What are we waiting for? The fantasy of carbon neutral growth of aviation emissions

In this guest post, the ‘stop flying’ Wellington lawyer Tom Bennion writes about the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) proposals for ‘carbon-neutral’ growth of greenhouse gas emissions from the fast-growing aviation industry.

New Zealand parents often tell their children not to eat too many sweets. Our primary schools spend a lot of time talking about suitable diets. We do this because we have the long term interests of our children at heart.

I find the contrast between that and how we currently approach climate change disheartening and distressing and especially when I consider all the families I know who are now taking flying holidays with their children.

This is a really uncomfortable topic. But we have to talk about it, and do so urgently.

We should, by now, all know the math. There isn’t any personal activity we or our children can engage in that is even remotely close to air travel in terms of the sheer volume of greenhouse gas emissions it produces.

Google tells me that a Boeing 747 burns roughly 12 litres of aviation gas per kilometer. That is pretty good economy for carrying 500 people a short distance. But not if you are flying 18,819 km, the distance from Wellington to London and back. In that case, every person on the flight is responsible for consuming 450 litres of fuel. To put that in perspective, imagine if, instead of taking that trip, you revved up an average family car in your driveway to 100km/hr and at 6 litres per 100 kilometers you would need to leave it running for 75 hours or 3 days. Then repeat that for each family member that took the trip.

If you did that in your neighbourhood, you would be called a crass and thoughtless person, and people might wonder what sort of children you were raising.

In addition, these figures don’t address the fact that the warming effect of aviation gas burned at altitude is around 2-3 times the impact when burned at sea level. So make that 6-9 days of car revving for each family member.

We also know that the emissions from our plane trips this year and this decade will continue to heat the planet for hundreds of years.

It isn’t necessary to bang on about how bad things will get if we keep doing this. We already have an inkling from worldwide weather trends in the last 12 months. The thing to bear in mind is that the emissions we are contributing so hugely to through air travel are a severe threat to the future lives of our children, a much greater threat than a bad diet.

In the face of all of this, we have to accept, I think, that at the moment we are responding essentially with the instincts of small children:

  • We can see that we should stop this behaviour but wont because it would inconvenience us, be ‘too hard’ and ‘everyone else is doing it’.
  • We don’t like to talk about it. We mumble an excuse and move away if it comes up.
  • If we have to confront it, conversations quickly get tense as we get defensive about our reasons for keeping on with this clearly inappropriate behaviour.
  • We avoid mentioning the issue with our own children because we know they would instantly spot our hypocrisy.

In addition, and maybe this is the worst of it, by taking them on a flying holiday with us, we implicate them in our bad behaviour.

In uncomfortable situations like this we are anxious for good news. Here it is. All the members of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), that is, essentially all United Nation member states, five years ago adopted a goal of carbon neutral growth after 2020.

You may wonder how or why the ICAO picked on 2020 as a benchmark in the first place. I don’t know. No one does. It has no bearing on reality, no bearing on trying to avoid dangerous climate change by keeping within the global average temperature rise within 1.5 of 2 degrees, and isn’t intended to.

It’s the best that can be politically extracted from 190 odd nation states who know that their home populations are acting like children and wont forgive them if they try to have a serious conversation about reducing airline emissions.

Here are some of the problems with the ICAO goal:

  • the ICAO has been promising action for ages. It got the mandate to work on reducing aviation greenhouse gases in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
  • The ICAO plan does not cover domestic aviation – that’s about 30% of aviation emissions.
  • By 2020, annual emissions will be around 1000 megatonnes. And there is no plan to reduce them at all, just to hold the annual level to about 1000 megatonnes.
  • Even after making heroic assumptions about how much new aeroplane design developments can cut back on some emissions, the ICAO has calculated that it can only meet its target with offsets.

That’s right, the emissions from our holiday flights in 2020 will be fine because someone else somewhere else (the details don’t need to concern us) is going to promise to grow some trees and keep them growing until around 2400 or so. I don’t think hubris really captures it. Its the sort of fantasy that only children could indulge in.

And lastly, and here is the real kicker, the ICAO isn’t going to do pretty much any of this. It has just announced that it is about to reset the start date of the proposal so it wont be compulsory for any nations until 2027, and will allow for whole sectors of aviation to aggregate their emissions. So there will be lots of delay and massaging of numbers. We all know what happened with the fraudulent carbon credits under New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme, and, with the fantasy thinking of offsets thrown in, I expect you can see where all of this is heading.

No surprises that the New Zealand Government has announced
that its happy with the scheme
, provided everyone else signs on with them of course.

This also means, obviously, that when your local airline tells you it supports the ICAO approach, has purchased some electric cars or is putting solar panels on the roof of the airport, or planting some trees for you to fly over in their planes, but has not yet switched its entire air fleet to bio-fuels or done something as blindingly obvious as stopping its air-points programme, you can just politely ignore them.

There is a technical term for this refusal to face reality. Its called cognitive dissonance. That is, juxtaposing two contradictory ideas and finding ways to manage the mental chasm between them. In this case its not just the contradiction between our personal carbon emissions from air travel and stated concern about climate change, its the fact that as parents we care for our kids while managing the secret knowledge that we risk literally shortening their lives and most certainly the lives of their own children.

I am selfish. My worry is that future children will look at our thousands of travel photos alongside the news headlines about record-setting heat, storms, floods etc, and wont just label us childish. Sociopaths is the terms we use for people with a sense of entitlement so strong that they would prefer mass death over personal discomfort and unease. But maybe they will just call us cowards. Then again, they might get inventive and call us child abusers.

I think we need to be uncomfortable for a little bit. We are adults. Adults can examine the situation rationally, and tell our kids that the hyper-mobile life of flying holidays we have been creating for ourselves and them is going to put us all in danger and has to go on hold. We all have a habitable planet to save right

So get out your air points statement. Explain to the kids you are donating all of them to forest planting. Tell them that holidays from now on will be a bit closer to home, and that overseas flights are special, rare things, that we will reserve for them when they are older, when they are adults and we have made sure the world is safe again.

105 thoughts on “What are we waiting for? The fantasy of carbon neutral growth of aviation emissions”

  1. Excellent article, very timely and very hard hitting as it should be. Personally I feel a sense to utter and complete outrage that people can pretend to be “concerned” and “worried” about climate change but their next major ambition in life is another holiday overseas via jet-travel. This kind of attitude really disgusts me.

  2. You may need to refine your figures for the actual aircraft the families will be flying in. They certainly won’t be 747s because they are so hard on fuel. The modern jets are much better but are still too hard on the planet unfortunately. We need to revive sailing ships. Folk will scoff at the suggestion but it will come when and if sanity is restored.

  3. Excellent article, however I’m going to disagree over the forestry point. Firstly commonsense suggests dealing with aircraft emissions is a massive difficulty, much harder than automobiles obviously. It’s a tall order expecting people to stop using aircraft. Isn’t planting forests as offsets about the best thing we can do, until some technological fix is found?

    Brian Fallow on The Herald commented on a similar issue, namely some proposal from Simon Upton to use forestry offsets as a specific fix for the agricultural methane problem. Makes sense to me, at least until a better solution is found.

    Of course all this relies on modifying the emissions trading scheme so that forests apply only to a few selective issues, and it relies on genuinely reducing emissions in other sectors like electricity generation, industry and automobiles, and quite aggressively so. But I think this is what has to be done.

    1. The Stockholm Environment Institute has a report on how aviation offsets might work. It concludes that siphoning off gasses from industrial processes has some promise, but has very low confidence in afforestation as an offset citing big problems with showing additionality: “Frequent challenges in determining baseline activity, which may be highly site-specific; timber revenue value often exceeds carbon value, making it difficult in some cases to determine how and whether carbon revenues were decisive in changing baseline activity.” And big problems with quantification of the offset: “There can be significant baseline uncertainties; measurement and quantification of forest carbon is subject to higher uncertainty than quantification of emissions in other project types; diverse and uncontrolled implementation environments make measurement, monitoring, and verification more difficult; displacement of existing land uses may lead to significant leakage (e.g., clearing of neighbouring forests)”. See Table 4 on pp 14-20. https://www.sei-international.org/mediamanager/documents/Publications/Climate/SEI-WP-2016-03-ICAO-aviation-offsets-biofuels.pdf

      But already people are focusing on forestry (forestry CEOs for example) and making nonsense claims eg “Fighting Climate Change From 36,000 Feet”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-jenkins-/fighting-climate-change-f_b_12222194.html.

      And the 2 examples the report gives as having strong additionality are (p9):
      • Destruction of N2O from nitric acid production, in the absence of any legal mandate to do so;
      • Collection and flaring of ventilation air methane at operating coal mines.

