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SUBMISSION TO NPDC DRAFT PLAN 2009 TO 2019

by Kevin Moore – April 2009

 

This submission is in eight written parts, plus a spoken addendum:

  1. Synopsis
  2. Detailed comment on the draft plan
  3. Detailed comment on the council’s decision-making process
  4. Analogy to the predicament the community finds itself in
  5. The correct paradigms
  6. Additional notes
  7. What needs to be done
  8. References
  9. Spoken submission (May 2009)

Synopsis

Examination of the Draft Plan 2009-19 reveals very clearly that it has been put together by a team that has little or no understanding of the workings of planet we live on, little or no understanding of the workings of the economic system, and little or no comprehension of the future. It is largely a reiteration of neuro-linguistic programming and dogma which has already been demonstrated to be incorrect or completely detached from reality. The plan is therefore a plan for disastrous failure for the district.

The unravelling of dysfunctional and redundant [mainstream] economic system is already underway, and that unravelling will continue, with dire consequences for most people. The council was repeatedly warned about this unravelling, but chose not to heed warnings. Indeed, the council appears incapable of heeding warnings, and rather than accepting reality, appears determined to fight it: that is obviously a fight it must and will lose. As consequence of the council’s intransigence and ineptitude, the community has already suffered substantial financial losses which could easily have been avoided, and losses will continue. The community has also suffered considerable [negative] environmental impacts which could have easily been avoided.

The presentation of this Draft Plan by council staff, for approval by councillors, is a clear testimony that council staff have not taken note of any of the crucial information relating to the future that has previously been presented to the council and staff. This suggests there is a culture of institutionalised denial within the council. The Draft Plan is not only severely disconnected from economic realities, but is also even more disconnected from physical realities. Indeed, it makes no mention of them.

Current economic arrangements are predicated on the conversion of semi-sustainable or sustainable land use to completely unsustainable land use. Current economic arrangements are also totally dependent on the conversion of finite oil reserves (depleting globally at around 30 billion barrels a year) into trash and pollution. The pollution that results from the burning of oil (and other fossil fuels) is already having disastrous effects on the planet we live on (our only home). Those effects are accelerating towards the catastrophic stage. To suggest, as the NPDC Draft Plan does, that the present system has a long term future is nothing short of absurd. To suggest, as the NPDC Draft Plan does, that such a system should or can be expanded is nothing short of insane. By presenting this Draft Plan for approval, council staff have demonstrated what might be best be described as obsessive-compulsive behaviour, predicated on having no compunction whatsoever in condemning the community to severe hardship in the near future, and condemning the next generation to even greater hardship (and probably to premature death). The word that comes to mind to describe such behaviour is evil.

The accompanying submission should be studied thoroughly and the Draft Plan should be rejected as totally inappropriate. However, past experience indicates that [in most cases] submissions are quickly scanned through and then dismissed as ‘not relevant’, or are responded to by the council with further repetition of dysfunctional dogma. Such responses more or less guarantee catastrophe for the region in the near future. Strategies for mitigation that could have easily been implemented have not been, and many windows of opportunity have now passed.

Comment on the draft plan

The draft plan 2009-19, as prepared and presented by council staff, is predicated on a set of paradigms and assumptions which can readily be demonstrated to be either mathematically impossible or entirely false [1].
Although the plan is supposedly for the future of the community, it is completely disconnected from the physical and chemical realities of the planet we live on, and makes no mention of the factors that will determine the future [2].
The draft plan is also completely disconnected from the reality of financial and political events which are taking place around the world [3].
The draft contains a large amount of economic mumbo-jumbo, together with meaningless or undefined buzz words, such as ‘Vibrant’, Together’, ‘Secure’, ‘Healthy’, ‘Prosperous’, Sustainable’, etc. inserted randomly throughout the document. Presumably these are to neuro-linguistically programme the reader into ‘feeling good’ and accepting palpable nonsense as truth. In practice, anyone who has any proper knowledge of the workings of the world recognises that almost nothing the council is currently engaged in is, by any stretch of the imagination, sustainable, and far from promoting a healthy, secure, and prosperous environment, the bulk of the council’s policies promote the very reverse of what it claims, i.e. unhealthy, insecure, impoverished and unsustainable.
The council has a well documented history of wasting huge sums of money and material resources on projects which have little or no utility. It has incurred massive financial losses that cold easily have been avoided. This is described by the council as: We have taken a responsible fiscal approach” and “being prudent”.
George Orwell warned of such a scenario in ‘1984’, in which the Ministry of Truth is primarily concerned with fabrication of news and the distribution of propaganda, while the Ministry of Love engages in torture [4].
In order to keep the public misinformed and to justify its inappropriate decisions, the council presents the community with a more or less continuous supply of ‘feel good’ propaganda, again based on false paradigms and defective analysis. [5].
To suggest, as the council does, that it is ‘Time to shape our future’ is to demonstrate an extraordinary arrogance and disconnection from reality: the long term future will be shaped by unstoppable geochemical forces, and the short term future will be shaped by unstoppable geophysical and financial forces. The council has no control over any of them, though, if it chose to, it could respond sensibly to them.
Attempting to ‘reflect your aspirations’ is just twaddle. We might all aspire to becoming millionaires, but no amount of wishful thinking or aspiring will make it happen. Aspirations that are not connected with reality are irrelevant.
Evidence that disproves the economic dogma presented and promoted by the council is both prolific and irrefutable.
What is missing is willingness on behalf of senior council officers to become informed or to accept the truth.

