Redesigning the economy and the climate change opportunists

We are experiencing major economic disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the actions of Governments around the world in locking countries and regions down. The effects of this will be felt for months and probably years. Some business and businesses will bounce back, but some, especially air travel and cruise ships (and tourism in general) – those that survive – will likely have a long and slow recovery. The numbers of unemployed have surged, the number of people going out of businesses is likely to also surge (we won’t find out until lockdowns ease off) and will drop only gradually.

Governments have been piling large amounts of money into financial support for personal and business and that looks likely to continue for a while at least.

We have had some minor murmurings for Ministers over future economic refocussing, but there’s no solid sign of what we have coming from Government, they are still in reactive rescue mode.

This is a very good opportunity to redesign the economic and social systems of countries, and the idealists and opportunists are already out pushing their favoured reforms.

Here are some suggestions being made by various lobbyists.

Russel Norman at Greenpeace: Climate change is harder to visualise than coronavirus, but no less dangerous

The Covid-19 Coronavirus has so far caused more than 145,000 deaths worldwide.

These are grim numbers from the World Health Organisation, the actual human suffering is impossible to measure.

By comparison, the WHO predicts that climate change will kill 250,000 people every year between 2030 and 2050.

A total of five million people. Starting in ten years’ time.

Given those figures, why does the global response to the climate crisis compared to Covid look like a tortoise versing a hare?

One of the crucial differences – Covid has been with us just over a hundred days. Climate Change became front page news more than 30 years ago.

The pandemic is much easier to see and visualise. It doesn’t affect us, it infects us. Watching those awful scenes of coffins piling up in Italy and mass graves in the US, you need little imagination to grasp the threat to you and your family.

By contrast we may feel that climate change is unlikely to kill us. A dangerous misconception.

The neoliberal argument against society acting collectively via the government is dead. As the Financial Times editorial put it recently: “Radical reforms — reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades — will need to be put on the table.

Governments will have to accept a more active role in the economy.”

Transforming agriculture, electrifying transport, embracing wind and solar power. We can do this.

Best of all we can start now. If we are going to spend 20 billion dollars stimulating the economy, let’s spend a bunch of that money on a Green Covid Response – infrastructure projects that hasten us towards a zero carbon future – rather than landing us slap bang in the middle of another existential crisis.

That was posted at The Standard on Friday and only got six comments – does this suggest there isn’t a lot of public support for the climate change switch, or Norman or Greenpeace?

Associate Professor Janet Stephenson, Director of the Centre for Sustainability at the University of Otago: Covid-19 has nothing on what’s coming

Covid-19 and its aftermath will be the greatest disruption that New Zealand has faced since at least the Great Depression in the 1930s.  It is already causing untold misery and trauma and will bring both economic hardship and health consequences for some years to come.

Yet these impacts will be trivial compared to the likely economic and social disruption if we continue to destroy the environment. Climate action failure, biodiversity loss, extreme weather, human-made environmental disasters and water crises are five of the top 10 global risks identified by the World Economic Forum in 2020. Infectious diseases are just one more.

The sudden shock of the coronavirus pandemic has shown how quickly governments and societies can act to deal with an imminent existential threat. We’ve been able to make massive personal and business sacrifices to respond to this emergency. Lockdown is working and even greater costs, and deaths, are being avoided.

But at the same time, like frogs oblivious to a pot of heating water, we’re failing to take serious action to avoid the slow-boiling yet increasingly visible emergencies caused by human over-consumption, over-exploitation and radical destabilisation of natural systems. These are existential threats but, like the frogs, we are failing to make the leap.

This is our chance to kick-start a shift to a sustainable future. A chance to safeguard future generations, to re-design our direction, to define a new normal and make it our way of life. To re-lay our track unerringly to a sustainable future so that the young among us can face it with confidence and their elders can leave it to them without regret.

Right now, we have an unprecedented opportunity to re-set our direction to a sustainable future. But it won’t happen unless visions are translated into actions that align with all seven whetū, not just the one or two that seem easiest.

