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Shouting into the void

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, July 6th, 2009 - 19 comments
Categories: Environment - Tags:

Pop quiz – did you know that earlier this week the UN released a major report on the “Green Economy”? Here is a good summary:

Green Economy: A Transformation to Address Multiple Crises

The current financial and economic crisis is throwing millions of people into poverty, especially the most vulnerable in the developing world. This is happening amidst the ongoing food, water, energy, ecosystem, and climate crises.. Together, these crises are undermining the efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and setting back development progress of the past few decades.

The financial and economic crisis requires a collective response from the international community. Leading economies should continue and further strengthen the coordination of their stimulus programmes to revive global economic growth. Apart from addressing urgent needs in such areas as social safety nets, health, and education, programmes should lay a solid foundation for shared growth and sustainable development. Furthermore, the international community should ensure that developing countries have not only the fiscal space to launch their own stimulus programmes but also access to international markets for a rapid resumption of trade.

Central to the new economic foundation are new growth poles that can potentially contribute to economic recovery, decent job creation, and reduced threats of food, water, energy, ecosystem and climate crises, which have disproportionate impacts on the poor. Investing stimulus funds in such sectors as energy efficient technologies, renewable energy, public transport, sustainable agriculture, environmentally friendly tourism, and the sustainable management of natural resources including ecosystems and biodiversity, reflects the conviction that a green economy can create dynamic new industries, quality jobs, and income growth while mitigating and adapting to climate change and arresting biodiversity decline.

This seems like a complete no-brainer. Catastrophic environmental changes are the biggest crisis facing humanity in the foreseeable future. In the short term the financial crisis is creating a lot of pain. Massive movement towards a Green Economy seems to kill two very nasty birds with one stone. What could be more blindingly obvious? Even America is starting to wake up to this, and of course our own Greens are poised and ready (hello Labour – where are we on this!).

But what really rips my shorts is the way this UN announcement has sunk like a stone in the local and world media. Try this Google News search – there are hits, but not many, and the big news sources are notably absent. It’s like the answers to the Big Questions are being shouted in to the void, and no one is listening…
— r0b

19 comments on “Shouting into the void ”

  1. Meanwhile in New Zealand…… our transport policies are taking us back to the 1960s, we’ve reversed a moratorium on new fossil fuel power generation, we’ve gone backwards 5 years to argue about whether climate change is real or not and we’re taking a hands-off approach to getting the country out of the recession.

    Thank goodness for the home insulation package and the cycleway huh?

    • ak 1.1

      Yup, no-hands down the Sir John Cycleway wrapped in pink batts about sums it up jarbs – after a budget written by a privately-owned credit-rating agency, now this gem: speculators gamble $80 billion every day on our dollar (Gaynor, in granny). Cockies thawing out after feeding-out might like to muse on who controls their purse-strings now – and reflect on electing one of these ticket-clipping gambler bureaucrats who helped design the whole shebang…

  2. coolas 2

    So true rOb – creating an economy around environmental clean-up and sustainable infrastructure capital projects is pure common sense. But we do seem to be fiddling while the Planet burns! Sometime I wonder if the worse scenario is just too much to comprehend, because the fact is humans will be extinct in 100 years if we continue living as we are. Destroyed by ourselves.

    Perhaps the reason the UN Green Economy report wasn’t taken up by the Media is that they too cannot comprehend the urgency that if we don’t move fast we’ll be gone.

    • jarbury 2.1

      Perhaps the reason the UN Green Economy report wasn’t taken up by the Media is that they too cannot comprehend the urgency that if we don’t move fast we’ll be gone.

      Quite possibly. The more you learn about resource depletion, the more extreme potential effects of climate change and so forth the more you feel like crapping yourself from fear.

      I’m certainly going to be passing a pretty screwed up planet onto my 5 year old daughter. And yes, I feel pretty ashamed about that. It’s easier to ignore the issue than confront it properly.

      • coolas 2.1.1

        for sure – this is the ultimate existential issue. And if you’re informed you can’t help feeling the foreboding. ‘The whole world dying of panicy fright,’ is how Genet described the vibe. But being humans we live in hope and the Green Economy is part of a bundle of changes in direction that could save us from extinction. It will need huge collective effort and it’s hard not to despair when you see the lack of will from politicians and the media.

  3. r0b 3

    Colin James on related issues:


    Relate that to climate change: if a farmer or a business can see a buck to be made, that resonates. Growing numbers abroad (including Australia) have seen where bucks can be made – to the point where one commentator has claimed to be witnessing the emergence in the United States of a “climate-industrial complex” similar to the old “military- industrial complex” which hooked up with politicians to nudge policy and spending in ways that made its industrialists stacks of money.

    Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O’Reilly, fresh back from London, says the word from top business organisations there is that green business is going to be an integral part of post-recession world economic growth. The OECD’s business advisory group took the same “green growth” line last month.

    Hey National – why not just pick up the Greens package and run with it?

  4. Pascal's bookie 4

    Shameless threadjack:

    …to the point where one commentator has claimed to be witnessing the emergence in the United States of a “climate-industrial complex’ …

    One commentator eh?

    Crikey, are we giving commentators anonymity now? Commentating on ‘background’. One commentator reckons the Quitta from Wassilla is a sure thing for 2012…

    Anyhoo, our old friend Lomborg’s been pushing that line, but I wonder if maybe James is referring to this Rolling Stone article (OCR copy, original not online yet), by MATT TAIBBI.

    If so, then I guess he didn’t name check the commentator because it’s a pretty full-on attack on Goldmann Sachs and their part in our downfall. Check Taibbi’s blog for his response to sach’s response:


    • r0b 4.1

      Thanks PB, interesting stuff. One thing I love about this place is the really interesting commentary and links posted here…

      (the smirkingchimp link has an extra “,” at the end)

  5. randal 5

    sorry folks but what did you expect.
    listen to radio ritalin its full of shriekers.
    they think that the world just has to hang on for a few months and “things’ will be back to normal.
    i.e. a full on assault of boy wacers, overseas trips, endless motoring and money for nothing.
    the longer and deeper the recession lasts the better.
    otherwise its finito dudes and in our lifetime.

    • r0b 5.1

      the longer and deeper the recession lasts the better

      For the environment alone that may be true!

      The recession is in itself reducing carbon emissions (in eg Europe) – see eg here, and reducing oil consumption, eg here.

      So perhaps the only way to save the planet is to collapse the world economy completely!? Is that National’s secret master plan?

      • Murray 5.1.1

        Great Stuff! bring it on.
        People shouldn’t complain when they lose their jobs, Its all in the name of combating climate change. “For the greater good”
        The same effect that combating climate change will cause, “a recession”

  6. mike 6

    “Hey National why not just pick up the Greens package and run with it?”

    Because Rob its a silly idea by a batshit crazy party that got bugger all in polls.
    Stop trying to scaremonger support.

    When the greens get a mandate to create change fill your boots

    • Pascal's bookie 6.1

      By which you mean, ‘nearly twice as popular as ACT at the last election’.

      • jarbury 6.1.1

        Must make Act the “Insanely batshit crazy party”.

      • mike 6.1.2

        Just think how much more the greens could have achieved if they hadn’t sucked up to sinking mothership and didn’t rule out a partnership with National.
        As you’ve mentioned Hide got Auckland and only got half the votes..

  7. Will the media only pay attention if the G7/G20 declare carbon trade war on us?

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