Sunday RNZ Insight Todd Niall – my letter to…

Usually I enjoy the weekends on RNZ. Laidlaw is a bit soft on future constraints – a little like Labour is, but not stupid and therefore worth listening to, as you should always question your own conclusions. Todd Niall today, though, did an Insight on Auckland, and the apparent need for ‘economic growth’. It’s worth listening to the podcast, then reading what I sent them, posted below.

Will it make a difference? No. The cognitive dissonance is so ingrained – as Niall demonstrates – that we haven’t the time left to adjust before we are overcome. It’s a bit like hurrying up and waxing more surfboards, as the tsunami bears down. You won’t get to go surfing, you just get bowled over, and if you bothered to ascertain what had happened in past events, you’d be better prepared. I’d have called that an intelligent approach. Which means that I found Insight particularly dumb. Reprehensibly so.

I’ve just listened to one of the biggest pieces of journalistic nonsense I’ve ever heard, and sadly it was from Radio New Zealand’s Insight. It’s message, rather than what it said, is that when you capture the language you capture society , and it appears that you capture journalism en route.
Not once was any other measure of societal wellbeing used, other than ‘growth’ and ‘GDP’. All discussion was about making more money, quicker. Where was the  investigation of the validity of those measures? Todd Niall merely took them for gospel, and the simile has worrying ramifications.
Be very sure, exponential growth does not go on forever within a finite arena. That goes physically as well as numerically, and until you ascertain and address the finite physical constraints, you are being very unintelligent indeed.
Physical constraints facing Auckland are not just the obvious geography; the coming shortages of energy-supply have to be planned for, and a serious appraisal of a world in post-peak mode has yet to be had. How that impacts water, food, shelter and health, is the debate that has to be indulged in long before we worry about wealth, a concept which we well may re-define in the process.
While we have journalists who repeat concepts such as ‘economic progress is good’, without questioning the validity of those comment, we will fail. There are myriad examples of failed societies in the past – Easter Island, the Greenland Norse, the Romans, the Maya and so on, the difference now is that we are running the experiment on a global scale. There is nowhere left to run to. Many of those societies died out with coin in pocket – worth some investigation, one would have thought.
No equation can be solved until all the variables are taken into account, meaning that this presentation just failed NCEA level one maths, and by a goodly measure. The report card reads: must do better.

I bet it changes nothing. Just a raving nutter ‘they’re out there’, all these business tycoons can’t be wrong.  Can they?

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