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Tuesday, January 20, 2015


PPCT.  Who Pays the Piper Calls the Tune.  Why is this so hard to understand.  If politicians are being supported financially by rich individuals, banks, the Corporatocracy, by the arms manufacturers, these individuals and companies will call the tune.  The politicians will do their bidding.  Right wing governments seem to be particularly prone to this, having a built in sympathy for big business but left wing parties are also supported by big business.  Why should we be surprised when, even the left rarely does what is good for the people who elected them.

Look around you.  Is the middle class participating in the economy or is more and more money being accumulated by the top 1%.  Are the rights of workers being eroded, even down to the petty level that companies no longer have to give their workers a tea break*.  Are companies being allowed to  avoid taxes by various dodges such as joining with a small company in a foreign country with a different tax system.  Are companies sending their manufacturing overseas.  If you see these symptoms, you are in a country in which the government is in Thrall to big business.

* Recent move by the government here in New Zealand

Here is a particularly insidious example.  In the US of A, the land of democracy and freedom, the land in which the government is for the people and by the people, (yeah right!!) a vast majority of those same citizens agree that many gun reforms are necessary.  Agreement is pretty universal that one shouldn't be able to buy assault rifles, not buy guns with huge manazines, not buy heavy machine guns, for heaven sake and so forth.  It is agreed that there should be background checks and, for instance,  insane people and criminals should not be able to buy guns.  And yet the American Government ignores the people.  Who do you think is paying the piper in this example.  Follow the money.  Even more strange, a significant proportion of the NRA (National Rifle Association) agrees with the need for many of the suggested reforms.  Guess who is making money from a lack of gun control.  Always follow the money.

The only way out of this is to give politicians a set amount of money from the public purse and a set amount of air time on Government radio stations.  They should be afforded free time in halls and civic centres to address people and of course they can use the internet to their hearts content.

It would be worthwhile to provide each politician with a standard web site with the information arranged in a standard form so that any citizen, once he had got used to the format, could easily search for whatever information he is looking for.

These standard web sites could also be linked horizontally where, for instance, if you were looking up the voting record of a particular politician on a specific bill, you could jump sideways to another politician to see how he had voted on the same bill.

Part of the information would be entered for them such as their voting record, their history, any convictions they have had and so forth and the rest of the web site would be for them to present their case.They would be allowed to apply for a correction to any of these permanent records but not to alter them themselves in any way.

Does this sound expensive; giving politicians money for their campaigns from the public purse.  If you think so, just look at the cost of the present system.  Money is being concentrated in the hands of the now famous 1%, The rich are paying far less than their fair share of taxes, corporations are avoiding taxes and they send their manufacturing overseas and join with small overseas companies to avoid taxes.  Even Warren Buffet says that he pays a smaller tax, by percentage, than his secretary.  Big business is taking their profits overseas and are still allowed to operate as if they are American businesses and the middle class is being gutted.   The cost of the present system is huge and effects all of us.

Worse still, there is a very good chance that the present system will destroy our civilization due to sudden climate change as we push the light switch just that little bit too far.  It may send us back into a dark age or even a stone age.  Fossil fuel is being burnt in greater and greater amounts each year and governments are not taking the simple, well known, technical measures that would address this*.  All of this, despite report after report by the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) that we are heading for hell in a hand basket.

*With the exception, surprisingly, of China.  Yes she is building more coal fired power stations and her output of Carbon dioxide is increasing but at an ever reducing rate.  China is going flat out to change over to renewable energy and is likely to be the star in this endeavour amongst the countries of the world.

A good start would be to simply transfer the estimated trillion dollars of subsidies from the fossil fuel industry which is hugely profitable and give it to renewable energy companies.

The next step might be to institute Tax and Dividend a la Jim Hansen.  Neither of these measures and a host of other simple, well understood, necessary measures will be taken as long as politicians are financed by vested interests.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Globization and Free trade agreements??

