2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years

by Bryan Walker on May 10, 2012

The Club of Rome has launched a new report, 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, written by Jorgen Randers, one of the co-authors 40 years ago of their famous publication Limits to Growth. I’ve been listening to Randers speaking at the launch this week at Rotterdam. It’s a striking address, delivered with a charm that softens its grim content. It can be viewed on the first 25 minutes of the YouTube video below. I’ll offer an outline here, along with some loose transcription of parts of the address.

He reflects that he has worked a lifetime pushing sustainability without success.

Will the world overshoot and collapse? This was the warning that my friends and I made in 1972 in Limits to Growth… We are now forty years down the line and it is perfectly obvious that world has already overshot.  In 1972 our critics said that the world is not going to be so stupid as to let the world move into non-sustainable territory. Well, we now are in unsustainable territory.

The simplest example is greenhouse gases.


Emissions are twice the amount of what is being absorbed in the world’s oceans and forests. And, as warned in 1972, this is an effect of slow decision-making. Even twenty years after the Rio meeting greenhouse gas emissions are growing faster than they did at the time of the meeting.

The question is whether we can ease back into sustainable conditions with a soft landing, or whether the world will collapse.  By collapse he explains he basically means huge migration flows and the destruction of society as we know it.

The purpose of the 2052 book is basically to try to look at the next forty years. What will happen? Not what should happen, what could happen, but what will happen.

The forecast is not good:

The main message of 2052 is that humanity won’t make it and so we are not going to make a soft landing, we will basically run into a collapse type of future.

Some of the detail:

The global population will peak around 8 billion people in 2040. This is much earlier and at a much lower level than most people think. The reason for this is the very rapid decline in fertility both in the poor and the rich world.

The world GDP is going to continue to grow but it will grow much slower than most people think. The reason for this is that first of all a number of the world’s economies are very mature, meaning that most of the activity is in the service and care sector where productivity increase is very difficult. And so the rich countries are not going to grow very fast. And secondly there is the problem that we will not experience economic take-off in most of the poor world. The emerging countries will probably do it but not the others. So there will be GDP growth but not as fast as most people think. And actually the GDP of the world will peak around 2060, 2070. Then it will go down because the population is going down and because productivity is declining.

Interestingly over the next forty years human society is going to face a number of emerging problems: depletion, pollution, biodiversity decline, climate change, rising inequity, distributional issues. And the way society is going to handle those is to throw money at them.  So the investment share of the GDP – that fraction of annual production which is not used for consumption but is used to improve the world in the long run – will increase. And that means that the amount of GDP which is available for consumption will not grow as fast in the future as it would have done if we did not have to meet all those challenges. Disposable income will stagnate and in some parts of the world – for instance the rich world – will actually decline over the next forty years…

Energy use will peak in 2040. Emissions will begin to decline in 2030 and by 2050 they will be back down to current levels, a far cry from the current ambition of reducing CO2 emissions by 50 to 80 per cent by 2050, which is what people say we need to do in order to keep temperature rise under 2 degrees centigrade. So this means we are in a situation where we’re going to let CO2 emissions be so high that when we get to 2050 we are quickly moving towards global warming.

He refers to information he has sought from US scientists, that this will mean a 2 degree rise by 2050, increasing to 3 degrees by 2080:

Which is just where you could fear that global self-reinforcing climate change takes hold…So in 2050 the world is on its path towards climate collapse in the second half of the 21st century. It doesn’t happen before 2050 but it happens afterwards.  In other words current systems of governance appear incapable of handling the climate challenge.

Why are we letting all this happen?

The root cause is human short-termism. It is the fact that both capitalism and democracies are amazingly short-term in their decision-making. Humans do not want to sacrifice much today in order to get the benefits thirty years down the line, and capitalist systems allocate money based on a discount rate which is so high that anything that happens beyond five years is close to invisible. Since those are the two major systems of governance in place the world will continue to act in a myopic fashion to the challenges.

