Open Mike 11/01/2018

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, January 11th, 2018 - 67 comments
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67 comments on “Open Mike 11/01/2018”

  1. Andre 1

    A few interesting climate/energy pieces here.

    First, methane. It’s often touted as a low-carbon bridge to the renewable energy future. Low-carbon it may indeed be, but it’s not a low-warming route. It’s so leaky, and methane is such a powerful greenhouse gas, that it appears to be a significant contributor to the acceleration warming we’re seeing right now.

    That’s not entirely disastrous news, however. Methane is relatively short-lived in the atmosphere, with a half-life around ten years (I’ve seen plausible numbers from 7 to 13 years). That means if we emit methane now, we feel the full effects from that emission over the next couple of decades, but it’s not leaving quite as much of a problem beyond that. So spiking methane emissions now has a chance of spiking short-term warming enough to make us get serious about going all renewable. Then dropping methane emissions quickly will also drop atmospheric concentrations (not quite as quickly) which will then give us a slow-down in warming. It won’t be much, but anything helps.

    Then there’s the slightly better news that building new renewables plus storage has gone below the cost of operating existing coal-fired stations, at least in some places. So even for the most committed laissez-faire, economic-efficiency-is-everything neo-liberal, there is absolutely no reason to continue with coal for electricity. Natural gas will be the next to go.

    edit: missed this one first time around. Air-conditioning is another big contributor to global warming, which will only get bigger as more of the world uses it. The refrigerants used are craptacularly powerful greenhouse gases. But there’s progress on developing A/C sytems that don’t need those nasties.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1

      Anthony Ingraffea et al’s 2015 study came to the same conclusion about fracking. This was the industry response:

      It’s no secret that this team of activists wants to ban hydraulic fracturing, so it’s also not surprising that they arrived at a conclusion to advance that cause.

      …and so on.

      Shut them down.

    • Bill 1.2

      What does methane break down into Andre? Yup. CO2.

      So not leaving quite as much of a problem beyond that is…yeah. Nah.

      • Andre 1.2.1

        Bill, do you understand exponential decay? And how much more powerfully warming that atom of carbon is when it’s in a methane molecule than when it’s in a CO2 molecule? And how those two factors combine to cause the warming effects to be mostly front-loaded onto a short timescale just after the methane is emitted?

        You can see that in the way the 20 year warming potential for methane is listed (in one source, others vary) as 86, the 100 year potential is 28, the 500 year potential is 7.6. Almost all the warming that methane is going to do occurs in the first few lifetimes after it is emitted.

        • Bill

          Do you understand that we need to not put CO2 into the atmosphere and that the laws of physics don’t differentiate between a CO2 molecule that arrived by way of a decaying methane molecule ,or a gas fired power station, or a bio-fuel plant?

          • Andre

            I think you’ve totally missed the points of my original comment.

            • Bill

              Well, yes and no.

              The methane line you’re putting forward kind of chimes with the proposition that maximum immiseration will lead to a revolutionary consciousness among the afflicted masses.

  2. Ad 2

    Here’s Singapore, joining Australia in an aggressive programme to unlock the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids with none of the negative side effects and social ills. Exactly the kind of programme that New Zealand should be investing in before legalising its medicinal use.

    Singapore’s new Synthetic Cannabinoid Biology Programme identifies cannabinoid genes for the sustainable production of medicinal cannabinoids – without the need to grow the plant.

    • solkta 2.1

      No that’s the very silliness we should not be wasting time with before changing the law. We have people suffering NOW!

    • Rosemary McDonald 2.2

      “Here’s Singapore, joining Australia in an aggressive programme to unlock the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids with none of the negative side effects and social ills. Exactly the kind of programme that New Zealand should be investing in before legalising its medicinal use.”

      Because as we all know, commercially produced (and most importantly patented) remedies are completely safe!!!

      And the reporter from The Straitstimes really needs to do better…

      “Cultivation of the cannabis plant, whose leaves are usually smoked by drug abusers,”

      Yeah, nah. Its the flower buds, dude, that are the first choice of recreational users.

      “…sustainable production of medicinal cannabinoids – without the need to grow the plant.”

      Because, like, growing actual plants is really, really bad for the planet…

      All that carbon dioxide being sucked up and all that nasty, nasty oxygen being released into the atmosphere…can’t have that can we????

      In the meantime…

      • Ad 2.2.1

        I can see you’re not a believer in regulation for medicines. History doesn’t always provide vindication for regulating medicines, but then, Coke used to have cocaine, heroin used to be pretty easy to get, and it was reasonable to regulate both of them. Regulation is usually worth the effort.

        Plenty of good saints got great visions from all sorts. There’s a whole heaven of stoner sacreds.

