Monthly Archives: December 2008

Peak Oil and Oil Prices

Oil prices in recent times rose dizzyingly to all-time highs. In an intuitive way, the experience seemed to many to validate the notion of Peak-Oil. Then along came the credit-crunch and the global-financial-crisis, and oil prices have plunged dramatically. Does that mean Peak Oil is no longer a problem?

Well no. Peak oil is a consequence of geological realities, and oil prices are a manifestation of market forces. In themselves, rising oil prices didn’t ‘prove Peak Oil’ and falling oil prices don’t ‘disprove Peak Oil’.

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Filed under Aotearoa New Zealand, Barry, economic analysis, sustainability, Uncategorized

Markets and states have failed on climate change – now it is the people’s turn to act

The financial crisis which has unfolded this year has caused governments to release billions of dollars at short notice to prop up the financial system. One might wonder why such funds have never been available to alleviate poverty, cancel Third World debt, or take meaningful action on climate change. But we don’t wonder about such things, since we know the answer… governments are keen to protect ‘business as usual’ for the wealthy few, but they are far less keen to act to transform the lives of the poor or look to the long-term future of the biosphere.

Climate change is undoubtedly the most significant issue facing the planet right now. Human society must immediately begin rapid and radical alterations to the industrial and agricultural production systems causing much of the greenhouse gas emission that is driving this climate change. Yet we seem chronically (one might suggest criminally) unable to make the necessary transformation in the way we live. The best we can do – the EU’s much-trumpeted policy of 20% emissions reduction by 2020 – is ridiculously inadequate.

So what are our options?

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Filed under climate change, David

Detecting Political Deception

Nearly a year ago David posted about Jack Harich’s paper: “The dueling loops of the political powerplace”. Harich suggested political competition could be likened to a race to the bottom versus a race to the top, in which the race to the bottom had an inherent advantage, namely: you can always lie bigger, but truth is constrained. Not a very cheery conclusion, but one that has some resonance when you look at the behaviour of many politicians.

Q: How do you know when a politician is lying?

A: Easy, it’s when their lips are moving.

All is not lost, though – Harich and the people at Thwink .org identified that the competitive advantage of deceitful politicians can be overcome if – a)  if more voters are skilled at detecting political deception, and b) if this knowledge changes their political behaviour (i.e. they at least stop voting for the liars).

If you’re like me, the thoughts that pop into mind at this point are: “Brilliant! Now how do we do that?” Well, Thwink has now released a guide to some of the basics of detecting political deception.

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Filed under Barry, green politics

The search for certainty on climate change, and other acts of folly

Today (December 6) has been declared the International Day of Action on Climate Change; the day has been chosen as it falls midway through the UN climate change conference in Poznan, Poland. And so, while around 190 nations’ representatives prevaricate, numerous grassroots actions and events are taking place around the world as citizens express their concern about the growing impact of climate change.

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, the new government of Aotearoa New Zealand is considering a parliamentary select committee review of the scientific evidence around whether any human-induced climate change is actually taking place at all.

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Filed under Aotearoa New Zealand, climate change, David