Globalization has been a disaster for the people of the world and Free Trade Agreements are their cornerstone.  It shouldn't be this way.  Free trade between people should bring benefits to all.  The problem is the lack of regulation.  On an individual level we are regulated.  We aren't allowed to kill each other and there are sanctions if we do.  We aren't allowed to steal from each other, to shut down the right of other to free speech, to freedom of religion and so forth.

 Big business has been fighting tooth and nail to be allowed to operate without regulation.  We will self regulate, they say.  Well we have seen where that got us in 2008.  If it hadn't been for Obama, we would have had a financial melt down.  As it is, the best that could be done is to postpone the melt down while we got banks, wall street and big business under control.  We have failed. 

Because these institutions Pay the Piper, they Call the Tune (PPCT) and the underlying situation is even more dire than it was before 2008.  Banks are bigger, we haven't put in place regulations to allow them to fail, they are gambling with our money and Rent taking* and we allow big business to pollute our commons even to our air without paying for the clean up. 

 *Every time they make a transaction, some of the money sticks to their grubby little fingers as a commission.  This is called rent taking.  It encourages them to shift money back and forth and enriches them beyond the dreams of ordinary people.  Where do you think this money comes from.  That's right.  From your pocket.

For heaven sake, the fossil fuel industry receives an estimated trillion dollars of subsidies and makes gigantic profits when they should actually be paying extra tax for the mess they are making.  Sure it is us that are using their products but they are fighting tooth and nail to avoid a transition to renewable energy.  They are probably loosing the battle but their rear guard actions are making the transition take far too long.  We may be well on the way to testing the theory of sudden climate change.

Below is an small sample of Naomi Klein's recent book This Changes Everything.  I would highly recommend getting the whole book.  In this part, Naomi describes how trade agreements shot down what has been described as the best solar energy initiative in North America.   Be afraid, be very much afraid.   This is only one aspect of the effects of the trade agreements which underpin globalization.  There are many more.  I would suggest you also get her book Shock Doctrine.    Curious actions by your government begin to make sense with this background.

Suddenly, trade law became a whole lot less abstract.  And if you think that only right wing governments cow tow to their financial bosses, I have news for you.  Yes the Left often puts people of integrity up for election rather than puppets but they also receive a lot of their finances from big business.  PPCT

