While we are at it – let’s try to save the planet

Written By: - Date published: 12:32 am, November 10th, 2015 - 48 comments
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Can’t be many more important campaigns than saving the planet right?  Only people power will change the current economic levers which are designed to burn burn burn.  We have the chance to join with others around the world ahead of the climate talks in Paris to send a strong message to our Government that we want NZ to maximise its contribution to this programme.

On 27 and 28 November just before the climate talks in Paris,  the “Peoples Climate March” will take place around the world including in NZ to call for a real climate action plan from that conference.  One that will  reverse the growth of carbon pollution and reverse the terrible destruction of the planet through climate change.

These are expected to be the biggest demonstrations on climate on the planet and we need to do our part in NZ with a Government that to date has shown no commitment to playing its role in this agenda.  Don’t miss them!

You can offer to help and get details here.

Climate change is a workers issue – there are no jobs on a dead planet.  We need to ensure climate change trends are reversed and the economic and social impacts of making that change are managed so that there is a ‘just transition’  to decent jobs in a greener environment.

I will be there – I hope to see you there too!

48 comments on “While we are at it – let’s try to save the planet”

  1. Sorry Helen, but the desire for full employment and workers rights has been one of the biggest drivers of climate change.
    If on the other hand we had kept our population down, and run a society with say 80% unemployment, humans might have many decades left, as apposed to the maybe 2 we have now.
    Full employment means more destruction of the human friendly environment, more oil and gas, more minerals, more mining, more deep sea drilling,more top soil loss, more wars etc etc.
    It is growth in employment/population that has bought us to the point of extinction.
    China is a fine example of what the insane push for full employment looks like 7 – 14% growth has destroyed China’s environment, (laying as much concrete as the USA did over 100 years in just 3 didn’t help), to the point 1.2 billion people face running out of potable water inside of 10 years, they are nearly at the stage of running out of water for INDUSTRY (read jobs). Can you picture how many flat out spending consumers it would take to keep the factories open in China? They have over built nearly 2 years supply of everything, the world wouldn’t notice if China inc took a couple of years off at the moment.
    There just isn’t enough ‘stuff’ or consumers on the planet to employ everyone now, let alone as massive swaths of land are being taken out of production due to climate change, deforestation, desert creep, drought, war, pollution, population expansion (suburbia)
    What to do ? I haven’t a clue ??? except I do know doing more of what has caused this cluster fuck isn’t the answer, ponzi growth based savings scams isn’t the answer, trying to maintain this population isn’t the answer ie to do so we will need to produce as much food in the next 50 years as humans have ‘produced’ in the past 10,000 years – that is what 7 – 9 billion hungry people will take to sustain, giving them all a happy green environment jobs is impossible.
    Hippy love-ins maybe?
    The ice burg is well and truly in the rear view mirror, Copout 21 is just chucking buckets of water into steerage.
    Ho hum (

    • Mike the Savage One 1.1

      You raise some very valid points of argument there. Things are NOT getting better on a global scale, and certainly not in China:


      I have just looked outside again, like every morning in rush hour Auckland the massive number of residents are out in their cars in droves, driving to work, study and taking their kids to school. There is NO honest awareness and certainly NO action of significance to address the very causes of climate change here.

      The often proclaimed increase in public transport use in Auckland can easily be explained by the growing population, which includes a significant increase also of students to study here longer term, and new migrants first looking for work and so. They do not rush to buy their own cars, they use buses and trains, while they get established. For most resident New Zealanders, workers, students or business people or whatever else, they continue their love affair with their metal cabin on four wheels, mostly powered by fossil fuels.

      If we were going to switch all cars to electric, demand would suck up so much electricity, little would be left for powering washing machines and fridges at homes, or even for commercial business and industry.

      So much for a “sustainable” New Zealand, so far less than half-hearted talk and nothing much else. And voters will not vote for swift change, as they fear change (most that is). They will not vote for higher fuel costs, for a switch that will so far cost more than to continue burning fossil fuels. The government does not care much either, as we know, and the Greens struggle to get over 11 percent of those that bother voting. I rest my case, with huge concern, frustration and also anger.

