Days to the General Election: 23
See Party Policies here. Party Lists here.

Murray Grimwood explains what he would do if he won an election, including not letting dissenters exploit the Tragedy of the Commons - would you vote for that?

Murray Grimwood explains what he would do if he won an election, including not letting dissenters exploit the Tragedy of the Commons - would you vote for that?
We live in a finite world. How would you govern it?

By Murray Grimwood*

After I’d examined the relationship between energy and growth, then lamented the failure of our media to kindle the debate, David Chaston wrote me this:

Pointing out past policy failures is one thing - everyone does it.

The hard part is proposing a program of change and getting most people accepting it.

If Key can get grudging acceptance of an SOE selldown so he can divert those funds to 'more effective use' - surely you have a far more persuasive platform for a far more important issue that folks would sign on to?

Actually, given that money can only buy the results of energy having been used, I have to point out that owning the generating capacity is better – by far – than having a fistful of dollars; but - challenge accepted!

Let’s start by taking a long view; that of our grandchildren, say, in middle-age. Would you, could you, look them in the eye and say: “I knowingly took your chances of a good, fulfilling life, away. Sorry about the depleted aquifers, the oddball weather, the piles of trash, the lack of bees, fish, biota, and the lack of plant resilience, but hey, here’s an electronic representation of a trillion dollars. Say thank-you to Granddad”.


So - let’s lay down a long-term goal which should be unarguable, which our grandchildren can’t help but thank us for, and against which every move – political, voting, consuming or trading – could be measured:

Each year, the planet/country/farm/section should be handed on in as-good-or-better condition, to next-year’s custodian.

Our suggested goal is less oxymoronic than the Purpose of the Resource Management Act – which attempts to fudge short-term ‘economic wellbeing’ with long-term sustainability; the bit your grandchildren would detest you for.

We are then left looking at the two kinds of resources we could possibly hand on; renewable, and non-renewable.

It is easy to address renewables within the bounds of the Goal – you merely don’t use them at more than the renewable rate. Aquifers are a classic example; if every year you need to deepen your bores to get at the water, you’re using too much. Fish-stocks, water-quality, it’s easy.

So - we need a monitoring regime to track renewables, a system to allocate their use, and penalties for those who flout the system. Growth in their use beyond a defined point, will simply have to be stopped. Permanently. No arguments there? Too easy.

On to non-renewables. A finite resource is trickier to handle – it’s a one-off.

If it’s recyclable – say copper – you have to prioritise its use, not by how much money can be made, but by ascertaining how useful is the use (Price ceases to represent demand when some of the bidders have no money. This doesn’t matter with discretionary items, but does with essentials-for-life).

If the finite resource is consumed – burning oil, for example – then you’re not handing things on in ‘as-good’ condition; and the bar for that failure has to be set very high indeed.

Meaning that – in absence of a viable, proven alternative - oil should either be much, much more expensive than it currently is, or it should be rationed.

That grandchild won’t thank you for hoeing into it, on the flimsy basis that ‘we’ll find something else, we always have so far’.

Your obligation is to have the alternative in place, proven, before taking their only known legacy away. You’re doing even worse if you aren’t dealing with collateral pollution, of course, oil being a classic example of that triple failure; we are ripping into it like there’s no tomorrow, absolutely dreaming if we think currently-developed technologies can replace it, while there is not the CO2 sink on the planet to mitigate our burning of it.

The yardsticks, then, are viable and proven.

So, our first political move is to announce the ditching of our current goal (economic growth) and to replace it with the one above.

It’s not rocket science - one is sustainable, the other is not.

The options were to hit the wall at full speed or to control the impact; and extending was just pretending. That will take some political bravery: for a start, our politicians have the same fundamentally-flawed approach I accused the media of. All their talk is of money – GDP, budget, cost, surplus, funding, poverty, wealth, growth – rather than of physical (and to a certain extent, social) results.

They learned their skill-sets in a period where there was enough store of physical resources to underwrite all that conjured-out-of-thin-air money. So did most of the rest of us.

There was no guarantee that the present growth trend would continue – indeed I’d argue that there have been warnings for 200 years that it couldn’t – meaning that we who elect politicians with outdated skill-sets need to up our own skills too. If we vote with our short-term hip-pockets, we will continue to have wasted-space politicians.

Now, it’s no good only some folk ditching ‘economic growth’ as a target, if others don’t.

Those others will simply take up the slack, a situation known as the Tragedy of the Commons.

It applies globally too; the Tim Groser approach to Climate Change being a classic example. So - we either unanimously volunteer to be altruistic – pigs might fly – or enough of us have to vote in a government/governments, which pull the rest into line.

There will be howling, yowling, filibustering, denial, denigration, abuse, shooting of the messenger ... let’s just say it won’t be pretty. Those with vested interests in the status quo always resist change, it was ever thus.

Having established long-term physical sustainability as the overriding goal; now we must design a trading-token system to fit within.

The ‘Carbon Diaries’ (Saci Lloyd, Hodder Books)  give us a hint of how this might look – carbon credits are issued, used up on your card, and when you’ve gone through your month’s supply, that’s it.

It’s called rationing, but then what can you expect in a restricted scenario?

The only alternative is what is happening now – those with the power to do so, will hoover-up the wealth (the ability to acquire resources) from the bottom, then from the middle, then from the bottom of the upper, then. We who are getting hoovered can either do the bait-fish safety-in-numbers-denial thing, or acknowledge that we have to fight the shark before it swallows the lot of us, then itself.

Having got ourselves a valid long-term goal – something that can be kept going – we can turn to addressing issues under the cap we set for ourselves.

Poverty, once shallowly seen as a lack of money, will now be seen as a lack of food, warmth, shelter. Space. Resources.

For New Zealand, the goal has to be zero population growth, which simply gives us more physical resources per head, less need to degrade, impact, consume.

Then it needs a triage of all our current infrastructure vis-à-vis what can/can’t be maintained, and for how long the can’t can be can’d.

Roads to nowhere will be first to be dropped. Prime food-production areas have to identified (existing, not greenfields, and with fossil-fuel reduction in the equation) and safeguarded.

A discussion has to be had, not about ‘up vs out’ development, but about what development – if any – is the best in terms of future-proofing.

Do you go up, and supply the food from afar? How long does the ‘up’ infrastructure last, and is it easier maintained? Do you go ‘out’, and if so, which style is most appropriate?

Tract sprawl of randomly-facing cookie-cutter ticky-tacky? Revitalising of existing town/village hubs? Houses per hectare? Or do you do nothing but retrofit what you already have, and allow demographics and better space-use to even out the bumps?

It is probable that we – politically, academically, fiscally and socially, won’t address this issue until it hits us in the empty supermarket shelf. We will continue to call those we repress (in the process of our unsustainable resource-suck) communist, terrorist, or whatever. We will continue to believe in endless economic growth. The green movement will continue to indulge in the oxymoron which is ‘continued personal consumption while trying to defend the planet from the resultant consuming process’, but without giving it up.

That leaves a bottom-up change targeting our original goal.

After all, the capital/growth/consumption system will inevitably crash itself with no outside help, the current crop of leaders won’t be of any use at that point, and those who need led (the vast majority, which is why left-wing revolution never prevails, incidentally, and will not prevail; they just desire different leaders/distribution, but the same system) will need a blueprint.

Transition Towns, guerrilla gardeners, cycling initiatives, farmer’s markets, are all indications that these ground-up changes are happening.

Anyone can put their shoulder to that wheel – it costs nothing and is surprisingly satisfying; no leadership needed.

The pity is that the old guard, rather than acknowledge this inevitable, coming-soon/now paradigm shift, will go down in a doomed attempt to remove misidentified ‘barriers’ (think: Amy Adams, Nick Smith) to their impossible dream.

Endless growth on a finite planet.

Go figure – how could we have been stupid enough to vote for folk who promised that oxymoron?


Murray Grimwood says he is "a Columnist, and a Generalist specialising in energy efficiencies". He comments on this website as Powerdownkiwi. You can find out more about him here ».

