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SUBMISSION TO NPDC APRIL 2011

by Kevin D Moore

 

Synopsis

NPDC is bursting at the seams with people who behave as though the short term interests of the industrial economy are much more important than protecting the natural systems that make life in the district possible. They behave as though the wants of present day adults are much more important than the needs of coming generations. They behave as though the lives of their children/grandchildren have a much lower value than their own, and apparently have no compunction in squandering what remains of rapidly depleting resources on their own selfish pursuits. In doing so they promote the generation of pollution which is rapidly the destroying the natural systems that make life on this planet possible. They hold close to their hearts numerous dysfunctional ideologies which are based on no empirical evidence, and promote them vigorously and on a continuous basis. When confronted with facts that challenge their irrational beliefs they ignore the facts and carry on regardless.

The economic and energy-related crises I repeatedly warned the council about from 2007 onwards are rapidly progressing to the meltdown stage, and environmental degradation is accelerating. People living in this district will very shortly face a combination of ‘challenges’ (a euphemism for horrendous predicaments) for which the district is totally unprepared. The children of the district will suffer the most because conditions will almost certainly worsen for decades as oil becomes unavailable and climate instability increases. NPDC has played a major role in ensuring the community is unprepared for the ‘tsunamis which are thundering up the beach’ and has played a major role in reducing the sustainability of the district.

The council’s budget proposals and community plan clearly indicate that the council has no intention of dealing with any of the factors that will determine the future. Indeed, NPDC appears to be determined to exacerbate the predicament the young people of this district are in by ignoring all the major issues and focusing on entirely inappropriate priorities, such as men chasing balls and artworks —fiddling while Rome burns.

The best evidence indicates that a breakdown of global economic arrangements will occur before 2015. NPDC is apparently unconcerned about this and the bulk of councillors and staff seem to believe that business as usual will continue forever. The fact that perpetual growth on a finite planet is an absurd notion does not seem to have occurred to them.

 

Background

1. When I began making presentations to NPDC in 2007 concerning the crucial issues of our times the intention was to work with the council to implement strategies that would mitigate the effects on the community and prevent unnecessary suffering in the future.

2. The information I provided to the council in 2007 relating to the first phase of the global economic collapse was accurate and timely: it was treated by the most of council with apathy, scorn, and even derision, Councillor Tamati declaring publicly: ‘You’re just Chicken Little’.

3. Needless to say, shortly afterwards the peak-oil-induced global financial crisis I warned the council about occurred, much as I had indicated, and in the time frame I indicated. NPDC and community at large suffered substantial losses as a consequence of failing to heed the warning.

4. I provided irrefutable evidence that the council’s investment policy was fatally flawed and was delivering poor returns compared what could be achieved elsewhere; in inflation-adjusted terms council managed funds deliver negative returns. At the time gold was under $750 per ounce: it currently stands at over $1500, demonstrating that fiat money has devalued by more than 50%. If we measure against silver the council’s performance is even worse. Had the council taken appropriate action the community would now be of the order of 1 billion dollars better off.

5. I provided irrefutable evidence that global oil extraction was at peak and would go into decline, causing a rapid increase in costs that would percolate through the entire system and result in unemployment, business failures and fall in the standard of living. I pointed out that peaking of oil extraction portended the eventual collapse of all existing economic arrangements.

6. I pointed out on numerous occasions that a planetary meltdown was underway, and that central government strategies for mitigation were inherently flawed, ineffective or contradictory. I pointed out the effect of failing to deal with environmental issues would be catastrophic in the long term.

7. I pointed out on many occasions there was an urgent need for a Permaculture Education Centre to be given the highest priority, and indicated that supporting such a centre would be one way NPDC could do something constructive to prepare the community for the collapse of the industrialised food system that was coming, a collapse which would be preceded by rapidly rising food prices. The council showed no interest in the permaculture education proposal or in protecting the community from the threat of starvation in the future.

8. I repeatedly pointed out the long term community plan was fatally flawed and unsustainable, and that that NPDC was in breach of the Local Government Act 2002. I demonstrated, using the council’s own data, that senior council officers often didn’t know what they were talking about. The council showed little interest in the scientific data I presented, showed no interest in addressing the deficiencies in its planning and showed no interest carrying out proper analysis of the matters I had raised, matters fundamental to the continued existence of the community NPDC supposedly serves.

9. Throughout the whole period I provided NPDC with accurate scientific data and high quality analysis NPDC persisted with dysfunctional policies, based on fabrications and delusions, and persisted with the squandering of resources on projects which will have no utility in the near future. (Dysfunctional: functioning but generating undesirable outcomes).

 

Current

1. Since 2008 economies throughout the world have been on ‘life support’: governments have implemented austerity measures and bailouts. Interest rates have been at historically low levels. Unemployment ranges between 8 and 30% in most developed nations. House prices and retail spending are falling in inflation-adjusted terms. The US is technically bankrupt, and many states are closing down basic services. A similar state of affairs applies in most European nations. None of the measures implemented by governments and central banks will alter the long term trends, since they do not address the fundamental causes of the predicament. Japan, which has been experiencing a two decade decline, was dealt a ‘death blow’ early in 2011. In the race for the bottom, NZ is a little behind some nations, primarily because the more developed a nation is, and the more its resources have been plundered, the faster and further it falls.