Allbirds’ Tim Brown: How Covid-19 will help us unite against the climate crisis

New Zealand has made solid progress towards declaring goals for developing a carbon zero economy but now has an opportunity to accelerate the urgency of that action. We can build on the collaboration between business and government in the face of Covid-19 to imagine closer partnerships to tackle climate change. The primary industries must be brought into that conversation not as a roadblock to progress but as a potential source of the solution with innovation and regenerative farming practices aligned around carbon reduction initiatives.

Let’s use the challenges of this moment to propel us not back to normal but forward to something better.

Rod Oram: A message for the timid, fearful and selfish

If we want a better future, we’ll have to fight for it. Better means for all people and the planet. Fight means to overcome, by all ethical means, those seeking a return to the pre-Covid status quo.

Many people hope such profound improvement is underway. The great rupture caused by the virus makes blindingly obvious the weaknesses of our economic, social, political and ecological relationships; yet it also shows us how people can come together to cope with the coronavirus epidemic in ways magnificent, creative and effective.

– From the Yunus Centre in the business school at Griffith University in Brisbane comes a model for developing a regenerative economy. “Stimulus and rescue measures will be critical to recovery. We have a choice about how to shape these measures however. We could apply rescue measures that seek to get us back to where we were and likely achieve a degraded ‘business-as-usual’ economy, with a significant fiscal hole to fill,” the Centre writes.

“Or, we could intentionally design these measures to reshape our economy for recovery plus regeneration. This would mean an economy in better shape to withstand the longer term effects of the pandemic, and also deliver a broader range of outcomes for people, places and planet into the future.”

– From Volans, the British sustainability adviser to global corporates, long-led by John Elkington, comes the Tomorrow’s Capitalism InquiryIt aims “to accelerate the emergence of a regenerative economic system where companies thrive because their business model – and financial value – is inextricably linked to creating social and environmental value.”

– From Kate Raworth, the British economist, comes a city-scale application of her work on regenerative business, economic, social and ecological systems. This draws on, and takes to a deeper level, her insights in her 2017 book Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist.

The conversation between the three of them is essential watching for anyone wanting to help create our better future. Hopefully it might also persuade the timid, fearful and selfish that they too can contribute to and benefit from this vital project.

I don’t think that labeling people with alternate views as timid, fearful and selfish is a great way to gain wider support, but there could be a groundswell of public support for radical change that becomes unstoppable.

There’s obviously a lot of lobbying ramping up. The Government will be busy just dealing with Covid, but may also be able to be influenced in what they may do with their economic and social recovery plans.

I presume there are other lobbyists promoting other policy directions.

It’s important that if there are significant changes in policy directions being considered that the wider public are included in discussions and decisions, and there isn’t some sort of reform by stealth going on.

 

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61 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  26th April 2020

    the old and the boomers don’t give a shit about climate change.
    Life is good and whats left of it will be enjoyed on their own terms.

    This is a very influential chohort in elections too,they actually vote.

    The NZ National party are and always have been lukewarm to CC.
    It interferes with business/profits and their tried and true pragmatism prevails….i.e-‘kick the can down the road’.
    Let someone else worry about it will eventually hit home…its just a question of..when.

    Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  26th April 2020

    Again:
    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.

    H. L. Mencken

    Still true.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  26th April 2020

      So you dislike Democracy,dislike Totalitarianism,dislike Socialism,dislike Dictatorships,dislike MMP…what do you suggest…give everyone a gun and FREEDOM from communal..law!

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  26th April 2020

        I would start by giving everyone a brain, B. You could be at the front of the queue. Democracy is fine given constitutional protection for the individual against the majority.

        Reply
    • Duker

       /  26th April 2020

      HL Mencken

      “As an admirer of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, he was an outspoken opponent of organized religion, theism, populism, and representative democracy, the latter of which he viewed as systems in which inferior men dominated their superiors.[2] Mencken was a supporter of scientific progress, and was critical of osteopathy and chiropractic. He was also an ardent critic of economics.

      Wikipedia
      War is a good thing,” he once wrote, “because it is honest, it admits the central fact of human nature … A nation too long at peace becomes a sort of gigantic old maid.
      in other words a quasi fascist , and he stayed in the House his parent built in Baltimore for his whole life –except for the 5 years he was married
      There was some anti semitism as well , which I wont repeat here.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  26th April 2020

        Deeply suspicious he lived in his family home, Duker. Never miss a chance to play the man rather than the ball, do you?

