets are going because that what our society and economy has been geared to do since inception.

                If I were in a mood to spend billions of dollars for a fast effect, I would be inclined to massively subsidise electric vehicles, both cars and trucks, similar to the Netherlands and Denmark. New Zealand is exceedingly car reliant with over 95% of all trips taken using cars and trucks. We also have one of the oldest fleets in the OECD.

                If I were going to target farmer contributions to GHG’s, I wouldn ‘t bother with the farmers themselves, and would instead go straight for Fonterra. They are well overdue for a review of their monopoly-forming legislation. Where they go, the dairy industry goes, and so goes methane.

                • Buying all the oil would make effectively a carbon version of Pharmac. That’s a big, blunt control with a fair few unintended consequences.

                  And the reason why we have Pharmac is because it’s a much better model.

                  I would prefer a target like China and other countries that have put a specific time limit on stopping the sale of all combustion-engined vehicles.

                  Bill says a sinking lid on how much fuel is available with a determined point when there is none available.

                  Any point in buying an internal combustion if you can’t buy fuel to run it?

                  New Zealand is exceedingly car reliant with over 95% of all trips taken using cars and trucks.

                  [Citation needed]

                  I wouldn’t be surprised but even for NZ that seems high.

                  If I were going to target farmer contributions to GHG’s, I wouldn ‘t bother with the farmers themselves, and would instead go straight for Fonterra.

                  There is much that needs to be done about farming and not just the GHGs from the cows. There’s also the GHGs associated with the fertilisers, transportation and processing of the primary produce.

                  • Ad

                    Well, let’s think through a few of those unintended consequences.

                    1. Rage. Those who propose it will never get back into government again. Without a specific shortage as per 1979, the population will actively resist an imposed limit for no return benefit to their lives. A fair amount of civil unrest.

                    2. Black market in oil.
                    Check out the increase in robberies when the price of cigarettes went up and required to be fully covered in-store. And cigarettes are not even nationalised, nor regulated anywhere near as far as you propose.

                    Think more along the lines of Prohibition-era crime.

                    Expect attacks on the main Marden-Auckland pipeline, and the New Plymouth-Auckland gas pipeline. To protect that key infrastructure, the armed forces will need to take a much larger share of the oil allocation to themselves. Meaning: pretty close to a martial order to police it.

                    2. Trade retaliation
                    No more exports with Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Singapore (where most of the refineries in our area are), U.S., Canada, etc. If we didn’t like getting kicked out of ANZUS, just wait till we reject Exxon, BP, Shell, Petrobras and their respective countries react in kind. The queues outside their petrol stations will be impressive.

                    The big question will be whether actual attacking sanctions get put on us, not just tit-for-tat hits on specific products ie if we lose China and Australia, we are done for as a functioning country. The good parallel is Venezuela – not quite as bad as Cuba, but up there.

                    3. Plastics and heavy oils
                    The construction, medical, electrical, roading and other infrastructure, and all manufacturing industries grind to a halt fairly quickly as prices go through the roof. Clearly we won’t be able to import the substitute oil.

                    Anyone holding a plastic phone, computer or other device will be fair game as they will all be part of the one petrochemical regulation.

                    4. The government gets to the quick collapse of local government and its water reticulation companies and roading companies. The price of water goes up a fair bit, which may sound fine re dairy, but not so fine if you are on a low income with a large family.

                    5. Tourism dies: planes can’t fly here because they can’t refuel, cruise ships can’t refuel, prices of services and goods go through the roof.

                    New Zealanders do not have the capital to fork out for electric vehicles – but when they have used up their allocated coupons they cannot travel (outside of Auckland’s rail line suburbs).

                    Trips taken by car and truck: knock yourself out:


                    For farmers, if you attacked both methane production and transferred transport to more electricity reliance, you would capture mot of it without pissing them off even more.

                    So, like I said, I would go for essentially buying people new vehicles and regulating Fonterra. Unlike your plan, I can imagine an elected government doing it and surviving.

                    • Bill

                      The fuel is bought from the companies at their normal market selling price (it’s about $1 a litre or less).

