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The University of Otago's Janet Stephenson argues the current 'economic pause' is the perfect opportunity to redirect our economy to a more sustainable path

The University of Otago's Janet Stephenson argues the current 'economic pause' is the perfect opportunity to redirect our economy to a more sustainable path

The economic pause we're currently experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic is a huge opportunity to relay the economy's train tracks in a different direction towards a sustainable future, argues Janet Stephenson.

Stephenson, Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Sustainability at the University of Otago, uses an analogy of economies rolling along like trains on tracks, being locked into a pathway that's difficult to divert from.

"This pause really does seem to have enabled people to sit back a little bit [and] give them time to think. A lot of families are under a lot of stress, but as well as being under stress there has been a pause from their usual activities. So we're thinking about what is it that makes life important. And I think a lot of us are realising that our families, and that our health and welfare are the most important things," says Stephenson.

Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic is having major short-term economic shocks and social shocks, there are other longer-term risks as well, clearly caused by our current systems of production and consumption, she says.

Stephenson points to The Global Risks Report 2020 from the World Economic Forum, which lists the top five global risks in terms of likelihood as all environmental. This, she adds, suggests a lot of people around the world are taking these things very seriously.

The five are:

  • Extreme weather events (e.g. floods, storms, etc).
  • Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • Major natural disasters (e.g. earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, geomagnetic storms).
  • Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse.
  • Human-made environmental damage and disasters.

Stephenson says these issues are "longer-term therefore they're harder for the human intellect to grapple with. But they are leading us ever more into a serious pickle which will see far greater consequences than a COVID-19 epidemic."

"Because we've got this pause and because we're going to be coming back into a situation where we're both pouring a lot of energy and innovation into reinventing the economy, ...what better time to [re]invent ourselves for a sustainable future whereby our younger generations are going to thrive."

Interestingly, featuring in the Risks Report's list of top 10 risks in terms of impact is infectious diseases.

Meanwhile, in terms of the opportunity to relay the train tracks, Stephenson says a need to create jobs doesn't mean they have to be jobs leading us back to the 20th century.

"They can be investments that lead us into a 21st century solution such as clean energy opportunities, businesses getting into [a] circular economy. Lots of new businesses have been already focusing on the changes in consumer appetite for more sustainable products and services. We're looking at investments in things like massively improving our building stock, which not only has health and welfare benefits but also long-term savings for everybody. [Also] investing in new forms of transport that are going to be future proofing us as opposed to creating even greater reliance on fossil fuels," says Stephenson.

"You can come up with lots of options of what the Government should be doing in terms of its shovel ready projects, through to what potentially councils might be deciding to invest in, to what businesses are doing right through to what individual families might be looking at. So at each scale there are many things we can be doing to be resetting our economy and society into a sustainable future."

"Given we're going to be facing a period right now where the local economies need to start building up, the more that we can actually stimulate our economies by buying local, by supporting our local businesses the better. And so I think localisation has an important role to play there. Not buying off Amazon but buying from your local store," Stephenson suggests.

She's also an advocate of a circular economy, where there's a focus on eliminating waste and continually using resources.

"It's trying to use our resources much more efficiently and to reduce the waste streams out of the far end of that," says Stephenson.

In terms of reaching a sustainable future, Stephenson lists what she calls seven whetū, or stars, she thinks of as a constellation.

"Those seven items really create a constellation that I'm suggesting all of us should be aiming to actually hit at once ... every time we make an investment decision, every time we try and make a decision about okay, what's the plan for our next stage, let's take those stars all into account as we plan forward," says Stephenson.

The seven are:

1. Radically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 
2. Preparing for the impacts of climate change. 
3. Restoring the vitality of natural systems. 
4.  Increasing local, regional and national self-sufficiency. 
5.  Developing a circular economy. 
6. Being socially responsible. 
7. Working together. 

*The video accompanying this article has a few ropy moments with both audio and video. Sorry about that.

*This is the sixth interview in a series looking at reactions to and potential policy responses to the coronavirus pandemic and evolving economic downturn. 

The first interview, with staunch critic of the economic mainstream Steve Keen, is here. 
The second interview, with director at economic advisory firm Landfall Strategy Group David Skilling, is here. 
The third interview, with Motu and Victoria University's Arthur Grimes, is here. 
The fourth interview, 
with Patrick Watson, senor economic analyst at Mauldin Economics, is here.
And the fifth interview, with Climate Change Commission Chairman Rod Carr, is here.

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I just hope this “economic pause” lifts the curtain on our broken money creationist financial system we’re currently running. If we can fix that, it would go a long way to naturally becoming more sustainable.


Things are going to get more sustainable. People will be growing their own veges. Recycling and repurposing everything. Not letting anything go to waste. But it will have nothing to do with saving the environment, and everything to do with being smack bang in the middle of the worst depression the world has ever seen.

Agree but what happens if we start to grow again? Same structure, same result. We tend to forget lessons learned pretty quickly unfortunately.

People with land can grow veges, but supposedly living with space to grow veges at the scale to feed yourself is in itself unsustainable in a city environment - apparently we're also meant to be increasing our city densities. We need to question these assumptions carefully before we build our entire economy around them. We still charge huge prices for very small apartments, despite there being no land component. A lot of this stuff doesn't make sense. Seems like we have embraced all the costs of these choices but aren't so good at getting benefits out of them.

Cool report. Pandemics made it in at 5th place in 2008 and 4th in 2007 for impact, but not into the top 5 since 2007 in terms of likelihood. I didn't read much past this point.

One should always read everything, particularly if it is outside your echo-chamber comfort-zone.

I came across this, at Davos

It was obviously contra to my thinking. I watched it, decided she was all over the place and the German was there for 'balance'. The real purpose was to peddle McAfee's book More from Less I downloaded and read it. Then I went over it picking the flaws in it.

I call that 'being informed'- the alternative is being ignorant - a bloody awful epitaph.

Go well


Where’s all comments? Keep charging Janet, thanks for the story Gareth. Working together proven possible by nz LD. We could easily do the same for our environment without pausing the economy. We banned plastic bags without a hitch. Why stop there. Just ban all plastic. We will work it out. Oh and watch Planet of the HUMANS.

Currently watching it without half an hour left to run. Have watched it sort of episodically as there is a bit to sink in, and it is a bit grim, but it presents nothing more than what I already knew without even having to think about it that hard

Michael Moore

Wow! “Planet of the Humans” had One Million views in its first 48 hours on YouTube! Now, just 36 hours later, it’s near TWO MILLION VIEWS! That’s because the public knows we’re losing the climate battle, thanks to profit & greed & leaders who led us wrong.

The fake promise of renewables is epic. Wind farms and solar arrays shown aging poorly and so short live span. The mad mindlessness of biofuels is confronting. Al Gore in a whole new context.

There is no sense in demonizing those ideas, they are part of the path that will eventually lead the world to understanding the "bleedin' obvious". I think the "bleedin' obvious" might have been far too bitter a pill to swallow from the outset, in many ways it still is.

Yes, Henry. I've mentioned on another thread that you don't tell the full story.

The film is a must-watch. What it tells us is that fossil-fuel-based society is unsustainable.

What it misses, is that beyond fossil fuels, we will be running on renewables by default. That therefore we should be putting the systems in place while we still have the chance. Both sides still harbour the delusion that we can sustain BAU - just via different pathways. This is a falsehood.

The elephant in the room is nuclear, gen3 vgood, or gen4 vgreat.
It's missing a mindset of abundance.

No straight jacketed tight shoe thinking here thanks.

It isn't any such thing if you think it gives the human race the green light to continue overpopulating the planet, and pushing the natural world closer and closer to non-existence

Cheers PA.

Rabbits, hats...........

So, the supposition is that wind, solar and biomass energy are frauds perpetrated by billionaires and banksters to allow society to avoid confronting the looming limits of its population growth based on limited energy. I can accept that but to stop short of offering solutions is a cop out.

If the fix is six billion people need to be removed from the planet, then be open about it. That said, good luck convincing anyone but the zealots. Considering the Left's reaction to possible Covid-19 deaths without the Level 4 lockdown we've had (they are quite happy with a decade of depression to avoid them) there is no appetite at all for mass genocide. Surprise surprise.

Dead right, there is no appetite for mass genocide, something only you have brought up. But it's true there needs to be far fewer of us, there is a way to do without what you are suggesting, however, if we continue to stick our heads in the sand it will happen, one way or the other.
What a shame some people cannot see in anything other than black and white.
War, however, which where we are headed if we choose not to take a civilized approach, is looming ever nearer, I guess that could qualify as your mass genocide, has in the past.

I'd say there is great appetite for mass genocide in many corners of the world, just lacking the means to pull it off. Maybe we could start a business getting arms to the right people... all for a good cause of course... the environment and stuff. Takes me back to the Musket Wars. Profitable days.

