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National are lighting political dumpster fires while the Amazon burns

Written By: - Date published: 7:15 am, August 27th, 2019 - 47 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, climate change, disaster, farming, Free Trade, national, Politics, trade - Tags: , , ,

https://twitter.com/ena_bean27/status/1164203219444273152

I laughed grimly when I saw the imagery of National’s tweet and how neatly it mirrored what is happening in Brazil. It’s not funny of course. They’re fools of the highest order. They either don’t understand what climate change is (in which case they’re unfit to govern), or they do and they don’t care (in which case they’re very dangerous and should be stopped at all costs).

I don’t know yet what to say about the Amazon fires, mostly because I feel overwhelmed by the sheer scale and complexity of the situation and the deluge of information from the past week as the English speaking world wakes up. I am noticing a few things. People watching from outside are scared and angry. I can only imagine what it’s like being there on the ground. There’s something about the immediacy of fire (unlike say, slowly blighting your rivers over several decades). Imagine if the Ureweras were on fire. Or Fiordland National Park. And the government encouraged it. And the world stood by and watched.

I’m also seeing a fair amount of confusion online about what is going on. Why are the fires there, who is to blame, what can we do? It’s complex. The Brazilian situation is largely down to a right wing fascist government, but there are serious fires in socialist Bolivia that are also human generated and due to government policy. Clearing land for beef production is a factor in both countries, but this is not a personal consumption issue for the West (who mostly don’t buy Brazilian beef). The causes are political and ideological. Stop eating beef and something else will be grown.

There is more chaos of information than usual on social media, which I think is driven by panic. Irrespective of whether these fires are within the 15 year norm (god knows why that’s a negating argument given the timeframes of climate change), we can’t say that about the multiple bushfires along the coast of New South Wales and ACT that shouldn’t be happening at all at this time of year. Or the Arctic melt. There are more fires right now in Angola and the Congo than South America.

People understand intuitively what is going on and the symbolic nature of the Amazon burning is in our faces and in our hearts. We are at another social and political tipping point. Watch change happen faster.

There’s a good explanation here of the ecology involved in the fires and why they matter. The good news is that many of the fires are preventable and even with changes due to climate there is much mitigation work that humans can do.

The bad news is that Brazil has the worst people in charge at the worst possible time. I cannot think of a single reason why the world should not step up now and do whatever political and economic action is necessary to hold the Bolsonaro government to account.

The really bad news is that deforestation leads to less rain and more fires, which then feed climate change. It can take decades to approach the carbon sink capacity of a mature forest. This is runaway climate change in action, and it’s always humans stoking that fire. It’s a matter of the greatest urgency.

Things I would like to know: what is it about the global economy that is enabling Brazilian and Bolivian farmers and politicians to burn the rainforest? What trade agreements are fueling this? What blind eyes are being turned to the timber coming out of illegal forestry in Brazil? Why are Western governments not acting for the human rights of indigenous people’s that are under threat?

We’re complicit. We can rightly finger point at Bolsonaro, but the West is still not taking appropriate action on climate change and GHG emission reduction despite knowing the seriousness of the situation and being a main cause. New Zealand can barely rouse itself to protect our waterways.

So, here we are. National are climate denying, Trump-invoking dangerous fools who are the poster boys for late stage capitalism’s dying throes, our very own timid gods of death. Next year there will be a test for NZ with the election, which path are we going to choose? I don’t think we can afford to wait until then.

Things we can do now:

As always, Indigenous peoples have been doing the key mahi and leading the way. Now is a good time to learn about the people that live in the Amazon, what their issues are, and what they understand needs to be done. Indigenous rights, land rights and environmental protection are intertwined.  Sept 5th is a Global Day of Action for the Amazon.  

There are two other global climate action events in the next few months:

  • One is the School Strike For Climate on the 27th of September. This is an intergenerational general strike, which means all of us can be involved. SS4C is active in NZ and building momentum.
  • The other is Extinction Rebellion UK’s next round of actions 7 – 19 October. These are large, very well organised actions with specific intentions beyond protest. They include plans to shut down major city functions to force governments to act. In the last year ER have been one of the key movers globally of awareness of the urgency of climate action. This is largely about tipping points and support here is one of our few hopes for radically shifting the West’s response to climate change.  

Front page image from Banksy.

47 comments on “National are lighting political dumpster fires while the Amazon burns ”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    To paraphrase Upton Sinclair on the National party –

    It is difficult to get a political party to understand something, when their funding stream depends upon their not understanding it.

  2. Rapunzel 2

    Just any? One that is most despised by builders, painters etc is the costly, timewasting one for "scaffolding". People should take a look at the now 63 pages and more on the companies register for scaffolders, the majority it looks like in just a recent few years under the National Party, good little earner, big time waster – time is money.

