The Daily Bork

February 01, 2005

Let's do the timewarp again

Is the global warming scare losing its lustre? Is it not so terrifying any more that we are now revisiting the events of thirty years ago in an effort to stoke up votes? Remember there is a general election in New Zealand later this year.

So back to the NZ Green party! Firstly it is instructive to remember where this party came from, it was originally founded as a zero-growth party in the 70's, as described in their own history

The Values Party contested the 1972 general election, putting forward radical new policies such as Zero Economic Growth, Zero Population Growth and abortion, drug and homosexual law reform. These were published in the world's first Green election manifesto, 'Blueprint for New Zealand - An Alternative Future'. Over the next three years Green policies were debated, developed and expanded to form the basis of 'Beyond Tomorrow', the 1975 Values Party manifesto. This was a comprehensive statement of Green politics which was widely distributed overseas and contributed to the development of Green parties elsewhere.
The Values Party achieved 5.3% of the vote in 1975 - a result which under an MMP voting system would have earned it seats in Parliament. Unfortunately under the First Past the Post constituency-based system it was never able to concentrate its vote in one electorate and thus win even one seat. Therefore despite a comparatively large and active membership, and a very professional election campaign in 1978, its vote dropped to just over 2% as voters attempted (unsuccessfully) to rid the country of conservative Prime Minister Rob Muldoon by voting Labour. Values was also torn by internal strife about its political orientation - it was difficult having to invent Green politics before the term 'Green' was even coined (by the German Greens when they contested their first national level election in 1980).


As you see they were founded at around the time of the initial population bomb, oil-running-out, ice-man cometh panics. They achieved a level of vote that would have got them a place in parliament (just) under a proportional representation system that wouldn't be instituted for another 20 years (great effort that). It is interesting to note the description of Rob Muldoon as a conservative PM. Granted he was the National party leader, but was for all intents and purposes a traditional socialist with all sorts of loopy command economy policies. The rest of the history isn't terribly interesting but from here one gets the idea of where their ideologies lie (zero-everything).

Now returning to the present, their web pages is a treasure trove of moonbattiness. Witness the NEW item on the front page, Peak Oil. You can already see where this is going to lead. Let's go there anyway. The intro consists of:

Our oil consumption has been so extravagant that we have used up, in just one century, almost half of the planet’s cheaply available oil supply. When that half-way point is reached, it becomes physically impossible to increase production no matter how hard you pump. But demand will continue to rise. At the point that demand outstrips supply, oil prices will rise steadily. No-one can say for sure when, but independent, experienced petroleum geologists believe we may have less than ten years. The end of cheap oil is coming towards us and we are not ready. Only the Greens are planning for how to cope.

In JUST ONE CENTURY(!) half the planet's "cheaply available" oil has gone. Definition of half? Definition of cheap? There isn't one of course. And what on earth does "When that half-way point is reached, it becomes physically impossible to increase production no matter how hard you pump" mean? You can increase production, there is nothing magical about the halfway point, you cannot keep that production up forever of course but that is true of any level of production/extraction if the source is finite. Only the Greens can save us!!!

From this page you can link to a few other articles, mostly filled with scare-mongering dressed up as analysis and fact. For instance, from a submission on Appropriations Bill Third Reading, we see the following range of comments:

The media by and large don’t understand what is going on, so most New Zealanders don’t either. The Chch Press says it is “driven by the situation in the Middle East”. It isn’t, actually – the war in Iraq is driven by the shortage of oil, not the other way round. Serious supply disruptions which knock out a major supplier would be likely to take the price to $100 or more according to Deusche Bank.

The media are idiots (OK, granted by and large) therefore the public are ignorant. Make your own mind up about that one. War in Iraq driven by oil? Typical leftist fantasy.

No, the recent price rises are about demand – increasing demand in virtually every country, including a 40% year on year increase in China, the second largest oil importer. That rising demand is against a background of gradual depletion. US oilfields passed their peak and have declined since 1970; NZ oilfields passed their peak around 1986 and have declined steeply since; world oil supply is expected to peak in the next decade if it hasn’t already done so. Only hindsight will tell us exactly when.

