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The future is not going to be an Ecotopia

Written By: - Date published: 1:38 pm, November 20th, 2015 - 71 comments
Categories: capitalism, climate change, Economy, energy, Environment - Tags: , ,

There is massive entrenched economic, social and psychological inertia which IMO will finally prevent our leadership class from successfully addressing issues of climate change, environmental degradation and fossil fuel depletion.

Like dumping the CGT, virtually all of our politicians and corporate leaders are personally better off doing it this way because they are so invested in the benefits and privileges provided to them by the status quo.

The best result we can hope for is a kind of last minute, chaotic, ad hoc, tactical response when it finally dawns upon the leadership class (and their professional upper middle class enablers) that there is a real problem and that a substantial something – other than trying to prop up and protect current increasingly unworkable economic arrangements – needs to be urgently done.

I figure that moment is still about ten or twelve years away, though. Between now and then we’ll keep pretending that carbon taxes, emission trading schemes, gigabit internet, more cycleways and tax payer subsidies for electric cars will make a difference to our overall trajectory as a civilisation.

During this time we’re also going to be bombarded with various tech led visions of what John Michael Greer the Archdruid calls the “Ecotopian Future.” Whether its the Green Party showing off electric cars or Rifkin talking about a high tech eco revolution which will transform all of our lives, the common factor is going to be the fact that the bottom 90% of people on this planet are going to look at the glossy brochures full of beautiful shiny people and decide that it is an irrelevant fantasy of pleasant abstractions concocted by (a shrinking) establishment class enjoying  much higher and more secure incomes, status and free time than they have.

And yet, the psychological and cultural pressure to believe that mankind’s cleverness and technology will eventually triumph over Mother Nature is all pervasive.

Greer writes:

It took a while for me to realize that the people who were engaged in this bizarre sort of nonresponse understood perfectly well what I was talking about. They knew at least as well as I did that the internet is the most gargantuan technostructure in the history of our species, a vast, sprawling, unimaginably costly, and hopelessly unsustainable energy- and resource-devouring behemoth that survives only because a significant fraction of the world’s total economic activity goes directly and indirectly toward its upkeep. They knew about the slave-worked open pit mines, the vast grim factories run by sweatshop labor, and the countless belching smokestacks that feed its ravenous appetite for hardware and power; they also know about the constellations of data centers scattered across the world that keep it running, each of which uses as much energy as a small city, and each of which has to have one semi-truck after another pull up to the loading dock every single day to offload pallets of brand new hard drives and other hardware, in order to replace those that will burn out the next day…

I long ago lost track of the number of people I’ve heard talk nostalgically about what I tend to call the Ecotopian future, the default vision of a green tomorrow that infests most minds on the leftward end of things. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last forty years, you already know every detail of the Ecotopian future. It’s the place where wind turbines and solar panels power everything, everyone commutes by bicycle from their earth-sheltered suburban homes to their LEED-certified urban workplaces, everything is recycled, and social problems have all been solved because everybody, without exception, has come to embrace the ideas and attitudes currently found among upper-middle-class San Francisco liberals.

Our politicians, political parties and especially the very influential Deep State are primarily creatures (and beneficiaries) of the status quo. Any change they enact is going to be change which maintains their privilege in the system, not change which undermines it.

And I very much doubt the future that we are facing, and especially that Kiwi kids currently in primary school are facing, is going to resemble anything like an ‘Ecotopian’ one.

I wonder how many of the 300,000 children living in poverty in NZ can access gigabit internet. What an exciting game changer its going to be for those lives, eh.


71 comments on “The future is not going to be an Ecotopia”

  1. Steve Withers 1

    Yeah….it could go that way (inertia, collapse, chaos). But that doesn’t mean we stop trying to prevent it.

    History has shown that the people who are standing ready with the solution WILL be listened in the moment the great dull beast of wider society recognises the justness of their cause.

    In the meantime, those preparing for that moment have (some) time to define and refine the ‘solution’ that will solve the problems for the great beast when it finally awakes from its reality-show, cornchip-fed intellectual slumper.

