(2) Degrees of existence

According to a UN Environment Programme report released yesterday, The Emissions Gap Report – Are the Copenhagen Accord Pledges Sufficient to Limit Global Warming to 2° C or 1.5° C? (summary PDF), if the planet is to have a reasonable (defined as 66%) chance of limiting warming to 2ºC, global emissions will have to peak before 2020, with emissions in 2020 of around 44 GtCO2e and reducing sharply thereafter. The report assesses the Copenhagen Accord pledges as likely to deliver best case 2020 emissions of about 49 GtCO2e. — leaving a “gap” of at least 5 GtCO2e between commitments and ambition. A “lenient” interpretation of the Accord could result in emissions little different to business as usual.

In order to close that gap, the report suggests that countries could adopt higher conditional targets, avoid the use of surplus emissions units (so-called “hot air”), and ensure strict rules for land use change and forestry carbon accounting. The good news is that the report suggests this might be possible. The bad news is that to have a reasonable chance of hitting a 1.5ºC target emissions will have to reduce by 4 – 5% per year after 2020, and move into negative (removing carbon from the atmosphere) territory after 2050. The report suggests this could be done by huge afforestation projects and using biomass energy generation with carbon capture and storage.

The UNEP report is part of the stage setting for the COP16 conference in Cancun beginning next week. More coverage at the BBC, Independent, and Guardian. Richard Black at the Beeb puts the worst case in the lead:

The promises countries have made to control carbon emissions will see temperatures rise by up to 4ºC during this century, a UN report concludes.

Ban Ki-moon was a bit more up-beat (that’s his job):

“I encourage all Parties to make good on their national mitigation pledges, and to further progress within the negotiations as well as through strengthened efforts on the ground to curb emissions. There is no time to waste. By closing the gap between the science and current ambition levels, we can seize the opportunity to usher in a new era of low-carbon prosperity and sustainable development for all.”

Sounds good. Sounds implausible. The gap between commitment and ambition is big and getting bigger by the day. Even a global recession could only trim last year’s emissions by 1.3% compared with the year before, as emissions growth in China and India more than made up for falls in the US, EU and Japan. The UNEP report suggests that there’s still a way to avoid the most damaging warming, but a look at ambitions for Cancun indicates the political will is lacking.

[Update: Barry Brook has a guest post from Tom Wigley looking at the likely climate system response to achieving zero emissions by 2050.]


Green opportunities far outweigh the costs

Fifth contribution to the Imagining 2020 series of essays comes from Phillip Mills, executive director of Les Mills International, who describes his vision for a low carbon future based on ‘clean technology’. Phillip, with a group of leading members of the NZ business community, has been urging the NZ government to work on cleantech/greentech initiatives. He received a World Class New Zealand Award for New Thinking in 2009 and was Ernst & Young New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004.

The transition to a low carbon future is something most economies are grappling with, and if they’re not, they should be. There’s much talk about what this might look like and whether it will require cataclysmic change. From where I sit the short answer is no. And that’s because my vision for a low carbon future is based on switching the dialogue from costs to opportunities. The opportunities are those inherent in the clean technology boom and they are huge.

While most New Zealanders agree we need to lift our economic game and get growth ticking at a faster rate, we are currently busting our guts to raise productivity under what’s become a tired, outdated economic structure.


Consider the following:

  • We’re working longer hours but achieving lower productivity than others in the OECD.
  • Unemployment is at its highest level in a decade
  • As a small pastoral economy we are at risk of being sucked dry by spiralling resource costs because of the increasing affluence of emerging economies.
  • Cracks have appeared in our 100% Pure New Zealand brand, compared with our actual behaviour. Several articles in international media last year took us to task for our environmental performance and it’s clear we need to do more, environmentally, to protect our brand and our export and tourism industries. Instead, in firming up intentions to intensify farming and allow mining on Crown land including parts of the conservation estate, the Government is running the risk of further sacrificing our brand, if not our environmental quality.

It’s time for an entirely new economic engine to power us towards a brighter future within a low-carbon economy.

It’s time for an entirely new economic engine to power us towards a brighter future within a low-carbon economy. This requires a shift in our focus to what’s called ‘clean technology’ – developing and commercialising innovative, green technologies in the areas of clean energy, clean transportation, clean industry, clean agriculture and the environment.