You might want be a bit more specific. Something like ban all plastic from consumer retail packaging makes sense. Outright ban on all plastic everywhere.. back to the stone ages we go. As a design engineer if I had to replace at the plastic components in our systems with metal parts the lifetime pollution of our systems would go up. Making a part from stainless, and lubricating it, then replacing it when it wears out... stupidly bad idea.

It is misfires like this that the greens will never get.
'Throw red paint on fur coats' whoops the NZ possum skin market collapsed and their numbers are getting higher...

Unintended consequences happen. So stop trying new things for old problems?

Stop the same people making the same stupid mistakes. By the same people I mean politians.

As you mate Henry is so fond of blathering on about.. root cause analysis: Possums, the introduced species that should never have been released in NZ..

They are here, billions of dollars spent over 60 years on poison and they are still here in big numbers.
Trapping them and creating an income kills two birds with one stone.

And trapping won't eliminate possums, once the population falls below the concentration able to make a profitable return the trappers will move on to other grounds and the population recovers. Nor does it address stoats, rats, ferrets, rabbits etc. Not to mention the trapper have financial incentive not to eliminate possums.. last thing the want is to run out of stock. Poisoning done as a conservation measure doesn't need to generate a profit, it can be continued to the point of elimination if neccessary/worthwhile.

However you would be wrong in thinking that. Doc's poisoning system is failing dramatically and the reason for that is very simple, they don't do it properly. Same goes for ospri.
If anyone else wanted to use a poison as broadly as they do they would be held to account where as these mobs aren't, and believe me they are not above telling massive lies about it and in fact do.

Pest control is so simple, it's a case of going around and around and you will get them under control. Poison at the right time works, for rabbits it's July (hopefully earlier in the month) and the odd year March as well. Any other time and your throwing good money after bad.

This is coming from a professional rabbiter so of course I have a lot of contacts in the poison game, they all admit docs practices are a joke but there is a LOT of money being made....

Tell me how you expect to make a living when you guys have such shitty success rates:

Mr Cooper first started rabbiting in 1995, and began working for Little Valley Station in 2002.

Prior to that, he has also made two trips to Montana to work on a beef and grain ranch for the summer in 1997 and 2000.

These days, he shoots rabbits five nights a week in different station blocks every night.
"It is night work, riding a quad bike out in most conditions including in midwinter," he said.
"I average shooting fewer than 10 rabbits a night."

And thats on a station with quad bike access, using thermal imaging kit.
As for telling massive lies, i'll take that with a massive dose of salt, the anti-1080 crowd is well known for it, and some people seem far to prone to eating up conspiracy theory crap.

Hahahahaha. Know many contractors that work for doc do you?
As for anti 1080, I've used the shit in the past and still use pindone which relatively speaking is much safer.
As for little valley, I know that shooter and he's doing the job right, and if they are only getting 10 rabbits a day you won't get any better than that. However stop for 12 months and watch the numbers explode! This of course is what happens on doc land. Gestation period of a rabbit is 28 days, pregnant within 12 hours of dropping a litter. Rats are 20 days but can alter it if conditions aren't right.
Just let that sink in.

Of course your statements prove just how little you know about pest control but just to really wind you up..... did you know doc are doing a block up Tekapo at the moment, 6 guys shooting averaging one rabbit a day each. This is after an extensive poison program plus continued magtoxing (fumagent) They are about to install 200 game cameras to keep an eye on the place as well.

Cheers wirehunt.
Bloody unreal how people will swear black and blue that 1080 is the answer but if you left them two meters off a beaten track, they would be screwed.

We could do a two birds one stone thing with this.

The money doc and ospri put into 1080 should in fact be put into overseas market campaigns for a couple of years.
Create a market.
Pest eradication

Currently possum numbers are rising dramatically in Otago and i can't work out why, because both ospri and doc have been throwing poison around and doing control programs flat out.
Said with maximum sarcasm font and feeling.

1080 has not worked for the last 60 plus years, time to remove the money allocated to DoC and Ospri.
They have failed and failed badly.
All that 1080 doae is create a boom and bust cycle, it creates rat plagues that kill more native birds than it saves.
People that state that 1080 is working, here are the DoC studies to show that but if you go into these areas they are dead. The areas that have little to no 1080 are by far more alive with native species.

see above, trappers will never eradicate possums, its not in their interests, nor is it financially viable.

Instead of wasting money on poison spend that same amount on trapping. The trappers etc are held to account (unlike doc atm)
So they make a bit extra on the skins, who cares, it's not costing the tax payer one dollar more than the poison would and will produce a much better result.

Sure, try it in an area, choose a steep backcountry area with shit access. If the hunters/trapper can prove they can kill more rabbit/rats/stoats and other predators than an aerial poisoning operation then go for it.
Oh what, they only want to cherry pick the easy bits, and the species they can sell pelts from?

Your knowledge is getting better and better.

Rabbits and ferrets live in the same country, after all rabbits are ferrets main food source. Rats, stoats and possums live in different country again with possums overlapping with rabbits a bit in some areas and growing fast.

As for the rubbish you are talking, we do that country now, in fact that back country is way more preferred to rabbit. There we just deal with one land owner, the worst crap to do is what I cover. Dealing with all the townies that have bought 1/2, 5, 10 acre blocks on the edge of town, the ones that are to tired to even close a gate then wonder why they have a rabbit problem. Chuck in a few corporates and accountants and I'm so lucky. Thanks god everyone is an expert on rabbits so they can tell me how to do my job.

One of our sons was a Possum Monitoring Field Operative. Loved the work. Super physically challenging and found it more dangerous than working on a longline fishing vessel. Aside from having to maneuver your bikes (2 and 4WD) in near virgin territory - wild cats in your trapline were particularly hazardous. Monitoring work which assesses areas of 1080 drops pre and post-poison, takes you with traps where no commercial-for-profit trapper would go. I think that's the point Pragmatist is making.

You know why he ended up in those places? Because some idiot boffen in Wellington draws a line on a map and that's where the monitoring line has to go, very often not a logical place for the animals to go either. Same goes for ferret monitoring.

The poison is the easy bit, after that the real work begins, except our govt doesn't do that bit. And if it worked so well why do they keep going back to the same blocks year after year?

Yes, I understand that, the random GPS locations was what made the job interesting.

I don't understand what you mean by 'the real work begins' after the 1080 drop, but the 'govt doesn't do that bit'? What are they not doing that you think they should be?

On ground control which over time works out cheaper than poison.
Look at it this way. Say you've got a 10,000 hectare farm with a rabbit problem you've got choices to make, destock the whole farm and poison, three months until you can restock. Cost a bit over $150 a hectare for the poison job. In 2 to 3 years you will have to do it again. Interesting thing with this, the price of poisoned carrot hasn't gone up in 20 years, work that out.
Do a smaller part and do a block every year but it's got to be a three year cycle.
Have shooters, not have to lock any of it up and over time they will get on top of it, once they are a bigger area can be controlled for the same cost, cross that out, for a lower cost. (Less ammo being used )
Not do anything and walk off the farm in a very few years.

But there is no element/cost in destocking in order to poison a native forest habitat. So not sure you're analogy fits.

But I think you are saying that in the bush environment: poison year 1; trap years 2 and 3; and poison again in year 4. That would be extremely beneficial, I'm sure.

Thanks, interesting discussion!

Right track but not quite there. Poison then trap forever with costs going down because less animals to trap. To a point bigger area covered by one person but there is a top to that.
And who said anything about no destocking on doc land? they have been tripped up many times now so tend to destock tagged animals.
They did just poison a kiwi sanctuary a few months ago.
Something to think about for you though, while they did that operation the whitebait were running (out of season) now doc don't care about 1080 getting into waterways at all which is against the manufacturers recommendations, BUT they claim the numbers of bait are dropping.
No matter what 2+2=4

BS Parg. You dont know the bush or the subject. Just the same old DoC PR memo that everyone gets.
Wirehunt knows this inside out and proved you wrong.

Having said all that trapping and bounties on deer, rabbits etc was the mainstay of conservation efforts for many decades and has proven to be ineffective for exactly the reasons The Pragmatist has outlined.

Who said anything about bounties? They are no different to consumption suppliers, both human and petfood, you have to farm them to a high number to survive. It's a failed system.
Minimum is 150 rabbits a day in that game and really you aren't doing much more than breaking even at that. It's a massive amount of work and dealing with the regulations is a nightmare like you wouldn't believe. And then the processor rips you off.
That's 150 headshot rabbits, picked up, gutted and cooled, in summer absolute maximum of 15 minutes between stops to gut. Then at the end of the night you go around picking up the piles of rabbits, load them up and take them to the chiller were you crate them then do the paperwork. Then later in the day you meet the chiller truck with them and reload them into the truck.