    • weka 1.1

      “Yeah….it could go that way (inertia, collapse, chaos). But that doesn’t mean we stop trying to prevent it.”

      Actually it does. We can’t prevent it, but we can have some say in how the collapse happens and whether its chaotic or manageable. IMO trying to prevent it is part of the problem that CV and the Archdruid are naming. It’s our attachment to a Western lifestyle that prevents us from right action and makes chaos much more likely. If we give up certain things now, the powerdown will go so much better. If we try and prevent the powerdown, we will waste the last bits of time and oil we have. We have incredibly privilege of resource currently and all of that should be being used to powerdown not prevent the powerdown.

      Which is to say, there are most definitely things we can do, and we need the right focus.

      “History has shown that the people who are standing ready with the solution WILL be listened in the moment the great dull beast of wider society recognises the justness of their cause.

      In the meantime, those preparing for that moment have (some) time to define and refine the ‘solution’ that will solve the problems for the great beast when it finally awakes from its reality-show, cornchip-fed intellectual slumper.”

      This is my hope. Certainly in places like NZ there are enough people sprinkled throughout the population now who are doing the right things to prepare not just for surviving what is coming but also mitigating the worst effects.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        yes it is my hope that through media like The Standard, there will be many tens of thousands of Kiwis scattered throughout the nation who will be psychologically and physically more prepared for this very different future we are going to be experiencing.

        • Lanthanide

          Hah, if you think ‘media’ such as “The Standard” are going to have any psychological impact on the nation at large when the populace finally wakes up to the fact that their children’s lives will NOT be better than their own, then you’re dreaming.

          Just look at the psychological problems wrought in Christchurch (that are still on-going and increasing) from the earthquakes. And that was a temporary disaster that only impacted a small part of the country.

          • weka

            It’s already happening Lanth. Even in Chch there are people who are operating under the assumption that we will have to power down. The numbers of people commenting on the standard who understand the coming crises is much higher than it was even a few years ago. I don’t see why that wouldn’t extrapolate out to the wider non-commenting readership. You don’t need mass media to effect change, you need effective interventions at the tipping point.

            • Lanthanide

              My point is that the level of psychological upheaval is going to be completely massive since everyone in the society will be impacted and there won’t be any escape.

              As one small example, the valuations of stocks should generally fall through the floor, because the medium-long term outlook for the companies will be poor.

              That naturally leads to job losses, bankruptcies, high unemployment, etc.

              • weka

                it’s true we might have a hard crash where massive amounts of people have to deal with change their not prepared for suddenly. But it’s also just as likely that we will have a more gradual powerdown and that people will adapt more organically. Chch is a boon in that sense because there is a whole city that’s already been traumatised by a sudden event, survived and is now rebuilding psychologically and socially.

                Many people there know the govt can’t be relied upon, nor the social conventions and organisations (food and water in an emergency, insurance companies etc). Some people are doing badly, others are adapting in a more resilient way and by that I don’t mean they’re ok, I mean that they’ve gotten to grips with the fact that something broke that is not going to be fixed in conventional terms. That’s invaluable.

                • Lanthanide

                  “But it’s also just as likely that we will have a more gradual powerdown”

                  Even a powerdown is likely to follow an S-curve: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigmoid_function

                  At the start, yes, people will cope. But at the time of steepest descent / most rapid change, people’s lives are going to change dramatically – either materially, or with a clear view that the future is going to be uncertain and not what they had previously assumed.

                  I honestly expect there’ll be something of a debt jubilee, where household mortgages simply become void, because there’s no money to pay for them (or buyers of mortgagee auctions). A bit like jingle-mail in the US, where actually the banks would prefer if someone was at least living in the house and taking care of it, because otherwise it was just a financial drain on them. How exactly that’ll be structured I have no idea – there’s all sorts of problems with ‘moral hazard’ and fairness there.

                • Pat

                  “Chch is a boon in that sense because there is a whole city that’s already been traumatised by a sudden event, survived and is now rebuilding psychologically and socially.”

                  have to disagree weka….ChCh is a long way from rebuilding psychologically or socially…indeed I would suggest that the greatest impacts from the series of quakes and the mismanaged “recovery” are yet to present themselves.