He publishes his views here » 

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


No great arguement from me regarding the content of the piece - however, whatever happened to structure and composition in the construction of an article? Perhaps its a modern trend to write as a series of bullet points (which this reads as) with staccato phrasing - but for me a written arguement should be carefully constructed and thematically sectioned else it reads as someone simply haranguing a crowd from a street corner. With a message this important the style of delivery is almost as important as the content.

Think they double-spaced the sentences. Perhaps getting back at me for my posting style?

As a long-ago Values Party member, I recognise and applaud the motive and sincerity.
But (y'all Knew there was gonna be a But...)
The whole shebang rests upon this single assumption:  that the required changes (whatever they are to be) can be accepted and implemented globally.
Population. Carbon. Peak <insert the Fear du Jour here>.   Else, Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons swings into action.  This global action is simply not gonna happen.  Consider a Tobin Tax's chances...Snowball.  Hades.
The vast history of mankind (which is the record of human behaviour) suggests an altogether different and much, much messier trajectory.
Yes, the current system of over-consumption and various common-plunderings will hit a number of walls.
But, and crucially, different areas, tribes, nations, corporations and institutions will hit different walls, of different densities, at different speeds, and at different times.
So those who hit a soft wall, gently, soon, and recover gracefully, have a wunnerful incentive to wait for a larger, dumber and faster set of playaz to hit Another wall somewhere, and simply sweep in and take over.  Because, if'n They don't, the Next recovering Tribe will do Them over first, Then sweep on to the Bigger Prize.
As Swift said:  Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ‘em, And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
The playing out of this scenario is fairly much a constant of History.  It's called Quarrelsome Tribes and it's where we all came from, and where we are headed back to.
I don't see any reason to think that This Time is I'd print up a few AR-15's for them Transition Towns....and their Yummy Gardens.   And stock up on Flea Powder.

It's a real shame in the sense of NZ's political history that Values never made it to Parliament.  Ironically, I read somewhere that in a manifesto of theirs the 'zero growth' economic target was stated as x% growth (1 or 2 percent, I can't recall) and the ironic thing was, that "x" was larger than the previous years GDP growth had been :-).
But no matter - it was the principles that sought to upset the status quo by getting a real conversation on these matters going.  Would have given us a head start anyway.

Population - globally v NZ.  Assuming we dont have (10s or even 100s of) thousands of boat ppl come to us (Swift's point I guess).  NZ actually has a huge amount of un-tapped natural non-renewable resources that can be husbanded. Our population is also probably dispersed enough that we have a lot of options.  So we can probably successfully control/maintain our population.
In terms of Swift, well the option are; do it, or not. Not we know is a failure, 100%.  Ergo the other way, do it is the only chance.
That "Quarrelsome Tribes"  was also in a time of expansion, into rich soils, even later colonisation to say NZ was similar but in effect one way. So take the Roman empire, they expanded until they reached the limits of transporting the spoils back. They then hollowed out their own "empire" to feed the core.  So what would say the USA gain by coming here? they couldnt afford to transport the "winnings" back.  So the only viable way is the one way, or swamp the lifeboat....need energy to do it and some mass...
"and where we are headed back to" AR15s are unforunately quite complex technology, or the bullet is chemically. I'd suggest a Parker Hale 3 band replicas longer term, but I hope we do better than that as a so called intelligent, thinking species.

Too much lecturing and not enough practical actions/advice. Almost as if, pdk, you've convinced yourself the problem is too intractable to solve and so revert to reiterating platitudes of gloom and frustration - and it ends up reading as a veilled criticism of humankind generally.
I don't consider myself part of the "we" that were "stupid enough".  Hence, those of us that think about these things - seek a more measured, sequenced and practical approach - the time for jibes/criticisms has passed.
Time for the business, as opposed to the lecturing.
PS - personally I see inequality the biggest threat going forward - and more equitable distribution of 'resources' (be they physical or fiat) the BIGGEST policy issue for governments the world over.  If we don't solve that, we're looking at a return to mass slavery.

hmmm - an egalatarian NZ - an increasingly unobtainable dream for my son and a faded but yet highly cherished memory for me as seen through my Father's past.

Same sentiments here. But I live in hope and free weetbix and milk sure ain't gonna cut it for an 'idea'.

Nope - just serves to highlight the injustices dished out to the poor - no better than food stamps in lieu of paid work.

I see it as a start of a dialouge, where we harness the true power of the human collective in discovering the best solutions.
PS.  I have got well sick of dealing with managers who say "dont bring me problems bring me solutions". 
PPS Cant win of course, there will be ppl who see "practical actions/advice" as a dictatorship.
"Equitable", Ok but  across how many generations btw?
You are right of course in terms of inequality, those with food and energy will be challenged by those with none, with nothing to lose, who fears the bullet when starving.
Slavery can take many forms, I think many have enslaved themselves today with debt, the Q is how does throwing off that yoke go, because that has to happen. Which kind of points us at civil wars / revolutions etc.

"PS - personally I see inequality the biggest threat going forward - and more equitable distribution of 'resources' (be they physical or fiat) the BIGGEST policy issue for governments the world over.  If we don't solve that, we're looking at a return to mass slavery."
Agree. I feel as long as Politicians have no compelling reason to run balanced budgets the financial world is going to get increasingly difficult for people of modest means.
Since the end of the Gold exchange standard in 1971 Governments have no need to fear the population ditching dollars for Gold when they feel credit creation is out of whack with the exchange price. The last US president to really make an effort to run balanced book was Eisenhower in the 50's.
Without a "standard" unit of measurement there is no way to price risk. All markets are fiddled with for political purposes at the moment. I really feel we have regressed with floating exchange rates and are simply trashing our money for a short term export fix.
N.Z. has been one of the better countries in this regard.....perhaps too small? But the US is simply defrauding the savings of their trading partners, and Japan.....well that is a disaster for savers. 
The result of this may be a regression in International trade as the payments system collapses.....I hope not but going off gold was a mistake in my opinion. 
So my remedy. Spend what you earn. Tax what you spend. 

A little too tax regressive for my taste.

Kate, in regard to inequity going forward being the great challenge to Mankind, in terms of revolution , war , misery for millions upon millions who find themselves unable to compete in a world bursting to create more competition, more opportunity, more markets to access, and all through proliferation of the species.
 Forgive me , but  as we are completely capable of out pacing ,in terms of growth, what  a finite world can supply , yes it is a little apocalyptic however far down the track it may be from us.
PDK as  (the scientist) offers a stark insight to a future with available energy outpaced by the demand from the species,  in developing economies, developed economies, and as yet undeveloped economies.....
 The single greatest cause for mass poverty is in the proliferation of the species....the continual institutionalised directive that to make more of ourselves is to create wealth or wealth opportunity, to create followers , believers,  who infact are really tomorrow's Market at one end or the other.
There are many occassions where I feel the language used by PDK is uninviting to the reader, not just for content (scientific) but also for tone which while wanting to transmit an important message , comes across as aloof, condescending, classically impatient.
 Having a freind who worked for NASA as a Neuc fizz.....has helped me learn PDK means no offence for the most part but, your not going to let him sell anything for you.
While Murray and I dont agree on the chicken or egg thingy, I think his contributions over the years have facillitated the readers with an opportunity to read another opinion (qualified)  on where the predictable future of Man may be.
For me it's  us..Mankind  who are in need of correcting our attitude to  ensure (as best we can)a sustainable world that can afford equity to it's inhabitants with dignified comfort.
It began for me with this chappie standing outside his tin shack with his wife and eight children inviting Christians to relieve their desperate poverty......and I thought ,where was his responsibilty in this.
 Unfortunately, as long as there are people with great power  to influence , from Business to Religion I see little change in the psyche of Man occuring ....and so perhaps , PDK has more chance of influencing thought  than I would even if it is just treating a symptom , not the cause.

