New Zealand tops 2019 Human Freedom Index

We mightn’t be quite as healthy as some other countries – see World’s healthiest countries (NZ ranked 18th) – but we are ranked top of a Freedom index.

Cato Institute: Human Freedom Index

Top ten:

Thee bottom countries were Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Venezuela and Syria.

New Zealand was also ranked top of the 2018 index, up from 3rd in 2017 (3rd also in 2017, 5th in 2016).

The Human Freedom Index presents the state of human freedom in the world based on a broad measure that encompasses personal, civil, and economic freedom. Human freedom is a social concept that recognizes the dignity of individuals and is defined here as negative liberty or the absence of coercive constraint. Because freedom is inherently valuable and plays a role in human progress, it is worth measuring carefully. The Human Freedom Index is a resource that can help to more objectively observe relationships between freedom and other social and economic phenomena, as well as the ways in which the various dimensions of freedom interact with one another.

The report is co-published by the Cato Institute, the Fraser Institute, and the Liberales Institut at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

The Human Freedom Index – 2019

The index published here presents a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. This fifth annual index uses 76 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas:

  • Rule of Law

  • Security and Safety

  • Movement

  • Religion

  • Association, Assembly, and Civil Society

  • Expression and Information

  • Identity and Relationships

  • Size of Government

  • Legal System and Property Rights

  • Access to Sound Money

  • Freedom to Trade Internationally

  • Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business

Full Report PDF

Country Profiles PDF

2019 was second warmest year on record

The heating up of the world seems too be confirmed by 2019 records (and debate is likely to remain hot).

AFP: 2019 second hottest year on record

The year 2019 was the second hottest ever recorded and a virtual tie with 2016, the warmest El Nino year, the European Union’s climate monitor says in its round up of the hottest decade in history.

Data released by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) showed that worldwide temperatures were just 0.04 degrees Celsius lower than 2016, when temperatures were boosted 0.12 degrees Celsius by a once-in-a-century El Nino natural weather event.

The five last years have been the hottest on record, and the period of 2010-2019 was the hottest decade since records began, C3S said.

Globally temperatures in 2019 were 0.6 Celsius warmer than the 1981-2010 average. Earth’s temperature over the last five years was 1.1C-1.2C warmer than pre-industrial times.

The year was just 0.04C cooler than 2016, which saw temperatures boosted by a once-in-a-century strength El Nino.

– ‘Alarming signs’ –

C3S also said that atmospheric carbon concentrations continued to rise in 2019, reaching their highest levels on record.

CO2 concentrations are now the highest they have been for at least 800,000 years.

Last year saw the most pronounced warming in Alaska and other parts of the Arctic, as well as large swathes of eastern and southern Europe, southern Africa, and Australia.

In Europe all seasons were warmer than average, with several countries registering both summer and winter temperature highs. December 2019 was 3.2C warmer than the 1981-2010 reference period, C3S said.

Australia was also three degrees hotter than historic averages in December, its Bureau of Meteorology said.

Drought and high temperatures in Australia have contributed to a catastrophic fire season which continue unabated – Fire danger increases again in Victoria as conditions worsen

Rising temperatures, dry lightning and a wind change are expected to cause fires to flare up and even spark new blazes this afternoon, as communities in East Gippsland and the north-east barely begin to count their losses.

Prior to 2019 being added to the warmest year records: The 10 Hottest Global Years on Record

The 10 Hottest Global Years on Record

2019 will add to that at just below 2016, making the ten hottest years now all in this century, with the five hottest being the last five years 2015-2019.

RNZ: The places in New Zealand for which 2019 was the warmest year on record

Parts of New Zealand experienced their warmest year on record in 2019, with some records going back more than a 150 years.

Across the country, the Chatham Islands lead the way, recording temperatures 1.7 degrees above average.

The Chathams started recording their temperatures in 1878, and have never had a year warmer than 2019.

Local fisherman Jamie Lanauze said kingfish, which were common further north, were being seen more often in the Chathams.

The islands weren’t wasn’t alone – Blenheim, Dunedin, Rotorua and Invercargill all had record years.

Back on the mainland near Dunedin – which also had its warmest year since records began 1867 – fishermen are noticing the changes.

