Category Archives: Environment

Thought Police Alive and Well

So here’s some turkey calling for people who deny climate change to be criminalised:

Dr Jarrod Gilbert: Why climate denial should be a criminal offence

Dr Jarrod Gilbert is a sociologist at the University of Canterbury and the lead researcher at Independent Research Solutions. He is an award-winning writer who specialises in research with practical applications.

There is no greater crime being perpetuated on future generations than that committed by those who deny climate change. The scientific consensus is so overwhelming that to argue against it is to perpetuate a dangerous fraud. Denial has become a yardstick by which intelligence can be tested. The term climate sceptic is now interchangeable with the term mindless fool.

Link

How many times over the course of history have we seen this sort of behaviour?

Surely it would have been said about the earth being flat, at the centre of the universe, there being plenty more fish in the sea, it’s impossible for man to fly, the sub 4 minute mile will never be run, man could never reach the moon and so on.

People have been tortured to death for not believing in imaginary gods of all kinds, spurned for looking through a telescope and on and on it goes.

But this guy thinks he’s right.  In fact he’s 100% sure he’s right.  So right that everyone who disagrees with him (a sociologist for crying out loud) and some scientists, they should be criminalised.

What? Put in jail maybe? Made to recant their opinions and ideas? All very 14th century if you ask me.

Government reveals conservation project with aim to be predator free by 2050 – National – NZ Herald News

• 25 million native birds are killed by pests a year • $3.3 billion cost to the economy and primary sector a year • $28 million new company to identify large pest control programmes and…

Source: Government reveals conservation project with aim to be predator free by 2050 – National – NZ Herald News

This is an awesome project.  Our man on the moon type of project.  I’m going to be involved in some way..

A24 Rat Trap

For years we’ve known there are heaps of rats in the bush around our house in West Auckland.  Our cat has caught about 2 rats a month for the past 7-8 months.

So I’ve bought one of these:

Its a rat/mice/stoat trap from GoodNature.

It is powered by the silver CO2 cannister you can see pointing down on the left hand side.

The rodent is attracted by bait that is in paste form and sits under the black cylindrical shaped bit at the top on the right hand side.

The rodent pokes their head up in there to get more bait and gets humanely whacked by a piston.  The carcass drops to the ground and the trap resets.  They’re good for about 24 kills.

I’ll post updates here as to how and what I manage to ‘catch’.

A 140-Acre Forest Is About to Materialize in the Middle of Detroit

A 140-Acre Forest Is About to Materialize in the Middle of Detroit

By Good News Network Tuesday, October 29, 2013 USA – USA Detroit

After nearly five years of planning, a large-scale attempt to turn a big chunk of Detroit blight into an urban forest is now underway. The purchase of more than 1,500 vacant city-owned lots on the city’s lower east side – a total of more than 140 acres – got final approval from Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder earlier in October.

Rest of Article

Climate Change – Not

We are constantly bombarded by messages that the world is warming, we need to cut our carbon output and so on.

Well I for one call BS.  Here’s a couple of links from the last few days:

Firstly Rodney Hide calling a spade a spade, as he usually does.  A bit from that:

The opinion that informs our news doesn’t shift easy. Five years ago, the British Met Office was busy along with everyone else scaring the pants off us all. It had a “new system” to predict future weather using “world-class science”.

The “world-class” science showed that the planet by now would be much hotter and getting hotter still. The Met Office trumpeted the scary result in a glossy brochure.

Five years on the Met Office now admits that there’s been no statistically significant warming in 16 years. And that there will be none over the next five years. That’s despite greenhouse gas emissions increasing at a rate faster than the gloomiest of gloomy forecasts of just five years ago.

There were no trumpets blaring for this result. There was no glossy brochure. No great headlines. The Met Office quietly slipped the “no change in world temperature” results onto its web page on Christmas Eve. There’s no better time to drop facts that you don’t want reported. There are no newspapers on Christmas Day and little news reporting.

The Met Office went out of its way to ensure that a 20-year hiatus in global warming went unreported. The facts can’t be allowed to shake opinion or kill off a good story. There’s no chance the political reporting here will now change or that the dopey Emissions Trading Tax will be dropped.

Opinion is against all that.

And then something a little different, but similar in that it’s a prediction based on nothing. A much shorter timeframe, but no less zeal:

Climate scientist Jim Salinger has backtracked on a forecast that was going to see the mercury hitting 40 degrees for the next few days.

Instead parts of the country will reach temperatures between 30C and 35C, Dr Salinger said today.

So, I’m a total greenie but one of the very few greenies who don’t subscribe hook line and sinker to the global warming scenario.