It's a fool that says they have someone doing consumption shooting for pest control.

Give me a shout if possible. I'm keen to get out and smash some bunnies for a week or two soon.
Looking for a contact in Dunedin / Central Otago to hunt. 0211134440


The government have to play a major role in supporting small businesses and to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor for the sustainable economy in future.

Do you mean financially or in terms of quality of life? Governments should be focusing on making things like housing, food and education affordable and accessible so that people at least get a decent shot at things. If you just want to make the rich poorer then all you've done is changed a statistic, not anyone's quality of life.

Yes both financially and quality of life by implementing reasonable higher tax to corporates. If BIG CORPORATES can able to get handouts from government during downside, so why not government can regulate them with upsides when they generate more revenues. As a start with AirNZ by just increasing government shares and gradually take a whole control and divert those revenues to affordable housing, education and health.

OK, but what are the outcomes going to be? Those are sectors which have cost inflation issues - what are we actually going to get from it? Are we going to get full-online Undergrad programmes from local universities, or do people still have to show up during business hours (accessibility) if they want to upskill? Are we actually going to get houses built, or just new government departments? Are we going to see better access to cutting edge medicine like Keytruda? Remember the Govt unwound National's tax cuts - what have we actually got to show for it?

Again, inequality is a statistic. Improving quality of life actually means something. It means making a difference in people's lives.


Respectfully disagree Ben.

There are always opportunities to make changes. There is no "last" opportunity thing. Don't know where you got that narrative from.

The problem with that Ben is that politicians, regardless of what they say, are just focusing on getting into power for the next 3 years and the people that are voting for them have generally become self interested, don't vote with a utilitarian view, instead what is best for 'me, now'.

Hence we have a problem. A big problem that is imploding around the western world with neoliberal democratic societies.


8. Massively reduce population.
9. Massively reduce consumption.
10. End growth.

There, not hard to say.

Population / consumption needs to be addressed or it will be addressed for us. The Wuflu is a warning shot of over population.
The world going vegetarian to sustain the population has been talked about lately. No need just stop population growth and excessive consumption.


You give the impression elsewhere that you may be a potential National voter, whose mantra always seems to be growth, growth (growf, growf, rowf, rowf). They are about as far away politically from the sentiment you express here as you can get.
No political party has yet been prepared to go right up to this issue and address it, the Greens being the closest in as much as they do actually mention sustainable numbers. But even that is like just spitting on the iron to see if it is hot.


Just because I see the failings of the left, it dose not mean I have to go and sit with the right forever.
I believe in getting off your ass and looking after yourself within reason. There can be a few that can be looked after but to continue to drag the stupid and useless along never ends and only encourages them to create more stupid useless bugga's. Anyway that isn't really the topic.
In the terms of world sustainability, we need to stop growth and consumption, it's a no brainer.
You mentioned that the Greens are trying to promote this. The problem with the Greens is that they are useless and couldn't organize anything. Yes their words are like spit hitting a hot iron because anything they say is a waste of breath.

'Greens is that they are useless and couldn't organize anything'

If they get 40% in an election and have the mandate to actual direct the country I'm sure they could organise 'anything'. But they haven't had the mandate nor support and they get drowned out by being the minnow that has to give confidence and supply, but not much more.

It is too late for this green party.
They have come out with too many ideas that were just stupid and they are not organized. Give them your vote??? No way, I've seen and heard them floundering arround being small time, it is a waste of a vote.
They are small time because they think and act small time so they will never get 40% of the vote due to that.

I'm sure if National (or Labour...),at some point in the future, get less than 10% of the vote, they will be viewed through the same paradigm.

Correct but it won't be the Greens in the front.
Labour and National should have stronger green mandates and just get rid of the Green Party.

Get rid of or seriously tone down the SJW side of the greens and they can have my vote.

All they are and all they will be is a glorified lobby group, if they continue the way they are going.

Confidence and supply is where our politicians fail to understand how MMP should work.
The minor parties can back either big party BUT they can use their feet on any issue they don't agree with.
In fact if they actually did this they may find themselves on a more level playing field at election time. No matter what party you back they all do things against the policies we vote them in on.
I'd be amazed if anyone agreed with every policy the party they back had.

Stick to their Party ideals not 'we must all do this'.

God help us if they got 40%

Birthrates in populations in the West and Northeast Asia are already well replacement levels. If left alone, the "problem" will solve itself. Even in Mexico and in Turkey, the birthrate at 2.1 children per woman in 2019 is only at sustainable levels.

Such lovely ideals. Where is this harmonious, peace loving, humanity going to spring from because evolution and natural selection hasn't built us that way and we are a way off over coming it's traits.

Well quite a few are like that but there is the element that are all want, want want... and for everybody else that becomes the standard.

Completely agree Caleb.

Just finished re-reading Sapolsky's 'A Primate's Memoir'. Absolutely agree. It's like Apple's early 'hippy' operating system. One badly behaved or malicious app and kerblooey......We humans are a vicious, Other-hating, innately tribalistic, irrational, emotional species. That's why Utopia, in any form, generally ends up in slavery of some sort, many tears, and more deaths.....

Do you mean the implementation of socialism that was the USSR ?

Waymad for NZ Race Relations Commissioner - just for the lolz

We have set ourselves apart from natural selection, when was the last time you saw a predators consuming humans? As we have resigned from the whole survival of the fittest thing, then we have no choice other than to address overpopulation. We can do it using the brains that removed us from the law of the jungle, we can use it to create something a bit better, or we can go to war to and create carnage, yet again.

mmm, not an expert on the subject, but I do not think natural selection is only about predators. Just an example, wars have been a recurring feature in human history. This has had its consequences. For example, one reason people were shorter than us in previous centuries is said to be that tall people were easier targets and had a higher chance of death in battle so they did not get to reproduce as successfully as shorter ones :)

Not just predators. When predators are minimal you end up with birds of paradise with 1metre tails on a small bird - of no value except for getting mates. With humans you get breasts on women who haven't had a child and nipples that slip out of a babies mounth - the only reason human females have these differences from all other apes is because of the preferences of human males. At least babies bottles have a sensible nipple.

And silicon

Pocket Aces, my stance would be that throughout our evolutionary history, our strongest and most prevailing selective pressure has been adaptability. No other species has been able to learn to adapt to survive in every climate and ecosystem on the planet.

Our adaptive strength is our brains capacity to invent and teach each other to use technology and innovation to the degree that we have been able to specialise and build on prior generations learning. None of that implies that we have set ourselves apart from natural selection though and to the contrary, that is exactly what we have selected for!

We have not selected however, for rationality just as we have not selected to be good at assessing long term risks, for obvious reasons. The evolutionary selective pressure on short term risk is MUCH greater. If you were out on the savanna and heard a twig snap... the person who made a rational assessment of the likelihood of it not being a predator and choosing to carry on based on that risk vs the ancestor who imagined the twig was a predator and reacted (statistically over reacted) was more likely to pass on their genes. Because the selective pressure is on survival, the individual who always overreacts to short term risk was more likely to pass on their genes because they always acted as if there was a predator, so always stood a better chance of surviving. This is true of most species on the planet and why they all spook so easily!

I agree that selective pressures in modern life are indeed extremely different. But because of the very slow pace of human evolution (for instance in the 10,000 years since the neolithic revolution we have still not optimally adapted to a grain based diet) it will be many thousands of years until we would expect to see behaviour traits change to reflect that.

If we manage to stick around that long

I have just finished watching Lucy on TV where Scarlet Johansen evolved into a super computer after taking some drugs.

And no mention of who is going to pay for any of it, although it’s obviously going to be long suffering middle class taxpayers.

One example of where this has been a total waste is NZ’s tyre recycling scheme. For years all drivers have paid $5 per tyre, now doubled under this govt; which has been transferred to a series of fly by night operations which have dumped the tyres and gone bankrupt. No accountability just extraction of money from taxpayers for no benefit whatsoever. The sustainability industry is going to have to work hard to shake this perception of economic naivety

Not only tyre dumps, but also toxic chemical dumps up in Whangarei where the cowboy has folded and slipped away leaving a problem for someone else. Howzat that's for sustainability.

And to your question as to who pays for it. The environment does. Nobody else will.
Next question is - who trousered the $5 tyre recycling levy - and how much in total has been collected

Can I get $5 for collecting the tyres dumped in Eskdale Domain (Auckland North Shore).

You reckon the best thing for poorer parts of society to do then is violent revolution?

Usually these days (at least in developed societies) we try to address major issues in society before they get to that level.

No Rick, they vote. They get up in the morning, put their clothes on and go down to the booth.
When all the non voters do so our parliament will not be recognizable and the boomers will be vacating their bowels

Agree. No wonder some politicians absolutely do not want civics classes (incl. the importance of voting) taught in schools.


