- Date published:
11:28 am, April 23rd, 2020 - 56 comments
Categories: covid-19, economy, greens - Tags: degrowth, green politics, how change happens, Jason Hickel, regenerative
Except they did. The New Zealand government raised benefits, they put in a rent freeze, they kicked all the tourists out of the country.
Multiple governments have taken action in the past four months that have dramatically dropped GHG emissions, when most climate activists were despairing that we would ever get to any meaningful action on climate change. If we can do that incidentally, why not deliberately?
The government will never do that seems to be in lieu of a political argument for why such things can’t or shouldn’t happen, especially in the context of economic recovery. It’s starting to sound like the dying gasps of TINA. Or perhaps an attempt by the neoliberals to hang on to something, anything, of a life that is suddenly so uncertain.
But the TINA spell has been broken, and everyone can see that if we need to, if we actually want to, we can change. The big question now is whether we will embrace the opportunity fully, or squander it out of fear and paucity of imagination.
The stories we tell right now, and what we put our focus on, are an important part of what happens next. We can already see conflicting world views jostling for a stake in the new game. The big question for New Zealand right now is are we brave and creative enough to front foot sustainability, resiliency and regenerative responses?
This is remarkable: 170 Dutch academics put together a 5-point manifesto for economic change after the C19 crisis, building on #degrowth principles. It has gone viral in Dutch media. In this thread I’ll summarize the points in English.
We must answer the big questions about our economy in these unprecedented times. What should we make and do here in New Zealand to ensure our sustainability; what institutions do we need to support our economy; what is the role of the State; how do we trade with the rest of the world in this new environment; and how will the financial system, both here and globally, cope?
Robertson mentions climate change, and references the Prime Minister’s statement about not allowing inequality to take hold in our recovery.
In fact we need to take this opportunity to improve the prospects of all New Zealanders and tackle those long standing divisions.
That would be nice. I can’t believe I’m doing this again, but I’m now waiting in hope that Labour will finally do the right things. That they will pull themselves out of the neoliberal holding pattern they’ve been in for decades and commit to some kind of progressive agenda.
While it's more an invitation to dialogue than a plan, Minister Shaw was clear in his interview on RNZ this morning that climate change mitigation will be a criteria by which the thousands of projects proposed for restart will be evaluated.
Shaw also announced a review of the entire Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“Now the Climate Change Commission can advise on whether what we have committed to internationally is sufficient. If they conclude that there is more we need to do, the Commission will provide recommendations on how best to align our international targets with the Paris temperature goal. This will ensure we are playing our part globally,” James Shaw said.
Minister Shaw added that he is expecting the Climate Change Commission to talk with a wide range of people, including iwi/hapū/Māori, industry, technical experts, special interest groups, and sector leaders, to inform its review.
Surely there's a reasonable expectation that there's strong and idealistic advice coming out of the Climate Commission at this time?
If anyone wants to submit to it, now's the time to inject a little idealism into the government's approach to climate change.
thanks, that's very helpful.
I fear institutions such as "New Zealand Growth Capital Partners" (formerly New Zealand Venture Investment Fund) may need another 'rebrand' – let alone a cleanout or 'refocus' or 'reimage' or 'repivot, or perhaps some strings attached if it is to get any more NZ Super Fund money.
No problem with assisting startups with the public's money as long as their business aligns with a sustainable green (not grey) future. And that they return the money and favour if and when they're successful
The major flaw in this thinking is that an effective social welfare state requires sufficient economic surplus to be able to support unproductive economic members of society. The NZ population demographic is such that this unproductive section of society (e.g. the elderly) are growing. Unless we get growth we will end up in a position where more and more of the productive sector will need to be taxed to pay for the unproductive. You cannot get around this equation. If you start printing money or borrow money to pay for it you will just cause your economy a World of pain sometime in the future.
The major flaw in that thinking is that it ignores the limits of nature. Perpetual growth can't happen in physical system, and all our lives and economics are based in the physical world.
See this model for understanding the limits of growth,
Perpetual growth can't happen in physical system, and all our lives and economics are based in the physical world.
First of all 'perpetual growth' is a myth. The human population is unlikely to ever exceed 9b and in all the developed nations of the world is declining.