Port Chalmers Fishermen’s Co-operative Society president Ant Smith said the fishing quota system needed to reflect the effects of climate change, and believed that was currently not the case.

In the deep south, Invercargill was one degree above it’s average temperature of 8.9 degrees, its warmest since year since records began in 1911.

Rising sea temperatures will have particularly affected the Chatham Islands.

The last five winters or so have been noticeably less cold (fewer frosts and snow) than in the past in Dunedin.

  • Chatham Islands 1.7 degrees above average (records began 1878)
  • Blenheim 1.2 degrees above average (records began 1932)
  • Dunedin 1.1 degrees above average (records began 1867)
  • Rotorua 1.1 degrees above average (records began 1886)
  • Invercargill 1.0 degree above average (records began 1911)

Most admired in the US – Trumps and Obamas

Gallup does an annual poll on the most admired people in the US. The Obamas and the Trumps come out on top again – Obama, Trump Tie as Most Admired Man in 2019

Most admired woman:

  1. Michelle Obama 10%
  2. Melania Trump 5%
  3. Oprah Winfrey 3%
  4. Hillary Clinton 3%
  5. Greta Thunberg 3%
  6. Queen Elizabeth 2%
  7. Nancy Pelosi 2%
  8. Ruth Bader Ginsburg 2%
  9. Elizabeth Warren 1%
  10. Angela Merkel 1%
    Nikki Halley 1%

Clinton was ‘most admired’ woman from 2002-2017. Obama has been most admired for the last two years.

Most admired man:

  1. Barack Obama 18%
  2. Donald Trump 18%
  3. Jimmy Carter 2%
    Eion Musk 2%

Bernie Sanders is 7th, Adam Schiff is 8th. Joe Biden as barely featured.


View complete question responses and trends.

Last day of 2019

It is the last day of 2019 – in New Zealand and a few other countries at this time, as Earth rolls around it will become 31 December in other countries around the world.

In the whole scheme of things a calendar date is not significant, but in modern western societies it prompts a bit of partying and fireworks before requiring us to remember to use a different year on our dates.

I went to Dunedin’s Octagon celebrations and fireworks a few times in the past but haven’t done that for a few years, it has lost it’s appeal. To me New Years Eve is just another evening, and I usually go to bed around about the time the sun sets, and rise around about when it rises (when I got up this morning the sun was just starting to show over the hills of Otago Peninsula),

We have seven family guests staying this year, but with three being children (6-10 years) it is likely to be a quiet evening and tomorrow will be the same as the last couple of weeks, up early. I usually get up first to organise quiet morning activities to give parents a few chances to sleep in, something they don’t get to do for most of the year.

Weather here has been very patchy over the last few weeks, but this morning is clear and sunny, with temperatures in the mid twenties expected. Good for a trip to the beach. We just need to decide which beach, there’s about a dozen good choices here. Kids probably means caves and rock pools.

As I have already posted, today is the last day of the decade – End of a decade

It’s New Year Honours time. ODT (NZH): NZ ‘better place because of them’

Overall, 180 New Zealanders, split evenly between men and women, have been recognised for their involvement in the arts and media, business and economics, education, health, sport, community, science and technology and services to the state.

Outgoing All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has a knighthood for his services to rugby and Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua is one of the country’s newest dames.

They are joined by Dr Anna Crighton, who has been made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to heritage preservation and governance in her bid to fight to save historic and protected buildings, and Prof Marilyn Waring, who is recognised for services to women and economics.

Sir Joe Williams, appointed the first Maori judge of the Supreme Court in May, has been made a knight, for services to judiciary, alongside Sir Robert Martin, recognised for more than 30 years’ service to people with learning disabilities.

Good for them I guess.


Words of the year – 2019

There’s  variety of words of the year.

Oxford Languages:

The Word of the Year 2019 is


‘a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it.’

Analysis of language data collected in the Oxford Corpus shows the rapid rise of climate emergency from relative obscurity to becoming one of the most prominent – and prominently debated – terms of 2019.