    • Sacha 2.1

      Gee, wonder if the number of deaths and serious injuries on building sites might have sparked that regulation. Protection can be inconvenient, even to those it protects.

      • weka 2.1.1

        it's almost like there's a correlation between neoliberalism, poor worker protections and the subsequent increase in regulations. If people in positions of power can't self regulate, then the state will have to regulate harder.

      • Rapunzel 2.1.2

        My understanding is that they have ended up "scaffolding" everything for the sake of it, sure dismiss excessive overkill, it actually it reminds me of the "P" testing. Of course safety is prime but even that suffers when it is done for the sake of it or because people are "scared" into rather than commonsense, obviously I failed to make that clear when making reference to doing something just for the sake of it and the true meaning of safety.

        • greywarshark 2.1.2.1

          Good point Rapunzel. Bringing in draconian regulations can cover up the fact that there are so many breaches of good and responsible practice going on behind the scenes.

          One for instance, if a competent, reliable, and committed and ethical engineer had designed and monitored the Christchurch collapsible building then a large number of people trusting in our good standards (heh) would not be dead. And the engineer doesn't seem to be held responsible legally for the disgraceful lack of care and skills. He seems to be able to continue in business. And wasn't there fraud through false documentation along the way?

        • Anne 2.1.2.2

          Yes, I have some sympathy with your contention Rapunzel. A few years ago, I needed some small repair jobs to my roof and guttering. I was informed that it would be necessary to set up scaffolding before the job could be undertaken. The cost of the scaffolding was going to be more than double the amount of work to be done.

          Fortunately a relative with some expertise in this area took on the job and he brought along an extention ladder which he proceeded to run up and down as he progressed. The job was completed in less than two hours.

          • Rapunzel 2.1.2.2.1

            Having plenty of "relatives" in the building sector and until recently a husband – well I still have him, I'm sure you get the picture – in infrastructure the many ways time and money are wasted via a "middle-man" scenario are many. The "scaffolding" issue was one often raised the paying for, the waiting for, the putting up and down often weather dependent, seemed, like the "P" testing to have been taken to extremes. Commonsense, making sure people are safe, actually safe not just being able to say you "met" the guidelines are, or should be a natural part of "business".

            The oversell and scaremongering by the middlemen paid to "sell" the product goes hand in hand with insurance sold, often with clauses that preclude payment ever happening – especially where a claim leads to higher premiums ongoing.

            A lot of it is soft "fraud" and some of the selling is not real service.

            • Sacha 2.1.2.2.1.2

              Commonsense, making sure people are safe, actually safe not just being able to say you "met" the guidelines are, or should be a natural part of "business".

              If it was actually common enough, there would be no need for protective regulations. And people would not die at work.

              • KJT

                In my "real job" good training, adequate manning levels and experience requirements, have been replaced by endless, laws, regulations policies and procedures, more than you can read and digest in your lifetime, designed to cover the arse of regulators and management. So they are not responsible, when the inevitable accidents, from poorly trained, poorly resourced, overworked and semi skilled staff, occur.

                Needless to say, the accident and injury rate has gone up.

                Safety has become another make work for producers of bs paperwork, just like the other bs job, HR.

                • KJT

                  Useless arse covering laws, and laws restricting workers freedom to withdraw their labour, including for safety issues, won't be the ones removed, however.

        • AB 2.1.2.3

          No doubt that happens. Capitalism excels at scams, because the thing it is supposed to be good at (creating new/better products and services through innovation) is extremely difficult. So most operators make a crust by other means.

    • KJT 2.2

      If the goal was safety, and not making a business opportunity for someones crony, safety harnesses would be allowed in lieu of scaffolding.

  3. WeTheBleeple 3

    Trade tariffs have seen American soy rot in grain silos so corporations have stepped in to turn the Amazon into a factory to feed China's pigs – and those deluded vegans who haven't yet grasped what food miles or eating sustainably actually mean.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-grains/harvesting-in-a-trade-war-us-crops-rot-as-storage-costs-soar-idUSKCN1NQ0GA

    "But Beijing slapped a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans in retaliation for duties imposed by Washington on Chinese exports. That effectively shut down U.S. soybean exports to China, worth around $12 billion last year. China typically takes around 60 percent of U.S. supplies."

    https://pulitzercenter.org/reporting/how-soybean-boom-threatens-amazon

    "This year, [2016] Brazil harvested around 100 million tons of soybeans from 33 million hectares (82 million acres), making it the second-largest soybean producer in the world after the United States."

    The issue has been there a while. Trump and Bolsonaro have exacerbated the problems significantly through petty brinkmanship, deregulation, empowering of dodgy players, and blatantly not giving a fuck.