The biggest problem though is that climate change is dominates every other green topic so that we never hear of over fishing, deforestation, other pollution etc. etc.  And these are the real problems that actually need addressing.

And that for me is what makes me annoyed.

 

 

There Simply Won’t be Enough Jobs

We have 7 billion people on the planet now.

A percentage of these will be of working age, i.e. 18 to 65 say.  I imagine it might be something like half.  So that’s 3.5 billion people who are of working age and if they all lived the lifestyle we have in the westernised countries (and increasingly they are), then these people would have a job each.

And what are jobs for? What do people do when they’re at these jobs?  Well if they’re in the private sector, they produce a product or provide a service.  So they might be making widgets or serving cappuccinos.  If they’re in the public service then they are taking care of some aspect of society.  So they might be cleaning the streets or providing an electricity supply.

But the idea is the same either way, these people are engaged in providing a product or service.  And they usually work for a company who pays them a wage or salary.  And this is how they survive, how they pay the rent, buy their food and so on.

Now this assumes of course that there’s someone else who is paying to consume this product or service.  A bunch of people who are going to pay for that cappuccino or that unit of electricity.  And so far there has been and it all works well.  They call this capitalism and it utilises the free market.

However, as Bob Dylan once said, times they are a changing.  How? Well the thing is we simply don’t need 3.5 billion people to provide the products and services the 7 billion of us need. Why? Well we’ve been getting very good at increasing labour productivity, that’s why.  What does this mean? Well essentially it means we need less people to produce the same amount of stuff.

And so we’re seeing long lasting unemployment in westernised countries now.  Just look at this:

Eurozone crisis live: Global jobless to hit record 200m this year

LiveThe UN jobs watchdog says global spillover from the recession in Europe is driving unemployment higher

The crisis in the eurozone is the single biggest risk to global employment this year, says the International Labour Organisation.
The crisis in the eurozone is the single biggest risk to global employment this year, says the International Labour Organisation. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

  Source

Why is this happening? Well basically we’ve gotten very good at producing a lot of stuff very cheaply and easily.  As an example, take food production.  Only a few decades ago, 50% of US families were farming families, now that figure is 1-2%.  And this is achieved by mechanisation, better growing methods (technology) etc.

So our societies are going to have to change to accommodate this.  How? Well I’m not sure and I’m not sure it’s even really being addressed.  Everyone’s still focussing on how we can create more jobs.  And this debate is happening in every developed and developing country.  Here’s an example of that.  Very few are pointing out that we will never have full employment again.

I did come across this article which addresses the issue.  In it the author says this:

The key question to ask is how does the individual live in a society where the “reservation job” now pays a lot less? 

The simple answer seems to be that we allow people in this situation the opportunity to increase their skills, and where they can’t redistribute some of the gains from mechanisation to these people in the form of an income payment – where the income payment represents the fact that the “reservation job” that previously gave an individual a certain standard of living no longer exists.

The existence of an unemployment benefit, the existence of student loans, and the subsidisation of education are clear and consistent methods that society has already taken on board to deal with the possibility of the increasing mechanisation of low skilled work – and it is this these types of solutions that are appropriate moving forward, not an arbitrary call to stand in the way of technological innovation.

As a result, the rise of the robots is not something to fear, as long as society and the government that represents it are conscious of the changes that are occurring – and that they provide a security net for those who may otherwise lose out.

So he’s basically saying they go on the dole and that’s OK.  Well I’m not sure that it is at all OK.  People use their jobs to buy stuff, pay their mortgage etc.  Are we going to agree that there’s a number of people who get this money for free, while the rest of us work?  Wouldn’t we all want to be the ones who get the money for free instead of slaving away at some job we don’t even like?

Another way of addressing this is job sharing.  This has been proposed for decades.  So perhaps we work 2-3 days a week, with someone else working say 2-3 days a week to make up one full time job.  And then we all have 3-4 days of leisure time each week, lovely.

Except this has never worked anywhere as far as I know.  the thing is people kind of want to work (well most people anyway), for all sorts of reasons.  Work provides people with a purpose, and some meaning in their life.  It also just occupies their time!  Many people don’t know what to do with 4 days a week to spend how they like.  Maybe they don’t get on sowell with their wife/husband that they want to be around them 4 days a week.  They want the structure, the social interaction, and lets face it they want the money too.  If you can earn $x doing half a week’s work, then you can earn $2x working a full week.

And of course if you have leisure time, you probably want money to spend undertaking your leisure.  And more and more people’s idea of leisure is not free stuff.  they don’t want to spend it doing gardening or walking on the beach.  They want to be at the mall, buying the shiny new gadgets, or partaking in the many and varied paid for activities.

People don’t want to live a time-rich but money-poor existence.  They want the money so they can buy all the flash things.  This gives them prestige etc.

