Destroying the economy in one fell swoop

When I got to page 7 in this morning’s Dominion-Post I wasn’t sure at first that my eyes weren’t deceiving me.    I read it again, and even then wondered if what I was reading was a typo.  But these people seemed to be deadly serious.

open letter

Their demand is there in bold: that the government take steps to reduce (net) greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025.  Their demand doesn’t appear to be conditional on other countries doing anything.  It is simply flagellation –  but not self-flagellation (in which these individuals themselves commit to reducing all direct and indirect emissions associated with their own consumption and production to zero by 2025)  but a brutal whipping delivered to everyone.   Not even our government, evincing no concern for productivity or for lifting the performance of the underperforming New Zealand economy, would be that stupid or (electorally) suicidal.  (In fact, that left me half-wondering if this was really intended as a piece of political theatre –  get together a group advocating something so recklessly stupid and costly that the government’s own proposed net-zero by 2050 target will seem moderate and reasonable.   But many of the names of the petition –  a couple of hundred visible in the advert, and another 2000 or so who’ve signed –  appear to be “true believer” types.  And all their rhetoric suggests they are in deadly earnest.)

It all comes complete with the typical zealot’s demand –  “this is no time for party politics” (further down the advert) –  as if their propositions (and time frames) were so self-evidently (or by revelation) true, that no further debate should be countenanced.  End of story.   And yet, perhaps not surprisingly, of the key figures in this organisation one is the former leader of the Green Party and another is a former Greens Regional Councillor (I didn’t recognise the other names, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a quick search revealed other strong Green Party ties).  Green Party politics is just fine it seems, but not anyone else’s?

It is now March 2019.  That means these crusaders claim to seriously believe that in just six (and a bit) years we should reduce all (net) emissions to zero.  Sure, the trees that are already growing will offset a bit, and a few more trees will be planted in the coming years (but any tree planted today is still going to be rather small in 2025).    The offsets (the LULUCF bit) just don’t make that much difference (as this MFE chart illustrates).

emissions

They seem to be calling for probably a 70-75 per cent reduction in gross emissions (animal, energy or whatever) in a mere six years.  Being true believers I presume they will also be wanting international air (and sea) travel emissions –  which aren’t included  in the official framework but are just as polluting  –  radically slashed in six years.

I noticed in their advert a comment that “Solutions DO exist”, so out of curiosity I looked up their website.    Here is the Deeper Thinking section.  From the introduction

We will not accept action on climate change that further increases inequality, takes away democracy [but it was “no time for party politics”?], destroys our natural ecosystems, or compromises human rights. Some scientists think they can geo-engineer the planet by blocking the sun or changing the chemistry of the oceans. That is not our vision. In fact, this kind of change will make it even more difficult to reduce emissions.

We need a change of values that puts the everyday rights and needs of people before the profits of corporations. A change that values Nature, and respects its limits. A change that truly honours Te Tiriti o Waitangi, by which we mean recognizing the holistic world views of tangata whenua, their perspective of being intrinsically connected to the earth, the role of mana whenua in discussions and decision making, and the importance of environmental integrity to the health and wellbeing of communities who sustain themselves from it.

Make of that what you will.

There was a promise that one day (before 2025?) their website will have some more concrete material on “better alternatives”, but it isn’t there yet.  In fairness, they do finally mention economics.

Climate change is about economics. That is why it is hard. It is not possible to address climate change without changing our economic system. Resources and the ability to absorb pollution are limited. We cannot keep growing the economy without growing environmental damage. Much has been written over the last 40 years about the economics of ‘enough’ rather than ‘more’ which can give us a better way of life with less damage to the climate, the water, and each other. Aiming at human wellbeing rather than industrial growth, accepting the limits of nature and natural resources and valuing things other than just money is the basis.

Take that third sentence.  It would probably be better, and more honestly, reframed as “it is not possible to cut gross emissions by 70 per cent in six years, especially when half your emissions are from animals, without destroying New Zealand’s economy, severely undermining material living standards and [see the first block of their text], and (most likely) materially increasing inequality”.  But, perhaps, the signatories would feel better.

