Wind more welcome some places than others

Good and not-so-good news on wind energy.  First, a report that Spanish windfarms set a new record for wind-generated electricity over the weekend when for a few hours they provided 53% of the country’s total electricity needs. The winds were high and in previous years turbines would have been turned off because they were providing more electricity to the grid than needed.  But now the spare electricity is exported or used by hydroelectric plants to pump water back into their dams — effectively storing the electricity for future use. The head of the Spanish Wind Energy Association recalled that just five years ago critics had claimed the grid could never cope with more than 14% of its supply from wind. He predicted more than doubling wind power in Spain over the next decade. 

Meanwhile in the UK the Chairman of the British Wind Energy Association writes of the often strong local opposition to wind farms on the grounds of their inappropriateness in their particular locality.  He thinks that opponents muct decide whether they want electricity or not. 

As the UK restructures its electricity sector in the drive to meet the twin imperatives of climate change and security of energy supply, it is clear that the wind industry will become increasingly visible across the country. The electricity sector will no longer be confined to anonymous grey boxes but will be part of the landscape from Cornwall to Cape Wrath…

There will always be reasons for objecting to clean energy development, wherever it is located. The simple truth is that the long-term consequences of not undertaking that development will be far worse than the consequences of undertaking it.

Which leads to the bombshell from the Environment Court in New Zealand when they upheld the appeal against consent for Meridian’s planned large wind farm on the Lammermoor Range in Otago.  The details of the Court’s decision have not yet been publicly released, and the New Zealand Wind Association has been restrained in its comment, but the following from the statement of Fraser Clark, the Association’s Chief Executive is worth noting:

“Whether or not the decision is the right one, what is concerning is that it seems to raise the bar for assessing renewable energy projects above and beyond the bar for other large scale infrastructure projects. This has the potential to create a far greater loss for all of New Zealand by hindering the development of other renewable energy schemes.

“The Court considers that Project Hayes is not the next best option for new generation in New Zealand, and so it would be preferable if other options were investigated more fully first. With other potential sites requiring their own, equally comprehensive analysis there is no way such an investigation could ever be achieved in a timely and effective manner”

He also noted that the Court attributed no value to the security of electricity supply in their decision despite their own recognition of the important role wind energy plays in reducing the risks of the electricity system failing during dry years.

I confess to disappointment at the Court’s decision.  I’m in no way qualified to pronounce on the economics of wind power in relation to other forms of renewable energy, but I assume that the companies concerned have that very much in the forefront of their planning.  Of course there will sometimes be important environmental considerations at stake and balances have to be struck between competing environmental concerns, of which climate change is one.  But the wind potential in New Zealand is very high, and if Spain can get as much out of its wind as it does it would seem likely that we can do at least as well. Landscape intrusion is inevitable, though it hardly compares with the landscape transformation which has accompanied human settlement in our country. The climate change side of the balance should need a lot of weight to counteract it.

50 thoughts on “Wind more welcome some places than others”

  1. I wonder if the court will apply the same standard to opencast lignite mining in Southland. One of the most environmentally damaging forms of land use there is, and for one of the dirtiest resources.

  2. I share your disappointment, Bryan. I thought it ironic that the group opposed to the Lammermoor windfarm were keen to point out that they weren’t opposed to renewable energy projects. Well, actually, for all practical purposes they ARE opposed.
    We’ve had the same kinds of discussions in Wellington. I was very pleased that the Karori Sanctuary put out a statement saying that, contrary to perceptions, they are not opposed to the proposed Long Gully windfarm. Good for them.

  3. The NIMBY posh woman in “Age of Stupid” was absolutely classic on this. Her tales of already “successfully” stopping a wind farm development by her “other property in Scotland”, then the interviewer springing the “don’t you care about global warming” question… her flummoxed response was priceless.

  4. then the interviewer springing the “don’t you care about global warming” question… her flummoxed response was priceless.

    What was the response exactly?

  5. the title of this blog entry says it all – some places are appropriate for wind, and some simply aren’t. In this case it is an unacceptable industrial intrusion into a significant landscape. i say fantastic effort by the appellants.

    if we are serious about combatting climate change efficiently we should be pursuing energy efficiency as it is far more economic that new renewable generation.

    while our electricity intensity is one of the highest in the OECD, and we are building renewable energy projects to support coal extraction (read dobson dam the arnold river) we can’t even seriously consider that a damaging project like project hayes should go ahead.