Can short-termism be handled? Yes, in principle, but in practice it is very difficult because it probably means strong government to basically delegate difficult decision-making to supra-national or centralist bodies like the central banks of the world and the intense dislike of strong government is something which is going to preclude a sensible solution to the problems.

The slow rise in GDP for poor countries means that three billion people are going to remain poor in 2052. It’s a harsh outlook for them. They will not only be poor but also hungry because although there will be enough food for all it will be restricted to those who can pay for it.

The four recommendations of the report are, as he points out, obvious.

First, having fewer children, especially in the rich world.

My daughter has a footprint which is ten times as big as an Indian daughter. She is much more dangerous than an Indian.

Second, reduce our ecological footprint, especially in the rich nations.

And that means basically one thing: stop using fossil fuels. It’s as simple as that.

Third, construct a low-carbon energy system in the poor world, for the poor world, paid for by the rich world.

Fourth, strengthen global governance to overcome short-termism and handle the long-term challenge.

These things are hard to implement and even harder if the distributional issues are allowed to deteriorate even further. We need full employment and we need limited income disparity.

Finally what can the Club of Rome do?

It should continue its traditional asking unpopular questions and promoting unpopular solutions.

It’s a sober picture Randers presents, and one which he says gives him no pleasure. By way of possible mitigation he offers “hard but worthy causes”.  No doubt some of his forecasts will be controversial, but in what he has to say about climate change he is fully in line with scientific thinking. Stop using fossil fuels is the right message.

The book is to be released in mid-June and judging by this talk will earn a wide readership and serious discussion.

{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

SCM May 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Its interested that this is couched as a forecast. Previous editions in the ‘Limits to Growth’ series were based on examining a range of scenarios (similar to what the IPCC does), but explicitly avoided a hard forecast.

Recently some CSIRO researchers compared actual data for the last 30 years with the various scenarios offered by Limits to Growth and found that on the whole we were following the pattern of the ‘standard run’ (a business as usual scenario) pretty closely. See:
http://www.csiro.au/resources/SEEDPaper19
and
http://www.csiro.au/Portals/Multimedia/CSIROpod/Growth-Limits.aspx

bill May 10, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Thanks Bryan and SCM.

I suspect the switch to a hard prediction may simply be a way of saying ‘seriously, folks, we’re really in trouble here; do nothing – as you have for forty years – and suffer these very unpleasant consequences.’

I have to say I’m amazed a post on the Club of Rome has sat unmolested by our Free Market™ utopian friends for so long. I mean, they’re a kind of ultra-IPCC, aren’t they? The HI billboard debacle must really have rattled them…

andyS May 11, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Possibly one reason you don’t hear much from “us lot” about the Club of Rome, (or the Club of Madrid or the Club of Budapest) is that every time we bring up stuff like this (also Agenda 21) we get called “conspiracy theorists”.

Yet the agenda of these organisations is hardly a secret, including the CoR’s “Master Plan” dating to the mid 1970s.

By the way, James Delingpole covers a lot of this in his excellent book “Watermelons” which he is currently plugging in a road tour of Australia. I am sure all Aussies here have either booked their tickets or hand made their placards to protest outside the venues, depending on your disposition.

bill May 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Nah, he’s best ignored.

Oh, look!; The Economist in on the Master Plan, is it?

andyS May 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Check out comment #1 on that Economist article.
At this rate only a plague like Ebola striking the bulk of humanity will curb the problem

Sort of vindicates my previous comment about death cults doesn’t it?

There’s never ever any room for optimism. Despite the fact the the human race has flourished for thousands of years, and we are healthier, live longer and more prosperous than ever before, all these Malthusian doom-mongers can ever do is wish their lives away.

bill May 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Yep, andy, whatever you say – a commenter certainly proves you’re right.