      So air travel emissions get offset by the capture of fugitive coal mine emissions. Forgive me if I am unenthusiastic.

      But in my view the bigger problem is that we desperately need the 1-2% of the world that fly, ie you and me and every middle class NZlander, who are the rich and powerful elite in global terms, to fully engage in fighting climate change, and to do so urgently. It simply isnt possible to do that while casually continuing with massive personal emissions through aviation. Flying is hugely symbolic in our society and a few politicians drastically cutting air travel, or the PM, some prominent actors, journalists, a few hundred Khandallah or Karori mothers for goodness sake, would have large social cut-through. Someone recently tweeted that when the chattering classes stop flying, climate change will get fixed – and I think there is a lot of truth in that.

      This makes the ICAO proposal a massive, massive error. It allows the 1-2% to pretend for another couple of decades that fixing climate change generally isnt going to require any particularly large personal efforts, and it will be fixed by people (mostly brown/black) somewhere else. And this makes the 1-2% unenthusiastic about giving political support to the substantial regulatory changes urgently needed in all the other areas of the economy.

      I could go on. But consider this example. There is a bus between Auckland and Wellington every night. Despite what every educated NZlander knows about climate change, and given the hundreds of meetings Auckland-Wellington held each day, I have yet to meet a single fellow professional on it. Old people manage the trip, poor people manage it, mothers with young babies manage it. Its the low carbon economy in action, and the 1-2% are nowhere in sight. If even a small percentage of the public servants and professionals with sustainability as part of their job description took a non-flying stance, that service would quickly improve out of sight, and we might even get a night train back. By continuing to fly, wringing our hands, relying on offsets, we actively prevent the low carbon economy from emerging.

      1. Tom Bennion, thanks for the detailed comment. I find it hard to argue with what you say.

        The application of forestry offsets to aircraft emissions does discourage personal responsibility in terms of reducing aircraft emissions. Its a sort of moral hazard issue, (like paying people benefits could discourage looking for work, although personally I support the benefits system overall). Of course if forestry offsets totally solved the problem then wouldn’t matter, but I agree we cannot be terribly confident in them.

        There’s another problem as well that relates to your point, that I have tried to make before. The ETS is very closely linked with planting forests, and it seems probable to me emitters would choose to buy forestry credits (or whatever the term is, I dont pretend to have any expertise on the ETS technicalities) rather than develop technical solutions to emissions, as it’s easier to just buy credits. This means the entire ETS system runs the risk of delaying research and finding technical solutions. This might be ok provided we could be certain about the value and integrity of forestry carbon sinks, but we just can’t be.

        I think we should approach it the other way around, and put cutting emissions first as this will reduce CO2, no question. Forestry sinks make sense to some degree, but should perhaps be decoupled from the ETS. If forests have significant value as a carbon sink, there is presumably a place for them in the arsenal of reducing emissions.

        To be honest, I’m just not even a fan of the whole ETS approach, as its so complex it makes itself open to abuse or manipulation by all the involved parties, including governments.

        However reducing aircraft emissions and methane from cows is a challenge. I don’t feel comfortable putting the squeeze on farmers with emissions caps or emissions taxes until we can say we have found some workable ways of reducing these emissions. Closing down our dairy industry would just create a massive problem for NZ. I have no vested interests in farming, and have written comments critical of dairy polluting rivers, but I’m trying to take an even handed approach to the whole thing.

        I agree it’s sad that we see a lack of personal leadership from notable people in society, particularly politicians in the two big parties. I’m seriously considering buying an electric car, but I’m a nobody. People do follow the leader, its the way things are.

        1. Hopefully the exponential growth and advances in solar technology will allow the cost of electricity to reach the mythical status of “too cheap to meter” before we hit any brick walls. Even if we don’t devise any whizzy new technology, if the CO2 can be removed from the air by traditional refrigeration methods then converted to carbonates or whatever is most convenient for burial underground, we may be able to forestall the looming climate disasters.

          I, too, would like an electric vehicle, I could even manage with an Organic Transit Elf* for most of my journeys except that the some-extras models are about the same price as a rather nice Jap Import even before it’s freighted to NZ.
          * http://organictransit.com

          1. I quite like that organic elf. I laughed when I first saw the photo, and the 1,8oo mpg equivalent! But its cute and appealing. I actually owned a tiny little three wheeler petrol driven custom made car once as a student. The elf would do for day to day shopping etc.

            The only issue is limited maximum speed, so do you drive it in the car lane and hold people up, or towards the left, yet it seems a bit large to do this.

            The Tesla appeals, but makes me think I’m having a mid life crisis buying that, and it has reliability issues. I would probably settle on the Nissan leaf, which has reasonable range enough for my needs, and would have japanese reliability, but the body styling needs to be sharper. If you go green, it should be in style.

            1. The Elf looks like a death trap to me; I prefer to be upright on a bike

              There are quite a lot of electric bikes on the market now. Christchurch has specialist shops (at least one exclusively selling eBikes)

              They seem like a great idea to me, because you can still peddle but get a lot further and faster without necessarily breaking into a sweat, thus being a great idea for commuting

              They are also great if you want to keep up with a more active partner or want to do something like the Alps to Ocean or the Rail Trail but are not super-fit.

            2. Andy, I also have reservations about the safety of the Elf. I don’t think it’s so much the lack of safety protection, because bikes don’t have any better.

              The problem is the Elf is too slow to be in the main flow of traffic in NZ, so you are going to be in the bicycle lane, or left of the main flow of traffic. The trouble is the Elf is quite wide, so you will risk getting crunched.

              The Elf ideally suits places like India, with lower traffic speeds and density in many places, and everything on the roads including cattle.

              However there could be a market in NZ for an all electric super mini the size of a Suzuki Swift. This would suit older people.

            3. Andy, yes electric bikes are great. Just remembered I have a consumer magazine with a good article, dated 19 Feb 2016. Probably on their website, but you would need to be a subscriber.

          2. Got a Nissan Leaf about 4 months ago. Cannot recommend then highly enough. Not just the wonderful feeling of being fossil fuel free, but the acceleration, and the smoothness of the ride. Unbelievable. Its actually a mid sized car. Let me know if you want a ride. Lots of people hanging out at Wellington EV and NZ EV facebook pages. New fast chargers rolling out every week. Every middle class person could step up now and ‘put it on the house’. Several family trips to Kapiti and Featherston, kids watching regen working as you go downhill. Its great family energy education and a really nice long distance ride.
            But still have gas hot water! Solar City panels coming next ($55 month and all the sun you can eat), with heat pump hot water system ($3-4K?) to take the 2kw from the panels and turn it into storage. Electric car will use some as well.
            But back to air travel. Its what I call the 10 minute personal solution to climate change. That’s because I’ve noticed that people who have taken this line get intensely practical about solutions and working towards them. I think its because once you decide to do it, your whole approach to the problem changes. Decisions about what to commit to or not are simplified. Same with the electric car.

            1. Tom, thanks for the offer of a ride. I may take you up on that sometime. I will keep my current car for a year or two then buy a Nissan leaf.

              I have driven in a Toyota Prius, and the quiet interior is a big advantage.

              I agree you can go crazy making these decisions entirely on a sort of cost benefit analysis or consideration of features. As you say you really have to commit to clean and green and decisions become easier. This gives you a foundation.

              Just a comment on my world view on climate change. I do believe we are warming the climate. The science just seems obvious to me. However I have struggled in the past with the idea of a low carbon future, and whether its the right decision for humanity and whether the benefits outweigh the costs.

              However what has convinced me that we must make a transition to renewable energy etc, etc, is that there are so many other advantages to clean energy, and oil will run out eventually anyway. We are also not locked into a low carbon future. The oil will be in the ground if we ever need it, although I doubt we would ever go back.

              But I mention these things because many people are still resistant to change. Part of this is fear, and probably the difficulty of imagining the future longer term. Humanity has never faced such a complex long term challenge with so many factors to consider. The whole thing desperately needs leadership from the top, that sets an example and simplifies the issues.

  4. Nothing like a bit of gallows humour to start the day. Thanks
    Brian Fallow, columnist, New Zealand Herald
    This message has been sent via the NZ Herald Website
    letter to editor sent 25/09/16
    All this talk about man-made global warming and climate change! Scientists! Of course the government doesn’t believe it! Look, the climate has always changed. The carbon dioxide level is the highest it’s been in millions of years, that’s true. In the past the sea level has risen inexorably. But it all sorts itself out in the end. Just takes a few million years. And a million years is a long time in politics…

    1. You gotta laugh… I wonder if the Gummint will believe in it when the good burghers start complaining bitterly, my prediction being that they will be lead by a certain gentleman who recently complained that the ChCh Council had built a walkway between the sea and his $8,000,000 bach perched at least 1m above high tide at Redcliffs.