Comment on the council’s decision-making process

It is unlikely that councillors and senior staff will bother to thoroughly read, fully digest the information, or follow up the references contained in this document. Nevertheless, it is my moral duty to submit it, so that there can be no opportunity at a later stage (when the system crashes) for the mayor, council staff or councillors to declare: ‘we could never have known’.
Between 2007 and 2009 share markets peaked and then fell (never to recover), finance companies failed, the price of oil spiked and brought down much of the global economy, local businesses retrenched, the unemployment rate rose, house prices fell and the world entered the first stage of the Second Great [never-ending] Depression —all very much as I had warned the council about throughout 2006 and 2007 [6].
Faced with irrefutable evidence it is on the wrong track, the council has repeatedly demonstrated an unwillingness to listen to expert advice, has steadfastly refused to become informed about key issues, and has refused to amend its policies [7].
As a consequence of its intransigence, the council has already incurred substantial financial losses that could have easily been avoided, and continues to engage in the squandering of precious resources that will not be available in the future, mostly on infrastructure and ‘pet’ projects which will have little or no utility in the future [8].
There has been no indication of any improvement in the willingness of the council to become informed about, or to accept reality. Indeed as conditions have worsened, the council appears to have become more disconnected from reality [9].
Attempts to continue along the same path as before, now predicated on greatly increased borrowing and expanding community debt, will lead to catastrophic financial failure. The timing of this failure is uncertain, but it will almost certainly occur before 2012, and it could occur within a matter of months (depending on how international events play out); the environmental catastrophe the council promotes will become increasingly evident a little further into the future [10].
To my knowledge only one councillor has even attempted to become informed by viewing the DVD containing vital information for decision making supplied to all councillors more than a year ago, and there has been no follow up by the council with respect to other vital information previously supplied.
It seems that that the majority of councillors and council officers are culturally incapable of accepting the truth.
It could also be that the majority are incapable of understanding the relevant scientific data and its implications.
Sadly, it will be the next generation who will suffer the dire consequences of the council’s unwillingness to prepare for the numerous realities which are now ‘thundering up the beach, like a series of tsunamis’ [11].
The mayor, councillors and council staff (with one or two exceptions) appear to have a total disregard for their own futures or their own children’s futures. (It is debatable whether grandchildren of those presently living have much of a future) [12].
Councillors and staff also appear to have a total disregard for the spiritual consequences [for themselves and the community] of policies predicated on pride, selfishness, greed, and destruction of the land base, which the council promotes [13].
Although the council declares an interest in ‘working together’ and having a desire for public input, in practice it persistently ignores all public input which is contrary to its own [apparently predetermined] agenda.
There has been no proper scientific public debate of key issues that will determine the future. Presumably this is because councillors are ‘not interested’ in the future, or because the council’s position would be readily demonstrated to be completely untenable if there were a proper debate. In practice, when confronted with inconvenient facts, the council [as a whole] ignores the evidence and carries on regardless, thereby driving the community ‘straight off the cliff’ [14].
We have no illusions about the submission/hearing process, nor do we have any faith in it. The wording for a letter along the lines: ‘Thank you for your submission … . No change to policy is recommended’ is already in the word processor, awaiting the insertion of the submitter’s name and address.

Analogy

Analogies for the kind of policies and attitudes demonstrated by NPDC range from the Titanic headed at full speed in fog towards the iceberg, to a train headed at full speed towards a ravine where the bridge has collapsed, to the inhabitants of Easter Island chopping down the last tree [needed for dwelling construction, canoe building etc.] in order that one last [useless] statue can be erected. In all analogies, the captains/drivers/leaders have a schedule to keep (or beat) and refuse to listen to anyone who challenges their disastrous actions.