So what would this involve?  Well, first it would almost destroy our tourism industry (and our export education industry), which relies on air travel, and where there are as yet no commercially viable replacements for emitting fuels.   Then it would destroy our pastoral industries –  animals emit and, whatever the technological innovations, will still substantially be doing so six years from now.

I presume the signatories have dreamy visions about electric cars, trucks, and trains.  But, as of now, almost the entire stock is powered by petrol or diesel.  What do they propose?  Confiscation of all existing vehicles, with or without compensation?   And while it is fine to talk up the possibilities of wind (and the dreadful visual pollution it entails) or solar, we’ve yet to see anywhere the sort of (economic) large-scale battery storage deployed in ways that suggest a quick replacement of the full fleet is in any way sensible, or economic.   Many of us –  old fogies like me, but more importantly poor people – don’t want to buy new vehicles, which are very expensive (petrol or electric).

Presumably much of the building and construction industry is also a gonna –  a lot of emissions involved in producing cement.   That will be a bit of an issue in a country with one of the fastest population growth rates in the advanced world.   Perhaps raupo cottages are an alternative?

One is rather left wondering how New Zealanders earn their way in the world –  literally, profitable activities competing on world markets –  in this vision.  It wouldn’t “just” be a matter of sustaining growth –  a concept that seems distasteful (at best) to these people –  but of sustaining even the material living standards we have now, which lag well behind those in leading advanced economies (and thus constraining all sorts of personal and government choices).  Run through a list of New Zealand exports, and there won’t be that much left (a bit of wine, some fruit, a few services (ones that don’t rely on consultants jetting in to other countries, and……?).  I guess the exchange rate would plummet, but –  given the constraint of zero net emissions –  it is hard to see what viable new outward-oriented business would be likely to spring up here, so far from the rest of the world (and distance means, among other things, emissions).

The current government has talked of a commitment to a net-zero by 2050 target (although after their consultation process we have yet to see the final form of that commtment).  I wrote last year about the potential economic consequences of adopting such a goal, drawing mainly on the NZIER work commissioned for the consultation process by the Ministry for the Environment themselves.

The Minister for Climate Change has made the public claim that his net-zero target (by 2050 –  which would give us six times as long to adjust) would be a “massive economic boost“.    But that isn’t what the NZIER modelling showed.  This quote is from the government’s own consultative document

The analysis by NZIER suggests that GDP will continue to grow but will be in the range of 10 per cent to 22 per cent less in 2050, compared with taking no further action on climate change.

As I noted at the time

Those are breathtakingly large numbers (future GDP gains) for a government to simply propose walking away from. 

The hair-shirt the government proposed to compel all to wear was going to be astonishingly costly.

And then there were the (in)equality implications.  Recall that this was for a net-zero target by 2025 (still 31 years away, not six).

In my previous post, I quoted the MfE text

Our modelling suggests the households that are in the lowest 20 per cent bracket for income may be more than twice as affected, on a relative basis, than those households with an average income.

Which is quite bad enough. But it is all the more stark when you see the chart in the NZIER report, drawn from some work done for them by Infometrics  (in this chart they are looking only at the additional estimated losses from moving from the 50 per cent target to a net-zero target).

emissions distribution

Specifically, people in the bottom two income quintiles will be hit six times as hard as people in the top quintile.    Like MfE in the consultation document, NZIER rush to the client’s defence and suggest that redistribution policies could alleviate this.   You wouldn’t thought that sort of advocacy was their role –  having been commissioned to do modelling –  but more importantly, they should know as well as anyone that when governments adopt policies to materially shrink the economy, it is even harder than usual to persuade voters in the upper quintiles to agree to give up even more to mitigate the losses the worst off are exposed to.   Redistribution tends to win more favour when everyone is getting better off.

