Andrew Campbell on the climate crisis, urban design, low incomes, making the Olympics work financially, Pokemon Go, Dilbert & more

Andrew Campbell on the climate crisis, urban design, low incomes, making the Olympics work financially, Pokemon Go, Dilbert & more

Today's Top 10 is a guest post from Andrew Campbell, a former Green Party chief of staff and communications director.

As always, we welcome your additions in the comment stream below or via email to david.chaston@interest.co.nz.

And if you're interested in contributing the occasional Top 10 yourself, contact gareth.vaughan@interest.co.nz.

See all previous Top 10s here.

1. The climate crisis is here – but no one is telling us.

Though a cold blast has hit in recent days, most of us have been talking about what a mild winter it has been. That’s because year on year and month on month we have had a run of weather records, all bad. The reality is that increasingly we can now observe climate change in weather events both here in New Zealand and abroad. But despite the climate disaster playing out before our eyes no one is writing about. In this column from George Monbiot in the Guardian he lays the problem squarely at the feet of the media industry and journalists. This resonates with me. When I worked at Parliament if I wanted to pitch a story on the misuse of a Minister’s credit card I could almost guarantee a story, but try getting up a yarn on the economic impact of drought, or the implications of sea level rises, or god forbid a policy response to these issues. Imagine if the media chose not to cover the housing crisis? Yet our ability to own a house pales in comparison to the climate crisis, which has far more implications for our economy and our future and deserves much more media attention and debate. That in turn could create greater demand for political resolution to the issue.

2. The Greens unveil new urban design policy.

The Green Party took the fascinating step this week of releasing their urban design policy via the website The Spinoff. Topical in the wake of the Auckland Unitary plan, the Greens have set out a four-point plan to improve our cities that calls for greater investment on public transport, permissive mixed-use zoning, energy efficient buildings and spending more on walking and cycling. This is the first time I can recall a policy launch has occurred via a website, and I think it’s a great idea. The Spinoff should be congratulated for leading an expansive debate on Auckland’s future, a role abdicated by the New Zealand Herald, that is instead dedicating its column inches to nimbyism.

3. Support for solo mum who feeds her three kids with just $81 a week.

The aforementioned Herald has run a focus series on poverty, focusing on Ebony Andrews and her efforts to feed her family on only $81 a week. While the story generated an outpouring of offers of support for Ebony, and follow up articles explained how to budget better, underreported was the staggering fact that Ebony only earns $341 dollars a week working as a teacher aide. At the heart of poverty in New Zealand is low wages. Statistics show that around a third of all children growing up in poverty live in families where at least one parent works. Teacher aides, who work in classrooms to assist children with learning impairments, earn only marginally more than the minimum wage. While I am sure the offers of support for Ebony are well intentioned, if we are serious about reversing her situation, and the situation of hundreds of thousands of kids living in low income households, we need to increase wages and pay people like Ebony more for the valuable work they do.

4. It’s 2016 and a rugby exec only just found out that strippers are people too.

It’s been a bad week for women. From Kevin Roberts sexist and inaccurate comments on women in the advertising industry (just ask literally any woman who works in the industry to find an alternative view to his), you would be forgiven for thinking we had wound back the clock a century. But the case that has generated the most media interest has been the homophobic and sexist behaviour of the Chiefs rugby team and their management. Alex Casey’s scathing analysis in The Spinoff is a succinct summary of all that is wrong with attacking a women raising issues of sexual assault in her workplace. This is a business issue too. Women do the bulk of household purchase, but the bulk of advertising aimed at them is conceived and produced by men. And if the Chiefs rugby franchise expect women (and supportive men) to ever show up to their games or demonstrate any level of support for the teams then they need to show some leadership on the behaviour expected from their players. A ray of light in the sordid story was All Blacks coach Steve Hanson’s comments that “mad Mondays” should be “kicked to touch”. Good point and smart leadership.

5. I’m with the banned.

This nightmare retelling of a night out at the Republican convention with right wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos is a must read for anyone trying to understand the publics rejection of political parties and establishments. Alienating the public is part of the right’s agenda to make politics a bad word. And the Republicans appear to have embraced that agenda with gusto. Specifically, the article reminded me of why I can’t stand political operators, on both sides of the aisle, who treat politics as a game. When you play a game you play to win and in the process destroy the opposition. Such an approach permits unethical behaviour as part of the “game”. Milo Yiannopoulos is a particularly vile character, but versions of him exist in New Zealand as we saw in the dirty politics revelations at the last election. If we are to rebuild the public faith in the ability of politics to improve lives and respond to the issues we face we need to reject the sort of game playing and bad behaviour so prevalent in our political system.