This isn’t just another short-lived, green fad for those with a penchant for tree-hugging. The ‘green wave’ may be slow rolling at present but will, over the next decade, gather force for an economic boom on a scale to rival the information age and the industrial revolution. Certainly, this is an area where New Zealand needs to be ahead of the pack.

A number of New Zealand business leaders have teamed together to cast a vision for a clean economy. We believe we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform New Zealand’s economy by gaining early-mover status in the emergent, clean technology market. This year, we have sent a book by Australian economist Ben McNeil: The Clean Industrial Revolution to all Members of Parliament, detailing the compelling economic argument for our case.

In summary, putting focus on the emergent, clean-tech market presents a compelling opportunity for New Zealand to:

  • Reverse our slide down the OECD tables through the creation and attraction of major new industries and the addition of significant value to our biggest current ones
  • Add brand value and reduce the risk of significant and possibly irreparable brand damage to exports and tourism
  • Cut costs at a national and individual business level
  • Reduce our exposure to risks such as escalating foreign oil and resource costs, carbon costs and tariffs (legislated and market-led).

A clean, low-carbon economy is highly efficient and fiercely competitive. It holds the promise of prosperity for all New Zealanders by inspiring new jobs and retraining, higher-value exports and a stronger eco-brand to attract overseas tourists and consumers.

The nay-sayers talk about the cost of developing and implementing clean technologies. But the fact is the opportunities far outweigh the costs.

The nay-sayers talk about the cost of developing and implementing clean technologies. But the fact is the opportunities far outweigh the costs. Denmark, with a similar population to New Zealand, decided to champion wind energy and now supplies more than half the world’s wind turbines, The Danes have added tens of thousands of high value jobs to their economy, reduced their carbon intensity by a third in ten years, dramatically reduced their exposure to imported energy costs and created a new export business the size of Fonterra – earning $15 billion a year in exports alone.

Germany and Sweden, also early movers in green-tech, have had similar results and the rest of the world is beginning to wake up. In the US, President Barack Obama has promised significant investment to move to an alternative energy economy. Indeed, American businesses are investing heavily in the development and use of clean technologies as the basis of the country’s next wave of wealth generation.

Countries and companies who are investing in clean technologies also reduce expenditure on raw materials and energy, achieve greater efficiency and less waste at a huge rate of return on their investments.

To “do a Denmark” and really win this game as a nation, New Zealand needs to identify our greatest opportunities – clean agriculture and various renewable energy sources are obvious candidates – then pin our ears back and go for them.

We’re already blessed with huge natural advantages in this area. And we can be encouraged that hundreds of Kiwi companies already recognise this and are quietly leading the way. They include start-up companies such as Lanzatech – making ethanol from flue gases; to Air New Zealand – recognised as the world’s greenest airline. Todd Energy is investing in tidal power generation in the Kaipara and our biggest exporter, Fonterra, outlined its benefits from climate change, energy and sustainability strategies at the World Environment Day symposium in June.

We need the same visionary leadership that led to the creation of our hydro dams and state forests in the 1930s

Local supporters of the clean-tech revolution now number more than 100 senior business leaders and we’re working hard to urge the Government to set up a joint government and business investigative committee to identify the best opportunities and the most efficient ways to capitalise on them through a “clean tech’ strategy for New Zealand. We need the same visionary leadership that led to the creation of our hydro dams and state forests in the 1930s; the Vogel Government’s development of telegraph, national railways and shipping links and the introduction of refrigerated shipping that opened our farming industry to the world.

Rather than playing catch-up with Australia, let’s surpass our trans-Tasman cousins with a strong, clean economy that enables us to live our values and is viable over the long-term. I’d welcome discussion on this important issue.

Imagining 2020: Green Crude

The fourth contribution to the Imagining 2020 series of essays comes from Pete Fowler, who takes a look at producing biofuel from algae as a sustainable means of meeting our liquid fuel needs. If you’d like to contribute your vision of a low-carbon future for New Zealand, please get in touch — details at the end of the piece.