Secondly as nations age their per capita consumption tends to plateau or decline. Younger people setting up families are the ones who need things; once over the age of 45 or so most people have most of the things they need and the focus shifts to either savings, investment or some splurges on discretionary spending.
Thirdly as the world continues to urbanise our per capital footprint on the world declines. This trend is especially intense in the tropical regions like SE Asia, the reason is simple. Because virtually all tropical agriculture demands hands-on labour that is not very amenable to mechanisation, it's very hard for rural farmers to increase their productivity and income … so they migrate to the cities where the prospects are much better, and in doing so actually reduce their net impact on the natural world.
For all of human history up until we learned to burn coal in high pressure steam engines, the human population never exceeded 1b people. Because all of our economies relied on photosynthesis to produce food, wood and transport we were so energy constrained that per capita incomes never exceeded $300 pa, famine, war, disease and violence stalked our daily lives, life expectancies rarely exceeded 40yrs, slavery and empire were the norm.
This was the world of Dr Malthus, who looked at this grim historic picture and concluded that 'perpetual growth was impossible in any physical system' as it was understood then. If a person from the our time was to go back in time and speak to Malthus, explaining that in 200 years time there would be 8 fold more humans, living twice as long, many with living standards most kings of his era could barely dream of … it would be met with scoffing incredulity. Such a thing had to be impossible.
Yet here we are. All made possible because coal, the oil and gas, meant that each one of us in the developed world (and many others) has the equivalent of 20 -30 'energy slaves' invisibly working for us. We completely stepped over the limits of photosynthesis and the world changed.
Now of course we have run into the long predicted limits of fossil fuels (and many other related ones as well.) The crisis we are facing is every bit as real as the one Dr Malthus was writing to, but of a quite different nature. Fossil fuels dramatically took us out of poverty, but I suggest are best regarded as a stepping stone on the path of technological progress.
The big discovery the coal era enabled was of course electricity and then quantum mechanics, which enables both solar PV cells and nuclear energy …. both of which 'step over' the constraints of fossil fuels. We are poised to make that leap if we want to.
None of this negates many of the ideas in the OP, the big five bullet points are all valid concepts regardless; but to trap them into the framework of 'de-growth' seems to me to sell them terribly short. We can do so much better than simply decaying and unwinding slowly back to the pre-industrial era.
Do like the Doughnut Economics ideas.
Continuous global human population growth is the past, present and (foreseeable) future reality. Increasingly frequent crises, including shortages of life's essentials, will put regional dents in population growth, and at some point a 'natural' collapse of biblical proportions may shake humanity out of the comfortable (for some) BAU trap, but Covid-19 ain't it, IMHO.
Our 'value & purpose' is to serve the growth ECONOMY – all hail the ECONOMY.
Continuous global human population growth is the past, present and (foreseeable) future reality.
The data says different.
It's the poverty stricken nations like India and Nigeria where birth rates are still very high. Everywhere else human development = stable or reducing population
RL, not disputing human population growth predictions/projections, but that's all they are – they’re not "data", just best guesses (11.2 billion) to century’s end.
If you think the end of this century is the foreseeable future, you're dreaming
What is absolutely certain is that as people develop into a middle class standard of life, their birth rate inevitably declines. Often to below replacement.
No modelling or guesswork required.
Arguing to undo modernisation, to reduce living standards, is to argue for an increasing birth rate.
A global average birth rate slightly below replacement would be fantastic for humanity, and our ‘home‘ – a dream come true.
"Arguing to undo modernisation, to reduce living standards, is to argue for an increasing birth rate."
Who is arguing that? I certainly don’t want a reduction in my living standards, although a moderate reduction (think ‘Lent‘) would not cause undue hardship. Perhaps you should run a diagnostic on your mind reading functions.
The old trick of not explicitly stating your pre-suppositions and then denying them when challenged.
Although I didn’t trick you, did I? It's a challenge to have a rational debate with someone who embraces so many assumptions, but I'll keep trying.
If you could bring yourself to state what you believe my presuppositions are (because I have no idea what you might be referring to), we could proceed from there. Oh, wait (just guessing) – is it something to do with accusations of being 'anti-human' and 'pro-genocide', like Sir David Attenborough?