      In reality this is what people and governments are more concerned about, looking like possums into the headlights of a car rushing towards them:

      P.S.: By the way, personally I intend to go to the local climate march, but fear most people will nevertheless rather rush to the malls to do their usual weekend shopping or to prepare for some diy at home.

      • Bill 1.1.1

        How many of the vehicles in the rush hour are people going off to perform tasks that offer nothing to society; that they resent doing; that they feel compelled to do under fear of being kicked out of house and home?

        How many of those vehicles would be on the road if there was a a general strike happening alongside a debt strike? So, no going to the job today unless it’s socially useful or necessary. No payments towards the mortgage or the rent or the HP or the overdraft.

        Either we’re going to that or something similar or the effects of climate change will mean it’s impossible to do your job today (a huge variety of possible scenarios) and the monies you’re paying, that you won’t be paying because no-one will be paying you, are all dropping into the black holes of a wholly broken and fragmented financial system.

        I guess we’ll choose not to take the first option and so wind up having the first option forced on us alongside a whole heap of chaos.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2

        The often proclaimed increase in public transport use in Auckland can easily be explained by the growing population, which includes a significant increase also of students to study here longer term, and new migrants first looking for work and so.

        Probably not actually. As the Auckland Transport Blog has reported for some time actual driven kilometres has been dropping for some time.

        If we were going to switch all cars to electric, demand would suck up so much electricity, little would be left for powering washing machines and fridges at homes, or even for commercial business and industry.

        The answer is to get rid of cars. They’re totally uneconomic and really should never have become common. They’re a great example of how our financial system encourages and even enforces uneconomic behaviour.

        • Lanthanide

          “The answer is to get rid of cars. They’re totally uneconomic and really should never have become common.”

          Disagree that they’re uneconomic – if this were so, then literally billions of people would not have chosen to buy them.

          The problems are two-fold really:
          1. The proper cost of oil and petrol has never been paid by the car-driving consumer
          2. Societies have been built around cars, due to their heavily subsidised cost making them a very attractive solution to transportation problems, further embedding the requirement for cars.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Disagree that they’re uneconomic – if this were so, then literally billions of people would not have chosen to buy them.

            One does not follow the other as your 2 problems show. Cars have been heavily subsidised throughout the 20th century both directly (councils and governments building for cars) and indirectly (subsidies of the oil companies).

            Take those subsidies away and would people have bought cars quite so readily?

            • Lanthanide

              Given the alternative is pretty much horse and carriage for carting goods, or personal transport like bicycles. Yes, people still would have bought cars.

              • Draco T Bastard

                We had trains before we had cars and just because cars are uneconomic doesn’t mean that trucks aren’t. Cars, if they had been priced correctly from the start, would never have seen anything other than government and business use.

                Bicycles for personal transport are great. Great for both individual and family transportation.

    • Rosemary McDonald 1.2

      “Sorry Helen, but the desire for full employment and workers rights has been one of the biggest drivers of climate change.”

      Sorry Robert Atack, but I think you’re wrong. The desire for profit has been the biggest driver.

      Imagine…if the Business Barons had made the decision to reduce the use of cheap fossil fuels to power their factories….taken a hit on their profits and sincerely developed alternates?

      Imagine….if goods were manufactured to last…not with built in obsolescence. Our gadgets would cost more, but we would be using less of the Planet’s resources in manufacturing.

      Imagine… if businesses were forced to pay for the environmental damage attached to their profits. Land, air and water pollution completely unacceptable.

      Imagine….if the Business Barons were forced to provide safe workplaces. Not only from accidents, but from exposure to chemicals which are proven to harm health?

      Some of the cost cutting(profit maintaining) practices would cease. More workers just might be needed to ensure environmental regulations were met.

      People would be healthier…with the resultant reduction in state healthcare costs.

      Yes…control population growth….that’s a no brainer.

      Yes….put real international effort into better food distribution. There is plenty of food….with half the Planet’s population overweight….the food isn’t getting to the people who need it….profit again.

      I don’t know either….maybe this conversation is starting too late?

      BTW…TPP rallies THIS weekend….fight against the Business Barons.
      Climate change rallies on the 28th….be there…show you give a shit.

      • Colonial Viper 1.2.1

        “Sorry Helen, but the desire for full employment and workers rights has been one of the biggest drivers of climate change.”

