1) Media article written by CKM member Tom Powell since the last newsletter.
15/10/2023 - Opinion article: Technology to the Rescue
2) CKM submissions.
Tom has continued putting together some excellent submissions that you can view if you are interested.
Regional Hydrogen Transition submission.
In this submission he said - "We have serious concerns with this program and request a change in direction. We support a subsidy for green hydrogen used in industrial processes and aviation & ship fuel but we do not support the use of green hydrogen for heavy transport. Considering its low efficiency, ready alternatives, lack of infrastructure, explosivity, limited industrial benefit and climate impact of leakage, green hydrogen for transport should not be given preferential price support."
MBIE Interim Hydrogen Roadmap energy strategy submission.
Review of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme submission.
A Redesigned NZ ETS Permanent Forest Category submission.
MDC also recently publicised the second round of public consultation for the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management (NPSFM). This was an opportunity to respond to the proposed values, visions and environmental outcomes as defined after the first round of consultation. Budyong put together a brief submission with an emphasis on our concern that the needs of Nature are given the highest priority when making decisions about our freshwater resource. You can check out the full submission below if interested.
NPS-FM 2020 Community Engagement - round two submission.
3) Students letters to incoming Prime Minister.
Climate activist group Climate Karanga Marlborough invited Marlborough school pupils to write a letter based on the theme of caring for Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother, to be sent to the incoming prime minister following the General Election.
The aim was to give the citizens of tomorrow the opportunity to voice their ideas in regard to protecting the health and well-being of our environment.
You can read the Stuff article about it and see two of the letters received.
4) Talk at Marlborough Research Centre (MRC).
Paul White and Martin Crundwell from GNS Science are giving a talk at the Marlborough Research Centre on December 11th in the evening. The topic is “Coastal Wairau Plain geological evolution in the last 10,000 years and what this could mean for the future.”
Here is an asbtract of the content of the talk.
“Today’s Lower Wairau Plain (LWP) geology and geomorphology developed (mostly) during two climatic periods: the last glacial (cold) and the current interglacial (warm). This development will be described in a ‘virtual’ tour of today’s LWP geology and with new geological research that models past environments, approximately: 10,000 years ago, as sea level rose rapidly; 6,000 years ago when sea level was probably a little higher than today; and pre-European. LWP geology is a major control on numerous local resources (e.g., groundwater, soils, and rivers). The talk will conclude with geological perspectives on LWP resource futures to 2100.”
When : Monday 11th December 2023, 6:30-8:00 pm
Where : Marlborough Research Centre lecture theatre, Budge Street campus Blenheim
Audience: Open to public – no need to register.
Here also is a link to a powerpoint of some current work they are doing (some of this will be discussed in the above meeting.) In it they make a case that pre-historical (i.e., Holocene) geology is a proxy for climate-change-induced sea level rise to 2100.
Lesley and I met with Paul, Martin and several of their colleagues in May after Paul had contributed to another talk at the MRC, along with James Renwick. Paul had asked to meet with CKM to talk about a project where they are planning to do some research in the Lower Wairau to do with climate change adaptation.
Paul and Martin will be staying on in Marlborough for a few days after their talk and are keen to meet with us again to further discuss this research project. I’m looking for others who will be willing to participate in a meeting. Paul has suggested we could meet anytime on Thursday, Dec 14th or Friday morning, Dec 15th. He says “I’d like to discuss some research ideas that could possibly involve CKM members, if they wish.” If anyone is interested please let me know.
5) Letter to MDC Mayor regarding replacement Chief Executive.
We put together a letter which we sent to the mayor. The letter was also supported by Marlborough Forest and Bird. In it we said - "We encourage you to spread your search for a new CEO wider than the places that local bodies might traditionally advertise. Marlborough needs a leader that is fully committed to supporting the transition and shift to a low carbon emissions economy where the needs of the environment are given top priority. He or she will need to inspire existing Marlborough residents and businesses and attract organisations and industry’s into our region that want to help create a thriving, diverse and most importantly, sustainable local economy. An effective CEO needs to lead by example, and show that the visions and values expressed for our region aren’t just lip-service but are core to all our local decision making."
Check out our full letter if you're interested. In our letter we referred to the Headline Messages of the Dasgupta Report of 2021. Maia Hart also wrote a very good article for Stuff outlining the discussion around the Council table on this issue.