From This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein

Sitting at the long conference table overlooking his factory floor, Paolo Maccario, an elegant Italian businessman who moved to Toronto to open a solar factory, has the proud, resigned air of a captain determined to go down with his ship. He makes an effort to put on a brave face: True, “the Ontario market is pretty much gone,” but the company will find new customers for its solar panels, he tells me, maybe in Europe, or the United States. Their products are good, best in class, and “the cost is competitive enough.”
As chief operating officer of Silfab Ontario, Mr. Maccario has to say these things; anything else would be a breach of fiduciary duty. But he is also frank that the last few months have been almost absurdly bad. Customers are convinced the factory is going to close down and won’t be able to honour the 25-year warranty on the solar panels they purchased. Suppliers who had been planning to set up their own factories nearby to cut down on transport costs are now keeping their distance.
Even his own board back home in Italy (Silfab is owned by Silfab SpA, whose founder was a pioneer in Italian photovoltaic manufacturing) seemed to be jumping ship – cancelling a $7-million investment in custom machinery. What are the chances he would choose to open this factory here today, given all that has happened, I ask. At this, all attempts at PR drop away and he replies, “I would say below zero if such a number exists.”
And yet in 2010, the decision to locate the company’s first North American solar manufacturing plant in Ontario seemed to make a great deal of sense. One year earlier the province had unveiled its climate action plan, the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, centred on a bold pledge to wean Canada’s most populous province completely off coal by 2014.
The plan was lauded by energy experts around the world, particularly in the U.S., where such ambition was lagging. On a visit to Toronto, Al Gore offered his highest blessing, proclaiming it “widely recognized now as the single best green energy [program] on the North American continent.” The legislation created what is known as a feed-in tariff program, which allowed renewable energy providers to sell power back to the grid, offering long-term contracts with guaranteed premium prices.
The catch was that in order for energy providers to qualify, they had to ensure that a minimum percentage – 40 to 60 per cent – of their workforces and materials were local to Ontario.
The provision was an attempt to revive Ontario’s moribund manufacturing sector, which was reeling from the near bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler. Compounding these challenges was the fact that Alberta’s tar sands oil boom had sent the Canadian dollar soaring, making Ontario a much costlier place to build anything.
In the years that followed the announcement, Ontario’s efforts to get off coal were plagued by political blunders. Large natural gas and wind developers ran roughshod over local communities, while the government wasted hundreds of millions (at least) trying to clean up the unnecessary messes.
Yet even with all these screwups, the core of the program was an undeniable success. By 2012, Ontario was the largest solar producer in Canada and by 2013, it had only one working coal-fired power plant left. And by 2014, more than 31,000 jobs had been created. Silfab is a great example of how it worked.
The Italian owners had already decided to open a solar panel plant in North America. But Ontario – overcast and cold a lot of the year – wasn’t “on the radar screen,” Mr. Maccario admitted. That changed when the province introduced the green energy plan. Its local-content provisions meant that in communities that switched to renewable energy, manufacturers like his could count on a stable market for their products, one that was protected from having to compete head-to-head with cheaper solar panels from China. So Silfab chose Toronto for its first North American solar plant.
Ontario’s politicians loved Silfab. It helped that the building the company purchased to produce its panels was an abandoned auto parts factory. And many of the workers the company hired also came from the auto sector. Then things started to go very wrong. Just as the U.S. has acted against local renewable supports in China, so Japan and then the European Union let it be known that they considered Ontario’s local content requirement to be a violation of World Trade Organization rules.
The WTO ruled against Canada, determining that Ontario’s buy-local provisions were indeed illegal. And the province wasted little time in nixing the local-content rules that had been so central to its program. It was this, Mr. Maccario said, that led his foreign investors to pull their support for factory expansion. “Seeing all those, for lack of a better term, mixed messages … was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
From a climate perspective, the WTO ruling was an outrage: If we want to keep warming below catastrophic levels, wealthy economies like Canada must make getting off fossil fuels their top priority.
How absurd, then, for the WTO to interfere with that success – to let trade trump the planet itself.
And yet from a strictly legal standpoint, Japan and the EU were perfectly correct. One of the key provisions in almost all free trade agreements involves something called “national treatment,” which requires governments to make no distinction between goods produced by local companies and goods produced by foreign firms outside their borders.
Worse, it’s not only critical supports for renewable energy that are at risk of these attacks. Any attempt by a government to regulate the sale or extraction of particularly dirty kinds of fossil fuels is also vulnerable to similar trade challenges.
For instance, in 2012, the U.S.-incorporated oil company Lone Pine began taking steps to use NAFTA to challenge Quebec’s hard-won fracking moratorium. It has since announced plans to sue Canada for at least $230-million U.S. under NAFTA’s rules on expropriation and “fair and equitable treatment.”
None of this should be surprising. Of course the richest and most powerful companies in the world will exploit the law to try to stamp out real and perceived threats and to lock in their ability to dig and drill wherever they wish in the world.
In some cases, governments may successfully defend their emission-reducing activities in trade court. But in too many others, they can be relied upon to cave in early, not wanting to appear anti-free trade. Trade challenges aren’t killing renewable energy, but the growth is not happening fast enough. And the legal uncertainty that now surrounds some of the most significant green energy programs in the world is bogging us down at the very moment when science is telling us we need to leap ahead.
To allow arcane trade law, which has been negotiated with scant public scrutiny, (my emphasis) to have this kind of power over an issue so critical to humanity’s future is a special kind of madness. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz puts it, “Should you let a group of foolish lawyers, who put together something before they understood these issues, interfere with saving the planet?”
The greatest tragedy of all is that so much of this was eminently avoidable.
We knew about the climate crisis when the rules of the new trade system were being written. After all, NAFTA was signed just one year after governments, including the U.S., signed the landmark United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio.
And it was by no means inevitable that these deals would go through. A strong coalition of North American labour and environmental groups opposed NAFTA precisely because they knew it would drive down labour and environmental standards.
But for a complex set of reasons, the leadership of many large environmental organizations decided to play ball. “One by one, former NAFTA opponents and skeptics became enthusiastic supporters, and said so publicly,” writes journalist Mark Dowie in his critical history of the U.S. environmental movement, Losing Ground.
The errors of this period cannot be undone, but it is not too late for a new kind of climate movement to take up the fight against so-called free trade and build this needed architecture now.
That doesn’t – and never did – mean an end to economic exchange across borders. It does, however, mean a far more thoughtful and deliberate approach to why we trade and whom it serves.

