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The Mother Budget

Written By: - Date published: 6:21 pm, May 26th, 2016 - 86 comments
Categories: budget 2016, climate change, crime, Economy, education, energy, Environment, global warming, health, housing, infrastructure, jobs, Politics, quality of life, science, sustainability, tax, transport, useless, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , , , , , , ,

All budgets, whether actually implemented by Government, or those of Opposition Parties highlighting their priorities and strategies, are contingent upon the only budget that really matters these days.

Oddly enough, from all I’ve read, our leaders and would be leaders, have been assiduously ignoring the one thing that will absolutely shape the outcomes of any budget related policies they want to pursue.

If we are to have health or education policies that will benefit us; if we are to have investment policies around infrastructure that will benefit us; if we are to have tax policies that will benefit us – then the singular budget that all other budgets must take into account is the global carbon budget. If that budget is ignored, then all of the health or education and investment policies that any government throws onto the table are more than likely going to fail. And not just fail as in ‘fall short’, but fail hugely and with disastrous consequences for all of us.

A re-cap

As of 2011, the carbon budget for the entire remainder of the 21C was 1000Gt. I did a post on that here. Go and read it. Bear in mind that energy related emissions probably amount to something north of 200Gt now. Click back to here after working through the simple arithmetic (it’ll take seconds) and explain, with an eye to some semblance of sanity, the rationale behind any of the alternative or actual budgets we’ve just been subjected to over the past few days.

Short historical context

Whereas politicians and policy makers got together and agreed that 2 degrees warming could serve as a ‘line in the sand’ between “acceptable” levels of warming and “dangerous” levels of warming, an increasing number of voices within the scientific community are saying that 2 degrees is likely to usher in “extremely dangerous’’ levels of warming.

Current context

So if the world wants to avoid “dangerous” levels of warming, then according to growing numbers of scientists who are basing their analyses on the scientific data, our current available budget for CO2 emissions from human activity, isn’t or wasn’t 1000Gt over the course of this century, it’s precisely zero.

Political disconnect

And yet, here we are with both government and opposition in NZ playing ‘pretend and extend’ for a way of life that is absolutely going to crash and burn – I can’t see any two ways about that – and when it does, it’s going to come with not insignificant consequences for you and for me or (if we’re very lucky) just for younger generations alive in New Zealand today.

Sane government

Any government budget should have been proposing serious and far reaching policies to get us down off carbon as quickly as possible. Any government budget should have been proposing policies that would ensure our infrastructure was ‘fit for purpose’ and able to survive the likely climatic conditions of the coming decades. Any government budget should have been putting us – all of us – on notice and on a war footing.

‘Criminal negligence’ is a term I’d use in describing the approach of this current crop of politicians we have, if that term came anywhere near close to capturing the magnitude of their stupidity. It doesn’t. And I don’t have a suitable term in my vocabulary.

86 comments on “The Mother Budget”

  1. Hmmmmm….. trees….whispering trees… ‘ I wont have any gossips in this jungle !! ”

    • Richardrawshark 1.1

      Why can’t they make great stuff like this anymore. I miss those days, happy days!

      Now we got crap TV and reality TV, Cooking TV, Renovation TV, I have to watch Parliamentary TV just for entertainment these days, I suppose laughing at nationals excuses is good comedy though. ironically.

      • ianmac 1.1.1

        Yeah. Good stuff back then. And instant recall, whereas most modern songs are blown off the memory within days.

      • M. Gray 1.1.2

        you need to add we have a crap Government

  2. BM 2

    What sort of age bracket are you Bill ?

  3. Ad 3

    I’m not sure what ‘war footing’ means other than some kind of leftie Command and Control fantasy out of Crisis and Leviathan.

    You remind me of Sunday School teachers when the only right answer was ‘Jesus’. Who will save you? Who will judge all? Who will make all right? What complete solution is there? What axial point makes everything understandable? Same answer.