But, never mind, I guess, the signatories will feel better, and it is –  so they tell us –  no time for party politics.  Just destroy material living standards with one fell swoop, no doubt hoping –  with the best of intentions no doubt – that something will turn up.

(Of course, if they were at all serious about doing all this, in a way that hurt New Zealanders least, among their policy prescriptions would be a sharp and permanent cut in immigration numbers.  I made that case to the Productivity Commisson inquiry.   But since the Green Party also likes to position itself as the equal-top most pro-immigration political party, one can only assume –  again –  that the point of the exercise, in practice (whatever their best intentions) is to maximise the pain of the sort of adjustment they propose.  Flagellation in other words.)

61 thoughts on “Destroying the economy in one fell swoop

  1. It may be ‘no time for party politucs’ but I recognise some of those names as Greens and Labour and it certainly makes one realise just how economically illiterate these people are. Also how politically stupid-as you say it’s almost a political suicide note as to even begin to do some of the things they suggest (all of which are totally unecessary anyway) would see a party that hitched to that idea thrown out of power very smartly. The sudden and dramiatic decrease in our relative wealth would cause untold hardship-no doubt they would have good socialists ideas to deal with that. True nutters!

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  2. It’s time to dust off Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements”. Hoffer was a self educated San Francisco stevedore which meant he was uncontaminated by the rote learning of academia and its totalitarian instincts. His work was commended by Eisenhower as a means of understanding the development of both Nazism and Communism. It seems fanaticism is increasingly in vogue in this country and will pose a major challenge to our future wellbeing. We need urgently to get to grips with it.

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  3. It’s so cute that these people seem to think that our actions will make even one iota of difference…

    While China – and soon India – and then Africa – continue to burn down their economic growth trajectories, what New Zealand, or for that matter, Australia, the US, Japan and the EU do is of little consequence.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Odysseus’s comments.

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  4. The purpose of the open letter is to wake people up to the extreme situation we are in with respect to the impact of climate change on world economies, ecosystems and communities. The impacts are coming much faster than we anticipated 5 years ago. The recent Westland ‘1:100 year flood’ is a foretaste of what is to come. There is an old statement now, that once the rivers, fish and plants are gone do we eat money. Well once they have gone there won’t be much of an economy. I am glad that you have responded so strongly Michael and I welcome your intellect being used to devising economic actions that rapidly reduce NZ carbon emissions. And no NZ does not live in a bubble. Any idea that we are going to have fortress NZ with limited options to take climate change refugees won’t last long.

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    • Generally I favour price mechanisms and would support a (revenue neutral) carbon tax. More specifically I have for 9 years now been championing a substantial reduction in the non-citizen immigration rate (mostly because there are no apparent econ benefits to NZ, but over the last couple of years emphasising the emissions strand of the argument as well) If my preferred policy been adopted in 2010, I`d estimate that total NZ emissions today would already be perhaps 6-8% lower than they are. Even at a global level that would be (trivially) helpful, given that NZ has higher emissions per unit of GDP (and per capita) than most other countries.

      And I continue to take comfort in the IPCC and OECD analysis and modelling that suggests that, if anything, NZ may be an economic beneficiary of climate change. Of itself, that isn`t a reason for being indifferent to a global phenomenon, but it points me in the direction of NZ as follower rather than leader (the latter is the implicit tone of today`s declaration).

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      • There is nothing we can do that will make one iota of difference. It is a nutcase approach for us to take the lead. The largest economies must lead to make a difference.

        All we should be doing is to start planning for climate change instead of wasting our resources trying to prevent what is inevitable.

        Floating housing, ocean front levees, drainage pumps throughout our cities, building higher up slopes and further inland instead of hugging the coast. would be a more sensible approach.

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      • Regardless of the economic forecast for New Zealand is it not important to make our contribution to a critical challenge facing all of humanity? Increases in New Zealand’s material wealth are surely meaningless in the context of the international disruption that promises to occur. Further to that, don’t you would agree it is morally wrong to ignore the negative externalities associated with our economic activities?