                      Enough is bought to satisfy current demand and the supply regulated at the point of delivery (ie, the petrol pump). They already have flow meters.

                      A black market selling a product that can be obtained for free might find some customers I guess.

                      And there is no inflation. (manufacturing costs drop)

                      Search the posts out and give them a read. I think one was called Oil and Water Mix which was a rehash of another that one of four I wrote on fossil covering shipping and aviation. (part four with links to the other three)

                      I never did get around to writing in or explaining the scenario in mind for heating oil. Maybe I will.

                    • Ad

                      Thanks for the links Bill – I will have a good trawl through them.

                      Thankfully with the Carbon Zero bill and the Climate Commission you will have a proper venue to try your ideas out – rather than here.

                    • Bill

                      All venues are “proper”. But thanks for the heads up.

                • Bill

                  The countries that have announced a ban on the sale of all combustion-engine vehicles (there are a few) are suggesting a policy that is piecemeal, too little, and too late.

                  All you need do is look at carbon budgets. The IPCC has some very conservative ones (ie – high). You lay them next to annual global emissions and the rest is easy enough to work out.

                  We need to be at zero emissions from all and any energy sources in a decade or so. And we need to make massive inroads into land use emissions (eg – that bloody dairy herd!)

                  That’s just to afford ourselves a slim chance of avoiding more than 2 degrees of warming btw.

                  If we follow markets, we hit granite.

                  • Ad

                    I agree that we are well past the limits of the market system to get to 2 degree increase.

                    All we are looking for now is the greatest mitigation while retaining a modicum of social order, while not resorting to martial order.

                    We are only differing about the kind, scale and force of government intervention.

  10. Pat 10

    “If AGW is a brick wall constructed from rather large granite blocks, then capitalism (our current way of living and being; of extracting ‘small m’ meaning from life) is the car whose occupants think there might be a way to shimmy that car through the granite wall up ahead in a way that leaves everyone and everything unscathed, or at least relatively unscathed. It’s madness (“adaptation” in official speak).”

    Although we collectively own the metaphorical car speeding towards that granite wall we sadly are not driving (other than backseat) and even abandoning the vehicle at full speed will not prevent it crashing into those blocks….the driver may be able to turn the wheel and/or apply the brakes ( though its likely too late to avoid collision) but the driver is DIC.

    A month or so ago Kevin Anderson gave us a 5% chance of avoiding that collision, every day that passes without application of the brakes the chances reduce to an implied zero in a few years time


    • Bill 10.1

      Analogies, as I keep pointing out, will always fall over when pushed.

      We can’t safely exit a speeding car if we’re passengers. But we can safely stick our hands in our pockets and plant our feet on the ground and thus bring everything to a grinding halt.

      From the link (and thankyou for providing it)

      JournalistHow long do we have?

      Kevin AndersonFor two degrees centigrade? I think probably…realistically, unless we’re starting to be coming down very rapidly in the next three or four years – and I do mean very rapidly indeed, then I think we will have failed on two degrees centigrade of warming. So we have a handful of years to make some very radical and rapid changes. We know what we need to do, we know it’s all of our responsibility to engage with this. It’s not just the great and good leaders. In fact they’ve failed so far. We have everything at our fingertips to solve this problem. We choosed to fail so far but maybe we could choose to succeed

      A handful of years.

      And what we have is a followup report due in March that will “provide advice and options for consideration by the government” (not action then) – and meanwhile, they’re holding back on making a hard call on sea level rise until the release of the IPCC “Special Report” in 2019 (Antarctic melt which was excluded from this report).

      A handful of years minus a few fingers then.

      • Pat 10.1.1

        there is no intent to discredit the analogy, indeed as analogies go I think it is a very apt one,,,rather I wished to extend the analogy to demonstrate my belief that due to the decades of inaction it is no longer possible to implement the required change ‘bottom up’ and that a ‘war plan’ ‘type arrangement needs to be implemented from above with great haste to facilitate the structural change necessary…in other words take the keys off the driver.