  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZyrGdNvAvw
    Published on Apr 4, 2014
    The Center for the Study of Europe at Boston University Presents:
    Climate Wars: What People Will Be Killed For in the 21st Century. A lecture by Harald Welzer

    Harald Welzer is a sociologist and social psychologist and Professor for Transformation-design at the University of Flensburg, as well as Executive Director of the foundation FuturZwei. His main foci of research and teaching are memory, group violence and socio-cultural climate impact research. His books have been translated into 15 languages. Welzer is the author of the best-selling Climate Wars: What People Will be Killed for in the 21st Century, and, more recently, Klima, Zukunft und die Chancen der Demokratie [The end of the world as we know it. Climate, the future and chances for democracy]. This event was moderated by Henrik Selin, associate Professor of International Relations and an expert on environmental politics, sustainable development, global governance and international institutions.
    March 17, 2014
    Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Europe at Boston University.
    Co-sponsored by the Goethe Institut Boston and BU Europe. Funded in part by a grant from the European Commission Delegation in Washington DC.

  6. Lightning has kept me powerless for a couple of days, off-line for nearly 5 days and cost me replacement of phone, modem but amazingly, not the computer. Oh! and among these extra wet spring days I might have welcomed even the tiniest electric vehicles with cover and stability. Also the last two months have been the only ones in several years now that have been well below the projected totals of solar generation for Auckland at my place. I was just about to post a comment here when the power outages began – time for a battery me-thinks.

    Almost on topic: I consider constraining atmospheric surface change to 2° a fantasy too, the bad effect of which has been to give politicians the illusion of wriggle room, the deceit of distant targets and complaint of “unaffordable”.

    As for 1.5°C: Hansen has mentioned a CO2 count of 350 ppm as the equivalent of 1.5° surface temperature in a planetary equilibrium state. When were we at 350 ppm last? From then to only a short time hence I presume to be the lag of the system.

  7. Living in NZ with a German passport, kids with dual nationality and friends and family over there the aviation issue is a sore spot for me. I have so far pinned my hope on the NH3 crowd to make progress as this in my mind could be a potentially a game changer. NH3 only needs electricity to make and would be an ideal partner for intermittent generation (Solar, Wind) as NH3 production could simply follow the electricity supply curve. And with Solar become cheaper year by year the day should be coming when NH3 fuel might compete favourably with Carbon fuels even without any added climate tax pressures. While the energy density of NH3 is not a match for CxHx fuels, it would still permit reaching the other side of the planet within 24 hours or so one should imagine.
    So perhaps there is hope that we can fly without CxHx fuels. Otherwise I would believe that people would just keep on flying as long as they can afford it.
    On NH3 fuels: https://nh3fuelassociation.org/

    1. I have wondered too why I have not heard more of this. I started looking over papers from this years conference on NH3 in USA. Emissions free gets mention but the source of NH3 today and for decades is coal and gas and not emissions free. There are papers on renewable sources but one discounted discontinuous generation (wind and solar) as resulting in NH3 that is too expensive. All the news I see is about more solar, wind, some hydro or geothermal power, but almost none on NH3 from renewables. A recent presentation at a show in Europe of a hydrogen powered train gives no source for the hydrogen – cracking NH3 from fossil fuel resources I wondered? So maybe there is the rub – fossil fuel emissions still. NH3 from renewable sources is still mainly for research projects but a number are described.

      There is a reference to a 150 hp tractor on a farm that runs on hydrogen, or hydrogen plus NH3, and distributes NH3 as fertilizer all from a solar installation. However, my enthusiasm waned when I saw what this tractor was doing – liberating carbon from the soil by plowing a vast area, flat from horizon to horizon. I will not enthuse till that NH3 is powering a “no-till” operation!

      1. Yes at the moment the hydrogen for NH3 production and most other uses comes from CxHx fuels or from Coal-Water reactions under heat and pressure. http://energy.gov/fe/science-innovation/clean-coal-research/hydrogen-coal
        But long term I would think that H2O electrolysis should be the pathway that will be used. Of course, it lacks efficiency but with falling solar panel prices and huge desert areas where no otherwise productive land is sacrificed, this may become a very feasible technology.
        At least the storage and transport of NH3 is benign compared to that of H2 which would require much more complex technology and would be impractical as an aviation fuel for sure.

        But perhaps the advent of cheap high res virtual reality technology (capture of video at the source and display at the other end) will make connecting with friends and relatives much cheaper and more regular than ever possible with air travel. And anybody who sat 24hrs in Sardine Class with no legroom, a couple of heavy coughers behind spreading disease, a tray table wiggler in front and several crying infants in the rows nearby will know, spending one’s entire bi-annual carbon budget that way is neither fun nor rewarding….. 😉

        1. To add to the virtual reality replacement for air travel: We have pretty much the technology we will need and Mores law will make it ubiquitous and seamless in the near future. Imagine your augmented reality goggles displaying your European relative “sitting” at the dinner table in your NZ home and conversing with you live in HD – 3D with Hi Fi sound while the same person at their home see your family here in the same way.
          This will be possible in the next ten years and affordable too. It will be a game changer. New business opportunities will flourish for people willing to carry 3D cameras on a helmet for a paying client overseas touring NZ’s best attractions….
          No kidding either.
          The next step will be that some scientists work out how to tweak the MATRIX ( http://www.simulation-argument.com/ ) and make you teleport to wherever you want…. 🙂

          1. “make you teleport to wherever you want…. :)”

            Been there….done that! 🙂 🙂
            well virtually via imagination! I do not believe the results, alas, but I have known people who cannot tell the differencebetween what’s fact and what’s imagined.

      2. Love the NH3 powered tractor, but the current design with the tanks on the top has to go. Tractors are prone enough to being unstable. Weight is not so much of a problem for tractors as they spend most of their life carrying ballast for traction and center of balance, standard practice to fill the tyres with water.
        NH3 on a farm is doubly good as it is fertiliser, cutting CO2 emissions in gulf state gas powered ammonium nitrate production, and insulating the farm from volatility in price of both fuel and N fert. Deep stoneless soils like loess can use anhydrous NH3 injection – no need to formulate with a carrier into grains for spreading. In the soil the NH3 first sterilises the soil it hits and is not leached like nitrate, then as the bugs recolonise the injection zone it is progressively liberated as nitrate to the crop. UK soils are typically far to stony and would vent lots to the atmosphere. Presume NZ is in a similar position. We would both use small local plants to formulate into prills, just like a dairy or mill.
        No-till is best for accumulating OM but not suitable for soils/crops. That tractor was pulling a disk harrow so may have been min-till, just enough to kill emerging weeds/volunteers and create a suitable grain size seed bed for the crop to germinate.
        Did read years ago about a US uni bringing forward a NH3 pilot plant optimised for irregular production, running on low spot price power when on a future grid wind power is exceeding demand. Obviously small plants are not economic yet against gas without a fair tax on C and a higher wind (or nuclear/both) penetration with the attendant periods of surplus.

          1. Thanks for the PDF. Its nearly 30 years since I had to memorise USDA Soil Taxonomy, and it has all deserted me. For the anhydrous ammonia injection it needs truly stoneless soil as if the pressurized injector hits one there is an abrupt leak of lots of ammonia. North American and Russian steppe are ideal for this, with flat expanses of stoneless soil and little variation.
            Of course with such land you can get rid of conventional tractors for cultivation/direct drilling. Gantries can carry all cultivators. Put a fixed gantry in straddling from the field margins and they cut all traction on the land and in some cases tyre contact also, though this has been limited to trial plots on research stations so far. Just the same as was done with steam power, you can have a power unit confined to the field margin pulling the implement back and forth on a cable with a pulley at the far side https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOyzzUShkUs. Bit like a ski lift crossed with a plough. Substitute electric for steam, with a mains umbilical on the field margin. You increase your window for cultivation as negate the risk of smearing wet soil by the driving wheel, and reduce compaction massively. The only heavy tire loading then needs to be at harvest when the soil is at its driest and most resilient anyway.

            1. I should have looked years ago! It seems NZ scientists and firms have been developing, manufacturing and exporting worldwide no-till contour following machinery for years so plenty of nz soils must be OK for it. “from NZ” seems to be a guarantee of excellence in the field judging from some of the stuff I’ve read. Two articles have come to my attention in this regard recently, the first just published in NZ.
              Regenerate soil, [sequester carbon] save the world

              Looking at the earth – Obama’s last throw for climate change as President

            2. The NZ direct drill kit is I understand very good, and licenced round the world at a price that supports its reputation. On a climate basis, the recovery of SOM is so slow (10 to 15 years to see a signal over noise) that the measures are more about cutting the contribution to harm rather than mopping up CO2. As with geoengineering, there is also the risk that when you stop, it then gets liberated a lot faster than it was accumulated. But no matter, there are many benefits to direct drill and build up of SOM above the sequestering of CO2 – diffuse water pollution, loss of soil and flood risk/intensity can all be expensive knock ons from use of a moldboard plough.