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      • As I say, I think there is a reasonable case for being a follower (perhaps even a fast follower) not a leader, given that (a) the adverse effects of climate change will be felt by other countries more severely, and (b) the abatement costs here are still unusually high (because of the animal emissions).

        It is always worth remembering that we would not enjoy today the standard of living we do without having emitted considerable carbon into the atmosphere. Coal and oil made possible what we have. There are downsides to that, but we can’t ignore the costs of adjustment. We can have pollution free London today, but we couldn’t have had pollution-free London (and its then living standards) in 1900. Technologies evolve and give us new options. Thus I really hope Blair is right about many of his points. But if he is, those changes will happen anyway, regardless of timeframes politicians fixate on.

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    • So much you say there is entirely subjective. I lived in South Westland 50 years ago and we certainly had heavy rain then – and often. Also in those days the vehicle traffic was almost non-existant as the road through to Haast hadn’t opened. Saying it ‘is a foretaste of what is to come is just plain crap’! It’s been happening for thousands of years just more man made structures in the way now. Reducing our ‘carbon emissions’ whill do nothing to anything except make plants grow much more slowly. The world level of CO2 is currently about 1/5 th of that what it was when the angiosperms were evolving. Thank goodness its increasing towards a much more normal level. The link between CO2 levels and temperature increase is entriely theoretical and imagined. The forecast and predictions have all been wrong. Climate changes – has always changed and will always change.

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      • What do you mean ‘the scientists’? Do you really, truly consider that they all agree? there are thousands of scientists out there like Peter Ridd – who disagree with the current orthodoxy but most cannot say and risk their jobs.

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      • Peter Ridd’s speciality is the Great Barrier Reef on which he has spent 35 years of study but he has been fired from James Cook University because his ideas and opinions don’t conform and he will not stay silent. He says that there are plenty of others in the the same or similar situations but he decided (because he is older) to challenge the university. His hearing against dimissial in being held this week.

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  5. OK, so zero emissions by 2025 is crazy, agreed. But net zero by 2050 is eminently achievable and consistent with a two degrees pathway. The costs of the transition will be much lower than most people assume, and the economy will be much better after the transition. That NZIER analysis was laughable, and its assumed marginal cost of abatement was ludicrous. Renewable energy is already cheaper than fossil energy in most places, even allowing for the cost of storage and balancing, and getting rapidly cheaper every year. Batteries are improving far in excess of predictions. Electric cars are vastly better than petrol or diesel cars, and will be cheaper by 2024-5. A ton of energy efficiency improvements have negative marginal cost. Aeroplanes could be powered by biofuels at minimal extra cost – the issue is that the airlines won’t pay a cent more for fuel without some kind of price signal on carbon. A couple of areas are hard – cement and steel production, but solutions exist and can be scaled with only a little R&D and some regulatory prodding. And in the meantime, wooden skyscrapers look better than concrete ones. And don’t get me started on the negative externalities of fossil fuels today, which are blindingly obvious and extremely severe, from the 7 millions painful deaths (a holocaust every year) to the slow death of the Reef to the despoiling of our inner cities through visual and noise pollution. We can do better than this, people.

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    • Blair
      You dont make a distinction between zero carbon emissions by 2050 and zero total emissions – there is a big difference in the cost about $200 billion – See my The Cost of Feeling Good -Tailrisk economics.

      the climate group seem to have made a rapid change in their ambitions. On their website they have gone from zero carbon by 2050 to zero total by 2025.

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      • Prior to fracking bringing prices down biofuels were the rage and there was evidence of food prices going up . Everyone is happy with the theory of fighting climate change but change petrol prices and the populace awakes; we saw it in Auckland with the minor increase caused by Mr Goff’s tax grab and it was the starting point of the yellow jacket movement in France.

        Replacing most fossil fuel oil with biofuel may happen – the former may run out – but I fear people will starve long before there is any significant abandoning of car use.