                  • weka

                    I think you may have misunderstood Pat. I’m not suggesting that Chch is rebuilding back to what it was (psychologically/socially) or to what is considered the norm in NZ. I’m suggesting that it’s rebuilding a new psychology, the one where it can’t be fixed. That’s the one we’re all heading for with Climate change. We can’t stop what’s coming, but we can prepare, limit the damage and adapt.

                    • Pat

                      and that is my point weka….ChCh has not prepared,or limited the damage and adapted to the quakes aftermath realities and that is why the follow up problems will be more far reaching than the original disaster….like climate change it has been an exercise in denial and knee jerk reaction.

                    • maui

                      I think only a fraction of a percent are prepared for a major financial or resource crisis. Its not in our nature to change when we’re comfortable with what we’ve got and even harder when breaking away from what we’ve always known.

                    • weka

                      We’re appear to be talking about completely different things Pat. I’m not talking about official responses to teh quakes. I’m talking about the general resiliency building within the various communities. I see it, but maybe we move in different circles.

            • Colonial Viper

              Although I think Lanth has a point in that unfortunately a substantial majority of people are going to keep drinking the ‘pretend and extend’ kool-aid because (for now) its easier to do so.

              However as you have noted, power down is a reality that many people are already on track for – voluntarily or not.

              • weka

                I was more responding to the idea that small initiatives like the standard can’t have influence in this situation. I think they can, and they’re critical.

                • Alethios

                  Fully agree with you here Weka. Seems to me the challenge of the next few years is to build the capacity of individuals and communities to grow their own food, repair and recycle, use less energy and so forth. The hope being that when the crunch comes, we’ll have people in our communities with the ability to act as leaders – sharing the knowledge and skills needed for adaptation to a world of limits.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Interestingly, Orlov has put together a blog post totally focussed on this issue – for the northern hemisphere


                    • weka

                      Christ. What’s he trying to get at there? I don’t see the point of setting the scenario so far north apart from scaring people into thinking about how hard it’s going to be.

                      It doesn’t really apply to NZ.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      The details will be different from NZ and won’t be as harsh (I think he has based his example on the Siberian tundra!). However the principles and the mindset are useful – working with nature, and to natures timing, because without a massive amount of available energy to constantly bend nature to our will, there won’t be an alternative.

                    • weka

                      Agreed about working with the natural world. I just think his example is far too extreme to be accessible to most people. On the other hand, maybe it’s necessary to use something extreme, or people will keep in their comfort zone/safety bubble.

                      Would be interesting to draw up some NZ scenarios.

            • Nessalt

              and yet the overall number of unique commentators on the standard is dropping because they can’t be bothered putting up with this gloomy crap.

              “yes it is my hope that through media like The Standard, there will be many tens of thousands of Kiwis scattered throughout the nation who will be psychologically and physically more prepared for this very different future we are going to be experiencing.

              I’m sure tens of thousands of people look to you CV as their very own moonie leader and can’t wait for your next assault on western civilization to tell them to live according to the gospel of how an upper middle class professional thinks the left, (ergo thinking man) should be

              • Colonial Viper

                enjoy the luxury and pleasures of a fossil fueled lifestyle while you still can; if you have kids or grand kids under 20 it will slip away from them during their working lives, thanks to the likes of you.

                and can’t wait for your next assault on western civilization to tell them to live according to the gospel of how an upper middle class professional thinks the left, (ergo thinking man) should be

                Dead wrong.

                This is what you don’t get about the future.

                The people who are going to do the best are going to be the people who don’t follow edicts like the sheep do.

              • weka

                and yet the overall number of unique commentators on the standard is dropping because they can’t be bothered putting up with this gloomy crap.

                Citation please. For both the numbers dropping, and that people are being put off by hard posts.

                “yes it is my hope that through media like The Standard, there will be many tens of thousands of Kiwis scattered throughout the nation who will be psychologically and physically more prepared for this very different future we are going to be experiencing.