Excerpted from This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.Copyright © 2014 Naomi Klein. Published by Knopf Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited a Penguin Random House Company. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

The Real America

I had to copy this to my blog.  It expresses so well what I have come to understand abut America.  We run a small organic farm here in New Zealand and have many many WWOOF'ers passing through and working with us anywhere from a couple of weeks to as much as a year.  Many of them are young people from America generally under 30.  With one exception, and she wasn't a WWOOFer, all are very aware of what is going on in America and they are appalled.  Perhaps there is hope.  Thanks to Ann Jones for such a perceptive article.  At the end of the article, I have listed a few sources of information that may interest you.

“Has America gone crazy?”

It's a question that dogs me wherever I travel abroad -- and one for which I increasingly have no easy answer

"Has America gone crazy?"Joni Ernst (Credit: AP/Charlie Neibergall)
This piece originally appeared on TomDispatch.
Americans who live abroad — more than six million of us worldwide (not counting those who work for the U.S. government) — often face hard questions about our country from people we live among. Europeans, Asians, and Africans ask us to explain everything that baffles them about the increasingly odd and troubling conduct of the United States.  Polite people, normally reluctant to risk offending a guest, complain that America’s trigger-happiness, cutthroat free-marketeering, and “exceptionality” have gone on for too long to be considered just an adolescent phase. Which means that we Americans abroad are regularly asked to account for the behavior of our rebranded “homeland,” now conspicuously in decline and increasingly out of step with the rest of the world.
In my long nomadic life, I’ve had the good fortune to live, work, or travel in all but a handful of countries on this planet.  I’ve been to both poles and a great many places in between, and nosy as I am, I’ve talked with people all along the way. I still remember a time when to be an American was to be envied. The country where I grew up after World War II seemed to be respected and admired around the world for way too many reasons to go into here.
That’s changed, of course. Even after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I still met people — in the Middle East, no less — willing to withhold judgment on the U.S.  Many thought that the Supreme Court’s installation of George W. Bush as president was a blunder American voters would correct in the election of 2004. His return to office truly spelled the end of America as the world had known it.  Bush had started a war, opposed by the entire world, because he wanted to and he could. A majority of Americans supported him.  And that was when all the uncomfortable questions really began.

