Russel Norman
The green economy: It’s the Green Party versus National, but where is Labour?

(Op-ed published in the Herald on 3 December 2012)

Green development and green jobs provide a clear vision and economic direction for our nation. We can have good jobs without destroying the environment, and we can take advantage of the huge green economic opportunities overseas to supply exports with a premium. That’s what smart green economics is all about.

It is the alternative to National’s failed economic approach which has given us one of the fastest increases in unemployment in the OECD, the second highest current account deficit, and further environmental degradation. National’s attacks on the environment have accelerated since the last election.

National still believes that all growth is good growth, but it isn’t. Growth which leads to more debt, pollution and environmental destruction is bad growth.

Now that the dust has settled on Labour’s leadership contest, we have to ask: where does Labour stand on these clear economic alternatives offered on the one hand by National and on the other by the Greens?

Labour MP Shane Jones has been vocal in the pages of the New Zealand Herald over recent weeks, criticising the Green Party over our concerns about the serious environmental impacts posed by deep sea oil drilling off our coasts and the use of slave labour on foreign chartered vessels in New Zealand waters.

Given that Labour has been supportive of some environmental and worker protections in the past, we have to ask if these repeated outbursts from one of their senior MPs are simply the views of an individual, or something more.

The free-rein given to Mr Jones to attack the Green Party on environmental issues suggests the latter. I hope this isn’t the case.

Protection of the natural environment is fundamental to what makes New Zealand a great place to live and is fundamental to our future economic prosperity. The tourism industry – our second biggest export earner – is built on the appeal of our amazing natural environment. Our dairy industry, our biggest exporter, is dependent on our clean, green and safe brand – that’s why exports into China are booming after their tainted milk scandal.

Just this month, the Pure Advantage group of leading New Zealand business people including Sir Stephen Tindall, Rob Fyfe, Jeremy Moon, Philip Mills, Sir George Fistonich and others released their second report on the green growth, green job opportunities for our economy. Their report offers many elements of an inspiring and lucrative alternative economic direction for our country.

Now that the failure of the National Government’s economic policies is plain to see, it is refreshing to have a clear alternative strategy.

In this context, it is very worrying that Mr Jones’ anti-environmental tirades have been greeted with a deafening silence from the Labour Party leadership.

Mr Jones’ outbursts won’t deter the Green Party from doing our job in highlighting the risks of the National Government’s decision to open up New Zealand to dangerous deep sea oil drilling.

The oil industry’s promises of an economic boom are, in our view, inflated and need to be weighed against the very real risks of a spill, highlighted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which devastated local wildlife and cost over $40 billion to clean up.

The oil and gas industry tends to be risk-rich and jobs-poor. Nationwide, coal, oil, gas and metal mining employs only 3,000 people, according to Statistics New Zealand. That compares with around 200,000 employed in manufacturing, and any future job growth in the mining sector won’t compensate for the 40,000 manufacturing jobs lost in the last four years.

Mr Jones claims to be driven by a concern about jobs for Maori. Yet while he was chairman of Sealord, the company chartered a Ukrainian vessel and foreign workers were hired rather than New Zealanders. After Mr Jones departed, Sealord continued the practice of using foreign charter vessels instead of employing New Zealanders. Mr Jones accepted $10,000 from the company for his last election campaign.

The mistreatment of crews working on foreign chartered vessels has been well documented; they are essentially slave labour. The National Government has taken far too long to start to address this issue and Mr Jones played a part in allowing this disgrace to happen in the first place.

Despite Mr Jones, the reality that we live on a finite planet is forcing the world to confront its environmental challenges by creating more sustainable jobs. National has failed to create jobs for the 175,000 unemployed New Zealanders. Labour and the Greens owe it to those workers, and the thousands more whose jobs are at risk, to work together to build a clean green economy that delivers genuine prosperity for everyone.

 

52 thoughts on “The green economy: It’s the Green Party versus National, but where is Labour?