Here is the response received from Nadine. Nadine also told me in conversation at the Environment and Planning Committee meeting recently that she had received a letter with a similar message from local Iwi.
Tēnā korua Budyong and Helen,
Thank you for writing to us and sharing your thoughts on the importance of weighting being given to environmental experience in the selection of our new Chief Executive.
A view I very much agree with. As a Unitary Authority which covers the roles and responsibilities of a Regional Council as well as a Territorial Authority, our new Chief Executive will need to provide leadership across all Council functions and all areas of responsibility. To find such a CE we are undertaking a nationwide search, led by Mike Stenhouse of Shefield Consulting.
Mike is currently drafting the new CE specification documents for Councillors to review, so I have forwarded your letter on to Mike for his reference.
We are very aware the appointment of a new Chief Executive is not only a significant decision for Council, it is also significant for many individuals, organisations, groups and communities within Marlborough – it is a decision all Councillors will be focusing on with great care.
6) Coastal Water Temperature Trends Report Card 2015 – 2023.
In this report presented to the MDC Environment and Planning Committee on November 16th it states -
Check out the full report on the MDC website. It is item number 3 on the Nov 16th agenda.
Here are some of my reflections after reading the sea temperature report -
Maia Hart also wrote an article published on the RNZ website about the report.
This Guardian article from May 2023 provides a very good overview of the causes and implications of ocean heating.
7) Marlborough Airport (MAL) focus group.
Budyong was invited to join a focus group to share his thoughts about Marlborough Airport and material issues relating to sustainability, now and into the future. The group he joined had two other local people with environmental perspectives, Bev Doole and Helen Ballinger, along with the organiser Stephanie Flores from MDC and resulted in a wide ranging discussion.
If you're interested you can also read a paper Budyong submitted expressing some big picture views consistent with CKM's values.
8) Marlborough business CarbonScape is revolutionising how we produce graphite.
"One Marlborough company is on the path to commercialise a sustainable graphite alternative that overseas companies can use to produce lithium-ion batteries and now a new investment will see them grow their team at home and overseas.
CarbonScape is a business that uses timber and forestry industry by-products and waste to make biographite, a carbon-negative graphite product for EV and grid scale battery supply chains.
They are the first to market this sustainable option and this week the company announced an US$18 million investment led by Stora Enso, a leading provider of renewable products around the world, and Amperex Technology Limited (ATL), a global lithium-ion battery producer and innovator."
Check out the full article on Stuff.
9) Climate Positive grape growing.
This article in the NZ Winegrower magazine looks at the efforts of the Holdaway Family, Lowlands Wines operation to grow climate positive grapes on their land in the Lower Wairau/Dillons Point area.
10) Climate Action Week 2024.
Catherine van der Muelen is all fired up again organising the Climate Action Week activities for next year. It is scheduled to run from February 19 - 24. "Climate Action Week Marlborough has been designed to create awareness, develop our Marlborough business community's knowledge by embracing education, and take action towards creating a low carbon emissions, highly productive, and thriving community, no matter what stage of the journey you are at."
You can check out the full week agenda and purchase tickets if you're interested.
11) Emergency Weather.
Emergency Weather is a new novel by Tim Jones and is available in bookstores nationwide. The book’s synopsis is: “Three people find themselves in Wellington as the climate crisis crashes into their lives. A giant storm is on its way – what will be left of the city when it’s over?”
Tim is a member of CKM and a key person in the Coal Action Network Aotearoa.
In this article in Newsroom Tim talks about his childhood in Mataura and two of the big floods he experienced there. He says "All my life, Mataura has been living in Nature’s shooting gallery. But as the climate warms and the weather gets more extreme – drier, hotter, wetter, wilder – more and more of us are in the firing line. The cyclone, fuelled by warming seas, that sweeps across your city. The forest slash that slides across the highway at just the wrong time. The exotic forest that, dry and windswept, ignites from a single spark. Beneath it all, the rising of the sea, starting slow and growing faster, raising the baseline of storms. Papatūānuku isn’t to blame. We’re in the world made by the fossil fuel companies, by industrial dairying, by the accumulation of capital at the expense of everything else. Will we act to save ourselves, like the people of Mataura acted, or will we shut our eyes and pretend the danger is not real? Emergency weather is now on every doorstep."
12) Updated forestry regulations increase council controls and require large slash removal.
The outgoing government announced new regulations on October 3rd. I thought it was interesting to note that non-indigenous forests planted for carbon sequestration will now have to be managed in the same way as plantation forests. Hopefully this will survive under the new government.