A good analogy for what is happening within the NPDC community would be a group adrift in a lifeboat and attempting to find land. Only one of the ten people in the lifeboat has any idea where they are, which direction to steer, how to catch fish, or how to collect water etc.
However, the other nine always shout-down or out-vote that person, and elect a ‘captain’ who steers the boat in completely the wrong direction. If the person who could get the lifeboat to safety is too vocal he/she risks being thrown overboard.

The ‘plan’ of the majority is to have a continuous party, which involves eating all rations as quickly as possible and throwing essential survival equipment (such as the compass and fishing tackle) overboard, since they deem such items to be ‘unnecessary’. Even as the boat starts to sink, they deem it unnecessary to check the condition of the hull.

Needless to say, everyone in the boat is doomed, as a consequence of the ignorance and stupidity of the majority. The person who could have steered the lifeboat in the right direction is powerless and is forced to endure the insane behaviour of the others.

Derrick Jensen (author of ‘The Culture of Make Believe’ and ‘End Game’) puts it this way when commenting on mainstream culture: ‘The culture as a whole and most of its members are insane. The culture is driven by a death urge, an urge to destroy life.’

Derrick Jensen also comments (as do many others) that the majority of those who are enslaved by mainstream culture or subscribe to it are unreachable.

There is considerable evidence that Derrick Jensen’s assertion: ‘This culture will not undergo any sort of voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living’ is correct and it that, much as we would like to avoid a catastrophic transition, the promotion and protection of vested interest by those currently in power will almost certainly result in catastrophe.

Nevertheless, despite the apparently impossible odds, we are morally obliged to attempt to prevent catastrophe.

Correct paradigms

Population growth and economic growth are at the heart of all the problems we face. Population growth results in greater competition for resources. Economic growth exacerbates the consumption of non-renewable resources and raises pollution levels.
Plans predicated on past economic trends are already failing, and even greater failure will occur at some point in the near future if such plans are not radically amended.
The industrial age was a short term aberration in the course of human history and is rapidly coming to an end.
We have already entered the transition phase to a completely different way of living from that which has prevailed for the past 300 years. (Despite the best efforts of many people to raise awareness, the bulk of the population still remains completely oblivious of this).
The next ten years will be completely different from the past ten years
Present living arrangements are predicated on a continuing supply of cheap oil-based products and cannot function without them.
The extraction of conventional oil peaked between 2005 and 2008, and is declining. Unconventional oil will go into decline soon, if it has not already done so (data is always historical).
Most of what people currently take for granted (including much of the food supply) will vanish, either gradually over the coming years, or very rapidly, as result of a ‘black swan’ event. [15]
Tourism, shopping, leisure, industrialised farming and other planks of the NPDC plan are either already in decline or are about to go into decline.
Contrary to the assertions of many who live in Taranaki, no region will escape the coming global meltdown.
Current attempts to prolong the industrial age (extraordinarily low interest rates, bailouts, stimulus packages etc.) are resulting in the misallocation of physical and financial resources and making matters worse long term.
Environmental collapse poses the greatest threat to continued habitation of the Earth by humans (and numerous other species).
Climate instability is already resulting in ever worsening weather —longer droughts, more flooding, more frequent and more intense wind-related events; things will get much worse in the future.
Desperation measures (exploitation of, oil, gas and coal), geared to maintaining the status quo, are exacerbating environmental collapse, and will lead to greater hardship for future generations.
Unless immediate action is taken to prevent it, there will be wide scale economic hardship, social disorder, and malnutrition/starvation throughout New Zealand in the near future.
An early change to a sustainable way of living brings immediate benefits to the health, wealth and welfare of the community, and may prevent a catastrophic planetary meltdown.
Delaying the change to a sustainable way of living exacerbates all the problems we are now encountering and is a futile, dead-end path, since the present system is unsustainable and has no future.