Runners up:

  • Climate action
    Actions taken by an individual, organization, or government  to reduce or counteract the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse  gases, in order to limit the effect of global warming on the earth’s climate
  • Climate crisis
    A situation  characterized by the threat of highly dangerous, irreversible changes to the  global climate
  • Climate denial
    The rejection of the proposition that climate change caused by human activity is occurring or that it constitutes a significant threat to human welfare and civilisation
  • Eco-anxiety
    Extreme worry about current and future harm to the environment caused by human activity and climate change
  • Ecocide
    Destruction of the natural environment by deliberate or negligent human action
  • Extinction
    The fact or process of a species, family, or other group of animals or plants becoming extinct
  • Flight shame
    A reluctance to travel by air, or discomfort at doing so, because of the damaging emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants by aircraft
  • Global heating
    A term adopted in place of ‘global warming’ to convey the seriousness of changes in the climate caused by human activity and the urgent need to address it
  • Net-zero
    A target of completely negating the amount of greenhouse gases produced by human activity, to be achieved by reducing emissions and implementing methods of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
  • Plant-based
    (Of food or a diet) consisting largely of vegetables, grains, pulses, or other foods derived from plants, rather than animal products

There’s  bit of  theme there. Obviously there has been substantially more interest in climate related issues this year.

Meriam Webster:


Our Word of the Year for 2019 is they. It reflects a surprising fact: even a basic term—a personal pronoun—can rise to the top of our data. Although our lookups are often driven by events in the news, the dictionary is also a primary resource for information about language itself, and the shifting use of they has been the subject of increasing study and commentary in recent years. Lookups for they increased by 313% in 2019 over the previous year.


  • Quid pro quo
    We define quid pro quo as “something given or received for something else,” and “a deal arranging a quid pro quo.” The literal translation from New Latin is “something for something.”
  • Impeach
    “to charge (a public official) before a competent tribunal with misconduct in office”
  • Crawdad
    Delia Owens, the first-time novelist whose Where the Crawdads Sing made it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, was interviewed on CBS Sunday Morning, sending crawdad to the top of our searches with a spike of 1,200%.
    Crawdad is used mostly west of the Appalachians to refer to the aquatic animal that looks like a small lobster and lives in rivers and streams—that is, to what’s also known as a crawfish or crayfish.
  • Egrerious
    “conspicuously bad”
  • Clemency
    “willingness or ability to moderate the severity of a punishment (such as a sentence)” and “an act or instance of mercy, compassion, or forgiveness.”
  • The
    The Ohio State University filed a trademark application in August for the word the with the U.S. Patent Office, in order to protect new branding logos that emphasize the “The” that is part of the official (some say pretentious) name of the institution—and the spiked 500%.
  • Snitty
    Snitty flew to the top of the dictionary lookups in May, increasing by 150,000%, when Attorney General William Barr used the word to describe a letter sent to him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
  • Tergiversation
    “evasion of straightforward action or clear-cut statement,” or “desertion of a cause, position, party, or faith”
  • Camp
    …what inspired the lookups: a gala event celebrating “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” the newly-opened fashion exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Exculpate
    The word exculpate is defined as “to clear from alleged fault or guilt.” It traces back to Latin culpa, meaning “blame,” also the source of culpable, which means “meriting condemnation or blame especially as wrong or harmful.”

That list looks very USA orientated.


“of or relating to existence” or

“concerned with the nature of human existence as determined by the individual’s freely made choices.” First recorded by the early 1900s, this existential is related to existentialism, a philosophy that affirms our individual agency in making meaningful, authentic choices about our lives.

Notable among searches was existential, which we’ve chosen as our Word of the Year for 2019. It captures a sense of grappling with the survival—literally and figuratively—of our planet, our loved ones, our ways of life.

Runner-up word:


Searches for nonbinary itself trended throughout the year after several celebrities publicly identified themselves as nonbinary, including singer Sam Smith and Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness. So did searches about another area of increasing visibility and inclusion in culture in 2019: diversity of sexual orientation. The terms omnisexual and pansexual, which can express sexual attraction to or activity with people of any sexual orientation gender identity, trended, for example, after Bella Thorne shared about their sexuality in the media.

There is a local word of the year which is quite lame in comparison.

Public Address:

OK Boomer

Public Address readers have chosen “OK Boomer” as their Word of the Year for 2019, causing emergency support services to scramble in anticipation of a wave of injured feelings among New Zealanders over 55.