The current NZ economic model depends on importing hundreds of thousands of either indentured workers (I.e the Singapore / ME model) or ‘students’ with the promise of residency. As they are now consuming at a first world level instead of developing world level, stopping this migration could be a focus to increase local sustainability.

At a global level, vast increases in contraception distribution and family planning work in the developing world- not much point in doing anything when the global population is increasing at 80m per year, mainly in the poorest countries. While they might not use much in resources due to poverty, it is inherently unsustainable in every sense of the word; and will lead to calls to allow ‘climate refugees’ when the real culprit is overpopulation.


If you want to control global population invest in teaching girls.

That is the only humane answer, any other is not pleasant to consider. As long as we ignore this (and we is everyone on this planet) the closer we get to more unpleasant ways this will be dealt with. I keep hoping.

Best but not only. If we could offer a pension to all 3rd world elderly with no children that would help too - but an expensive option and it might take 50 years to make an impact whereas female education followed by job opportunities only takes 20 years.

The thing is, with education and more particularly, the empowerment of women follows quite naturally, by choice, many, many fewer children. They have other paths to choose, and choose them

Lapun, would you agree that it is 'the girls' from a specific ethnic group which we are all too afraid, on PC grounds, to name that are the problem here, and to whom birth control is freely available if they would only avail themselves of it? The fathers from the same ethnic group deem it unmanly to take prophylactic precautions (to use a euphemism), so they are just as much part of the problem.
This is my opinion, is yours the same?
It's just a shame we haven't got the opportunity to ask the lady professor for her opinion on this; the lack of such opportunity greatly detracts from the usefulness of this article.

No I wouldn't agree. Not sure which group but high population growth is Africa. I'll interpret your comment as culture rather than ethnicity. My conviction that female education is critical was formed by the rapid changes in Iran. It went from the Shah being quite liberal but with little education of girls and a massive population growth to rule by islamic fundamentalists who treat women as inferior but introduced universal education. Poplation growth dropped dramatically. When they had a war with Iraq the leaders were desperatefor more cannon fodder and did everything they could to persuade Iranian women to have more children. They lost and education won - a young educated woman demands control of her life.

And giving them control over their reproductive health. Both proven tactics for lifting people out of poverty.

Sounds like a plan that is already started working, the universities are or will be near empty of international fee paying students which means we can fill it up with domestic students and charge them the 30 k for a 6 month course that the international students paid for.

Yes NZ universities are going to have to find a smaller more resilient business model without the empire building and vast salaries. While the government should act to keep them afloat they are not going to be able to cover the chasm in budgets that the loss of foreign students will cause. Private training institutions aka visa mills are unlikely to be viable for a long time

Quality not quantity. That is a radical concept for modern education.

Back to their roots, ideally. Research, knowledge, mastery. Degrees conferred to recognise mastery of a subject rather than payment of expensive fees and successful cheating.

I'd rather see int'l students charged at around the level of domestic students (with all undergraduate courses being taught online; with some exceptions regarding courses that require specialist equipment lab work and/or direct experience with patients or animals). In my ideal NZ uni setting, all domestic students would be fees-free, with a mandatory pass rate to remain fees-free.

I think a great deal of current educational costs are in providing/maintaining the bricks and mortar. We need to move away from those costs and re-invest heavily in highest quality distance learning.

Maybe the world should let CV19 run its course to sort out the over population ...seems be plenty saying stop cv19 then turn around say world is overpopulated..which do they want?

That is a great question.

Anthropologists tell us we identify with family, tribe, community, nation, racial features. (You can tell when we get beyond those identifications, we need uniforms and flags or we don't know who to shoot). We save, stand beside and even die for, those who are 'us'. We regard others as 'them' and demonize them. Watch the reaction, for instance, if I suggest our demonisation of the Nazis is such a story. Yes, they were a bunch of unpleasant sods. Yes, the Holocaust happened. But you can trace it all back via von Papen, through the Weimar years to Versailles, and you can trace the failure of Versailles to politicians needing the backing of bereaved parents/partners of WW1 Allied dead. Living space for the common people and down with the current elite, was the Nazi message. Then came the uniforms and flags.....

In our case, we identify as New Zealanders. So we protect ourselves. even while noting that globally we should be 5-6 billion less. You raise a valid point.

CV19 largely affects the elderly and those with health conditions, countries with high population growth tend to have younger populations so won’t be as affected initially as the developed world. Who knows what the longer term holds though

Also, and excuse me for this wildly unpopular opinion, but older generations add ballast to voting demographics and less inclination to war mongering. Much evidence shows that war and large scale humanitarian crimes are much more significantly prevalent in countries/cultures with a lower average age. Proportionately lots of young men without much life experience tends to violence. And in an era of unprecedented capacity for destruction, war would devastate natural resources far more and far more quickly than the associated reduction in human population would reduce.

Unintended consequences y'all.

The most important factor has been omitted. Are people still too afraid to address the obvious elephant in the room, there is just plain too many of us for any current "system" to sustain.

I really recommend a book on population demographics called the "The Human Tide" by Paul Morland. Population demographics underlies pretty much every problem we have.

"The rise and fall of the British Empire; the emergence of America as a superpower; the ebb and flow of global challenges from Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Soviet Russia. These are the headlines of history, but they cannot be properly grasped without understanding the role that population has played.
The Human Tide shows how periods of rapid population transition--a phenomenon that first emerged in the British Isles but gradually spread across the globe--shaped the course of world history. Demography--the study of population--is the key to unlocking an understanding of the world we live in and how we got here.
Demographic changes explain why the Arab Spring came and went, how China rose so meteorically, and why Britain voted for Brexit and America for Donald Trump. Sweeping from Europe to the Americas, China, East Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, The Human Tide is a panoramic view of the sheer power of numbers"

Everything seems to sheet back to far too many of us.

Sounds interesting. Will have a read.

It's fascinating delving into how many parallels there are between late 19th / early 20th, and late 20th / early 21st century times too. Globalisation then retreat, pandemic, trying out novel "new normal" monetary policy, feudalism / neo-feudalism...(our retreat away from the more egalitarian policies that made home ownership and reasonable wages available, into a time of an aspiring new landed gentry living).

Yes for sure, I'd just say add in energy as part of that equation. Watch out for India, they have a favourable demographic profile compared to China.

Rather than energy, I would refer to it as technology (although they amount to the same thing, it just changes the focus). There has always been a finite amount of resources on the planet, we just keep using technology to keep extracting those resources out more efficiently and eventually our huge population is going to meet the limit of those finite resources unless we can either reduce our populations or massively increase sustainable energy/food/water sources (or both).

Which brings us to the eternal question that none dare approach - define 'sustainable' and add the qualifier 'at what level of comfort?'. Because so many of the Utopians, Solipsists and Zealots neglect to specify how this decision can be arrived at, by what means, over what timeframe, and with what collateral damage. Because there's already plenty of Damage (along whatever axes one chooses to view), and a human-centred approach to next steps is gonna haveta make some mighty trade-offs.

There we're on common ground.

And 'what level of comfort' determines 'what level of population'.

Now that we're playing god, the responsibility is ours.

It's the top issue, yes but I'd still hazard a guess that most submitters here felt it was their intrinsic human right to reproduce and so did.

People who've had or want children will defend their reason for that in all sorts of ways. We've even got a leader, one who calls themselves green who felt it was reasonable to have six children. Six! What if we all had that many? I question, before the MP salary how were all those children funded? This leader has zero credibility in my view.

Over population is a big issue but I don't think you're EVER going to get people on board to have no children. Maybe unless you pay them not to which means paying to sterilize them. Now that I would support. Cheaper than paying benefits and providing prison stays x $100k pa.

You don't need a lot of people choosing to forego their reproductive rights, as they realise they have others as well, and choose to exercise them. As more doors are opened, particularly to women, the fewer children they have, in fact, I will even put it to you, that in order for populations to increase, women need to be denied or not taught, rights and choices. If all have free choice you will still get the odd number who will have more children, but where the ability to follow their own paths, far, far more will have far fewer and some zero, children.

Stephenson points to The Global Risks Report 2020 from the World Economic Forum,...

Any reference to this group of self serving globalist, oligarchs practically disqualifies her from any sensible discussion about the future and welfare of ordinary Kiwis.

The foundation is funded by its 1,000 member companies, typically global enterprises with more than five billion dollars in turnover (varying by industry and region). These enterprises rank among the top companies within their industry and/or country and play a leading role in shaping the future of their industry and/or region. Membership is stratified by the level of engagement with forum activities, with the level of membership fees increasing as participation in meetings, projects, and initiatives rises.[20] In 2011 an annual membership cost $52,000 for an individual member, $263,000 for "Industry Partner" and $527,000 for "Strategic Partner". An admission fee cost $19,000 per person.[21] In 2014, WEF raised annual fees by 20 percent, bringing the cost for "Strategic Partner" from CHF 500,000 ($523,000) to CHF 600,000 ($628,000).[22] Link

Glad you pointed that out.