  1. One does wonder about Mr Jones. Pleased to see you asked the question of Labour as to where they stand on his comments.

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  2. A green job, also called a green-collar job is, according to the United Nations Environment Program, “work in agricultural, manufacturing, research and development (R&D), administrative, and service activities that contribute(s) substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality. Specifically, but not exclusively, this includes jobs that help to protect ecosystems and biodiversity; reduce energy, materials, and water consumption through high efficiency strategies; de-carbonize the economy; and minimize or altogether avoid generation of all forms of waste and pollution.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_job

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  3. That doesn’t say what jobs are green, and what jobs aren’t green.

    Is a truck driver a green job?

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  4. Growth which leads to more debt, pollution and environmental destruction is bad growth.

    Though Russel doesn’t say it, he implies that some kinds of economic growth don’t degrade the environment. Is there a link to his reasoning, somewhere, or is this just his belief?

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  5. Tony – promoting software development for internal consumption and export would be a good candidate.

    Large scale govt sponsored retrofitting of structures to perform at a higher energy efficiency standard (insulation/aircon/lighting) might be another that creates a net environmental gain.

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  6. Gregor,

    Well I suppose the type of software being developed partly determines if that activity degrades the environment. The activity itself might not degrade the environment, depending on how it’s carried out. But Russel’s implying that economic growth is possible without destroying the environment. So this narrowly focused sustainably developed software, distributed only by electrons, would have to do a lot to grow the economy.

    Yes, more efficient structures might have an overall environmental gain, over the long term, but, again, I’m not sure how that would generate economic growth, on its own but, if it did, it would only over a limited period.

    As I understand it, there is no example of a complete economy (i.e. one which can account for all environmental destruction of all the elements of that economy – including those supplied from outside or used outside) that has managed to grow without increasing destruction of the environment. I could be wrong but I don’t know of examples. If it’s not possible, then Russel’s ideas are not too different from those of other environmentally unaware parties. He needs to realise that economic growth, overall, can’t be made sustainable.

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  7. I’m afraid Tony that by your extreme logic, your (and my) very existence degrades the environment by our consumption of air and water and food, and thus suicide is our only option for sustainability.

    No such zero sum accounting is logically possible if we wish to sustain life. It’s all a matter of degrees.

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  8. Though Russel doesn’t say it, he implies that some kinds of economic growth don’t degrade the environment.

    No Tony, he said what he meant. Some kinds of growth are bad. It is a VERY different statement from what you just handed back.

    I will add this – There is no such thing as NO growth for living organisms – and civilizations. Some growth is required.

    I will add to Gregors list the development and construction of Wind Turbines and Solar Power to provide energy that displaces the use of fossil fuels and the development of transport systems that use that power rather than fossil fuels.

    It is even possible (stretching slightly and given the threat of warming and the definition), to characterize the construction of a Thorium Powered Nuclear Reactor as a “Green” job :-)

    We have lots of opportunities, and I remind you again that the Green Party is not a Green “movement”. When you criticize for being “not too different” from the others you are mistaken to make the claim, and you are imposing your goal of no growth, ignoring the political dimension.

    It isn’t even sensible. The best we can do that way is survive barely until the Sun swallows the planet… and on anything like a tenth to a third our per-capita consumption the population of this planet will use it (the planet) up long up before the Sun engulfs it. Stretching out “long” without gaining an escape from the gravity well is futile… and it ALSO can qualify as a “Green” job.

    Hawking understands.

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  9. BJ,

    Russel has made the implication by omission. He implies that not all kinds of growth are bad by criticising the statement that all growth is good but doesn’t say that no growth is good. Of course, Russel may understand that no growth is sustainable but feels unable to utter those words but I can only go on his public utterances, not the ones he gives privately to others or himself.