    (disclosure point: i live nowhere near central otago)

  6. “some simply aren’t”………If only it were that simple.

    It is hard to think of a substantial wind farm or hydro development that hasn’t come up against RMA “matters of national significance”. The perfect site is an elusive beast and is probably not very windy (or wet in the hydro case) or has already been built.

    Unison (Hawkes Bay Lines Company) put it quite well in their submission to the RMA reforms select committee when they questioned who could make a case that any of these matters of national importance were of any greater importance than climate change.

  7. I support blocking the Lammermoore Wind farm, but on the grounds that NZ is sitting on such VAST energy potential from the tidal flows through Cook & Fouveaux Sts, that any dollar wasted on fart-in-a-jar projects is sheer lunacy. If ever we needed Think Big projects it’s now. Alas, according to the interview with JK in the Star-Times, climate change doesn’t even appear on our leader’s radar.

    1. Well, an electricity commission report on tidal, estimated tidal potential at only 0.4kwH/p/d http://www.tinyurl.com/ce2r4e with current technology. A more recent study, looking at likely future technology, but with some realistic limits on water depth etc. concluded perhaps a maximum potential for 27kWh/p/d. Pricing would be high. (Presentation by Vaganov and Vennell)

      Wind by comparison has potential for 83kWh/p/d
      with 33kWh/p/d at competitive pricing and with technology available today. http://tinyurl.com/c35yj9

      Don’t throw away those windfarm plans.

      1. Scaddenp: that tinyurl link for the EECA report returns ‘page not found’. Any other links? Was the report referring to estuarine tidal technology or oceanic?
        In the mean time, cast a glance at http://tinyurl.com/yk4ofqq
        It’s only a newspaper report, but it indicates that the momentum is picking up.

          1. Bother the sods moving it – and yes, that is the report. The Vennell and Vagarov study looked more closely at how much energy was there in sites you could extract from.

            The newpapers report is UK. UK has sadly vastly better tidal resources than we have but those “enough for 1500 homes” is a pain of a measure. 350Mwh sounds impressive till you realise that Huntly can produce close to 1300MWh in an hour.

            1. I checked with one of NZ’s gurus on tidal generation, to quote:
              “Probably the best tidal stream in the world, in terms of total mass flow, because of the depth, width and stream velocity, and because of the geometry creating the Karori Rip as the high energy density portion, covering several square kilometres. Cook Strait is a tectonic plate feature, not a flooded col or pass like most Straits, so has exceptional characteristics.
              However, I have no hard data about other interesting tidal streams of comparable size.
              Tidal energy, however, has to include tidal barrage potential, which is considerable in the Bay of Fundy, the Bristol Channel, etc.”

              I’m of the opinion that NZ should be throwing more effort at the possibility, since the rewards would be enormous. We could be major exporters of energy, well, we are already, from Tiwai Point.

            2. So was this “tidal guru” a tidal power pusher? You cant get out of tide what nature hasnt put in. As to tidal stream – well UK has the north sea to act as big tidal pond, and numerous channels. I cant find an online copy of Vennell & Vagarov study but you would have to show an error in that. You cant just assume you can cover the strait in turbines – there is a practical depth limit for retrieval and quite of bit of science to do. I would rate tidal as a good energy source for the future, in conjunction with wind and hydro but no magic bullet, especially if we electrify transport.
              Tiwai is 6 kWh/p/d for comparison by the way. NZ current energy use is is 92kWh/p/d, 50% of which is oil.

              I have a paper with all these numbers which Gareth is going to put up here when I finally finish at introduction to it.

    1. Another Free Market / Libertarian nutjob are we? Tell me, was your favourite writer Rand, Branden or Heinlein?

      Global warming represents the sad evidence that systems which do not “meddle” are insufficient to stop the laissez-faire from destroying the world…

      1. An advocate of the glories of socialism are you Sam? You an admirer of the great environmental achievements of the USSR and China?

        The free market works better than any other system at creating wealth, the only thing that needs to be in place to avoid exploitation of resources is proprietorship of those resources. When a resource is in the form of a natural monopoly I tend to support ownership by a cooperative of the users of that resource.