    Either way, hope-denying eschatologies like yours are best left to religions. Not even the Green Party sounds as desperate, misanthropist and flailing as you do.

    Politics and annial budgets s for people who make stuff happen, not Jonestown cultists.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      In our situation, hope is allowed Ad, hope is going to get us through, but optimism is not.

      We owe it to future generations not to be optimistic at this point, we must be bloody minded and very realistic.

      Access to fossil fuels is going away within 30 years, for a start.

    • Bill 3.2

      Hey Ad. You want argue the veracity of the science, then go argue your case with a scientist.

      I’m no cultist or whatever else you seem to be taking me for. Now, either address the post, take your denialist nonsense to open mike (if that’s what it is) or up your game. Cheers.

    • Bill 3.3

      A ‘war footing’ is when an entire society focuses on some huge, clear and present danger and gets down to business. But I guess you knew that and were simply giving vent to either a) some angry denialist bent within you or b) your fear.

    • weka 3.4

      I’d also like to see you argue the facts Ad. As far as I can tell you don’t like Bill saying that things are extremely serious and urgent. If you think they’re not, how about you back that up. Because everything else you assert in your comment, including the ad hominems and slurs, appears to be based on that disagreement. Would you be willing to say what your assessment of the climate change situation is?

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    I’ll back James Hansen’s line on this – individual countries getting off carbon aren’t going to make the tiniest bit of difference to global warming.

    What we need is an international method of pricing fossil fuels to represent their true cost, according to Hansen.

    The mechanism he suggests is that of a fossil fuel tax starting out at around US$10/tonne of carbon and ratcheting upwards over time to US$80/tonne of carbon or more.

    • BM 4.1

      Never happen, fantasy land stuff.

      [Evening BM. Getting a sense form your first two comments that you have nothing to contribute here. Either type a meaningful contribution or take your dismissive sloganeering one liners elsewhere.] – Bill

      • Pat 4.1.1

        Never happen, fantasy land stuff.

        so putting your opinion of likelihood aside….if it were possible do you think it should happen?

        • BM

          It will never happen so it’s not really worth discussing.

          As for climate change, it would be so much more productive to just accept that there’s going to issues going forward and create plans to deal with the effects than to waste time and effort hypothesizing how to stop something you can’t really stop.

          • weka

            That’s a form of denialism BM. It’s also a strawman. We can’t stop climate change. We can mitigate the worst effects. What you are suggesting is that we sacrifice subsequent generations so that we can keep up with the latest iphone and drive wherever we want whenever we want. Fuck that shit. Fortunately there are growing numbers of people who care about their grandkids and kids and want us to do everything we can to preserve the chance of avoiding catastrophe. Avoiding catastrophe doesn’t mean climate change never happening. It’s already here. It means avoiding the worst happening. Pretty easy choice when you think about it.

            “It will never happen so it’s not really worth discussing.”

            Yeah, slavery, women voting, same sex marriage, child labour… pretty much every big social change was believed to be impossible at some point.

          • Colonial Viper

            it would be so much more productive to just accept that there’s going to issues going forward and create plans to deal with the effects than to waste time and effort hypothesizing how to stop something you can’t really stop.

            I just wanted to ask you a question so I can understand your logic BM – if as you say governments and corporations aren’t willing to acknowledge the real seriousness of climate change, and they are not willing to create and implement the major plans needed to deal with the causes of climate change, then what exactly makes you think that governments and corporations will be willing to create and implement the major plans which will be needed to deal with the adverse effects of climate change?

          • Bill

            …accept that there’s going to issues going forward..

            So okay. I absolutely accept that there are going to be issues in the near future. Question is, what set of issues do you want to deal with?

            a) the ones we have some measure of agency over (ie – crashing out of our modern, energy hungry ways in as ordered a fashion as we can muster)?


            b) the ones where we have no agency and are forced into a position of being wholly reactive (without, in all likelihood, all of the current capacity afforded us, courtesy of our intact physical infrastructures and governance structures)?