    I’m talking of economic growth here, not the growth and death of individual organisms or ecosystems. Of course growth occurs but it stops. The mantra of the developed and developing world (and including all NZ politicians) is that economic growth should be a target for ever, because it’s good for everyone (which isn’t true, of course). And that’s true regardless of whether it is so-called green growth or smart growth.

    Gregory thinks my logic is extreme. Not really; it’s simply stating the obvious – that any activity which degrades the environment (to make it clear, any activity that results in ecosystem disturbances that can’t be absorbed by that ecosystem without altering the carrying capacity or climax system in some way) isn’t sustainable because we require a fairly stable environment and (for this culture) a continuous supply (and an increasing supply) of raw materials at a reasonable energy cost. So economic growth must end and unsustainable ways of living must end. That isn’t extreme, just stating the obvious but most people don’t wish to face the obvious.

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  10. Is this like a contagious disease or something? If he didn’t say it he did NOT say it. This is the second thread in the last hour or so in which NOT saying something is somehow the same as saying it to someone.

    The statement that some growth is bad implies only that other growth may be “good” on balance – and it has NOTHING to do with the notion that it does no damage to the environment. You have to separate that notion out and give it its own sentence. That is how we got into this again.

    “The mantra of the developed and developing world (and including all NZ politicians) is that economic growth should be a target for ever”

    There are more aspects of this that have to be included. Economic Growth cannot be the ONLY target, and it cannot be an “at all costs” target, but it IS always the target, and here is why.

    Money represents work done and economic growth represents an increasing availability of “work done” or value of work done in terms of the quality of whatever the products are. Wealth is control over work done (of varying values).

    So our living standards and quality is affected by our “economic growth” and economic growth can be a “good thing” if the “work” comes from renewable sources and is not wasted, and it can be had through increases in efficiency by way of making the value of the things created using the a given amount of work, greater.

    Which isn’t to say it is “all good”. Good economic growth is, among other things, based on renewable energy. One of the characteristics of bad growth is that it is based on non-renewables… but it is always the target. The aim is always to produce more with less and to get more to produce with. Respect for the limits involved is what gives you good or bad growth… but the value of growth to our civilization and the people in it is not determined by a blanket “growth-must-end”. Unsustainable ways of living must end is more true.

    Which is why we are always at loggerheads.

    Growth isn’t bad, but there is such a thing bad growth.

    Growth always damages the environment somewhat, but there is a balance between that damage and the benefits to the society in both the long and short terms.

    Growth can lead to an expanded reach, as it can give us access to resources that are NOT restricted to what we find here on earth.

    So WE have growth as ONE of our targets… but we also have to abide by the limits the environment sets on us with respect to renewable energy, disposal of waste and the limited quantities of all other resources… and reducing the waste and the consumption of non-renewables and the emission of CO2 are all targets as well.

    Growth is not “bad”. It CAN be, but it is not by definition, bad.

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  11. BJ,

    It’s clear that you believe fervently that somehow it’s possible to grow the economy sustainably. From one of your remarks (and from past exchanges) I suspect that you think it’s only possible to extend the period of economic growth by pulling in resources from outside this planet. However, I’m not sure that Russel feels the same way about off-world adventures so I’ll stick to this planet.

    I’m surprised that it can be argued, within the confines of this planet, that sustainable ways of living can be accompanied by economic growth. You’re right that “Respect for the limits involved is what gives you good or bad growth” though surely respect for limits means all growth is bad because it will always lead to hitting those limits. I’m glad you acknowledge that all growth damages the environment “somewhat” but the notion that growth (which is unsustainable) can be good for society in the long term seems bizarre. Economic growth will always have short term gains (unevenly distributed – there was a good edition of New Scientist about this very subject several years ago) but never long term gains, unless it comes to an end before critical boundaries are crossed.