        Sorry Robert Atack, but I think you’re wrong. The desire for profit has been the biggest driver.

        We’re in a system where no jobs are created if corporations are not profitable.

        If any business loses profitability for an extended amount of time, it will lay off workers one way or another.

        So the two of you are simply looking at the same problem from different sides.

        A third side is that investors demand higher returns from business managers, forcing business managers to act in certain ways. So you could blame investors as a core part of the problem as well.

        We’ve created a system where the kind of living standard we want depends on very high levels of energy use and material consumption.

        And that entire system is on the verge of collapse – and that’s for the top 25% of the world’s population. For the bottom 75% of the world’s population, that system only ever worked against them anyway.

        • Rosemary McDonald

          I’d agree that the system is on the verge of collapse.

          But surely, the Business Barons can see this?

          And…they can’t take it with them.

          What is the point of sustaining an unsustainable system.

          (“living standard” is personal. Maybe those of us forced into what many would consider a ‘lower standard of living’ will prevail when shit gets real.)

          • greywarshark

            Rosemary M
            ‘I’d agree that the system is on the verge of collapse.
            But surely, the Business Barons can see this?’

            It could be that psychological study is needed to understand that. There is a theory that says people tend to transfer measures of love, self-regard and wellbeing into money and possessions. As the physical assets grow so they feel empowered, rewarded and bolstered in self-esteem. And more is better.

            Being able to stand alone not surrounded or dependent on other’s approbation because of one’s spoils of life would require them to step away and find the real individual under the baubles (if there is one left).

          • Colonial Viper

            But surely, the Business Barons can see this?

            And…they can’t take it with them.

            Look at the vast numbers of multi-million dollar holiday getaway homes in Queenstown and Wanaka owned by the overseas 0.1% set who are hardly ever there.

            In their minds, that’s what counts as “preparing” for potential future collapse.

            • Rosemary McDonald

              Now…I didn’t like to point that out….

              They used to, in the past, settle their privileged arses on coastal properties.

              Alas, with AGW, and the ever rising tide and the ever decreasing value of their seafront homes…..

              (And they stuffed up a bit in Wanaka and Queenstown didn’t they….not making provision in their town planning for housing for the plebs….)

          • Draco T Bastard

            But surely, the Business Barons can see this?

            Research carried out over the last few decades indicates that large numbers of our business and political ‘leaders’ are psychopaths.

            Guess what? They know and they don’t care.


        • Chris

          “We’re in a system where no jobs are created if corporations are not profitable…If any business loses profitability for an extended amount of time, it will lay off workers one way or another.”

          Yes, and government says this is how things are and responds with a more stringent work test for the unemployed, secure in the knowledge there’ll be no opposition.

    • johnm 1.3

      R.A. 1000% right on! But here in PC NZ not right on! if you want to be with the informed club here just keep the Hopium BS going. The truth leaves you out in the cold. No one believes the biosphere can actually evict us.! Could affect our driving experience?

  2. We have to change our thinking to prepare our communities for the future with the effects of climate change and cheap fuel running out. I don’t really see a while we are at it approach as the way to do that. The old paradigms are holding us back from facing up to and preparing for the challenges imo.

    • Sabine 2.1

      WE have to change our actions.

      little case study. Friend of mine has a daughter who is old enough to drive. It drives him crazy that she does not want to make her license. She being the girl of the future simply states that it makes no sense getting a lisence, buying a care and maintaining it as she could not afford it as a student on a part time job (she works for me). She also sees no reason to have and maintain a car as she can use bus, train and airplanes for travel should she need it. He can not fathom that she chooses public transport (and yes I consider airplanes part of public transport) rather then have a car and do the Kiwi thing of driving to the dairy to get milk.

      I would venture to say that the young generation knows pretty much that what ever we are having now is only borrowed goods, and lives accordingly. 6 – 8 in a three bedroom, with maybe one or two cars that get shared, working their 0 hour/0 dollar jobs. They are not the problem.

      The ones that need changing are those that need a Humvee to feel save when they drive to work, that need a car for every member of the family, that need million dollar values on their houses, that need strawberries from Colombia in Winter, and Palm Oil in everything. And sadly these guys are not changing, they really do believe that they will be the ones to sell the last cup o tea on this planet.