                I’m sure tens of thousands of people look to you CV as their very own moonie leader and can’t wait for your next assault on western civilization to tell them to live according to the gospel of how an upper middle class professional thinks the left, (ergo thinking man) should be

                Are you incapable of addressing the points, or is it that CV’s posts pressed some buttons and you just want to put him down?

              • greywarshark

                If you can find a better hole go to it. Was the caption of a cartoon about soldiers in trench warfare in WW1. I think that the caption applies to you.
                The Standard is not a place for men and women who had a thought today and wanted to record it somewhere. And it’s not a sort of comment book-club where all sit round having the luxury of considering something that has little bearing on their everyday lives.

                There is sure to be a blog somewhere in the list that suits you so stop trying to decide that we shouldn’t be singing Blue Sunday and scoot out of it before you get tears rusting your tin heart.

  2. johnm 2

    Indeed it won’t be an ECOTOPIA.

    1. The age of oil will end almost certainly before 2050

    2. Climate change may well cause our extinction. The sixth great extinction of life in this Planet’s history is happening now. We’d all die from loss of habitat.

    2. methane is increasingly affecting our climate as the Arctic heats up and may be our coup de gras as it has in other mass extinctions.

    Enormous mounds of methane found under the Arctic sea: Underwater pingos may reveal ‘worrying’ clues about climate change

    Scientists have discovered mounds up to 3,280 feet wide and 30 feet tall
    They are forming along the sea bed of the South Kara Sea off Siberian
    Experts believe melting permafrost on the sea bed is causing them to form
    They may pose a hazard if they blow out, releasing large amounts of gas


    • Lanthanide 2.1

      Speaking about extinction of humans with regards to climate change is simply fanciful. Extinction of civilisation as we know it is a different matter.

      Similarly speaking as if all major life on earth will go extinct (and I have seen this around) is again massively overblown.

      Saying things like this tends to make people think you’re a nutcase and they tune out from the rest of what you have to say.

      • johnm 2.1.1

        1… Will YOUR child witness the end of humanity? Mankind will be extinct in 100 years because of climate change, warns expert

        Writer David Auerbach has highlighted the danger of global warming
        In 2010 a prominent scientist said humanity would be gone by 2100
        The recent G7 summit in Germany sought to address climate change
        But scientists have criticised the lack of meaningful action


        2… Will Humans Survive the Sixth Great Extinction?
        Species are disappearing at an alarming rate, a new study finds. Author Elizabeth Kolbert says that raises questions about our survival.


        3…Climate change could make humans extinct, warns health expert


        4…. Some Credible Scientists Believe Humanity Is Irreparably Close to Destruction

      • Grindlebottom 2.1.2

        Extinction-level change or not, the risk of increasing methane release caused by warming sea, air and land temps, especially if coupled with catastrophic methane release on potentially major scales, could escalate Global Warming way beyond CO2-induced expectations in a very short time. It’s something I find pretty scary.


      • Colonial Viper 2.1.3

        I don’t think homo sapiens are going to go extinct in the next 100-200 years.

        I also don’t think that there will be more than 1B or so of us (max) by this time next century…

        When you work it out, a none too dramatic total population decline of 2% to 3% per year over 50 years will get us down to those numbers…

        • Alethios

          I imagine a lot of that decline will less mass die-offs (though continuing conflict over resources seems inevitable) and instead women simply lacking the calories to have many children. A sinking lid if you will, as the consequences of industrial agriculture and declining oil availability lead to inexorably diminishing crop yields.

          • Colonial Viper

            this is how i see it. There are already many western countries where the birthrate is barely over replacement levels. And those countries which still have high birthrates are often the ones who are going to do very badly out of climate change and energy depletion.

      • johnm 2.1.4

        Hold on to your Ass while we exit a once friendly planet. 🙁

        AFEWKNOWTHETRUTH was correct when he said most on this blog are depressingly uninformed about what is actually happening on this planet. 🙁

          • johnm

            David Wasdell, head of the Apollo-Gaia Project, returns with devastating revelations. Climate science has been manipulated or ignored by the IPCC, and by leaders meeting in Paris. We are committed to far more than 2 degrees of warming. A vastly changed world awaits. Radio Ecoshock 151118.