    I’m surprised a green supporter thinks our “aim is always to produce more with less and to get more to produce with”. I would have thought a green aim would be to live satisfying lives without compromising the environment that supports us, which could well be at odds with your stated aim. Of course, some people won’t be satisfied if they consider that technological or civilisational “progress” isn’t being made, or not made quickly enough, (with their own definition of progress) continuously and I suppose it’s possible that those people may never be satisfied.

    All growth must end, whether you like that or not. We should be planning that end in order to make it less painful, instead of trying to figure out how to make it greener while it lasts.

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  12. I personally think you are right and billions are probably doomed when this shit really gets underway. But Russel is operating in the political sphere. We live in a political reality with almost no acceptance that anything at all has to change. Advocating zero growth in that context is like advocating a trip to Alpha Centari next week. We will not get to no growth without going through green growth first. And green growth will help a lot.

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  13. Valis,

    I hope you’re right and, if you’re right, that the Greens become the next government of this country so that they can put green policies in place so that, maybe, just maybe, this country can set an example to others on how to turn this ship around. Unfortunately, I see no evidence that the Green party, as a whole, understands the changes needed to move to sustainability, but maybe, deep down, it does.

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  14. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I think you must be terribly politically naive to make such a statement. But it shouldn’t matter in that it should be obvious that only the Green Party has a chance to make a serious difference in the direction of sustainability and so deserves your support.

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  15. Valis,

    Some may view it as naivety but I just like to call it how I see it. I fully understand that politicians can’t voice reality because people don’t like reality. However, I can’t delve under the public view of those politicians.

    Again, I hope you’re right and, despite appearances, I have always voted Green in New Zealand, though I found it mightily difficult to drag myself to a polling station last time.

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  16. Russel – You are trying to con people with your blatant lies – “It is the alternative to National’s failed economic approach which has given us one of the fastest increases in unemployment in the OECD,”

    NZ has gone up from 6.8 to 7.3 in the last couple of years.
    Greece has gone from 12% to over 26%.
    Spain has gone up from 20 to 25%
    Portugal has gone from 10% to 15%.

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  17. though surely respect for limits means all growth is bad because it will always lead to hitting those limits.

    Tony. We will hit the limits whether or not we grow. Moreover, we will hit those limits, even if we shrink our consumption by half, long before the Sun expands to consume the earth.

    You have a condition impossible to satisfy. Entropy only runs in one direction and the only way to avoid that particular “bad” end is to off ourselves as soon as possible.

    So instead of suffering a great deal to prolong misery, SOME growth, which provides us with some pleasures and some resources to reach more resources, may better serve our survival.

    “all growth is bad” is not true. In all things there needs to be balance.

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  18. Russel is full of contradictions.

    1/ He says “Growth which leads to more debt…. is bad growth.”

    Not long after calling for the government to do EXACTLY that – borrow for infrastructure to stimulate the economy.

    2/ He calls for the Reserve Bank to drop interest rates to lower our exchange rate and days later wants them to increase it to stop a housing boom.

    3/ He calls for a green economy then goes to the international media and tries to destroy the very thing a green economy would rely upon.

    4/ He does everything he can to stop mining jobs here, then complains about Kiwis going to mining jobs in Australia.

    5/ He tries to close down every new coal mine, then complains about coal miners losing jobs.

    6/ He does nothing about conditions for foreign fishermen in the decade the Greens had influence on the Labour government, then when National actually does improve their conditions, complains they are too slow.

    7/ He complains about undignified behaviour in parliament, then makes childish chicken noises at other MPs in parliament, that wouldn’t be acceptable in a kindergarten.

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  19. photonz, are you claiming that we have not had one of the fastest increaes in unemployment in the OECD and the second highest current account deficit?

    Citing 4 other countries of a group with over 30 members is not a rebuttal.

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  20. photonz, being photonz only wants to hold a selected few to account

    1. supports selling income earning (and growing in value) assets to finance infrastrucuture spending, yet has no problem with the government financing the rebuild of Christchurch with an even larger amount of borrowed money (despite Greens citing Oz using levys to afford their flood rebuild).