    2. Regarding alternative fuels.
      Here is how it breaks down in my mind:
      * Aerospace is at the forefront of technology. They are going flat out on low emission alternatives.
      *We need big drops in emissions asap.
      *Airline growth is huge.
      *Planes have long lives and fleet replacement is slow. A380s are purchased on the basis that they are flying 50 years from now.
      *So ‘drop-in’ fuels’ are the best bet for large emissions reductions.
      *ICAO (which all states belong to) has done all the numbers. Throwing in huge changes in technology and efficiency gains and huge growth in biofuels, and allowing themselves unlimited emissions growth till 2020, they still cant make growth after 2020 emissions neutral without a massive programme of offsets. So you have to believe in their offsets programme – with huge issues of checking compliance, double counting and pressure on resources needed for offsetting emissions from other industries. I dont. Its fantasy land.
      Outcome – we cant wait for alternative fuels.

      Regarding loved ones being far away.
      I have the same problem, with a brother and all aunts uncles etc in UK and Ireland. I still remember the single phone call my parents made once a year to relatives in Ireland. But I also remember the amazement of our first ($1000!) video conference about 15 years ago for my parents’ wedding anniversary. Much more can be done in this area.
      So no easy answers here. We keep talking about the need to be on a ‘war footing’. Wouldn’t a personal ‘war footing’ look like a drastic reduction in personal flights?

      Carrying on the war metaphor. This war has real victims. Poor people alive now and then our children and particularly their children. If we arent personally committed, we cant expect others to be. If we arent acting, then we are expecting someone else to fight it. People in Haiti and Bangaldesh cant. The emissions are on us. And the effect of us ‘leading the charge’ is huge for morale.

  8. My understanding is that the best bang for buck is petroleum produced from microalgae, which has the significant advantage of no change to infrastructure is required among a whole host of other advantages:


    The problem I suspect is that people expect to get from A to B and to furthermore only have to spend a pittance.

    1. Crude oil and just about anything else from sewage ponds growing algae. Just another instance where a carbon tax would tilt the field in favour of a carbon neutral process or better.

  9. I did a quick read on ammonia as a fuel and this was interesting : Ammonia was used to power the x15 hypersonic rocket plane, and worked fine. It appears they experimented with a range of fuels.

    The problem is ammonia has about half the energy density of typical aviation fuel, so this would presumably be huge problem for long haul flights at least with current aircraft.

    I hear what people are saying about reducing air travel, and I’m not a fan of long distance travel myself, but is it practical to expect the problem to be adequately solved by people voluntarily reducing travel? I have my doubts. At the very least there will be a need for some people to travel for humane reasons.

    If forestry is a viable carbon sink, then air travel seems to be the one thing that it should be applied to. I know its fraught with problems as Tom rightly says, but it could be made to work.

    The eventual solution may be a mix of all these things. We are sort of in the experimental phase, but obviously this phase cant last too long.

    I agree about Toms comment about taking personal responsibility for change. I tend to be slack in this regard, but have decided to buy an electric car and would consider solar panels.

    But humans are largely followers. We need leadership from the top, and from politicians in particular.

      1. Wow! The same argument applies to the substitution of wood for diesel or coal in heating if the wood comes from cutting down a forest far away though I know of a case where a strictly local source of fast growing poplar is cut each year to supply the local heating through winter.

        On the whole I have regarded carbon neutral as better than carbon emitting if that is real but not enough because it only preserves the status quo, putting carbon back in the atmosphere that has been taken out but not reducing it in any way so the glaciers keep on melting, the seas keep on acidifying and rising, species keep on being extinguished, extremes grow no less. . . .

  10. Tom, I had a read of your link, and it does seem dismal news for biofuels. I have always wanted to know a bit more about these fuels, hence the interest.

    However I have never been a fan of biofuels, because they are displacing a lot of good farmland, so must be a cost on farming as a whole. The entire climate change issue a complex analysis of whether costs of mitigation are outweighed by benefits. I think they are as a whole, from what I have read, but biofuels just have endless costs. In comparison, forests can be planted on relatively marginal land.

    Ammonia could be a viable aircraft fuel, even for long flights, but given its not as efficient as jet fuel, it would about double the cost of a plane ticket and would require a new generation of aircraft. I doubt you could just modify an existing Airbus, and it takes forever to design and test large new aircraft so its not much of an answer to keeping temperatures under 2 degrees.

  11. The largest problem that humanity will need to tackle (Climate Change) did not feature once in the American nauseating presidential election circus! Perhaps – or probably most likely – in all this lies the answer to Bostrom’s Simulation argument: Its path A most likely. Humanity is collectively not able to cut through the nonsense and deal with the real problems at hand and will thus end in some Mad Max type endgame well before reaching the state of technological development required to suppose path B and C of the Simulation argument.
    Time to plant a food forest….

      1. Yes, that’s very encouraging. I also spoke to a solar installer who says that more and more people install batteries to avoid exporting power as that is no longer paying enough. So they use modest batteries to keep the daytime extra until the evening. And thanks to Tesla or Enphase these solutions are becoming ever more affordable.

  12. I’ve just finished reading the recently-published book A Farewell to Ice by Prof Peter Wadhams, the world’s leading expert on Arctic ice. He has put his head on the chopping block for you, me and the planet.

    1. Arghh…. oops now even the Prozak is out. Now what…

      I truly start to think that the way this will end is in the destruction of much of the ecosphere and the reduction of humanity to a post-Mad Max existence (if even that) after a final shoot-out, all against all, when the people are consumed by fear and helpless to do anything about the predicament but murder their competition for the scraps on the table of life. Basically, we will end in a “stone age plus whatever gizmo can be dug up from some old garbage heaps” type society. It would take a miracle to bring about an improvement over this image of our future.

  13. Some of you may have picked up that the Democrats are no better than the Republicans, in fact some suggest that they are Republicans. The only thing that would have changed that was Bernie Sanders, and there is now considerable evidence that he was cheated by a biased DNC and perhaps also some election rigging to boot. There may be as many as 12 states where the result did not match the exit polls and in all 12 States the result tipped In Hillary Clinton’s favour, a statistical miracle. There is currently a major lawsuit against an exit poll company to release its data, which for unknown reasons it is refusing to do.

    BTW another reason I posted that link was Jimmy Dore, he is one of the truth news outlets that gives you the news that the US sanitised media ignores e.g. wikileaks. Jimmy posts alot of youtube videos which are all informative and humorous as well. The major US television networks are all in the tank for rich corporations and are all desperate for Hillary, a Republican pretending to be a Democrat, to win.

    1. Tony, you make some pretty good comments to an extent, but it’s simply not fair to claim the Democrats and Republicans are equally terrible on climate change. Obama has done far more for climate change than any Republican. Have a read of the following link.


      Sure theres nothing monumental there, and its putting on the biggest gloss possible, but theres still something there. And remember he tried to pass other bills but they were voted down by congress, which was republican dominated.

      Clinton is on record as wanting to promote green energy and takes climate change seriously. Nobody on the Republican side even comes close. They are in total 100% denial.

      Now to your comments on Clinton. I do strongly agree Clinton is reliant on corporate funding, and this poses obvious problems and effectively limits what she would do, but not totally. Obama was reliant on campaign donations but it didn’t stop him doing some things.

      Clinton leans left on social policy, and is in the centre on economic policy, but is more to the right foreign affairs. This is a peculiar mixture but not a total disaster if she can just restrain her warmongering tendencies. I don’t see her as a closet Republican, just an economic dry to the right within her Party, like Phil Goff is towards the right within Labour in NZ (well slightly to the right).

      Sanders is more liberal and left leaning, although by NZ standards not hugely to the left. I agree he would be a climate warrior, and had some other reasonable policies. Quite a likeable chap who reminds me of the professor in “Back to the Future”.

      I don’t know if the election was rigged against Sanders as such, but its almost inexplicable why the Democratic Party hierarchy ignored him when he was clearly getting a substantial part of the public vote. I can only think America just has this paranoia about anything remotely socialist. The very word sends them all into a collective meltdown. Or maybe they were worried that Sanders would alienate the corporate sector and their donations would dry up to congress. I think Sanders himself was self funding.

      However the Democrats have tried several times to pass legislation to put a cap on campaign funding from business, but it was struck down by the courts and the Republican Congress. At least they tried.