            Kevin Hester: ” We are in the abrupt stage of the 6th great extinction,everything will unravel very rapidly from here.
            Brace for impact.
            8 C baked in , enroute to 10 C and possibly beyond, “

            • greywarshark

              john m
              You need to explain what your youtube links are about. You notice your last two comments are just grey oblongs. Do I want to know about them, give me a hint. Also if you are going to put a few up you can stop yourself taking over the screen by putting brackets around the youtube links and they will stay as live links which you will have summarised briefly for us and we can look if we want to.
              (I have found this out myself with help from Ad I think so pass it on.)

              • johnm

                Hi GWS

                On my computer the links work perfectly and text is clear as well. I really don’t understand the ” grey oblongs ” you’re mentioning, except that the comments are censored so only myself can see them but no other reader!?
                Perhaps the moderator considers I’m making too many comments? The links are self explanatory from their headings: they’re about climate change. I believe the visual is very important, a picture is worth a thousand words, just sticking to text only may suit computer programmers but most others like images.

              • lprent

                He linked to two on-topic YouTube videos. They automatically display as youtube images these days as part of the WordPress Jetpack plugins shortcodes behaviour. I haven’t found a need to remove the display behaviour from comments – yet (I’ve been monitoring their usage by commenters for months).

                It is likely that your browser or firewall either doesn’t know how to display them or has youtube image links actively suppressed.

            • johnm

              How scientific miscalculations could crash the climate

              Measurement can be simply a matter of getting things to fit– or a matter of life and death. By confusing different scales and units, a friend once nearly ordered a Venetian blind that would have been three metres wide and only three inches deep.

              ” In the last month both have been questioned. Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research writes that the generally accepted target for staying below 2C is, in fact, way off the mark. Similarly, an inquiry into the design of a sustainable financial system by the United Nations environment programme (Unep) reveals a multi-trillion dollar shortfall in the investment needed to finance the new Sustainable Development Goals, which include internationally agreed climate action.
              Could the 2C climate target be completely wrong?
              Read more

              The stakes couldn’t be higher, withthe global average surface temperature this year set to breach 1C above the average for the years 1850-1900, the pre industrial time before most human emissions from fossil fuel-burning occurred. ”


              The comments for this article are worth reading.

              • Poission

                Measurement can be simply a matter of getting things to fit– or a matter of life and death. By confusing different scales and units, a friend once nearly ordered a Venetian blind that would have been three metres wide and only three inches deep.

                Ah Wittgenstein’s ruler (the objective and subjective) which is used in Talebs book fooled by randomness.

                “Unless the source of a statement has extremely high qualifications, the statement will be more revealing of the author than the information intended by him. This applies to matters of judgment. According to Wittgenstein’s ruler: Unless you have confidence in the ruler’s reliability, if you use a ruler to measure a table you may also be using the table to measure the ruler. The less you trust the ruler’s reliability, the more information you are getting about the ruler and the less about the table. A practical example of Wittgenstein’s ruler is: The information from an anonymous reader on Amazon.com is all about the person, while that of a qualified person, is going to be all about the book.”

                Its application in a scientific paper is used here.


                IF you are considering the measurement error (which is an intrinsic artifact of any measurement) you need to consider the error bars, there are also well known instances of costly errors (the incorrect assumptions on the metrics that are being used)


            • lprent

              The IPCC has a mandate to produce reports based on near certain or certain science. They rank the science and probable outcomes by the the probability of certainty. There is a rather long section in the first report explaining this.

              What it means is that they don’t put in science that is speculative (ie doesn’t have proven validations) or hasn’t had sufficient results from multiple methods. They also have a cutoff point that is roughly around the time that the reports are being prepared.

              It makes the report conservative in terms of the current edge science, but something that policy makers can make sound policy on. That is what it is meant to do.

              For someone like myself with a dregree in earth sciences and who does keep up with current material, it is infuriatingly late. But the report isn’t aimed at me.

        • Lanthanide

          He also said that there would be people literally starving to death in Auckland. I think his timeframe for that was some time in 2014.