Additional Notes

The present economic system is predicated on the looting of natural resources, the conversion of sustainable or semi-sustainable land base (agricultural land) into unsustainable urban ‘development’, and the conversion of fossil fuels into waste. It is therefore, by definition, unsustainable.
GDP is a false measure of economic activity, and growth of GDP does not translate to improvement the well-being of the populace.
The quality of life (as measured by GPI, environmental factors, health, social cohesion and access to amenities etc.) peaked between 1955 and 1985 and has been falling ever since. Economic growth and population growth are the source of most of the problems we now face.
Economic growth and population growth are the source of most of the problems we now face.
The standard of living (as measured in monetary terms) peaked between 1975 and 1995 and has been falling ever since.
Speculative bubble created the illusion of wealth between 1995 and 2007; those speculative bubbles began to burst in 2007, and the unravelling will continue.
The quality of life and the standard of living have been falling, and will continue to fall until such time as the present system collapses or appropriate paradigms are adopted.
Attempts by governments to prop up the current financial system (bailouts, rescue packages etc.) are predicated on transfer of staggeringly high debts to the next generation. The debts are predicated on a [false] belief in enormous energy supplies which simply do not exist.
The industrial age was an aberration in the scheme of things, and was only made possible by the use of ‘ancient sunlight’.
The worldwide extraction of anthracite peaked in the 1990s, and the EROI of coal is falling.
The extraction of conventional oil peaked between 2005 and 2008 and is now in terminal decline. Unconventional oil with a low EROI may prop up current economic arrangements for a short time, depending on financial and political developments. However, another energy shock (similar to those previously experienced) could completely permanently derail present economic arrangements in a matter of months.
No combination of so-called alternative energy sources will provide anything remotely approaching the energy available from the use of oil.
There are no alternative raw materials to replace oil.
Without an increasing energy supply there cannot be [orthodox] economic growth.
Any plan which is predicated on continuous economic growth on a finite planet is clearly delusional and dysfunctional —yet that is exactly what our leaders promote.
In practice, economic contraction is now inevitable, even though it is unacceptable to the banking fraternity, which demands continuous economic expansion in order to service the Fractional Reserve Banking system and the interest payment system associated with it.
The industrial age is rapidly coming to an end, as evidenced by the economic collapse which has accompanied the peaking of the oil supply.
There is considerable evidence that the supply of phosphorus, upon which industrialise farming is dependent, has peaked. The inevitable decline in top dressing which will accompany the peaking of superphosphate— phosphate rock will lead to demise of the dairy sector. The dairy sector will also suffer serious effects from the coming energy shock.
We should also note that Tasmanian dairy farms, in which the council has ‘invested’, are subject to falling land values, increasing drought (Australian Bureau of Meteorology) and shrinking phosphate supplies. Although they may possibly provide some short term financial gains, their long term future under current land usage is grim.
The use of fossil fuels is the prime cause of the worldwide environmental collapse which is underway, and continued use of fossil fuels poses the greatest threat to future habitability of this planet.
There is evidence that global warming has reached a runaway (unstoppable) phase. We should nevertheless take drastic action to prevent meltdown.
The best strategy for providing coming generations with a habitable planet is Agenda 350, i.e. bringing the CO2 content of the atmosphere back to below 350ppm, as promoted by Dr James Hansen, Chief Climatologist at NASA. (It currently stands at approximately 390ppm and is rising rapidly).
None of the so-called strategies presented by governments to deal with the out of control emissions (biofuels, carbon trading etc.) stands up to scientific critique: all government proposals are scams.
There has been no preparation for the peaking of the oil supply, or the effects of it, by central or local government. Both are locked into denial
Although many members of the public are aware things are ‘far from right’, most are poorly informed and do not recognise the seriousness of the predicament we [collectively] are in.
The prime function of central government is to facilitate the looting of natural resources by international corporations and to facilitate the financial extraction agendas of international bankers.
Any notion that central government will deal appropriately with the present predicament, with future predicaments, or will be held accountable is delusional: Helen Clark and Michael Cullen, the prime architects of the mess New Zealand now finds itself in, have now both ‘disappeared without a trace’ from the political scene.
The window of opportunity for preparation for collapse has almost been completely squandered i.e. gold has already tripled in price while share markets fell by 50%; it takes several years for trees to grow, for soil quality to improve and for permaculture sites to become developed; infrastructure changes and adaptation of economic and living arrangements take years to organise and complete.
Many people see the times we live as ‘End Times’, with the day of judgement drawing ever close for those who have flouted all the rules for living that we should be following. It is written that those who warn will be scoffed at, ridiculed and mocked, that the warnings will not be heeded (as in the days of Noah), and consequently many will perish.
Irrespective of whether there will shortly be a Second Coming of Christ, the physical world is in the early stages of severe resource declines and general environmental collapse.

The exact timing of the decline (or complete collapse) of the industrialised food system is still debatable; food prices have already been rising rapidly, but there are numerous factors which cannot be pinpointed exactly (e.g. the impact of oil depletion, hurricanes, droughts, water shortages, the lack of credit for planting etc.). Nevertheless, financial collapse and collapse of the industrialised agricultural system will occur fairly soon, and will almost certainly result in conditions for most people which will be much worse than the Great Depression and Second World War combined.