Good idea Muzz. After all we are simply custodians of our patch of earth, and everybody loves their children, so who would not want to leave their patch better off than when they received it.
I would simply add: Stop flying. Stop all air traffic! Civilian and military. After all, we don't need it. And aviation is the most damaging pollution emitter on our planet. If a person must travel, do so by ship. All trade was handled by sea transport not too long ago, we could easily get back to it. After all, without petroleum and it's energy density (Joule/Kg), there would be no air traffic. So why wait untill we have to?

PDK     "Actually, given that money can only buy the results of energy having been used, I have to point out that owning the generating capacity is better – by far – than having a fistful of dollars"
true enough if we sat on the money.But we are not.We are going to spend the "fistfull of dollars "on schools hospitals roads,rebuilding CHCH etc
these things our children/grandchildren get an immediate and long term benefit from.Instead you would rather they put up with 3rd world facilities with infrastructure falling down or a borrow their future  with the costs that go with that.
and you then call those that oppose you... short sighted..oh the hypocracy...

DonM - Please don't shoot the messenger. There is a clear difference between warning and advocating. I warn, I do not advocate.
I also - for the increasing number of folk who 'get it', can demonstrate first-hand how to adapt, albeit within the constrictions of current society.
This fellow has the whole thing covered - worth a read:
There's a lot there; pour a cuppa and get comfortable    :)

sorry.. once i read your http address that included the words "socialsciences&arts" i couldnt bring myself to read your link.those words just say Bullshit to me and when the Armageddon you predict comes, those with expertise in socialsciences&arts  will get run over by the people who actually do something for a living

I've read my way through 'the Competitive Advantage of Nations, Rescuing the NZ economy, Conservation Strategies for NZ (the BRT spin), Richardsons Making a Difference, I've been Thinking, Unfinished Business, Fighting for NZ, - and probably more - all in my shelves.
I disagree with almost all the content, but prefer to appraise everything I can get my hands on before pontificating, on the basis that if there's one thing worse than ignorance, it would have to be chosen ignorance.  

    "               I've read my way through 'the Competitive Advantage of Nations, Rescuing the NZ economy, Conservation Strategies for NZ (the BRT spin), Richardsons Making a Difference, I've been Thinking, Unfinished Business, Fighting for NZ, - and probably more - all in my shelves."(yes Richard prebble Ive been a great read)
 Good on you PDK..                             ive been creating exports instead

ive been creating exports instead
Just like John Key - sell off the Energy companies to foreigners as NZers cannot withstand the losses, then we export your hard won export receipts as dividends. 
Meanwhile Johnny and the boys take from the state hospitals while they build registered charitable trust status charter schools and private hospitals that serve an elite few, with the privatisation proceeds. Read more
Legislation let charitable trusts benefit from tax exemption while public organisations were obliged to pay 8 per cent of their net worth to the Government as a capital charge, a cost that bled the Canterbury District Health Board of $15m last year.
Today's regulations give tax relief to private schools, fee-charging hospitals, Ngai Tahu's 38 limited liability companies (including Shotover Jet and Whale Watch Kaikoura) and food giant Sanitarium with no public benefit test holding them to account.
Under current law, charities are not obligated to give even $1 a year from their surplus to charitable causes.
Merely operating as a hospital or school meets the criteria of charitability as it relieves pressure on the public system, even if the charity is charging fees largely unaffordable to most people.

Yes, and the issue of the tax treatment of such non-charitable charitable trusts (our generous Weetbix donators being one for example) failed to get a mention on this site.
Wake up, NZ and urban Maori in particular - all those iwi elite are structured as chartitable trusts as well whilst developing subdivisions with an entry price no less than $400K for land and building; and thrilling the tourists with jetboat rides the average NZ family will never be able to afford.   
The only reason charter schools are able to make it into our state subsidised education system is because the Maori Party support it as (I can only assume) they are largely funded by that 'charitable' elite.  I hope Hone wipes them all over the floor next election round.

Been there, done that. We led the world, in our field (area-measurement, depth-measurement), for a while.
But my question is: how does your particular export stack up against my 'Goal' above? Are any depletions incurred, and if so, how are they mitigated/compensated? Are there viable, proven alternatives in the wings?  Would it have been better to still have the resource, rather than a fistful of dollars, in 2040, say?

Um, the "fist full of dollars" I seem to recall was "seed" money or part money with the rest put in privately in a PPP deal(s), despite these being shown as failures.  So the interest on the debt is likely to be far higher than with conventionly sourced 10 year Govn bonds, so 3.2% v 7% (or more)....great idea that, no thanks. 
On top of that these facilities have a finite lifespan, so probably 30~40 years being typical its not that likely that our grandchidren will get much of a return, they certianly could end up paying for it though.
What ever happened to the mantra from the right of "user pays" oh yeah, silence when the chanter is the one paying...

    "  On top of that these facilities have a finite lifespan, so probably 30~40 years being typical its not that likely that our grandchidren will get much of a return, they certianly could end up paying for it though    "    ..............................   sorry steven i didnt realise you had only just reached puberty.
You still havent come up with any credible alternative except to go live in a cave

Actually living is a cave will be the result of the status quo Don, that is what hole article is all about. If you don't want you kids/grandkids to live in a cave, then you run away come up with some alternative solutions.

I propose we carry on as we are.In fact we need more use of our natural resources not less.Dig it mine it use/sell it I say.
A resource is only a resource if you plan to use it...its nothing if you dont.
We need to use them before they become obselete..........and build us a great country where my kids grandkids want to live and work(and look after me in my old age).....
Listening to a bunch of hippies aint helpin....
(as an aside..this is turning into a blog for greenies and not about financial advice...not sure if i will visit as regular if it continues..)

"(as an aside..this is turning into a blog for greenies and not about financial advice...not sure if i will visit as regular if it continues..)"
And therein lies the cognitive deficiency, thinking that environmentalists don't understand finance. I would say the PDK has his head screwed on better in that department than most on these forums. I see it a lot though, for some reason because people are involved in business they think they are the only ones that understand finance ( FIGJAM) when the opposite is actually the case. They are not capable of seeing the big picture, only their picture. Could be summed up as incredible arrogance coupled with stupidity.

Actually DonM is the classic "cognitive deficiency" right winger in here...he simply isnt interested in real economics only pushing right wing political agenda with the supporting mak belive outlook voodoo economics "model".
I find that interesting, I came into looking for finance/economic education and found most right wingers in here not only knew diddly about economics but had no intention of learning any. In fact many have shown an alarming lack of  knowledge of science, maths, engineering, or er much of anything...retoric though, they are hot on that....mis-direction, yep do well....

So anyone right wing is an idiot with "cognitive deficiency" and "many have shown an alarming lack of  knowledge of science, maths, engineering, or er much of anything"
Generalise much. 
It might be a little hard to convince right wingers (or anyone else) to come over to your agenda if you consistently insult half the population in the most demeaning ways you can come up with.  I was going to post some comments to flesh out some ideas but what's the point if I'm going to be insulted by the Green mafia.   PDK asked what the biggest barrier is to the population understanding these problems and agreeing to change... 

Steven....I answered scarfies question regarding what to do .YOU had the option to rebutt my ideas but as a TYPICAl leftie chose to play the man not the ball and come out with all kinds of crap about my lack of knowledge in mathematics,engineering etc.
that says more about you than me.I at least put forward a few ideas of my own You just repeat what PDK says.
I actually hold a degree in Agriculture( with distinction) but I dont feel that makes me any smarter or dumber than the next bloke.As for rhetoric and mis direction Ill leave that for you....

Don what is the energy balance of your business? Both the manufacturing, including that of each of your employees, and the product you export by the time it gets to its customer. If you can tell us that then we can actually have a real conservation about natural resources and their relation to finance. What do you pay for that energy, what would you have paid 20 years ago and what do you expect to pay in 20 years. I hope I am wrong but I bet you have never even conceived of your business model in that way. How about the other resources your business consumes?