        My atheist prayer is for nuclear fusion.

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      • I think biofuels offer much promise here Michael, from raw materials such as tallow and the huge volumes of forestry waste we generate.

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      • You may well be right, but relative to likely global demand those resources are likely to be pretty small (which is not an argument for not using them, if they are economic).

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  6. I have been deeply concerned about fossil fuel emissions for decades and it is good to see others realise there is an issue; admittedly I see it as handling a big risk that is difficult to quantify. For example recent Auckland council scare publicity reads to me as Auckland having Brisbanes weather and it left me more worried about where the anticipated new inhabitants will go than loss of Auckland coastline. Yes we should have plans and policies and on moral grounds we should be making our contribution; in WW1 and WW2 we didn’t say New Zealand’s population is too small to make a difference to the outcome.

    I think the point Odysseus makes about fanatics is important. The people who sign want to be seen to be on the right side of the argument. So human nature of fanatics being what it is they will cast anyone who queries their aims as the enemy however rational the argument. The ‘make it zero’ does sound good – compare ‘stop beating your wife’ with ‘reduce your wife beating’. However getting to zero would not solve the problem since we have been burning fossil fuels since the beginning of the industrial revolution and those emissions with take many centuries to be absorbed by natural processes.

    To get these enthusiasts to think about practical solutions we first need to challenge their integrity then they may start thinking about specifics. International air (and sea) travel emissions aren’t included in the official framework. This is as per other countries. But their emissions do make a significant difference to the extent emissions are damaging the planet (I read about 10% of our total and if that is true maybe $400 per passenger to pay for carbon offsets – I’d be happy to be corrected). We should insist that they are added to our official framework. Surely the international community will do so eventually because for other countries it is a comparatively minor issue. If James Shaw makes it clear they will be included it puts NZ on the side of the climate change angels – doing as our govt say they want: setting an international example. When included Air New Zealand and the many cruise liners will change their long term planning accordingly. Once air ticket prices begin to go up and tourism numbers drop the climate change issue will hit home to every New Zealander rather than just the elite who sign petitions. On then will we get rational economic and climate change debate.

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    • Thank you for the correction. On the internet I found “”Gross greenhouse gas emissions from human activity for the year were 80.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, compared with 64.6 million tonnes in 1990.”” so 2.5% is over 2 million tonnes. Reported yesterday in Simon Upton’s proposals was a carbon price of $25 per ton predicted to go up to $203 so international travel costs are fairly reasonable but we should be introducing a compulsory charge per trip.

      From a comment on yesterday’s GreaterAuckland website:
      “”There’s usually a cruise ship berthed in the city most days, sometimes two. Well the average larger-sized cruise ship emits as much C02 at 83,000 cars. Even worse, as much N0x as 421,000 cars. And even far far worse, as much sulphur dioxide as 365 million cars. Yes, million.
      Basically, if you see a cruise ship in Auckland, you are looking at a bigger source of greenhouse gases than all the cars in the city combined.
      So, do we ban cruise ships in our quest to be carbon neutral? Do we shut down the international flights? The cargo ships? How do we get to carbon neutral whilst still having these things? Or do we pretend they don’t exist because they are on the ocean or in the sky?””

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  7. The issue of climate change is so important that it is absolutely worth making huge sacrifices to the economy. These people are indeed deadly serious, and I for one fail to see how a well-informed person could not agree with them. Whether our sacrifices will be in vain remains to be seen, but it is certainly better to try and fail then not to try at all. If Cassandra were alive today I doubt she would approve of your cynicism in the face of such a huge crisis to mankind.

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      • The first thing that most of us should do if you are really that concerned is to paint your roofs white. Our roads as well need to be white to stop being heat sinks. If everyone has a white roof then a lot of that heat will radiate back into space.

        I used to have a white roof, the previous owner must be climate change aware. It is amazing how cool the roof is even in the middle of a hot Auckland summer. I would know because it took me an entire summer to scrub clean the moss that gathered on the roof. That is the main drawback which is the amount of green moss that gathers on a white roof.