What exactly do you find so objectionable about that quote?
Because putting population at the head of the queue is arse about face; it's a symptom not a cause.
I keep coming back to this. With the tech available to us in the year 1800 95% of humans lived in absolute rural poverty, barely living above subsistence. The generation living in that year endured a brute standard of living barely different from any of the generations for millennia before. Less than 1b humans were at the carrying capacity of the planet without industrialisation.
Yet 200 years later and now there are 8 times more people, most of whom are living far different and much better lives. What had been hard limits for thousands of years melted away before us.
My argument is simple; we've done this before, we can do it again.
"My argument is simple; we've done this before, we can do it again."
Your argument is simple. My response is also simple; yes, we can do 'it' again, but would it be wise? Would it be exercising good stewardship? What is the aim/end goal (some might call it 'an own goal') of increasing the global human population beyond, say, 8 billion? Might 8 billion, and 415 parts per million, be enough already?
We could 'ask' the great ape species, but we'd better hurry!
Let me reduce this (at the risk of gross oversimplification) to three choices:
1. We power-down, de-growth and die-off to our pre-industrial, photosynthesis only population of under 1b. Essentially a Great Leap Backward.
2. We presume no technology progress and continue to consume resources and add to CO2 at our current levels. Assume all resources are fixed, we exploit them in no new ways, and we run them slowly down to zero. Essentially the same as Option 1, but takes longer.
3. Or assuming continued tech progress we leap our industrial systems beyond their current restraints. Human development achieves a whole new impetus, bringing the whole of humanity into the developed world, and ensures population growth remains permanently under our control. Unlimited clean energy means full de-coupling from the natural world becomes a realistic goal.
Wise or unwise, I’m willing to bet on Option 3.
Choice 1 is extreme. Choice 3 is attractive and fanciful, IMHO.
Humanity is on course for choice 2 with technological progress. I'd like to tweak that by aiming for replacement (and then slightly below replacement) fertility sooner rather than later. Such a tweak might make a future transition to choice 3 more achievable, but I recognise that such a tweak, however attractive, is itself unrealistic.
Consider what's happening globally now, then ask yourself (honestly) if humanity can realistically transition to your choice '3' while growing billions more humans. Hasn't the earth had 'enough already'?
It's (just) a matter of time (and population.)
Consider what's happening globally now, then ask yourself (honestly) if humanity can realistically transition to your choice '3' while growing billions more humans.
What is happening now … globally … is that everywhere humans develop beyond poverty, our birth rate declines dramatically. I've repeated linked to this fact.
Yes, human fertility/birth rates are declining (hooray) – have never suggested otherwise, so we're on the same page there (phew).
My point, and indeed Sir David Attenbourough's, is that decline isn't sufficient to significantly decrease the already unsustainable 'load' that the current 7.8 billion humans, not to mention the projected (according to your links up-thread) billions more to come, are imposing on 'our' planet.
The evidence is all around, if you would only care enough to look.
It must be nice, living in your paradise.
"not disputing human population growth predictions/projections, but that's all they are – they’re not "data", just best guesses (11.2 billion) to century’s end."
NZ's population is still increasing. From a regenerative perspective that's a problem where we aren't assessing our land base and carrying capacity (which we're not), especially in a post-carbon world that is operating to limit pollution and resource depletion. Until we start doing that, the numbers are kind of meaningless.
oh, and a decrease in the rate of growth isn't the same as steady state and that's the critical bit in sustainability design.
tbh, I think covid is the practice run. We should be acting as if it is, but I think we are most likely to going to act as if capitalism can survive a big pandemic and prepare around that (which is better than nothing). But then we have the other issues of climate change, GFC, peak oil, peak soil and so on.
The population one is a no brainer to me, and it never ceases to amaze me how lefties will let their ideology trump basic physical reality. But then most don't look at sustainability in terms of what it actually means I guess.
