Written By: - Date published: 12:11 am, May 20th, 2016 - 173 comments
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I am preparing a post about a thought experiment that I would like Standardistas to consider over the next few days.
This isn’t that post. This is the warm up.
We’re going to think about what reducing NZ’s use of fossil fuels by 50% (compared to NZ’s current usage) by 2030 is going to look like in terms of hard nosed, real life, social and economic practicalities. Health, education, social services, economy, population, family life, etc.
The whole gamut.
BTW 2030 is as far away from us today, as GW’s 2002 invasion of Afghanistan (thanks Psycho Milt) was in the past.
Today’s 5 year olds will have recently started university. People born in 1965 will be eligible for NZ Super. It’s not really that big a span of time. In fact, it is a tiny span of time, in the even admittedly short history of NZ. But a very critical one.
And then we’re going to think about what the required politics to successfully take us to this goal in 2030 is going to look like. And what it actually means to be “Left” in this scenario.
Full disclosure: my belief is that reducing NZ’s fossil fuel burn to 50% of today’s levels by 2030 almost certainly can’t be done*. Not in terms of the financials. Not in terms of the physical real world economics. Not in terms of the politics. Not in terms of the public psychology. And certainly not in terms of how the Establishment (i.e. Parliamentary or Within Official System/Systemic) Left sees itself or the world today.
Bill has already relayed to us the scientifically based opinion** that NZ must get 100% off fossil fuel energy by 2030 (yes, this thought experiment posits a much softer scenario than that). I don’t necessarily disagree, but in the end this is what I think is going to be the much more likely scenario – far more likely than getting off fossil fuels 100% by 2030, and even far more likely than getting off 50% of fossil fuels by 2030:
We’re going to keep burning fossil fuels at speed, until we burn it all, or until we can’t burn any more because we have run out or because we can’t get our hands on any more.
And that’s going to result in a true low carbon economy. Albeit a rather involuntary and very likely sucky one.
NB As I mentioned at the beginning, this post is the intro to the thought experiment: something to warm up a general discussion with. I will write the actual thought experiment post up in a day or so, within which we can ditch the dreamy impractical concepts and instead go into the concrete detail of what it means to cut back our fossil fuel use by 50% by 2030.
Cheers to all Standardistas
*Short of some kind of authoritarian, probably martial law based economic war footing, including accepting our international status in the near term as a semi-failed pariah state ripe for targetting by global powers via a “colour revolution”.
**Altered the wording of this as per Bill’s suggestion. My general issue with this is quite simple: science doesn’t tell society what to do. The science only gives us the facts, figures, probabilities and possibilities. People applying value judgements – and yes they may be scientists – then tell society what should be done.