I saw the claim a couple of weeks back that the Club of Rome has been hijacked by Deep State.


my top seven problems are

Bringing female up, I take it.
As I see it guys have changed a hell of a lot but females still dither about and make derogatory comments against men. If females want to be treated as equals they need to act as equals and not want special treatment. It is something my wife and I talk about a lot as the parents of 3 girls and my wife has a good career. She told me about a guy in the same position as her gets more money because he backed himself and asked for more, that dosent make it a guy thing or a guy boss thing. It comes down to backing yourself and it is something I work on with my girls a lot. Not wanting to stick out and be different from others is the tough part to get through.

Jordan Peterson has some interesting stuff on youtube about that behavior.

Cheers, I'll take a look. It is what I see in my wife and girls and I dont know how to get through to them.
They always want me to go ahead and ask the questions and I encourage them to step up. Gurrrr what is the worst that will happen, some one laughs at you? Who cares.. You get a punch in the head? Who cares. You'll get locked up? It won't happen... what the hell is there to worry about except fear itself.

Risk taking is in men's makeup. Not so much females. They need to have a safe social relations to raise children which can be destroyed if they speak up to what they believe to be true. So they learn its safer to do what all the other girls are doing - and you can see that across social media like Instagram at the moment. Girls are copying and replicating each others behavior. Guys care less what other guys think about them - but to girls it is very important so they become hesitant in the type of situation you describe above.

Another person worth reading/listening to is Jonathan Haidt if you want to better understand the psychology/sociology. The Coddling of the American Mind and his youtube stuff is great.

It's still hard to find convincing research as to whether women are more predisposed to "safe social relations" and less "risk taking" because of social conditioning or because of some inherent feature. A lot of developmental studies show that we treat babies different based on the gender norms and whatever the values around that gender are perceived to be by the culture. Women with leadership skills are called "bossy" from a very young, but male children are rarely if ever referred to as "bossy". Why is that? Because of the social value assigned to certain traits in certain genders. Now there are certainly differences between the genders, but unpicking them so you can differentiate between biological dispositions and cultural norms would involved some highly unethical studies!

As a woman and mother of two daughters and as someone who missed the memo about copying other girls on instagram, I remain agnostic about what is innate and what is socially conditioned for now!

Jordan Peterson also exists on a diet of meat only. The vibe I get from him is that he is, in fact, an OCD nutter

I understand his wife is dying of cancer and he isn't dealing with it well - i.e. think he may have been in rehab for a period after issues with a prescribed drug?

But yes he's clearly an outlier in terms of thinking (OCD quite possible!). But he's definitely done his research/reading.

OCD people try to reshape everything to fit in with their particular "weakness". I am disinclined to trust their thinking. We have one in our family, and that person fits exactly that, they cannot deal with anything that might fracture the walls of their condition, so everyone else is wrong according to them. Same I will venture to suggest with Mr Peterson.

What if his weakness is caring about the mental health of humanity? And because the world has gone a little mad, his OCD (as you put it) is suffering?

Jordan P is definitely kinda nuts. And also has definitely become a casualty of his own success but every new and important idea was heretical to begin with and most of the heretics had to be a bit nuts to risk social ostracism.

Who here has actually read Maps of Meaning? It's a crazy, disorganised jumble of ideas and at times, almost impenetrable, but its certainly full of wildly creative, heretical notions that other people will develop and build on into something useful. And isn't genius always a little bit like that? A little bit crazy, a little be "other"?

I mostly despise the Jordan Peterson following. His fans are super annoying. But if you can forgive the fans, there's some incredibly important cultural critique going on.


No i wasn't thinking female, I have 5 daughters and they are all different, some push and fight for what they want, others are very agreeable. It's personalities that will make the difference and that is what it is. They all are very capable and smart enough do do anything they want, it's tough for woman if they want to get a degree, get married and have children by 35, thats where I think Jordan Peterson is on the nail. I couldn't imagine how I would have coped at 25 with those pressures on me. Men get a natural advantage and many of us become arseholes.

I was more thinking that in real terms many people on wages are worse off than they were 20 years ago. That shouldn't have happened if we structured our economy properly. The money has been drained into the FIRE/ speculative sector and its come at a huge cost to many low income earners.
There are many children being brought up in NZ in very poor/violent/dysfunctional families, they don't get a chance from the go.



Thanks for the reading info.

Then you miss the point, AJ.

Think of it in Titanic terms. You can put money from the First-Class passengers, in the pockets of Steerage children. You can do so until your reach equality, wealth-wise.

But that doesn't solve the sinking, or the ramifications thereof. In fact, it tells us that trying to 'drive' things using money, is doomed to failure. Which tells us that our current religion (economics) is fatally flawed and that our social narrative is ditto.

But you have one thing right - an egalitarian world is the only format which fits being sustainable. And all else being unsustainable, the better we go there the better.

Thing is the Titanic was a closed system.

The iceberg/sinking wasn't so much the problem as the lack of available lifeboats (poor system design).

Kate the planet is a closed system. That's the whole point.

And for the forseeable future, NZ is going be a partial one.


Is it? Only if you view earth and our solar system as if you know everything, i.e., in other words, you believe that we now know all we ever will know. I think we're a long, long, long way off that. To think we know everything is hubris, this pandemic proves it.

How much knowledge have we already lost to the sands of time? We'll never know.
Nowadays the internet is just filling up with so much opinion how does any one individual wade through it all?

This is where I like Elon Musks line of thinking with Tesla and SpaceX. More sustainable living on earth (Tesla) with a backup option of human occupation on Mars.

Yeah let's go and live on a planet that comes pre-f*^%&d. There is a certain sadness to that ideal.

There is but I don't hear anyone else with a better plan. Most people you talk to in NZ are more interested in the value of their house not falling as opposed to giving humanity options down track if/when we destroy this planet, or we become like the dinosaurs and its outside our control.

Actually, I think more and more, lightbulbs are flicking on among the population, and our overshooting the mark is resonating with far more people

That's positive news

You miss it, Kate.

It's not 'knowing everything'. That goes dangerously close to the Julian Simon "the copper is in our heads" nonsense.

It's having stocks of resources, rates of consumption and of sink-filling. And energy, of course.
"Fully fueled for liftoff, the Saturn V weighed 2.8 million kilograms (6.2 million pounds), the weight of about 400 elephants. The rocket generated 34.5 million newtons (7.6 million pounds) of thrust at launch, creating more power than 85 Hoover Dams. A car that gets 48 kilometers (30 miles) to the gallon could drive around the world around 800 times with the amount of fuel the Saturn V used for a lunar landing mission. It could launch about 118,000 kilograms (130 tons) into Earth orbit. That's about as much weight as 10 school buses. The Saturn V could launch about 43,500 kilograms (50 tons) to the moon. That's about the same as four school buses".

I think that limits us to planet Earth, don't you. Or do you think we can import four school-buses at a time from outside the Boundary?

Physics Kate. Beats empathy every time. Sad but true

I think I'm missing the point of this comment - around this limits us to planet earth?

Yep - only an unbelievable amount of compact energy gets you out of gravitational reach. Both trips, if you're Avatar'ing. Too much energy for too little return. Will never happen. Which limits us to this planet. And the comment that if we can't live here without trashing this one, we're f---ed, is right on the money. What worried me about Kate's comment was not acknowledging Limits.

Ok - I understand where you are coming from now.

What would your paradigm towards human flight have been in say 1800? And where are we now? What about the discovery of new forms of energy?

I'm with Kate on this one unfortunately. The rate of change in technology development has been immense the last 100 years.

We don't know what we don't know yet - but you're telling me that you know everything and that nobody will know more than you about energy in the future? Seems like a bold statement.

That rate of change in technology has been slowing down for a while now. It takes a surplus to innovate, you have to do it on the way up not the way down. I think we just started on the way down.

Yip, I think it was Elon Musk starting SpaceX and said he was worried about human regression - i.e. look back at Romans/Egyptians and the technology they had that was lost (not or understood used for hundreds of years). Only for hundreds of years of dark ages before the renaissance and science we now have.

Agree with him that while we have the ability to do important things for the future potential of mankind, we should.

Then you miss the point, and I therefore agree to the 'unfortunately' bit.

Technology is not energy, nor is energy produced. Technology helped us tap into concentrated stores of what was once solar energy - coal, oil, gas, whale-oil, tallow etc. Not one joule did it create.