      I believe that we are going to change the system, when we have demonstrations for public transport, and fruit trees in parks.

      • Bill 2.1.1

        I believe that we are going to change the system, when we have demonstrations for public transport, and fruit trees in parks.

        Or maybe when anyone in a car just routinely stops to offer pedestrians a lift and when we just go and plant the bloody fruit trees in the park 😉

        What was that Jim Morrison line? Oh yeah – “We want the world, and we want it now.” I’d say stop protesting the fact and just take it. You in?

        • Sabine

          been doing it for sometime. 🙂

          I remember the faces of shock and horror twenty odd years ago when I told Kiwis that i don’t have a car, and only ever had one for about a year. When they asked me how you get around, I said by bicycle – and yes there where not many around in AKL in the mid/late 90’s that used a pushbike – or walk, or bus. And the word bus literally send shivers down the spine of all. So effn funny.

          And I really have a thing for guerrilla gardening. It is so much fun. 🙂

          Alas, we are now at the age, where instead of protecting trees we are removing safeguards to fucking knock them down for a subdivison, or a garage or a drive way., essentially in a nutshell for fuck all.

          • Bill

            So you’re in! 🙂 And I’m in. And a fair few people I know are in.

            Seems the only barrier is spatial separation (edit – and as Adam has written, a lack of experience). That will diminish and vanish as more people raise their heads, raise their hands, raise their expectations and opt in, no?

            Sure, there are massive time constraints and a need to act with the utmost urgency. But while I’m being positive, I’ll draw on the example – with a whole pile of caveats and qualifications – and of how incredibly fast the USSR collapsed.

            Change, when it occurs, happens fast… even, we might say, instantly.

    • Bill 2.2

      I took the “while we’re at it” as being somewhat and deliberately ironic….or dry.

      It’s a fact that there will be no jobs on a dead planet. But no, the planet isn’t going to die.

      There will be no jobs with no market economy. The market economy drives the activities that drive CC. A small plus is that there will be no market economy in a world beset with CC. But there will still be economies (we always need to provide for ourselves on a scale beyond the individual).

      I think we need to cut to the chase, dump the market economy now and begin developing a new economy before CC takes away both our ability to choose what type of economy we want as well the time to develop and fine tune it.

    • maui 2.3

      ++ lots, we are completely unprepared for any oil shock. There is no public discourse on how our society looks like with no oil or small amounts of oil to hand. This is our greatest blindspot I think, we have to start acting for self sufficiency now. Unless people think they can still get food with limited trucks running and bare supermarket shelves.

  3. Ad 3

    All power to Helen. More voices for good that are there, the better.

  4. just saying 4


    The Dunedin March is on the 29th. Details at the link above.
    Meeting at the Dental School at 1pm.
    Looking forward to seeing all the local Standardistas there!

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    It’s worth remembering that once upon a time the ‘progressive left’ was dead set against “wage slavery” because it was seen as destructive of the true creative and productive potential of a human being.

    Now the progressive left advocates for wage slavery, as long as it is sufficiently well paid.


    • Bill 5.1

      Yes and no.

      I’m probably seen as a part of any progressive left. And I’m dead set against wage slavery – it’s the anarchist in me 😉

      I don’t think there was ever a time that the parliamentary left was against wage slavery and it’s probably fair to say that many unions formed to protect given trades in a capitalist framework – not to challenge the framework.

      Then there was all those Bolsheviks and the various cults that spawned from Leninism that claimed to be progressive but that just wanted to seize power in order to put a slightly different yoke on workers.

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1

        As you know, the initial formation of the NZ Labour Party was seen as a major compromise towards the interests of the ruling capitalist establishment.

        • Bill

          Yup. I know that. It was the same for all Labour Parties. Many on the later to be utterly marginalised left saw the danger in that and never did stfu about it. Time to re-evaluate the use of parliamentary parties as vehicles for meaningful change? Given CC, I’d say we do that re-evaluation real fucking fast and then get on with it (trying to, as the post says, save the planet).