"Local councils will have more power to decide where new commercial forests – including carbon forests – are located, to reduce impacts on communities and the environment. New national standards give councils greater control over commercial forestry, including clear rules on harvesting practices and new requirements to remove slash from erosion-prone land."
You can check out the full media release on the Beehive website.
13) Recloaking Papatūānuku: A nation-wide indigenous forest initiative.
Once, New Zealand was cloaked in a rich array of indigenous forests, alive with the song of birds, and our rivers and streams ran clear. Yet, since settlement began 800 or so years ago, we have progressively removed 82% of the natural forest cover, destroying the habitat of many plant and animal species, and increasing the vulnerability of our landscapes at great cost to our economy, our biodiversity, and our future.
At the same time we have introduced deliberately or by accident a multitude of invasive plant animal and fungal species that are further impacting our Indigenous biodiversity. And these impacts will only get worse with climate change.
Today, we face a climate and biodiversity crisis. In 2020, Aotearoa’s Government declared a climate emergency, recognising climate change as “one of the greatest challenges of our time”. Since then, the risk of surpassing irreversible climate and ecological tipping points has continued to increase, and we are already witnessing the devastating effects of increasingly frequent and severe weather events, prompting the United Nations Secretary General to announce recently that “the era of global boiling has arrived”.
Despite this alarming context, our current regulatory settings and incentives for mitigating climate change are failing to:
(a) Drive urgent gross emissions reductions at source and at scale;
(b) Secure enduring, biodiverse and resilient long-term carbon sinks for future generations;
(c) Reverse the catastrophic decline of our indigenous flora and fauna;
(d) Protect our freshwater and marine ecosystems;
(e) Encourage land-use diversification over intensification; and
(f) Harness opportunities to weave climate and ecosystem resilience into our landscapes and our communities.
Check out the full proposal on the Pure Advantage website.
14) Methane myths come up against textbook science.
I included an item (#14) in the last newsletter titled "A new paradigm shift, indeed." It was about an article published in the Rural News, which claimed that the climate impact of methane is so low as to be disregarded. The item included a rebuttal written by our own Tom Powell. We've now been informed by one of our members of another very thorough rebuttal published in the Farmers Weekly on November 6th. If you are interested in this discussion the article by Professor Dave Frame from Canterbury University is a must read. I have to say, to see Farmers Weekly publishing such a well written, informed and cogent article on this contentious topic and to know that farmers all over NZ receive this publication presenting them with such good science is encouraging. All those open minded farmers, of which I'm sure there are many, get the opportunity to make their own decisions about what is myth and what are clear well presented facts.
15) Huge insurance cost increases hit farmers.
This item from the Farmers Weekly is a sobering look at one of the significant consequences of extreme weather events. What impact will this have on the viability of farming operations as we experience more of these major weather events?
Insurance premiums for farmers are going up by as much as 30% after a number of very high-cost adverse weather events in the past year.
FMG, which has a rural market share of about 55%, said Cyclone Gabrielle was the biggest single event in the company’s 118-year history. Dave Kibblewhite, FMG’s chief financial, investment and risk officer, said for Cyclone Gabrielle, reinsurers will be paying approximately 90% of the total claims cost of FMG clients.
“Not only are these weather events from the last year the most significant in our history, but they also coincided with the hardest reinsurance market in over 40 years following a number of large global natural disaster events.
“These factors have resulted in large price increases for reinsurance, in excess of 30%, and also global capacity has been reduced.”
Farmers and orchardists can take small comfort in the knowledge that their premium cost increases are similar to those right across the insurance industry, and in towns and cities.
Check out the full article.
16) IAG says it has paid out more than $1 billion in insurance claims for the North Island floods & Cyclone Gabrielle.
New Zealand's biggest insurer is urging the incoming government to push on with natural hazard risk reduction, climate change adaptation and managed retreat work to help keep insurance available and affordable in the face of stark impacts, and rising costs, from extreme weather and natural hazards.
The previous government last year released NZ's first national adaptation plan, which set out that the Ministry for the Environment and Treasury would lead a programme of work on how NZ meets the costs of climate change and invests in resilience. Banks have told a subsequent parliamentary inquiry into climate adaptation that insurance withdrawal would leave them with stark options.
Check out the full article on the interest.co website.