        Sadly as you note in your reply it appears meaningful action here ,even under the new government has no sense of the obvious urgency nor any sense of the magnitude of the task.

        • Draco T Bastard

          The new government is still a capitalist government. In fact, Labour has never really worked to get rid of capitalism.

          When we consider that capitalism is the systemic problem and that’s not being changed then we don’t have a solution.

          • Pat

            Whether it is agreed that capitalism is the underlying cause or not there is no need to waste time paying lip service to action….Kevin Anderson has outlined some very basics steps that will have significant impact on carbon emissions that can be implemented immediately WITHIN the existing capitalist system…obviously those initial steps are not all that will be required but they begin the path of a downward trend in outputs and increase the time available to implement the more difficult reductions

        • SpaceMonkey

          Exactly who is going to take the keys off the driver, when the driver is not going to let go of them without a fight to the death?

          • Pat

            the democratically elected leaders of the various countries….after all didnt our current PM state both pre and post election that CC is this generations nuclear free moment?…where is CC in the hundred day plan?where is the wherewithal for James Shaw to implement the needed policy?….but most of all, where is the understanding of carbon budgets and its relationship with time?

            • SpaceMonkey

              Except those democratically elected leaders are either bought (and in the passenger seat telling the driver everything is ok to go faster!) or impotent through fear of the influence of the metastatic-corporations and how they might respond if the leaders go up against them.

              Our current PM did indeed say those things but her Finance Minister is busy saying steady as she goes (actually… he’s talking austerity out of the side of his mouth), so until I see real change coming through, I’m going to treat it as political rhetoric.

              • Pat

                so it would seem…..and I held high hopes Jacinda Adern’s unusual path to high office and her relative youth had avoided such corrupting influence.

                C’est la vie

  11. Ed 11

    A nice short ride…

    ‘We’ve already burned through almost half the world’s supply of oil. How will we ride out the slide down the other side of Hubbert’s Curve? ‘

  12. One Two 12

    ‘Kidding ourselves’…

    In ways and on levels ‘we’ do not comprehend…

    Until foundational ‘truths’ are unearthed for evaluation and then worked on and learned from…

    Times 7.xx billion human beings….

    ‘We’ are collective momentum…

  13. David Mac 13

    Capitalism isn’t going to kill us, it’s going to save us. Always has.

    If it weren’t for publicly listed companies building wind generation equipment the technology would be no further down the road than hippies putting Fisher and Paykel motors on top of poles.

    Google aren’t spending billions to halve our transport costs because they’re great guys wanting to end global warming, they want to own the market when they get it right.

    A handful of people might want to rid the world of a disease or build a brain scan machine, it is only with Big Med backing that they can make that happen.

    We are not able to make steel without high quality coking coal. The sort on the Westcoast. A world without fossil fuels is a world with no steel…. Cool, I love The Flintstones.

    I don’t believe we need to crush capitalism. As pointed to in the report, I feel we need to incentivise it. Like a stake for a runner bean, grow it in the directions that suit us and the planet. You can’t crush it, a black market develops. As soon as the authorities stop shooting traders, the streets are lined with vendors and their barrows. We can’t help ourselves…..Want a mango?

    There will be few better incentives than the Pacific Ocean pummeling Auckland’s coastal properties. Nothing motivates like salt water all over your Matisse.

    • Bill 13.1

      Nothing motivates like salt water all over your Matisse.

      Really? Because by that point, it’s way beyond too late. There is a lot of inertia involved with climate change. And by “salt water in Matisse” time, that inertia will be well and truly unleashing – meaning much, much worse is unavoidable.

      I don’t really care if you want to promote some notion of capitalism as good. The fact is that it’s traction comes from consuming vast amounts of fossil fuel. That fossil fuel gives rise to global warming and we can’t swap it out anywhere near fast enough. Since we can’t swap it out, we either hang on to capitalism and hit the effects of AGW head on (physics wins in that scenario), or we stop with the fossil, which means stopping with the capitalism and we see where we’re at.