    2. somehow manages to confuse a call for the Reserve Bank to take action to stop an increase in house prices with a call to increase interest rates, despite the person making the call saying they don’t want an icnrease in interest rates.

    3. suggests having a green economy is based on only pretending to have one and keeping the world ignorant of the fact that we don’t – rather than having a plan to have a green economy and being honest about the fact that we do not yet have one.

    4. has never seen a mining proposal that should not go ahead and wants all New Zealanders to work either here or in Oz in an industry dependent on a finite carbon resource for its future.

    5. fails to identify the difference between distingusishing between jobs in mining and jobs in a sustainable economy and stressing the importance of government having some programme to provide sufficient local employment opportunities.

    6. fails to note that the Greens have not been and are not now in any governmet coalition and have maintained the same position on improving work conditions

    7. will never admit the fact that the Greens have been regarded as the most well behaved group of MP’s in parliament throughout their time in the House.

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  21. bj,

    You’re right, we’ll hit limits even without growth; that’s unsustainable ways of life for you!

    Of course, entropy runs in one direction but I think it’s reasonable to look forward only a few hundred thousand years, or even a few million. Humans should be out of the way by then (unless your dream becomes reality). If you think it’s impossible to avoid fouling our own nest, thus bringing about our own demise, then perhaps the name Homo sapiens is a bit arrogant.

    It’s also sad that you can’t see a way of enjoying life without all of the trappings of a modern industrial technological society. It’s amazing our species managed to drag itself through hundreds of thousands of years of sheer unmitigated drudgery.

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  22. To answer Russel’s point – it doesn’t actually matter where Labour are, as, at the moment, they are pretty irrelevant.

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  23. An interesting article over at Counterpunch: A Roadmap to the New Economy

    ” To secure a safe and prosperous future for subsequent generations, efforts to reduce unemployment and curb inequality must be considered alongside urgent threats to the environment and democracy. These crises present a compelling argument for systemic change.

    Just a week before an election in which both candidates largely ignored the environment, Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast and put climate change at center stage. Who would have imagined Bloomberg Businessweek with a cover trumpeting “It’s Global Warming, Stupid,” as the magazine did just days after the storm? Climate chaos is at the core of our environmental crisis, but the problem also includes dwindling supplies of potable water, the destruction of forests and oceans, and the depletion of the planet’s biodiversity. Simply put, jobs that threaten the environment cannot be considered good jobs…

    To address these multiple crises, we need broader metrics to measure progress and new paths to get there. What many progressive advocates are calling a “new economy” framework emphasizes not just new jobs but also new policies that simultaneously create a fair economy, a clean environment and a strong democracy. As a movement begins to coalesce around these issues, one of its toughest challenges will be to persuade more political and business leaders, mainstream journalists and economists locked in an outdated Keynesian worldview to take its ideas seriously.”

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  24. Further in reply to photonz on OECD unemployment statistics.

    In the 3rd quarter of 2012 only Spain, Portugal and Denmark had a faster increase in unemployment than New Zealand (there was no return for Greece but they were probably worse as well).

    Thus only 4 of the over 30 members had a worse unemployment result in that quarter.

    Thus it is true to say that we had one of the worst results in the OECD.

    http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DatasetCode=STLABOUR

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  25. However we have the third worst performance on the current account not the second worst – as both Iceland and Turkey are worse.

    A country that’s performance is declining here is the UK and they may soon become third worst on current trends.

    What is it about Tory governments and budget and current account difficulty.

    http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DatasetCode=HS1988

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  26. I still don’t know exactly what a “green job” is or how our energy companies are going to sell “technology” overseas – exactly which technology is this? Definitely not enough to make up for the loss in dairy revenue that other Green party policies will result in.

    How about a real example of a specific green job that the green party will create and where the revenue will come from to pay this person. What qualifications will be required?

