Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: Climate, money and risk

220 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 5 6 7 8 9 Newer→ Last

  • Stephen R,

    http://www.interest.co.nz/rural-news/67956/water-storage-more-farming-tool-it-legitimate-climate-adaptation-tool-well-fed-farm

    Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers spokesperson on climate change:
    “Whatever ones’ views may be on the causes of climate change, the fact is it is happening ..."

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    That's the whole point of a tax on a bad thing: to stop people doing the bad thing.

    yeah, but the effect is marginal. you have some moving away from the bad behaviour, but there will always be a core group who keep at it. smoking being the classic example. some people will just pay any price at all to keep doing what they want.

    and dairy farmers want to make a shedload of cash. they'll absorb the cost, push it onto consumers, and keep doing it.

    the theory goes that consumers will push back and consume less milk. but... like petrol it's something we just grump about, then pay for. look at the butter/cheese kerfuffle when fonterra starting ramping up international prices. people complained, and now we've all adjusted and just keep buying it.

    so you end up with a policy that's expensive to operate, maintain and police, and very little change in our carbon emissions.

    meanwhile, Soylent Green starts to look more and more like a documentary

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Surely the desired outcome of the R&D Bart is arguing for would be products, specifically grasses and bacterias, that could then be sold to the world’s dairy (and sheep, beef, deer,…?) farmers, earning bucketloads by selling these high tech, high value added products? Wouldn’t that earn back the government’s initial R&D spend and keep money rolling in for ages as we kept developing newer and better grasses and bacteria?

    While the recent taxpayer-funded mapping of the undersea Colville Ridge is being spun as an exercise in pure research for the common good, its immediate purpose is to benefit foreign mineral and oil explorers. A Government hell-bent on disposing of public assets is hardly likely to maximise any return on state-funded research for future generations. The sweetheart deal currently extended to Anadarko, of socialising risk while expediting the profits of NZ's mineral wealth overseas, is ample proof of this. The same applies to the dubious claimed benefits of dairy research.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Yes, I did notice the "And there might be minerals there!" comment in that, and as i was typing that comment, in the back of my mind was "but with this current government..." And considering developing cool new IP then selling it to the first foreign company that comes along then sit around wondering why we never get rich seems to be a long-standing NZ tradition, I'm not sure any other government would be terribly much better.

    Basically, we need smarter leadership.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    The same applies to the dubious claimed benefits of dairy research.

    Because oil drilling research is bad then all research is bad? Really?

    And just as an aside the problem is that this govt and previous govts demand that research show immediate economic benefit for NZ or they are not interested in funding. This is a policy our MPs have put in place.

    There are very very few scientists in NZ who like this situation and few who believe it is a good thing for NZ long term. But in order to change it we'd need the public to tell their MPs to stop trying to "optimise" research. Not because optimizing research is a bad thing but because politicians don't have the skills to do the job.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    We have options for managing carbon, water, energy, transport and other sustainability challenges. The last Labour government gave an example of different approaches by banning any new non-renewable electricity generation while leaving Max Bradford’s idiotic wholesale ‘market’ model largely intact. The electricity policies they and the Greens are taking into this election are another step.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    So we can marine farm on our own land in the sea?
    What happens to land titles if the sea level rises, do we all get blue water title and riparian rights over the old home section?

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Che Tibby,

    and dairy farmers want to make a shedload of cash. they’ll absorb the cost, push it onto consumers, and keep doing it.

    Dairy farming is currently much more profitable than beef, sheep, or arable farming. Special levies and new regulations would make it less so. We would then see fewer farms going dairy and maybe some reverting to other land uses.

    The income from dairy farming is mostly from exports, so local consumption of milk products makes no difference to pricing.

    I fail to see why this is any more hard or expensive to regulate than any other industry. Surely penalties for non-compliance could fund the cost of enforcement.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Because oil drilling research is bad then all research is bad? Really?

    I didn't say oil drilling research is bad. My point is that the fruits of state-funded R&D are allocated as a subsidy to Government cronies, rather than being held in trust for the common good.

    There are very very few scientists in NZ who like this situation and few who believe it is a good thing for NZ long term.

    If scientists were some kind of sainted caste whose training required them to maintain a priestly detachment from mundane concerns that might be of more than passing interest. As you've made it clear from your postings here, they're largely barnacles on the economic boat.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    If scientists were some kind of sainted caste whose training required them to maintain a priestly detachment from mundane concerns that might be of more than passing interest. As you’ve made it clear from your postings here, they’re largely barnacles on the economic boat.