    As for Bridges and his deregulation bonfire – a complete and utter tosser, a joke of a man, a Trump sycophant – what worse possible thing could a person be in today's climate than a wannabe Trump.

    • greywarshark 3.1

      And USA the land of the free-to-do-anything we want, put him in a leader's position and seems hamstrung from getting rid of this ham-fisted man-of-the-people hamming it up for all of the citizens to see. Yet they are the continual actors in a real 'folk tale', The Emperor's New Clothes.

      Perhaps in the USA the majority have swept away any values of importance that they had been forced to take on over the years of striving by many and the sacrifices that went with those efforts.

      "The Emperor's New Clothes" (Danish: Kejserens nye klæder) is a short tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent –
      (Call me stupid go on!)
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emperor%27s_New_Clothes

  4. Robert Guyton 4

    "We are at another social and political tipping point. Watch change happen faster."

    Yes, I believe so too. Choppy seas though, squalls and tempests, not smooth sailing into a safe harbour. It takes a lot to plant and manage a forest to maturity but very, very little to burn one down. The National Party's choice of a bonfire to rally around, is telling.

    • weka 4.1

      I think the timing of very high profile fires with the global actions over the next few months (there's actually four I am aware of within the space of 6 weeks) is a real opportunity. Lots of potential for awareness raising, not just about the climate crisis but what we can do. Maybe we should run an event on TS to coincide with some of those, a kind of 'how to get there' blog party.

    • mike 4.2

      national would double down and invest in sun set industries and miss the boat as other countries gain a competive march as much as climate change is a disaster its also a catalist for r and d and new jobs .

  5. Leaps 5

    Sadly this simplistic drivel appeals to many unthinking voters.
    The world is a little more complex than this. There's a reason why regulations exist. In fact given how the free market is not delivering in many areas (e.g. the environment) we need more rules and regulations not fewer.

  6. Formerly Ross 6

    Don’t diss Simon, he is Labour’s biggest asset.

    • Robert Guyton 6.1

      Dissing him cements him in his role; he regards the feedback as encouraging.

      Diss on.

    • bwaghorn 6.2

      I would bet my last beer that a few Democrats said that about trump . It's strange times we live in

  7. Agora 7

    Trump Administration Plans to Open U.S. Consulate in Greenland
    https://time.com/5660363/trump-wants-greenland-consulate/

    • greywarshark 7.1

      Diplomacy Quotes (from Brainy Quotes)

      • Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock. Will Rogers.
      • Diplomacy, n. is the art of letting somebody else have your way. David Frost. …
      • To say nothing, especially when speaking, is half the art of diplomacy. Will Durant. ..
      • Agora 7.1.1

        .. and Kashmir: “India’s unilateral abrogation of the autonomous status of Kashmir, previously guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, is but a first step toward nations around the world taking steps to seize higher altitude land as global warming and sea-level rise increasingly cascade in intensity. Warming oceans, melting permafrost, glaciers, and ice sheets are rapidly affecting sea levels, especially during high tides.”

        https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2019/08/16/kashmir-the-fight-for-the-high-ground-has-started/

      • soddenleaf 7.1.2

        Trump the developer fails to buy Greenland, Trump the gotcha tv star gets rating spike in ditching Denmark visit, Trump President of the U.S…. …well the U.S. making friends in the world right…

    • Dukeofurl 7.2

      Virtually no US visitors there or Trade with US.

      Likely just to be a NSA or FBI spybase. After the antics of the madman Trump , I would think the local government of Greenland will say NO

  8. Wayne 8

    I am surprised at the vehemence of the recent items on The Standard about Simon and National.

    It seems the Left strategy is to try and paint National as being in the same domain as Trump. All Left commentators are using the same meme. That National has become an extreme right wing party completely divorced from New Zealanders. I assume that this is an agreed political strategy, even if not explicitly, certainly implicitly. Both Labour and Green activists are taking a common approach on this.

    I wonder if it will work? Will middle New Zealand (those that can go between each party) buy it? Will it backfire as being too extreme a characterisation?

    I guess we will soon know, by the reaction of polls.

    • weka 8.1

      I'm assuming the Greens have an explicit strategy on this, going off what Shaw has been saying. To me that looks like people responding sensibly to what they perceive as real danger.

      I guess the party activists could be networking on this. But generally I think what National are doing is just obvious and various people are reaching the same conclusions.

      Can't see TS authors and commentors being organised around a strategy though, lol.

      I doubt it will be reflected much in the polls immediately. Apart from Shaw I don't think there's been much change on the left that's extreme or vehement, not that the polled public will be influenced by. The influence is more from increasing concern about climate change and people starting to think about what that means politically. People are scared and it's clear that climate change is affecting NZ already, not some vague time in the future. I think National have shot themselves in the foot with their denier stance.