6. The Olympics haven't always been an economic disaster.

On the eve of the Rio Olympics it feels like we’re all collectively holding our breath, hoping for the best but assuming the worst, and I don’t even mean the New Zealand squad's medal prospects. Apparently the sailing ramp has collapsed, the athlete’s village is a mess, if you drink more than three tablespoons of the water you might die, and the protestors have already hit the streets. Despite the apparent sub-standard infrastructure, Rio has actually spent more than $12 billion on the games, one of the most expensive in history. The Atlantic points out that Los Angeles and Barcelona demonstrated that the Olympics don’t have to be financial black holes.  I found particularly fascinating Los Angeles cost efficient use of existing stadiums rather than building new ones from scratch. Another example of the benefits in the waste reduction motto – reduce, recycle, reuse.

7. England's plastic bag usage drops 85% since 5p charge introduced.

Talking about recycling, this news story in the Guardian shows the remarkable impact of using a price disincentive to change bad behaviour. Plastic bags are essentially pointless, but they are incredibly handy, and we are lazy so we use them. But stick a price on them and we look for alternatives. There is a lesson in that for other bad things, like carbon. Until we put a price on the things that damage our environment we will carry on the same as always. But the UK example of a price on plastic bags shows how remarkable and quickly change can occur. That is cause for optimism.

8. Why today’s climate change has roots in Indonesia’s genocidal past.

Joshua Oppenheimer has been an unusual documenter of the Indonesian genocide. I sat in fixated horror watching his documentary The Look of Silence, in last year’s film festival in which elderly retired members of the Indonesian army show no remorse for their actions when confronted by family members of the genocide victims. Worse, some brag about their actions, acting out massacres and proudly retelling murders. In this article Oppenheimer points out that the lawlessness that began with the genocide has arrived in the form of climate pollution. 130,000 forest fires were lit in Indonesia last summer and autumn, destroying an area of rainforest larger than Wales, releasing more than 1.75 billion tons of carbon dioxide. The retention of rain forests is essential to the global effort to tackle climate change, but the Indonesian military responsible for the genocide are again acting with impunity by facilitating a climate crime.

9. Time for Steve Tew to go.

Wellington has been awash with Hurricanes fever this week, but behind the recent on-field success of New Zealand rugby questions are being asked about the business of the game. Last year the New Zealand Rugby Union ran a deficit, and despite a sell-out crowd for this weekend’s final both the Hurricane’s quarter and semi-finals were played in front of less than full houses. Chris Rattue lays the blame for the games demise at the feet of NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew. Rugby is big business in New Zealand, but Rattue makes the case that compared with developments in the northern hemisphere (the French club final was recently played in front of a crowd of 90,000 in football mad Barcelona!) New Zealand is lagging behind the pack. Given the on field success of the game one would assume that the Rugby Board would be raking it in. The All Blacks are one of the most recognisable brands in the world and greater economic leverage ought to be possible.

10. Is Pokémon Go’s Success Sustainable?

I have to admit I’m a technophobe. I can manage calling and texting on my iPhone, but most apps are beyond me. So needless to say the recent Pokemon Go phenomenon has gone right over my head. But this piece in the New Yorker by James Surowiecki is something I could engage with. I had never heard of micro transactions before, but they clearly drive revenue for the IT sector. Of note is that these sort of successful games can be made anywhere in the world. New Zealand has many attractive features that could make is a natural home for the gaming industry and something the Government ought to be working with the local industry on developing.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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22 Comments

#1 the media has long been bias'd and appearing to have lost sight of its role as the eyes and ears of the public. Never trust them
#3 No mention of the amount of exorbitant rent she has to pay to a greedy landlord parasite?
#5 Amen!

Re. #1. That an amateur such as I and at least one other member of this community were able to hypothesize herein that the coming El Nino would probably generate more rapid atmospheric heat increases, yet virtually no one in the scientific community did so. Is this indicative of cowardice or what?

In this world of free, lots of games have already turned to microtransactions. If it's not freemium, it's ad-supported. Most of the revenue from games are about either bothering users with ads, removing the ads for them or the consequences of advertising in-game items with ads (possibly in-game). The idea that you pay for games is already massively outdated and outmoded (sorry), and it's the continuing trend of the IT sector that flat-fees for software are not sustainable.

Licensing as a whole, and the Microsoft walled-tower approach don't have the power they used to, and you can see that software is making the switch to a huge services industry.