By failing to support initiatives such as a Permaculture Education Centre, the council has ensured the effects on the community of Peak Oil, Climate Change, the unravelling of the Fractional Reserve Banking System (and all the pseudo financial Ponzi schemes associated with it), and the collapse of industrialised food system will be much worse than they need have been.

The present culture is the most destructive and the most self-destructive culture ever to have emerged on Earth. Whereas modern humans (Homo Sapiens) have lived reasonably sustainably for approximately 200,000 years, the present culture (Homo Colossus) has brought the planet to the brink of catastrophe in a matter of just over 200 years.

2005 was the hottest year ever (NASA) during low period in the Sun cycle and the expectation for things to heat up considerably around 2012. 2007 recorded the greatest Arctic meltdown ever, and 2008-9 saw unprecedented collapse of ices sheets in both hemispheres. 2009 recorded the highest temperature (48°C) ever in the Melbourne area.

Continuation on the present path [of industrial-driven economic growth based on burning all the fossil fuel available in the planet] the will lead to self-annihilation for the human species. It will also lead to the annihilation of hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of other species with which we share this planet [16].

As long as the present system continues to function, everything that matters will get rapidly worse. That rapid worsening will continue until either the current system breaks down completely (best evidence indicates that will occur some time before 2015), or the people revolt, a distinct possibility once the majority of the populace recognise that the council [as currently constituted and currently operating] is a major part of the problem, not the answer.

What needs to be done

The council needs to recognise that central government has misled the nation and that commonly held ‘truths’ are in fact entirely false.
The council needs to become fully informed about the issues that are now determining the future and will impact even more in the future. (see references).
The council needs to adopt appropriate [correct] paradigms.
The council needs to reject the Draft Plan which has been presented and demand that it be replaced with a plan which is connected with reality and is appropriate to the times we live in.
The council needs to immediately implement a crash programme geared to educating the community and protecting the community from the collapse of international financial arrangements, the collapse of international trade, closure of most local businesses, high unemployment and collapse of the industrialised food system, all of which will occur in the near future.

References

[1] Prof. Albert Bartlett: ‘Arithmetic Population and Energy’.
Chris Martensen: ‘Crash Course’.
Documentary films: ‘Blind Spot’, ‘What A Way To Go’.
[2] Peaking of the oil supply: Dr. M.King Hubbert, Dr Colin Campbell, Association for the Study of Peak Oil, Prof. Kenneth Deffeyes, The Oil Drum, Energy Bulletin, Carolyn Baker, Matt Simmons, Matt Savinar, Michael Ruppert.
Documentary films: ‘Peak Oil Imposed by Nature’, ‘Oil Smoke and Mirrors’, ‘End of Suburbia’, ‘Escape from Suburbia’, ‘Crude Impact’, ‘Oilcrash’, ‘The Story Of Crude’.
Abrupt Climate Change: Sir David King, James Lovelock, Dr James Hansen, Climate Code Red. Films: ‘Story of Crude’, ‘Global Dimming’, ‘Altered Oceans’.
[3] Dow Jones Index 14,000 to 6,400; AX 6,700 to 3,100; NZX 4,200 to 2,400; Nikkei 18,000 to 7,000 (from an all time high of 40,000). Monday April 20, 2009, WASHINGTON (AFP) – The top 500 US corporations saw their profits plunge 85 percent in 2008, their worst showing in more than half a century, Fortune magazine reported Sunday.
«The sumptuous profits America posted over the past few years weren’t part of a new world order, but a bubble that, like the others, went out with a bang. And what a bang,» the magazine reported in its latest issue. «Last year was the worst economic performance in the 55-year history of the Fortune 500 list of America’s biggest 500 companies,» Fortune said. «Earnings dropped 84.7 percent from the previous year, from 645 billion dollars to 98.9 billion dollars, marking the largest one-year decline ever,» it said.
[4] ‘1984’ George Orwell. 1948.
[5] ‘Ten Things Everyone Ought To Know’. Kevin Moore. 2008.
[6] Kevin Moore: Presentations January 2007, March 2007, April 2007, May 2007, June 2007, September 2007, October 2007, November 2007, June 2008. ‘The Thinking Person’s NZ Guide to Surviving the Future’. 2006 and 2008 editions.
[7] «No change to policy recommended»: Manukau City Council 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, New Plymouth District Council 2007, 2008.
[8] An example of the insanity recently orchestrated by NPDC is adjacent to the Huatoki, Devon St. where the entire land surface has been covered in concrete and asphalt, rendering it useless for growing anything, whilst a large amount of precious resources have been squandered on a canopy which not only looks exceedingly ugly, but has little if any utility.
[9] As the world economy collapses and the number of vacant commercial premises surges, local leaders pretend that Taranaki is ‘different’ and that it is immune to recession/depression/collapse.
[10] Temperatures in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions have been substantially (3°C) above normal over recent years (NASA Earth Observatory) at a time of minimal sun activity, with a commensurate rapid disintegration of ice shelves, and rapid release of methane and carbon dioxide from permafrost indicating the Earth is on track for an Abrupt Climate Change event (4 to 8°C rise in average temperature in a few decades), which could render it largely uninhabitable for humans by mid-century.
[11] The ‘tsunamis’ are financial collapse, peak oil, climate change, peak water, peak phosphorus, collapse of industrial agriculture and over-population.
[12] Chris Martenson: ‘Crash Course’. Unsupportable debt, impossible population demographics, resource depletion, sliding off the EROEI curve.
[13] Malthus: ‘An essay on the Principle of Population’. 1798.
Derrick Jensen: ‘Premises’ listed separately below.
[14] «an unprepared society still locked into archaic thinking will almost certainly descend very rapidly into mayhem before transitioning to a better way of living; collapse is a self-reinforcing phenomenon, with the fall of one sector promoting the fall of others. Yet I am not hopeful of a rapid Culture Change. Delusions still rein supreme.» Page 14. The Thinking Person’s New Zealand Guide to Surviving the Future —2008 Edition.
[15] Nassim Nicholas Taleb: ‘Black Swan’.
[16] The Sixth Great Extinction Event. E.O. Wilson et al. The Future of Life (2002).
«We can choose to make the planet more or less uninhabitable for our specie (and most other large vertebrates) just a few decades from now. That choice is extremely easy to implement. We just carry on doing what we [collectively] have been doing for the past twenty years. The alternative is to attempt to make the planet still habitable for our and other species one hundred years from now. That choice is extremely difficult since it requires a total rethink of every aspect of modern society». ‘Burn Baby Burn’. 2001.