  3. Ad 3

    Great to see a response to my Pollyanna-ish post. Couple of points:

    1. I would not be so arrogant to presume that developed society cannot collapse. We can see the history of the twentieth century as a set of collapse near-misses, if you like. WW1. Great Depression. WW2. Poscolonial civil wars. Famine and genocide. Hot wars. Cold wars. Commodity price crashes. Oil crashes. Stock market crashes. Financial system collapses. Overpopulation. Ecological loss.

    Major damage, morally and spiritually and ecologically. The net benefits of lessons learned always on the whole seem to outweigh the damage, stupidity, and loss. Who would have thought it was possible for humans to overcome totally utterly catastrophic collapses of finance, farming, employment, etc in the 1930s?

    But they did. Sure, it took almighty leadership. But the legacy of the New Deal and its global comparators remains with us still.

    So this is one line that gives me more hope than many: humans have in the last 120 years generated larger and larger crises, and risen to face them with ever more impressive responses. While a few minor states have failed, most have got far stronger. That’s pretty damn good practice for whatever’s ahead.

    2. Greer’s point is that people should have the choice to go backwards if they want to:

    “By taking up technologies and lifeways from less extravagant eras, they’re decreasing their environmental footprints and their vulnerability to faltering global technostructures, and they’re also contributing to one of the crucial tasks of our age: the rediscovery of ways of being human that don’t depend on hopelessly unsustainable levels of resource and energy consumption.”

    But choosing to go backwards is also largely a choice to opt out of the human community and solutions to human problems. There’s a point to community, cities, and states: there’s stuff we can only do as a collective. The people who build their Tiny House, regress onto their own plot, and throw away the means to communicate with the world, are the Left’s 1%.

    Left or Right, only the collective has any chance to solve large problems.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Your post did inspire and energise me to write mine, Ad 🙂

    • Bill 3.2

      But choosing to go backwards is also largely a choice to opt out of the human community and solutions to human problems. There’s a point to community, cities, and states: there’s stuff we can only do as a collective.

      Agree. Except that what we’ve engaged in these past 70 odd years has been the dissolution of meaningful community, subsumed by ever more impersonal, atomised or individualistic cities and states.

      Time to leave the “Tiny house” then…and the pressure to regress onto one’s “own plot” (2.4 acre dream?)… and begin to communicate and act collectively, instead of being spoken to and at by various media and having our atomised horizons set by their discourse.

      Big ‘except’ I guess 😉

  4. Sabine 4

    as many time before it is not our ‘Leader’ class that will bring change but the people.

    Simple as that. The choice to use Public Transport, to not use the car, to turn of the TV, to grow food, to buy environmentally friendly i.e. produced and grown locally, all these small things are very small and can not be legislated.
    The ‘hope’ for lack of better word is that people are deciding on smaller scale living araignments that allows for sharing/trading/exchanging of goods and services without actually using money, nor using products that are shipped tens of thousand of miles.

    But the only time something meaning full will be attempted will be when it hits the ‘ruling’ class themselves, and by then it will be well and truly to late. And this is not only in regards to Climate Change, but we can already see it in the disasters that we have no issues talking away as mere ‘tragedies’ like the broken dam that washed a way a city in Brazil ruining the potable water supply for 250.000, or the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, or the Exxon Valdez Spill, or any of the other man made disasters that have ruined the flora, fauna, water ways and human life for many many years to come.

    Much like with the faulty seatbelts, what is cheaper…a few dead humans, or a total recall……Capitalism at its finest.
    And one should not forget, that we are only production units, we are not important, and we can be replaced. And in a world with diminished resources, the less of us the better. 🙂

  5. b waghorn 5

    Its one of the flaws in democracy that politicians can only do what the voting public will let them do, and as most people are willfully ignorant of the trouble that’s coming our way , we’re headed for interesting times.

  6. infused 6

    Bacteria will wipe us out before climate change… or another war, but I’m betting on a virus/infection of some kind

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1

      Then you clearly have no more understanding of Epidemiology than you do of Climatology.

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        infectious disease will become much more of a problem as a growing proportion of people fall into poverty and poor living conditions. In any areas where water, sewage and storm water services start failing, things will worsen quickly.