Don M you didnt support your ideas on why they would work especially inter-generationally. In terms of my rebuttals Ive posted before.  You know you are saying the equiv of "drill baby drill", just how is that justified long term economically?
Typical, Im afraid when you look at the opposite side thats just as virulant if not more so. 
Lack of Knowledge in engineering/science/maths, well yes I see no proof that you are basing your position on anything more than a right wing / libertarian political belief.  Maths is the easiest to look at, expotential growth on a finite planet, be my guest on disproving thats not an issue.
Agriculture, so OK Degree qualified. So humour me, take away the fossil fuel (fertilizer and pesticide) input and what's the output?  Take away the diesel to mechanise the farm and whats the new output? My [great]grandparents and [great]granduncles farms around WW1 typically had 8 or more farm labourers each, while my generation and/or their children runs bigger farms on thier own with far more output.
NB I came across work by a UK farmer who did his best to cut his diesel use and could only manage -25%.
So tell me how we address the present population needs by keeping up the present agricultural production or even improving it while greatly reducing fossil inputs.
Oh and then throw in how more severe weather events like floods and droughts are worked around affordably.
Im all ears.

uh huh....
So because I offer no credible alternative, we'll just carry on. Of course you decide on whats creditable.....
So you have grandkids, what prey resources will be left for them to use?
great moral position that.
I'd be happy in something like this actually, zero need for waste disposal, collects its own water and power....passive coling and heating,  arty, closer to nature / the great outdoors (which is why NZ rocks).

Limit Population.  Yes.  I see the children of our childrens children will be much better off if the population was less than a million.  Actually the place in itself would be better if there were no humans at all.  But I compromise in favour of the humans.
Get rid of increased GDP as the desirable goal.  Yes.  Seems to me the increases in GDP have not delived much wealth or income to us inhabitants, collectively or individuality
Gross National Happiness.  No.  Seems a bit or 'peace love and brown rice' for my taste.  Sounds like advocating being poor and miserable but being too ignorant to realise it.
Sustainability.   Yes.  But PDK probably won't like my view that wealth and sustainability should go together.  as an example only.  We should have the resources to build fine beautiful houses that will last 500 years.  That use minimal maintainance and energy.  And the choice to build only in the best magical places.
Having only one lamp in the house and shifting it around to use sounds pretty tragic to me. 
Wealth comes from investing and investing comes from wealth. The inhabitants need to own the place, to make it all possible.

Maybe there is a formula that
Depletion of resources is directly proportional to cost and poverty
By that i mean
As the resource is depleted the price goes up but you also increase the number of poor who cannot afford to buy product guzzling products. Then the 1% can carry on being wealthy from those resources for much longer.
Maybe we need a scale where
none renewables depletion = renewable increases
A warranty system for all products would be a much simpler method.
The more a product wastes resources the longer the warranty required by law. It is the cheep throwaways causing most of the problem.

So, Murray's schemes need to be Global
The motive behind them is Noble
But what are the chances
that Mullahs in Trances
Enact them - well, Hades, and Snowball
For the usual - er - Spenglerian -  gloss on the current situation, here's the required background for my little ditty....

Bit of a nut job that Spengler, eh.  He's right on the youth problem though, but doesnt apparantly see its may more widespread than just the Muslim world.  I wonder how he thinks the US will get away with continuing to take their resources....conscript poor americans into the armed forces and ship them there maybe, yeah that will work....
sure it will.

Good article.

Nice one PDK. I do think this shift is a possible rather than imagined outcome. Still, it is important to have clearly defined and workable solutions to implement. For me it comes down to 3 basic issues: living within resource limits, having a money supply that is connected to those resources and making sure everyone has a basic subistence living available to them. 
A 2011 post fleshes this out in a bit more detail. Unsurprisingly, it's called living within our limits :-)

this hilarious stuff from pdk has really brightened up my day !   dunno why is turning into Frogblog mk2 but too bad .   -     and  too all you lot hoping to fly away somewhere for Queens birthday  you are tough out of luck -  its Verboten.   look at this beauty post from ol Hevi boy " Stop flying. Stop all air traffic! Civilian and military. After all, we don't need it. And aviation is the most damaging pollution emitter on our planet. If a person must travel, do so by ship. All trade was handled by sea transport not too long ago, we could easily get back to it."
another edict from pdk -   "For New Zealand, the goal has to be zero population growth"

dunno why is turning into Frogblog mk2 but too bad
Chaston does seem to be engaging writers of irrelevant infomercials and non-usury topics inconsitent with the masthead's declaration of interest. I may have cause to review my own reasons for bothering to comment further.

SH - this article spells out why interest will cease to be underwritten. I make on apologies to Labour for that, inconvenient though it may be to them,
Gonzo - If you look closely, I criticise standard environmental types too. They are closer to getting it, but the only difference in applying their approach, is that  it might stave things off a little longer. Green growth is still growth, raising folk out of 'poverty' is still requires energy and resources.

SH - this article spells out why interest will cease to be underwritten.
Care to define a time? - so those currently obligated to pay tribute can be relieved of their contractual duties in an orderly manner.

SH - no offence, but it has to be 4 years, at least, since we started pointing out here, that the underwrite had to have stopped. I've always pointed out that Peak Oil (more properly peak energy flow) would - minus efficiencies - be the point of maximum underwrite. Heck, I stood up in a County Council meeting in '86, and pointed to the correlation.
Oil plateaued in '05, fiscal wall happened 07-08. Yes? No coincidence. I stated - 4 or more years ago here, that interest rates would have to go first to zero, then (if things hang together and track actual activity properly) negative. How else could it be?
But of course, things get skewed because if the not-underwriteable interest is indeed charged (banks etc) then some other persona is going to suffer. Swings and roundabouts under a sinking lid.
Keen reckons it needs a full debt-forgiveness, I suspect the suckers-up will keep on sucking up, and the bottom will empty out. I don't know as much as Keen, but I know energy. Sir Peter Gluckman may have a handle on the problem (Nat radio, nine to noon, yesterday); what I call interdisciplinary genuflection. The big dropped-ball was between economics and physics, in hindsight.

Stop the BS, I've got the BSc Hons etc - give us a time, so the not so well informed can get out from under the obligation that they feel keeps them on a treadmill of generally unwanted employment in that energy deficient world you claim as your own. Otherwise it is best to keep it to yourself.

SH - well, with your expertise, you might help pin it down.
Can you please read your way through the stuff I linked to, up-thread. Trainer has been down this track a long time, a long way. Take your time, and remove any preconceptions. Tell me what you think when you come out the other end.
Then you (or perhaps the staff here) could tell us how much cumulative debt is owed, over how long. I'll plot you the energy available, and we can plot the rising 'demand per head'. I'll get an Energy Studies lecturer to project an efficiencies overlay, and there we'll be.
Money, of course, is artificial. The sun will still rise if there is no scrip and did so for a few days prior to it's invention. Those who believed in it's omnipotence, were just backing the wrong (I know, I'm nagging) horse.
And I wouldn't warn, if folk like me thought there was no way forward. There is, but it isn't this one.  

Zero population growth, or better yet declining population will simply be a response to the limited resources of the future...The edict comes from Nature.

The uninterrupted history of the natural world is to grow rampantly at every opportunity.
Anyone who doesn't mow their lawn knows that.

Yes and also in the natural world then collapse catestrophically when the growth can no longer be supported. 
If you put a goat on the lawn I think you'd prove that...

What you don't state is that unless the goat was contrainted in some premeditated and artificlal manner your "natural" catastrophy won't take place.
Also, worth noting that a planet is not a petrie dish.

Ralph - eh?????
The goal isn't constrained, but is sure will result in constraints. The 'natural catastrophe will for sure continue to unfold, if we continue to attempt growth, and will for sure 'take place'.
And yes, it is. A petrie dish. Just one we've never run the experiment on at this scale.
Try untangling 'causal' and 'resultal'. Might make it clearer. I'm telling you that if we keep on this course, North Korea is whaere we end up. That's not advocating, that's warning. Hence Powerdownkiwi - not Poweruptilltheresnomoreleftthenfalloverkiwi.