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  27. It’s amazing our species managed to drag itself through hundreds of thousands of years of sheer unmitigated drudgery.

    I delight in curiousity and learning, in the near magic of a thing made of bits of this and that, doing something altogether different from what people expect, in the ability of the long lived to contemplate deeper questions than immediate survival.

    These are things we did not have any of before farming started, and did not have much of until the time the farming bought us allowed some specialization and industry to start. It provided us with enough personal energy and time to have people dedicated to arts and science.

    Civilization made it possible for us to be something other than nomadic hunter-gatherers with a premium on youth, muscle and toughness. It allows intelligence to be brought to bear on the problems of survival and pleasure and art.

    So my take on it is that we did drag ourselves through hundreds of thousands of years… but not of drudgery… they were an unrelenting self-interested struggle for survival, so not containing the boredom component of “drudgery”, yet not containing much time for reflecting on beauty, creating art, or exercising curiousity and intelligence.

    So you are sort of correct.

    I do not imagine with any satisfaction, the loss of our civilization.

    Nor is the result a USEFUL extension of our tenure on this planet.

    We would devolve into tribal societies again, with leaders who would again be “the strongest” rather than the wisest. Our lives will shorten and knowledge diminish until the notion that we could have reached the moon or made images pass through the air becomes a fairy tale for children. Our lives will shorten and our ability to create art or deep thought or spend time reflecting on the beauty of nature will disappear.

    My responsibility as an intelligent human is not simply to defend my species and promote it, but to promote intelligent life in the universe.

    Allowing what we have won at such cost to be released, to slide back into the mud that spawned us is not a goodness. Going back to a more survival level existence is not a goodness, even though it prolongs our existence on this planet… for that path remains a dead-end.

    That we have to work harder to do everything while using LESS energy is an important reality, and on that we can agree.

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  28. SPC – Russel (and your) cherry picking to try to show we have some of the worst unemployment stats in the OECD is laughable.

    If the real world doesn’t fit with your negativity cult ideas, you just make up something that does.

    Meanwhile, unemployment in –
    NZ has gone up from 6.8 to 7.3 in the last couple of years.
    Greece has gone from 12% to over 26%.
    Spain has gone up from 20 to 25%
    Portugal has gone from 10% to 15%.

    In your alternative world, NZ unemployment stats are worse than Greece.

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  29. The cherry picking was in your distortion of what was said – you seem unable to comprehend what one of the fastest increases in unemployment means.

    Russell Norman simply said that we had one of the fastest increases in unemployment in the OECD, the third quarter results for the OECD show ours to be the 4th worst (but as there were no results for Greece probably the 5th worst). As there are over 30 members in the OECD this is one of the worst results.

    Greece, Portugal and Spain have been forced to retrench their economies by external pressure because of the Euro debt crisis – comparing our economy to them to say that our government is not doing that badly is rather pathetic.

    As we once had a much lower rate than others in the OECD, and a lesser GFC impact, that our rate is still increasing is down to government policy failure/inaction – a reliance on the earthquake rebuild for growth.

    The American rate has fallen to 7.9 and now 7.7% – soon their rate will be below ours – despite their greater budget deficit and public debt. That is a result of our government’s relative lack of concern for creating jobs.

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  30. SPC,

    The American rate has fallen to 7.9 and now 7.7%

    If you believe that, you’ll believe anything! Gallup showed a large uptick in unemployment (to 8.3%), underemployment is closer to 15% and the overall unemployment is much higher as people drop out of the workforce. In addition, most new jobs are not those that could support a family. I don’t think comparisons with the US are apples with apples.

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  31. bj,

    My responsibility as an intelligent human is not simply to defend my species and promote it, but to promote intelligent life in the universe.

    Allowing what we have won at such cost to be released, to slide back into the mud that spawned us is not a goodness. Going back to a more survival level existence is not a goodness, even though it prolongs our existence on this planet… for that path remains a dead-end.