In the early fall of 2014, I traveled from my home in Oslo, Norway, through much of Eastern and Central Europe. Everywhere I went in those two months, moments after locals realized I was an American the questions started and, polite as they usually were, most of them had a single underlying theme: Have Americans gone over the edge? Are you crazy? Please explain.
Then recently, I traveled back to the “homeland.”  It struck me there that most Americans have no idea just how strange we now seem to much of the world. In my experience, foreign observers are far better informed about us than the average American is about them. This is partly because the “news” in the American media is so parochial and so limited in its views both of how we act and how other countries think — even countries with which we were recently, are currently, or threaten soon to be at war. America’s belligerence alone, not to mention its financial acrobatics, compels the rest of the world to keep close track of us.  Who knows, after all, what conflict the Americans may drag you into next, as target or reluctant ally?
So wherever we expatriates settle on the planet, we find someone who wants to talk about the latest American events, large and small: another country bombed in the name of our “national security,” another peaceful protest march attacked by our increasingly militarized police, another diatribe against “big government” by yet another wannabe candidate who hopes to head that very government in Washington.  Such news leaves foreign audiences puzzled and full of trepidation.
Question Time
Take the questions stumping Europeans in the Obama years (which 1.6 million Americans residing in Europe regularly find thrown our way).  At the absolute top of the list: “Why would anyone oppose national health care?” European and other industrialized countries have had some form of national health care since the 1930s or 1940s, Germany since 1880.  Some versions, as in France and Great Britain, have devolved into two-tier public and private systems.  Yet even the privileged who pay for a faster track would not begrudge their fellow citizens government-funded comprehensive health care. That so many Americans do strikes Europeans as baffling, if not frankly brutal.
In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially advanced in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program, funded by the state, is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system.  In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have an equal right to education (state subsidized preschool from age one, and free schools from age six through specialty training or university education and beyond), unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining services, paid parental leave, old age pensions, and more.  These benefits are not merely an emergency “safety net”; that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy.  They are universal: equally available to all citizens as human rights encouraging social harmony — or as our own U.S. constitution would put it, “domestic tranquility.”  It’s no wonder that, for many years, international evaluators have ranked Norway as the best place to grow old, to be a woman, and to raise a child. The title of “best” or “happiest” place to live on Earth comes down to a neighborly contest among Norway and the other Nordic social democracies, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland.
In Norway, all benefits are paid for mainly by high taxation. Compared to the mind-numbing enigma of the U.S. tax code, Norway’s is remarkably straightforward, taxing income from labor and pensions progressively, so that those with higher incomes pay more. The tax department does the calculations, sends an annual bill, and taxpayers, though free to dispute the sum, willingly pay up, knowing what they and their children get in return. And because government policies effectively redistribute wealth and tend to narrow the country’s slim income gap, most Norwegians sail pretty comfortably in the same boat. (Think about that!)

Bloggers note:  The Norwegian benefits are also paid for from a sovereign wealth fund set up using the revenue from their part of the North Sea Oil.  Britian frittered her portion away on current expenses, Norway set up this fund, which, by the way, is used, amongst other things, to fund Norwegian research, in order to create revenue for her programs.