“I’m really terribly sorry this has happened and I just hope the system can cope with what’s coming as a result,” says Public Address owner Russell Brown. “I mean, you saw what happened after Chloe Swarbrick dropped an ‘OK Boomer’ in Parliament – it was carnage. There were feelings injuries recorded on the other side of the world!

“I implore those affected to please just stay in the house you own until someone can get to you – if there’s more than one, try and pick the one that renters aren’t living in. Please also be aware that if you run out of food there’s an 0800 number you can call and there’ll be someone on the line to explain to you what Uber Eats is.

“I’m technically possibly a Boomer myself, so I understand the pain and confusion people will be feeling over this. Just know that we’ll get through it together.”

That blurb is even more lame than the term, which was used once on Parliament and then got a bit of publicity in some parts of social media.

It’s a fairly petty and some say divisive word. Chloe just used it as an off the cuff retort in an exchange in Parliament, but it was picked up on and promoted by some who seemed to think it trendy to dump on a demographic.

  1. OK Boomer
  2. They Are Us
  3. Ihumātao
  4. Reeferendum
  5. As-Salaam-Alaykum
  6. Climate Emergency

This list isn’t representative of Aotearoa, it was suggested and discussed and voted on by a niche left wing blog so is derived quite differently than the major word companies of the world.

UK election

The UK election is under way. Polls close at 22:00 GMT (11:00 am NZT), with results due to come out this afternoon our time.

This follows elections in 2015 and 2017 and  tumultuous political period mainly due to the Brexit mess and  virtual hung parliament.

BBC – General election 2019: Voters head to polls across the UK

A total of 650 MPs will be chosen under the first-past-the-post system used for general elections, in which the candidate who secures the most votes in each individual constituency is elected.

Elections in the UK traditionally take place every four or five years. But, in October, MPs voted for the second snap poll in as many years. It is the first winter election since 1974 and the first to take place in December since 1923.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cast his vote – he visited a polling station in central London, taking his dog, Dilyn, along with him, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn posed for pictures when he went to vote in north London.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon visited a polling station in Glasgow, while Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson cast her vote at a polling station in East Dunbartonshire, accompanied by her husband Duncan Hames.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price voted in Carmarthenshire and Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley did so in south London.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has used a postal vote.

A post at The Standard by Bill hopes that a late surge of young voter registrations will favour Corbyn and Labour – The Missing Millions.

As Zoe Williams reported in yesterday’s Guardian, none of the predictions flowing from any poll used in the UK incorporates the 4 million new registrations from this year. As she points out, most of those new registrations are from ‘young’ people who are far more likely to vote Labour.

That leaves four million, (registrations in 2019) the majority of whom are young. Even while various pollsters are happy to predict that they will break 2:1 Labour (which is actually quite a cautious estimate: if they’re young, they turn out and they vote tactically, the Labour share could be higher), they have so far been unwilling to build these voters into their predictions.

By my reckoning that’s about 10% of the total number of people who are eligible to vote that have been ‘blanked’ by polling companies.”

I’m almost left scratching my head as to why publication after publication has been been making robust predictions of a Tory victory and a Labour loss based on polling. And here’s the rub. I’m persuaded the predictions are driven by ideology and the polls merely offer cover for that fact.

We’ve heard similar dreams of election miracles and claims of poll and media plots here in the past.

But swordfish suggests Bill’s hopes may be fanciful.

Be nice to think so … but I strongly suspect Zoe is catering to those clutching at straws, Labour having proven unable to narrow the Tory lead over the final week to the extent that supporters would’ve liked.

I think she’s probably wrong for the following reasons:

(1) She is clearly influenced by the widely-held assumption that a similar  Youthquake occurred in 2017. The most authoritative research (by the British Election Study & separately by a few other academics) suggests this was largely a myth … essentially Tremors, yes, but no Youthquake (although the concept still remains popular with one or two Political Sociologists).

(2) My understanding is that Pollsters naturally incorporate newly-registered voters, (in the correct proportion) as they do everyone else, in their samples (& hence in their % & seat predictions).