And, further to Rob’s question I see below, so you deny that ‘When the buffers go, the tank crashes.’?

bill May 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I’ll take that as a ‘yes’ then…

Rob Taylor May 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Andy, did you not learn anything about the exponential function at Cambridge?

andyS May 11, 2012 at 2:45 pm

The issue is whether human progress can outstrip the negative consequences of our actions. The Malthusians have consistently underestimated the ability of the human race to solve our environmental problems.

bill May 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Gee, how about the issue being whether humans can identify the negative consequences of their actions and, in turn, act to avoid them?

Ironically, in your unbridled techno-panglossianism and unwavering faith in your own idiosyncratic take on science’s ‘inevitability’ you lot most closely resemble the dafter species of Marxist…

andyS May 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Just an example here:

The French now have several hybrid vehicles on offer.
Citroen:
http://www.greencarsite.co.uk/ecocar/citreon-sub-100g-free-tax.htm
Peugeot:
http://www.greencarsite.co.uk/ecocar/Peugeot-508-RXH-diesel-electric-hybrid.htm

High fuel efficiency, low emissions etc. and unheard of 5 years ago

bill May 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Therefore we don’t need to take any steps to curb CO2, manage our ecosystem impact, or curb the growth of our population? You cannot be serious?

Sure.

Yep, the French have some impressively fuel efficient cars; let’s go on a road-trip across Europe to celebrate! In fact, my new car is so efficient I’ll treat myself to a holiday in the Maldives.

If we improve the fuel efficiency of planes by, say, 30% – a worthwhile goal – over time but it turns out we’ve doubled the number of flights in the same period, where are we?

In another irony, I don’t think you can really sell this utopian argument because most people – including even myself – are actually far more conservative than the intriguing mixture of libertarian and reactionary zealots who currently inhabit the label ‘Conservative’. Most people get the ‘inherent limits’ thing, no matter how daftly selfishly they may be behaving at the moment. Just read the bloody article and look at frickin’ fish stocks, you silly fellow! Citroen ain’t likely to turn out a new super-fuel-efficient line in Haddock…

andyS May 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Well if you want to conserve fish stocks, you could emulate the EU. They are of course the model of bureaucratic ineptitude.

Their fishing policies ensure that thousands of cod are dumped in the North Sea every year because of the EU fishing quotas.

This is probably one of the biggest man-made environmental disasters in Europe today, and it is a result of regulation by inept bureaucrats

Gareth May 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm

The answer to bad regulation is not no regulation, it’s improved regulation. Leave fish stocks to the free market and we’ll all be eating jellyfish soon.

andyS May 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Gareth – yes I agree, but I am not suggesting no regulation. My issue is with regulation imposed by supranational governments (whether it be EU or UN) because in my view, the bigger the bureaucracy, the worse the regulation.

bill May 11, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Squirrel! Fish stocks are being knocked out all over the world, andy, and, as the CoR points out, it’s short-termism (inherent to Capitalism – and even democracy!) that’s the issue.

And, for the 99th time, the EU is a creature of both your beloved Capitalism – particularly of the financial sector – and of the major European democracies. Think Sarkozy and Merkel, fer Chrissakes! It’s an attempt to manage the inherent instability of ‘the market’ for the nominal benefit of all, but its assumptions are inherently Capitalist – hence in a crisis the automatic resort to Austerity for the masses, because it’s the stability of the financial sector that really counts. In your looking-glass world this has been turned on it’s head to become ‘Stalinism’, a McCarthyite catch-all abuse term, which, like ‘Marxism’, has almost lost all meaning beyond ‘vaguely left regulationists who we choose to blame for everything’, but in reality it’s the actual Left groupings that are leading the fight against austerity…

Whether they’ll make any headway is another matter…

Andrew W May 12, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Leave fish stocks to the free market and we’ll all be eating jellyfish soon.