            If you opt for b), then that scenario robs us of the stuff we tried to hold onto by rejecting option a)

            So, I’m for option a). You?

    • greywarshark 4.2

      How would the world get that going CV – through a central agency like the UN?
      And NZ, feed them all at Parliament a happy dose of something and get them to sit down and apply what’s left or right of their minds, and agree, and sign?

      • Colonial Viper 4.2.1

        Helen Clark as head of the UN should lead the effort, and NZ as a core part of the western empire, should back it 100%.

        • Bill

          So if the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change could sit and talk and produce reports for a quarter of a century and do….nothing. I mean the governments that sat behind the panel, not the panel itself – then why would the UN, a body that has the same governments sitting behind it, suddenly up and be all pro-active?

          That’s aside from any notions I have about any de-facto body of global governance (that the UN currently isn’t).

          • Colonial Viper

            Honestly, it is grasping at straws to an extent. I’m open to options in terms of fighting to the bitter end here. Some people think we have until 2030 to reduce fossil fuel use to zero; I now think that circa year 2000 was that date.

            As a note, one reason that Hansen reckons individual countries cutting their fossil fuel use won’t work, is that it will increase surplus supply on the world market place, and another country will burn it.

            • weka

              But they’re burning it anyway, and wouldn’t that be self limiting if individual countries cutting emissions had a snowball effect?

              • Colonial Viper

                How would such a “snowball effect” from a few small countries cutting work on the four GHG polluters which really matter: US, China, India, Russia.

                If you agree that it is going to be burnt anyway by countries which keep going, why should a few small countries plummet their economies into low carbon chaos when it makes no difference to climate change?

    • Bill 4.3

      I can’t quite understand how anything other than vigorous programme of de-growth will cut the mustard and I’m not seeing how a price on carbon fits in with that.

      Put through tranches of legislation that hammer fossil use and that compel manufacturers to make and sell only products of the very highest efficiency standards.

      Investment hugely in infrastructure … retro-fitting as well as new build.

      Shift the economy to run on the management of things rather than having faith in some notion that money making money will somehow translate into things falling into the right place.

      • Colonial Viper 4.3.1

        Hansen is betting that making people pay the real cost of fossil fuels will cause a whole lot of those changes to happen far faster and more flexibly than statute can allow.

        Having said that, there is also room for statute and outright decree to be used.

        (And there is a 100% chance that they will be used, when finally SHTF)

    • Richardrawshark 4.4

      What does tax/ charging for carbon emissions achieve. Bugger all IMHO.

      We can’t fit smoke metering devices on every Christchurch wood burner or coal fire. Big business don’t care they will pay the money then what? Do we throw the cash in the air and it magically scrubs the emissions.

      We need proper solutions. Cleaner electricity, nuclear fusion/fission breakthroughs, Solar and Battery breakthroughs, investment in science.

      Cleaner transport, cleaner energy production, but frankly not here, in China India, Russia etc, the real polluters and the USA.

      I doubt any money received would go anywhere but trades on an exchange. Nothing to solve the actual problem.

      • Bill 4.4.1

        Even if, for the sake of argument, your contention that NZ should body swerve any action on mitigation is taken on board, then there’s still a huge amount needs done in terms of adaptation.

        Our current infrastructure simply hasn’t been built to cope with likely climatic events in a warmed world. We need to be bringing stuff up to speed as best we can and as quickly as we can. And in the interests of adapting as well as we’re able, some of what we’d be doing would tick the mitigation box anyway. (eg – centralised grids may be vulnerable in the event of deluges, extended droughts and high wind events, and household solar can offer a bit of a ‘get around’…and they just happen to play a mitigating role too)

      • Colonial Viper 4.4.2

        What does tax/ charging for carbon emissions achieve. Bugger all IMHO.