Premises selected from ‘Endgame’, by Derrick Jensen

Premise One: Civilization is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization.

Premise Three: Our way of living – industrial civilization – is based on, requires, and would collapse very quickly without persistent and widespread violence.

Premise Six: Civilization is not redeemable. This culture will not undergo any sort of voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living. If we do not put a halt to it, civilization will continue to immiserate the vast majority of humans and to degrade the planet until it (civilization, and probably the planet) collapses. The effects of this degradation will continue to harm humans and nonhumans for a very long time.

Premise Seven: The longer we wait for civilization to crash – or the longer we wait before we ourselves bring it down – the messier will be the crash, and the worse things will be for those humans and nonhumans who live during it, and for those who come after.

Premise Eight: The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of the economic system.

Premise Nine: Although there will clearly some day be far fewer humans than there are at present, there are many ways this reduction in population could occur (or be achieved, depending on the passivity or activity with which we choose to approach this transformation).

Premise Ten: The culture as a whole and most of its members are insane. The culture is driven by a death urge, an urge to destroy life.

Premise Eleven: From the beginning, this culture – civilization – has been a culture of occupation.

Premise Twelve: There are no rich people in the world, and there are no poor people. There are just people. The rich may have lots of pieces of green paper that many pretend are worth something – or their presumed riches may be even more abstract: numbers on hard drives at banks – and the poor may not. These “rich” claim they own land, and the “poor” are often denied the right to make that same claim. A primary purpose of the police is to enforce the delusions of those with lots of pieces of green paper. Those without the green papers generally buy into these delusions almost as quickly and completely as those with. These delusions carry with them extreme consequences in the real world.

Premise Nineteen: The culture’s problem lies above all in the belief that controlling and abusing the natural world is justifiable.

Premise Twenty: Within this culture, economics – not community well-being, not morals, not ethics, not justice, not life itself – drives social decisions.

Spoken submission (May 2009)

Spoken to NPDC Wednesday 3rd June 2009

Mayor, councillors and members of the public, I refer you to the Westpac NZ Economic Overview May 2009 which is available online (see QEOMay09.pdf). I have some copies for councillors (distributed).

P1. The NZ economic outlook deteriorated further in the past thee months as our trading partners implode.