    Ok I hope I haven't jaded everyone's view of what a scientist is or is not.

    To be clear scientists (a generalisation follows) generally do what they do for personal and sometimes altruistic reasons. The job is too hard and too financially unrewarding to do it for any other reason. Scientists usually love what they do, again it's too hard to do if you don't love it. Scientists generally believe that what they do is for the good of everyone and everything on the planet.

    But getting funding to do science is a whole other beast. We do the science in spite of the funding restrictions not because of them. The right honourable Mr Joyce may want me to do what I do in order to make his cronies lots of money but it rarely works out that way. Which is something of which both sides of the funding equation are well aware.

    Scientists are not a sainted caste nor are they homogenous nor are they all "good". But the majority are "good", a surprisingly large majority. So if you wanted to pick any group to sanctify you could do worse.

    Barnacles they are not - although barnacles are cool.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    And just as an aside the problem is that this govt and previous govts demand that research show immediate economic benefit for NZ or they are not interested in funding. This is a policy our MPs have put in place.

    There are very very few scientists in NZ who like this situation and few who believe it is a good thing for NZ long term. But in order to change it we'd need the public to tell their MPs to stop trying to "optimise" research. Not because optimizing research is a bad thing but because politicians don't have the skills to do the job.

    And it's certainly not helped by the fact that private sector R&D is about half the OECD average. Aside from the Clayton's R&D tax breaks, NZ Inc and other people in positions of power still largely regard R&D as an expense rather than an investment. The Taits and Buckleys seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

    Scientists are not a sainted caste nor are they homogenous nor are they all "good". But the majority are "good", a surprisingly large majority. So if you wanted to pick any group to sanctify you could do worse.

    Is there an underlying anti-intellectualism at work, especially the kind that somehow thinks science is an eco-socialist conspiracy to confiscate the McMansion and Hummer? Or is it just a symptom of the 'bach, boat and Beemer' mentality?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    underlying anti-intellectualism at work

    I'm not sure, I don't think so.

    But it is true that we venerate physical elites fairly easily but it isn't cool to say I was lucky enough to be born with the ability to remember a whole lot of shit from lectures and hence am quite good at something intellectual.

    Most folks can reel off a list of kiwi sporting greats, and an alarming number of folks can give you the details of said greats sporting achievements.

    We don't seem to do the same with intellectual or even artistic achievers.

    It does lead to weird situations where for example people will trust Susan Devoy's opinion about science ahead of someone who actually knows what they are talking about. Or Mr Hide's opinion ahead of the experts at NIWA, referencing Mr Hide's leet dancing skillz as credentials of course.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    But it is true that we venerate physical elites fairly easily but it isn’t cool to say I was lucky enough to be born with the ability to remember a whole lot of shit from lectures and hence am quite good at something intellectual.

    Very true, but there's also this bizarre fixation on doing only things that have immediate and very obvious practical application. What's the bloody use of quantum mechanics? Stop wasting time on that pie in the sky stuff and build me a faster iPad, dammit! Or, the version I got all the time at university: Why are you wasting your time studying French? You should be studying something useful! (and in case the answer isn't obvious: Because I'm interested in it, and anyway, how can language skills not be useful to a country entirely dependent on international trade?)

    Of course, as is clear to us, blue skies scientific research is immensely useful because it builds the knowledge base that allows people to make cool new technology. Trouble is you scientists seem to have as much trouble persuading our "leaders" of that as us language geeks have persuading them of the usefulness of linguistic skills. Sigh.

    Back to marking plagiarised essays...

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • John Small,

    Thanks for the very interesting post & comments. Here's my 2c worth.

    First, Bart's approach is only one line of scientific inquiry that might help mitigate agricultural emissions. Another would be to work on farming methods that sequester carbon by building the soil rather than depleting it. Not as sexy as GM but there are some great results being achieved already by NZ farmers who are disillusioned with the urea + super approach to fertiliser. Of course they are actively maligned as being unscientific, by the very people who could fund scientific research into this stuff but won't because it threatens the existing business models.

    Second, if we apply Russell's approach to climate change (follow the money) to the GM world, it looks a tad less brilliant. This guy (pdf) seems to have a lot of cred as an investor in GM and he's arguing that the whole enterprise is at risk, for a range of reasons. A big one is that the fancy GM stuff like making drought resistant and more nitrogen-efficient plants is just not doable because genetics are far more complex than was previously thought.