        Sam, possibly you’ll have difficulties understanding these simple concepts, if so, I’m happy to explain them more fully to you, one little baby step at a time.

        1. Hmm I thought a natural monopoly was an industry that due to the economies of scale the maximum efficiency of production and distribution is realized through a single supplier. E.g network assets such as traditional telcom, electricity transmission and rail are classcial examples.

          As you thinking about something else?

          Also how do you define user. Only those that derive a revenue from the resource? What about those that value the in situ values of the resource and do not derive a revenue from it? For that matter what about future generations who may value the resource as it is (known in economics as the option value)?

          1. I’m applying the term as a way of describing the proprietorship of an indivisible resource (eg the atmosphere), for which there is no feasible substitute, while natural monopoly is usually used in the way you describe, my understanding is that my use is also technically correct.
            “Mill also used the term in relation to land, for which the natural monopoly could be extracted by virtue of it being the only land like it.” (wiki)

            If you’ve got a better term to describe proprietorship of the atmosphere whilst avoiding the exploitation it could suffer through an absence of proprietorship ie free range or commons, I’d be interested to hear it.

            “users”, perhaps I should have said “consumers”.

            1. “a better term to describe proprietorship of the atmosphere”

              Um a term to describe that concept would be ‘stupid’.

              Who could be trusted to own the atmosphere? Proprietorship of resources does not protect them from exploitation by their proprietors. The free market has done nothing substantial to protect the environment against human exploitation. Proprietors of land are duty-bound to exploit it in the name of “creating wealth”, as you naiively put it. Strip mining does not create wealth, it steals it from current and future generations.

            2. By proprietorship I mean taking on the rights and responsibilities of ownership to maintain the value of the asset.

              You know, like what kyoto is all about.

              A bit too complicated an idea for you to evidently.

              “The free market has done nothing substantial to protect the environment against human exploitation.”

              Where as state ownership has been such a stunning success around the world.

            3. “Where as state ownership has been such a stunning success around the world.”

              Well I have to say most DOC land is looking a hell of a lot healthier than a lot of privately owned land used for monoculture farming, but I’m not necessarily advocating state ownership. I just want someone to think of the children’s children’s children for a change…

              Your witty rejoinder there just underlines that neither the market nor the state have done very well at looking after the biosphere so it’s up to our generation to ensure that we do much much better.

            4. “By proprietorship I mean taking on the rights and responsibilities of ownership to maintain the value of the asset.”

              I’m just not clear on what you propose. Who do you propose should have this proprietorship? How are they to protect our natural resources from exploitation? Who decides what these rights and responsibilities are? The right to sell to the highest bidder?

              People thinking they own the earth is the problem not the solution.

              “A bit too complicated an idea for you to evidently.”

              No just not specific enough.

            5. “Well I have to say most DOC land is looking a hell of a lot healthier than a lot of privately owned land used for monoculture farming”

              Don’t knock that monoculture farming, it feeds billions of people who would die without it, and as they starved they’d trash your pristine natural environment in their hunt for food.

              “No just not specific enough”

              Fair enough, rivers become polluted when there’s no one who takes pride in the river, who sees the river as their responsibility, that’s what I mean by propriatorship or ownership. Now, I express this in terms of propriatorship because this is how I see “People thinking they own the earth is the”… solution not the problem. And because legally recognised ownership brings certainty, if there’s not long term certainty of ownership, or resale value, land (and just about anything else you can name) becomes exploited for short term gain.
              My observation is that the State is more likely to see things from a short term perspective because politicians planning is heavily weighted for the length of the electoral term, this is why placing faith in politicians implementing serious measures to actually achieve goals like 10:10, (but especially) 30:30, or 50:50, is laughably naive, we need social and economic systems that motivate us to principally rely on ourselves for the long term welfare of ourselves and our families, it’s how nature intended it.

              I think resource depletion is going to make supporting the billions very difficult through the next 20 years, and I think turning away from the markets and relying on the state to get us through a nasty crunch is likely to make things far worse, reducing marginal returns even further.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Tainter

            6. “Don’t knock that monoculture farming, it feeds billions of people”

              I grew up on a farm and am well aware of monoculture’s place in the world food system, but just because it’s the one we have doesn’t mean it’s the only one capable of feeding the world.

