a grand day out – well, in…..

We had a Sustainable Energy gathering this afternoon. Folk who have been part of Sustainable Living groups, and we had to stop the applications at 25 (house size being the factor!). If there is anything better than talking about what you’re enthusiastic about, to folk eager to listen, I don’t know of it. The last folk left at dusk, and I suspect we’ll see many – most – of them again.

Interestingly, there were fewer folk wanting to look up at the pelton wheel (from underneath) than from other visits. Equally interestingly, the questions were as thoughtful as I’ve ever heard. First time build-energy vs running energy vs demolition energy has been discussed like that.

So – we’re mellow. Good to see the young folk too – thinking before they build. The weather came right (the core temp had been low after a week of shyte) and the house did it’s stuff – passive solar at it’s best. I’d do that every day of the week, if I could. The baking wasn’t half bad, either……   Thank you to everyone who came – we enjoyed it!


The archdruid – usually good, this is superb


Here are a couple of excerpts:

“the Limits to Growth team avoided the fixation on detail that so often blinds people to systems behavior on the broad scale. Within the simplified model that resulted, it became obvious that limitless growth on a finite planet engenders countervailing processes that tend to restore the original state of the system. It became just as obvious that the most important of those processes was the simple fact that in any environment with finite resources and a finite capacity to absorb pollution, the costs of growth would eventually rise faster than the benefits, and force the global economy to its knees”.

“The one exception is the financial sector, since increasing the amount of paper value produced by purely financial transactions involves no additional capital, resources, and labor—a derivative worth ten million dollars costs no more to produce, in terms of real inputs, than one worth ten thousand, or for that matter ten cents. Thus financial transactions increasingly become the only reliable source of profit in an otherwise faltering economy, and the explosive expansion of abstract paper wealth masks the contraction of real wealth”.


Well worth the read – as he so often is.

Rio – a failure

Here are a couple of comments on what came out of Rio. I can’t put it better, so won’t!



Read ’em both and weep. I long ago realised that fighting environmental action was Horatio going backwards on the bridge. If we didn’t address the big issues, the actions themselves were pointless. This (old, low def but enthralling still) video sets the big scene:


As you get to hear, if we don’t address population and consumption (total and per-head) then it’s a waste of time ‘saving’ anything.  The saver, funnily enough, may well be that the growth-based fiscal system can’t cope with permanent decline (no underwrite of interest and profit) and will crash – taking with it much of the mechanism for ‘growth’. Already we are getting folk commenting that the natural interest rate should be below zero. Interesting times, joke intended…..

Fairfax – the future of truth…?

So we’re morphing from traditional Editors, and physical papers. Partly that is the ‘Net taking over, in the way it has taken over from traditional Post. Partly it’s a generation moving on, and a culture change. The big societal danger is in the latter – dumbed-down  flat-screen-watching short-soundbyte absorbing high-opinion-of-self (compared to nature, the planet, other species/biota) consumers.

They will now go to the Net for their info. So what? Newspapers were guilty of bias, ignorance and obfuscation before the Net – our own ODT being a classic example. (An outfit with ‘Truth’ in its mission statement – but an OP/ED of mine binned, because ‘the readers would choke on their muesli’. If my op/ed was the ‘truth’, that reply didn’t live up to the mission statement…..).

So presumably we will get more ‘Stuff’ and Huffington-type offerings online. Supported by advertising – which begs the question: how many site-owners (keen to pay their mortgages like everyone else) will make sure they don’t upset their advertisers. Deeper, how many will fail to challenge a system which in itself (advertising to gain profit which will be spent thus generating growth) is unsustainable?

Or does it matter. That isn’t being addressed now. Newspapers full of pages of Real Estate, cars, insert handouts….. they don’t challenge the regime now.

But – we have to have the debate, or society goes off the cliff – resource-depletion until we die off quick-time en-masse. The media is/was the only stage on which to have that debate. Maybe, both formats cannot survive the peak of ‘growth’, and the funding collapse for both advertising and lobbying/spin, will remove the problem. I doubt it – my pick is that the poor will fall off the list first, the powerful will hang on longest, thus the lobbying/spinning will outlast those who seek and proffer the truth.

Ha – it’s probably always been that way. Flat Earth, Eternal damnation, unending economic growth – the mass have always swallowed what they’re given, and lynched/pilloried the Cassandras and the Galileos.

Time for an online Mediawatch, methinks. Something to keep them honest…..

Someone on the same page.


here’s a taste:

My point is not that that’s unpleasant, not that it’s bad for biodiversity, which it certainly is, my point is: It’s not possible.

There won’t be enough resources for the economy to grow that much, and, therefore, the economy won’t grow that much. That is actually a very big social crisis because our economic system depends upon growth to sustain employment and social stability and so on. We have to recognize that we have not just an environmental problem but a fundamental human problem.

And another:

The crisis in Europe and the US debt crisis are all part of the same system problem. We are desperate for more growth, so desperate to get the economy moving in terms of consumption of resources that we borrow from the future to make it happen today.

Richard Heinberg wrote a very important book recently called The End of Growth, in which he points out that the economic growth we’re getting today in most Western countries is not real growth. It’s actually debt that governments have borrowed from our children and are spending today to keep economies going.