Life and Liberty
This system didn’t just happen. It was planned. Sweden led the way in the 1930s, and all five Nordic countries pitched in during the postwar period to develop their own variations of what came to be called the Nordic Model: a balance of regulated capitalism, universal social welfare, political democracy, and the highest levels of gender and economic equality on the planet. It’s their system. They invented it. They like it. Despite the efforts of an occasional conservative government to muck it up, they maintain it. Why?
In all the Nordic countries, there is broad general agreement across the political spectrum that only when people’s basic needs are met — when they can cease to worry about their jobs, their incomes, their housing, their transportation, their health care, their kids’ education, and their aging parents — only then can they be free to do as they like. While the U.S. settles for the fantasy that, from birth, every kid has an equal shot at the American dream, Nordic social welfare systems lay the foundations for a more authentic equality and individualism.
These ideas are not novel. They are implied in the preamble to our own Constitution. You know, the part about “we the People” forming  “a more perfect Union” to “promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”  Even as he prepared the nation for war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt memorably specified components of what that general welfare should be in his State of the Union address in 1941. Among the “simple basic things that must never be lost sight of,” he listed“equality of opportunity for youth and others, jobs for those who can work, security for those who need it, the ending of special privileges for the few, the preservation of civil liberties for all,” and oh yes, higher taxes to pay for those things and for the cost of defensive armaments.
Knowing that Americans used to support such ideas, a Norwegian today is appalled to learn that a CEO of a major American corporation makes between 300 and 400 times as much as its average employee. Or that governors Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chris Christie of New Jersey, having run up their state’s debts by cutting taxes for the rich, now plan to cover the loss with money snatched from the pension funds of workers in the public sector. To a Norwegian, the job of government is to distribute the country’s good fortune reasonably equally, not send it zooming upward, as in America today, to a sticky-fingered one percent.
In their planning, Norwegians tend to do things slowly, always thinking of the long term, envisioning what a better life might be for their children, their posterity.  That’s why a Norwegian, or any northern European, is aghast to learn that two-thirds of American college students finish their education in the red, some owing $100,000 or more. Or that in the U.S., still the world’s richest country, one in three children lives in poverty, along with one in fiveyoung people between the ages of 18 and 34. Or that America’s recent multi-trillion-dollar wars were fought on a credit card to be paid off by our kids. Which brings us back to that word: brutal.
Implications of brutality, or of a kind of uncivilized inhumanity, seem to lurk in so many other questions foreign observers ask about America like: How could you set up that concentration camp in Cuba, and why can’t you shut it down?  Or: How can you pretend to be a Christian country and still carry out the death penalty? The follow-up to which often is: How could you pick as president a man proud of executing his fellow citizens at the fastest rate recorded in Texas history?  (Europeans will not soon forget George W. Bush.)
Other things I’ve had to answer for include:
* Why can’t you Americans stop interfering with women’s health care?
* Why can’t you understand science?
* How can you still be so blind to the reality of climate change?
* How can you speak of the rule of law when your presidents break international laws to make war whenever they want?
* How can you hand over the power to blow up the planet to one lone, ordinary man?
* How can you throw away the Geneva Conventions and your principles to advocate torture?
* Why do you Americans like guns so much?  Why do you kill each other at such a rate?

To many, the most baffling and important question of all is: Why do you send your military all over the world to stir up more and more trouble for all of us?
That last question is particularly pressing because countries historically friendly to the United States, from Australia to Finland, are struggling to keep up with an influx of refugees from America’s wars and interventions. Throughout Western Europe and Scandinavia, right-wing parties that have scarcely or never played a role in government are now rising rapidly on a wave of opposition to long-established immigration policies. Only last month, such a party almost toppled the sitting social democratic government of Sweden, a generous country that has absorbed more than its fair share of asylum seekers fleeing the shock waves of “the finest fighting force that the world has ever known.”
The Way We Are
Europeans understand, as it seems Americans do not, the intimate connection between a country’s domestic and foreign policies. They often trace America’s reckless conduct abroad to its refusal to put its own house in order.  They’ve watched the United States unravel its flimsy safety net, fail to replace its decaying infrastructure, disempower most of its organized labor, diminish its schools, bring its national legislature to a standstill, and create the greatest degree of economic and social inequality in almost a century. They understand why Americans, who have ever less personal security and next to no social welfare system, are becoming more anxious and fearful. They understand as well why so many Americans have lost trust in a government that has done so little new for them over the past three decades or more, except for Obama’s endlessly embattled health care effort, which seems to most Europeans a pathetically modest proposal.
What baffles so many of them, though, is how ordinary Americans in startling numbers have been persuaded to dislike “big government” and yet support its new representatives, bought and paid for by the rich. How to explain that? In Norway’s capital, where a statue of a contemplative President Roosevelt overlooks the harbor, many America-watchers think he may have been the last U.S. president who understood and could explain to the citizenry what government might do for all of them. Struggling Americans, having forgotten all that, take aim at unknown enemies far away — or on the far side of their own towns.
It’s hard to know why we are the way we are, and — believe me — even harder to explain it to others. Crazy may be too strong a word, too broad and vague to pin down the problem. Some people who question me say that the U.S. is “paranoid,” “backward,” “behind the times,” “vain,” “greedy,” “self-absorbed,” or simply “dumb.”  Others, more charitably, imply that Americans are merely “ill-informed,” “misguided,” “misled,” or “asleep,” and could still recover sanity.  But wherever I travel, the questions follow, suggesting that the United States, if not exactly crazy, is decidedly a danger to itself and others. It’s past time to wake up, America, and look around.  There’s another world out here, an old and friendly one across the ocean, and it’s full of good ideas, tried and true.

