Afternoons on RNZ – Lord Stern – what a saddie

So there we had it – “on the panel” ….Richard Griffen and Jock Anderson. Mediating Jim Mora. And – wait for it, the ring-in is Federated Farmer’s Don Nicolson.

So the’s four in one corner…….

And in the other?

Balanced and objective reporting, it was not.

For the record, Lord Stern is an intelligent, informed, caring and worried man.

He knows about peak energy, desertification and drought, and about a projected 9 billion. He knows it won’t happen. He also knows that the best humanitarian way to address the problem, is to promote the mose efficient trnsfer of edible energy – and grain-to-stomach-via-meat is not it.

I eat (and love) meat, so this is not a personal bias, just a dispassionate take on the chemical/physical reality.

The gang of four failed.Why?

Griffen isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, although he’s nice enough. He was the one who stated “the Arabs know they’re running out of oil, so they’re diversifying (into bidding for Auckland Airport, it was). Duh. What would be flying in, powered by what?

Anderson just sounds like a wally to me – don’t know him beyond that.

Nicolson is the worst kind of full-speed-ahead’er, in my opinion dumb, and in my opinion, unable to get informed. A mantra person in the Tom Pearce mould.

For Mora to put that bias together was bad reporting, done from the base of his own personal bias. I have had an occasional exchange with Jim, and went through OBHS a year behind him. I would have said that at the time, he looked like middle-of-the -road Labour. What has happened in the interim to make him go so far right, is interesting conjecture, but should be irrelevant. My last exchange – tellingly – had him replying “you can’t know that” (t’was about limits to growth, as I recall). I reckon that after thirty years of investigation, I might be just a little more qualified to judge….

Good reportage – and the Panel purports to be reportage – should have a ‘devil’s advocate and a debate – should never ever reduce itself to the sarcastic, sanctimonious demonstration we got on Friday. Middle-class denial of anything which might spoil the latte is understandable, but inexcusable in a forum such as this. Getting hold of Lord Stern, or someone who could have explainge his rationale, would have been a good start.

Shame on you Jim.  Report card says:  Should do better.


Percentages, low bases, apples with apples, and a crystal ball

So we are ‘coming out of recession. The US is ‘coming out of recession’. She’s all good, full steam ahead. We’ve learned?


And the US is apparently doing it on cars and houses. So we’ve learned less that diddly-squat.

But the biggest failure – as old Albert Bartlett so eloquently expounded – is that of the human race to grasp the Exponential Function. Growth – of anything – is expressed in terms of ‘ Doubling Time’.

1,2,4,8,16.32,64,128,…..     that’s doubling. The last doubling possible kills the process.

Take a 100-square block of chocolate. Double you nibbles. 1 square, 2, 4,8,16,32. So far so good, doubling has continued uninterrupted. Those looking backwards (to the Great Depression, for instance) say it’s all good. Those looking forward, note that we’ve already eaten 63 squares, leaving 37. The problem is that our next ‘doubling craves 64.

Improtant to note that you can stretch the next round to more than 32 – depending on what it is. (Not extracting oil from the tail-end of the Hubbert Curve, that’s for sure). You could theoretically do 37, and still fool yourself that it will happen again. Nup. The next round would have a bare cupboard.

Growth to crash in one move. No warning. Inevitably, nobody (as John Bongard recently said) saw it coming. Yeah, right.

We can assume the price of choccy will rise, them pop. And repeat. If it is irreplaceable, your growth just stopped – something economists don’t get. They are trained (?) to expect alternatives, and growth to continue,

That only works on an infinite planet, which would have to be an infinite  flat plane.

Economics as taugh, then, is a flat-earth construct.

The other thing to note is relativity – if you sink percentage-wise enough, of course you can always ‘grow’ from the low base. Just remember that we are now at an energy plateau. It may last until 2014, but that is at ‘current rates of supply’. That doesn’t do ‘growth’.