        Hansen’s concept is to charge the carbon tax on the arrival of the tanker at the port.

    • weka 4.5

      “What we need is an international method of pricing fossil fuels to represent their true cost, according to Hansen.

      The mechanism he suggests is that of a fossil fuel tax starting out at around US$10/tonne of carbon and ratcheting upwards over time to US$80/tonne of carbon or more.”

      I don’t get it. Who do the taxes go to? What do they do with them?

      If nations can’t legislate fast enough to reduce ff use, how would the whole planet be made to take on and implement at tax?

      • Colonial Viper 4.5.1

        The taxes are distributed back to the people in the form of direct payments. The lowest 80% of fossil fuel users would come out ahead in terms of $$$.

      • srylands 4.5.2

        “I don’t get it. Who do the taxes go to? What do they do with them?”

        Governments would use the revenue to finance public expenditure, just like any other tax. Ideally, company and income tax would be reduced, so that total revenue remains unchanged.

        • Colonial Viper

          You really don’t get it do you. Good luck for the future mate.

    • srylands 4.6

      Exactly right. Destroying the New Zealand economy and alienating the population by taking some unilateral action is nuts. Will never happen.

      Unless all countries agree to price carbon as CV suggests you can forget any meaningful action on carbon mitigation. People will use the energy sources and transport modes that are the most convenient and most affordable. So Governments need to change those prices in a serious way. Despite Paris and prior to that 15 years of commitments, I see no real willingness by any governments to do that.

  5. greywarshark 5

    The first three comments have blown a raspberry to you Bill. When you are making perfect sense and wisdom. None of them show awareness of their own credulity.

    Here’s a Slavoj Zizek link I put up before. He is talking about how many don’t want to change because they are Comfortable Capitalists no Catapstrohphists.

    • Bill 5.1

      None of them show awareness of their own credulity.

      If recent real world conversations I’ve had are anything to go by, it’s not credulity, it’s fear – lashing out in lieu of running to mummy’s safe arms.

  6. One Anonymous Bloke 6

    Well said Bill. Criminal negligence is apt – governments all have the same mandate: to govern.

  7. ianmac 7

    I fear that a catastrophic virus could decimate the World population. If so, imagine a saving of the planet with just a few million people to start all over again. Hope not but…

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      No need for a “catastrophic virus” – climate change and fossil fuel depletion are going to have the same effect over the next 50 years.

      • Bill 7.1.1

        I believe the point ianmac is alluding to is that a catastrophe unfolding before the catastrophe of CC snaps hard, might avert CC.

  8. greywarshark 8

    Interesting you should say that about a virus ianmac. In the book Affluenza the author talks about the effect of buying into capitalism and being aspirational for wealth and winning as being a virus.

    Our wants have grown more and more demanding and change is being forced on us sto keep up. Kids have to learn on laptops, people interviewed talk faster, especially women. And those who are in the race, are so contemptuous of those who haven’t started or dropped out because of weakness or incompetence.

    I was just reading about Admiral Canaris, who played a dual hand in WW2 German command, running the Intelligence Service, and also trying to prevent some of Hitler’s excesses. That was a hard war, he was a man under great strain, but he did much and even tried to set up a dummy war in 1938 to sort of burn off the war being planned before it could begin.

    We are approaching a sort of war, and people support a leader and party who will take us all to the edge, another execrescence of human stupidity and witless ideology. But we can retreat and find a group to live simply with, and see if we can expand those groups to a conscious movement throughout NZ so it’s not just a few people isolated. There are many thinking and starting. It will require meetings, talking, consciousness raising as the women did in the 70’s. They achieved much, and it can be done on a wider scale.

    National helps us with that. We can see what a load of gormless selfie-takers have managed to get the reins of power. No use looking to central government until they have sold off everything that the people have accumulated to provide for the country’s needs. And don’t look to business to develop any philosophy except the core one of making more money per annum, and drowning the competition, or instead, secretly conniving on how to divide the market between the major players.