        If you’re really lucky, there will be a properly regulated test for Cannabis products here:

        Once it starts getting really legal as a therapy or as a medicine, lots of people are going to make money. It won’t be an amateur sport any more. Pot plant singles on the patio will go the same way as any other homegrown vegetable.

        New Zealand needs to take its lead from Australia and Singapore and prepare for full commercialisation.

        • Rosemary McDonald

          “Once it starts getting really legal as a therapy or as a medicine, lots of people are going to make money. It won’t be an amateur sport any more. Pot plant singles on the patio will go the same way as any other homegrown vegetable.”

          Surely your not advocating for regulation of edible home grown vegetables?

          Echoes of Omen 2….

        • Rosemary McDonald

          “New Zealand needs to take its lead from Australia and Singapore and prepare for full commercialisation.”

          Or we can take our lead from Colorado….perhaps someone could remind Greg O’Connor about this little junket he made in 2015….

          Blockquote alert!!!!

          “Recreational Cannabis in Colorado

          Possession: If you are 21 years old or over, you can possess one ounce (28 grams) of THC, which includes flowers and concentrated and edible forms of the drug.

          Buying: Any adult is allowed to possess up to one ounce, but non-residents of Colorado are not allowed to buy more than seven grams in a single transaction. Several purchases could be made from more than one store a day (there is no register of names), but the quantity allowed for possession remains at one ounce.

          Where can you consume it: In your own home or a private residence. You cannot smoke or consume marijuana in public, which makes it tricky for visitors wanting to use their marijuana. There are no Amsterdam-style coffee shops, but cannabis clubs are starting to emerge in some bars.

          Personal cultivation: The law allows each adult to grow up to six plants in an enclosed, locked space. Under the medical marijuana system, doctors can authorise up to 99 plants to be grown by one person. With such large crops available, police say that lists of medical marijuana patients have become a valuable commodity.

          Breaches of the rules generally result in a fine, similar to getting a traffic ticket.”

          and, and, and….Greg also discovered that there is also gold in them thar ‘ills with….

          “Meanwhile, money is pouring into the government coffers via cannabis taxation – 22 per cent at the point of sale and 15 per cent wholesale, from the grow house to the store. Colorado Department of Revenue figures show that in 2014, the retail marijuana tax take was US$52 million, plus US$10m from medical marijuana.

          And there’s plenty of money to be made at the shopfront, too, with sales predicted to reach US$1 billion by next year.”

          So, simply growing the plant can still bring in the $$$$….the Gods of Profit will be appeased….

      • greywarshark 2.2.2

        Are we cowed at the thought of growing cannabis here? Are we going to be importing a drug that will have big sales when we could be growing it in NZ? Can we come to terms with the embedded criminal gangs that grow and handle the product now and make a living in the absence of other suitable enterprises in which they can participate?

    • One Two 2.3

      Synthetics. ..


      As is most often the case, you are in the wrong lane, Ad

      • solkta 2.3.1

        but, but, but, lots of money can be made!

      • Incognito 2.3.2

        Except that it is “synthetic biology” producing the same cannabinoids that are produced in/by the cannabis plant, which might have therapeutic potential. I think it is a no-brainer.

    • So, what’s wrong with simply growing cannabis?

      • Incognito 2.4.1


        But I think there are definitely some advantages, e.g. from Ad’s link:

        Synthetic biology, said the NRF, has the potential to replace current methods of chemical synthesis and extraction from natural products, which are laborious, expensive,and [sic] often produce low yields.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Growing cannabis has other advantages such as the fibres that it produces and can be used in many ways.

          • Incognito


            Do you know whether the extraction process of the cannabinoids is (more or less) compatible with the processing of the fibres?

            On an industrial scale, synthetic biology might be more cost-effective overall than growing plants.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Do you know whether the extraction process of the cannabinoids is (more or less) compatible with the processing of the fibres?

              The oils that contain the cannabinoids are removed using alcohol. I don’t think that it damages the fibres. There could be better ways though.

              On an industrial scale, synthetic biology might be more cost-effective overall than growing plants.

              Possibly but it’s not something that anyone could say without serious study weighing up all the costs/benefits and I haven’t seen that.

    • adam 2.5

      Have a wee look at Colorado, Portugal, and the handful of places with either decriminalised cannabis or it’s fully legal – these places are dealing with negative effects and social ills better than anyone.

      This war on drugs has been stupid, do you need reminding that it is also racist? How have the negative effects, and social ills of that racism been playing out ah Ad?

      But sure, keep it illegal so we can keep up our fake moral outrage – rather than help people.

      Let’s leave aside the over prescription of opioids or the lie the parasitical Pharmaceutical industry tell shall we. Yeah regulation is working out so well.

      Just to remind you, almost 18 years Portugal has been on the right path.

      And to paraphrase one friend who moved there to live “I’m 68 years of age, and I feel safe to walk the streets at night – not somthing I would have felt safe doing before the decriminalised process”

    • Incognito 2.6

      Very neat idea!