  7. The Baron 7

    Done anything about it apart from having a big whinge on here, Tat? Or are you still driving around polluting and hypocriting in your X5 and flashing your inheritance around?

    It’s not elusive ecotopia’s that worry me. It’s hypocrites like you mate. The world ain’t gonna be saved from your armchair.

    [another shitty worthless comment like this from you The Baron, and you will be banned. I don’t report to you and you are not my performance manager or my priest. Now, let’s see who the true hypocrite is here. Firstly I spent an hour of my personal time putting this post together. Then I spent another hour this afternoon at an anti-TPPA protest in Dunedin South (outside Clare Curran’s electorate office, amusingly). How much time did you spend today on bringing these issues to the public conciousness? Zero? In other words you just identified yourself as the true time wasting whinger here. CV]

    • maui 7.1

      Yeah instead he could have just not added to the debate at all and made personal comments about others, which looks a lot like what you’re doing.

  8. Mike the Savage One 8

    Thanks CV for this post. I am relived that I am not alone, with questioning much of the BS that goes on. You bring very important issues to the fore.

    “I figure that moment is still about ten or twelve years away, though. Between now and then we’ll keep pretending that carbon taxes, emission trading schemes, gigabit internet, more cycle-ways and tax payer subsidies for electric cars will make a difference to our overall trajectory as a civilisation.”

    If all cars in New Zealand would switch to running on electricity tomorrow, what will it mean for our electricity usage and its sustainability? I think we may not have enough electricity to run our household appliances and also industrial operations. Cars are in themselves a very high end waste generating product, already through the manufacture of them. The same applies to computers, and many of the modern gadgets and appliances we use every day.

    Of course we have to switch away from fossil fuel use, but the way it is often being suggested is just more fantasy stuff, rather than based on solid economics and on sufficient environmental considerations. For instance growing crops to produce bio-fuels will mean there will be less land to grow crops for human and animal food.

    Solar energy, wind energy, thermal energy, more hydro electric generation, possibly even tidal wave power generation are all options to use, but all the energy they may create is unlikely to replace the huge amount of fossil fuel energy we are used to consume now.

    So we need to learn to live with using less energy, and that energy much more efficiently, no matter whether it will be electric, thermal or whatever.

    But we are not even there yet, we get endless debate, and little progress, and we have a Finance Minister who has his head stuck deep up his anal cavity, seeing no light, going by the comments he made over the last two days, re climate change and expected sea-level rises. He knows though he is not alone, as every day I witness it all around me, the total ignorance, or at least disconnect, that drives people to continue living a wasteful life as if there is no tomorrow anyway. They keep on driving their cars. Those that preach public transport use and claim it is healthier for living forget, that obese people rather catch the bus than walk, as far as I can tell.

    Cycling in Auckland is though only promoted on lanes off the main routes, going through strange back yard areas in suburbs here, and that is, because Council and also Central Government think it costs too much to build cycle-ways along streets and roads, like they have in Europe.

    We still use one way shopping bags over ten years after debates started about getting rid of them. Ask any person about climate change and doing stuff, most agree we need to change, but they do not want to sacrifice anything in return.

    I am certain that the present human population is already unsustainable, and we are already killing off endless endangered species by turning more former rain forests and other natural landscapes into farmland. Intensive agriculture, fishing and so lay land and sea areas to waste, or empty them from resources.

    So what world will we have tomorrow?

    To bring the change needed, massive socio economic change is needed right now, globally. Replace cars with bicycles where possible, that is at least in urban settlements. We can cycle on the streets and roads there are, just restrict cars more. But who will forego their comforts voluntarily? There lies the greatest challenge, to connect the brain and common sense with the body and actions, and overcome destructive yesteryear, unsustainable, learned behaviour we can no longer justify. Replacing cars is possible, and the money spend on running them would be available to build the infrastructure for buses, trains and endless cycleways. Indeed, I think only a last minute disaster will force a change of mind in most, they will not vote for it, they rather vote for the status quo as that is so “comfy” and easy.