In regards to Kevin Roberts the questions is not what he thinks or "literally any women in the industry" thinks. Rather, it is the facts. What does the evidence say. We are supposed to be living in the scientific age but there appears to be a competition to "out-victim" each other. A persons subjective view point actually might not actually reflect reality. All I have heard is a few rather privileged and self-important women complain about the "injustice" of it all.

Hey, everybody. An old man's talking!

I would say I am middle age.

I used to put in close to $30 a week into pokemon GO, so their model certainly appears sustainable. However I have recently stopped paying for "poke coins" because the app is too broken at the minute to merit being paid for. In particular when you have a game about finding Pokemon how about you make it so the bit that lets you actually do the finding of Pokemon functions correctly.... At the minute finding Pokemon seems mostly random with even the "Z" order that some people suggest lets you tell the relative distance of Pokemon not being very useful due to the radar only updating at random intervals. restarting the app sometimes makes your radar look completely different!

? I'm middle aged too.

#5 - The author has another piece where she attends the DNC to find herself so much goodness and hope that she is enthralled. She'll be okay.

Ebony Andrews is forced by "her" Government to compete for wages and accommodation against a tidal wave of desperate third worlders. In many cases these immigrants are working for next to nothing to secure a foot in the door. With the NZ median income stuck around $600/week (pre tax) and large areas of chronic housing shortage the Kiwi working poor are paying a very heavy price for J K & Co's absurd open door immigration experiment.

Seems a cheap shot re Steve Tew, and uncritically taking Rattue seriously on anything suggests Campbell doesn't read the sports pages often. If New Zealand Rugby has problems, then other countries must really be struggling. France indeed has a strong club competition (with plenty of ex ABs topping up their pension) but at a considerable cost to their now mediocre national team. It is true that English rugby will always have more money. It is not obvious what NZRU should do differently. They need TV money to fund their professional ranks; they need the pros to be playing say 30-40 weeks a year to pay the bills. Both of these things mean crowds actually at games will never be what they were, even if I assume the Cake Tin will be full tomorrow.
The way the funding works means a World Cup year will almost always make a loss.
Already this year there were far more, and more interesting, local derbies; and then mostly games with Aussie teams- who it is true are struggling, but that is hardly Tew's fault. His push for a global season would actually benefit the Northern Hemisphere, but if they don't wish to change, that is their call. And most sports/ businesses would have moved on from the quaint "home teams gets all the money" rules. Whether Tew can win that time will tell, but he has a good case.
In the meantime I suspect many sports fans, including me, have a shorter attention span than we used to have. Mostly that is healthy. I enjoy an All Blacks game, but am somewhat over it either way half an hour later. That is even more true though of interest in other sports, like say test cricket, or Rattue's love, Rugby League. Similarly it means there is really only strong interest in major events- the tennis majors, the golf majors, the Olympics and so on. Anything second tier just doesn't get any time at all.
In terms of values, the All Blacks have been great representatives of NZ for many years, and Tew can claim a little credit for that; while he reasonably can suggest that he can't micro manage say the Chiefs somewhat boorish behaviour, albeit they seem to have got the message from head office fairly loud and clear.

No one writes about the "climate crisis" because it is such a boring media beat up. The last time a hurricane hit the US Obama was a senator. Try sex that up into crisis click bait, even naming storms like Sandy with "super" pre fixes smacks of desperation not crisis.

Global grain gluts and and Arctic temps that aren't different to 1958 don't help the doom industry either. Time to come up with a new scare - this one has run its course.

" It has been 117 months since a major hurricane, defined as a Category 3 or above, has made landfall in the continental United States, according to 2015 data from the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

This is the longest span of time in which no major hurricane has struck the mainland U.S. in NOAA hurricane records going back to 1851.
The second longest time between major hurricane strikes was the eight years between 1860 and 1869—146 years ago."

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-29/wheat-slides-to-decade...
http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

Cherry picking still.

Artic temps?
Pick 1958 on that graph and then 2016, then try 1968, clear cherry pick of data.
What was the degree of ice volume 1958 v 2015? way different.

Storms, when we get an El Nino the storms are in the Pacific, and the Atlantic is very quite but its gets warmer and that warmth can fuel more and bigger storms. As we probably switch to an La Nina the reverse effect will happen the Atlantic can get very busy. How many Act 3, 4 and 5 storms did the Pacific have above average last year? and their strength?
What storms do the most damage? Well only the top 8 cat 5 have really done huge damage but they seem to be getting more frequent and they are getting stronger to boot.