      The next election will tell us much. The mythical middle NZ voter aside, I think the issue is going to be what happens to NZF, and whether Labour will go hard for those votes. How NZF position themselves in relation to National will be very interesting. With National going right, NZF may pick up some soft National voters. Damn.

      • Ian 8.1.1

        It's all about expectations and performance mate. This government set the parameters during the last election campaign using their spin docters and those hidden persuaders.

        The results are there for all to see. A spectacular failure that is destroying the business of NZ inc.

        • marty mars 8.1.1.1

          yeah nah ian – take your shades off mate – our great country isn't always dark.

    • Robert Guyton 8.2

      "Vehemence"?

      Hardly. More "disbelief", I'd say.

    • tc 8.3

      yes dear and love the generalist use of ‘the left’ how very DP of you wayne keeping those memes alive.

    • Stuart Munro. 8.4

      I suppose you'd prefer us to be quiet while your pet party goes off the rails on the crazy train, but I don't want Trump lite thank you very much, or any other kind of Trump. Your party was not always the unmitigated disgrace it is today; it behooves citizens to point out its innumerable shortcomings in the interests of securing better governance.

    • It seems the Left strategy is…

      Do you also believe the Right is a monolithic entity with a unified strategy, rather than a bunch of people and groups with a range of very different agendas?

    • Incognito 8.6

      What a strange comment; it feels like deliberate counter-spin.

      Personally, I don’t feel “[t]hat National has become an extreme right wing party completely divorced from New Zealanders.” However, I do feel that they have dropped all pretence of being firmly rooted in reality and verifiable facts with their propaganda and that they have become distinctly more populistic. Their use of Facebook is a case in point with their targeted attacks on Julie Anne Genter, for example.

      The more extreme National’s messaging is, the more extreme the criticism becomes, obviously. This might be a deliberate strategy by National. Quite possibly, they are thinking that they have more to gain than to lose in this war of escalating populist propaganda. Quite possibly, they might be right.

      Will the criticism backfire in the polls? How can you tell if a strategy works or a counter-strategy backfires? The only thing that matters is whether the numbers for National go up. Which is why I think it is entirely deliberate and National is trying to double-cross public opinion. In other words, it is cynically manipulating us, the NZ voters.

      Why do I get the feeling that you know this and you quite happily play along if not play your part in it here on TS? I used to think you were genuine but I’m not so sure anymore after reading this comment of yours.

    • KJT 8.7

      Come on Wayne. We even have a National MP using cut and pasted Trump supporter statements, about climate change.

      And National's recent propensity to lie, spin and attack to get back in power. It was always there, but currently National have abandoned all ethics.

    • KJT 8.8

      Are you trying to say National is not an extreme right wing party.

      Haven't you been following their latest policy announcements. Their real position on climate change is the same as Trumps.

  9. soddenleaf 9

    2040? So those born after 1974? will have to wait two more years for a pension, and this will fund tax cuts to — well those who pay lots of taxes — older kiwis who still own stuff. Last rich boomer gasp for govt largess? Older pensioners, like Winston get a tax cut! paid for in 20 years by pension age being put up.

  10. weston 10

    The upping of the super payment age seems not exactly a winner for the nats i guess their base is so well off they dont care about those that arnt same old story .The throwing out of two regs for every new one dreamt up though is pure genius imo in fact you gotta wonder if they thought of it themselves ??!! Talk is cheap of course and i cant imagine the two for one promise is anything other than a cheap cynical populist type dog whistle to a very big slice of the community that perceives itself deluged with excess regulation .I seem to remember national promising to appoint an anti pc minister or something a few years back but it was all bullshit of course and after the election of the time the idea evaporated much like a fart .National imo isnt gonna be making hamburgers out of any born again sacred cows like health an safety etc etc etc because its just as terrified of those agencys champions as any other political party and besides they generate huge amounts of business just think how much the traffic safety sector makes for example …laughing all the way to the bank would be an understatement !!

  11. KJT 11

    I doubt they are going to take away the regulations against the right to strike. When they restore industries, "freedom" to pollute.

    Even though, a party for "individual responsibility and freedom" if they are ethically consistent?

  12. Mandy 12

    Climate to Connection Change
    In a release on Aug. 22, Greenpeace said forest fires and climate change operate in a vicious circle. As the number of fires increase, greenhouse gas emissions do too. This makes the planet’s overall temperature rise, the organization said. As the temperature increases, extreme weather events like major droughts happen more often.

    “In addition to increasing emissions, deforestation contributes directly to a change in rainfall patterns in the affected region, extending the length of the dry season, further affecting forests, biodiversity, agriculture and human health,” Greenpeace said in the release.

    [lprent: I’ll let this through even if it does look like an simple astroturf behaviour. Added link to the press release. ]

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