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    • Hamish: while I agree that sacrifices should be made and far more serious than plastic bags at the supermarket you do have to have an idea of what the risk actually is before asking for the sacrifice.
      I strongly suspect our scientists have underplayed their predictions – maybe the Amazon burns and the permafrost melts and the sea level rises 10 metres and it all happens in your lifetime – that would be drastic but even then we have to work out what sacrifices we make that will make a significant difference to the result. Human beings would survive such a change, as would rats and cockroaches.

      The problem with the open letter to the govt with its many signatures is why 2025 – why not by Easter? I am actually rather pleased that James Shaw has been taking his time getting a multi-party concensus. We need predictable charges for carbon emissions, rational encouragement for public transport and electric vehicles, etc. Panic will produce dumb policy.

      For me as an atheist the destruction of Nature is more important than climate change and that is happening rapidly with pollution by chemicals that have no natural ways to breakdown. Life can continue with infrastructure moved inland, agriculture at higher altitudes, etc but the continuing destruction of God’s species (the word God was deliberate) must be stopped.

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      • Problem is that none of the predictions you talk about – the ones made 30 years ago and more, have come true. Not one of them! If the predictions based on a theory have not come true what makes you think that any of the predictions you seem to rely on now, made in the name of the same theory, are likely to come true in the next 30 years? Seems to me to be entrely faulty reasoning. The sea level rise continues at the same rate that it has for last 300 years.

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      • Roger, a good point, I’ve noticed it myself. It was about 30 years ago I decided not to buy any propertty that was less than 5 metres above sea-level. A decision that cost me nothing. It was influenced by (a) seeing the effect of property owners unable to sell because their properties were not insurable (a destitute area of Huddersfield so not climate change in this case but 30 years later we are beginning to see insurance companies playing very safe) and (b) growing up in Inverness Scotland where the raised beaches are a classic proof that sea level changes can occur quickly (Ok since then I realised land moves up and down and does so far faster than sea levels). My own ‘skeptic believer’ status was mainly established by the time those planes were grounded for 3 days after 9/11 and the temperature of North America went up by 0.5 degrees – totally unpredicted and clearly masking an underlying fairly rapid change to the climate.
        We should approach climate change as a posibility – as they say 97% of relevant scientists believe in it If 97% of doctors told you to take a medicine you probably would – however as I am well aware of situations where the side-effects of the medicine is worse than the risks of the illness (ref chemotherapy and blood pressure tablets).
        You do have to distinguish between predictions by actual scientists and the media.

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    • These people are indeed deadly serious, and I for one fail to see how a well-informed person could not agree with them.
      ————

      Well informed indeed. “(…)Our seas are poisoned, acidic and rising(…)” says the Declaration. Are they really? I’ve just checked the pH value for water in Timor Sea (approx. half way between Darwin and Timor Leste). 8.1 in the sample tested. If this is acidic I’m an elephant…

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      • Truth is no one can show consistant and reliable data that is out of the ‘normal’ range but people can show land surface temperature readings that have been doctored- ‘manipulated’ and ‘selected’ to make the past appear cooler than it was. Surface temperatures in Australia as an example where new temperature reading devices supposed to be run in tandem with older mercury systems for 5 years to establish an error difference simply hasn’t been done.
        Just need someone now to say ‘the science is settled’….to show us how unscienctific they really are.

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  8. The primary driver of climate change during the Quaternary, our current geological age, has been insolation, ie the amount of solar radiation that reaches the Earth. Variation in orbital eccentricity in a cycle around 100,000 years long drives the amount of insolation affecting the Earth resulting in substantial changes to the climate, and changes in the Earth’s axial tilt (which at present is towards the higher end of the range at 23.5 degrees) can make for the warmer summers and colder winters we are now observing globally. I agree that in line with the precautionary principle however we should limit as far as possible those emissions made by humans that may aggravate the effects of the underlying major natural changes we are witnessing. But I do not believe it is within our power to stop or reverse these changes and that laying waste to the economy with a quasi religious fervour is simply madness and likely to cause immense suffering. The two most practical steps New Zealand could take to reduce its emissions in my view would be to limit immigration, to which the Greens will never agree for ideological reasons, and to develop nuclear power, to which Labour is unlikely to agree, again for ideological reasons. So it’s hard to take them seriously on the subject of climate change, which leads one to believe instead that their principal motivation is the destruction of the current economic model offered by capitalism.