And so we come full circle to the situation we have now.  Which is that people who are highly skilled are in strong demand and paid a lot of money for the jobs they do.  And those without many skills are finding no one wants to employ them at all.  Their jobs can be done by robots or by people in another country for far less money and far less hassle.

Which leaves us with a section of the community that will be permanently unemployed.  And so in various ways we have to pay for them.  Here in NZ (and most developed countries) we pay for this via unemployment benefits, extra police, more jails etc.

The amount of crime in any country is related to the number of young men who are unemployed and disconnected from society.  Young men with time on their hands, no one to keep them in line, who are not owners of property etc. are going to commit crime.  And this is what we are seeing.

And yesterday I was intrigued to see John Key announcing that jails will be implementing a working lifestyle for their inmates.  This is supposedly to prepare them for work on the outside.  They will be used to getting up, going to work (albeit on jail grounds) and earning a paycheck, earning their place in society.  Now this sounds good but of course raises a number of questions such as “What will they be making or doing for work?” i.e. how will this affect the private sector?  and “Will there be a job for them when they come out?” i.e. with all the will in the world, can a lowly skilled convict find a job once they get out of jail?  Or will they end up back on the dole with time on their hands again?

I think this is a huge issue that will not go away, but only get worse over time.  It will be interesting to see how things work out.

Update: French jobs minister says France is bankrupt!

Our Poor Bees!

This is an issue that gets very little attention. But it’s hugely important.  If we lose all the bees, we’re stuffed because we won’t be able to grow many kinds of vegetables, fruits and other foods.

Sue Kedgley: Government sits on its hands as honey bees die

The demise of our bees would be ruinous to our agricultural nation.
Beekeepers are experiencing unexplained losses. Photo / Supplied

Expand

Beekeepers are experiencing unexplained losses. Photo / Supplied

I’ve been contacted recently by several beekeepers who are worried about what is happening to our nation’s honey bees.

A Bay of Plenty beekeeper recently lost 230 of his beehives – or half of his operation. He’s been beekeeping since 1981, and has never had losses like this before.

He says other beekeepers have experienced similar losses. A Northland beekeeper recently lost 900 of his 1000 hives; another has lost 400 hives, and others last year lost half of their hives.

The Bay of Plenty keeper is wondering what is causing such huge losses.

Rest of Story

 

 

 

Illegal Dumping of Fish?

Stories like this really get my goat up.  I bet a commercial fisher has dumped these snapper:

Dead snapper cover Coromandel beaches

 

ELTON SMALLMAN AND STACEY KIRK

Last updated 05:00 04/01/2013
   
     
   
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Dead snapper litter the Coromandel Peninsula from Port Jackson to Fantail Bay

Fairfax NZ
WASHED UP: Dead snapper litter the Coromandel Peninsula from Port Jackson to Fantail Bay.

Thousands of dead snapper have washed up on Coromandel beaches over the past few days, prompting warnings from fisheries officials not to eat them.

The dead fish started appearing along the peninsula’s western coast on New Year’s Eve.

It is not the first time this has happened at the small settlement. Thousands of dead snapper also washed ashore this time in 2011 at Little Bay and Waikawau Bay, causing residents to wonder at the time whether they were starving or poisoned, although that was deemed unlikely. The Ministry of Fisheries investigated that incident as well but it still remains unsolved.

Fisheries compliance manager Brendon Mikkelsen said the Ministry for Primary Industries was investigating the latest incident but could not confirm the number of dead fish found on the shore.

But local residents said the dead fish numbered in the “thousands”.

It was “unlikely” the fish died of natural causes and Mr Mikkelsen was calling for information from commercial and recreational fishers who were in the area in the days before the find.

Rotting fish now litter beaches from Port Jackson to Fantail Bay, on the western shore of the peninsula. The find was too much for some to pass up, with campers and residents out on New Year’s Eve collecting fish for the plate.

“There would have been close to 10km to 12km of coastline covered with fish from what I could see . . . and all of them snapper,” a Port Jackson local said. “It’s gutting to see them all like that.”

Rest of Story

And all we ever hear from the fishing industry is stuff like “NZ has the best managed fisheries in the world. The quota system is the best in the world” blah blah blah.

Gardners Killing off the World!

Ok, silly headline, but that’s about what this article says:

Gardening: surely few things could be more eco-friendly? Not so, it seems. Scientists have produced new research which suggests that, far from doing their bit to save the planet, Britain’s green-fingered army may be damaging it.

The very staples of modern gardening, from mowing and watering the lawn to the use of peat and pesticides, have a harmful effect on the environment, claim experts from the University of Reading, the University of Sheffield, and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Their paper, The Domestic Garden: Its Contribution to Urban Green Infrastructure, questions the widespread assumption that gardening is eco-friendly.