I would hope that the publication of this article stems from an understanding that being the richest man in town is pointless if you don't have the stable and secure society to hold onto it. For instance look into the Armed Services and Police and you will find high dissatisfaction and turnover of staff. They are not given the tools or salary to make the job fulfilling so they are leaving. It won't get better as the country can't afford the payroll as it is. Perhaps within a decade they will all be part time volunteers, a bit like a lot of the fire service.
     Good work PDK and well done David for giving balance to the standard growth mantra.

Nats at 49% in latest poll and Labour slippin away,  crumz  Mr Shearer  it may be time to step aside dont you think ?
even Russell 'print more money' Norman isnt making much headway

Don't you think the respondents are all mouth and no trousers? - didn't 440,000 of them claim they were confirmed buyers of Mighty River Power shares? Yeah Right!

This is double spaced, will it be read:
Governments have extended support in misfortune without asking for much to be repaid when the wheel of fortune turns.
New regulatory arrangements have been introduced for power and some other utilities that guarantee high prices and rates of return and make investments in Australia (and NZ we suggest) attractive beyond comparison with opportunities in other countries.
Retail margins keep prices for internationally traded goods way above the norm elsewhere.
The profit share of national income rose to levels unknown in earlier modern times

Thanks Henry :-) 

Fairfax polls have a larger esitmated margin of error than some of the others (and given the amount of difference between polls such as the other day, I think Fairfax is being much more realistic), so strictly speaking National has a 19 in 20 chance of being between 44.6% and 53.6%.
The long run poll of polls average at curiablog (which has details of all NZ polls) has them at 44.6%, but all this is all contingent on NZ First not getting back in.

I actually think the biggest risk to National is something they can do nothing about- another drought again this summer.

Geez you and your interest rates Kimy, do you wear a tin foil hat when you read  I have told you before, there is a 30 year downhill trend in interest rates that won't be interrupted by anything except financial collapse.

I suggest you move to North Korea, which best fits your view of utopia;
Stavartion is keeping the population in check, no risk there.
Economic growth is non existent and for long periods actually negative so lots of resources being saved there.
Energy usage is so low they are a black hole during earth hour so very sustainable.
No wasteful attempts being made in pointless new technologies.

Even if the world is running low on resources as Murray articulates, it seems to me there are far more optimistic, and relatively plausible, outcomes that will have the planet muddle through, albeit with some serious stress points.
A quick look for example at the Japan Population Pyramid suggest that in 60 years the population of Japan may have halved, unless life expectancy continues to shoot up, or fertility significantly reverses. That would be a drop of 60 million people. Many other countries, including all of Europe (with immigration fudging the issue), China and much of South East Asia are later in the cycle, but heading in the same direction. 
Even those countries with traditionally high fertilty- mostly the Middle East, India, Pakistan and Africa- are slowing down rapidly. Those countries or regions will likely have the stress points, with arguably the Sunni Shiite civil war being a grab for control of resources for example.
In the meantime fossil fuels will be used; as they become more scarce and expensive then solar and other renewables, along with nuclear will likely become more prevalent. We are in my view as likely to run into labour shortages as much as energy, but time will tell.
All of that ignores the polluting aspects of fossil fuels. The tragedy of the commons is likely to apply worldwide in that regard, and we probably have to hope that global warming effects will not be at the more catastrophic end of various models.
Should New Zealand take a lead? Am personally open to carbon or similar taxes progressively applying, although would prefer that the taxes then stay in NZ. Moderating immigration would be fine with me; certainly encouraging it merely for GDP growth seems questionable. Whether NZ will function well without it is though debatable. Regardless of your views on it, there seem plenty of functions in Auckland that would no longer be done without relatively recent immigrants. That, though, is another topic.  


I might be reading Powerdown's proposition incorrectly - correct me if I'm wrong
As I understand it, his proposition is this:-
Subsequent to Robert Malthus, John D Rockefeller came along and provided the springboard for all the benefits of oil that society has gained. Today, most of the gains in concentrated food production have been obtained through the use of cheap petro-chemical based fertilisers and the machinery that is used to harvest and transport and process etc etc. Such events have so far proven Malthus's predictions wrong. Or simply postponed them.
Problem is, as oil (fossil fuel) is exhausted and alternatives are used such as solar and wind and nuclear, they don't and can't provide the replacements for nitrogen fertilisers. So the first thing that will be impacted will be the global food supply. As oil becomes more expensive so food production becomes more expensive, and the end product becomes more expensive. It is highly probable the production gains will begin to diminish, driving prices up further.
End result. Population must be controlled, and reduced. Fauna has an inbuilt self-preservation mechanism to control that. During times of starvation and pestilence they stop breeding. When good times return, they begin breeding again.
PDK uses the term "underwrite" and he's right. Malthus's dog may yet have his day.

One correction - natural gas is actually the main feedstock for most fertilizer production (not crude oil) via the Haber process:

"Problem is, as oil (fossil fuel) is exhausted and alternatives are used such as solar and wind and nuclear, they don't and can't provide the replacements for nitrogen fertilisers"
look up clover production and nitrogen fixation.Been happening with clover/legumes for years..

The problem is a) scale and b) output per SqM isnt anywhere as good.  e we move to organic production, maybe a x4 less output/
Also I read some research is suggesting that as CO2 rises plants while possibly benefitting from CO2 may suffer with less efficient nitrogen uptake..

Last time I looked into it (which was tracing back along one of PDKs links to see where the numbers came from) most of the energy/carbon/ fossil feul cost in conventional food production was actually coming from the large scale industrial food model. Monocultures sent to factories, processed to be ingrediants, sent to other factories, recombined into foods with added chemically produced ingrediants to keep it all stable. This meant present average cost estimates for food production were being skewed by some very expensive items, in the same way a few very high salaries skew the average wage figures.

"So - we need a monitoring regime to track renewables, a system to allocate their use, and penalties for those who flout the system. Growth in their use beyond a defined point, will simply have to be stopped. Permanently. No arguments there? Too easy."
'If it’s recyclable – say copper – you have to prioritise its use, not by how much money can be made, but by ascertaining how useful is the use "
"Meaning that – in absence of a viable, proven alternative - oil should either be much, much more expensive than it currently is, or it should be rationed."
These comments bring to mind George Orwells...Animal Farm....  I get an uneasy feeling ....Rationing is basically a "command Economy"...      You would need to be a benevolent Dictator make it work as u suggest.
Don't get me wrong... I'm kind of on your wave length..   One of my favorite authors is Paul hawken
Maybe we don't need to be as extreme as you suggest....
The first thing we could do.. within our current system... is to bring economics into the 21st century...    
The best way I can sum this up is with the example of food...     The price of food does not reflect its real COST...    ie.  the cost of production.. PLUS cost to the environment.
If food was properly priced you would find that there would be a "natural adjustment" to more sustainable practices.
Current "economic theory" allows  for...and was created for ..the exploitation of resources....  likewise with our tax system.
I am a big believer that economic systems are too complex to run on a command/rationing basis  ( In that world  the Apple Iphone might never have been created ).
The economic equivalent of biodiversity... is the freedom for people to create and innovate and transact...  ie. freemarket  type economy ( within the bounds of common sense)
With just a reform of the Global Monetary system...   and a "re-creation" of economics... and the Tax system .... I think we could move towards the world that you envision for our future generations.. ... and still be vibrant...innovative .... and diverse.
Thks for the article PDK... 

"command economy" you ask .. "benevolent dictator" you ask .. Isn't that happening right now?
so what's with the food in schools program? .. sounds like it .. or is that "foie gras" force feeding? .. surely not
Why is that happening? .. see comment above on the cost of food

 "command economy" you ask .. "benevolent dictator" you ask .. Isn't that happening right now?
so what's with the food in schools program? .."
Didnt know the FIS programme was compulsary?Its only a backstop for useless parents who are too hungover or lazy to pour a bit of milk on some wheetbix for their kids.
although it smacks of nanny stateism it will be the best $2m /yr of taxpayer money spent by JK to shut up the whining opposition.Pulls the carpet from under them and now they will have to drum up some other"issue" to try and get noticed.