And – in contrast to 2017, when they were aggressively down-weighting younger voters – almost all UK Pollsters are currently basing their turnout models on respondents self-reported likelihood of voting. Hence, any assumed lower turnout by younger age-groups will be down to a larger proportion of young respondents telling pollsters they’re less likely to vote than people in older age groups.

(3)  Zoe has probably exaggerated the number of new registrations. Chaminda Jayanetti has analysed newly-registered voters across a large number of constituencies (519) in recent days and suggests a much more modest increase – certainly nowhere near 4 million.

(4) Jayanetti certainly argues that newly-registered voters could play a key role in the outcome of up to 20-30 marginals.

But he emphasises that the data compiled from 519 constituencies across the UK, including most battleground constituencies, shows the largest increases in registered voters are generally not located where Labour needs them most – ie in its Red Wall of Northern & Midlands Leave-voting Marginals. The greatest rises tend to be in Metro & student-heavy seats, many of them Labour strongholds & near-strongholds.

Of the 26 most marginal (read: absolute knife-edge) seats in the latest YouGov MRP model predictions … only 9 (according to Jayanetti’s detailed analysis) have experienced the sort of mild-to-significant increases in new registrations that could prove decisive. And of the 41 next-most-marginal, just 1 is showing the sort of substantial rise needed to play a crucial role.

What’s more, a lot of marginals have actually experienced a fall in registered voters. For example, all 4 of the Labour-held marginals in West Yorkshire (each of them a key Tory target) have registered a decline.

So that is some detailed analysis by swordfish, as opposed to cherry picking wishful thinking by Bill, plus predicted odds of various outcomes

I’d say Likelihood:

Small Tory majority: 50%

Larger Tory majority: 30%

Hung Parliament: 20%

David Farrar at Kiwiblog: Final UK projections

The four projection models are:

  • FocalData Cons majority 24
  • YouGov Cons majority 28
  • Electoral Calculus Cons majority 46
  • Savanta Cons majority 30

The seat projections are:

  • Conservative 337 to 349
  • Labour 226 to 235
  • SNP 41 to 45
  • Lib Dems 11 to 15

We should find out later today.




Whakaari/White Island eruption – images and videos

Whakaari/White Island erupted on 9 December 2019. It is regarded as New Zealand’s most active volcano, having erupted in 1975-2000, 2012-2013 and 2016.

As at the moment 8 people have been confirmed dead (it has just been announced that 2 more have died of injuries so up from 6) and 8 are still on the island, presumed dead. Over 20 survivors are in hospital suffering from severe burns.

White Island, showing the white clouds of highly acidic gases.

White Island, showing the white clouds of highly acidic gases. (Geonet)

Geonet About:

Sitting 48 km offshore, Whakaari/White Island is New Zealand’s most active cone volcano which has been built up by continuous volcanic activity over the past 150,000 years. About 70 percent of the volcano is under the sea, making this massive volcanic structure the largest in New Zealand.

A sulphur mining venture began on the island in 1885; this was stopped abruptly in 1914 when part of the crater wall collapsed, and a landslide destroyed the sulphur mine and miners’ village; twelve lives were lost. The remains of buildings from another mining episode in the 1920’s era are now a tourist attraction.

Although privately owned, Whakaari/White Island became a private scenic reserve in 1953, and daily tours allow more than 10,000 people to visit the volcano every year.

Previous Eruptions


White Island was in eruption from December 1975 to September 2000, the longest historic eruption episode. This eruption episode developed many collapse and explosion craters. For long periods active vents in these craters emitted volcanic ash. The last major eruption of this episode was in late July 2000 and covered the crater floor area in scoria, also displacing a crater lake and forming a new explosion crater 150 m across.


An explosive eruption occurred on 5 August 2012 with a period of ash emissions. This was followed by heating in the Crater Lake and the extrusion of a small lava dome Oct-Dec 2012.

Steam and sulphur explosions followed in Feb-April 2013 which removed the lake. By June the lake was re-established.

A further explosive eruption followed on 20 August and again on 4,8 and11 October 2013. In November 2015 a large landslide slipped into the lake.


On 27 April a short-lived eruption occurred in the evening. It deposited material all over the crater floor onto some of the crater walls. The eruption and associated small collapse of the lake edge also formed a new depression in the north east corner of the 1978/90 Crater Complex,.