      I used to admire the Republican Party, but not any more. They have become irrational, self centred, bad tempered and petulant. The Democrats leave A LOT to be desired, but seem a great deal more sensible on the whole.

    2. I would have voted for the Bern for sure. But I still take Hillary over Trump any day.
      That said, the real fight for a better future than Mad Max must of cause carry on, Prozac or Not 😉 and in fact, there is probably not much that is more important than that really. Besides, of course the struggle for a peaceful political environment where such “long term” matters such as our environmental slow mo train wreck can be successfully prevented.

      1. Yes climate change could lead to that sort of Mad Max movie scenario, or maybe the movie “Waterworld” which I believe was by the same director.

        It just seems amazing to me that climate change never got a mention in the American election debates, although Clinton wants renewable energy progressed dramatically, which is good, but opposes a carbon tax. This is possibly her politically centrist, compromise tendency coming out, but its hard to see such a one sided approach being sufficient to cope with the range of issues.

        Relying just on renewable energy expansion alone would take a long time to filter through to all behaviours that generate emissions. By then CO2 concentrations will be so high they will be over the 2 degree limit. Carbon taxes would have an immediate impact and a wider impact.

        Trump and Clinton seem like awful candidates, but Clinton definitely seems preferable overall. However just my personal opinion.

        The slow motion train wreck of climate change and the lack of meaningful action is so frustrating. However I wonder if one factor behind this is the complexity of the issue, the number of factors, and difficulties for many people sorting it out in their heads and imagining the future. I think what’s required to resolve this impasse is leadership, from the top, from people who are smart and powerful, such as politicians, and we aren’t getting any. Instead we get endless confused policies, and mixed messages.

        1. Yes you got I think the focus on the right point: Leadership!
          We have a dangerous vacuum of leadership, which leads to figures such as Trump filling the gap. We need people who lead us out of the morass we are in. Let’s hope they galvanize.

          1. “Ban also answered audience questions, and when asked to give a few key lessons he has learned during his time in office, he said: There are many key players, just don?t leave it to governments! He called upon civil society and the business world to push for a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy.”

            From an account of a recent meeting of the Arctic Circle Assembly and an answer to a question to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a discussion in Real Climate about the Gulf-stream system slowdown and the Atlantic cold blob

  14. A couple of links that might be of interest. The first one I understand, it is basically Stuff
    picking up on some Matt Ridley propaganda and reporting it is factual news. Can’t get a real scientist to say something positive about global warming, so why not get a paid shill to make some stuff up.

    The second link, however, is a wikileaks revelation that I find more difficult to fathom, given that Bernie Sanders was by far the best candidate on tackling climate change. Perhaps someone can offer an explanation.


    1. Yep, I think you are right. And what has happened is that the progressive left – the one that once was and got us in the 60’ties out of the clutches of the stifling post-war right-wing mood – has long since left into the high-life careers and the money they bring based on their good education and critical thinking they once had.
      It is now high noon for the old guard to the 60’ties to let it all go and step back into the gumboots and take up the dirty work of moving humanity forward. This time it is not just about equal opportunities, sexual liberation, and an end to racist societies (all that still matters very much), no this time it is about securing the future, any future, for the fantastic planet we inherited. It is time that the rich and saturated old-lefties return to their roots.
      Come on folks, let’s get rolling again as if it was 1968. This time or never!

  15. Back to the topic of the October ICAO agreement, here are two editorials from inside the aviation industry about the deep failure of the agreement. These are by editors of Aviation Week & Space Technology:

    1. “Is ICAO’s Landmark Emissions Plan a Joke?” Audio discussion by three editors. http://aviationweek.com/commercial-aviation/podcast-icao-s-landmark-emissions-plan-joke

    2. “Why ICAO’s Emissions Deal Will Not Make A Difference (No pain, no gain),” by Jens Flattau. http://aviationweek.com/commercial-aviation/opinion-why-icao-s-emissions-deal-will-not-make-difference

  16. Nov 8 will decide a lot I guess, how all this continues. If Trump wins, the US will quickly become the pariah of the world with regards to any form of climate mitigation, especially if the Republicans hang on to house and senate. The liars will then have four years to dig themselves (and humanity ) deeper grave holes.

    I think we can perhaps count ourselves lucky (as far as humanities prospects are concerned) that at least China is ruled by technocrats who can simply order progress to be made, without having to convince a country of led-astray half-wits to not vote for their undertaker to take office….

    We can perhaps also count ourselves lucky that some young high-tech billionaires (Musk et. al) have what it takes to drive technology forward, despite the dreadful political landscape (for the time at least).

    But prospects to regulate air travel seem beyond the horizon for the time being, when the real fight must now be against a replay of the horrors of the 1920 to 1945 period in the form of nationalist right-wing movements from Le Pen, over AFD, Trump, the Brexiters, Erdogan, taking over, in a world armed with nuclear weapons and 7 billion people, many of them at the edge already.

    1. I agree Thomas. Trump could do some foolish things if elected. People say he wont carry through with his policies, and this is probably true of many of them, as a lot of what he says is show to get votes, and wont get passed congress anyway.

      However I have a hunch he will stick to pulling out of climate change mitigation and his barking mad trade policies. He is unlikely to back down on everything, as he is too proud and is no coward, look at his history of threatening lawsuits. And he has a long anti trade history. And Trump will have a lot of power over foreign affairs policy as thats how the system works in America.

      What a mess. Hilary can be a warmonger, but Trump seems intent on creating a conflict with China over trade that could escalate to something more, and Trump is more unpredictable. I’m just glad I’m living in NZ.

      Right now air travel is the least of our concerns, but the points raised by Larry are interesting and wont go away.

      1. Yes Larry makes good points and my comment was not mean to say otherwise, I just needed to share my sense of horror that what I think we really must address: Climate change and the general mess we have made of the natural processes of this planet by our short-sighted and irresponsible growth, will be put once again into the far corner of the desk.

        We first must address the central issue: are we humans still able to agree on anything that resembles the truth at least somewhat, or have too many of us turned already into mental zombies, bitten by the ghosts of the fascist times, and are now controllable by mad men and their fantasies of power and domination and no longer accessible by any sane argument whatsoever?

        The internet has produced a tribalisation of the people like not seen since the “stone age” perhaps, and scrupulous gutter media print anything if it sells to the deranged masses. It seems that no scientist can reach these people anymore and no matter how many sane arguments we bring, the insanity of the zombies only grows as a result…
        What a mess!

        1. Yes I feel the same way Thomas.

          I’m definitely not a fan of Mike Hosking, but he made a good point that where America goes the world tends to follow, frustrating though this is. I think humans are either leaders or followers, its how we are built. Trump could destabilise the entire global fight against climate change.

          However the other possibility is the world may get fed up with America, and go their own way on climate change and leave America behind. I hope so anyway.

          The political and ideological tribalisation you mention seems strongest in America. I don’t think its quite so apparent in NZ or Europe or even England, despite Brexit. Theres something about Americas political history and belief structure driving it, maybe the strong individualism imprinted in their constitution is driving division between individualist Republicans and the more globalist democrats. But it seems to me the strong individualism has morphed into a self centred, narcissistic, ego centric me first ideology of a child.

          The internet has at the very least added fuel to these political divisions and the general dumbing down of debate. I suppose its because the authority or presence of mainstream, sensible sources is suddenly confronted with a plethora of “alternative” sources with cunningly portrayed but fake credentials, all of course spreading misinformation, out of context ranting, and conspiracy theories. It has also given an ideal platform for fascists and authoritarian sorts of leaders.

          Of course we should question authority and conventional wisdom, but the questioning has turned into a stream of absurdities. One example, things like temperature data are undermined by absurd claims that the scientists are all making it up because they are secretly promoting big government or some other perceived evil.

          It’s like the internet has opened a pandoras box of conspiracy theories and nonsense, and made it just a mouse click away. Your objective truth that we both want is getting harder to find.

          I admit even I have looked at some weird stuff, like The Illuminati, out of curiosity. But I got beyond first base to discover they were nothing more than an intellectual society opposing the confines of the catholic church! Other people get all carried away with these sorts of issues and cant see the wood for the trees. This is the problem with climate change.

          Maybe humanity will soon realise the risks of the internet, and start to calm down and re-discover a respect for normal, conventioanl thinkers and scientists. I only hope so.

            1. I thought I’d share my sense of irony with the Hot Topic community as I approved this illuminating comment by our own resident troll andyS. Hello yourself, andyS.

            2. Andy, obviously I meant the internet has dumbed down debate on average, and with some people. Obviously it has not dumbed down things with everyone and not everything on the internet is silly. It depends how you use the internet, as you would of course know.