              “this is how I see “People thinking they own the earth is the”… solution not the problem”

              The trouble with this is that people thinking they own things tends to lead to people thinking they have the right to exploit things for short term gain. Rights and responsibilities are all very well but not everyone in a position of ownership recognises the same responsibilities and people care about these resources for different reasons.

              Take the mining lobbies – they care about the DOC land they’re after but certainly not for the same reasons I do. I see our responsibility as being to pass on significant areas of natural biodiversity to future generations, they see their responsibilities as passing on as much money as possible on to their stakeholders by digging up the land. How do we decide whose framework of rights and responsibilities should apply?

              The concept of ownership places man in precisely the wrong hierachical relationship to the land.

            7. “we need social and economic systems that motivate us to principally rely on ourselves for the long term welfare of ourselves and our families, it’s how nature intended it.”

              Nature doesn’t intend anything. What you say is fine: It will mean that in any crisis the group with the greatest power (militarily) will take what they need at the expense of weaker and poorer nations. This is how nature works.

              The billions will not be fed by capitalism. The hungry poor are not being fed now.

              If your goal is feeding the people the key will be maximising local food systems and minimising the degree to which food is carted across the globe. It will be setting up sustainable food production that does not require external energy inputs in the form of fertilisers and irrigation and it will require the adoption of more efficient diets – predominately vegetarian rather than wastefully eating meat at every meal.

              I am not confident that these things will come to pass, but I can guarantee you that market capitalism will not feed the hungry poor masses.

              “I think resource depletion is going to make supporting the billions very difficult through the next 20 years, and I think turning away from the markets and relying on the state to get us through a nasty crunch is likely to make things far worse, reducing marginal returns even further.”

              I can’t see how markets will solve the problems you describe. Capitalism will continue to furnish the rich with ever larger televisions while the poor continue to starve.

              The state may not be the solution either but your faith in markets is misplaced and entirely due to the fact that you are in a society which is largely a beneficiary of capitalist markets rather than a victim of them.

        2. I’ve got no problem with the concept of an adjusted capitalism. Just not laissez-faire. Externalities are an issue that need to be addressed. Corporate responsibility is an issue that needs to be addressed. Monopolies to Oligarchies ruin the preconditions that a functioning Market requires to work. Hot Money and most currency speculation is a means for leeches to sap the world of its hard-earned wealth, far too quickly. GDP is a totally inadequate measure of the success of capitalism.

          With small adjustments one could potentially save Capitalism and solve the major world issues of poverty, climate change and possibly more.

          I’ll pass on further “baby steps” of your brain damage, thanks. If you think Socialism is the only alternative, you’re clearly living in some alternate ideological universe of black and white and shallow thought.

          1. For once SamV, I agree with you (everything you said in paragraph 1).

            I think capitalism and socialism are not mutually exclusive though.

            I have always preferred to view capitalism as a method of investment. A planned economy can not be a capitalist economy because investment are not based on required risk and return of those who have capital, but what the central planner thinks is best.

            Socialism can exist with capitalism, in fact it should, the degree of socialism is the question for debate.

            IF I believed AGW then I would absolutely support the internalising of the externality through a tax or cap-and-trade system (the main problem being united global action to avoid leakage).

            I think rather than capitalism failing it is the international community and the unfortunate tragedy of the commons that has developed.

            Also, I think we have a US lead system now where instead of savings and capital deciding investments (capitalism) it is debt and the central bank…. (ie the central planner wants more investment so lowers interest rates, not a free market)

  8. Hmm the RMA gets a lot of bad press, but it is the only way that people who have developments imposed upon them can have any voice.

    If it was a perfect world where no human activity imposes unpaid costs on others then it wouldn’t be necessary. But it is not and the RMA is a very democratic process for addressing these tensions.

    I would remind people that most people who use the RMA to oppose developments are not environmentists but are people who just live next door. I don’t think the farming communities of the Waikato who are opposing the transmission upgrade would consider themselves as Green Party supports (well not yet maybe).

    1. “it is the only way that people who have developments imposed upon them can have any voice. ”

      So before the RMA people opposed to developments had no voice??