  9. Colonial Viper 9

    So, has the Left figured out how a completely new economy is required to get this done? Industrial age socialism, trade unionism and safety net social democratic capitalism ain’t what we need any more.

    Also, the idea of NZ workers putting into Wall St sponsoring Kiwi Saver/Cullen/ACC funds just gets stupider, under the conditions of massive climate change and severe energy depletion which are coming up soon.

    As for preparing for a new age of unemployment in the era of high tech robots doing everything including burgers. Come on, let’s get real.

    • Actually, socialism is exactly what we need. A community united around economic and social goals, sharing both pain and gain, is the only answer. But I’m keen to hear your alternative, CV. You’ve identified the problem; the solution is …

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        you already have the answer TRP? Cool for you.

        BTW when is the Labour caucus going to publicly recommit to socialism, given that it is exactly the answer we need?

        [The only reason this comment is still here and hasn’t gone over to open mike along with the rest of the trash, is that some actual comments would move with it. I’ll repeat. The constant sniping between you and trp is bloody tedious. I don’t care what you think of trp and the Labour Party any more than I care for trp’s charges of you being a right winger. Until the pair of you grow up, keep that crap away from my posts] – Bill

        • Bill

          Socialism, if it embraced substantive democratic systems, probably is pretty close to what we need.

          Something masquerading as socialism but modeled on one or other of the disastrous 20C form of centralised state control isn’t. Global governance from a centre point (eg – UN) also isn’t what we need.

          Getting shot of the market economy and its stupidly dangerous ‘rules of trade’ would be a good start. Having trade interactions take place at the community level rather than at the individual level would be another step in the right direction.

          Breaking down ‘nuclear family’ living arrangements in such a way that resources were utilised in a more communal fashion than now, would also be a positive step.

          I could go on, but I suspect anything said on this portion of the thread is going to get lost in back and forth sniping…. 🙁

          • Colonial Viper

            Well we have to take huge restructuring steps in our economy to allow local democratic socialism and democratic communitarianism to flourish. People need to have much more time, much more access to shared resources and facilities, and far less need for paid employment. These are some of the starter building blocks we need.

            • Bill

              Well, not necessarily. Things can be developed in parallel and if you look around the world, there’s plenty of instances where that happens. The problem, hardly insurmountable, is a numbers problem and an access to info problem.

              And UBI or such like is only a wee way away I reckon. The market economy looks like it’s only going to stumble, stagger and tumble.

              There is a need for a cultural shift in how people relate to things like ‘jobs’ and ‘my’ 2.4 acres or whatever – but that may come.

            • Stuart Munro

              It’s probably rather easier to supplant centrist hierarchical structures piecemeal with modest local alternatives than might be supposed. Break any part of NZ’s grocery or power monopolies and you won’t be short of participants.

              • Colonial Viper

                Exactly: and it is important to recognise that the natural instinct of Wellington politicians and bureaucrats is to oppose this and to centralise more and more power in their hands, in far away Wellington.

                • Stuart Munro

                  This would be part of the cure for fisheries too – you know if I took a dinghy out and caught two cases of cod (or snapper if I were up north) a week, about 80 kgs, I wouldn’t make a blessed difference to the resource. At current prices I’d be much better off doing that than working in any low to mid level job. The regulation regime has long since ceased to serve my interests or to protect the resource.

  10. RedBaronCV 10

    Well the media appear to be quoting every figure as an amount over the next 4 years so dividing by 4 leaves some very pathetic increases.
    I’d like to see the whole budget spend split into amounts going to direct core govt run services ( and the number of people using said service) and the amounts going to “outsourced providers and landing in other private pockets”
    everything from privatized corrections, charter schools, accommodation supplements, welfare contracts and how many benefit from that.