Last time I checked this thread, it was on topic, had some good discussion, and was Interesting.
What happened????

Oh I don't know, Waymad. Gonzo did the predictable divert/spin thing, but by and large it's been tamer that I'd have thought. Kate, way up-thread, was perhaps unfair - she should be aware that I did the practical and the demonstrating before the preaching.
  There were a couple who mistook - even though pre-advised - 'a warning about' for a 'desire for', but that's just denial or maybe cognitive dissonance, or possibly fear. You let those ones go.
Coulda been worse. You knew my old family stomping-grounds were Errolbush/Waimatuku? Oh, and mine is from the Cleveland Tractor Co -  the Continental rather than the Hercules. Needs new grouser bushes - sometime.  Go well      :)

I think Kate was a bit harsh. It read to me as a pragmatic approach to impending shortages. There was less of the Mad Max end of world doom laden stuff, which as Kate says just ends as a very depressing unpalatable narrative of mankind. Sometimes I wonder how you get up in the morning. So i liked the more positive side of your essay. I believe your argument is greatly strengthened when it is balanced with some hope/optimism. You should thank David for making you clarify your thoughts on what to do rather than repeatedly focusing on what the problem is.

Brendon - my other editor once sais to me (I'd just onsent an Orlov essay) "don't scare us, just tell us what to do". It sounded fine - for about 10 minutes. The problem with teaching lifeboat drill, is that it has no immediacy unless the sinking is understood.
That's where what I call the 'F&B Greenies' fail; every McKenzie accord is an assumption that the ship will stay afloat, caffe lattes as 'normal'. The answers are easy - if not to everyone's liking, but without the 'why', they will be ignored.
That said, I'm with Waymad. The indications are (and you, at this late stage, kinda prove this) that we will not do the altruistic thing; that we will continue to hoover the Thirld World while denying that we do so, then there will be serious clashes over what's left, and a warming, polluted, depleted planet will go to the victors. Our discussions (energy-studiers) touch on the fact that without the one-off blessing of fossil-fuels, a future re-boot is probably impossible. John Connor doesn't make it!
That would be good for every other species on the planet, but a sad epitaph of our collective intelligence.

Yeah I did think that Waymad deserved the gloomster award yesterday! Usually a gong that rotates between you and BH. The problem with scaring people and not offering them any hope of escape is that it pretty much gaurantees denial because the alternative is depression.  
Think how your message affects that impressionable teenage (because all teenagers are impressionable) grandchild. Basically you are saying that there is no point in trying to do anything, they should just give up because the world has been wrecked for them. Many teenagers (adults too) are already prone to depression and at its worst suicide.
For your campaign to have any meaning it has to be a mixture of scare and solution. 

First para, yes its a well known issue,
Teenages are not daft, they can actually research and draw their own conclusions. The great thing is at that age a) they have not put on political blinkers so will look for themselves with an open mind.  b) they have huge drive and determination to do things.  
Lets consider how long this problem has been known for, Hubbert made it obvious 50 odd years ago, yet Shell said dont do it. The limits to growth came out in the 70s, 40 years ago, it was ignored or poo-poo'd. Robert Hirsch's 2005 report laid it out again and said we were probably a decade too late then its now 8 years later, and not much is happening.  So such "protection" has carried on for 5 decades til now its getting critical and it will be painful. 
Solution, I dont know any, not to keep us as is or growing.  the Q is how to manage the shrinking and that needs buy in and how it will be done, it is after all a democracy.

I've always had the solution - if you don't get that, it's because you don't disentangle 'a solution' from 'Brendon's wishes'.
You need to read - long, slow and without prejudice - that link I put up to Prof Trainer. I'd be three degrees of eff-all different in my solutions. The smart teenagers already know - hence Louie and Generation Zero. With luck they'll forgive our generation.

Remarkable isn't it, the inability of the species to guard against what plainly stares us in the face, if only for the potential for utter misery.........While the enlightened creature placing himself before all else on this Earth takes a blind leap of faith on so many levels, leaving it to his God to provide for his reckless shortsightedness, his lack of vision for those that may follow him and those that follow nauseum.

PDK stop being so sensitive. I gave you you a compliment. By saying that I think you got a better balance in this essay. I wasn't criticising your solutions. And I certainly wasn't implying you had none, just in previous posts over the last year or so that i have followed this site you have tended to focus on the problem not the solution. In my opinion your argument is stronger when it is a balance of both.
Previously I have said that I would read your proposed solutions because I felt you had gone over the top, becoming what I felt was very dictatorial and anti democratic. But this essay was fine, there was no hint of that and had positive bottom up solutions that i think is great. So this is a sort of apologee for misjudging you on that score.
We both know that I see the peak energy issue as less dire than you do, that I am more optimistic that at least here in New Zealand we will be able to muddle our way through. But I follow this issue closely and am prepared to change my viewpoint.
And putting myself in your shoes I see you have a difficult problem. You want to promote your cause and achieve change in society. This leads you to take a polemic position that unfortunately makes you appear difficult, inflexible, extreme etc. But the alternative is you are reasonable and end up compromising so much that you have lost touch with your cause. You alluded to this problem further down I think. You are pretty much locked into your position. As I said earlier I think you are in danger of turning off too many people if you are totally pessimistic but you don't have much room to come away from your position either.
Interestingly you are not the only polemicist on this website, Hugh Pavelitich is another, and like the wikipedia definition says you are very warlike in opposing each other. "Along with debate, polemics are one of the most common forms of arguing. Similar to debate, a polemic is confined to a definite controversial thesis. But unlike debate, which may allow for common ground between the two disputants, a polemic is intended only to establish the truth of a point of view while refuting the opposing point of view..."
But where does that leave the rest of us? Do we have to choose one polemic position or the other. Can we change the debate from a polemic argument to a debate with the possibility of finding some common ground. I for one would like my kids to have affordable housing and a survivable environment to live in. Is that possible?

Memo to Powerdown and Christov and Chaston
One year ago I posted a reply to a Hugh Pavletich comment along the lines of .. his stated goals are clear  .. but going about achieving them the wrong way ..
I have a registered web site that has been in existence for 18 years. It is vast. The culmination of years of research. Research that had been recorded in the form of research notes. During a clean out was going to throw them away. Examined the internet and discovered that very little of my reseach material existed in the public domain. In a fit of altruism decided to publish into the world-wide-web. Lot of reading.
Got feedback. Caused a bit of a stir initially. Emails from tyrekickers. Emails from crazies. One thing it has done is establish a base-line within the profession-industry below which newcomers no longer need to delve.
What have I learnt from this undertaking.
Some of the feedback established that the written word is the most difficult form of communication there is, comments like "reads like a Thesis", "too difficult", "too much to learn", "reads like it's been written by a technical engineer", "you are giving too much away for free"
By 2005, having been sucked into spending too much time in email ping-pong it was decided to cut the web-site in half by removing some of the pages. One month later my attention was drawn to an american based web-site of a Professor of Psychiatry at Syracuse University upstate New York. In an article the professor publicly reprimanded me for removing pages from my web site saying I had a responsibility to leave a legacy for the next generation. The pages were restored. They remain there today. The Professors rebuke still remains there to this day, in the public domain for all to see.
In June 2011 I wrote to Powerdown, an item that remains on his web-site today - see the first comment

Read Christov's comment
There are many occassions where I feel the language used by PDK is uninviting to the reader, not just for content (scientific) but also for tone which while wanting to transmit an important message

Read Christov's comment

yes you did (first comment) I read it and I think I responded in here?,
"He accepts we are well into the bottom half of all reserves now. But the costs of getting that out are increasing (exponentially?) Dont hear any discussion about that."
I think there is....In the last 2 years or so the cliams that we'd see $200, or $300 or $500 oil missed the important fact, ppl or the economy cannot pay it.  ie above 6% of GDP for the USA anyway a recession thats about $ we should end up in a perma-recession....oh wait....
There has also been a discusion that new oil coming on the market is now costing $90USD a barrel, which puts a floor under the pricing.  Horizon's (the big BP spill) cost I think was mooted at $150USD a barrel, I dont see how that oil will ever be recovered within a free market economy. ie only Govn's will pay that price via a Civil defence emergency type of action.
We have used the cheap half of the oil (1.2Trillion barrles out of 2.1~2.3Trillion) given the above I wonder if even 1/2 of the remaining 1/2 will ever be got out....I suspect not, so the oil age may end a lot faster than 2050....pre-2030?
The above suggests a highly asymmetrial slant ie a faster than expected drop to Hubbert's curve initially and worse a cutoff at some an almost vertical drop to nothing.  I wonder, if thats right just how the global economy would cope, fat chance.
I think while there is talk its almost in hushed tones in case it frightens the natives. Meanwhile those who dont want to know make very loud noises and actions at anyone who says too much thye dont like.
In any event I dont see the next 2 decades being in any way easy.