      “most people who use the RMA to oppose developments are not environmentalists but are people who just live next door.”

      Yep, we’ve even seen it used by supermarket chains to stop competitors entering a market, that’s exactly my point, it’s a piece of legislation that is often used for purposes for which it was not intended, and on that basis it’s bad legislation. It can be incredibly destructive, pushing up costs to the point at which necessary improvements are no longer viable, increasing costs to the whole economy.

  9. Before we had the RMA we had a number of pieces of legislation the main one being the Town and Country Planning Act. One of the problems with the Town and Country PA was that standing in proceedings was highly restricted and non-development interests (e.g. non-use, recreational, ecological) were excluded.

    The RMA does get abused and needs to be reviewed like all legislation. Using the RMA as an anticompetitive tool is not permitted by the legislation. So why aren’t these parties held to account.

    What would you suggest to improve it? I think that a blanket tightening up of participation will not address your concerns and restrict people who have legitimate interests.

    This may suit the (some) developers, but isn’t going to do much for sustaining NZ green branding.

    Perhaps we could change our brand to:
    NZ 25% PURE – pretty much like everywhere else.

    I am sure that will sell alot of plane tickets and wine.

    Doug

    1. “What would you suggest to improve it?”

      I’d be interested in a system that would allow developers to buy out NIMBY’s at market value, and then resell at the new and presumably lower market value (if the NIMBY’s concerns were genuine).

      Do you think that the NZ100% PURE slogan is an accurate reflection of NZ, and that legislation that favours thermal generation over renewables supports this slogan? Do you think a failure to restrict renewable generation would somehow justify your NZ 25% PURE slogan?

      1. “I’d be interested in a system that would allow developers to buy out NIMBY’s at market value, and then resell at the new and presumably lower market value”

        We already have one. It’s called “the free market”. There’s nothing stopping anyone from taking this course of action right now.

        1. “There’s nothing stopping anyone from taking this course of action right now.”

          Other than the reality of what actually happens when property owners (even one out of hundreds) know they can stop a development by refusing to sell. Which is why compulsory sale of property can be used by the state for roading developments.

            1. Yep, the way I’d do it is have a flat rate assets tax with people making their own assessment of their own assets worth and with anyone else able to buy the asset off them at that assessed value, I think a tax rate of 2% would be about right, while getting rid of the other general taxes(GST, income tax).
              But that’s another debate.

            2. What if I happen to value the family home I have grown up in and wish to pass on to my children at above market rates?

              What if I don’t want to sell?

            1. I’m arguing for a system that taxes assets (including property), and increases the availability of assets (including property) to those who can get the best return on it, sometimes the state manages to recognise the need for practical solutions, even though they usually use the wrong method (ie not the market) to achieve those solutions.

  10. “I’d be interested in a system that would allow developers to buy out NIMBY’s at market value, and then resell at the new and presumably lower market value (if the NIMBY’s concerns were genuine).”

    Except that for Hayes, you cant buy the NIMBYs. The Upland protection and people like Graeme Sydney are protecting a landscape, not their own view. The “back yard” here being the perception that central otago landscape is all of otago’s back yard.
    Sorting out complex sets of values like this is always going to be a difficult issue. Here I think they got it wrong. We are going to need 10,000 or so windmills, and they need to be windy places. I dont think you have to yes to every scheme, but I think we need some more rational way of prioritizing potential sites.

  11. “We are going to need 10,000 or so windmills, and they need to be windy places. I dont think you have to yes to every scheme, but I think we need some more rational way of prioritizing potential sites.”

    Its the ‘need’ that I struggle with. If we were building wind generation to reduce thermal power generation, and therefore carbon emissions, there might be some point to building 10,000 wind turbines. In reality we build wind generation and build thermal generation. How does that move us towards a low-carbon economy?

  12. With enough wind, (and especially a carbon cost to generating), then thermal generation would bow out – a standby capacity perhaps. The acid really goes on when we get to stage of electrication of transport. With so much of energy budget spent on just moving around, either the need to decrease emissions and/or price of oil is going to drive this. If you consider that 50% of energy use is currently from oil, then our appetite for electricity is going rise significantly.