    I’m fed up with being a taxpayer to a government that levies taxes and fritters them away into private sector hands. A government that is ignoring government investment issues where we can put a few dollars down today and tomorrow still own the state house or rail lines etc.

  11. Pat 11

    “Until we have those, just saying ‘turn the taps off’ is not acceptable to humanity,” he said. “The world is going to have to continue using fossil fuels, whether they like it or not.”


  12. weka 12

    Any government budget should have been proposing serious and far reaching policies to get us down off carbon as quickly as possible. Any government budget should have been proposing policies that would ensure our infrastructure was ‘fit for purpose’ and able to survive the likely climatic conditions of the coming decades. Any government budget should have been putting us – all of us – on notice and on a war footing.

    Is this something we can do here? Not at a big organisational level, but just line up what the issues are and put them in a coherent form.

    1. long term policy that reduces carbon as quickly as possible (mitigation)

    2. plans for retrofitted and new build infrastructure that is designed around low carbon and new climate condisions (adaptation)

    3. what would NZ on a climate change/war footing look like?

    • weka 12.1

      3. what would NZ on a climate change/war footing look like?

      I’m in two minds about the use of the term ‘war footing’.

      It’s a very easy concept for people to get their head around, esp people with memory of the last big war, or close enough to that memory. And we then have whole swathes of experience and examples to refer to esp from WW2.

      Not sure how much that means to younger generations though. Would they relate ‘war footing’ to WW2, or to more recent wars?

      We already have a tendancy to see natural disasters as the enemy. Climate is not the enemy here, so if we use the term ‘war footing’ we have to be very clear what we are at war with. Because people will automatically frame it as a conflict, something we are fighting against.

      But I really like the idea of having a clear model with which to start building idea off of what we should be doing. eg every budget should be a climate change footing budget (thanks for this great post btw Bill). Here on ts, when we talk politics, we need to be framing it in climate changet terms as much as possible. Not obsessively, people need a break from this at times, but as a general principle that now everything is in this context.

      • Colonial Viper 12.1.1

        Younger people don’t need to have to “relate” to a “war footing” they simply find themselves in the war, where their futures, dreams and careers are completely changed from what they may have expected.

        • weka

          I think you might have missed my point CV. I agree they’re already experiencing it and differently than old generations. I was talking about the value or otherwise of intentionally adopting a concept like ‘war footing’, as a tool, which has a historical context and comes with certain kinds of meaning, and how different age groups would respond to that.

          Myself, I don’t see climate change as a war at all. So I’m cautious about adopting a war metaphor.

          • Colonial Viper

            We’re going to be asking people to voluntarily do with much less; it’ll make the ‘carless days’ of the 1970s (which weren’t carless at all) look like a walk in the park.

            If we do not use a “war footing” mentality, what other metaphors can be used to tell people that business as usual consumption is over?

          • marty mars

            Very good point and I agree – the problems have occurred because we have distanced ourselves from nature and so on. War footing is the opposite of what we need – although the concept itself does have merit in terms of apparently mobilising society (how much it did in the last WW2 etc is moot because the propaganda resulting from that time and beyond says it did). Nowdays a war footing may mean drones (eg tech will fix it, or arms length and not connected to the result) or it may mean the ‘terror wars’ (where each action causes massive unintended consequences and causes the quicksand to pull us deeper).

            I wonder what metaphors are effective and evocative around climate change – we’ve heard the Titanic one, war footing one, I’m sure there have been others…

            • Bill

              …frogs 😉

              • weka

                Frogs with legs 😉 or ladders but then escape isn’t the point. And are we even the frogs? Aren’t we the dudes in the other room watching TV and having a smoke and beer while ignoring that the overheat pot in the other room?

                Metaphors, lol.

            • weka

              Joanna Macy, long time thinker and trainer on shifting consciousness around things too big for humans to deal with (nuclear war, cc) calls our time The Great Turning. Her work is probably too hippy for some here, but I like the focus on changing our attitudes as well as behaviours and that it we have something to turn to, not just turn away from. Something very good to turn to.