But as you will notice Steven , even the avid Mr Sisson begs for the exchange on a level he can comprehend and more importantly relate to others with where PDK  misses the point of his's not dumbing it down , it's making it common, conduitly speaking....if it's not a secret , then don't communicate like it is one, chiding those who may not know the club speak.
 He has discharged half his responsibility in the learning , he has some distance to go in the delivery of knowledge to his intended audience....and should that not be..all of us ...?
He's ( PDK) not short on wit ,when of a mind to, but lacks the patience to use it as a tool to remove certain barriers.
iconoclast....methinks the Prof was right....allow others to judge the merit of the efforts, it helps the writer find objectivity....hopefully.

I think we see some complex things going on.
"on a level he can comprehend 8><---- it's not dumbing it down" uh?  it is, or I dont follow you.
a) Society specialises more and more because everything is more and more complex.
The result is,
i) Those unable to get to the level the specialsits work at tune out.
ii) Those who have the IQ, dont have the background.
iii) Those who have a fixed political viewpoint wont change it even if hell freezes over.
iv) Similar to iii) those with the vested interest and or the positon to articulate it wont.
"all of us"  wont ever happen I think....too much of the above.
"the Prof was right"  indeed.

Icono - you have to look at what I do, in perspective. I've known this was coming, since '75. I was 20, now I'm 58. When I was 20, I debated in a friendly manner. We had time, and presumably we weren't stupid - it would happen.
In hindsight, a mixture of arrogance (the neoliberal resource-grabbers), ignorance (the high-heeled and the rugby-heads and the latte/flat screeners) and propaganda (have a listen to Jim Mora this afternoon - he's getting the UK Climate Change minister (that well known scientist) to back Jim Mora's views. Truth? Science? Balance?) have buried the debate. Perhaps we will never have it, and whatever, we are now very, very late in having it.
So I decided it was a waste of time discussing it yet again in my circles (we all know) and that someone should go into the nonsense (economics) camp and spread a few truths. History tells me the soft sell has been ignored, and logic tells me you need a thick hide because there will be flack.
But the only way is to tell it like it is. I don't think, for instance, that you'd convince Hulme (upthread) with either approach. That reaction looked like fear and indignation, to me. Typically, that is followed by ignoring,  then back to-the-knitting-as-if-it-didn't-happen.
No - others can do the soft-sell, there's a place for us all, and I can sleep with my conscience at night.

No one's asking for a soft sell Murray.....I mean geeesus mate , I mention the downsizing of the species and you'd think I caught cyber leprosy round's about the mechanics of your conduit in communication to....the ....common..Murray..!
Yes people get bribed, science gets funded with bribery, but hearts n minds can win majorities Murray....hearts n minds.
 I'll give you three months to write a story aimed at five to eight year olds about  your speciality.
 The story should be engaging, intriguing, and excite their desire to know more.......
 Ya need a hero.....ya need a villian...ya got the scenario....ya gonna have to throw a little hope in......and find an ending.
What is the point... you say..? will know that when you finish ...or not as the case may be .
Good luck as always, go well.

Chuckle. And all ten billion of them lived happily ever after kind of thing?
I do a bit with kids, but I'm carefil not to lay the blame with them, and careful that it's all proactive skill-teaching. Includes logic-path thinking. I let them find out - a bunch were buildig a solar dehydrator - thought they could decant the evaporation and it would be fruit juice. Didn't tell them not. Set them to try it out.
go well. I'm off to give a talk about 'small, appropriate housing'. Next week, a lecture about energy efficient housing (based on ours, of course!) That's the side you don't see   :)

Saw a 'Grand designs' the other day on a Walter Segal self build project in Brighton, almost restored my faith...

You have an important message to tell. You have a responsibility to communicate it. Read christov's comment above (in response to steven) carefully. You have only done half the job. The other half is being lost because of complexity. Your task is to take all of your knowledge and distill the technicals out of it and convey the essence in ordinary language. Relate it to the common man-in-the-street.
Aw shucks christov .. ya beat me to it .. I was typing slowly (as in I will type this real slow for you)

Is it PDK's job t ge to the man in the street or PDK's job to get to those in a position to do so?
The former I'd suggest is going to fail because of the scale...the latter to me anyway has a chance of success.
BTW this sort of shows the point I was thinking earlier,
RalphW on June 22, 2009 - 10:39am 

And finally, to contradict myself, any complex society faced with such an energy cliff would do very well not to collapse completely, and would probably contract so fast that it will end up leaving most of the oil in the ground anyway, as the economy could not support the massive up-front investment to build the infrastructure needed to exploit such difficult to extract resources."
That also of course implies there isnt or wont be the economy to keep or move to renewables on any scale either.


Steven: short answer is yes .. he has a responsibility to articulate so joe-public understands it .. when I first started visiting here I knew nothing of what you and powerdown were on about .. had never even considered it .. it doesn't even rate a mention over here .. none at all .. same in the US .. so I am grateful .. by perservering I have gained something .. took a while .. over time I began to get a glimmer of what you were both on about .. hard work 

But the only way is to tell it like it is. I don't think, for instance, that you'd convince Hulme (upthread) with either approach. That reaction looked like fear and indignation, to me. Typically, that is followed by ignoring,  then back to-the-knitting-as-if-it-didn't-happen.
I read that exchange with S Hulme and was looking forward to your answer on the timeline as well.  It was not an unreasonable question given your statement was made in the vein of absolute certainty.
There is a differnece between prediction and projection - the IPCC for example make that distinction in their discussion on terminology - you can find it on their site.  The problem with many (and I include other scientists in the applied science sense) folks who interpret/discuss their findings is that they confuse the two terms. With a prediction you have to assign probabilities and hence you can then also assign a timeline.  With a projection you admit you can assign no probabilities - and hence no timeline to an event.
That's all Stephen asked of you - what's the timeline to interest no longer being an underwrite.  If you can't assign a probability to the negative interest event you suggest WILL happen for us all, then all you are doing is talking about it (the event) being one of many possibilties that MIGHT happen at some unknown time in the future.  So it is important that you understand the limitations of your projections - and you distinguish between projections and predictions in your interpretation of science.

That is of course a very hard Q to answer, so Im not sure where  we go from here.  You cant quantify it so we'll ignore it?  seems to be your suggestion?
If you look at how long NZ alone will take to pay back the present debt which is decades away (2038?) and with peak oil already past (2006) or before 2018 at the latest I'd suggest what debt exists to day already isnt underwritten.  In effect we know the event within 12 years....we know the payback on existing debt cannot be done in 5 (at most 10 years) as there will be no growth or business as normal to do it with.

That's the point - the question is unanswerable - we can do a projection but we cannot attach a probability and hence cannot attach a timeframe (the matter is too complex).  Hence, one needs to be more modest/humble in terms of the future assertion, as it is a projection, a possibility, not a prediction.
Your calculations above are of the nature of projections, best guesstimates. I'm not suggesting we ignore this issue but we have many choices as to how and when we act (one path for example is what this government 'claims' to be trying to do and many homeowners are doing by attempting to deleverage).  Another projection might suggest that underwrite won't be required as a debt jubilee will be negotiated.  At least that's how I understood the question.