I was very pessimistic until last year about our prospects of weaning off fossil fuels before reaching an irreversible tipping point. Some positive feedback loop would kick in, like higher temperatures releasing trapped methane from arctic permafrost and seafloor sediments. Increased atmospheric methane, about 30 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2, would further raise temperatures. End result? Within a few decades Earth would be as hot as Venus. The whole of humanity would go the way of the civilisations described by Jared Diamond in Collapse, who could see they were on a track to self destruction but were unable to alter course.

In 2008 I read one of the most positive books ever written; The Singularity Is Near, by Ray Kurzweil. He points out that whichever way you measure the rate of technological change, it accelerates exponentially. Moore’s law for instance predicted in 1965 that artificial intelligence would double in complexity and halve in cost every two years. It’s held for the last 44 years, and if it continues to hold until 2020, we’ll then have machines approaching human intelligence.

Kurzweil maintains that right now, nanotechnology, genetic engineering and robotics are the main drivers of technological advance. The production of crude oil from atmospheric CO2 and water will be mostly a triumph of genetic engineering.

Nature took hundreds of millions of years to produce the crude oil which, in about 200 years, we’ll have exhausted. If we can speed up this process, and produce all our liquid fuels and chemical industry feedstocks, and some stock feed and human food from atmospheric CO2 and waste, by a process many times as efficient as farming, without diverting farmland or native bush, on the same timescale as the rate at which we deplete fossil fuel, we’ll have solved the problems of peak oil and global warming, and a few lesser problems.

Conventional biofuel production isn’t particularly efficient. It requires fuel inputs for farm vehicles, and it either diverts farmland away from food production or destroys native bush. Only an average 300 watts per square metre world wide of sunlight is available for photosynthesis, and natural photosynthesis isn’t a very efficient way to convert sunlight to chemical energy. The most efficient fuel crop is sugar cane, fermented to ethanol. It yields up to three harvests a year. But it’s labour and land intensive, requires fuel for farm machinery and transport, it increases the cost of food and only grows in the tropics. Because all conventional crops need further processing in different places before they reach the petrol pump or dinner table, their total number of carbon kilometres is typically several times the distance round the world.

What’s needed is a continuous process, not a batch process like conventional harvesting. The world is running out of land suitable for conversion to farming. An algae reactor can be set up on land which is unsuitable for farming or anything else, and can still produce more than 15 times as much fuel per hectare as canola or palms. Unlike natural crude, it can yield a product free of contaminants like nitrogen, sulphur or benzene. The first generation will use sunlight for their energy source, but later, as energy sources like pebble bed fission reactors and ultimately nuclear fusion become available, these will drastically increase yield.

Some natural cyanobacteria can double their mass every hour. With genetic engineering, high temperature varieties, and varieties which fix their own nitrogen from the atmosphere are possible. The obvious raw materials to use are untreated sewage and atmospheric CO2, helping to solve two environmental problems. Eventually, when energy sources other than sunlight are available, the demand for sewage will outstrip supply, and other sources of micronutrients will be needed. But as with conventional agriculture, micronutrients are in principle recyclable. All you need is a way to reclaim elements like phosphorus, sulphur, iron, molybdenum and the rest. This is feasible with a bioreactor producing algae, but not on a conventional farm, where they drain away, and not only are they wasted, but they cause problems like nitrate in drinking water and eutrophication in waterways.

The only high tech part of producing green crude is the final step; converting algae into oil. There’s no reason why bioreactors can’t be operated in the world’s poorest countries, as well as everywhere else where a demand for the products exists. Being a factory, rather than an outdoor farm operation, it can be conducted close to population centres, or anywhere else. CO2 is available everywhere, and low-grade water supplies unfit for human consumption, almost everywhere.

An obvious location for a bioreactor is right next to a thermal power station, where there’s waste CO2, waste heat and transmission loss free electricity, but in principle one can operate anywhere.

The algae is harvested continuously, 24/7. Currently four technologies exist to extract the oil:

  1. Dry the algae and press the oil out. This is the simplest method.
  2. Dissolve the oil in a supercritical fluid like CO2 at high pressure. When pressure is reduced the oil separates out and the CO2 is reused. This is the most promising method.
  3. Hexane solvent. Hexane, a hydrocarbon similar to petrol, dissolves the oil. The hexane is then separated from the oil and reused.
  4. Ultrasound breaks open the algae cells, and the oil is pressed out.