2. After years of supplying rosy forecasts, in November 2011 the International Energy Agency suddenly did a U-turn and admitted that peak oil had occurred over 2005-6 (just as indicated by myself and by numerous independent analysts years earlier). Although the NPDC resolved to carefully monitor peak oil (resolution Councillor S. George), there is no evidence that council executives are even aware of the IEA report, let alone having heeded it in their planning.

3. Economic growth is predicated on increasing use of oil. The global supply of oil is declining, which means that for most of the world economic growth is over. Most nations, including NZ, have entered the early stages of the Second Great Depression, the depression which never ends, just as I indicated would happen 5 years ago in ‘Surviving the Future’. We are now living in a post-peak-oil world in which global contraction of economic activity is inevitable. However, the budget prepared by council staff still reiterates the same ideological mantra about growth that appeared in previous documents, a clear indication of how out of touch with reality senior council staff are. The prevailing philosophy appears to be that ignoring reality causes it to disappear.

4. Mainstream economics is now being dealt many long-overdue death blows. It will soon be apparent to everyone that the bizarre theories that mainstream economics is based on are fabrications, just as informed people have always said. The degree of desperation amongst governments and money-lenders to prop up dysfunctional systems is very apparent to anyone who understands what is going on. Regrettably, most people are uninformed, and many are waiting for an ‘economic recovery; which will never come.

5. We are witnessing the last years (or possibly even the last months) of the globalised consumer society. Highly energy-dependent sectors such as tourism are particularly vulnerable to early demise. Putting precious resources into this sector is clearly pouring money down the drain. Talk of a future based on tourism is absurd, and is clearly founded on ignorance, fantasies and delusions. Unfortunately ignorance, fantasies and delusions seem to be commonplace within the council structure. Indeed, there is a culture of Constructed Ignorance in the council, whereby people deliberately refuse to become informed about important matters, perhaps because if they did become informed that might have to change their behaviour.

6. The decline of the US economy has been underway for many years. The US dollar demise (currently NZ= 0.80 US) and demand destruction are mitigating the effect of rising oil prices in NZ, creating an illusion that the global oil predicament is not as severe as it really is.

7. Whereas petrol was approximately $1.40 when I first alerted NPDC to the looming set of crises, it is now $2.20.The bread that was $1.04 is now $1.75. We are witnessing the fastest rise in energy and food prices for decades, and the situation will get rapidly worse. As the global energy and food crisis worsens we will witness increasing levels malnutrition and social decay in NZ.

8. NZ soil fertility is maintained by use of imported fertilisers which are mined, processed, and distributed using oil. The world is close to peak phosphate rock. Increased costs are already impacting. Industrialised agricultural production will decline significantly once oil and phosphate depletion reach a critical point, almost certainly by 2015.

9. The dairy sector is superficially doing well, but cannot function long term without cheap transport fuel and cheap natural gas. The production of chickens and eggs is dependent on grains which produced and transported using oil. The fishing industry is dependent on cheap oil. Even the beef and lamb sectors are dependent on cheap oil. Oil depletion is already having significant effects and will soon hammer the farming sector.

10. The New Plymouth district is currently in population overshoot. The region historically supported only around 1/10th the current population; so that is indicative of the long term carrying capacity of the land before so much of the land and foreshore were severely degraded by industrialism. NPDC busies itself with attempting to increase the population overshoot.

11. The meltdown of the Arctic region continues, with the winter of 2010-2011 recording the lowest ice cover in history. This accelerating meltdown will further promote the positive feedbacks that have already been triggered. Positive feedbacks are likely to render much of the Earth uninhabitable by mid-century unless drastic action is taken: Sea level is already rising and the rise will accelerate. NPDC policy is geared to increasing emissions and exacerbating positive feedbacks.

12. Acidification of the oceans that also results from excessive carbon dioxide emissions continues unabated. Chemical imbalance is affecting organisms at the base of the food chain (plankton numbers have dropped by over 40% in recent decades), and will lead to death of the oceans, probably in a matter of a few decades, i.e. in the lifetime of children living now unless appropriate action is taken now. The dead of the oceans is exacerbated by the activities of the oil industry.

13. The carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere has reached 392 ppm, 42 ppm above the accepted ‘safe level’ of 350 ppm, beyond which positive feedbacks are likely to lead to a runaway greenhouse effect. NPDC promotes activities which contribute inordinately to the raising the carbon dioxide level of the atmosphere.