And all we've done for 200 years, is draw down as fas as we could, the best that we could get our hands on. All technology did, was allow us to use it more efficiently - a trend which runs to a halt via the 2nd Law (and the Carnot effect). Your 'rate of change in the last 100 years, has gone from the Model-T Ford, to a computer-controlled, fuel-injected, slipperier-shaped conveyance. Both meet air-resistance, rolling-resistance and friction - losses in the form of low-grade heat. Inescapable process with fixed physics, I'm sorry.

And both run to a halt when their tanks empty. No exceptions. Technology cannot solve energy unavailability, nor can it overcome the EROEI descent we are experiencing. Even nuclear energy, present form, would need to be being built at about a reactor and a half per day until 2050, to replace oil. You have any idea how long uranium (and any other source) would last in the face of such demand?

Belief comes in many forms. The one in technology I find quite interesting.

But you're only talking about energy at a level that your brain (at this point in time) can understand - and if history tells us anything looking backwards, you/we are probably viewing things from a primitive level.

We don't even understand the physical rules of our universe yet (we have theories and we continue to learn more..), but you've decided that you've seen enough and its not good?

I generally agree with your posts that we live within a world that has limited physical resources - but its quite possible we're going to discover more about the potential of those resources, and the rules that govern the energy potential of those resources, as our science advances. Should we be wasteful and damage the plant then? Absolutely not.

Physics Kate

Except if you're a physicist (which my Dad was, so I suppose I'm biased).

Take Thomas Kuhn, for example;

In describing the nature of paradigm creation and transition, Kuhn defined ‘normal science’ as being research firmly based within a particular framework or paradigm of past scientific achievements that supplies the foundation for further practice. Normal science therefore had a principle aim of “mopping up” those aspects of knowledge within the paradigm as yet outstanding in “an attempt to force nature into the preformed and relatively inflexible box that the paradigm supplies” (Kuhn, 1962:24). The notion of changing worldviews arising out of scientific revolutions, or paradigm shifts was not in itself a widely contested matter, however certain of Kuhn’s accompanying propositions were;

• “The normal-scientific tradition that emerges from a scientific revolution is not only incompatible but often actually incommensurable with that which has gone before” (Ibid, 1962:103) and

• “We may, to be more precise, have to relinquish the notion, explicit or implicit, that changes of paradigm carry scientists and those who learn from them closer and closer to the truth” (Ibid, 1962:171)

Paying attention most to the final bullet point quotation from him. I see Limits to Growth as a current paradigm, nothing more, nothing less and no closer to the truth than any of us can claim to know. And my physicist Dad would be the first to agree.

What do you see as the last significant invention? I mean a real game changer, not just an advancement of something already known? You might add something that was a net energy saver, not using more. You know, something like the washing machine, although that may not be a net energy save but it is one hell of a convenience.

While you may be right, I see a hell of a lot of trends that put the peak of civilisation at 1962 when the population growth hit an inflection point on the curve. We've had a good while to turn that one around and haven't. Personally I would rather plan on it not turning around and be surprised if it does.

The peak of civilisation was 1962? Yikes, horrible thought. That was the year Nelson Mandela was imprisoned (for the next 27 years); the year before JFK was assassinated; and the year before Martin Luther King gave his 'I have a dream speech'. In other words, perhaps the peak of discrimination in the Western World. Least civil decade I've ever lived through.

Civilisation can only peak (to my mind) at the point in time when we are most civil.

Such a time would be marked by a peaceable, compassionate and generous human world and a healthy natural world.

On the first question, I think the human brain is the last significant invention :-). If only we would put it collectively to better use!

Most civil, and interesting concept :-P From whose perspective?

I'm guessing we have some capacity and need to prioritise how to allocate it. We've been using a massive amount of thrust on air travel for leisure each day.

Would have if you could have jammed enough people from steerage in that bloody great hole, they just wouldn't play the game.

Cream will always rise to the top

I've always wondered about the inequality subject. I think to a certain extent there is always going to be some form of inequality in a human society (true in animals as well - the alpha generally has the territory etc). Imagine if we all decided that nobody was allowed to outperform others - or if they did, they weren't rewarded? If you believe in evolution, then there wouldn't be a carrot to evolve. As a society we would regress - move back towards the dark ages so to speak.

Evolution should be about the benefit of self and others in the appropriate proportion (but its out of balance right now - agree). That's a question I've always struggled with - how much should I serve myself vs how much I serve others. Are they mutually exclusive or can they be mutually beneficial? The invisible hand supposedly points towards my self serving behavior benefiting others, but I'm not a complete believer in that.

Define. In victorian times it meant Irish dying from starvation while living in the most wealthy country in the world = absolute poverty. I remember growing up and seeing the Watts riots in America where the inhabitants were complaining about poverty but we could see they had cars and TVs which we could only dream of = relative poverty. If you judge wealth/poverty in NZ today by measuring wealth then there are many happy young Kiwis enjoying a great lifestyle while having a net negative wealth caused by student and credit card debt.
I agree with you - inequality is the problem but it is hard to define. If you look for almost perfect equality you find North Korea and similar. What we can tackle today is equality of opportunity - why do we have children unable to do remote education because they have no internet connection, no computing device and no quiet space at home? Why is ownership of a home of your own out of the reach of healthy hard working Kiwis? Fix those now - it is not difficult.

I suppose it's relative inequality ,if that's a thing. I just went around my farm with my wife on the back of my two wheeler, i'm rich in many ways but less and less people are owning more and more. I can choose to feel rich and happy or look across the fence and feel poor and resentful.
In a globalised world, people from poor countries come here to work and we put the people that used to do that work, on welfare.
I struggle to see a solution , we need to compete in exports and labour is a big part of our cost structure, import hard working immigrants and that problem is halved, but the problem doesn't just go away, it's just simmers under the surface only to pop up somewhere else in society.
It's just a matter of giving everyone an opportunity to get ahead, it's up to them if they take it or not.

A big part of the solution to my mind is unwinding all of the structures of finance that enable ludicrous capital accumulation, hoarding and greed by multinational corporations. Bill Gates is a great example of an individual who has benefited from the worst excesses of globalist capitalism. He is against taxes on his unimaginable stores of wealth, because he believes in philanthropy.

In other words, he wants to be in charge of 'picking' winners amongst the masses of 'losers'. He's no better than a corrupt government, but given the many corrupt governments the world over, one can somewhat understand his reluctance to let others spend his fortune for him. But when I look at the mess the US is in - I think he's one of the most unpatriotic Americans around. He's a true globalist who refuses to admit how ludicrous the situation he finds himself in is.

Not sure about Gates but I have read Buffett saying it is wrong that his secretary pays a larger fraction of her income in income tax than he does.
I won't cry if Bill Gates becomes a multi-millonaire instead of multi-billionaire because of taxes however Microsoft has on balance done a great deal of good and it wouldn't have been wise to tax it into being less creative. Maybe earning a fortune by creating something is OK but attaining a fortune by manipulating money with any act of creation should be treated as winning a lottery and it ought to be heavily taxed.

Microsoft hasn't done a great deal of good - quite the opposite, it did a great deal of harm.

Open access operating systems software does good. Windows was never that. Microsoft's sales strategy was extremely successful in deliberately making itself a monopoly, not because its product was best but because its marketing strategy was. Calculated and ruthless.

Yes, but there were benefits that came out of that for enterprise and consumers as well. It's like saying Apple's walled garden is problematic - well, yes, it is - but I also know the iOS from one device to another is largely uniform. Same with Windows. Consumers and enterprises don't have to pick winners anymore, and devices have to compete with each other.

And the issue with Open Source is that it is oh so easily added to by bad actors with less than honorable motives.

Think of Wikipedia, it's open source knowledge/nature is subject to correction and improvement by anyone/everyone. And if you think the proprietary owners of software are honorable... well....

So, look at the Climate pages. Dissent ruthlessly edited away by Zealots. Chaotic systems always spring surprises not explainable under the current orthodoxy: poster child Bat/Pangolin mutaterating.....

So I looked up Judith Curry;

Can't see evidence of your point there. Give me a particular link and I'll have a look.

I agree with your comment, but again what is an opportunity to everyone looks like? if you were born to a drug addict mother and an absentee, similarly drug addicted, who are much more likely to harm you than to take care of you, what an opportunity will look like?
This is not to disagree with your comment. But for it to work, you will need those in charge of the next generation do the basics right. Many will not, and there is only so much blame you can afford them individually as they were, more likely than not, the outcome of a poor parenting made worse by economic poverty.

There is poor parenting with drug taking irresponsible parents in NZ. However there is also simple poverty - just plain hard working Kiwis with kids. Plenty of them and the problem would go away if a generous universal child benefit was re-introduced.

What does an opportunity for everyone look like? From a Marxian perspective it is giving everyone access to the means of (their own) production. Capitalism is agonistic to this ideal. Witness the industrial revolution and the flight of those previously living/working in subsistence farming communities moving in droves to cities the world over. Disease/pestilence overtook them - child labour became an acceptable norm where the capitalists were concerned.

Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime.

Capitalism has taken away our unfettered access to resources via commodification and corporatization of those resources. Access to fish is now a property right which has exploited the resource to near extinction for corporate profit. And the capitalist/corporate has no regard for wastage arising from their exploitation.

Frank Lloyd Wright proposed this solution many years ago;

Kate, you don't 'produce' fish. Or energy. Both are extracted, one from a potentially-renewable source, one (current form) not.

But teaching 7 billion to fish, is as unsustainable as the bottom-trashing madness that is commercial trawling.

But in terms of capitalism taking away our individual opportunities (they're only rights if they don't encroach on the equal rights of others, which you'd have to be living at peasant-level to do, currently) you are quite correct.

Daniel Quinn explained it as 'they locked up the food'.

We need to unlock it, locally and biodiversely. Goodbye Monsanto, goodbye monoculture, goodbye PKE, hello full-circle nutrient.....

We agree on your final points.

With energy however, not all energy is extracted, you know that as well as I do.

That's your limit, right there.


I totally agree with your very wise observation. I also wanted to say, where does equality stops? at NZ borders? There is a theoretical challenge with equality as demanding equality will inevitably creates an "us" vs "others", thus it underlines its core value.

A lot of words that dont say much

Welcome to the internet :)

It seems the world is at the crossroads of thinking society should have more central control for the collective good vs quasi-unfettered capitalism.
Maybe the answer is to install and uphold Philosophy to high office again.

The collective good involves the not so well off parting with their savings for "the greater good" of society, but generally precludes direct individual participation because someone else gets their hands on it first.

Kenneth Rogoff: implement a ONE OFF
"unexpected snake in the grass" capital levy--
of say--a minimum of 10% of your retirement savings.

IMF calculates that a ONE TIME 10% wealth levy, if introduced 'unexpectedly', could return countries to pre-crisis public debt/GDP ratios. Link

Sounds like an interesting experiment....when do we start!?

Here's another one way down the track of implementation:

“The Fed Should Go Negative Next Week.” I have no idea how that would create growth during a pandemic wherein everyone is in lockdown.Link-scroll up

Shame that the students that walked out of his class were not listened to.

I'm all for that. I'm disappointed that it seems our government intends to introduce civics as opposed to ethics to the NZ Curriculum. First we have to understand our own ethical decision-making and then to understand there are alternatives. One can move onto civics thereafter.

Buy local huh
That means all new migrants, from this day on, would be required to sign an undertaking to only ever buy NZ-made stuff. If they want a house, they have to build new. If they want a car they have to buy an EV, no petrol stuff. Trouble is, that EV is imported using export dollars derived from already earned agricultural export dollars

I like the idea buy only and build only NZ made stuff. our choices might be limited to Kiwifruit, honey, milk, Meat, bread hope the flour is not imported. At least we have The essentials supplied by the essential worker

In the south island we use our own flour, the North imports from overseas, Aussie I guess. Work that out.

There's a wee touch more produced here than what's on your list and most of it is exported.

No we grow in in Marton and mill it in Wellington..real flour that is.

Yes. We should only buy drugs that are invented and patented by kiwis. Same with software and hardware for our computers. I understand that humans at every level (community, city, national etc) need more resilience and they need to be a level of self sufficiency in matters such as power, food, medicine (and that would require a level of self sufficiency in a very wide range of things). But going local in a true sense is impossible unless we go back to hunter, gatherer society. Any form of specialisation would result in the need for trade and the need for trade invariably results in the need to expanding your relationships (and reliance) on others. Absolutely nothing you can do about that.

Cuba didn't go back to a hunter-gatherer society.

Many denigrated Cuba, driven by ideological propaganda, but they di an amazing job of addressing energy scarcity. Well worth pondering.

Bloody good idea, that's the methamphetamine problem fixed, right there.

That's essentially Matt Ridley (Rational Optimist) territory. Specialising frees time, and exchange enables that time to be used for whatever purposes, including buying stuff that one (or one economy) cannot possibly buy for itself. So we can Exchange Wool for Copper, Meat for Diesel, Milk for Hydro Generation and distribution plant, none of which we can make, mine, or manufacture ourselves. The BOM for something as simple as a brushed or synchronous electric motor includes bearings, copper, aluminium, and lead. None of that is made, or is possible to be made, here without Import and thus Exchange. Autarky sucks.....ask a journalist or librarian from Cuba....

Be productive with immigration

Could you give some description/reasoning/justification please?

NZ needs also to address immigration/population issues . International students are unnecessary as is excessive tourism these could be added to the list of seven in the article. We should be addressing issues in the poverty of our existing population first this could be done while also addressing our nz pollution issues funds need a more local priority before looking at grand schemes .

Organ harvesting maximises every migrant's potential.

Just released an hour ago. Special report on the Australian property bubble and ours is 95% as bad.

Is this a reason SIR John Key to market his Sydney apartment ??$$$

I think there is speculation as to whether the sale on his Parnell property will/has closed.

Since the last crisis (Not as big as current crisis which is turning out to be a mother of all crisis seen since 1900s) the entire economy / growth is fuelled by easy and cheap money.

Also giants have realized that can get away with anything as government will have to come to bail out to protect THEIR economy. Result is that we were sitting on a bubble of artifical economy / assets /stock prices which had run ahead of their time and will now be reset - by virus.

Current Rise in Stock Market is indicator that it has nothing to do with fundamentals but everything to do with Governments/Fed Fiscal and Monetary lollies This is exactly what has been happening or driving the market/Economy over a decade.

Many in greed and who do not understand the market may be fooled by the current relief rally and burn themselves and the same may happen with people trying to buy houses now because of FOMO or whatever.

This is the time to wait and watch and not try to catch a falling knife as still under lockdown be it level 4 or level 3 and to wait for sometime before taking any decession as people sitting on cash and who have not been effected by jobs or business will get opportunity in future when have certain certaninty.

"Perfect opportunity to redirect our economy to a more sustainable path." Yes I totally agree. Though to do that we really need to move away from being too focused on the F.I.R.E economy (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) which has severely painted us in to a corner. We really need to support our real economies to stop relying on debt.

At the moment NZ is perceived to be doing quite well in most prosperity indexes but that's largely based on the false economy (debt driven) that's now negatively impacting our health and living conditions especially for younger generations of Kiwis. You can even see that reflected in this recent Legatum Prosperity Index chart:

More sustainable isn't enough.

You either is or you ain't.

And if you ain't, you're doomed to cease. Increase your ainting exponentially, and your cessation is near-term.

That's my point; a F.I.R.E economy (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) is not sustainable since it totally reliant on a debt stream, which is unsustainable and a false economy.
Hence we we need to support our real economies that actual fully contribute to our GDP, which are sustainable.

Yes Celtic Tiger did well, as did the NZ Rockstar.

The left all over the world is using this as a political opportunity to redesign our society and economy according to their wacky ideological beliefs. I hope the electorate realises and sends them packing.


It's nothing to do with the 'Left'. That's just pre-blinkering by limiting the scope before the debate. This is about resources, consumption and sinks, within a Bounded System. Left and Right are both extracting, both consuming, both filling up sinks at unmaintainable rates.

That's not about ideological beliefs (of which flat-earth neoliberalism was the standout in recent decades, due for the ridicule all religions deserve) it's about physics, chemistry and biology. Together, ecology.

We need to raise the level of debate past left/right.

Go well


Wacky is expecting younger and upcoming generations to just knuckle down and get on with funding the preservation of older folks' lifestyles, without receiving the same opportunities and security that preceding generations left to those older folk.

Let me guess that you're a stale, pale, male?

3 investment properties?

Watch this doco please and educate yourself. The world needs a reset. Money is not everything.

And, money doesn't fix the big problems

She's clearly not reading another Prof. input:

And, the story goes.. for NZ neoliberal supporters, offering expert advise which in all have vested interest:

Here's a question for you all.
Why do we worry so much about the earth and it's future?
Objectively, we all live and die. Maybe the earth lives and dies, and we are part of that process.
Maybe our CO2 intensive ways are all quite 'natural'? Just part of a process.

We are one planet in a vast universe. Are we and our earth really so special?
Treasuring the earth is full of value-laden thinking.
It has it's origin in religion - whether Christian, or pagan. Arguably not in religions such as Buddhism.

I'm not saying I adhere to the above views, just putting them out there.

For me, I see the logic in such views, but I refute them. The earth is incredibly special, and I think we do have a responsibility to look after it.

Your last sentence covers it. Perhaps it should be your first sentence.

I still think it's a debatable, value-laden proposition.

The earth will always bounce back, its just a question of time once the entire human race has wiped itself out. Give it a few million years after we have gone and there will be no trace left that we have even been here.