The remaining dry matter is a high protein stock feed.

A bioreactor producing algae which are processed into liquid fuels, foods and petrochemicals, is a machine for converting waste, including CO2, into essential commodities which are getting scarcer every year. The only input needed is energy. It’s a closed loop. There is no waste and no collateral damage to the environment.

The “Imagining 2020″ Series of articles is a creative commons discussion effort coordinated by Scoop.co.nz , Hot-Topic.co.nz and Celsias.co.nz. Contributions are welcome from all comers. Please see the introduction for an explanation of the project and instructions for how to contribute.

Imagining 2020: The age of the bloody lucky

Third essay in the Imagining 2002 series comes from Imagineer Dave McArthur, who examines how NZ made the transition “from being per capita one of the most violent and polluting nations on the planet to a centre of harmonious practice”.

It is 2020 and we have finally worked out the nature of the mysterious force that came to dominate human affaires and transformed global society a decade earlier. A consensus now exists that if this force had not emerged then the existing play of physical forces were all set to form a confluence that would have resulted almost certainly in a catastrophic world war about 2013 in which many billions of people perished in terrible ways.

All manner of experts have endeavoured to identify this great force that prevented such misery and grief. Only now are we aware of how its enormous transformative potential existed in a latent form in nations for centuries. There are few records of it being mentioned in the daily discourse of people this last century or so and we still do not understand how humans suddenly were able to harness its powers so effectively. This much is known:

In the 20th Century we human beings had developed industrialised processes of slaughter of all kinds of creatures, including the massacre of our own species on continental scale. By 2009 many people were feeling helpless as they and their communities were buffeted by an aggregation of hostile forces – climatic, hygroscopic, hydrologic, carbonic, phosphoric and other elements that normally sustain human life. Studies of the language of the period reveal much self-hatred and the demonising of other races and cultures, carbon, climate change, water, global warming and even energy itself.

The rare accounts we have of those who don’t generally write the history books indicates that many people had gut feelings of increasing impotency and deep dread of imminent societal collapse. It is clear that media accounts and official statistics of the period did not accurately reflect their experience of growing inflation and loss of wealth, rising household debt, malnourishment, pollution and crime. It is evident that by 2009 this was also occurring on scale to the middle class in supposedly rich countries.

All manner of systems, including credit systems, built on a valuation of mineral oil of $US25 a barrel were imploding. They were set for imminent collapse as this immensely valuable mineral resource was being depleted in insane ways (private cars, trucks, jets, fertiliser, “disposable” items etc.).

This confluence of forces made a seismic lurch into catastrophic warfare inevitable.

It is probable that a combination of the widespread gut feelings of the futility of war and a desire for civilisation generated the behavioural change. It is instructive to study the transformation of the small country of New Zealand. It changed from being per capita one of the most violent and polluting nations on the planet to a centre of harmonious practice. We are now aware that the following prime changes occurred.


Traditionally the abuse of the nation’s carbon, water, solar and electrical potential had been enabled by a curriculum that taught that science is a way of thinking devoid of moral force. The result was a reverence for an amoral, all-powerful god called “The Market” plus the destruction of most of New Zealand’s forests and much of its soil, water and air quality.

By 2009 the new neurophysics research capacity showed clearly the powerful and integrated roles of our primal psychology, “mirror neurons” and symbol use. Quantum physics indicated information is physical. We know some people were concerned too by documentation showing that the average New Zealander consumed resources at over five times the sustainable rate of planet Earth. We know some also realised the nation’s high level of destruction of remaining mineral oil and gas reserves would have an incalculable negative affect on our options in 2020 and beyond.

These are some of the possible reasons why a national consensus emerged in 2010 that an education system could no longer be evaluated by what its graduates said. The truer measure of quality education is what graduates actually do.