P2. Export receipts… of our main trading partners have been hammered… with most down 20%+ and Japan by a mind-boggling 50%.

NZ has experienced a full blown equities crunch.

P3. It would be foolish to be complacent about the impact that the biggest global economic downturn since the 1930s will have on the NZ economy.

Our current account deficit has remained stubbornly large (8.9% of GDP), and net foreign liabilities are an enormous 93% of GDP. The large external liability situation prompted S&P to place NZ on a negative ratings outlook.

Fig.9. Of the nations listed, only Iceland –which is noted internationally as a basket case– is in a worse position than NZ.

P4. Confidence is dismal, job layoffs are becoming commonplace and the government is threatening to remove future tax cuts, as it battles to avoid a credit downgrade.

Merchandise export values have declined over 6% despite a lower currency, as commodity prices have fallen and global demand has dried up. Overall the investment picture is ugly…

Fig.12. Employment and investment intentions falling off the cliff’.

P5. Jobs– the next casualty.

Fig.14. Confidence and consumer spending ‘falling off the cliff’.

P6. Widespread contraction.

Retail trade. The outlook for 2009 is for tough times to continue.

Fig.17. Nominal retail sales ‘falling off the cliff’.

Manufacturing. Firms do not see a recovery in the short term and new orders received have dropped to their lowest level since the survey began in the early 1960s!

Electricity. …generation fell by more than usual during summer.

Fig.19. Electricity generation annual growth ‘falling off the cliff’.

P7. Mining. Production from the Tui oil field is easing. After peaking at almost $3.3 billion… annual mining exports have eased back to $2.7 billion.

Transport. Freight volumes have fallen on the back of a slump in domestic and external demand. The short term outlook is bleak… Truck registrations in the first three months of 2009 are down 50% on the same period last year.

Fig.22 New commercial registrations ‘falling off the cliff’.

Tourism. Visitor arrivals are down on a year ago as severe destruction of wealth and now rising unemployment discourage travel. Visitor numbers were down about 3.5% in March…

Fig 23. Tourism ‘falling off the cliff’.

Fig.24. Commodity prices. After rising spectacularly from around 120 to 220, prices have plummeted to around 140.

Construction. A 31% slump in residential building saw … building work put in place drop 20% through 2008. Despite the already low level of activity, indicators suggest further declines are likely in the short term.

Fig. 25. Construction activity ‘falling off the cliff’.

Anyone who understands Fractional Reserve Banking and Leveraging understands how bubble economies function and why they fail. Of the hundred or so people I have discussed Fractional Reserve Banking with over the past year, only one person had any idea at all.

The vast majority of people are incapable of making economic or environmental connections with their own circumstances, since they do not have the basic knowledge necessary to make such connections. Sadly, the vast majority see no need to become informed and are therefore condemned to become victims of their own ignorance, as the collapse proceeds. Children will pay a horrendous price for their parent’s ignorance.

In 1932 an ounce of gold was $US 28. It is now around $1000, so a US dollar is now worth about 1/36th of its former value.

1970s milk was 4 cents. It is now around $2, up from $1.45. For milk purchases, the NZ dollar has been devalued to 1/50th of its 1970s value, or 72 cents compared just a couple of years ago.

Five years ago garden fertiliser cost $9.95; it is now $16.95 –a devaluation of $1 to 59 cents in 5 years.

$300 million worth of fertiliser in 2004, would now cost over $500 million. Just to stand still in real terms, a comparable investment of $300 million would have to have grown to over $500 million. In the case of gold the required growth would be to around $1 billion. Council managed funds have achieved nothing like that performance, and in real terms are going down rapidly. Perhaps this accounts for the outrageous suggestion on page 25 of the draft plan that debt should be doubled over the next two years.

The future for conventional economics will be very much grimmer than the already grim picture painted by Westpac. It will be just as indicated by Dr M. King Hubbert, Prof. Albert Bartlett, Prof. Kenneth Deffeyes, Dr Colin Campbell, Prof. Guy McPherson and a multitude of other experts who do not have qualifications in town planning, economics or law, but are highly qualified in the physical sciences and mathematics, and are able to forecast events.

Of course mainstream economists are required to talk in terms of recovery, in order prevent an even more rapid market meltdown than is already occurring.

My submission is detailed and is fully referenced to sources recognised throughout the world as the most reputable. The facts I have presented are beyond dispute. The oil supply has peaked and is on its way down. The global economy is collapsing. Environmental collapse is accelerating. The false paradigms the council operates under are discussed and critiqued by millions of people all over the world on a daily basis.