17) Climate Action Tracker (CAT) NZ rating for climate action.
I thought with a new government taking over the reins of power that it would be an appropriate time to review the current assessment for NZ on the Climate Action Tracker website. This assessment was released in March this year and a new one is due soon. As we can expect our climate policies to be watered down with the new government we can also expect our rating to get worse.
Overall rating -
The CAT rates New Zealand’s climate targets, policies and finance as “Highly insufficient”. The “Highly insufficient” rating indicates that New Zealand’s climate policies and commitments are not stringent enough to limit warming to 1.5°C and need substantial improvements. New Zealand’s NDC target is rated “Critically insufficient” when compared with its fair share contribution to climate action and “Insufficient” when compared to modelled domestic pathways. Its policies and action do not put it on track to meet this target and its climate finance is inadequate. New Zealand should increase both its emissions reduction target and climate policies, and provide additional, predictable, finance to others to meet its fair share contribution.
Policies and action against modelled domestic pathways -
New Zealand’s current policies are “Highly insufficient” when compared to modelled domestic pathways. The “Highly insufficient” rating indicates that New Zealand’s policies and action in 2030 are not at all consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. If all countries were to follow New Zealand’s approach, warming could reach over 3°C and up to 4°C.
You can check out the full report on the CAT website.
18) COP-out: Why the petrostate-hosted climate talkfest will fail.
"After a succession of record-breaking months of record heat including 1.8°C in September, global warming for 2023 as a whole will likely tip 1.5°C, with 2024 even hotter as the effect of the building El Nino is felt more fully. Already hundreds of thousands have died and millions displaced, primarily in countries least responsible for climate change. The annual economic cost globally is in the hundreds of billions. So what will the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), starting 30 November in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), say about this? And in particular what will Sultan Al Jaber, the CEO of the UAE state oil company ADNOC, who will preside over the international negotiations, say? Probably nothing; instead there will be much blather about reaffirming the commitments at the Paris COP in 2015 “to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”. And lots of “net zero” posturing based on sham Integrated Assessment Models, and farcical assumptions about bodgy carbon offsets, carbon capture and storage (CCS), bioenergy with CCS, machines to draw carbon from the atmosphere, and the like. All given unwarranted credibility by the Sultan’s advisers, Mckinsey & Co.
Many of the petrostates are highly dependent on fossil fuel revenue to fund their strategic ambitions, so there is every reason to believe they will pump all the oil and gas they can. So it is unsurprising that a new UN report says the world is heading towards 3°C and perhaps a good deal more, bringing down the curtains on contemporary civilisation. Eight years after Paris, the evidence is overwhelming that “net zero 2050” was always a bad target, that there is no carbon budget left, and that major system tipping points have already been passed, or are now within range in the short-term. COP28 will not produce a statement that says a word about any of this. If there is to be a modicum of truth-telling, front and centre of the COP outcome would be recognition that fossil fuel expansion is a death trap, that zero emissions fast is absolutely necessary, and that unprecedented interventions to mitigate 1.5°C climate overshoot are now required. That is the focus of another new report The Overshoot: Crossing the 1.5C threshold and finding our way back, from the Climate Crisis Advisory Group. The report again emphasises the need for a three-pronged strategy to reduce, remove and repair.
In the Gulf, petrostates are now installing floodlights on beaches and encouraging night-time use because it is simply becoming too hot to use during the day. “In a city where weather that would constitute a deadly heat wave in Europe is just a typical summer day, official ‘night beaches’ have become a popular way to cool down”, reports the New York Times. Perhaps the COP delegates could adjourn for a midnight skinny dip, and experience first-hand what the future holds."
Check out the full article from David Spratt and Ian Dunlop on the Pearls and Irritations website.
19) Inside the new climate assault on the oil majors.
Climate litigation against American Oil Majors is being taken on by bigger legal firms in the US. Firms that have large war chests after winning cases against big pharmaceutical firms over their role in the US opioid abuse crisis.
"The infernal heat that began killing people in the normally temperate north-west of the United States in June 2021 began with unusually heavy rain over China, which drove energy into the jet stream which crosses the Pacific and set off a cascading set of climatic events resulting in a heat dome that settled across parts of the US and Canada. In Multnomah County, Oregon, temperatures reached 42 degrees Celsius, 44.5 degrees and 46.6 degrees over successive days. Before that week began, the county’s record temperature was 41.6 degrees, and its average high temperature was just 21 degrees. By the time it subsided, the heat had killed 69 people. At the time an event like it was inconceivable. But due to rapid global warming, it is predicted similar heatwaves will strike the region once a decade or so.