Something factual for a change, China's influence on prices. But then US oilfields peaked in 1970? Only because of the extraordinarily severe restrictions on new drilling not because of a lack of oil, a common scenario in most developed countries. Why explore new fields when it is still cheap from the Middle East and environmental restrictions make it impossible to prospect at home??

In another article:

Sources within the industry predict that oil production will peak and start to decline sometime in the coming decade. This outlook is based on the same analytical methods that correctly predicted in the 50s that reserves in the continental US would peak and trail off in the mid 70s.

Again the claim of a lack of oil in the US. I guess Alaskan oil fields are somehow not on the continent and the Mexican fields aren't "US" by definition. Correctly predicted? They foresaw cheap Saudi oil and excessive curbs on US production?

But most curiously there is:

"The prospect of more expensive oil is the principle reason the US invaded Iraq, the country with the largest remaining oil deposits. George Bush himself may well believe his invasion-rhetoric, but the wider ruling class in the US knows full well that their political survival relies on putting off the day when Americans’ insatiable demand for cheap oil can no longer be fulfilled,” said Ms Fitzsimons.

"George Bush himself may well believe his invasion-rhetoric", hmmm, I wouldn't go professing that W might actually believe in freedom and all that, it might do some damage to the leftist meme of a neocon-oildrinking-babykilling monster. "Wider ruling class", well the Green party is full of Marxists after all, need to preach to the choir on occasion. I think the prospect of more expensive oil as the reason not to go to war is a better description, at least for France and Russia. Wouldn't it be easier to obtain cheaper oil by overturning all the anti-drilling legislation in the US to allow use of their existing oil? Oh sorry, I forgot they don't have any left, do they? Or by leaving Saddam in power and giving him nice treatment in exchange for cheap oil? That sounds like a more plausible scenario for ruthless neocons with no morals and an insatiable appetite for oil. I dunno, maybe that invasion-rhetoric was, you know, mostly accurate?

There are also two links to non-Green publications. The first is something of a repetition of the theme, and also possibly the source of the odd 50% claim above:

Consider too the Meadows' analogy: should a water weed start growing in a pond, tiny at first, but doubling in size each day, on the day that only 50% of the pond surface is covered, it is one day away from suffocation.

Consider too a situation where growth is 100% over each period. Compare this to an economy and demonstrate why this analogy is a pile of stinky stuff.

The second is a rather incoherent article, from the Christchurch Press (possibly the source of the citation mentioned above). The most telling sentence comes at the end

Personally, I’m not too scared of New Zealand ending up with a standard of living equivalent
to the late 1960’s, which was an era of full employment and relative wealth.

Err. The 1960s? In an economy booming on exports to Britain and fuelled by cheap oil? How on earth does he plan to return to that when the entire article has been advocating local production/consumption and drastically limiting foreign trade??

But the real ideology is found in another article not specifically about "peak oil":

“Those who focus on economics as a measure of everything simply don’t understand that … a majority of Kiwis would trade some income and wealth for better quality of life,” Ms Fitzsimons said. New Zealanders defined a better quality of life in terms of the social and environmental conditions in which they live, she said.

It seems to me that Ms Fitzsimons has no idea of what economics is. If people want to trade income and wealth for "better quality of life" then they are (or should be) free to do so. That IS economics for god's sake!

“That is why the country, and a Labour government, needs the Greens to protect our land, our water, our air, our food, and the other creatures we share the planet with. Labour on its own can’t be trusted to do that.”

And there it is. You are all to dim to know how much income and wealth you want to trade off against quality of life or whatever. You need us to do it for you. We have the answers for we are those endowed with the special insight lacking in you mere mortals. Sit back and relax, we will put everything in order and you need not worry about a thing, not a thing. There is something quaint in a party telling the Labour party that they are not intrusive enough. It is also enough to make you run a mile, to try and keep up with your disappearing liberties and freedom of choice.

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