  3. Carolyn_Nth 3

    There’s been a decline in the average life expectancy in the US in recent years. But, the wealthiest people’s life expectancy has increased, while that of the poor and middle-classes have decline: i.e. the life-expectancy gap between rich and poor has increased.

    Vox reports:

    This is likely to be exacerbated by up-coming Trump legislation:

    Blumenthal has written about the potential effects of the tax bill, which passed through the Senate in December, on low- and middle-income Americans in particular, and how it’ll disproportionately ding them while rich Americans and corporations will enjoy tax breaks:

    • The Chairman 3.1

      Off hand, in NZ there is around an 8 year life-expectancy difference between the least and most deprived.

  4. joe90 4

    Baby steps…

    BAM! New York City divests from fossil fuels, files #climate lawsuit. Largest US city fossil fuel divestment to date ($5 billion). Who's next? #ActOnClimate #cdnpoli #NoKXL #StopKM #DivestNY #FossilFree— Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) January 10, 2018

    New York, NY — Today, following over five years of persistent campaigning from New Yorkers, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the City is moving forward with full fossil fuel divestment. The city’s five pension funds, a combined $191 billion, will divest $5 billion in securities from over 100 fossil fuel reserve owners.

    New York’s announcement brings the total number of global divestment commitments to 810 institutions representing more than $6 trillion in assets

  5. greywarshark 5

    Interesting report on how useful studies and research are! Not when they get ignored, not when they are ignored by the entities that initiated them.

    It seems that noisy farmer groups can’t man up to reality and prefer to present as blenching victims of unreasonable and ignorant anti-farming and anti-business critics. This not only hurts the country, local people, but other farmers who are working at producing good product using all known factors, in a sustainable and effective business-like way.

    • It seems that we really do need a law that prevents government, both local and national, from ignoring the research.

        • greywarshark

          I thought at the time that it was a marvellous action that this law student in NZ had done. Just to air it and have the Courts look at it was a step forward.

          A young Hamilton law student’s legal bid to seek a judicial review into New Zealand’s climate change pledges has been dismissed by a High Court judge.

          But Sarah Thomson said she was pleased that today’s ruling on of her case against former climate change minister Paula Bennett and her government had acknowledged the need for action on the issue.

          Thomson’s lawsuit, heard in the High Court in Wellington in June, asked the former minister to justify the way in which our climate targets under the Paris Agreement had been set.

  6. NZJester 6

    So Trump want’s to change the libel laws in the US. Why do I have a feeling that these new laws he is looking at will be used by him and his administration to go after his opponents? Or with all the stuff he says on twitter could he be shooting himself in the foot with stronger libel laws?

  7. Ed 7

    1 comment today
    1 troll

    [TheStandard: A moderator moved this comment to Open Mike as being off topic or irrelevant in the post it was made in. Be more careful in future.]

    • Stunned Mullet 7.1

      If you cut your commentary to one per day and 1 troll I expect many here would appreciate it.

  8. Ed 8

    Brilliant article by Kyle Sutherland.
    I recommend you read the whole passage.

    Here is an excerpt from the start.

    “Let’s admit the truth: 100% Pure NZ is a blatant lie

    How can New Zealand claim to be 100% Pure when 61% of our monitored waterways are too polluted to swim in? This has to be one of the largest cases of false advertising in our country’s history, and it’s time the world knew so that our government is forced to act.”……..

  9. joe90 9

    I’ve just found out that the Caucasian Wingnut exists.

    My day is complete.

  10. joe90 10

    They never go away.

    As JCPOA deadlines loom, Reza Pahlavi is on Capitol Hill today visiting members including Sens Hatch, Scott, Cruz & Rep Kinzinger as well as Speaker Ryan’s staff, asking for "moral and technological support for Iran protestors as well as human rights sanctions on Khamenei, etc"— Suzanne Kianpour (@KianpourWorld) January 10, 2018,_Crown_Prince_of_Iran

  11. greywarshark 11

    More research on undersea volcanoes, which could be helpful for understanding our
    planet and what makes it tick. However the underlying aim is apparently to see what minerals have been brought to the surface with a view to mining them.
    The natural activity has destroyed biological activity, and naturally we want to copy those dynamic forces. BAU.
    ” Scientists have shed new light on a powerful undersea eruption north of New Zealand that proved larger than any on land in the past century.
    In a just-published study, researchers have pieced together the 2012 eruption of the seafloor Havre volcano, which lies in the Kermadec Islands, about 1000km off the North Island….

    The record of this eruption on Havre volcano itself is highly unfaithful – it preserves a small component of what was actually produced, which is important for how we interpret ancient submarine volcanic successions that are now uplifted and are highly prospective for metals and minerals.”…

    “The eruption blanketed the volcano with ash and pumice and devastated the biological communities.
    “Biologists are very interested to learn more about how species recolonise, and where those new species are coming from,” she said.