Question: can fiscal systems morph into a non-growth mode, and stay intact?  How do you underwrite profit from the last round?

Have a good growth time. Me, I’m staying debt-free, and watching the price of oil. You need no more barometer – but you need Boolian Algebra. Think about it – It’s the blood that keeps the body going and growing. Curtail the supply-rate, stagger the growing, kill the price, repeat….    So at the point of ultimate max-out of an irreplaceable resource (energy) the price will not just go up and up. Look for wild volatility.

And don’t forget to compare real numbers, not just accrued (ac rude?) percentages.

the Whitehead debates

Having thunk on it overnight, I’m not so grumpy at John Whitehead. He is, after all, only calling for a debate, and I guess you can’t blame him for addressing the opening remarks to ‘Business as Usual’. Have a look at the following, which was my recent take on the population angle.

So we need a population debate, and a resources debate, and a sustainability debate, and an obligations to future generations debate. Actually, we only need the latter, the others are just sub-topics.

The yardstick is simple:      Will they thank us for taking this decision?

We have to remember that all past civilisations fell over through a lack of resources – strange as it may seem to financially-trained-only folk. Rome ran out of firewood within transportable distance, the Maya crammed millions onto a small space, fed on local corn. Depleted and died. The Greenland Norse failed to adapt to depletion (firewood included) and died with coin (every one still there) in hand. Britain only got ‘Great’ by ripping into the resources of other countries (like Rhodes in South Africa).

The problem is that we are running the ‘overshoot’ experiment globally, with nowhere left to extract.

At the same time, we want to increase population, consumption per-head of that population, and under a sinking lid – which we have already hit. This while degrading and depleting – in other words, without paying OUR way.

Another approach is required. We have put ourselves in the position of a God, having acquired the power to annihilate all species on the planet, including our own. We therefore have to be as responsible, as we would have wanted a God to be. If we don’t, we fail our obligation to future generations of our species, as well to future generations of other species.

Make no mistake about it – exponential growth is expressed in terms of doubling-time. We can’t ‘double’ almost anything planet-wise from here, and the attempt will curtail the chances of those future grandchildren to survive at all.

I know this comes as an unwelcome shock to folk who thought that to fiscally provide for their kids was enough, but you can’r eat money. You need an intact biosphere, and until that is the overriding goal, we are failing them.

Let’s be having it.

Bill English John Whitehead one/two – I told you so!

Here it comes – John Whitehead puts up the flag of upping the pension age, and English shoots it down. Talk about orchestrated.

And Radio New Zealand news just repeats it……

Along with the nonsense quote that “the private sector could pick up the cost instead of the ratepayer”.  Pull the other one, it’s a bit more gullible.

Treasury Predictions, John Whitehead, fawlty tea-leaves

Ha ha. We project out 40 years, quote in billions (which makes the eyes glaze over) and use that as a panic-lever?

Pull the other one, John Whitehead (and Bill English). The world you knew has gone already, but you’re thinking of it still being even similar in 2050?

This is spin – setting folk up the same way Nick Smith did with ACC – panic and duck-shove. Threaten twice what you do, and people feel half as …….ed. Good tactic.

Let me guess, private ownership will be the magic key. Don’t make me weep. Again.

One light at the end of the roseate curve in the sky – there is now the societal ability to crack down on gangs, confiscate property, and do it all without a warrant. Where was that facility when our public assets were flogged off to folk who made quick profits ?  Can we please make it retroactive?

Worth skimming – for the graphs alone…

Reserve Bank cash rate

Poor sods. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.  Bollard is no twit, and Morel gets the need for solar energy, so it may be that the knowledge of where we are going is there. It’s just being covered so we don’t scare the children.

My pick?  Within a year, and probably within 6 months, another stagger. This time they’ll (globally) let the banks go. They’ll have to. The fiscal injections of borrowed money just make debt a nonsense at some point.

If energy drives this, I can be wrong by 5 years (but no more) and only if the mid-east claims are all they claim to be.