In September, for a short period of time, ash was passively emitted from a vent on the 2012 lava dome.

From a tourist visit in 2017:

Michael Schade has posted a number of videos and and images from Monday’s eruption. He had toured the island half an hour before the eruption and took videos beefore, during and after the eruption from a boat that was leaving the island, but returned to pick up survivors who were on the island during the eruption.

It has been reported that the eruption was virtually silent from the boat.

Checked photo timestamps. Last photo from me standing on the land was 13:49; this first photo of the eruption was 14:12, about a minute or two into the eruption.


At it’s worst the ash, steam and gas cloud engulfed the island.


Survivors waiting on the landing area after the eruption, Some went into the sea to try to moderate the effect of their burns.

This helicopter was knocked off it’s landing pad:


The pilot and four passengers were evacuated by boat. They were not injured as much as most of those on the island.

Last photos: here are the White Island Tour operators rescuing people, timestamp 14:24 (~12-14 minutes after eruption). Endless gratitude to that crew for stepping up as first responders.



More from VOA:

This shows sulphur from the island streaked in the sea.

More tourist videos:

National Geographic details on the eruption:  Why the New Zealand volcano eruption caught the world by surprise

While there was no obvious sign of an imminent eruption on Monday seismic activity on the island has increased significantly since then, meaning recovery of bodies has had to be delayed.

Tour pelo vulcão White Island – New Zealand

Esse video tem por objetivo mostrar um pouco de como foi o tour pelo vulcão White Island antes e depois da erupção.

1 News Colmar Brunton poll – December 2019

What is likely to be the last political poll of the year, from 1 News/Colmar Brunton, has national in a strong position, and ACT rewarded for David Seymour’s work on the End of Life Choice Bill.

  • National 46% (down 1)
  • Labour 39% (down 1)
  • Greens 7% (no change)
  • NZ First 4% (no change)
  • ACT 2% (up 1)
  • The Opportunities Party 1%
  • New Conservatives 1%
  • Maori Party 1%

Don’t know or refused to answer – 17%

(Results rounded to the nearest whole number so small party results and movements can be exaggerated) .

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 36% (down 2)
  • Simon Bridges 10% (up 1)
  • Judith Collins 4% (up 1)
  • Winston Peters 3% (down 1)

Between November 23-27, 1006 eligible voters were polled by landline (504) and mobile phone (502). The maximum sampling error is approximately ±3.1%-points at the 95% confidence level. The data has been weighted to align with Stats NZ population counts.

Recent polls charted here:

Me too at U2 concert in Auckland

I went to the U2 concert in Auckland last night. This was their first gig in bout 2 years, kicking of Australian and Asian extension to their 2017 Joshua Tree tour that marked the 30th anniversary of the release of their most popular album.

And I must admit, it is one of my favourite albums too, so this was a looked forward to concert. I haven’t been to U2 before. I was booked to go to Auckland in 2006 but they postponed it, and I couldn’t make the rescheduled show.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds opened, and they were pretty good, with about eleven band members, but for me mostly unremarkable apart from being good solid rock.

The large crowd switched up quite a few notches when the U2 crew appeared on stage one by one. It wasn’t quite Beatlemania but a young women near me was adoringly gaga through the show, it was funny to see that sort of adulation close up. And we were close up, about 5 metres from the extended stage that they started playing on, almost touching the crowd physically and more than touching it emotionally.

They began with some pre-Joshua Tree hits with no visuals apart from lighting, the aim being to connect with the crowd, which they did very well.

They then moved back to the main stage to play through The Joshua Tree, backed by an enormous screen with amazing visuals. Which was just about all shorter people could see in the packed standing area. You don’t go to stadium concerts for box seat close up views and sublime sound – the sound system was very good, but when the crowd sings along to most of the songs you don’t hear everything with clarity.

For me the whole Joshua Tree segment was a highlight, I  thoroughly enjoyed it. The band are seasoned pros but looked like they were doing much more with their music than going through the motions. The buzz obviously keeps them going.

I was standing in the general admission area and far prefer the freedom to move, despite more obstructed views, than a seat in the stands along the sides of the stadium.

After The Joshua Tree they played one later song then waved and went off. It was obvious that there was going to be an ‘encore’, and this staged encore stuff annoys me a bit, and on this occasion the crowd generally didn’t buy into it. We just waited until they came back on and resumed.