The threat of overfishing has nothing to do with the free market vs government control, rather it’s due to clear ownership vs open range.

andyS May 12, 2012 at 9:39 pm

40 to 60 % of fish caught in N Sea dumped back into sea

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7103363.stm

This is a 2007 article, but I don’t think things have improved

CTG May 12, 2012 at 11:28 pm

You’re right, things haven’t improved. Fishermen are still indiscriminantly killing all the fish they can dredge up, whether or not there’s a market for them.

andyS May 13, 2012 at 7:12 am

For the benefit of CTG, there is plenty of market for this fish. It is being dumped in the sea because of EU environmental regulatilons.

CTG May 13, 2012 at 8:34 am

For the benefit of andyS, the whole point of a quota is to avoid depletion of stock so that there will be a market in the future. It is another one of those externalities that you seem to have so much difficulty in understanding. No doubt fishermen could sell every fish they catch today, but what are they going to sell tomorrow when there’s no more fish?

Fishermen are notoriously unable to grasp the concept of overfishing. I was in the Shetlands in the late 80s when quotas were put on the sand eel fishery. Seabird populations in the North Sea were plummeting, but the fishermen I talked to steadfastly maintained that it was nothing to do with them – they actually blamed seals for crashing the sand eel population! And this was for a fishery not even intended for human consumption – the main uses for sand eels were for feed in salmon farms, and for burning in Danish power stations (no, I am not making that up). But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good rant, Andy.

andyS May 13, 2012 at 8:44 am

So we are all in agreement then, that dumping thousands of cod into the North Sea is a positive thing?

Was I ranting? I was suggesting that there might be a better way.

Thomas May 13, 2012 at 9:20 am

AndyS: Rather than polemics against EU regulations you should ask yourself how we can make regulations that actually bite such as limiting the number of vessels dramatically. This you will not achieve by free market voluntary reductions in ships.
Simply saying: There is a market for even the last fish we can possibly catch, therefore lets allow any cowboy under the sun rush out to try to catch it, is just total nonsense.
So lets stop dumping fish into the oceans and do this by reducing the EU fishing fleet by the amount necessary to end overfishing. Also: Rather than Ton quota per operator it should be number of fishing voyages per year and a limit to the tonnage per vessel so that all fish caught – and killed – on a voyage can be sold. Mandatory observers on each vessel should make sure that all fish caught on a voyage get brought home to avoid that less valuable fish get dumped until the hold is full of the valuable ones.
So the answer to your valid complaint is strong and biting regulations that actually limit kill rates of fish so that stocks can recover and are safe for future generations.

If you think that there is ANY free market solution to this dilemma then let it be known.

Gosman May 15, 2012 at 8:31 am

One Market solution the EU should do to stop overfishing is to stop subsidies to the Fishing industry. This just encourages people to stay in an industry that is dying.

The next thing they could do is sell long term transferable fishing quota’s based on a percentage of what is deemed a sustainable catch per year. People with confirmed property rights tend on the whole not to abuse their own property.

Thomas May 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm

AndyS: Sure Andy, I share my hope with you that humanities progress will outstrip the negative consequences of our actions.
Now: lets look at which steps towards progress we should start with:
Alert the world that we are on a collision course and need to make lots of progress towards getting smarter at a lot of things like: ending mindless consumption, recycling about everything we can, stop CO2 emissions as soon as we can, build alternative energy systems, build efficient mass transportation systems, regulate fishing so that stocks don’t drop to extinction levels, end ocean pollution, end mindless population growth, restore habitats, care for wetlands and and and…
You see AndyS, many of the people you talk to here are actively involved making humanity smarter.
Where are you in the debate?

Gosman May 15, 2012 at 6:29 am

‘Mindless consumption’ – I suggest that is a mindless statement. Can you give me some real world examples of the mindless consumption we need to end?

andyS May 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm

With Greece about to crash out of the Eurozone, and who knows what to follow, we might be grateful for any consumption, mindless or otherwise.