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  26th April 2020

          Produce your evidence then Al.
          You quote Mencken ,the realisation that his politics actually do not align with your own is quite..delicious. 🙂

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  26th April 2020

            He was a libertarian so they do in as much as different era are comparable. And that is anyway irrelevant as to the accuracy of his observation.

            The gross failures of public health authorities to protect the vulnerable as well as the economy will as usual be greeted by calls to give them more money and power rather than less. The very definition of insanity.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  26th April 2020

              very convincing ..Al… ;(..btw…What country can you point to that fits your model?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  26th April 2020

              Too soon to tell, B. This movie will take some time to play out and show who learnt what and adjusted best.

            • Blazer

               /  26th April 2020

              so after over 70 years of living on this planet ….!!…are you disappointed or over joyed that you can change your philosophies in life based on economic advantage or lack of?
              p.s ..won’t be expecting another Mencken quote..anytime ..soon.Bol.

            • Blazer

               /  26th April 2020

              @ Al ..so after over 70 years of living on this planet ….!!…are you disappointed or over joyed that you can change your philosophies in life based on economic advantage or lack of?
              p.s ..won’t be expecting another Mencken quote..anytime ..soon.Bol.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  26th April 2020

              Feast on this one then, B:

              Socialism is the theory that the desire of one man to get something he hasn’t got is more pleasing to a just God than the desire of some other man to keep what he has got.

              H L Mencken

            • Blazer

               /  26th April 2020

              en guarde..Al…
              ‘Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate’. Bertrand Russell

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  26th April 2020

              The libertarian principle of liberty is constrained by the avoidance of significant harm to others.

            • Blazer

               /  26th April 2020

              degrees of harm now!…meaningless platitudes.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  26th April 2020

              Hardly. Everyone’s life depends on that judgement.

            • Duker

               /  26th April 2020

              Picketty
              The growth of wealth from just buying assets is greater than that from working for it.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  26th April 2020

              Not at present, Duker.

            • Blazer

               /  26th April 2020

              remaindered the sentiments of the Hippocratic oath….with the escape clause…we decide what is and is not significant…’we will bomb you back to the Stone Age’…thanks.

            • Blazer

               /  26th April 2020

              yes at present too Al.
              Since the late 80’s at least.

      • Duker

         /  26th April 2020

        Wilco I mentioned him staying in his parents house …a little personal thing which shows a little glimpse of him as essentially a crackpot who was a good writer….they leave their mark on history but so does the ring around the bathtub

        Reply
  3. david in aus

     /  26th April 2020

    I hope that COVID19 informs the climate change debate, but not in the conventional sense.

    People can see the modelling errors and assumptions made with COVID19 spread and of the mitigation/suppression measures. Modelling for COVID19 is much simpler than climate change and its effects. The variables and permutations are vastly more complicated for climate change. People should look back on the predictions made and compare them to actual data.

    Hopefully, people will develop a more critical eye on the climate change debate now they see the pitfalls of modelling and assumptions. But I am not holding my breath.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  26th April 2020

      Pleased to see the C19 is done and dusted an open and shut case….with all lessons learned.,..whew!! what a relief.

      Reply
      • david in aus

         /  26th April 2020

        @Blazer. Perhaps like the science around Climate Change is settled. Hopefully, this will open minds.

        Reply
    • david in aus

       /  26th April 2020

      This is to say greenhouse gases do cause global warming, this is a fact. But the degree of warming, the mitigation efforts, the economic displacement incurred, the degree of action is analogous to COVID19.

      Hopefully, this primes the population for a more complicated debate and not based on slogans.

      Reply
    • oldlaker

       /  26th April 2020

      One thing the Covid-19 pandemic has shown is that science is never settled. The cacophony of the views of different epidemiologists and experts is overwhelming. Maybe when the dust settles, we’ll look at the claim that the science around climate change being settled (97 per cent consensus!) is fantastical and entirely rigged.

      Reply
      • I’m not sure that 97% of scientists think that the science around climate change is settled. There’s still a heap of research and measurement going on that suggests it’s far from settled, which is fairly obvious for something as complex as climate.