This new measure immediately revealed the traditional Education Curriculum Framework was fatally flawed. The subsequent review redefined the nature and role of science. Science became the driver of all education and was redefined as a state of being in which the following qualities are each necessary requisites for the state of science to exist:

  • Compassion in learning
  • Collegiality and sharing
  • Time and reflection
  • Inquiry and inclusiveness
  • Honesty and trust

The effects of this new National Education Curriculum Framework were almost instantaneous and profound. A great transformative force occurred. Students now understood science is a state almost every human is born into. They were no longer taught that Science is a special way of thinking, only attainable by a small clever elite called “scientists” who understood “science”.

Instead they now understood the state of science is a dynamic moral condition that enables the arts, language and civics to thrive. It is the essence of effective learning.

This new consciousness spread rapidly into communities. Schools restructured their learning activities and teachers their lifestyles. Their communities became excited by the changes and rapidly adopted them. There are many accounts in which people speak of their ”creative potential being unshackled” and experiencing “new and wonderful meaning” in their lives.

It is clear this restructured education curriculum played an essential role in releasing this mysterious potent force that came to dominate human affaires. It is difficult to determine how much the altered curriculum affected the simultaneous transformations that occurred in other spheres of human activity. [Sustainability Principles: NZ Curriculum]


Previously any fall in a nation’s population was experienced as a sign of a failing economy. People who decided to have childless and sole child families were derided as greedy and spiritually deprived, particularly in Anglo-American nations like New Zealand. Now access to family planning facilities became a universal civic right and those who decided not to propagate became revered. A nation’s health was now measured by its ability to reduce its population in careful humane ways.


For over a century an elite, usually those who most benefited from private corporations, fostered the belief that copyright law enabled creativity and wealth creation. The 2008 economic implosion in supposedly wealthy nations addicted to the copyright ethos may have alerted many people to the dangers of this myth. Nations like the USA and New Zealand which should most have profited from copyright were instead now revealed as bankrupt and dangerous.

The transformed education curriculum also made it obvious to most people that copyright destroys creativity and wealth because it disables all the requisites necessary for science to exist.

The review and mass rejection of copyright law that resulted caused a great flowering in the varieties of technology, media, music, arts and other meaningful options available.

The review and mass rejection of copyright law that resulted caused a great flowering in the varieties of technology, media, music, arts and other meaningful options available. It is difficult in 2020 to comprehend the scale of the starvation and under nourishment, wars, waste, inequity, pollution, wasteful devices and unsustainable practices that existed just ten years ago because of copyright.

“Energy” and “Power”

Study of all forms of media indicates that an oligarchy of merchant bankers dominated human discourse till a decade ago. This small group determined the use of these prime symbols. They promoted uses of these vital symbols by which the symbols were associated with the products they most profited from. By 2000 the “energy” and “power” symbols were synonymous with fossil fuels and Bulk-generated electrical products.

These symbol associations generated addictive uses of these resources and destroyed science on scale.

We now understand clearly the fatal flaw in this behaviour; the dangers of confusing energy/power with individual forms; and the dissonance generated in the denial of the Conservation Principle of Energy. All children are now taught a working knowledge of the wisdom in that great guide to symbol use –the Sustainability Principle of Energy.

Energy is now experienced as the potential of the universe(s) and power as a measure of the rate the potential is manifest. It is difficult in our current sense of bounty to imagine the sensations of deprivation and disconnection experienced by people a decade ago.


The new education curriculum had a spontaneous effect on journalism schools. Students and professionals alike were filled with a refreshed sense of science. This was incompatible with the century old corporate media structures designed to serve the short-term selfish interests of the controlling oligarchy.

Dedicated journalists realised their lifestyles defined their journalism. Many elected to work part time in manual and other jobs for independence of income and to employ the new electronic media in ways that enabled deep integrity of journalistic practice.

Dedicated journalists realised their lifestyles defined their journalism. Many elected to work part time in manual and other jobs for independence of income and to employ the new electronic media in ways that enabled deep integrity of journalistic practice. Their dedication was soon rewarded. New Zealanders, motivated by the newfound feelings of stewardship and meaning enabled by the new education curriculum, responded by supporting quality journalists directly, just as they now valued and directly supported artists, musicians, researchers, teachers et al in their communities now. Public broadcasting facilities began to flourish as the charters governing Radio NZ and Television NZ were rewritten to enable true national discourse.