Gosman May 15, 2012 at 3:56 pm

My problem with terms like ‘Mindless consumption’ is that it effectively means any consumption that the person using the phrase disagrees with. Hence someone else buying a Thrash Metal mp3 is ‘Mindless consumption’ but me buying a Beatles one is a ‘Considered purchase decision’. The person using the term is applying their value judgements over the purchase habits of others, Sometimes this might be acceptable but if we apply it across the board then it is a huge restriction on individual freedom.

Thomas May 15, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Gosman: ever wondered if you actually know what you are talking about?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZsp_EdO2Xk

Gosman May 16, 2012 at 12:50 am

You actually thought that speech answered anything at all? The only practical real world example that guy gave of a business that fitted his ideal of a new social model was a charity business that piggy backs off the backs off commercial ones. Without the commercial profits of the other firms none of what they are offering would be possible. They even admit that in their Q+A section on their website http://ecosia.org/faq.php#19

The rest of his speech was filled with the same sort of meaningless eco-babble that I am criticising you about. How about you explain, preferable with a practical example, what this brave new non-growth orientated society will work?

Thomas May 16, 2012 at 6:36 am

Well Gosman, a no-growth economic model has the little thing going for it that might actually result in living arrangements for humanity that are not ending in collapse and wrecked planet. Growth economies are not sustainable on a finite planet.

Gosman May 16, 2012 at 7:21 am

As expected you couldn’t do it. Your answer was a variation of essentially well meaming gobbledegook.

How annoying would it be if I simply answerd a question about possible solutions by stating what we need to do is create a low carbon impact innovative market based economic system where pricing of various environmental externalities are effectively and efficiently identified and priced into the model up front?

I will ask you once again. Please give me an example of how a proposed system you would prefer would actually work. You acknowledge that the example given in that speech(Ecosia) isn’t a viable model don’t you?

bill May 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Renewable Energy; you know it makes sense (economic and otherwise!) I must flag these ads over at Climate Crocks.

Andrew W May 13, 2012 at 11:08 am

Thomas said: If you think that there is ANY free market solution to this dilemma then let it be known.

Childs play, private ownership of the fishery by one party, each boat would pay that owner a share of the catches value. The fisheries owner would be filling the same role as any state owner of the fishery does now, but no doubt, be doing the job more efficiently without by-catch being wasted.

Such systems already operate in private trout fisheries and hunting grounds.

bill May 13, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Right: private monopoly = free market solution.

Sure.

This kind of stunt was tried with water in South America – the end result of which is the leftist, anti-neoliberal governments across the continent…

Andrew W May 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Right: private monopoly = free market solution.
It’s not a market monopoly as long as there are owners of different fisheries in competition.

This kind of stunt was tried with water in South America – the end result of which is the leftist, anti-neoliberal governments across the continent…

Yeah, that’s right, modern Latin American politics is a result of fisheries legislation.
/sarc.

bill May 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Drinking water, Andrew.

And, sure, it’s neoliberal policies – incorporating various degrees of both utopianism, and, all-too-frequently, authoritarianism – in general that triggered the shift to Leftist governments in South America.

Your faith in the munificence of the Market is touching. Not borne out by history, of course, but touching.

I think Thomas sums it up rather well…

Andrew W May 13, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Bill, the “neoliberal policies”,”utopianism” and “authoritarianism” of South American politics you refer to never had a lot to do with free markets. but hey, if you like to create your own facts, don’t let reality get in your way will you?

bill May 14, 2012 at 12:33 am

Sorry, mate, I’ve read your blog, as can anyone else who clicks on your name.

I encourage people to travel over and discern for themselves which of us is living in a fantasy world.

Gosman May 15, 2012 at 6:33 am

You ever been to Chile Bill? This is the country with the most free market friendly policies in South America. It seems to be doing pretty well. This is as opposed to Venezuela and Argentina which are getting itself into a real pickle by following typical statist economic policies. Venezuela is only keeping itself afloat due to oil extraction. I don’t think they would be very friendly to the idea of no more extraction of fossil fuels.