Open Letter to NZ MP's

You will have heard the report yesterday by the International Panel on Climate Change and the subsequent comments by the head of the UN, Ban Key Moon.

In the vernacular, we are F$%#&d if we don't take immediate and drastic measures to reduce our carbon foot print.

This letter is predicated on the hope/belief that you agree with what was said.  Namely that we must wean ourselves off fossil fuels and rather rapidly at that.

To my mind the ideal function of government is to set the stage so that others do the work.  In addition, I believe that subsidies are very rarely a good solution for anything.  to collect money cost money.  To distribute money costs money.  It is far more efficient to leave the money in the hands of the people who will use it.

  To give a simple example.  Suppose you wanted to encourage people to buy and install solar electric systems.  It would be far more efficient and effective to wave GST on solar panels and inverters than to collect the GST and give a subsidy to people who buy solar equipment.

I'll leave you to fill in the gaps and suss out the measures you could take to actually have an effect on our carbon foot print.  Or alternately, there are a list of links at the end of this blog to troll through for ideas.

We, in New Zealand, must not hide behind the fallacious argument that nothing we do will make any difference.  The argument given is that even if we stopped emitting any green house gasses, this would have no effect on the worlds output of these gases.  That is completely correct but countries are even more sheep-like than individual people and follow a leader.  We have been the leader many times in the past and the rest of the world has followed.  Besides, we emit 10 times the green house gasses per capita than the average country of the world so we should be making an effort commensurate with a country of 43 million people.

If we do take effective measures to greatly reduce our use of fossil fuels there are a number of  possibilities.
#Suppose for the sake of the argument that the conclusions of all this research into climate change are nonsense and we will have reduced our use of fossil fuels for nothing.  If you believe this, have a look at the following link.  There are many many positive outcomes from ceasing to use coal, oil and gas for energy completely unrelated to climate change.

There is the possibility that the climate will continue to change gradually, as it is doing now and that the climate zones will continue to creep poleward (in the northern hemisphere) at about a km per year and we might just be able to adapt to this.  There is however the possibility that there will be a sudden change in the climate.  The stratigraphic record shows that this has happened in the past and  many scientists believe that we are pushing the climate into another sudden change.    A sudden lurch poleward of climate zones would likely wipe out the seed crops (wheat, barley, corn, rape seed etc.) of the Northern Hemisphere and the result of that doesn't bear thinking about.  By setting an example we might just drag the rest of the world kicking and screaming to follow our example.

#  It could be that sudden climate shifts will occur but only in the Northern Hemisphere.  There are some reasons, which I won't go into here that suggest that this is possible.  Sure, here in New Zealand we will have some pretty radical weather.  You can't shift the climate of the whole Northern Hemisphere without some effect on the southern half but there is a reasonable chance that we won't see the drastic shifts in climate zones that will occur in the North.  Don't get too comfortable with the thought.  We are an agricultural exporting country and our markets in the North will be trashed.  At first it may be to our benefit as food prices skyrocket and we will accumulate lots of money.  This is probably pie in the sky thinking.  With a collapse of their economies, the money of the northern hemisphere countries will be highly unstable and likely worthless.

Add to this, billions of refugees trying to get into some relatively safe country and the belief of certain parties that we gain a benefit from rich  people paying their way into New Zealand and it is not a pretty picture.

