Monday, August 23, 2004

A crisis forms a lethal positive-feedback loop: the worse our problems become, the more likely we are to act instead of think. The less we think, the worse our problems become. Jay Hanson, 1998.

The vast majority of New Zealand politicians currently resemble a rabble of knee-jerking hillbilly square dancers. The reason for this is in part because New Zealand, in fact Western democracies by and large are obsessed with reification, tradition and habit. It is better to act than it is to think. Take for example the oxymoronic term, the so called “knowledge economy”. Remove the rhetoric and hype behind the term and one quickly realises it for what it is, a drive to merely exploit finite resources at a even quicker rate in order to promote economic growth. It seems the term wisdom has long since parted company with knowledge.

The enormity of New Zealand’s imminent energy problem and it’s associated social and economic repercussion’s exacerbates the bias Jay Hanson describes above. As the situation becomes increasingly dire politicians barrel down the path of farcical adhocery.
The desire to build a gas-fired electricity power station just as the Maui gas-field is about to run out is the consummate example. This gross mistake will eventually result in either escalating reliance on expensive imported energy or a white elephant. As the world faces the prospect of moving into the depletion side of the fossil fuel production curve, New Zealand politicians are intent on ignoring the problem and continue to build and plan a multibillion-dollar fossil fuel dependant infrastructure.

PowerLess NZ argue that the underlying cause of Beehive delusion is the unquestionable doctrine of continuous and unlimited economic growth. New Zealand politicians believe they can fix the problem of poverty with growth, apparently the answer to some people’s inability participate fully in a consumptive market is more consumption. Growth is a substitute for equality of income. It is a flawed dogma that provides a convenient smoke screen for weak politician’s inability to answer the unpleasant questions. So long as there is growth there is hope for the cattle-class.

One of the unpleasant questions as yet wholly unanswered by New Zealand politicians is “how do you propose to address the issue of natural resource depletion, in particular the issue of peak oil which will kick in within the next few years?”. Unfortunately neither the market economy nor technology can answer this question. PowerLess NZ urge all New Zealanders interested in their futures to ask your politician this question.

Of course politicians will tell you economic growth is the panacea for such problems. A truly bizarre hypothesis. Economic growth equals increased demand, increased demand results in resources (such as oil and natural gas) being depleted at quicker rate. The problem of natural resource depletion cannot be solved by depleting the resource at a quicker rate. We urge all New Zealand politicians to think carefully before they act.

Powerless NZ
23 August 2004

PowerLess NZ is a growing group of scientists, energy analysts and concerned citizens whose principle objectives are to alert both Government and the general public to New Zealand’s looming energy crisis. Our aim is to support development of renewable energy resources at both a private and public level, as well as encourage a firm move away from dependence upon fossil fuels.More information about global peak oil and resource depletion can be found at


Evan said...

my blog =

Big Gav said...

Its funny - I was imagining that NZ and Canada were the saner parts of the anglo-saxon world - yet the picture you paint sounds every bit as bad as what we see elsewhere in the "anglosphere".

I think you might be exaggerating the problems you face somewhat - NZ isn't the US - by comparison the population is small and the land available relatively large. I'd imagine you can adapt to less and more expensive oil relatively well compared to almost anywhere else. After all, you seem to have a big agricultural sector, few water problems, a sparsely populated south island which could absorb suburbanites and no risk of getting dragged into resource wars.

And your population seems to be pretty Green politically and far less addicted to economic growth than those of us on the other side of the ditch.