Thomas May 13, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Andrew: OK I agree then. I bags THE fishery!

BTW I happened to be one of those short term investors who is interested in becoming a Billionaire in my lifetime and bugger the long term consequences. I will not personally live past 2060 so who cares. As long as I get rich now, any dead fish on the table is a good fish in my pocket. Why should I restrict my take any day?

Andrew W May 13, 2012 at 9:57 pm

As long as I get rich now, any dead fish on the table is a good fish in my pocket.

You’re demonstrating the rationalising of people who think the way to get rich is to win lotto. Anyone who gets rich through running an industrial business (primary or other) understands the value in running that industry for its long term sustainability, that’s how they got rich.

bill May 13, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Phhtt.

I note that you also apparently believe the following –

When there are lots of people living on the moon or on Mars they’ll probably like to have the same freedom to travel in their own personal vehicles that most of us in wealthier countries enjoy on Earth today, in fact, some sort of efficient transport across the surface of each planet is going to be crucial to development.

I tell you what – I’ll concede that the likelihood of this eventuality and the utopian outcome of your Market theory ever coming to pass are roughly equal… ;-)

Also: Enron.

Andrew W May 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Also: Enron.

Also PACK’nSAVE, CountDown, FoodTown, NewWorld.

Well OBVIOUSLY the free market doesn’t work.
/Sarc.

bill May 14, 2012 at 12:34 am
Thomas May 14, 2012 at 6:36 am

Andrew W: The free market is very efficient in producing consumer goods when the externalization of social cost (environmental degradation etc.) is not a factor.
But we are now in the phase where this is no longer possible.
The game of Monopoly has changed. There are significant and probably deadly consequences for humanity and the planet if we do not make rules to limit and in many cases reverse the damage the free market exploitation of our resources has caused.
This sets boundaries to the operation of the market. There are no mechanisms for the markets or the players in them to find and adhere to these boundaries voluntarily as long as it is profitable to constantly violate them.
The times of old-time economic theories no longer apply in the age of overshoot…. the common good becomes paramount.

Andrew W May 14, 2012 at 7:12 am

Thomas, haven’t you noticed the popularity of “green” advertisings? Haven’t you noticed how, when things got tight after the financial crisis, governments the world over decided environmental issues weren’t quite so important?

“the common good becomes paramount.”

Chilling words used by every despot, despots always define “the common good” as what advances their own ideology and interests.

Thomas May 14, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Ha, Andrew W, Sure I notice with dismay that as soon as the economy tanks the interest in the common good is silently leaving the room as brigades of populist demagogues, some eerily self-styled after fascist movements of the 1930ies, enter from the right wing.

But populist wrong doing is no excuse nor justification. Just because its profitable to rip-off our future generations for today’s living standards, consumerism and the wealth of those in power its not right, nor justifiable nor ethically sound.

All this is indeed scary and what makes matters worse is that people like yourself – obviously more than blind to where all this might be heading – are still patronizing about the virtues of the oh so glorious Free Market despite its obvious dysfunctional paradigms…

Gosman May 15, 2012 at 6:37 am

You really don’t understand the free market do you Thomas. The Free Market is more efficient than the alternative when it comes to externalisation of costs as well. It requires regulation it is true but it is managable. To see how inefficient the State sector is in this regard just look at the environment degradation caused by the Soviet Union.

Thomas May 15, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Gosman said:

“The Free Market is more efficient than the alternative when it comes to externalisation of costs as well.”