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    • Exactly, it is as simple as white roofs and white roads would have a more significant effect by reflecting the suns radiation back into space. These crackpot environmentalist like to do things the hard way when there are easier cheaper options.

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      • Not so. Perhaps fifty years ago it was less economic than hydro-power which is why the planned nuclear power station on the Kaipara was scrapped, but massive hydro schemes like the Clyde dam are no longer available to us. Nuclear power is far more reliable and efficient than wind or solar. It could easily meet our needs for the foreseeable future. Secondly, as I understood it, this article was about reducing New Zealand’s emissions. Reducing immigration will help do that. But overall whatever we do here will have no tangible impact whatsoever on climate change globally, as others have pointed out. Yet we should destroy our economy?

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      • Even if your assertion about the economics was correct, we don’t need it to be 100% renewable in electricity generation. Did you notice another wind turbine project just announced at Palmerston North. As for our interaction with the world. The NZ economy will be punished financially if we do not meet Kyoto commitments. We’ll all end up being taxed more to pay for international credits.
        Being a leading failure in the OECD on controlling emissions, also means we cannot effectively influence other countries in international forums to reduce their emissions

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      • As you say it doesn’t matter where the potential immigrant lives since they will emit CO2 one way or another. However it does make a difference to Carbon Credits – NZ foolishly committed to reducing to a 1990 figure for the entire country whereas other countries more rationally specified a per capita target. The number of immigrants to NZ roughly equals our excess over target. Eventually it will cost NZ dearly and cost all taxpayers both native born and immigrant.
        Probably we will reduce manufacturing and farming to achieve target but that also just moves the problem overseas and not help global emissions.

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  9. Zero emissions. An interesting concept…
    Considering that an average human being exhales approximately 500 litres of CO2 every day. Are we expected to stop breathing?

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    • Exactly Taieri ….these people posting here also seem to be believers in the 97% or scientists lie…I would have thought that at least some of them would have had the intelligence to actually discover the lie.
      Perahsp some signing the list could volunteer to stop breathing.

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  10. My taxi driver in Queenstown said they don’t think ahead. He is from Malaysia and compared a bridge there to the new two lane one over the Kawarau. He said it should be expandable to four lanes.

    Notice how the Greens are silent on tourism?

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    • Apparently SG has tall buildings that move in his area!….and quickly… Truth is that windturbines have blade tips that can easily achieve 80 metres per second or 180 mph – no wonder birds -any birds are in consider danger anywhere near them.

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      • birds frequently die by smashing into tall buildings. It’s not the movement that kills the bird. It’s the height.

        If you’re a big time bird supporter, I imagine you’re also against cats, suburban development, tall buildings (as discussed), horticulture and all manner of other things. Or you just reflexively don’t like wind turbines because you don’t like anything changing.

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      • Seriously comparing the number of birds killed by tall buildings (in the city) with the number sliced up in the countryside by windturbines? No I don’t like cats-they shit in my vegetable garden and I have no way of dealing with them. Change for change sake seems a pretty stupid idea to me and especially change based on some half baked quasi-religeous philosophy that can’t see that the energy it takes to produce a hideous windturbine is probably not a lot less that what it produces in its lifetime. Since you ask questions : have you seen rows of windturbines off the UK coastline? Do you know that large numbers of birds are fried by solar power farms in California. Think the Greens will tell you that?