      There will still be increasing effects of AGW to deal with (that inertia I mentioned before). But unless we’ve already set up conditions for non-AGW (which is a possibility), then they will be that much less. And the sooner we get on with dumping fossil, and so unavoidably dumping the capitalism that relies on it, the lesser those effects will be.

      • David Mac 13.1.1

        We’ll be steered by incentives, technical advances and the rising tide. I think weka was right to highlight tipping points. At some point I will feel compelled to swap my combustion engine for an electric one or a horse. I could be motivated by something better, my heart, govt decree, $10 a litre petrol. As more people look to get rid of their combustion engines viable opportunities for new ways of doing things open up. Instead of fuel pumps, battery cassette exchange terminals.

        Did Victorian children stop dragging carts up and down mines because it was inhumane or because some clever entrepreneur invented a steam winch? I suggest it was a combination.

        • Ieuan

          ‘or we stop with the fossil, which means stopping with the capitalism and we see where we’re at’

          I really don’t understand that logic, it’s not like Communist or Socialist countries don’t use or produce fossil fuels. In fact Venezuela has similar oil reserves to Saudi Arabia and Soviet oil production peaked at 12 million barrels per day in 1988 (it’s about 10 million today).

          • Bill

            The USSR no longer exists and Russia is like Venezuela – a mixed market economy.

            If the command economy of the USSR was still in existence, then yes, state capitalism would be right beside liberal capitalism in the “things we need to throw out” pile.

            • David Mac

              Footage from Venezuela featuring empty supermarket shelves plucks at my heartstrings. It leads me to imagine what would happen here if a visit to Pak n’ Save was met with 100’s of metres of empty shelves. A situation compounded by the remaining price tags: Weetbix $57.65.

              Like the Venezuelans I think we would take to the streets demanding the demise of whatever government was in place.

              • Footage from Venezuela featuring empty supermarket shelves plucks at my heartstrings.

                Yes, it’s amazing the power that capitalists have to destroy an economy and a nation just because they’re pissed off that they’re not getting as rich as they’d like.

        • Stuart Munro

          Adam Smith had a lot to do with it – Moral Sentiments caused even Tories like Burke to at least pretend to loyal opposition and the possession of sensibility – a quality conspicuously lacking in contemporary Gnat whips.

          • David Mac

            Yep…”What do you mean you’re doing it tough? Take a look at our fabulous GDP”

            It’s a mantra that has run it’s course.

            The best way to steer people in a certain direction is to tax non-compliers and reward early adopters.

            Our government could be doing much more to tempt me out of a Safari and into a Leaf.

            • Stuart Munro

              There are lots of different threads that get mixed up into what we call capitalism. But strictly it was about those practices that various religions proscribed and called usury.

              The advent of neoliberalism as a populist belief inverted the well-established and prudent suspicion of finance and speculation. The result was not universal prosperity, but widespread fraud on the model of Enron. Real productive capacity and markets cannot be inflated as readily as real estate or financial products.

              When we consider one of the major contemporary failures in NZ, the dairy expansion, the influence of financial institutions is neither absent nor benign. The current model favours the least sustainable, most intensive and destructive practices. And if the farmer fails it will not be the lender who loses out.

              Regulation that returns risk to the lenders is a necessary part of the solution. Overcapitalisation of industries impoverishes everyone but the banks.

              • David Mac

                I think that’s a good comment Stuart and I agree with you.

                On a number of occasions during the GFC the banking and finance fraternity had my jaw on the floor. I was astounded to discover that they were selling financial products to customers that were designed to fail from their inception, lose money for investors.

                To me, this is akin to selling fire extinguishers with petrol in them. Well wrong.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Did Victorian children stop dragging carts up and down mines because it was inhumane or because some clever entrepreneur invented a steam winch? I suggest it was a combination.

          It was law.

          Steam engines: 18th century
          Child labour laws: 19th century

        • cleangreen

          David Mac’

          What about the both types of poison emissions from trucks? (and cars)

          If you say use electric trucks’ – Electric trucks still will pollute our rivers,lakes streams aquifers and cause cancer & choke us with dirty poisonous air with tyre dust.

          Tyre dust is now scientifically found to be collecting on both the North and South poles as we speak, and speeding up the melting of the ice?