    That we have to work harder to do everything while using LESS energy is an important reality, and on that we can agree.”

    You don’t have that responsibility unless you impose it on yourself. Also, I’m not sure how intelligence is determined.

    What we have won? We have won an impoverished earth, more inhospitable than in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years. Just because we got here doesn’t mean that this is the best place to be. Perhaps with hindsight, and intelligence, we can figure out a better way to occupy this planet, the only planet we know we can live on. All paths are a dead end, ultimately, so that point is irrelevant unless you arbitrarily decide on different timescales. Given that, the question is which path is best for humans (and thus for all life, since we depend on biodiversity) on the only planet that we know for certain can support life.

    Yes, we can agree on your last point though the “everything” we do would be different.

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  32. SPC – you just keep deceiving yourself that our unemployment stats are one of the worst in the OECD – you’ll obviously be happier if you can con yourself that NZ is worse than everywhere else.

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  33. You don’t have that responsibility unless you impose it on yourself.

    Responsibility is ALWAYS something one imposes on oneself.

    Responsibility is something you TAKE.

    It is actually more complex than that simple statement, but the simple statement is accurate enough.

    All paths are a dead end, ultimately
    Accepting that makes any dead end as good as any other. It leaves no particular reason not to just eat a bullet. If I accept the responsibility then that includes avoiding the dead ends.

    What we have won? We have won an impoverished earth, more inhospitable than in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years.

    We have won knowledge that enables us to see to the edge of the universe and the interior of the atoms that make us up. We have won the freedom from survival dominated living to have the likes of Beethoven and Billy Joel, Picasso and Monet, Makarova and Baryshnikov. We have earned information that allows us to leave this planet and which if we build upon it, grow in extent to the ends of space itself. Which might not be a dead end either. I am responsible to try. Each generation builds on the information and knowledge of the one before.

    The earth is damaged by our excessive numbers combined with burning fossil fuels to support those numbers. The most important needs for the future is more energy, more efficiency and fewer people. Not an end of civilization. More inhospitable? I do not think so. We won’t have the next Ice Age… and that was definitely a more inhospitable time than we are having now. It will get worse as the climate does, but part of the problem is how slowly things become “inhospitable”.

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  34. photonz – do you not really know the difference between increase in the rate of unemployment and the total amount of unemployment? Really?

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  35. Tony, whether you regard the USA measurement system as equivalent to ours or not (and yes they do not include unemployed people no longer seeking work) – their rate is falling.

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  36. SPC, I do not deny that the US employment rates are falling but with 45 million of them on food stamps, the headline unemployment figures tell you little, if anything, about their underlying economy or how soon (if ever) a full recovery is achieved.

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  37. bj,

    You clearly have a dream that is powerful for you. I think that colours your thinking quite markedly. Consequently, such discussions are futile. I’m concerned with human habitation of this planet and that is all.

    I think it’s impossible to argue rationally for a dream that certainly has no intrinsic importance to humans (and the rest of nature). It’s easier to hold a position based on what we know (that this planet can support our existence) than what we dream of (that there are other reachable places in the universe that can support our existence). All my contributions relate to the former.

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  38. Russell Norman simply said that we had one of the fastest increases in unemployment in the OECD, the third quarter results for the OECD show ours to be the 4th worst (but as there were no results for Greece probably the 5th worst). As there are over 30 members in the OECD this is one of the worst results.

    Yes, but we are one of the poorest countries in the OECD, so generally, we should expect our results to be amongst the worst. Anything good that is a above the OECD average is an outstanding result.

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  39. I think it’s impossible to argue rationally for a dream that certainly has no intrinsic importance to humans

    To argue that we are NOT better off doing subsistence farming and trying to eke out a meager existence to an inevitable extinction, not enjoying the pleasures of our developed arts or the power of our science is scarcely a dream.