The last few songs were good enough. Some people may have not liked the tribute to women in history and women’s liberation when they included Helen Clark, Jacinda Ardern and Pania Newtown, but I thought it was a fair enough expression of well researched local content.

They closed with One, and this featured a big tribute to the Christchurch mosque victims. Very well done and quite moving.

There was no chance of a real encore after that.

So for me a great concert by one of the great bands.

Unfortunately it was followed by a downer. Getting away from a big crowd venue can always be a bit of a hassle, but Mt Smart is the worst I have experienced. It seemed that just about all of the 45,000 or so crowd were leaving in the same direction, towards the Panmure train station. This was slow and at time (quite a bit of time) stalled waiting for trains.

U2 started just after 8:30 and played through until  bit after 10:30, but we didn’t get back to Britomart until after midnight. It was about 1:30 am that I finally got back to where I was staying. It had been a long day and that was a long letdown. I was seriously wondering whether I should go to the second concert tonight, tickets seem to be plentiful and cheap to try to fill the stadium, but the after gig experience has definitely decided me against that.

But I’m very glad I stuck with it this time and made it to the concert. Getting to it wasn’t without some hiccups. I had been quick off the mark and booked reasonable plane tickets and accommodation. Then a few weeks later Jetstar advised the flight time to Auckland was changed, making it too late for the concert. So I had to cancel that and book with air NZ, and by then they were over twice the price.

Then three weeks before the concert accommodation was cancelled – a tenant had apparently damaged it so it needed repairs. Hotels in the CBD were by now horrendous prices. I was fortunately able to chance upon somewhere else, which added an hour to after gig travel.

So I’m pleased I have finally been to see and hear U2, but some of the hassles around it won’t encourage me to come to Auckland for a concert gain.

Earth Overshoot Day – 29 July 2019

29 July 2019 has been calculated by Global Footprint Network as “the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

It’s worse for many countries, including New Zealand – they say that we used a year’s worth of resources on 9 May, well under half a year.

figure showing country overshoot days

While the trend has been flattening out over the last decade it has worsened substantially over the last four decades.

The calculation:

To determine the date of Earth Overshoot Day for each year, Global Footprint Network calculates the number of days of that year that Earth’s biocapacity suffices to provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint. The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot. Earth Overshoot Day is computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in a year:

(Planet’s Biocapacity Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day

Global Ecological Footprint and biocapacity metrics are calculated each year in the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts. Using UN statistics, these accounts incorporate the latest data and the most updated accounting methodology (the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts 2019 Edition feature 2016 data.) To estimate this year’s Earth Overshoot Day, Ecological Footprint and biocapacity are “nowcasted” to the current year using the latest data from additional sources, such as the Global Carbon Project.

While the actual dates could be quibbled about, I think that a valid and important point is being made – the human population and the way we live exceeds what our planet can cope with, by quite a margin. If this excess continues then Earth will suffer badly (more badly) – which means people and all creatures and plants will suffer. We may be able too carry on despite the damage we are contributing to, but bodes badly for our children and grandchildren.

It’s easy to dismiss this as not our problem, to say that it’s someone else’s problem, but that’s a part of the problem.

It won’t be quick or easy to turn things around, but there is growing attention being paid to at least making things less bd.,

Solutions to #MoveTheDate

From there, one suggestion from Gene Geveridge who is from the north of New Zealand:

Anecdotally there is interest in creating or joining a shared garden for the purpose of food production, food security, food education, and if possible ecological regeneration. Achieving some economy of scale, fostering community relationships and reducing food transport would be more general goals. Success depends on a few people with the right knowledge and experience and a wider group for man-power and to learn the ropes in time.

A setup similar to this could work:

That would have environmental as well as community benefits – but it’s remarkable that the right knowledge and experience to help people to learn the ropes to grow their own produce in a garden is seen as necessary. The knowledge and the practice of home gardening seems to have deteriorated alarmingly over the last half century.

I have a home garden and orchard, but could and should do a lot more. This is a project I will be working on more – on it’s own it will just make a tiny difference, but we need a lot of tiny differences to make a real difference.