          Here are some facts to help quantify the benefits of rail ( and negatives of using trucks).

          An Ernst and Young report for the NZ Transport Agency in 2016 — The Value of Rail in New Zealand — put that value at $1.5 billion. The report was not made public until recently.

          A B-train (truck with two trailers) wears out the road 20,000 times more than a car, and we know that the local roading authorities are struggling to keep up with the maintenance on the road. I travel the Gisborne to Napier route often and am fed up with the constant wheel alignments necessary from the potholes and sunken bridges.

          Then there are the externalities — the consequences of an economic activity experienced by unrelated third parties: the social and environmental cost of increasing heavy trucks and reducing rail use.

          The Ministry of Transport has put the social cost of each road death at $4.5 million, and a crash involving serious injuries at $473,600.

          Living near a busy road increases the risk of premature death by 7 percent, increasing the risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, dementia, childhood diabetes, asthma, allergies etc.

          A diesel truck pollutes up to 1000 times more than a car.

          One truck tyre sheds 10 times the amount of one car tyre.
          Each truck tyre sheds 0.21 g/km of tyre compound (butadiene styrene); that is 5.46 g/km for a 26-wheel vehicle.

          Road run-off accounts for 40-50 percent of urban metal contamination to aquatic ecosystems.

          It’s not a matter of being anti trucks, it’s about sharing the load. Even the Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley, as well as local transport operators, are saying they can’t cope with the increasing freight task and may have to turn work away.

          • David Mac

            Hi Cleangreen, You seem to have a thing about the dangers released by vehicle tyres. It’s something I’d never considered until reading your comments. You’re the only person I read talking about it. I don’t discount what you say but given the isolation of your concerns it leads me to wonder if we don’t have bigger fish to fry.

            I’m hoping our system will direct us towards a better approach. eg: A surcharge on the polluting tyres and relaxed taxation on tyres made from vegetable gum. The development of which only became viable because of our burning desire to be rid of the conventional variety.

            Capitalism can be steered.

            • Draco T Bastard

              You’re the only person I read talking about it.

              He’s not the only one. I first heard about it back in the 1980s.

              I do wish that he’d cite some of his figures though.

              I don’t discount what you say but given the isolation of your concerns it leads me to wonder if we don’t have bigger fish to fry.

              Just because you’re not hearing about it doesn’t mean that it’s not a major problem.

              Capitalism can be steered.

              And it will still take us straight over the cliff.

    • Capitalism isn’t going to kill us, it’s going to save us. Always has.

      Yes, it’s always saved us by trashing the economy, creating poverty and killing lots of people.

      We have to destroy the village to save it.

      If it weren’t for publicly listed companies building wind generation equipment the technology would be no further down the road than hippies putting Fisher and Paykel motors on top of poles.


      Almost all technologies available today are a result of government funded R&D.

      Google aren’t spending billions to halve our transport costs because they’re great guys wanting to end global warming, they want to own the market when they get it right.

      And thus destroy the economy.

      A handful of people might want to rid the world of a disease or build a brain scan machine, it is only with Big Med backing that they can make that happen.

      Big Pharma gets massive amounts of government subsidies.

      We are not able to make steel without high quality coking coal. The sort on the Westcoast. A world without fossil fuels is a world with no steel…


      Coal is one source of carbon to make steel. There are others. Also note that coking coal isn’t burned for energy which means that it’s not, technically, a fuel.

      I don’t believe we need to crush capitalism.

      Your beliefs are immaterial. The facts show that capitalism is destroying life on Earth and needs to be stopped.

      As pointed to in the report, I feel we need to incentivise it.

      I would have thought that having a living Earth was incentive enough.

      You can’t crush it, a black market develops.


      As soon as the authorities stop shooting traders, the streets are lined with vendors and their barrows.

      We’re not after the traders – we’re after the capitalists. They’re the ones doing the damage – not the traders.

      • David Mac 13.2.1

        Lets pool our incomes and share half the total Draco. My income was $100 last week. Not so keen now?