    1. Possibly the rise wouldn’t be quite as large as you think, electrified transport is much more energy efficient than fossil fueled, and the timing of vehicle battery charging can be done so as to flatten out demand and supply fluctuations, this storage capacity could substantially mitigate demand/supply stability concerns inherent in using wind as a major energy source.
      Also, will Tiwai point be able to compete with electrified transport? If not that’s a huge present consumer gone.

  13. nommopilot: “What if I don’t want to sell?”
    If you value it higher, value it higher, maybe 30% above market?

    “I grew up on a farm and am well aware of monoculture’s place in the world food system, but just because it’s the one we have doesn’t mean it’s the only one capable of feeding the world.”

    The evidence is that it is the only one capable of feeding the world at a cost that most can afford, those that can’t afford are at the mercy of socialism.

    “The trouble with this is that people thinking they own things tends to lead to people thinking they have the right to exploit things for short term gain.”

    Dealt with.

    “Take the mining lobbies – they care about the DOC land they’re after but certainly not for the same reasons I do.”

    Valid point, so the State puts a value on native forest high enough to stop it’s purchase by miners, there has to be a very high economic benefit to justify its purchase for mineral extraction.
    You may argue that no DOC land should ever be mined under any circumstances, in which case you and I disagree, in this instance for me there are no absolutes.

    “The concept of ownership places man in precisely the wrong hierachical relationship to the land.”

    I don’t see that statement being connected to reality.

    “It will mean that in any crisis the group with the greatest power (militarily) will take what they need at the expense of weaker and poorer nations. This is how nature works.”

    >The great nations have always acted like gangsters, and the small nations like prostitutes.
    Stanley Kubrick

    It’s how it works now, in todays wealthy world conflict is relatively rare (both domestically and internationally) because the cost of conflict is usually seen as being greater than the benefits. When the greater power sees the benefits of conflict as being greater than the cost, conflict occurs.

    “The billions will not be fed by capitalism. The hungry poor are not being fed now.”

    Aid, (from capitalist countries) feeds many of the poor. It’s no coincidence that it’s the countries that don’t have free markets that are the poorest.
    Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of Southern Africa, the mismanagement typical of socialism has destroyed it. Have you got ANY example of countries that are prosperous as a result of restricting free markets?

    “If your goal is feeding the people the key will be maximising local food systems and minimising the degree to which food is carted across the globe. It will be setting up sustainable food production that does not require external energy inputs in the form of fertilisers and irrigation and it will require the adoption of more efficient diets – predominately vegetarian rather than wastefully eating meat at every meal.”

    You role several distinct issues into one here.
    Global food distribution is what prevents starvation every time the crops fail somewhere on the globe.
    Without irrigation and fertilisers we couldn’t feed todays population, yes these inputs need to be managed sustainably. which means that to feed todays population we need sustainable energy inputs.
    The world does produce enough food today to feed itself (despite messes like Zimbabwe and North Korea), if in the future producing enough food means reducing meat consumption, in a free market the price of meat will go up, and meat consumption will decline, with no free market those people in the state system in a position to look after themselves, and their sycophants will do so, you think Mugabe or Kim Jong-il have worries about putting food on their own tables?

    “I can guarantee you that market capitalism will not feed the hungry poor masses.”

    An absolutely meaningless guarantee.

    “you are in a society which is largely a beneficiary of capitalist markets” for which I’m thankful “rather than a victim of them” So who’re these “victims”?

    1. “in todays wealthy world conflict is relatively rare”
      Um, what planet are you on? There may not be conflict where you are, you don’t live in Africa or the Middle East.
      Conflict will only get more common as resources get more scarce.

      “You may argue that no DOC land should ever be mined under any circumstances, in which case you and I disagree, in this instance for me there are no absolutes.”

      I argue that the current generation should be recognising the value of resources to future generations which it currently doesn’t. By the time the TVs being produced now are long buried in landfill (ie in about 30 years) the resources used to make them will be far more valuable and will probably be able to be utilised with less pollution.

      Imagine your grandchildren thinking of Tui or Bellbird in the same way we think of Moa or Haast Eagle – semi-mythical creatures. For you there may be no absolutes, for me I think the deforestation and extinctions that have taken place in this country’s history are absolutely disgraceful and the prospect of further erosion of the tiny fraction of remaining native bush is absolutely abhorrent. No absolutes means at the right price you would countenance New Zealand being converted to a gigantic deserted pit in the ground. I absolutely wouldn’t.