              The Great Turning is a name for the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization.

              The ecological and social crises we face are inflamed by an economic system dependent on accelerating growth. This self-destructing political economy sets its goals and measures its performance in terms of ever-increasing corporate profits–in other words by how fast materials can be extracted from Earth and turned into consumer products, weapons, and waste.

              A revolution is underway because people are realizing that our needs can be met without destroying our world. We have the technical knowledge, the communication tools, and material resources to grow enough food, ensure clean air and water, and meet rational energy needs. Future generations, if there is a livable world for them, will look back at the epochal transition we are making to a life-sustaining society. And they may well call this the time of the Great Turning. It is happening now.

              Whether or not it is recognized by corporate-controlled media, the Great Turning is a reality. Although we cannot know yet if it will take hold in time for humans and other complex life forms to survive, we can know that it is under way. And it is gaining momentum, through the actions of countless individuals and groups around the world. To see this as the larger context of our lives clears our vision and summons our courage.


      • Bill 12.1.2

        I don’t much like the term ‘war footing’ myself. And for much the same reasons as you outline – nature or physics isn’t ‘out to get us’. Couldn’t think of another term to use though. “Emergency footing” in line with what some scientists have been saying of late; that were confronting a climate emergency? I honestly don’t know…

        • Colonial Viper

          I think this is why Kunstler chose the wording “The Long Emergency.”

        • weka

          Emergency footing is good. I reckon Climage Change footing works too.

          If people don’t understand the footing bit, it opens a conversation about the need to respond to climate change by working together for the common good and urgently.

    • Colonial Viper 12.2

      Less democratic with more decrees from Wellington, and from local authorities.

      We would probably need a 10 year term government i.e. General Elections suspended for the next decade while changes are implemented.

      Massive decline of the formal economy with resulting unemployment and increased poverty.

      A break with the international neoliberal and monetary consensus and resulting international diplomatic and trading stresses.

      The deep state will move against the leaders and champions of any such initiatives so they would have to be on side for any chance of success.

      • Bill 12.2.1

        If that’s the plan, then take it as read that I’ll be implacably opposed. We need more, not less democracy. Centralised control doesn’t generally work and inflicts huge damage on people and prospects.

        At the moment, while we have a top down system of government, use legislation to stone wall aspects of the market. But beyond the short term, that way of doing things (top down central governance) probably needs to be vigorously undermined by people in their communities taking decision making powers back…if we want a life that isn’t just so much milling around in a dungeon.

        • Colonial Viper

          If that’s the plan, then take it as read that I’ll be implacably opposed. We need more, not less democracy.

          But will “the masses” vote to give up the conveniences, consumption and lifestyle that they have been promised?

          • Bill

            People either choose to cut their fossil related emissions by huge margins in tandem with government legislating on the more systemic areas of emissions (vehicles, appliances etc) or climate change will take it all away.

            After a few generations, and if we’ve avoided feedback loops, then carbon neutral energy sources can be in place and people can go back to energy intensive living.

            That’s the choice we have.

            On the intelligent route, the sticking point seems to be that people imagine the result will be immiseration. That’s partly the consequence of lack of vision, lack of imagination and an orthodoxy that has always validated itself by cranking hard on dystopic myths with regards any alternative.

            • Colonial Viper

              I’ll tell you the thing which I don’t get – the better educated 50-ish and 60-ish 10%’ers who run this country…they are the ones with the kids and grand kids under 20 years old who are going to be whacked hard by climate change and fossil fuel depletion…

              Does no one give a damn any more? What kind of bizarro culture is this.

              • Bill

                The answer’s in my previous comment.