Carbon Potential

New Zealand’s history since 1800 is characterised by an abuse of its carbon potential -deforestation, monoculture, destruction of soil life and high carbon pollution of the atmosphere. In the 1990s it was in the forefront of the development of a global Carbon Trading scheme by which nations ceded sovereign rights and responsibilities to an oligarchy of stateless merchant bankers/traders. In 2008 it was one of the first nations to cede away stewardship of carbon and allow this stateless oligarchy of “carbon traders” to set the value of carbon forms.

It is easy now in 2020 to identify the psychopathy and psychosis of this brutal regime. It was not so easily apparent then. We know the 2009 reforms of this “Emissions Trading Scheme” (ETS) reinforced in many New Zealanders their gut feeling of great unease that the ETS represented a gigantic rort. They sensed the hideous course of the Carbon Trader pathology.

In 2010 we see the resurrection of the NZ Values Party, based on values of personal and sovereign stewardship of carbon. This Party had unique resonance in the new spiritual climate and soon other parties withdrew support for the ETS.

Since 2010 the majority of New Zealanders have welcomed the self-imposed annual doubling in value of carbon forms like mineral oil. This has allowed the investment required to create the wonderful electrical mass transit systems and work/recreational potential we enjoy today plus the elimination of our national debt.

Modern carbon uses, such as the use of polymers for transfer and storage of electrical products and of biomass for storage of data, illustrate very clearly it is not how much carbon we use but how we use it that matters.

Electrical Potential

New Zealand’s abuse of this potential is similar in magnitude to that of its abuse of carbon. The prevalent myth, propagated by this same oligarchy of merchant traders for a century, was that their Bulk-generated electrical products ARE energy, power and electricity. This myth soon dissipated in the much-enhanced state of science that emerged. Students now associate energy and power with bounty and variety. They also now comprehend that electricity does not exist. They are careful to symbolise each of the very different electrical phenomena that do exist and this is a reason why our dwellings are now such sustainable sources of amazing electrical products.

Students are now also skilled to differentiate between “smart” and “intelligent” electrical technology”. We now recognise that “smart” uses of technology can easily destroy democracy and put us all at risk. We know that “intelligent” uses involve all the community in an equal democratic conversation of how their local electrical potential is used. Most students are now capable of rating local grids on an intelligence continuum.

It is clear this proliferation of resources could not have occurred without the repeal of the 1993 and 1998 NZ Electricity Industry Reform legislation. This repressive legislation was designed with 100% effect to remove the historic right of all New Zealand communities to own the intelligence of their local electrical potential. By 1999 not one community retained that right anymore.

It seems the repeal and re-enfranchisement of NZ citizens occurred with surprising ease. Perhaps it was the prospect of the imminent and horrific war in which our large dams and other Bulk-generation devices would be prime targets of obliteration? Perhaps it was the gut level unhappiness of their families and their staff of their roles? Whatever, records show many top managers of the Bulk-generation corporations in the sector urged the Government repeal of the Electricity Industry Reform legislation. There are many subsequent accounts in which both executives and staff speak of the sense of release, exhilaration and reward they now experience working in the multitude of community-based structures that sprang up again after the repeal.

Solar potential

In 2020 we take if for granted that before enacting any major legislation we ask how it impacts on our capacity to conserve and maximise our solar potential. A decade ago nearly all building and “environmental” regimes were designed to serve the short-term interests of the banker oligarchy. They determined how we built and used our dwellings and communities. They controlled all electrical metering and most electronic information transfers, transport structures and food distribution. Speculators commonly built to destroy urban solar potentials whereas now we would not dream of building a dwelling without, for instance its roof facing to the sun. Whereas local councils were primarily Building Code enforcers a decade ago they and the new Building Code are now the prime drivers of research and education of sustainable design.

The power of the mysterious force alluded to is such that in 2010 the NZ Minister of Energy and Resources, Hon Gerry Brownlie, realised such a title is patently ludicrous. Unlike his immediate predecessors he gained the fortitude and inspiration to transcend his ego.