      Aid is not an example of capitalist markets solving the problem of hunger, it is evidence of capitalism’s failure to do so. The reason it cannot succeed is that poor nations never have the money to pay for the food they need or the economic power to negotiate fairly with the corporations which seek to exploit their resources.
      The aid the rich world pay is a pittance – given the exploitation that took place as those nations colonised the world and pillaged its resources to get themselves where they are – and is usually tied to debilitating loans and trade agreements which hamstring their attempts to climb out of poverty. Witness how the IMF stopped Jamaica’s food production and forced them to borrow money to import food (the documentary “Life and Debt” I highly recommend).

      Your criticism of socialism is that those “in the state system in a position to look after themselves, and their sycophants will do so” but this is the exact case with capitalism also. Those that can afford meat aren’t going to forego it so that the poor will have enough. An increased price on meat will lead to greater meat production which is a severely less efficient way to feed people with far higher energy inputs and far higher energy wastage (not to mention emissions). The market cannot address these issues without modification or intervention.
      It still comes down to those with power (whether economic or political) exploiting those without.

      You are constantly ascribing my arguments to a defence of socialism which they are not. I do not think either system works, nor do I think these are the only two alternatives. But both allow small sectors with political power to enrich themselves at the expense of the masses and this is the problem. The solution must be a system whereby everybody gets the basics (food, water, shelter, education), before anybody gets the luxuries. As to how this can be brought about… ? I don’t know…

      1. “Um, what planet are you on?”
        It’s easy to be deceived into thinking present day levels of violence are high when you have little understand of just how violent the past has been.
        http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2007/03/07/steven-pinker-on-the-decline-of-violence/

        And as you point out, the wealthy parts of the globe are more peaceful than the poorer.
        And as you point out, conflict will get more common if/as resources get more scarce (and poverty increases) .

        I’m not in a position to comment on “Life and Debt”, but
        I can point out that Michael Manley never implemented many of the free market reforms that were advocated by the IMF, and that as a socialist and trade unionist, his focus was always on protecting the worker and was effective in opposing labour market reforms, wages in Jamaica climbed to levels way above what the levels of productivity could justify, unions in effect had a labour market monopoly, which they exploited as market monopolies can be expected to do.
        I understand that’s what killed the recovery and virtually sunk the Jamaican tourist industry.
        Having traveled through some of the poorest (Zimbabwe, Liberia, Sierra Leone), some middle rung (Zambia, Kenya) and some of the richest (Botswana) countries in sub-Sahara Africa, I can tell you that my observation is that those economies suffering the least government control are doing the best.

        “As to how this can be brought about… ? I don’t know…”
        When you do know, don’t keep it a secret. Until then the free market in the best we’ve got as an economic system for efficiently creating wealth.

        1. “the free market in the best we’ve got as an economic system for efficiently creating wealth”

          I don’t think we’re going to come to agreement about any of this, especially not this idea of ‘creating’ wealth. Whenever someone gets richer it is because somewhere else someone has become poorer, whether it be the poor, the third world, future generations…

  14. “Whenever someone gets richer it is because somewhere else someone has become poorer, whether it be the poor, the third world, future generations…”

    So, so wrong.

    Simple illustration; If a man alone on an island builds a shelter and catches some fish, he is richer, who is poorer?
    If towns people build a hall that lasts for hundreds of years, they are richer, their decedents will be richer, who is poorer?
    If a damn is built that generates electricity for a century etc, etc..
    Wealth creation is not a zero sum game, though civilisation can have costs – and benefits into the future.

    While entropy always increases we (and other life) have the option of using the energy available, or not using it.
    Life on Earth uses solar energy, who would be richer if there was no life here, if the energy fell on a lifeless Earth?

    I understand that there were extensive comments by Michael Manley in that doco, you’ll understand my scepticism of a documentary that relies heavily on the views of the politician who was in power when his country got into the sh*t, and who goes and attributes the blame to the IMF, or who ever else as long as not to his own errors.
    I’d suggest you treat all sources of information with scepticism, checking them against other, contrary sources as much as you can.

    My regards

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