Im sure some coke bottles will survive somewhere.

Pretty much sums the human race up

I agree that the debate is not about left and right - but neither is it just about resources, environment or cellular sustainability. Participation requires common acknowledgement on the fundamental questions for debate.
Some suggestions (please feel free to add or reject):
1. Do we agree that there is already an earth system imbalance and our task is to seek practical routes to balance?
2. How can we find ways to achieve population resource balance and what personal freedom costs would be acceptable to achieve that?
3. Is there intrinsic inequality between humans. e.g. time and place of birth, gene set, age, physique, intellect, emotional stability, cultural survivability.
4. Is equality of opportunity possible and desirable? If so how do we create that equality?
5. Is equality of opportunity likely to lead to resource equality against a backdrop of inequalities?
6. Is equality of resource desirable?
7. Are most people interested in these questions enough to debate them without conflict - in the midst of a global epidemic?
8. If not how can other questions which most people are interested in - family survival , something to eat and drink, somewhere to live, ways of making a living etc be related to the broader questions?
9. Even if you reject religion as “worthy of ridicule” is “treating others as you would wish to be treated” still a good basis for a value backdrop to such debates.

All wonderful questions to discuss. Problem is we would all launch into it from a moral perspective, as opposed to an ethical one.

Morality being a first-order set of beliefs and practices about how to live a good life; ethics being a second-order, conscious reflection on the adequacy of our moral beliefs.

So, if we do not understand the three fundamental schools of ethical thought, then we are unable to provide an informed justification of our moral beliefs/positions.

Thanks Kate.You are indirectly saying that useful discussion of a particular question can only be justified by consideration of an ethical framework (I had to Google it -virtue ethics, consequentialist ethics, or duty-based ethics -
However does that preclude us from identifying and discussing questions that interest us from our moral standpoint without establishing its ethical co-ordinates? The practical answer from this blog is no.

Yep, you got it! Those are the three fundamental frameworks.

Not understanding them doesn't preclude us from discussing those questions from our own moral standpoint, but we have to be able to critically examine our own moral standpoint (and the ethical framework it comes from) and equally we need to be able to critically examine others positions having come from a different ethical framework. We all view things differently (i.e., come to different conclusions) based on our own moral basis (and the ethical framework it comes from).

I practice this with students in teaching environmental management. I put a question to them about a particular environmental management issue; give them three options, or different ways of acting/resolving the issue - each option being the most likely response from a particular ethical framework. Once they start to understand where the different solutions are coming from (from a moral/ethical perspective) - they realise the value in understanding these three different ways to look at the issue from a moral perspective. And all solutions can then be critically analysed against each of the three frameworks.

I then get them to develop different solutions themselves (for a number of different environmental issues) based on each of the ethical perspectives. In other words, I get them to practice 'thinking' in each of the three ethical frameworks you mention.

All this, I hope, makes them better citizens and scientists :-).

"2. How can we find ways to achieve population resource balance and what personal freedom costs would be acceptable to achieve that?"

Actually, what has become clear, to me at least, is that when women are given the power of decision over their own destinies, not having to rely on a male, not having to have children to make him provide for her, they choose fewer children, later start to reproduction and some bypass the whole rigmarole altogether, so in order to achieve balance in population you have to actually give MORE people MORE personal freedoms and the ability to provide for themselves.

Thanks Pocket Aces. I’m all for personal freedom for both men and women and I share your view that population reduction is inevitable by one means or another. I’m also keen on personal responsibility which I think is the inescapable obverse of personal freedom if you want to create a stable society. So far humans seem to have established the most sustainable unit is a family with mother and father both sharing the creation and bringing up of their children in the context of their extended family (if they have both). Unfortunately we seem to be heading in the opposite direction in our quest for individual freedom alone.

The greatest hope we have to reduce population growth is through education, specifically for girls and women.

The bigger the world's middle class, the less children people have. Middle class people tend to have one, two or no children.

A few brave souls have three children, but education and the middle class is a proven way to manage and ultimately reduce population.

Over population? NZ needs its foreign workers, why? Because believe it or not, our population is dying out. And it's not just NZ, there are swathes of nations with ageing populations, and I'm pretty sure it might have something to do with those populations not having enough children.
Could be equality then? The equality argument is nefarious, and has been distorted by social engineering of language. This may be hard for many to believe, or even accept, yet anyone of any age understands that women are women, and men are men, and heaven help us when that's outlawed. I believe the suffragettes were after RESPECT, to have a political voice, to have access to education, opportunities and earnings, to be free to make choices, not to become men, or have men become women. The differences between gender are vitally important, as humans we gain so much from another point of view, and recognising different needs, it's an essential part of how we grow and learn.
Speaking of which, perhaps the survival of the fittest is the way evolution harvests those for the future, and disposes of the ill equipped. However, the brain is a muscle, and I think this is often overlooked. People that keep fit, active brains therefore stand a good chance of sending their DNA into the future. Society doesn't necessarily seem to back that idea up.
A fit and active brain will soon work towards understanding, as knowledge has serious limitations. Nothing exists in isolation, and therefore all things are connected. Understanding allows a brain to see the connections, knowledge simply creates the need for more categories, more specialist language, and yet more experts.
The education system cares little for understanding, the curriculum is determined by politics, not educationalists.
Food is destroyed every day, simply to maintain market price, humans inhabit a small proportion of the planet. Too much talk of overpopulation, created by those wanting to keep complete control of resources, it's a power grab, and leads to a "Logan's Run" society.
Our spiritual side asks we think of others before ourselves, it doesn't ask that we hand our power to others without question.

Disagree, politely. Good rationale, but flawed re food.

Food is the process of turning fossil fuel calories into edible calories.That's a one-way trip. Without FF, we can feed maybe 2 billion globally. Without FF, maybe 2 million in NZ presuming we don't want to degrade soils). Why do you think the prior inhabitants fought all the time, and what did they do with the protein post battle?

As to brains, it takes precious few to pull the trigger of an AK47 or a Kalashnikov. The brains went into the designing, but they're a bit remote from the winning. I suspect we will go backwards cranially, as a surviving species.

Thanks for that PDK. Once again, I have no answer to the FF argument you present me with, and I understand that with regard protein, most food supply arguments are settled with relation to meat production. I'm sure the opportunity to comment with regards such issues will arise again, and I'll attempt to give myself a better education regards fuel, energy etc. Until then, I guess I'll have to accept that we're about 5 billion too many.
With regards the cranium, I was being tongue in cheek, as I think exercising the brain went out with convenience foods and the rise of consumerism, not too much brain exercise required to get along in modern society. I remember when I was a suit and tie boy, the saying was (possibly still is) everyone was promoted to the level of their own incompetence.
Jared Diamond, "Collapse", was a wake up call, and he informs that most soils are being degraded or lost at an alarming rate. I've watched hundreds of acres being planted in rice, harvested and taken to market, other than the van's, not a fossil fuel in sight, just damned hard work. I know, the protein argument again.
Thanks for the thought provoking, I'll get my cranium out for a walk.

Just add an environmental contribution through IRD, based on an agreed assessment method of usage and damage by individuals and organisations, and apply all funds so collected to the protection and expansion of ecological assets for the life giving services they provide. User pays works in many other parts of NZs economy. Not meant to replace envronmental protection law, so that there is no incentive to pay to damage or pollute.

Amazon, Google, Facebook and Rental Mental and many other non taxable entities and aficionados could of course pay their way tax wise and otherwise be held to Account.

So could Money Launders via Banking...but I know I am wasting my breath.......It is apparent who the screwed are....and it is happening here via Aussie Banks.

Screwing the system is not honest...No honestly. And Politicians must be blind as a Bat....this is not new. But it is being perpetuated.

And the global economic forum got the risks
Completely wrong. Just goes to show it’s an ideological wrought. No pandemic in the top 5?

Number four on the seven items? It’s just nationalism in more than one word. Just goes to show that even the trump haters follow his lead on occasion.

It’s all common sense stuff. Will be interesting to see how it’s forced on to the nations. Through fear, coercion (tax) or gradually adjusting policy and measuring the results without bias.

The point here is that pandemic is not anywhere near the top of this list, it shows you how off beam world economic forum and many others have been. It's not like there is an excuse we have had sars, mers, ebola, swine flu, bird flu the list goes on. Not to mention antibiotic resistance. We have been completely fixated on climate change and let these immediate and extremely dangerous threats go under-the-radar.

Yes, agree. I think one of the reasons so much emphasis - and research dollars - got spent on climate change is because it is a multidisciplinary subject spanning both the social and natural sciences (but more so the social sciences). Sadly, it became a sort of boon, or gold rush for social science researchers. Virology, on the other hand, is a very narrow, highly specialised area. It would never have been the massive gravy train that climate change became.