For those like me, there’s nothing new here. For those who run our politics, our businesses, and even our legal system, there is a lot. Most of them – all of them, are stealing from the future. That’s from folk who haven’t even been born yet. Given the lack of representation, is it more than theft? Is it fraud?  We ‘pay’ a public servant, and even then do it with ‘debt’, then happily let then ‘spend’ that ‘income’ on a portion of the planet. A process we happily let expant exponentially, due to profit and interest. The only way to measure it properly, is to cut out all profit, all interest, and relate transactions to planetary debt (physical) or profit (also physical, but unlikely to the point of being a ‘never-will-happen’. The linch-pin measurement would be energy, on a non-renewable kind. It would be a proximate proxy for all other resources, given that they are not produced without it.

Won’t happen, though. We still have the ignorance of religion, in the USA, the Middle East, everywhere. Given that we haven’t been able to rid society of that nonsense since Galileo and Darwin, we have pigs=own chance of having a first-principles discussion about inter-generational rights to resources. Too selfish, thus too in denial, methinks. Orlov thinks the best thing that can happen, is a fast crash; there will be more to be saved. This article gets the same point – and it’s why I left off environmental rear-guard actions a long time ago. Slowing down the degradation only means it will go further – the Jevons Paradox of all time….


Towards lower incomes and voluntary input.

We seem to be starting to have a discussion about ‘pensions’, and the age one might have to be, to become eligible. A classic discussion about deckchairs on a sloping deck!

 We aren’t paying our way NOW, as a nation, as ratepayers, or collectively as individuals (if that makes sense….) On the back of that fact, we are paying every public servant more than we have. They, however – will go out and ‘spend’ that ‘pay’ on part of the planet. The underwrite has long gone for that fiscal process to stay in positive territory, which is what we are seeing in Europe.

I saw it coming not long after reading of Hubbert and Peak Oil back in ’75. It seemed obvious that a growth-based fiscal system (itself based on physical growth, that is, virtual has to be converted to real at some point) was a ponzi scheme. Sure, in the beginning of a growth phase, it was the only model which fitted, but an average intellect could have foreseen that beyong the Peak of physical underwrite (typically around half-way through something, not when it’s ‘run out’) then leveraged (fiat) money system had not just it’s pants, but everything else, down. Totally, irredeemably (pun intended) stuffed.

But – we need to cooperate to have a functioning society, and we need to retain some specialisation (but not to the extent we currently have, that’s courtesy of cheap, abundant energy). So we need to anticipate paying our public servants less – and less -and less. Not in ‘dollar’ terms, but relative to purchasing of physical portions of the planet. That will mirror the private sector – their ability to profit will reduce, par, then turn negative unless population numbers drop faster.

I can’t remember how long I’ve lived this – walked the walk, talked the talk. I’ve done things for folk ‘because they needed a hand’. It always comes back – in friendship, return of help, sometimes just in good conversation. Long lost count of the voluntary hours – hundreds on the Waitati community/school pool alone. Who knows how many more with sailing? Several weeks a year, probably. Currently, I drop down to the local school and help them out (facilitation, really – better to let them design) with their solar dehydrator. Before that, it was Port School with their Eco-hut, and a bit with their boating too. I have a forte of taking wheel-chair-bound kids out on the Hobie – don’t know whogets more out of it sometimes….

All of this – and the riparian river-bank replantings, the Solar Action time, the Envac time, the free lectures (next weekend’s one here on energy is full!) – is my way of giving back to my society, in real terms. Sooner rather than later, we are going to have to count something like this in for benefit or tax purposes- hours done for society rather than ‘money’ ‘paid’. The Weimar Republic experience, is probably the closest historical precedent to what I think we’re about to go through. Wonder what type of politics that kind of stress spawns?

Yet this week, Radio New Zealand had a clip of Bill English talking of ‘sustainable growth’. It’s a lie, of course. A provable falsehood. The question is whether he knows that, or believes the dogma.

You can see the start of the low/no income – slash  – voluntary mode with Transition Towns, and the kind of goodwill seen early in the Chch experience. With a lifetime of it behind me (and the lack of ‘income’ to go with that) I can only say that I don’t envy the status-object-owning types. People are all that matters, at the end of the day – and love and friendship. It’s a lesson a lot of folk are going to have to learn real fast, soon. Make that now.


Radio New Zealand – if they won’t ask, who will?

The nonsense continues. This morning, we are told that NZ will ‘loan’ the IMF 4? billion dollars. We are in debt, jointly and severally, already. So we will ‘borrow’ the ‘money’ (someone even managed to refer to it as ‘cash’!) from ‘somewhere else. Oh, we’ll expect to be repaid, and with interest, apparently. The only interesting thing here is the amount of ignorance shown by our public – not requiring advertising – media.


We are so far past the real underwrite (of the existing expectation that future goods/services can/will be produced/purchased) that’s it’s a joke – there is NO way back, and by several orders of magnitude.




So we’re borrowing virtual numbers, to underwrite virtual numbers, but relying on real stuff – in increasing quantities – to be available in the future to  underwrite the eventual spending.


A lie, is what they’re reporting. A ponzi – one so massive it makes Madoff pale into insignificance – is what it is.


Truth, is what isn’t being reported. Watch Nine-to Noon – coming up. I’ll blog after it, but I bet she’ll drop the ball. She has been pre-warned, too!