    You label it such, but it has nothing to do with dreaming and its the difference IS important to humanity. I know nothing of “destiny” and do not accept the inevitability of extinction in terms of our continued growth in intelligence and knowledge. Our species may be replaced or evolve with something more durable and capable.

    The point is that there IS a difference here, and it isn’t about a dream. Every other person reading this understands the difference.

    It is between CHOOSING a known dead end or CHOOSING a path that leads somewhere unknown. There is no living person I know of who chooses the known dead end… people who might tend to commit suicide. Those who have any sort of curiousity simply do not go that way.

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  40. bj,

    To argue that we are NOT better off doing subsistence farming and trying to eke out a meager existence to an inevitable extinction, not enjoying the pleasures of our developed arts or the power of our science is scarcely a dream.

    You weren’t arguing for that and I wasn’t arguing for the reverse. That’s an orthogonal discussion.

    I know nothing of “destiny” and do not accept the inevitability of extinction in terms of our continued growth in intelligence and knowledge. Our species may be replaced or evolve with something more durable and capable.

    That lack of acceptance is up to you, of course, but that appears to be a natural consequence of the emergence of a species. That your dream extends beyond the end of the current universe says absolutely nothing about what is possible. It’s a dream. Our species won’t evolve though another species may evolve from ours. That doesn’t make it the same species, nor does it imply that the following species will be better in any way other than better suited to the conditions. It may not even have what might be termed intelligence. Evolution doesn’t work the way you’d like it to, it just works. There is no intrinsic importance to our species of hoping it can continue elsewhere. What is important is that we find a way to live that is compatible with the environment we have; otherwise we risk becoming extinct (one of the species in the current extinction event).

    Every other person reading this understands the difference.

    Mmm, I see no evidence of that. As I say, there is no ultimate difference unless one believes that Homo sapiens can beat the death of the universe. Do many people think that’s possible? But “dead end” doesn’t have to mean sheer drudgery for every life until that “dead end”. I think that’s where you slip up; your imagination just can’t encompass a good life that doesn’t involve getting off the planet.

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  41. dbuckely, if one is performing worse than others then the relativity is widening not closing. Some nations such as South Korea have caught and passed us on income per capita and some such as Oz keep pulling further ahead.

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  42. Tony – I have not slipped, as a dead end existence IS of no value. Also… evolution has more tricks than you seem to recognize.

    Outliving the death of the earth at the hands of the star that warms it is most definitely possible and accepting failure before it happens is a dead end.

    I doubt actually, that anyone bothers to read these anymore. Those who might would understand though.

    You invariably do argue for a massive cutback of power use, rather than expanding renewables. You have argued that Wind not be used lest it be used up, that too many solar plants may be unsustainable. Your arguments are invariably for a path that leads to an end.

    That our civilization may end is likely enough. That we should encourage that end by failing to try obtain the energy that is available because of some vision that we cannot possibly succeed… that is simply wrong.

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  43. bj,

    That our civilization may end is likely enough. That we should encourage that end by failing to try obtain the energy that is available because of some vision that we cannot possibly succeed… that is simply wrong.

    Not simply wrong, wrong in your eyes. This is one of many civilisations that have arisen and will end. There is nothing wrong in hastening its demise, per se, (depending on whether one thinks it has been beneficial overall, or not) though what follows after should obviously be of interest, for those that might get to see glimpses of both.

    It’s not failure, to accept the inevitable (human life, on the only planet we know can support it, will certainly terminate) but failure, to hasten that inevitable in the pursuit of a dream. Fortunately, it’s not, as far as I’m aware, a Green dream, so your vision doesn’t affect my support (or otherwise) of the Green Party.

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  44. This is one of many civilisations that have arisen and will end.

    That it may happen in spite of our best efforts is one thing, but you have a perverse and extreme view of the value of human civilization and you neglect the knowledge that we no longer have, lost in those collapses.

    What you invite is global, with countries that own thermonuclear weapons starving.

    Accepting and encouraging that on a global scale is wrong.

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