  6. greywarshark 6

    Idea – this is an important, actually vital and ongoing post that Helen is hosting. it is one that is obviously close to Helen Kelly’s heart. I think she is leading us to a useful way to think about and discuss our looming problems.

    I ask if this post could be a permanent one under the same heading, going up every day along with Open Mike and the Daily Review. We can feed useful things we do or have heard or read about into it. Then all those things will be kept in this post and be a resource for ideas and others’ thoughts when we are puzzled. Can this be done TS planners?

    Helen’s good thinking and vibes will go on inspiring us, and we will carry these forward and inspire each other. And some days not much will go up, but it will be there awaiting thought or research back in TS archives, and be so needed as time goes on. When anyone thinks what can I do, or starts to despair, it would be the go-to place.

    How about it! Thinking of Helen, and thinking of us all. It would be good to have.

    • KDW 6.1

      Excellent idea, greywarshark!

      This thread has been very interesting reading – it’s critical that we drive more conversations like this about climate change and related issues, especially with a NZ perspective, so that talking about them and a willingness to take action becomes normalised. We need a powerful social shift in order make progress at the pace we need. More conversation will help improve knowledge, dispel apathy, encourage action, generate ideas and solutions; and most importantly help get other people involved (who may want to be, but don’t have anyone to talk to about these things!)

      A friend of mine has the goal to have at least one “climate conversation” each day, mostly with workmates. She organises regular conversation spaces at work, and has seen some quite amazing shifts in her workmates’ perspectives as a result. I think this is something we should all be doing.

      • greywarshark 6.1.1

        I think your friend is amazing KDW, I’m gobsmacked. I can feel inertia dragging me back when I should be making changes that I know multiplied would be good. As more people do things it inspires us. And we need a paradigm shift in thinking. Just having a portal to it in a familiar blog space would be good.

        Thanks for your helpful comments and your summary and ideas of where we are.

  7. savenz 7

    A big problem is this very one sided fixation on ‘growth’ in economics.

    A growing unprofitable business seems to be considered better than one that is stable but profitable. This drives business to look more for growth than profit and it unsustainable.

    In addition a lot of business is looked at within very short time frames of profit and loss. So it drives executives to only look at short term profits as they are rewarded for that.

    In the long term for example if an executive invested in solar or hybrid cars or even research and development and innovation they would be better off but in the short term it costs them to change or innovate so they don’t do it.

    At the same time losing jobs is considered ‘good’ as it is ‘managing’ the business better and being ‘more efficient’.

    I don’t agree that increased employment and a better planet are what is causing climate change. It is the neoliberal ideology of greed with too many people that is the problem.

    Also as an individual we can just make personal choices to decrease climate change.

    Under TPP and other agreements ‘social’ factors are not allowed to be declared to consumers such as GM, country of origin and so forth. This is the opposite of saving the planet.

    Apparently as well as reducing biosecurity for countries under TPP (i.e. being able to challenge inspections and safety of food) it also has deleted 6 out of 7 conditions for environmental protection used in other trade agreements.

  8. All this nonsense talk about Full employment being the biggest driver of climate change.
    In a fossil fuel free world less consumptive lifestyles give a great opportunity for work. Imagine what will be achieved by community participation in setting up the alternatives
    Local gardens new or old tried and proven replacement transport systems.
    New humanitarian models for assisting each other
    As an octogenarian I have experienced the like from depression and war year of shortages and rationing.
    Our grandkids will in survival mode be living in a virtually fossil free world. Shouldn’t we at least be making it as easy as possible for them
    Yes Gisborne will be having a Peoples Climate March as well.
    A planet fit for life ios what we are fighting for
    Bob Hughes

    • Bill 8.1

      I think you need to differentiate between work and jobs. We all work and there’s nothing wrong with work. There’s a lot wrong with jobs.

    • Colonial Viper 8.2

      All this nonsense talk about Full employment being the biggest driver of climate change.

      Everyone drives to work Bob, burning petrol and diesel. How’s that for a start.

      • savenz 8.2.1

        Actually with IT many people work from home. In other countries people use public transport, cycle or walk if they do use that hopefully outdated the idea of an office….

      • Mike the Savage One 8.2.2

        It is worse, they drive to work, then after work drive to the gym, to do exercise, that is using their body, some doing it on an exercycle and walking machine. That is the idiocy of our modern day society.