The power of the mysterious force alluded to is such that in 2010 the NZ Minister of Energy and Resources, Hon Gerry Brownlie, realised such a title is patently ludicrous. Unlike his immediate predecessors he gained the fortitude and inspiration to transcend his ego. In 2010 the pretentious and destructive role of Minister of Energy was laid to rest and in its place we now have various ministries, including the Ministers for Conserving our Solar Potential, our Mineral Potential, our Electrical Potential and our Carbon Potential.


This, like Environmental Education, exists mainly in our history books now. Both are superseded by the powerful discipline of civics. Economics a decade ago is best characterised as a religion in which believers defer to an omnipotent Being called “The Market”. Study of the literature and media of last century reveals a growing tendency to ascribe all manner of human qualities to this transcendent “Being”. Typical was media statements of belief that “The Market likes/does not like this decision/that Government policy”.

In 2020 we recognise the dangerous pathology of this religion and how it nearly destroyed humanity. We now are mindful to conserve the potential of the “market symbol” and know there are all manner of markets involving every type of human interaction. To each we give a name.

Similarly Environmental Education was a sophisticated form of Banker Speak that destroyed science on scale in our communities. The advent of the science-based curriculum placed personal stewardship at the centre of the study of all disciplines. This, plus an enhanced sense of integration with all, caused both concepts to fade into irrelevance.


In 2020 in our privileged state of science the majority of citizens now embrace our roles as stewards. We are much more aware that our every action is a vote. In 2009 the average NZer had no awareness that they placed their most potent votes at the petrol pump, airline counter, supermarket checkout and dwelling switchboard. These votes determined the quality of their Parliament and thus New Zealand MPs were characterised by fear and amorality. Hansard records reveal that every party approved the ETS and Electricity Industry Reforms. It is hard now to imagine how impotent and exploited the average citizen was.

Some call 2020 the Great Solar-Electrical Age. Others who are aware of how close human kind came to triggering a catastrophic global war in 2013 call it the Age of the Bloody Lucky. Perhaps it is best known by the name of that mysterious transforming force that underpinned all the changes mentioned – The Age of Compassion. It was this force that enabled even members of the psychopathic Banker oligarchy to experience the moments of other sentient beings and to transcend their own greed and suffering for vital periods. They thus decided not to risk a vast escalation in needless misery by abusing the insights in articles like this one. Compassion prevailed.

Imagining 2020: The Age Of Smart

Second essay in the new Scoop/Celsias/Hot Topic Imagining 2020 series is a very positive view from the Climate Defence Network. Remember, if you’d like to contribute your vision of a low-carbon future for New Zealand, please get in touch — details at the end of the piece.

About this story:

This story came about because there didn’t seem to be any overall New Zealand plan to reduce our emissions – let alone at the scale and speed needed to do our fair share to avoid global climate tipping points. Yet, as life seems to go on as usual, so many of us are quietly wondering just how serious the climate crisis is and what can we do to look after our families. What we do – who reduces how fast and with how much help – are decisions for all of us. The biggest lesson from the last decade is that we can’t afford any more delay. The future is coming regardless and what we do now can make it brighter and better.

The good news is that we can do our fair share and be better off. We don’t have to shoot cows or crush all our cars. We can act smart and tell our politicians they must too. Our problems in New Zealand aren’t technology or money. The real problems are political will, business-as-usual thinking – and more delay.

2020 – The Age of Smart is a scenario of the future to get New Zealanders thinking, talking and working out how we create a low emissions country together. Our fair share means halving our current emissions by 2020 (in other words, making a reduction of 40% on 1990 levels) to have a reasonable chance of staying below 2 degrees of warming – and avoiding climate tipping points. Or to put it another way, each person on Earth has just 110 tonnes each of CO2 to emit into the atmosphere before 2050. At New Zealand’s current rates, we will use up our quota by about 2023. The following suggestions may not be the only ideas or possibilities. And we don’t have to pick up all these suggestions – but we do need to agree on a fair way forward to rapidly cut our emissions.

It’s time that scientific necessity shaped political feasibility – and urgently. If climate change is “the greatest market failure”, let’s make sure our response is New Zealand’s greatest success – for our environment and for our economy. We can start really reducing our emissions from 2010 – and do our bit to stop global disaster for our families. We must do this – and we can!

Continue reading “Imagining 2020: The Age Of Smart”