Climate litigation is increasing around the world, but the Multnomah case is attracting significant attention.
How these cases will play out is not yet clear, but in April, some of the jurisdictions bringing them had a win when the US Supreme Court ruled that they should remain in state courts, where they are thought to have more chance of success than in federal courts. Kysar says the (oil) companies are drafting an “army” of lawyers to fight every case in every jurisdiction around the world because “every one of them feels like an existential threat” to the industry. In Ango-American political systems, governments are constrained from taking overarching action, he says. The trade-off is that when people are injured, courts can intervene.
“That means when there’s some big social harm that’s not being addressed, people turn to the courts, and the courts have to give an answer.
“You could call your MP 100 times a day and say ‘I’m worried about climate’, they might never call you back.”
Cases like this one have the potential to have significant impacts on the major oil companies. Check out the full article on the Sydney Morning Herald website.
20) Ban private jets to address climate crisis, says Thomas Piketty.
"Questions of social and economic class must be at the centre of our response to the climate crisis, to address the huge inequalities between the carbon footprints of the rich and poor and prevent a backlash against climate policies, the economist Thomas Piketty has said. Regulations will be needed to outlaw goods and services that have unnecessarily high greenhouse gas emissions, such as private jets, outsized vehicles, and flights over short distances, he said in an interview with the Guardian. Rich countries must also put in place progressive carbon taxes that take into account people’s incomes and how well they are able to reduce their emissions, as current policies usually fail to adjust for people’s real needs. “We have to put class and the studies of inequality between social classes right at the centre of our analyses of environmental challenges in general,” Piketty said. “If you don’t, you will just not be able to get a majority [of people in favour of strong action] and will not be able to make it.”
Check out the full article.
21) EU to criminalise severe environmental harms "Comparable to Ecocide".
"The EU has agreed to enshrine in law a new offence that aims to punish the most serious crimes against the environment. The final text emerged following several months of negotiation (“trilogues”) between the European Council, Commission and Parliament considering, inter alia, the establishment of a “qualified offence” aimed at preventing and punishing the gravest environmental harms including, as the accompanying recitals specify, “cases comparable to ecocide”.
Check our the full report on the Ecocide website.
22) Hydrogen Leakage: A potential risk for the hydrogen economy.
Here are three items to contribute to the ongoing material I've included in the last few newsletter regarding the pros and cons of hydrogen as a GHG free fuel. This first one highlights that hydrogen leaking into our atmosphere does have an indirect climate forcing.
"Hydrogen is expected to play a key role in the decarbonization of the energy system. As of June 2022, more than 30 hydrogen strategies and roadmaps have been published by governments around the world. Hydrogen has been identified as a potential safety issue based on the fact that it is the smallest molecule that exists and can easily pass through materials. To date, however, very little attention has been paid to the potential contribution of hydrogen leakage to climate change, driven by hydrogen’s indirect global warming effect through mechanisms that extend the lifetime of methane and other greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere (Paulot et al. 2012; Derwent et al. 2020). A literature analysis turns up very little data on hydrogen leakage along the existing value chain, and that which does exist comes from theoretical assessments, simulation, or extrapolation rather than measures from operations. As the production methods and uses of hydrogen evolve over time, there is even less data available on what could represent key parts of the hydrogen economy going forward. In the future, leaked hydrogen will likely be concentrated in a few key processes (e.g., green hydrogen production, delivery, road transport, and chemical production). There is a risk of increased leakage rates in the future mostly because the leaking processes that will be key by 2050 do not exist at scale today. A high-risk scenario based on hydrogen demand from the International Energy Agency (IEA) net-zero scenario (528 million tons [Mt] by 2050) (IEA 2021) could potentially lead to a 5.6 percent economy-wide leakage rate, compared with an estimated 2.7 percent in 2020."
Check out the full research paper for more info.
23) Plastic Waste Becomes Clean Hydrogen Goldmine.
"A technique called flash joule heating at Rice University can convert plastic waste, even unsorted and unwashed, into clean hydrogen and valuable graphene. If sold at just 5% of its market value, the graphene produced could make the hydrogen essentially free, provided the process is powered by renewable energies. While green hydrogen offers significant potential for decarbonization, especially in high-heat industrial applications, its production requires vast amounts of clean energy, necessitating a balanced approach to its adoption."