What an utterly banal cartoon that is. It attempts to simplify the obviously complex and interlinked nature of our world into mindless 'good and bad' as if they are relevant choices. For starters it doesn't even recognise, let alone attempt to resolve, that a large driver of developing world pollution is driven by a need to raise living standards, housing and health outcomes, for their national populace.
the overwhelming bulk of developing world pollution is to provide for the excesses of the affluent developed world….but you can attribute higher moral purpose if you like
For starters it doesn't even recognise, let alone attempt to resolve, that a large driver of developing world pollution is driven by a need to raise living standards, housing and health outcomes, for their national populace.
I'm afraid that's so simplified and cartoonish I'm not sure where to start in response.
Ideally I could propose a world in which the developing world might have gone directly to full renewables or nuclear energy, EV's and low carbon tech everywhere. That would have been wonderful.
But the alternative was to tell the poor of the world that they had to stay poor in case they 'polluted too much'. Do you care to say that to their faces?
"For starters it doesn't even recognise, let alone attempt to resolve, that a large driver of developing world pollution is driven by a need to raise living standards, housing and health outcomes, for their national populace."
I think it totally recognises that, hence the inner and outer rings. The obvious solution to the issue of fair standards of living globally (or even within NZ) is for wealthy countries to stop using more resources and producing more pollution that is fair. Better yet, use their privilege to fast transition to regenerative rather than extractive economies and then offer those models to other countries (although I suspect that over developed countries could learn a lot from some so called third world countries).
Gosman, like Climaction and Paddington, won't come right out and say "useless mouths that can be culled" for the benefit of their bank account.
But, that underlies their comments.
Hasn't he ever been babysit by his Grandparents?
At the moment a large part of the economic surplus winds up in the hands of the few. Redistributing that will diminish the government spend. Think of cutting corporate huge salaries and distributing that among the workforce – then redistribute the hours of work so 40 hours becomes say 35 to keep the numbers employed- everyone has some money and the drain on the government is diminished.
Offensive. The elderly are not an unproductive section of society. They have had a social contract with government all their lives that their work and taxes will pay for their education, health and old age. Next, many of the "elderly" are still in employment or business and paying taxes. Next, Many "elderly" are still contributing to their communities and families with unpaid volunteer work and family care. So I respectfully suggest that you need to rejig your thinking.
Yep. Gosman has a very limited idea of what feeds into the economy. Until we account for all the work being done, conventional economic models are lacking and can't seriously work in terms of sustainable design. They also ignore key aspects of resiliency.
Elderly is also a perjorative word.
Another briefer statement says, "Elderly is better used as a description of physiological age rather than chronological age. Elderly is used to describe people who have difficulty rising from low chairs, age spots and thin skin on the back of their hands, and other signs of significant physical decline associated with aging. These changes occur at varying chronological ages. Elderly applies when a combination of these signals that the individual has substantially diminished and diminishing physical capacity."
Perhaps Gosman does mean this definition of 'elderly'.
But damned if I'll be called elderly at 70!
Ok, then how would you like people to allude to those that have been on this planet for significantly longer than most of the inhabitants?
Perhaps "temporally advantaged" ?
Hopefully, respectfully. I'm in Grey Power. We can refer to our members and that age group as seniors, senior citizens, older + noun, pensioners, superannuitants, 50+, retirees, depending on actual age. A superannuitant has to be 65, a pensioner can be younger, and so on.
Elderly has connotations of infirmity, frailty, not coping, needful of assistance. Many of us 'olds' are not that yet.
Chronological age, physiological age, whatever. I have many of those "symptoms" but I am still working, taking part in my family and community. I do not feel diminished in any way . That's just insulting and Gosman needs to take a running jump – if he's still able.
NZ has the second highest effective age of retirement.
Where's your proof Godman.All the major Trading blocks printed their way out of recession after the GFC.the major trading banks in NZ are allowed to print 33 % of their loans.as per usual gosman you think you know it all.But in reality your a Thatchrite who thinks you run an economy like a household budget.
Can you please explain why you are not fixing the typo in your username? Multiple mods have pointed this out to you You are now in the blacklist until this gets sorted (i.e your comments won’t show on the front end).
Who do you think paid tax to fund the very same, 40 years and more recently. I paid 66 percent tax at the top of the scale, to a National government led by a piggy. What goes round comes around!
Hey Gosman, a less productive productive sector grows employment – three slow barbers in town versus one fast one.