Also, sure less storms hit the USA, Pacific nations? Caribbean? not so lucky maybe, but who cares about the 3rd world right?

I suspect that the balance of this year will show similar highs to those in the earliest months of the chart below. Yet sadly only the 'ostriches' among us will not find this alarming.
http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

It was 10 degrees celsius hotter, with 500% more CO2 during the Jurassic Period (You know, Jurrassic Park). Apparently life thrived, AND was very diverse. I am much much more worried about WW3 (nuclear) that will threaten much of life itself. If Global warming (I mean "climate change") is so tttttterrifying, why aren't the Greenis selling up their Doomed Auckland Properties and heading for the coooool safety of the Auckland Islands, or even Invercargill? You will be safe down here!!!!!

Yes. I totally agree with you. Planetary life will continue quite well after it has eventually adjusted to the ABRUPT changes humans are making to our planet's climate. However, world agriculture is already suffering and will increasingly impact on we humans. Indeed, the social problems created by climate change can very probably help to start WW3. Sadly your comments and those that 'liked' them indicate that you do not understand climate change issues at all.

Oh please. World ag is suffering?! Only under the weight of bumper crops four years in a row. Some climate crisis.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-29/wheat-slides-to-decade...

Evolutionary Psychology throws light on our response to climate change
http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2012/01/09/evolutionary-psychology-of-clima...
You don't hear any party connect "our lucrative tourism industry" with climate change [because it's what *we* do?]

2. the Greens have set out a four-point plan to improve our cities that calls for greater investment on public transport, permissive mixed-use zoning, energy efficient buildings and spending more on walking and cycling
........
Anti-immigration feeling has no place in the Green party Immigration and Population policies released today, Green MP Keith Locke says.

"Our policy is the opposite of Winston Peters'," the Party's Immigration Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

"We have no fear of migrants. The Green Party says 'Welcome Home - this is your country now'. Our welcome extends to the families of new migrants. The Green Party policy is fundamentally humanitarian, not exclusionary like Mr Peters'.

"Rather than foster suspicion about refugees, we want New Zealand to do more to provide a safe haven for those fleeing from oppression. Our policy proposes an increase in annual refugee intake from the present 750 to 1000 by 2010.

"We also want New Zealand to prepare for a new category of refugees, those from Pacific nations whose low-lying countries are threatened by climate change.

"The Green Party policy is not based on prejudice, but an objective analysis of what level of migration is compatible with a sustainable New Zealand.

"Racism has no place in the selection of migrants. Unlike Mr Peters, we don't start with an assumption that 'Kiwi values' are somehow superior to those of new migrants.
https://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/greens-counter-peters-welcoming...

The Greens (apparently) believe in the fungibility of people and place? Remember when city dwellers had vegetable gardens?

3. Support for solo mum who feeds her three kids with just $81 a week.
...............................................................................
Metiria Turie
"There can be no other interpretation except that if a woman gets pregnant while on a benefit, she must accept state enforced contraception if she wishes to continue to receive her $194 per week social support. Despite dog whistling to misogynists everywhere, most New Zealanders would consider it abhorrent that the state would force women into contraception. This is an extreme form of state violence against women. The state has no right to control a woman’s fertility, under any circumstances."
http://blog.greens.org.nz/2011/03/08/the-welfare-working-group-and-the-i...

"It would also be racist to try to dictate family size, given that the various ethnic groups in our society have different birth rates.
""Like many people, the Green Party is concerned with the growing global population, and the pressure that puts on the Earth's resources. The Greens have looked at the Ministry of Environment's research into the carrying capacity of the New Zealand ecosystem.

"Their document 'Ecological Footprint of New Zealand and its Regions' enumerates the carrying capacity of New Zealand, but the Green Party 'recognises that a sustainable population level for New Zealand would not be "final and fixed" but flexible.'

"However, it would be quite wrong to take from this that we are asking parents to have less kids," Mr Locke says.

"It is anathema to myself - as it is to the Green Party - that any person should interest themselves in the right of any one to choose how many children they have," said Mr Locke."
https://home.greens.org.nz/press-releases/greens%E2%80%99-population-pol...

#5
Alienating the public is part of the right’s agenda to make politics a bad word
..........
Jonathan Haidt - The Tyranny of Social Justice Warriors
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3z6IZdeZYA

8. Why today’s climate change has roots in Indonesia’s genocidal past.
...
Demand for forests comes from population growth. Population takes a back seat to "social justice" in the (allegedly) Green Party.