              But just consider the internet has given every idiot in society a platform to play with in a way unprecedented in history. You have half the population a mouse click away from daft conspiracy theories and it is creating a world of Ian Wishart fans, and people that become instant experts in their own minds on everything, and they do it without applying any logical filter, or fact checking to what they read. As a result reality and fantasy are being blurred. The internet is a perfect pathway to spread nonsense in a wide fashion without precedent in history. Unfortunately the internet has probably undermined climate science.

              Of course the internet spreads good stuff, but I suspect that is being swamped.

              I believe it’s no coincidence that the development of the internet has paralleled the rise of complete stupidity in The Republican Party.

              Another related example in the latest North and South magazine. There has been a big increase in teenage anxiety and depression, directly related to the rise of social media.

              I’m not saying all these things are bad, just that the law of unintended consequences is on full show.

              But it will be a passing phase. Society will wise up to these things. I hope.

            3. Project Veritas? Run by this chap: James O’Keefe? The one who fakes videos and makes stuff up?

              You are deep in a rabbit hole of someone else’s making. Good luck down there. You’re going to need it…

            4. AndyS, Wikileaks is indeed interesting, and there is a place for whistle blowers. There’s certainly strong suspicion of corruption in American politics and institutions. The internet has certainly made dissemination of such information easier.

              Of course you have to be careful how such information is interpreted, and seen properly in context. But I’m sympathetic to whistle blowers, as long as they don’t use the information for profit, or to deliberately hurt people purely for the sake of it.

              However wikileaks is basically raw data. We come to Project Veritas which appears to be more of an attempt to interpret that data. This strays into the dubious conspiracy theory and unreliable website thing I was talking about above.

              The internet has given billions of people unprecedented access to nonsense as well as good information.

              Personally I think the average person will get a more accurate picture of the world from half an hour reading traditional mainstream media than blundering about on “alternative” websites on the net. So the signal to noise ratio favours traditional media.

              However that’s the average person. For people who dig deeper and carefully, then the internet can provide a better overall picture, but it needs care to filter out the junk.

              The MSM in NZ don’t have much to say about wikileaks and American politics and corruption. Maybe its partly because they simply don’t have the resources or print space to cover everything that goes on in the world. You cant expect them to cover everything. Maybe it’s partly because media in NZ are inherently reluctant to upset America too much.

              Another problem we have is competition from internet websites has taken readers away from traditional media, and this has meant they have less money, so do less investigative journalism. But the internet alternative media’s idea of investigative journalism is often nothing more than conspiracy theories and opinion!

              I’m obviously not saying the internet is bad. This website is grounded in reality and has a good standard of comments. I’m just making an observation of how the internet has had some “unintended consequences” that are often quite negative.

            5. Andy, you say anyone supporting Clinton has no moral compass.

              I would consider myself a political moderate. I have no ideological axe to grind, although I do think policies have to be fair to everyone.

              I have had a good read about Clintons and Trumps backgrounds and views and claims. Both of these people could barely spell the word moral. They would not pass even a basic character test. They are both pathological liars, and have a bad history in too many ways to state on this forum. Trumps morals are in the gutter.

              Having said that the various accusations against Hilary on Whitewater, her charity foundation, and the unusual deaths of some associates are in the conspiracy theory category and have been investigated ad nauseum by numerous authorities, including Republican Congress committees and no wrong doing has been found. Despite this all the conspiracy theorists can’t let it go.

              However both Trump and Clinton would fail a basic character test, and they make Winston Peters look like a Saint.

              Therefore I have to evaluate Clinton and Trump mostly on their policies in an overall sense. Clinton wins this easily.

            6. Yes I prefer Trump

              If they managed to reincarnate Hitler and clone it with Mussolini and Pol Pot I would prefer that to Clinton

              Clinton is the most corrupt, criminal psychopath ever to stand for office in the USA

              Even Jill Stein and John Pilger (hardly known for their right wing views) prefer Trump to Clinton.

              Clinton is pushing the world towards WW3. This is the view of John Pilger, not Alex Jones

              As for “exonerating” her, please give me a break. The FBI found 650,000 emails on Wiener’s laptop, a man who had been sharing rape fantasies and d** pics with a 15 year old girl. He is former husband to Huma Abedin, a woman with close links to Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, a wmaon that has been at the side of HRC for 20 years The FBI examined all these emails in one week and found nothing, which is quite remarkable.

              We have had 30+ years of crime and corruption. Ripping off people in rest homes (Whitewater), ripping off earthquake victims in Haiti, various mysterious “suicides”, the crimes documented in Clinton Cash that showed at the Cannes Film foster, pay for play. Now we have allegations of child sex trafficing. Both Clintons visiting Jeff Epsteins “orgy island” aboard his private jet. Epstein had 35 cases of sex with minors reduced to one with a plea bargain and got 10 months

              All this is in the public domain and the media ignore it.

              You can sneer and prattle on about “conspiracy theories” and “far right” all you want.

              Anyone who nakedly pushing Clinton:

              **has no human qualities whatsoever**

            7. “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” H.L. Mencken

            8. Andy, you are not being objective about Clinton and Trump.

              None of those accusations against Clinton over Whitewater and sexual orgies etc have been proven, and they are bizarre fantasy stuff. Weiner is not Hilary, in case you cant work that out.

              However Clinton has been caught telling lies over a couple of things of significance.

              Trump has been caught red handed on video bragging about assaulting women, tried as hard as possible to keep his taxes secret until they were leaked, and has a history of ripping off his subcontractors. He has been caught telling lies. I could go on for pages.

              Other accusations against Trump include sexual assault and drunken orgies, but have not been proven. Just like the allegations against Hilary Clinton of sex parties you noted. The similarities of the accusations are startling.

              This is the main issue: Anyone with a brain in their head, reading between the lines and being reasoned can see both Trump and Clinton have equally bad histories and character. I would think not as bad as the wilder allegations, but both pretty bad. I have no doubt of this. I will stick with this conclusion until I see hard evidence otherwise.

              Therefore like I said it comes back to policies. Trumps policies are truly idiotic. I didn’t know you opposed free trade. Honestly tariffs are a step backwards and wont help poor people.

              Trump even wants to close down research into climate change. Maybe Thomas is right, the guy is a moron.

            9. Andy, your comment demonstrates two things:

              – that intelligence doesn’t always correlate well with wisdom

              – that years of aggressive lying by the extreme right in the US has had a global impact

  17. Indeed it is disappointing that Clinton didn’t scrape in. I was hoping to witness WW3 play out in my lifetime. Both John Pilger and Jill Stein thought a Clinton presidency would give us the best chance for that

    My heart goes out to the industrial military complex, Goldman Sachs and Wall Street in these troubling times
    If only it wasn’t for those deplorable people !

    1. Andy, one thing I would agree on Clinton is too belligerent on foreign policy, although not as bad as the Bush / Cheney / Rumsfeld group of fanatics.

      But Trump has basically just given Putin the green light to invade Europe. And Trump is starting a trade war with China that could definitely escalate to something more. This is at least as concerning as anything Clinton believes or would do.

      I mean hello? Cant you see this? Honestly.

      We want a leader who doesn’t overly provoke Russia, but is prepared to support Nato. This is a sensible balance of power. Obama for all his faults was closer to this.

  18. I was inclined to agree with Mike Moore in the doco broadcast last week. Hillary is coped with some unbelievable crap over the years and she may have been doing a ‘Pope Francis’… don’t stick your head above the parapet until you are in a position where you can make serious changes. I guess we’ll never know.
    The worry now is that the incredible advances made over the last few years may be stalled or even reversed. Fortunately, the rest of the world will continue the rapid switch to solar and wind economies on the basis that they are already cheaper than fossil or nuclear energy. Hopefully in 4 years the American voters will realise how far they are slipping behind and what a massive screw-up their fit of pique has caused. (Why is that little pink birdie up in the tree going “oink, oink”?)

  19. I just feel America has made such a bad decision electing Trump. I don’t normally get depressed about politics, but its a sad day. Americans have fallen for a snake oil salesman.

    Tariffs and walls wont help ordinary people. His climate policies are a giant leap backwards. All his policies are.

    Clinton has a million faults, but her policies are saner, and she would probably only have been there 4 years until someone better comes along.

    I hope I’m wrong, and Trump sees sense on a few things.

      1. I am against the TPPA based on the loss of sovereignty that would entail and the fact that corporate profits would be ranked above democratic decisions made to protect people and the environment just to name an example.