This is your usual nonsense drivel Gosman. The economic surplus your talking is the available food, clothing and shelter to take care of people who are not producing some of those goods. New Zealand like all developed nations has more than sufficient of that obviously and can clearly therefore solve the mere distributional issue of ensuring people not earning an income receive sufficient income to buy their share in any circumstance. The only question is the political will to do so. But congratulations you have found a non issue to concern yourself with.
"Unproductive elderly" Gosman, that is divisive tosh. Many elderly are working writing inventing and studying.
They are looking for ways to improve our lives and impacts on the planet. Generalisations are silly. Many have saved and invested in NZ companies and start -ups. They are hardly sitting with begging bowls.
Right with you there Weka but look what is being spouted today.
“New Zealand was in one of the best positions to raise animals in a sustainable way, said Proudfoot.”
"People want safe food, people want healthy food – we can do that."
“Our response to Covid-19 further cemented New Zealand on the global stage as a safe place and safe producer of food, he said.”
Now the compromises…..
“Covid-19 would accelerate a move towards lab-based meats and plant-based proteins and they would likely get cheaper while premium meat would get more expensive.”
“There was a "broad church" of genetic technology to look at and gene-editing should be considered as it was an effective way to feed a lot of people.
It was different to genetically modified, he said.”
New Zealand,s next moves should be more organic and sustainable without compromises.
Note: Even the big players in pest control are trying to get us to engage with genetically interfering with possums… its like academics who would like to be able to play with genetic interference generally are trying to set up a back door entrance to such science in NZ by edging it in through “pest control”
People who think that lab meat and plant-protein meat replacements can be used on a widespread scale don't understand what sustainability and resiliency are. Nor the limits of nature. It's not that they can't happen at all, it's that the whole 'growing meat is bad therefore we should make lab meat instead' thing is exactly the kind of thinking that leads to resource depletion and pollution. It's not a matter of swapping one food growing tech for another, it's about using a different world view and understanding of systems and how they work.
Freaking Business As Usual again.
$50 million just announced to prop up the media.
OMG. I thought we were going to re-organise state broadcasting?
Watch the mouth that just got feed savage the hand feeding it come election time.
The "Hand" has asked them to come up with a workable business plan that is viable to gain a share of that money. That might be difficult for some of them in this environment.
Yeah, that pisses me off too.
First golden oppurtunity missed.
As expected @ Ad. Temporary fix and can kicked down the road. Haven't seen the details yet although a mate has just told me that Kordia is involved – so to my mind there's a hint that fa-fa-fa-Faafoi is aware of various options.
Apparently, like cheese – good things take time
Edit: Oh, and NuZullonEar.
It’s a timing issue and no need to freak out.
The media are literally sinking and drowning in front of our eyes. Re-organisation takes (too) much time, especially when done properly.
Yes fair enough.
It's more an annoyance on the same line as Weka's post: why can't we expect to see imagination?
It's like they're doing everything possible they can to shorten the Overton Window.
I confess, I have not yet had a chance to read Weka’s post 🙁
I think they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place; transitioning is always difficult and painful, even more so when they have to appeal to and appease and herd the sheeple. After all, it is only 5 months away …
Before I dish out any more clichés, I will read the OP 😉
Not sure if you're being cynical or not (I need a nana nap). One thing I have noticed though – Peter Thompsons, Jutels, Dunleaveys , fa-fa-fa-FaFoi's, CBB Miles et al aside, (All of whom I have a great deal of respect for – their knowledge and experience), is that when you discuss/question any of it with them using the buzz terminology – questions like who are the various "stakeholders"? – guess what (what Tim?) – the audience is never mentioned except in terms of things like demographic targeting and branding.
So yea – maybe there'll be some excellent cheese coming out of it all in years to come – cheese that journalism and journalists, art and artisans, kulcha and kulcharilists can live on
True. You can't reorganise or change something that doesn't exist anymore.
If there's a will to change the media in NZ, put it on life support, and keep the major surgery for when the surgeon has a clear plan of action.
Oh the irony…
Ad @ 4
I agree. Public money? Then purchase the assets, hire the staff and expand public broadcasting / media / journalism. Don't donate to private business.