Tom's comments - Sounds interesting. I’ll wait to hear what the fishhooks are, though. I would imagine there would be lots of “interesting” waste products from such a process - gases and solids.
Check out the full article if you want to learn more.
24) Solar energy storage breakthrough could make European households self-sufficient.
"One of the biggest issues with solar energy is that it is inconsistent over days and over seasons. Many startups have focused on trying to smooth energy supply over the day — saving up energy during the day for use during the night-time or outside peak hours. But few have tackled interseasonal storage of solar energy. What if homes could save abundant solar energy created in sunny months to be used for heat and electricity in winter? So far, this vision has been impossible to achieve. Batteries are too expensive and have short lifespans, and high costs and poor efficiency have crossed hydrogen, which does not emit greenhouse gases when burned, off the list of solutions.
Now, one startup from Norway — a country in a region that probably hopes it could save a little sunlight for cold winters — says it could bring a solution to market in the next couple of years, using solid hydrogen."
Check out the full article on the Sifted website.
25) To Understand and Protect the Home Planet.
This is the title of a blog published by James Hansen on October 27th. I have had a longtime respect for the perspectives presented by James and his willingness to present a contrary view from the IPCC reports is a reflection of his independent view. There are sure to be those who dispute the conclusions of him and his team. For readers of this newsletter who have studied reports from James Hansen before you will know that they are technical so it is just for nerds who want to get into the nitty gritty of the science. The new paper he is talking about is titled "Global Warming in the Pipeline". He says in the blog -
"GLOBAL WARMING IN THE PIPELINE will be published in Oxford Open Climate Change of Oxford University Press next week. The paper describes an alternative perspective on global climate change – alternative to that of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which provides scientific advice on climate change to the United Nations.
Our paper may be read as being critical of IPCC. But we have no criticism of individual scientists, who include world-leading researchers volunteering their time to produce IPCC reports. Rather we are questioning whether the IPCC procedure and product yield the advice that the public, especially young people, need to understand and protect their home planet.
Discussion of our paper will likely focus on differences between our conclusions and those of IPCC. I hope, however, that it may lead to consideration of some basic underlying matters."
Here is the full blog for those interested. It is not long and gives you a good summary of the content of the paper.
This YouTube video is a 43 minute discussion about the paper between James and Paul Beckwith, another climate scientist. If you are like me and really want to get down to some of the nitty gritty of why 2023 is now the hottest year in the last 100,000 years then this video is a must to listen and watch.
For the real nerds the paper is available on the Oxford Open Climate Change website.
Alternatively you can read a subsequent blog from James on November 10th titled "How We Know that Global Warming is Accelerating and that the Goal of the Paris Agreement is Dead", which gives a good overview of the science in the paper.
26) Hallucinatory world: Governments blind as multiple catastrophes besiege human civilisation.
The first two statements above are from two new scientific reports, issued this week – one from the United Nations and another from the same group of 15,000 scientists who gave us the world climate warning in 2020. Yet governments globally didn’t bat an eyelid. It was as if they do not occupy the same planet as the rest of us, but some hallucinatory world where everything is fine."
You can read the full article on the Pearls and Irritations website.
I have added an extra section to this newsletter. It is focussed on discussion about alternatives to the dominant Capitalist Growth economy. I think this quote from Donella Meadows, one of the original authors of the 1972 "Limits to Growth" report says it all really.
26) "Beyond Growth" Conference.
I participated (online) in an excellent conference held in Wellington over the weekend of September 16/17. The topic was "Beyond Growth" and the people from the "Degrowth NZ" group who organised it put together some thoroughly interesting and stimulating sessions with some excellent speakers. All the sessions are available on their YouTube channel.
I recommend the opening talk from Sahra Kress. The first session "Beyond Growth - what can we learn from the International Movement?" was good value, in particular the contributions from Mike Joy (session 1.3) and Timothee Parrique (1.2). Also the session with Prof Jonathon Boston (3.2).
The afternoon session "How do we mainstream degrowth in NZ" is worth checking out. It was very interesting to hear the views of the three business people involved as it was clear they consider the current economic model is not sustainable. (sessions 4.1 - 4.5.)
Others worthwhile sessions were the presentations by Nate Hagens (1.1) and Rick Williment (5.1).
There is plenty of other good stuff to explore if you're interested in the topic.