    Perhaps we came from Mars, after we had wreaked havoc on its bounty.

    • A hole in the ground is just a hole in the ground. Nature has been dealing with them since forever.

      More often than not it’s not the hole in the ground that’s the problem but the poisoning of that hole that mankind has a tendency to do because it’s cheaper.

  12. Ed 12

    We are heading for a financial storm.
    Even the World Bank say so.

    • greywarshark 12.1

      It would be no wonder with the complete arsehole of business dealing revealed by this item from Britain. Leaving lots of people unemployed. But who cares? And it looks as if he is trying to share the blame around. The name of the company is BHS – I am antagonistic to companies that use initials for their name – unless it has the full name underneath.

      Dominic Chappell, the former BHS owner, has claimed that workers were seen shredding bin bags full of documents before the sale of the high street chain.

      Mr Chappell, 51, said that an “industrial-sized” shredder was spotted in the car park of the BHS offices in London. He said that staff were tipping the bags into the shredder, which was in a lorry or van.

      Mr Chappell bought the company from Sir Philip Green for £1 in 2015 but it collapsed with the loss of 11,000 jobs 13 months later, leaving a pension deficit assessed at 571 million pounds.

    • JanM 12.2

      “Improving education and skills could help, as would investing in infrastructure”
      Now there’s a thought or two to play with – thank goodness for a Labour Government, eh?

    • Summary: Capitalism fails yet again.

  13. eco maori 13

    There we go I know that Most Maori know that there is instertutional racism but do most of the population know this fact. I think not well here is a article to clean ones glasses on the reality of life in OUR BEAUTIFUL COUNRTY for us Maori Ka kite ano–our-law-is-not-colourblind

    Our racist justice system

    • greywarshark 13.1

      Unfortunately that isn’t new.

      In Britain the police have appointed someone from outside the force to head them.
      He looks like an accountant, or an economist (is actually a lawyer and the former rail regulator) and the first thing he talks about is efficient methods, like having more up to date equipment, and preventing crime.
      BAU. Because he says:

      Tom Winsor says too many officers think their primary purpose is to catch criminals and should spend more time on targeting would-be offenders and potential crime hotspots to save money…

      The new chief inspector also predicted that the privatisation of police services would “increase markedly” as forces tried to protect the frontline during the next round of policing cuts.

      I went on google with this search text: police profiling and surveillance previous criminals –

      I discovered that first 44 pages of listings under that heading were completely taken up with google-promoted books. I have never experienced such a blackout of other avenues for opinion, statements, scholarship etc.

      This is an example of how google is beginning to crowd out other input – like a supermarket does, gradually pushing out manufacturers brands to replace them with its own, often a copy of what has been developed by others. I try not to buy supermarket brands but it is a puny protest. I can go to markets and buy from the small maker of goods. But everywhere the big corps are trying to turn our efforts at enterprise into corpses.

      I think we all know that racial profiling is going on. There has been surveillance of gangs and regular criminals for a long time, but it can become undeserved harassment if extended too wide. Having targets set as if people work in a factory doing piecework on a moving belt is completely unsatisfactory and a moral hazard for the police, trying to match a number and looking for reasons to fine or entrap the public for some minor infraction.

  14. adam 15

    Our first saint Mother Aubert. Well I think she was, but we need a couple of confirmed miracles.

    She also our first grower and provided of medical cannabis.

  15. How sick that one of the best environmental scientists can be punished this way in NZ?

    “I’ve been openly told, don’t bother applying for this, cos you won’t get it.” Mike Joy, semi-finalist for New Zealander of the Year, says his advocacy work has come at a professional cost

    So, definitely a problem in NZ as the rich and powerful punish others.

    [TheStandard: A moderator moved this comment to Open Mike as being off topic or irrelevant in the post it was made in. Be more careful in future.]

    • One Anonymous Bloke 17.1

      I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member.


      And yes, this is another example of the harm in whose way you’re putting yourself.

  16. greywarshark 18

    What one Chinese investor was saying in 2015 about investing in Britain.

    Followed by an auction in Mandarin for property in Australia.

  17. greywarshark 19

    I hope that the Woofers scheme isn’t put in jeopardy. It shouldn’t be used by a bare-faced mean capitalist like this despite what she may have learned during her studies for her MBA.

  18. eco maori 20

    You know one reason I called them sandflys. Part of the reason for calling them sandflys is they pull some of the public into there game of pissing in the wind. I have stopped blocking my cell phone I know they jump up and down when I speed when I over take the snail they put in my path there are tracking my speed as some other people are to. I stopped blocking my phone to help them with their games of pissing in the wind you may ask why we’ll they are adding to MY MANA Ka pai Ka kite ano

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