                Our political class is essentially made up of liberals. They believe all the dystopic nonsense that gets thrown at any alternative; they look to history and see progress; they look to the future and see any departure from our current course as undoing all that progress they see and of dropping back into some Hobbesian world of ‘short, sharp and brutish’ lives. They believe that misanthropic story – the story as told by Hobbes. And for them, it exists on all sides and is staring in, dirty and wide eyed from just beyond the fortified borders of orthodoxy.

                How can they (the political class) embrace meaningful change based on vision and imagination, and how can they drive that meaningful change, when their view of the present and their view of future is informed and contained by that degree of tosh and fear?

                • Colonial Viper

                  I am pretty sure sweet F.A. of the ruling class know sweet F.A. about Hobbes or anything else like that. These people are largely neoliberal apparatchiks, mostly with finance, banking, commerce or economics degrees and believe that anything to do with the humanities is irrelevant to real life.

                  • Bill

                    CV. You don’t have to know who Hobbes was, or what he said, or what he based his writings on to be conditioned by the narrative he unleashed. It’s now a ‘received wisdom’ that liberal democracy is progressing us away from a state of barbarism to an ever higher state of civility. It’s also a ‘self evident truth’, extended out from the Hobbesian tosh, that capitalism and democracy go hand in hand.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I don’t think you understand the mindset of these people.

                      They believe in aristocratic feudalism of the worthy lording it over the unworthy, first and foremost.

                      To them, progress towards a “higher state of civility” might as well be about gutting (or at least neutering) democracy and heading back towards what they see as the natural, most proper state of the world where the worthy rule over the unworthy.

                      In that sense, the self styled aristocracy may very well see climate change, financial crises and growing income inequality as positives for the world that they want.

                    • Bill

                      They believe in aristocratic feudalism, first and foremost.

                      As, essentially, did Hobbes. There was sovereign authority and there was no separation of powers, so there you go…

              • greywarshark

                The ages 50s and 60s have been going well financially for thirty years. How can they puncture their bubble of superiority and ease, and admit that the Greens have been right all these years that they’ve been bleating on about the environment? The response is likely to be – It’s unheard of, it’s the thin edge of the wedge. it’s the beginning of the end, it strikes at the very heart of democracy.

                Time for a bit of Yes Minister to illustrate the shock and horror of having one’s favoured pecuniary reward method questioned, rubbished, thrown into disarray.

                • Bill

                  It’s going to be psychologically tough for many of that age group – no two ways about it. But having said that, I know many middle aged and older people who are absolutely ‘on board’ and seeking the levers that will drive change.

                  Think of it this way. Did all of the hippies become accountants? Were all of the hippies wannabe Richard Bransons? And then what about the later counter culture of punk?

                  It’s not the case that everyone involved in those countercultures was a fashion wank.

                  • greywarshark

                    Hopeful stuff. I am sure we’ll see positivity even if small numbers to begin with. A lone candle is very noticeable in the dark.

            • greywarshark

              Have you read The Prince in Waiting trilogy by John Christopher.? That was an interesting thought piece on a young leader’s travel through alternatives to a settled stable society using science. And the unsettling end that they would eventually seek to gain other lands beyond present boundaries using science, and bringing new ways to the ‘backward’ resistant other societies. The story seemed to follow a humanly-logical progression of feeling superior and then interfering and to take over other ‘backward’ cultures even if they were successful and satisfactory to the inhabitants.

  13. Colonial Viper 13

    Climate modeller featured on 2006 PBS doco “Dimming the Sun” talks about how 5 deg C warming by 2100 may be a significant underestimate and says that 10 deg C warming is not out of the question.

    • Bill 13.1

      If there’s runaway (non-anthropogenic) global warming, then sure – 10 degrees C or even more is absolutely possible.

      Our immediate problem though, and the only one we have any hope of dealing with, is to keep warming as close to 2 degrees C as we can and to avoid something like an utterly catastrophic rise in the order of 4 degrees C no matter what. (And yes, on current projections we are heading towards something like 4 degrees or 6 degrees – and that’s without taking any possible feed back loops into consideration)

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