        On weekends a fair few here in Auckland DRIVE to the parks or outer suburbs and the waterfront, to jump on their bicycles and do a few rounds there.

        Few get the damned logical idea, to not bother paying for a gym membership and to not bother driving in a car everywhere, and start right from home, riding a bicycle, which is totally common in places like Copenhagen, Amsterdam and many other places in Europe. There are excellent cycle ways all along streets and roads in many towns and cities, along even rural roads, all over many countries in Central, Northern and some parts of Western Europe.

        Fact is, people in NZ are largely trained from a young age, to be lazy in that regard, to drive everywhere, and a car is still by most a desired means of transport, as most frown on sitting next to others in buses and trains, who they rather not share a close encounter with (from say the lower end of the social spectrum).

        Then they also like to jump into the car at any minute or hour, for convenience, to drive where they want to go, as they dislike having to depend on bus schedules and connections and all that stuff. Convenience is a huge thing in NZ, I discovered, that is why cities here are designed a bit similar to US American cities from the post WW2 era where the motor-vehicle was the standard means of transport. In Europe, Asia and other places, people learn to adjust and accept restrictions, and to use timetables and public transport for their transport. That is alien to NZers.

        The middle class is firmly locked into this behaviour, that is most of them, and that is the major challenge here. I see no way that education and motivational drives will change this, they need to be forced, that is the sad truth. And that will not happen by a voted in government, as they will not vote for pro green governments making their lives “harder”, they will do all to keep it as it is. I t will most likely happen due to economic or social or other catastrophes, pushing most into poverty, or into situations, where there will be no easy access to fossil fuels anymore, so they have no choice.

        The only other alternative is the most likely one, that NZ will like in most matters wait until the rest of the developed world changes and sets the new standards, and then simply follow, at the tail end.

        • greywarshark

          I agree Mike the Savage that travelling by public transport is lower class. That’s for women and the unskilled. A car is a step up, and the way that a real male travels. But a real male now uses cycles for sport and getting out into the environment.

          They are trying to take over every pedestrian way so there is nowhere peaceful and safe to walk without being alert for some guided missile behind, in front or passing. And the cycling brigade are astonished and angered and disappointed in the obtuseness of pedestrians and those who would limit them in their chosen pursuits. After all it is healthy and not using fuel so good for the environment and they wear an invisible halo, and see themselves as the chosen ones who could have the cycle tracks laid out with a red carpet for them except that would be silly and unmanly.

          Now in Nelson they are trying to make a tourist attraction by building a lift from a scenic hill previously used by walkers having a quiet, bush experience within city limits. The lift is to take bikers high and they will zig zag round the hill so that it is part of a outdoor cycle-attractive city. that they can promote for tourism. It will increase traffic up a long narrow valley much of it heavily settled with young families using the roads. Definitely not a people-friendly sport. Walkers you’re against progress, our cycling fraternity’s progress. You want to live in the dark ages. Go climb a tree!

  9. capn insano 9

    Well we have problems when we have people like Dick Quax voting in favour of deep-sea drilling whilst questioning money spent on climate research.

    • greywarshark 9.1

      Dick Quax is like many sports people. There is a narrow track they pace, with a simple outcome, and they have to put all their energies and thought and determination into getting from A to B for no useful reason. They go at life outside sport similarly. See the ball or the target, keep your eye on it, watch intensely, don’t get sidetracked by extraneous chatter. Above anything else achieve the result. Project successful. Celebrate.

      There is no confusion or discussion about whether the project is right or appropriate. If the person/s with money, sponsors, say it is then it’s Holy Writ.

  10. I and my Union in France will demonstrate in Paris, alongside with Sharan BURROWS and ITUC. We live alltogether on the same planet. There is no “plan B” than social justice for a safe planet.

  11. greywarshark 11

    Something to add to Helen Kelly’s plea for conservation and saving the planet.
    This is on the $billion asset to humans of coral reefs. And about these amazing little organisms, more amazing than us, and more valuable to the health of the planet and of us, than we are!

    A TED talk by a committed, knowledgable person with images. Really wonderful and hopeful too.

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