        Other people haven’t got your money. You’ll need to sell them something. Choose to be in control.

        NZ doesn’t want Draco utopia mate. We’re a bit cagey when a naked man offers us a free shirt.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Other people haven’t got your money. You’ll need to sell them something.

          Well, if they don’t have my money then there’s nothing to sell them because they can’t afford it.

          Choose to be in control.

          Democracy really is better than a dictatorship.

          NZ doesn’t want Draco utopia mate.

          I don’t seem to recall offering a utopia. Just a better way than capitalism.

  14. Ad 14

    Bill, looks like you will be able to test out your ideas on nationalising all petroleum through the Zero Carbon Act process:


    The Prime Minister and Minister Shaw have today announced that there will be a fulsome process of consultation with all you could possibly think of to form the public mandate for actions to achieve what Minister Shaw is proposing.

    Hopefully the proposals put forward will be well in advance of the report that you cited above in the post.

    The Carbon Zero bill is not due to even get its first reading in Parliament until October next year.

    You will be able to front up to Select Committee and propose your ideas direct to the Minister.

    Ardern and Shaw front to the media here:


    It’s possible a bit of it will get picked up on the news tonight.

    • Bill 14.1

      Best get my arse down that Uni to double and triple check some things then, aye? 😉

    • David Mac 14.2

      I think it would be fun to compile a submission for the mandate discussion in here.

      Where better? Interested parties from all walks of life with a leaning towards making a measurable difference.

      Someone more clever than me could suggest some realistic steps we could take towards addressing climate change in the short to medium term and as a group we could debate and modify the living hell out of it.

      I think actions of this type is the best way for us jaw flappers to influence our future. Blogs rock.

  15. cleangreen 15

    Bloody hope so Ad; – read my comment back on

    The other side of the story of “capitalism failing us”

    • David Mac 15.1

      As much as I’m an advocate for manipulated capitalism, I think you’re right Cleangreen. It is not serving enough of us well.

  16. David Mac 16

    Manipulated capitalism = Going a bit easier on the taxation for the farmer that has all waterways fenced off. An unexpected windfall paid for by those farmers that choose to let the bovines swim.

  17. eco maori 17

    We need to come up with ideas on what systems to replace capitalism with what system we replace money with ect yes I agree the money spent on other dum ass projects is dum ass like war and fusion
    I don’t have any ideas yet on these questions. Ka pai

  18. One Two 18


    If we start deliberately altering global temperatures, who controls the global thermostat?


    Kidding ourselves!

  19. Ian 19

    Irrigation is a godsend with the dryer weather and warmer temperatures. It provides my business with certainty . No drought when you have good irrigation. I note that gold kiwifruit orchards are selling up to $ 1 million dollars per Hectare. Can’t wait to convert the Canterbury dairy farm to gold kiwifruit as the climate improves.

    • Muttonbird 19.1

      Pity the waterways. But then you don’t care about them.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 19.2

      So long as society tolerates your greed for water, you’ll be fine.

      Edit: 8-10k gallons per acre per day. $2 per tonne. Good luck.

  20. Sanctuary 20

    Deng Xiaoping famously said “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is white or black, as long as it catches mice.”

    When talking about capitalism it pays to remember it isn’t a sentient thing capable of rational (or irrational) thought. Capitalism isn’t the cause of, or the saviour for, anyone or anything anymore than science is anything more than a method of inquiry. It is just a cultural tool.

    So when we think about how best to mitigate climate change, we need to heed the words of Deng Xiaoping. I don’t care what tools we employ to mitigate and reverse global climate change. I just want them to work. And if that means using capitalism to help in that by allowing people to make money out of stopping change, so be it.

    • ropata 20.1

      Aside from the fact that Capitalism is deeply immoral and the gospel of infinite growth is to blame for wrecking global ecosystems, capitalism is an artefact of human society, the core problem is humanity itself, i.e. too many people.

      When a species overshoots sustainable levels, bad stuff happens.

      This is a "warning to humanity" from 15,000 of the world's leading scientists. pic.twitter.com/cvCT3PJgP3— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) December 17, 2017

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