        That does not mean at all that I against a globalist agenda: The opposite quite frankly. We need a globalist view, agenda, and cooperation between all nations if we want to survive the challenges of the global issues we have created for humanity: Climate Change, Resouce depletion (Biological and Geological), and Water, just to name some of the more pressing, and also disarmament and conflict resolution.
        Electing nationalist in our Western democracies, destroying alliances, ripping up what little of positive we have to show for in agreements is complete lunacy.
        The American people have literally f…ed up not only the prospect of solving these problems on their own turf, but very likely so, the prospects of the rest of us.
        Further, the industrial military complex in particular and the industrial complex of the fossil fuel industry will be doing remarkably well under Trump who – like all nationalist tend to do – will significantly increase military spending, as he has has already announced before the election.

        But just like the rest of the RedBelt idiots, Andy of cause can once again not connect any dots whatsoever.

        California as well as the East Coast states should call a USEXIT on the bible belters and leave them to their walls…

        1. I’ll content myself with recounting a discussion at our nearest bus stop.

          When I arrived an Indian gent was ripping into some bloke that had thrown down a cigarette rather than disposing of it tidily in the bin – He was on about pollution in general. I decided to intervene: “all these plastic bags also end up in the sea”.
          “Of course”, said the Indian. “We must stop it all!”
          “I’m a plastic recycler”, said the other fellow.
          “He’s a plastic recycler”, I repeated.
          “That’s good”, said the Indian.
          “And all this CO2 being emitted?”, I waved both hands at the passing cars.
          “We’ve got to mitigate climate change”, said the Indian.
          “I threw my car away because of the emissions”, I said to the cigarette man.
          “So did I”, said the smoker. “look at these cars – one person per car!”
          “We both threw our fossil fuel burners away to mitigate climate change”, I said to the Indian.
          “That’s why I use the bus instead of a car”, the Indian responded.
          “Of course our buses should be electric.”
          “They’re coming”, the others agreed. “What about Trump?” they both said together.
          “The election seems like a disaster for climate change mitigation”, I answered. “On the other hand nothing Trump said during the campaign can really be taken as an indication of what he will actually do, most being unlikely. That’s the best I can hope for at this moment”. They nodded. My bus arrived so there I had to leave it.

        2. Thomas, you are against the TPPA because of loss of sovereignty.
          Isn’t this the same argument used by the EU leavers?

          Agreed we have to solve various global problems, but we have standards bodies such as WTO to deal with that.

          The message of globalisation that is generally the one seen on the right and by Trump is the vision that of a world without borders and cultures or nation states, one that exists solely for the exploitation of corporations. This may seem rather dystopian as is the counter of extreme nationalism. When I went to the “Age of Anthropocene” talk earlier this year, the French panellists stated that they believed in open borders and were ashamed of being French. This received a loud cheer for the audience. It is not unreasonable in my view to protect ones borders and culture and allow immigrants who will add value to your society. However, in Germany and Sweden, these views are considered “racist” by many, and the feelings of young male immigrants from the Middle East who have un-western attitudes towards women seem to come above the safety of women. This in my view is a recipe for cultural suicide. If those cheering really believe this message, then they will presumably have no problem with 70 million Muslims moving to NZ and declaring a Sharia state. But then logic is just “trolling” to those who use emotion as their sole means of rationalisation

          At some point people need to hold governments accountable, and Brexit and the Trump phenomenon are showing that this is coming to the fore

          I do agree on some points that we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, and Trump is a worry on many counts.

          1. Andy, you do make some good comments there actually.

            However trade and immigration are very different things.

            I just cant see a problem with free trade. The WTO promotes free trade and you have just endorsed the WTO. Trump will make things worse with tariffs.

            I agree Free trade does lead to more powerful multinationals but this can be countered with policies that stop too many monopolies forming. Protectionism will certainly allow corporates to dominate in an unhealthy way WITHIN America because they would face less competition.

            Read the comments in my other post on the TPPA. Its a dog, but that doesn’t mean all free trade deals are bad.

            The point is tariffs wont help ordinary folk, or anyone. They will just raise costs of consumer goods and probably wont deliver the high paying jobs hoped for. Instead governments have to give some financial help to workers hurt by free trade.

            Regarding immigration, I sympathise more with Trumps supporters on this and they have some really valid concerns. Personally I’m ok with different races and detect some racism with some of Trumps supporters, but also some valid concerns as well. Its a mixture. There do have to be limits on total immigration numbers, or countries get swamped, and I do think great care is required with Islamic immigrants but this can be done with careful checking, you don’t have to have abrupt and totally exclusionary policies.

            Trade can work without tariffs, and be largely free, but immigration does need some “management”. Its ultimately a commonsense balancing act that gets distorted by emotion and ideologies of various kinds.

            1. I’m not against free trade. The WTO is a standards body that sovereign nations ratify in their own parliaments.

              The EU is an additional layer of governance that gets between member states and WTO and other standards and trade bodies.

              People are disenfranchised because their leaders are not listening and the media just insult them. This has led to the Trump phenomenon

              The biggest loser in this election is the media. I think they have signed their own death warrant.

            2. Andy: Kill the press, yes we hear you. You would so love to do see Trump do an Erdogan! Arrest the elitist Media and call any editor and journalist who dares to criticize the Dear Leader a Terrorist and throw them into jail…. Only allow Breitbart, Daily Caller, and the Tabloids.

              That Andy, won’t happen, not in America and not anywhere. The Media failed indeed. They failed to call Trump and the people rooting for his planet destroying racist fascist movement the names they should have been called. The media failed to shut this embarrassing mogul down when there was time.

              The press Andy is not dead as much as you might wish. The events of 9/11/16 have awoken a giant all around the globe. Remember: white right wing people will feel the headwind from now from all sides and globally the planet destroying white right wingers are a tiny and very much-deplored minority now!

            3. Hi Thomas

              I don’t particularly like being referred to as a “brown shirt”

              Given that my political persuasions lend themselves towards small government, locally defined policies etc, perhaps you could expand on why you think my actual position is towards large government National Socialism.

              I’m sure both you and I have family experience to draw upon here, but please, after you ..

            4. Andy, you root for the Trump movement obviously and I have not seen any evidence that you denounce all their ugly racist and right wing brown shirt rhetoric from you and unless you do, you will carry the brown spot too.

            5. So all the gays, women and latinos that voted Trump are Brownshirts too?

              I think it is clear who the real racist is here, Thomas

            6. Diversions about others don’t count: This is about you and you alone! Unless you clearly distance yourself from the right wing racist part of the Trump movement publicly here I will call you publicly a brown shirt.

          2. Andy:
            I am For the Sovereignty for the people to govern in their best interest and in the interest of future generations and the well-being of the planet as such. Being a Globalist is NOT = to selling out to Corporations. That is the Orwellian inversion of the term you and your brown shirts have deliberately made of it!

            Being a Globalist means acknowledging our shared responsibility for peace, stability, moderation and sustainable development. I am in favor of strong national governance and cooperation between nations such as in the EU and UN constructs.

            Trump and his fellowship of idiots are now fulfilling the wet dream of ISIS and every person on the planet who wished ill on America.

            A friend of mine in the US rightfully remarked, that the thinly veiled racism, bigotry, and hatred that had been simmering under the skin of certain breeds of white folks in America had to come finally out like a festering boil on a septic corps. That boil is Trump and those who ‘love him’. And in showing its ugly face this lying evil will eventually be defeated. There are 7 billion people on this planet but only a meager 60 Million Americans voted for Trump and his idiotic agenda!

            BTW if only 120,000 Americans – divided up into swing states had voted Democratic, this election would have gone the other way. A slimmest of margins!

            @Trump: What a nasty boil!

            1. Andy, there may be problems with the EU, and some bad consequences from free trade as well as good, but we are talking America. Donald Trumps cure is worse than the disease.

              You say you are for “small government” but you clearly want government to put plenty of restrictions on trade and immigration, so lots of big government regulation. These are inconsistent positions. I suspect you just want small government on things that suit you.

              I’m a pragmatist. I believe in medium sized government that works for everyone with as much freedom as possible, but pragmatic restrictions as appropriate to keep the system stable. It’s the only thing that makes sense and is logically consistent.

              I also largely subscribe to Thomas views on what globalisation really means and the problems of Trump. In my view NZ should be a sovereign country, hence my suspicion of excessive powers in the TPPA slanted towards the corporates. But this doesn’t stop us cooperating globally or regionally, or having simple free trade agreements that are mostly about tariff reduction. Maybe one good thing about Trump is he may kill the TPPA but Clinton would have done the same.

              Globalism means cooperation and shared responsibility over at least some economic issues, and also environmental matters as we share the planet and atmosphere. I also think we should aim for reducing global poverty at least at the extreme end.

              But ultimately global rules should reflect democratic process and concerns of the public and not be captured by either corporates or elites of whatever kind. They may lead to some extent, but are not entitled to “capture” the process.