Prediction v projection - thanks Kate for a simple explanation of the difference.  I now have something to debate with various elected officials now on their various stances which they state are predictions when in fact they are projections. :-)

You've got it - regulators are some of the worst offenders - and in many cases they are lead into that false sense of hubris/confidence/assuredness by the very scientists who should know better.

An unfortunate line in the sand it was too Kate....Stephen H has a very respectable mind on his subject and wider, yet  the communication reached a breaking which PDK responded....That reaction looked like fear and indignation, to me. itself a provocation to communicate no further on the matter.
 It's funny sometimes how a simple quote like Prepare for the worst , but hope for the best ..can escape people on both sides of a learned debate.
As to the question when...
The demand for growth placed upon rescources by undeveloped, developing and developed economies in an already diminishing supply will only serve to expotentially increase any associated problems that occur with supply shortage.
 The numbered poor will be larger, the inequity greater, the repocussions more extreme.
So when..?.I suppose a pinprick to the surface of an inflated balloon might seem an eternity to a a relative concept....but the bang arrives nonetheless. 

Kate -  I answered quite clearly - dates mentioned were '05. '07, '08, as I recall.
I pointed out that the unsupportable debt overshoot was NOW. I also pointed out that money is nothing - you can indeed forgive all debt - but that those who would assume they are piling up more future-proxy are collectively fooling themselves. Kiwisaver, interest, investment, profit. I've lost count of the number of times I've put up the graph (smithsonian/limits to growth).
Labour need to get that, or will become irrelevant. J.T.Paul (he and I grace a club Honours Board, small world) would have got this, Nordy might have, Macmillan probably, maybe even Lee. Nash wouldn't, Fraser wouldn't, Shearer probably won't, Curren very didn't, Parker hasn't shown signs yet. Hodgson got it very well (did anyone ask him?), I suspect Clark knew, and if Cullen did, that classic wee exchange with Fitzsimmons re Peak Oil suggested disingenuity.  If you do anything, you need to start the debate internally. Kinda now.

I fear I am lecturing now .. but you might have been Auguste Comte in another life :-). Your orientation is so positivist - accompanied by a similar arrogance that I read into Comte's writing on the philosophy of science.  I prefer Kuhn, a physicist, philosopher and historian.  Notwithstanding the lifes work Comte did on classification of the then existing knowledges under the typology of sciences we largely use today - he was, in a sense, the first encyclopeadist (not sure of that spelling, or if indeed it is a word). So we owe him a great debt for that. But his notion of positivism is at the heart of the what has been called the untenable separation of facts from values.
Anyway, what I get the sense of is you are devoting your lifes work to shifting people toward a 'worldview', a paradigm, one that might well become reality for a time in man's history; and then at another time a new paradigm will emerge, with the same resistance you seem to be encoutering now.  The thesis as Kuhn demonstrates (through an historical consideration of various paradigms in physics) is that we should understand that a new paradigm, occuring as a result of a scientific revolution, is often incommensurate with its predecessor and that perhaps, no paradigm takes us closer and closer to the truth.  Truth in this sense being that we can be certain that we know all there is to know about anything.
Those who accepts Kuhn's thesis are modest in their assertions, less confident of their (our) ability to predict.  They ensure that projections (things determined through the making of assumptions and the subsequent production of theories through modelling) are not represented as predictions, unless probabilities can be assigned. 
You I fear make predictions, state they are certainties and even historical certainites (as per above).  Limits to growth is based on assumptions, models and projections - it doesn't make it unreliable or 'false', but then neither does it make it 'truth'.  The assumptions used are those which are/were operational within a given paradigm based on then current knowledge.  Is collapse, in the Jarrod Diamond sense, inevitable?  Who can say.  Should we do things whilst here on earth to make this a better place?  Sure we should. You and I just go about it in a different way. Not to say your way is better (in the snese of morally better) than mine or mine better than yours. I have a Kiwisaver account for example, and I don't think it makes me a fool (monitarily, or morally or otherwise) as you have suggested above. 
It is this arrogance of yours that will lose you an audience, and might even become a disservice, as opposed to a service, in bringing about that paradigm shift you seek.

Kate - if we continue on this course, we will hit an iceberg, sir.
Did it matter whether the sentence was delivered authoritatively, demurely, or in a palsey way? Just because it was delivered with arrogance, should you have returned to your cosy cabin? I'm saying that if we continue as we are going, yes, we have to crash (and are in the process of doing so now).. You can't chew into a planet exponentially, and not do so (Waymad, below, doesn't log the burned/used carbon-bonds, and the need to burn/use more of them doing that recycling). Since I started commenting here, we have chewed through 150 billion barrels of oil, which we'll never have again, and a similar amount of coal (measured in BOE's - barrel of oil equivalents).
I've spent 30 years, quietly debating. It doesn't work - folk assume it's not a worry, so they can go on Kiwisavering, go on trading on the dollar exchange, whatever. Having watched the time-line, I now assume that - while it is still valid to holler as loudly as possible - nobody will move until the supermarkets, car-yards and big-boxes are empty. The trick then will be to have a bluepring ready to go, and hope it stymies the panic/chaos. That, folk like me - and others like the Transition Town movement - have well in hand. You have to keep it simple, as we see here. A maximum of 10 commandments, I suspect.   :)

Speaking of 10 commandments and a blueprint - that was the type of article I was perhaps expecting from you when I read the challenge that David had given you.  The editorial staff of NewScientist had a stab at it back in 2009 - listing their top 10 actions for a Blueprint for a Better World;
I find this really useful - using it in a lecture exercise  - getting my students to first put theirs together and then comparing theirs with the NS one.
You might want to think about doing one of these for NZ specifically as our dear leaders certainly need one!

Well, in the space of one article, I gave just one - the overarching yardstick one.
A prescriptive list of 'to do's will be ignored if the reason isn't given. That I've learned....
re NS;
PART1 - 1 fair enough, 2 irrelevant, 3 irrelevant, 4 on the money, 5 need to know as plan b, 6 is stupid, putting out the fire with gasoline, 7 is a false god, 8 and of everything else, 9 yes, do it, 10 - why just Friday?
Part2 - 1 yes, 2 irrelevant, 3 yes, 4 not enough, need efficiency too, 5 yes, 6 yes, 7 jury's out, 8 yes, but widen the scope, 9 irrelevant, and perhaps no. 10 can't, there'snot the sink, so reduce until

Well done, common taters.
I'm surprised by the Gloomster award, although I must confess that reading dystopian sci-fi (Jasper Fforde, for a sampler) and re-reading Mantel's 'Wolf Hall' (a semi-fictional tour through the court of Cromwell, Wolsey, More and Henry VIII) does rather predispose one to the darker view.
Plus, I've read way too much history/victors' accounts, in general, to ever, ever discount the role of Human Nature in all its glory and depravity, or to leave it out of the equation.
And that is my final position here:  that the energy-mass-munny equivalence stuff is but one facet of a many-faceted issue.  Important but perhaps not urgent.  After all, we haven't exported any of our resources off the planet, so it is all there somewhere.   
Gaia, via numerous holes, leaks and spreading nodes in the crust, is always coughing up more little gems for our delectation, and even in the case of our own refuse, we know where it's buried, and can mine it through if we are driven to that point (the subject of a Fforde fantasy....).  Stewart Brand, the ol' hippie who produced the Whoile Earth Catalogue way back when, has a similar position:  better to concentrate the wastes and deal to them (easy with nuclear, hard with a billion chimneys) - the required reading here is Whole Earth Discipline.
In fact, coupla months ago, as part of a community group, I was conducted through a resource recovery plant which is doing precisely that:  mining through a concentrated half-million tonne deposit of earthquake debris/bowled houses etc in Bottle Lake Forest Park, and recovering - er - resources. 
A portent, perhaps, and a hopeful one.

Days to the General Election: 23
See Party Policies here. Party Lists here.