    I'd be genuinely interested to know whether Bart's burps are in the same category.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2013 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts, in reply to Che Tibby,

    and dairy farmers want to make a shedload of cash. they’ll absorb the cost, push it onto consumers, and keep doing it.
    ...
    the theory goes that consumers will push back and consume less milk. but… like petrol it’s something we just grump about, then pay for.

    I don't see a problem with NZ remaining a huge exporter of dairy, so long as it is properly paid for from the global carbon budget. It is hard to know how expensive dairy will prove in the long run, but there is likely to be more market than NZ alone can fill.

    People do just pay up when petrol prices first rise, but next time they buy a car they think about fuel efficiency. Habits are slow to change, especially when reinforced by the built environment, but change they do.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 93 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts,

    I sometimes dream of NZ, Oz, US and the EU forming a global milk exporters cartel to enable carbon pricing to be passed on to consumers worldwide. Surely a long shot, but could an industry so centralised in developing countries be set up as an example case?

    That'd be leadership for you.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 93 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Scientists are not a sainted caste nor are they homogenous nor are they all “good”. But the majority are “good”, a surprisingly large majority. So if you wanted to pick any group to sanctify you could do worse.

    "Hello lovely scientist"

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    nice short video on what's causing the record cold in the US.

    same thing as what caused the record drought a year or so back - the weakening of the northern hemisphere jet stream.

    h/t @skepticscience

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Note at present there is simply nothing (absolutely nothing) a farmer can do to reduce sheep and cow burps other than reduce the number of sheep and cows. Essentially this isn’t an incentive to do anything other than reduce the national herd…..

    I genuinely don’t understand how you expect to have the same standard of living if you cause our export earnings to drop significantly.

    This isn’t true. Better fertilisation regimes to reduce nitrous oxide emissions and afforestation of eroding or otherwise unproductive land are both easy options.

    Note also that if dairy farmers had to purchase credits for all their emissions then at some 600-700 kg milk solids/tonne CO2-e they could do so even at $20/credit with a negligible effect on their gross margins. All this talk about sabotaging our exports if farmers were in the ETS is hogwash IMO.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Even the insurance companies are factoring that risk into their future assessments.

    It's hardly surprising that insurance companies are taking global warming seriously - their business depends on having an accurate assessment of the risks. They can't afford to make decisions based on ideology, their decisions have to be evidence-based. It's a pity their hasn't been more media coverage of the conclusions the insurance industry has reached.

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • Pete,

    Speaking of climate, money and risk

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/9600410/Failed-doubters-trust-leaves-taxpayers-at-loss

    What are our chances of getting these eedjits declared as vexatious litigants?

    Since Apr 2008 • 106 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Euan Mason,

    if dairy farmers had to purchase credits for all their emissions then at some 600-700 kg milk solids/tonne CO2-e they could do so even at $20/credit with a negligible effect on their gross margins.

    For sure. Might even push the miserable price up a little. It’s been quite a while since it was $20. Currently about $3 I think.
    The ETS – a useless scheme that’s shown how shallow NZ’s commitment to Kyoto really is. (And how committed our policy-makers are to ‘market’ solutions to everything, even when the market is a wholly artificial mechanism like this one.)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2108 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    And how committed our policy-makers are to ‘market’ solutions to everything, even when the market is a wholly artificial mechanism like this one.

    Auditing my household's ecological footprint made me a keen supporter of carbon pricing which can be folded into the other costs that contribute to consumer pricing.

    An effective price will result in the system working such that consumers need not worry about carbon when they shop and not allow an unsustainable total carbon output. Each issue to be 'conscious' of requires a lot of work. Who has time to account separately for carbon, soil, and fisheries sustainability, even if provided with accurate source data? These will get as little traction as fair labour practises, overselling baby formula, and buying police oppression of environmental activists.

    On the other side, my household found that our ecological footprints were most sustainable w.r.t. well-priced resources. Arable land was better than fish stocks was better than carbon.

    Total sustainable supply will be more contestable for carbon pollution than land, but there are very physical realities underlying the question. Therefore I don't see that a global cap and trade system would be artificial. Making it work just for NZ and only some sectors is certainly artificial, but imho the worst problems arose from the political reluctance to accept an effective price and the political challenge of global agreement.

    Remember that it took a long time to establish property rights over land for the common people, and in many parts of the world they remain tenuous. Constraining the powerful in a new sphere will not be easy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 93 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 5 6 7 8 9 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.