For once I agree with you 100%

The Free Market has done just that wherever it is truly free: Externalized the cost (social and environmental) to be carried not by their balance sheets but by the people, the environment and the future generations.
Externalization is precisely that. Moving cost of production and operation of an enterprise to the outside of the company and away from the liabilities of the shareholders and into the burden of others. The freedom to do just that in whichever way it is convenient to the boards of the corporations in chasing profit and expansion is exactly what the Free Market is all about. It has worked a treat. Wealth is now really well concentrated in the hands of the free, powerful and wealthy while the rest of us and the environment….

andyS May 14, 2012 at 7:20 am

You seem to have lost sight of the fact that no fish are being saved in the North Sea. They are being dumped because the regulations state that you cannot land more than a certain quota.

There are no rules saying that you cannot kill more than a certain quota.

What we need is better, smarter thinking.

Unfortunately, when you put the EU in the middle, smart thinking doesn’t seem to figure very often. After all, these are the guys that paid farmers to throw food away ( butter mountains, wine lakes etc)

This just seems wrong to me on so many levels.

CTG May 14, 2012 at 7:30 am

So now you are saying that you want more regulations? Interesting.

Ultimately it comes down to cost, and the inability of free markets to manage externalities. Yes, fish dumping occurs because the cost of over-reaching quotas is applied at the point of landing. It is therefore more cost effective for trawlers to catch everything they can and then throw away the stuff they can’t land, than to modify their catching techniques so that they only catch what they are supposed to.

You are perfectly welcome to come up with some ideas for how fishing practices can be improved, or for how market forces can be used to apply externalities at the correct point in the process.

Oh, wait, you don’t do solutions.

Andrew W May 14, 2012 at 7:40 am

What we need is better, smarter thinking.

Exactly so, people like Thomas and bill always assume that Government will get it right, while markets get it wrong, all problems can be solved just by giving Government the power to dictate, Thomas and bill ignore the fact that the majority of voters don’t agreed with their agenda and so government won’t do what they think is for “the common good” or “the greater good” so the only way they could get their policies implemented is through dictatorship.

Andrew W May 14, 2012 at 7:44 am

Oh, wait, you don’t do solutions.

Another one who hasn’t actually read the comments here that s/he doesn’t agree with.

CTG May 14, 2012 at 8:44 am

Andrew, show just one instance where andyS has offered a practical solution to any of the things he bitches and moans about. Just one.

andyS May 14, 2012 at 8:49 am

CTG May 14, 2012 at 8:44 am

Andrew, show just one instance where andyS has offered a practical solution to any of the things he bitches and moans about. Just one.

Oh so now we are down to the personal insults are we? I am not in the fishing industry, so I don’t really have a technical solution to the problems I have described. Perhaps we could investigate better fishing practices, or maybe we could make it mandatory to land the fish and then sell off the excess fish to the common good.

Any solution has to be better than killing fish to save them

By the way, I have come up with lots of solutions to the energy crisis, and I support research into Thorium power. No one here is interested though. All you want is your stupid windmills.

Any “solution” I offer is met with scorn and derision.

CTG May 14, 2012 at 9:10 am

Pot, meet kettle.

Tell me, how much exactly would it cost to establish a nuclear power industry here in NZ?

And I note that your “practical” solution to the problem of quotas being abused is (drum roll, please): abolish the quotas. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

andyS May 14, 2012 at 9:14 am

CTG May 14, 2012 at 9:10 am

Tell me, how much exactly would it cost to establish a nuclear power industry here in NZ?

Please tell me exactly where I suggested we should set up a nuclear industry in NZ


And I note that your “practical” solution to the problem of quotas being abused is (drum roll, please): abolish the quotas. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

Please tell me where I suggested that we abolish quotas

CTG May 14, 2012 at 9:38 am

maybe we could make it mandatory to land the fish and then sell off the excess fish to the common good.

So, to enforce the quotas – that is, a limit on the number of fish caught – you propose letting fishermen catch as many fish as they want and selling them anyway. Yes, that’s obviously a very effective way to enforce a limit. It’s a bit like saying that in order to enforce the speed limit, the police are going to let people go as fast as they like.

andyS May 14, 2012 at 9:43 am

CTG May 14, 2012 at 9:38 am

maybe we could make it mandatory to land the fish and then sell off the excess fish to the common good.