        What is decided by a large majority of climate scientists (and accepted by many governments, and almost magnanimously by political parties in the New Zealand Parliament) is that the human effect on the climate is certain, and we have to reduce that effect to avoid what would otherwise probably be significant if not calamitous effects of climate change on parts of the world and potentially overall on the whole world.

        That’s nothing like ‘science is settled’.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  26th April 2020

          Universal or official mendacity – like you have described isnt a new thing . After all ( historically) To Lie is to be human.

          “Universal mendacity, said Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, was the only safe form of existence.” The believers in Climate Alarmism only follow and repeat it because its ‘safe’

          Reply
  4. David

     /  26th April 2020

    Good luck when you have 15% unemployment and your focus is on being 0.5 degrees less warm in 30 years time when you live in one of the least polluted countries on earth.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  26th April 2020

      the ‘not as bad as…’ argument is pathetic and an indictment on your intelligence ..David.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  26th April 2020

        The argument for wrecking your economy when no-one else is wrecking theirs is what is pathetic, B.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  26th April 2020

          which country does not have lockdown Al….and I’m sure your workers at the Art shop aren’t…complaining?

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  26th April 2020

            I referenced climate alarmism. However, re lockdown there seem to be a range. I’m sure you can do your own research.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  26th April 2020

              o.k re reference the same question ton CC…how are we wrecking our economy……’?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  26th April 2020

              We are not sufficiently yet. That is what the likes of Russel Norman are complaining about.

            • Blazer

               /  26th April 2020

              so you’re getting ahead of yourself in the interests of radiating positivity….commendable Al…maybe too much ..acid in the diet.Try dilution with honey and apple cider ..vinegar.

  5. Pink David

     /  26th April 2020

    The comical part of this is the idea an economy can be designed.

    Reply
  6. Pink David

     /  26th April 2020

    “I don’t see that as being very funny.”

    The idea of designing an economy killed many hundreds of millions, of course it’s funny.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  26th April 2020

      you have a very dark SOH to say the…least.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  26th April 2020

        In the face of loony Lefty stupidity it is laugh or cry.

        Reply
      • Pink David

         /  26th April 2020

        Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  26th April 2020

          save the economy…or die ..trying.

          Reply
          • Pink David

             /  26th April 2020

            Don’t we all die trying?

            Of course we want to save the economy, The economy is people, and how they interact.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  26th April 2020

              on that basis saving people from an early death is the correct policy,because the economy being ‘people’ will just…adapt.

            • Pink David

               /  26th April 2020

              Of course it will adapt. That is the wonderful thing about it.

              It’s simply a question of how many people you want to die for you to save these people from an early death. it would also be helpful if you actually saved a few people from an early death in exchange for all the other you will kill. At the moment, the deal appears to be a very large number dying in exchange for saving no one.

            • Blazer

               /  26th April 2020

              so long as the economy will be o.k why worry…the economy is ‘people’ .

            • Pink David

               /  26th April 2020

              Where did I say the economy would be ‘ok’?

              Nazino Island had an economy, I’m not sure it’s your desired vision for the future.

  7. Blazer

     /  26th April 2020

    ‘Of course it will adapt. That is the wonderful thing about it.’

    Never heard of your..island.

    Reply
    • Griff.

       /  26th April 2020

      Nazino Island was a true free market economy .
      No effective government just like Somalia another free market shit hole.

      Reply
    • Pink David

       /  26th April 2020

      “Never heard of your..island.”

      Here you go, an economy under lockdown.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazino_affair

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  26th April 2020

        and 40 years later…military base required…
        ‘The depopulation of Chagossians from the Chagos Archipelago was the forced expulsion of the inhabitants of the island of Diego Garcia and the other islands of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) by the United Kingdom, at the request of the United States, beginning in 1968 and concluding on 27 April 1973 with the evacuation of Peros Banhos atoll.[1][2] The people, known at the time as the Ilois,[3] are today known as Chagos Islanders or Chagossians.[4]’

        Reply
        • Pink David

           /  27th April 2020

          So something truly horrible happened in the Soviet Union, so you ‘refute’ this with something not very good done by the US 40 years later?

          Doesn’t a forced expulsion of a native population ‘for the greater good’ rank about the same level as a nation forcing people to stay under house arrest?

          Reply

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