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      • Figures on bird deaths are almost meaningless as a figure like 599 million birds killed in the US every year could be out, way out in either direction by 90% it impossible to know. It’s a figure basically plucked from the air. That’s US figures where of course there are far larger cities-generally with far larger buildings -generally. On a small scale most cat owners have nor idea what their cats kill-we just know that cats however well fed have the inbuilt instinct to hunt and kill and in our environment birds like fantails are much more likely victums than say a tui.
        I would also point out that windturbines- a most inefficent electricity producer takes a huge amount of carbon to produce – it may not even produce much more than that amount of power in its lifetime.
        Again windturbines are things we are adding to the environment. Unecessaryily in my opinion.
        My other point is that bird populations are always higher in the countryside where windturbines are than in the city. Building as well are immobile and resemble-however oddly, regular features like cliffs whereas the windturbine is moving a great speed. Often they appear slow but the tips are moving up to 180 mph. Windturbines don’t replicate anything in nature that a bird would avoid.
        A new windturbine farm planned near Palmerston North is to have 33 turbines – how many tall (?) buildings in PN?
        No tall -over two storied buildings within 100’s of KM from here – quite a few windturbines.

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      • you don’t like wind turbines, I get it. Just say that rather than frantically trying to find reasons why nobody should like them

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      • You say I don’t like turbines as though it is some sort of personal dislike and that is all. I think the whole renewables thing via a target is a stupid idea – especially in Australia where in order to appear pure somehow, they are selling their coal overseas and not using it themsleves to generate cheap energy. Not using their natural gas but having power outages. That is stupid! Undeniably so. The fact that windturbines are also uneconomic (because they are heavily subsidised) unreliable and blot on the landscape…what’s to like?

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  11. Ridiculously impractical suggestion to demand a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to zero in six years. Idealistic, but wacko territory for any political party to push. I’ve been curious why the urgency all of a sudden. Climate soothsayers have usually talked about “in 30 years… or 50 years” such & such. Now the talk is the ship is going down so fast we have six years or face extinction as a species. I really doubt the urgency. The far left of the US Democratic party is currently pushing the same arguments, in their Climate New Deal policy. They also were effectively asking air travel to end in six years to save the planet. The problem with this sort of nonsense is it undermines public backing of sensible suggestions to reduce emission through technological advances. Much progress has been made already in developing electric alternatives, particularly in the car industry, but they are still 20 years from electric transport being fully practical. Air transport and agriculture are more of a challenge and will take even more time. But zero green house emissions may never be achievable, unless we embrace nuclear energy.

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  12. Zero emissions is just sci-fi for the BA crowd, it will never happen in a successful country.

    Pricing mechanisms may work, but are also smart brute force solutions that will work (not that any one sees anything in NZ that meets that criteria). Much of the offered carbon solutions are by people who have things to sell and they grossly over stating the benefit (electric vehicle pollution is a classic, lithium is cheaper to mine than to recycle and extremely toxic, CO2 maybe safer). Energy isn’t really a problem here, a found a major geothermal field a couple of years ago on the west coast.

    A thought experiment:
    NZ log exports are about ~30 million tonnes of logs a year, remaining timber waste maybe~ 15 millions tonnes. So 45 Mt of wood is about 76 Mt of CO2. If we just buried them suitably (likely in a manner not dissimilar to making a future coal field), we get pretty close to net zero emissions.

    Note: dropping logs into the Kermadec trench may also lock up carbon for 1000’s of years & have a lower carbon foot print.

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  13. “Some scientists think they can geo-engineer the planet by blocking the sun or changing the chemistry of the oceans. That is not our vision. In fact, this kind of change will make it even more difficult to reduce emissions.”

    This is an odd remark. It almost sounds like their goal is not to avoid climate change, but simply avoid carbon emissions in their own right!

    I’m of the point of view that climate change is probably a serious issue the world as a whole has to deal with, but we don’t need to panic because geo-engineering with additional sulphur dioxide deposits will likely buy us the few decades we need to reduce emissions in time to avoid serious catastrophe.

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