14. The NPDC Budget 2011/12 demonstrates the council is still firmly locked into denial of reality on all matters relating to finance, energy and the environment, and continues to promote Orwellian (war is peace, ignorance is strength) concepts. Statements which contain mutually exclusive concepts continue to be commonplace in council literature. Pages 10, 11 and 13 of the draft budget contain numerous examples. Rather than engage in genuine informed discussion of the numerous dysfunctional aspects listed in ‘Outcomes’ the council endeavours to block discussion, and when proven wrong, disregards the evidence and carries on regardless. This is described by the council as ‘All people are valued within a caring community and have a sense of equality and belonging’.

‘Prosperous. Secure and Healthy, Sustainable, Together’ ‘strive on your behalf to deliver and address the issues which are important for this district’.

Nothing the council is engaged in is by any stretch of the imagination sustainable. All council activities are predicated on the consumption of finite resources which are in decline. All council activities reduce the sustainability of the district. Far from being secure and healthy, the district becomes continuously less secure and less healthy. To add insult to injury, the council adds fluoride to drinking water: fluoride is a known poison which has been documented to have numerous harmful effects on health and development. Furthermore there is no clear evidence that fluoride improves dental health when ingested. Dental health, as with health in general, is promoted via good food and good beverages. Poor dental health was unknown prior to the industrialisation of food production. Far from ‘striving to address the issues which are important for the district’, the council and its officers endeavour to bury them or ignore them. It was very noticeable that not one member of the council attended the recent information evening presented by leading fluoride expert Professor Paul Connett.

15. The level of scientific knowledge and awareness amongst the general populace is extremely low: this state of affairs allows the NPDC senior staff to get away with presenting nonsense as policy. Ignorance within the community and the council does not, however, prevent geochemical and geophysical forces from acting.

16. The council clearly has no clear long term goals and is essentially a process-driven organisation, the prime processes being promoting corporatisation of the district, the covering of agricultural land with concrete and asphalt, facilitating various entertainments which consume inordinate amounts of declining resources and generate inordinate amounts of pollution. plus day-to-day activities which also consume large amounts of declining resources. The NPDC behemoth is presently maintained through the consumption of rapidly depleting fossil fuels, the eating away at assets built-up by previous generations, the transferring costs onto the next generation and by the expenditure of vast amounts of ratepayer money on neuro-linguistic programming and propaganda.

 

Future

1. The Hubbert depletion model indicates the immediate fall in global extraction will be in the range in the range 2-5% per annum. Factors associated with rising consumption is oil-exporting nations will result in a higher annual decline in globally traded oil which will almost certainly demolish most current economic arrangements by 2015, irrespective of oil prices.

2. Brent oil was around $60 when I first raised the matter of peak oil with NPDC. It is currently around $126 and is flagged to go to $160 this northern summer. If $160 is sustained for more than a few days it will bring down much of the global economy by the end of 2012.

3. The global financial system faces a ‘race for the exits’ with respect to fiat currencies and government bonds. Current analysis suggests default on sovereign debts is likely before 2013. Collapse of the US dollar and bursting of the Chinese bubble economy are also likely before 2013. A ‘black swan’ event could precipitate collapse in a matter of months.

4. Climate instability is increasing and is already placing strain on global food production. Climate instability will impact ever more severely in the future. The Earth remaining habitable for humans much beyond mid-century is contingent on industrial civilisation collapsing soon.

5. Despite being presented on numerous occasions with irrefutable evidence that it is on the wrong track, NPDC remains firmly locked into denial of reality with respect to all the factors that will determine the future and clearly does not want to discuss them. The draft budget indicates NPDC will continue to implement dysfunctional policies until it is no longer able to, i.e. reasoned argument based on scientific data will not bring a halt the madness, but oil depletion or financial collapse will bring a halt to the madness.

6. The point at which NPDC will no longer be unable to function looks likely to occur some time around 2015. However, a black swan event would bring the time frame forward. Until the point of collapse is reached, NPDC will increasingly reap what it has been sowing.

7. It will, of course, be the young people of this district, including the children and grandchildren of those who currently promote dysfunction, who will suffer the dire consequences of this council’s determination to squander resources, and off-load the financial, social and environmental costs of profligacy onto the next generation.

 

This submission

Any rational person making a submission to other rational people might hope that they would take notice of crucial points that had been made and implement appropriate policies. Regrettably, NPDC has a well-documented record of not taking notice of crucial points and of carrying on regardless. The purpose of this submission is therefore not to attempt persuade the council to adopt policies based on reality, morality, or even sanity. The purpose is not to attempt to persuade the council to implement policies geared to the needs of the next generation. The council has been advised of the majority of the points in this submission on many previous occasions. The proposed budget makes it clear that council still has no intention of implementing policies based on reality, policies that would safeguard futures of children of this district.

This submission provides the council; with updated information on the major issues of our times and puts that information into the public forum. When the global economic system and the industrialised food system do collapse over the next few years and the district is left high and dry, with all the windows of opportunity to implement appropriate strategies to prevent severe hardship long gone, the council and council staff will not be able to pretend they have not known since 2007 exactly where things are headed.

Kevin D Moore
6, Te Mara Place, New Plymouth 4312

I wish to speak for 15 minutes in support of this submission in an afternoon session.