Back in action

Ah well, here’s to a new year.

I hadn’t been inspired to blog again until the sinking of Earthrace / Ady Gil, which had me thinking again. At first, it was a narrow think – whether Pete Bethune was in the right, or in the wrong. Secondary thinking noted Murray McCully, and his innuendo, and I immediately started wondering about the integrity of the Maritime investigation. For folk who think I worry overmuch, check out McCully’s history – clues are BNZ, Adbro, and XS Corporation. A good start is the Ian Wishart book ‘Daylight Robbery’. So we have a slippery customer as the Minister, and one who would instinctively would condone the rape of any resource, but who is aware of the sentiment of the average Kiwi on the subject.

Then I thought of doing an expose of the so-called ‘Institute of Cetacean Research’ and googled it. Lightweight, no peer-reviewed publication in any reputable scientific journal – in fact, nothing outside their own ‘journal’.

Then I thought some more. This item, just like Brownlee’s lignite dreams and his ‘New Zealand is open for business’, and Heatley’s desire to carve up the coastal water for productivity, all represent a bigger-picture problem. Other parts are the conflict over water allocation, competing land-uses, depletion rates, pollution rates, population rates and the volatile prices of resources like timber. All are due to ultimate scarcity – or more accurately, too many wanting too much out of too little.

Since 1980, the planet has been in ‘overshoot’. It is hardly surprising that all kinds of folk are chasing all kinds of resources, and there is not a fish stock in the ocean ( and that includes Hoki – recently quota-increased) that has not been severely depleted since then. Some, like Blue-fin Tuna, Halibut, Grand-Banks Cod, and yellow-fin tuna, are probably beyond recovery.

They all fail to realise the big picture, as the do their little bits. Someone operates a digger on an open-cast coal site, someone baits a long-line, both feel entirely justified, and inconsequential. Both are wrong both ways.

Put it another way. Malthus was right. Moore was wrong. Malthus pointed out we were in trouble through exponential expansion, and has been eagerly discredited ever since because his gloomy prophecy hasn’t happened – yet. Moore suggested that electronics gets smaller and/or faster at an exponential rate, called it Moore’s Law, and presumed its permanency.

Malthus was always going to be right. Moore’s effort could be better described as ‘Moores observations thus far’. You get down to molecular cross-talk, you stop reducing.

This year, then, has one big question: ‘ how much will the initiative to expand from here, gain momentum. Will it hit the (a) wall, will that wall be fiscal, or a key ingredient? Will the rapidly dropping EROEI of extracted energy put the cap on?  Or will there just be an escalating scrap over things like oil?

My guess is a bumpy ride for 1 to 5 years, bumping up against the ceiling, followed by an angsty scrap over what remains.

Meanwhile, remember to salute Jessica Watson (see my column in January’s Lifestyle Block magazine) as she rounds the Horn. That’s more than most sailors achieve in a lifetime. Well done, that girl.

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