So, to enforce the quotas – that is, a limit on the number of fish caught – you propose letting fishermen catch as many fish as they want and selling them anywa

They are not limiting the number of fish caught. They are limiting the number of fish landed. So if they go over the quota, they throw the fish back into the sea, dead.

I was suggesting that maybe they could change the rules so that excess fish was sold for the common good i.e not for the fishermen’s profit.

bill May 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm

people like Thomas and bill always assume that Government will get it right, while markets get it wrong, all problems can be solved just by giving Government the power to dictate

Proof of this ridiculous assertion, please? Oh, you don’t have any…

I’m actually heartily bloody sick of this constant belligerent projection.

Markets are a great way to produce and distribute peanut butter and mobile phones. When we start looking at energy systems and things like supplying affordable drinking water to all citizens it all starts getting a bit complicated and nuanced, two words that probably don’t much feature in your lexicon.

And when we start talking the enduring future of the ecosystem that supports us all the market’s track record is so demonstrably abysmal that it requires a staggering level of zealotry to assert we need to give it even greater sway!

The irony is your supposed hero Adam Smith knew perfectly well that traders could always be relied upon to conspire against the common good, given the opportunity!

I have no illusions about government, particularly since they’re all dominated by corporate ideology anyway. However, governments are remnant democratic structures, and hence are more likely to be at least somewhat amenable to the public good – or even, occasionally, the longer-term public good, or, at least, they’re sometimes willing to acknowledge that such a concept might exist! – unlike rigidly heirarchic and functionally monomaniacal corporations and their/neoliberalism’s creatures, such as the IMF.

Gosman May 15, 2012 at 6:44 am

Markets are the most efficient ways of distributing any economic good or services full stop. The problem occurs when you want goods and services available to a wider selection of people than is economic. If you want a clean water supply available to all in a poor country it is highly unlikely you will achieve that simply by a free market. If that is your political goal then it makes sense to have the involvement of the State at some level. However there is no such thing as a free luch in economics. By providing cheaper water for all the system will be likely more inefficient and wasteful than a market based system. This last point is unavoidable.

Thomas May 15, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Gosman: Define efficiency!
Efficiency for what goal? Who benefits?
Plus in your “The Free Market is most efficient” mantra you forgot that further above in this post you admitted that the Free Market is not using honest accounting as it “externalizes” very efficiently as you let us know all these little inconvenient consequences such as social and environmental cost which the community might deal with in much more reasonable manner.
You might find it unsurprising that your dogmatic belief in the benefit of the Free Market TM is looking a bit stale in this day and age….

Gosman May 16, 2012 at 8:39 am
PeterH May 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm

There is still a fair way to go before our more established organisations see there is an issue here. The current edition of the IPENZ magazine, Engineering Insight, has an article that states “the world has not warmed significantly in the last 10 to 15 years. This proves the man-made CO2 does not cause dangerous global warming.” The same article says there are plenty of oil and gas reserves for us to use, and that the choice is between using “the world’s ample energy resources”, or to “doom ourselves to continuing decline in living standards” and “continued poverty, overpopulation, disease and famine”.

(The magazine does have fine print along the lines that views expressed do not reflect official IPENZ position, but there doesn’t seem to be any indication to the reader that it doesn’t endorse this article.)

Bryan Walker May 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm

That’s in tune with the shocker of a paper they produced last year on “realising our hidden treasure”.

AndrewH May 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm

It shouldn’t be any surprise to learn that this op-ed piece was provided by Bryan Leyland, who somehow remains on the IPENZ Board.

Meanwhile in the less reality challenged world the Sustainability Society is arranging the president of the Ausralian Engineering Institute to lecture around the country on Business Imperatives for Sustainability in the face of ecosystem collapse brought on by climate change.

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