              And small government in the sense of limited regulation just doesn’t work with the environment. Markets have never protected the environment, only rules and legislation can really do that, or is at least an important part of it.

            2. AndyS, you have complained above about immigration overtaking Europe, particularly by moslem people, and complained about free trade. Presumably therefore you want something to change, and one concludes you want some sort of legislative restrictions. Do tell what on earth you really mean, if you even know.

              And just to repeat any restriction of any kind over free markets in immigration or trade takes you away from your small government ideology.

            3. AndyS, you have complained above about immigration overtaking Europe

              Yes, but NZ doesn’t need to change because it has a sensible immigration policy
              Sweden and Germany take in many people from the Middle East who are causing all sorts of problems in society. Sweden is the rape capital of Europe.

              Is this the society that you want? If Thomas thinks that people that have a restrictive immigration policy are “Brownshirts”. I guess that makes NZers Brownshirts.

              I’m not anti-immigration, nor am I anti-trade.

              I support free speech, diversity of opinion and tolerance of other peoples cultures and faiths, or lack of them.

              That makes me a “brown shirt”, apparently

            4. Yes, fair enough Andy, but that really wasn’t the point I was making. I was making a philosophical point. You cant promote small government and in the same breath want government to have a range of controls on immigration, in Europe or wherever, it doesn’t matter where. If you accept government has the philosophical right to control immigration, then government has the philosophical right to control other elements of economic behaviour if theres a rational case, or provide appropriate government services, etc. It was purely a philosophical point. And I think government does have the right to control these various things.

              However back to Islamic immigration in a practical sense. I certainly partly agree with your concerns. I do think islamic immigration may sometimes be a problem and needs careful consideration especially in Europe.

              The question is does Islamic immigration pose a genuine threat? This is important as immigration controls need solid justification.

              Its a tough one as you get all the worst examples of islamic problems in the media. If you look at America, islamic people have integrated very well and have low crime levels. But as you say Europe has had problems in Sweden.

              Then there is the philosophical angle. Firstly immigration clearly has some benefits in terms of economics, and global peace and unity. However a genuinely free market in immigration would allow anyone to live anywhere as of right. I think such a thing is madness. This is why I say free markets are a bit of a nonsense. We dont want criminals coming to live in NZ, for example. There have to be some controls over immigration. Huge flows of immigrants destabilise economies, like Aucklands housing market.

              So immigration needs to be fluid, but have at least some sensible controls without becoming too insular. Its a balancing act but has to be actively managed.

              However we have to be careful we dont impose controls on immigration purely out of fear of people who are different. Racist controls. There has to be some credible reason to impose controls, a real and present threat to our society. There an element of truth in Donald Trumps concerns, but it could just so easily turn very nasty.

              I think islamic immigrants do pose a higher than normal threat level in terms of the terrorist issue and their oppressive attitude to women. This is enough to check the background carefully on an individual level before letting them immigrate, and also control total numbers.We should screen out the radicals and be very tough on this, any doubts and they dont get in. However I’m not convinced NZ or Europe should totally stop Islamic immigration. The threat is not at that level.

              My views are a bit “nuanced” and rambly. You probably need to read it twice.

            5. Nigel – you don’t need Big Government to control immigration. A simple set of rules and border controls are sufficient

              Of course we need immigrants to keep the economy going, and this is a problem for countries (esp Europe) where demographics mean that the indigenous population is literally dying off

              The massive wave of immigrants into Germany and elsewhere recently consisted mainly of fighting age males, many illiterate in their own languages. If there is a genuine refugee need then we need to accommodate them. However, if you create ghettos of unemployed immigrants where police and firefighters can’t go (as in parts of Sweden now) then you have a big problem

              Sweden has gone so crazy PC that they let off rapists with small sentences for fear of “offending” them. Recently, a woman in a wheelchair was gangraped in Sweden and the offenders were basically let off.

              Any country has a duty to protect its citizens first and foremost, especially its women and children.

              A society that abrogates on that duty in order to virtue signal its “progressive” values is doomed

              But I digress…

            6. Andy, just put the big government thing aside. I don’t think you see my point, although I know other people do.

              Yes I agree the European situation is difficult. I don’t really want to take a debating position on it, for or against, because I cant see an obvious answer. I was just interested.

              Like you said countries should help genuine refugees but then you say some of these people have caused problems or formed into ghettos. Fair comment, but you have not suggested how to resolve this issue.

              I guess they may be stuck with those people, so its a question of future policy, so do they screen immigrants more carefully or just stop all immigrants? You have avoided taking a clear position on it. However I admit its a hard one to decide and Im not 100% sure myself. Im usually 100% sure on most things.

              Perhaps its a rate of change problem. Even people with poor literacy integrate eventually, but dumping large numbers in a short time frame is a challenge.

              However remember these people have been living in hellish conditions. They are NOT middle classes going shopping for an easy way to immigrate. Syria is a mess with oppressive conditions everywhere.

              Its a tough one to resolve. However it’s foolish for small countries to take vast numbers out of guilt.

              The cause of the problem is partly western meddling in the affairs of the middle east, something both G W Bush and Obama have been guilty of. America never seems to learn.

              Trump may be more isolationist, and this may be a good thing, but take isolationism too far and it will go wrong. We need leaders who engage on foreign affairs ,but in a well principled way. I think Bill Clinton and the older George Bush were closer to that. But I digress.

      2. I’m against the TPPA. I dislike the investor state dispute resolution system and the way these things are heard in secret. This is a clear imposition on sovereignty, and tilts the balance too much towards the corporate sector. The TPPA is really more of an investment agreement.

        But I have no problem with more straightforward and transparent free trade agreements and tariff reductions.

        Tariffs probably made sense 50 years ago, however economists are virtually all telling us they are a bad thing in today’s world. I think we are better off helping specific industries with tax breaks or subsidies, but it has to be very focussed and disciplined.

        And NZ gave away all its tariffs under the Roger Douglas period and its just not feasible to put them back. Therefore NZ needs to chase free trade deals, but not suspicious ones like the TPPA.

        Globalism has huge benefits overall, and linkages and agreements between countries are happening everywhere, but I concede it has downsides. Globalisation has hurt some groups of workers. We have neglected this and its allowed Trump to ascend to the throne.

        But I don’t think the answer is insularity or protectionism. I think its more about some reasonable controls on the rough edges of excessive immigration and government financial help for people hurt badly. But the right wing oppose this sort of help in their boneheaded way. Its an almost intractable, complicated situation of confusion.

  20. Thomas, you seem to misunderstand me, yet again. When I say “the media signed its own death warrant” this doesn’t translate into “kill the media ”

    I saw the Trump win a long time ago. Scott Adams the Dilbert guy predicted a Trump win over a year ago

    I was seeing reports of Trump rallies pulling in crowds of 20000 and Hillary barely getting a quarter of that even with celebrity endorsements

    Trump just appointed a black man, a gay man and a woman to his cabinet

    The voter stats don’t support the “right wing male” narrative. For example he increased the Latino vote over Mitt Romney

    People are sick to death of being lectured at, patronised and insulted by the political elite and their media water carriers

    As Michael Moore astutely observed, this is the biggest f$$$ you in human history,

  21. One get’s a funny feeling going back in time just to make a comment inspired by a current issue, but Mr February mentions cognitive dissonance. No I don’t want to rev up the current unreality shows that are entertaining so many across the oceans!

    How many here watched the very interesting historical programe on Prime this Sunday evening (Feb 4, 2017) on NZ’s electricity generation and grid? At the end it touched on current new generation and the future wind and solar. Here are some comments I recall:

    “Wind goes well with hydro as it is effectively storing energy in our lakes…”

    Well we are all familiar with that one but then:

    “People criticise wind because it is intermittant (unreliable). Actually wind is more reliable than hydro – Wind provides energy when for long periods drought depleats our hydro storage.”

    That got me sitting up, then:

    “Solar photovoltaics too. When we get a proper carbon tax and with improvements currently occuring in electrical storage, wind and solar will kill off thermal generation.”

    I believe I’ve got the ideas right if not quite the words. So intermittent wind and solar are really more reliable than hydro! Although of course hydro storage necessarily complements them. Of course climate change strengthens this argument.

  22. Above, Dennis Horne linked to two presentations by climate scientist Kevin Anderson.

    More recently (3/28/17) he gave a different sort of presentation at KTH Univ. in Sweden, “Laggards or Leaders? Climate change and the role of universities.” Its major emphasis is on the CO2 emissions from travel of all sorts by academics, and the need for them and their institutions to show leadership by making dramatic change. But what is said, in its starkness, applies to all of us. There is a lengthy Q&A, and at the end the president of KTH Univ. reacts, acknowledging the need.

    Video: https://play.kth.se/media/28+mars/0_aej506wl

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