The projections I have provided over recent years through books, articles and presentations have proven extremely accurate; events I flagged have either occurred or are in the process of occurring right now.

Curiously, whenever anyone in local government is asked how much growth is enough, they never have a sensible answer. Local government has become a process-driven entity, rather than a result-driven entity.

As Professor Albert Bartlett pointed out in his brilliant lecture, ‘Arithmetic, Population and Energy’, you don’t need to expand the city of Boulder, Colorado, to the size of Los Angeles to discover the problems of a mega-city: you just need to take a trip to Los Angeles.

In his ‘one hour in a bottle analogy’, it was not until three minutes to midnight that the inhabitants of the bottle suddenly recognised they were in deep trouble, trouble from which they could not escape.

Our predicament has taken on the aspect of the surreal. The council, in conjunction with the regional council, funds studies for theoretical hazards, such as a volcanic eruption, that have a 1 in 500 probability, whilst totally ignoring real hazards, like peak oil, that have a 499 in 500 probability.

I now recognise that, although it was not a mistake to get out of the Auckland region, it was a mistake to purchase property in New Plymouth*.

I returned to New Plymouth in 2006, thinking it would be possible to promote an informed and sustainable community. I repeatedly warned NPDC that if it did not deal with reality, reality would deal with the council. NPDC was offered the choice between a soft landing and a hard landing. Regrettably, it chose a hard landing. The opportunity to avert disaster has passed. It may be possible to avoid utter catastrophe, though I am not particularly hopeful at this late stage in the game.
We can liken the situation to a goldfish bowl.

Goldfish

For a goldfish living in a bowl, the bowl is its entire world. If food mysteriously arrives from outside the bowl, the fish just eats it. The goldfish has no concept of anything outside the bowl, even though it may see distorted images through the glass.

Let us imagine that the goldfish can talk. It says: ‘More goldfish.’

Suppose the owner adds a goldfish. Now the plants get eaten twice as fast. To compensate, the owner adds more food.

The next day the goldfish says:’ More goldfish.’

Another fish is added. Now each fish has 1/3 of the resources originally available. The owner must add even more food to keep the fish alive.

However, for goldfish, the prime concerns in life are the beauty of goldfish, the happiness of goldfish, and increasing the goldfish population. The fish never discuss where the food comes from. (In western societies more than 90% of the food supply is dependent on cheap and abundant oil, which will be neither cheap nor abundant in the future.)

Every day the fish say: ‘More goldfish.’

The owner notices that food is being eaten too quickly and warns the fish that things cannot continue as they have. When he adds another fish he notes that the fish have severely reduced the amount of weed, excreta is building up, the water is turning toxic, and the fish are starting to look unhealthy.

Nevertheless, the fish still demand that more fish be added to the bowl.

The owner adds another fish, but warns them that the food supply is running out, that he is tired of looking after fish and that some time soon he will flush them down the toilet.

Anyone outside the bowl can see exactly what the situation is and where it is leading. However, being goldfish and only ever living in tanks or bowls, the fish have no concept what the words ‘toilet’ or ‘flush’ mean.

On the day chosen by the owner, he picks up the bowl and walks towards the toilet. Even as the water slops around, the fish still chant: ‘More goldfish.’

The owner tilts the bowl. The fish have no idea what is happening. Even as they drop into the toilet pan they think they have a future; after all, they are still in water.

Only when they find their gills clogged with sewage and they are gasping for oxygen in a long dark tunnel do the goldfish start to comprehend what ‘flush down the toilet’ means.

The NZ dollar ‘rose’ from 50 to 64 cents US between the beginning of March and end of May: that is 28% in 8 weeks. Oil rose faster. The crossover point for US bond yields occurred in May. The next phase of major worldwide economic collapse will occur before the end of September 2009, though the degree of carnage that will ensue is uncertain.
We can liken our predicament to watching a Shakespearean tragedy: even before the curtain rises for the first scene, we know that the leading characters will die in a tragic manner, along with many innocent victims who get caught up in the downward spiral. Macbeth is a classic tale of deluded leader who thought himself invincible and brought grief to many.

We can be certain that, just as Barry Curtis is remembered as the mayor who destroyed Manukau, the legacy of this council will be to be remembered as the administration that destroyed the viability of New Plymouth.
Something which is quite incomprehensible is the enthusiasm so many members of the council and council staff have for the destruction of their own futures and their children’s or grandchildren’s futures.

* Not because New Plymouth is inherently a bad place, but because the council is squandering the resources of the community and refuses to plan for the real future.


See also: Submission to NPDC April 2011