    • Kiwiri 8.1

      Thanks, MtSO and CV.
      Busy with so much at work, home and community stuff.
      Comments from you both and related ones from others make me feel less isolated in thinking and feeling forward about these vital issues.

    • Colonial Viper 8.2

      just remember that every new electric car requires a massive amount of fossil fuels to mine and refine the steel, aluminum, plastics and advanced electronic components which comprise the vehicle. Steel belted radial tyres aalso require a lot of fossil fuels to manufacture and replace.

      In many ways using a 20 year old Toyota Corolla will release much less CO2 than building a new electric one.

      • Andre 8.2.1

        EV saves half the emissions in its building , service life and recycling of fossil fuel powered cars .No car today should be sold that cannot equal this eh .The old ones are slowly off to the tip . Better to get on your bike which leaves you shed loads of beer money to spend.

        • Colonial Viper

          EV saves half the emissions in its building , service life and recycling of fossil fuel powered cars

          But you don’t deny that a brand new EV vehicle uses up a massive amount of fossil fuel energy in its manufacture, as an upfront carbon cost?

          it takes several years for the carbon balance on an EV vehicle to become neutral, let alone provide an advantage.

          Every EV vehicle one thousand to two thousand kilograms of steel, aluminium and plastics all of which require masses of fossil fuels to extract, refine and fabricate.

          Your benchmark of comparing selling a new EV with a new conventional car is a bit of a lazy example as both options consume massive amounts of raw materials and energy. Yes the EV has a lower carbon running cost after that point, but they both create a big upfront hit to GHG emissions.

          In comparison, a 20 year old Toyota Corolla is already built and therefore requires zero new mineral ores to be extracted, refined, fabricated and shipped around the world.

          • ropata

            Excellent point. Need to re-introduce tariffs on imported cars and stop the flood of cheap second hand imports that are clogging our roads

          • Andre

            OECD did a study of the externalities of every Litre of fuel ,Diesel and petrol. Health impacts from pumping carcinogenic gases and other costed environmental impacts etc were substantial (from memory health was 24 cents per litre ) .The right to poison your fellow road /path user is finished . Old cars die. New Fossil fuel cars will last as you say 20 years. We must be spending money and resources on sucking out atmospheric CO2e by 2050 .The costs will not be on us but by our kids ,that unjust. Ban new fossil fuel private cars yesterday. Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave (2015) | Union of Concerned Scientists http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/life-cycle-ev-emissions#.VkkwL8-SVLM.twitter … via @ucsusa

      • left for deadshark 8.2.2

        Here here, CV

        In many ways using a 20 year old Toyota Corolla will release much less CO2 than building a new electric one.

        Good post Tat, thanks 😉

  9. Murray Simmonds 9

    An excellent post, CV – truly excellent.

    The only thing I would add is that, eventually, in the end, the microbes will sort it out for us. “Infused” makes the point above.

    I can’t find the link, but already on the news in the past week, there have been items about growing antibiotic resistance and the problems that this will create in future.

    Indiscriminate use of antibiotics in the farming industry is a large part of the problem, But, as noted above, there will be a smallish proportion of the human species that survives.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Thanks 🙂

    • ropata 9.2

      Yes and climate change will encourage the spread of more tropical diseases and pests like the tsetse fly and mosquito will become more prevalent. Nature has culled human populations in the past and will do so again.

  10. greywarshark 10

    Ecotopia. Ectopic – in an abnormal place or position (usually referred to when discussing pregnancy,

    Maybe we are going to have to be born again, ectopically and our new heaven needs to be ecotopia.

    This doesn’t mean that we can’t be religious, it just means getting closer to the good precepts of many religions, though I only know about Christianity. Do the good things because it is better for your own soul, and your community and the world, and be fair to others without looking for reward of some heavenly nirvana after death. What about starting today whether we go to church once a week or never!

  11. Andre 11

    Kevin is a no bulshit climate scientist that just says it as it is ….Listen Short talk on CO2&Toursim https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozO6wTAyHzE&index=8&list=PLhVZKgyRW42vz29bVZyY1iXF8FXqX8h5u … Start 9.50mins. @stephensackur grills expert panel @TyndallCentre @UoMPolicy @WTM_London

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