The findings come as eco-gardeners are already trying to change their ways. Many are abandoning petrol lawnmowers – a move that can cut 36kg of CO2 every year. Lawn sprinklers can use up to 1,000 litres of water an hour – what a family of four would use in a day. Planting trees doesn’t help either: they can take a decade to become “carbon neutral”. Even patios have a carbon price – a paved area of 25sqm has a one ton carbon footprint. The rising trend for paving over parts of gardens also reduces natural drainage.

Garden chemicals are another problem. They are used by half of British households, but their production and use contributes “significantly to greenhouse gas emissions”.

The study also blames the gardening industry for being “directly responsible for the introduction of invasive species” by importing plants that escape from gardens “with huge consequences for native biodiversity and the economics associated with eradication measures”.

The widespread use of peat by gardeners is also identified as a problem. Peat dug to be used as compost in the UK releases almost half a million tons of CO2 a year – the emissions of 100,000 cars. “The use of peat… is controversial due to habitat destruction and carbon emissions linked with peat extraction,” says the study.

Dr Tijana Blanusa, senior horticultural scientist at the RHS and one of the authors of the report, said: “With the findings of this report in mind, the RHS will continue to work closely with gardeners, horticultural trade and horticultural researchers to minimise potential negative impacts and ensure that gardeners get the most out of their gardens without ‘costing the Earth’.”

 

Well I find this to be a bit over the top.  36kg of carbon from a lawnmower in the course of a year? That just can’t be right.  You’d be lucky to use 36kg of actual fuel in a year for a smallish section wouldn’t you?

I do agree with the bits about introduced species and pesticides.  Just not all the carbon BS.

 

The Cause of Global Warming

Yep, I can now tell everyone what causes global warming.  Read this from Scoop:

Prime Minister’s $1 million science prizes presented

The Prime Minister’s Science Prizes, which combine recognition and prize money of $1 million, have been presented in Auckland today.

The top prize, worth $500,000, has been awarded to a team of scientists from NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) and the University of Otago for research that is helping to guide international decisions on mitigating climate change.

Other prize winners are:
The Prime Minister’s 2011 MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize goes to Victoria University of Wellington scientist, Dr Rob McKay, a world-leading glacial sedimentologist based at Victoria’s Antarctic Research Centre. Dr McKay uses marine sedimentary records and glacial deposits to reconstruct episodes of melting and cooling in Antarctica over the past 13 million years and show how they influenced global sea levels and climate. His work is contributing to understanding what past environmental change in the Antarctic means for the current phase of global warning. Dr McKay receives $200,000, with $150,000 to be used for further research.

Rest of Article

Yep, when you’re getting 60% of the science prizes going into funding more global warming research is it any surprise they all decide global warming is a serious man made threat? Of course not.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about global warming (now renamed climate change) over the last few years.  Basically I think this:

  • I think there is certainly more CO2 and other gases in the air now than there used to be.
  • Most of this is man made.
  • But there is only a very weak causal link between the 2 i.e. the amount of CO2 in the air may well not be the reason the earth is warming.
  • The earth does seem to be warming.
  • No one really knows how by how much or how quickly the earth is warming.  But I’m sure it’s being overstated.
  • There are many environmental problems which will get us long before global warming becomes a real problem; e.g. population growth, over fishing, forest destruction, species loss, pollution of the air and seas, soil erosion and so on.
  • The whole climate change debate takes the focus off of all of these things. Which is a big problem.
  • Recent measurements show solar activity has a huge impact on the warming (or cooling) of the earth. It could all be just this…
  • People want something to believe in these days.  They don’t just want to perform a life of meaningless work and then die.  They want to have made a difference.  And lo and behold a catastrophe that COULD END THE EARTH just happens to be happening. And so it gives meaning to many people’s lives.  In other words, I’m saying it’s a contrived problem which people have convinced themselves is true in order to have something to fight against  – to give their lives meaning.
  • Anyone who dares to say this sort of stuff is the modern equivalent of a dark ages heretic.
  • The science is not settled.
  • Taxing ourselves to death while emitting more and more CO2 is pointless.
  • New Zealand contributes 0.2% of the global CO2 emissions.  So even if we cut all emissions, it would make bugger all difference.
  • And with agriculture being omitted from the ETS, well it’s obvioulsy just a show piece.
  • Until China, the USA and others come on board, there’s little point in our ETS.

So I think in time this story will be put to bed.

But I also think many people will be sick and tired of environmentalists crying wolf, and they may not listen to the next problem that comes along.  This is the real problem.