27) Reconsidering our Economic System.
Dr Catherine Knight also did a session (3.1) at the Beyond Growth conference. This RNZ interview with her is worth a listen.
28) Vaclav Smil: ‘Growth must end. Our economist friends don’t seem to realise that’.
I recommend this interview between Jonathon Watts and the author Vaclav Smil about his latest book "Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities." – an epic, multidisciplinary analysis of growth – and why humanity’s endless expansion must stop.
Here is his first question - "You are the nerd’s nerd. There is perhaps no other academic who paints pictures with numbers like you. You dug up the astonishing statistic that China has poured more cement every three years since 2003 than the US managed in the entire 20th century. You calculated that in 2000, the dry mass of all the humans in the world was 125m metric tonnes compared with just 10m tonnes for all wild vertebrates. And now you explore patterns of growth, from the healthy development of forests and brains to the unhealthy increase in obesity and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Before we get into those deeper issues, can I ask if you see yourself as a nerd?"
Check out the full Guardian article.
29) Critics of ‘degrowth’ economics say it’s unworkable – but from an ecologist’s perspective, it’s inevitable.
This article by Mike Joy with input by Jack Santa Barbara provides an excellent, well explained description of the state of overshoot humanity has created - "The climate crisis is seen as a problem requiring a solution rather than a symptom of overshoot. The problem is generally formulated as looking for a way to maintain current lifestyles in the wealthy world, rather than reducing overshoot. The ecological perspective accepts that we exceed biophysical boundaries and emphasises the importance of reducing energy and material consumption – regardless of how the energy is provided.
The scope of human disruption of the biosphere is now global. This ecological perspective highlights the current magnitude and closeness of significant and unwelcome changes to Earth systems. The reduction of humanity’s demands on the biosphere is an overriding priority.
Ecological economics, with its emphasis on a steady-state economy, is perhaps the most rigorous existing economic framework with specific proposals for determining priority actions. We urge scholars of all disciples to examine these."
Check out the full article in the Conversation.
30) Richest 1% emit as much planet-heating pollution as two-thirds of humanity.
This report released by Oxfam on November 20th highlights the theme of this extra section. Those of us in the developed world need to consume much less - some of us a lot more than others!
The richest 1 percent of the world’s population produced as much carbon pollution in 2019 than the five billion people who made up the poorest two-thirds of humanity, reveals a new Oxfam report. It comes ahead of the UN climate summit in Dubai, amid growing fears that the 1.5°C target for curtailing rising temperatures appears increasingly unachievable. These outsized emissions of the richest 1 percent will cause 1.3 million heat-related excess deaths, roughly equivalent to the population of Dublin, Ireland. Most of these deaths will occur between 2020 and 2030.
“The super-rich are plundering and polluting the planet to the point of destruction, leaving humanity choking on extreme heat, floods and drought,” said Oxfam International interim Executive Director Amitabh Behar.
“For years we’ve fought to end the era of fossil fuels to save millions of lives and our planet. It’s clearer than ever this will be impossible until we, too, end the era of extreme wealth,” said Behar.
Check out the full article on the Oxfam website.
31) New Paper Identifies ‘Behavioural Crisis’ Driving Overshoot.
Ground-breaking academic paper, led by a New Zealand conservationist, reveals the behavioural crisis driving anthropogenic ecological overshoot and immediate actions needed.
A ground-breaking peer-reviewed paper has been published today (20/09/2023) by a collection of well-known scientists, academics and behavioural science practitioners led by New Zealand-based conservationist, Joseph Merz, of the Merz Institute.
The paper, published by Sage on 20 September 2023, details how our modern human behaviour is causing us to consume our natural resources at rates faster than they can be replenished, while also creating waste in excess of what the Earth can assimilate. The authors name and frame this existential threat the “Human Behavioural Crisis” and propose that the crisis, which stems from maladaptive human behaviours, be recognised globally as a critical intervention point for tackling ecological overshoot (and its symptoms like climate change).
The authors, led by Merz, demonstrate that our previously adaptive human impulses have been exploited for-profit to the point that the resultant behaviours have become extremely maladaptive, threatening complex life on Earth.
You can read the full media release on the Merz Institute website.
These newsletters are put together by Budyong Hill in an attempt to help keep Marlborough people informed of issues both global and local. The aim is help raise awareness of the myriad challenges facing the essential life support systems that our amazing planet provides for us every day.