New Zealand has been the leader so many times in the past.  The stakes now are so much greater than for any of the initiatives we have previously taken.  Let's be the leader again and set the example.

Waipara in the early days

I just received this from a friend on the early days of my town, Waipara.  Fascinating.

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]


Waipara is in the Waipara road district and in the Kowai riding of the Ashley county. The township is on the banks of the Waipara river, close to the railway traffic bridge. There is a post office at the flag railway station, mails are received and despatched daily, and there is telephonic connection with Amberley. The railway station is forty-one miles from Christchurch, and stands 231 feet above the level of the sea. Glenmark homesteud is not far away from the settlement. There is a hotel at Waipara, and coaches ply daily between the township and Cheviot. At the census of 1901 the population of the township was eighteen, at Upper Waipara twenty-five, at Waipara Downs also twenty-five, and the railway co-operative workmen numbered 163. These men were, at the date of the census, engaged on the construction of the Waipara-Cheviot branch railway, and were, in the majority of cases, living in tents.
The Waipara Post Office is conducted at the railway station. It is a building of the usual type, and is used as a residence for the postmistress, as well as for the purposes of the department. The postmistress is also in charge of the goods shed Waipara is connected by telephone with Amberley, and mails are received and despatched daily. Mrs Georgina May, postmistress at Waipara, has been in charge since 1895.
Waipara-Cheviot Railway Line. This line was begun in 1900, and has been pushed ahead by a large party of co-operative workmen. In July, 1902, about twelve miles of the formation and rails had been laid down, ballasting having been completed for ten miles; and the line was opened for traffic as far as Scargill—about fifteen miles—on the 16th of December, 1902.
Mr. John Alexander Wilson, Resident Engineer, under the Public Works Department, at Waipara, took charge of the work in 1902. He is referred to at page 150 of the Wellington volume of this Cyclopedia. Since the publication of that volume Mr. Wilson has been for three years on the Midland railway, and was for fourteen months on the North Island trunk line, before being transferred to Waipara.
Waipara Hotel (William James Alpe, proprietor). This hotel, which was established in 1883, stands at the junction of the north and Cheviot roads, and clone to the railway station. A coach leaves the hotel every day for Cheviot, and one also arrives daily from the same place. The house contains eighteen rooms, including ten bedrooms, a comfortable dining room, and suitable sitting rooms, etc. The stables and paddocks attached to the hotel are very convenient to travellers and drivers of stock.
Mr. William James Alpe, the Proprietor, was born in Auckland, in 1864. When he was ten years of age he removed with his people to Christchurch, where, after leaving school, he learned the business of a hairdresser, tobacconist, and fishing-tackle dealer. For three years and a half he had a business in High Street, and afterwards in Colombo Street North, for five years, and then for six years next the Empire Hotel, in High Street. Christchurch. In 1900, Mr. Alpe purchased the Waipara Hotel from his predecessor, Mr. A Francis. The hotel is situated on the banks of the Waipara river, and is forty-one miles distant from Christchurch by rail, and thirty-seven miles by road.
Standish and Preece, photo. Mr. W. J. Alpe.
Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. W. J. Alpe.
Francis, A., Coach Proprietor and Farmer, Waipara. Mr. Francis was born in Cornwall, England, in 1856, educated at the local school, and brought up on his father's farm. He came to New Zealand in 1877, in the ship “Northern Monarch,” and after farming in the Timaru district for three years, entered the service of the Hon. E. Grey, and subsequently that of Mr. Moore, of “Glenmark,” with whom he remained for seven years. In 1892 he purchased the Waipara Hotel, but sold it in 1900 to the present proprietor, Mr. W. J. Alpe. Mr. Francis's coach runs regularly between Waipara and Cheviot, leaving Waipara on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and Cheviot on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Mr. Francis was married, in 1885, to Miss Barrow, and has two sons and three daughters.
Mr. A. Francis.