Radical Adaptation: How to live in the world global warming is changing.



IT IS NOW CLEAR that the great powers are unwilling to take the steps necessary to prevent Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). In the leading capitalist states a consolidation of plutocratic political control has rendered meaningful public action impracticable. The scope for action on AGW in China remains uncertain. On the one hand, the Communist Party leadership regards the current economic model as crucial to the maintenance of social peace. On the other hand, the CP’s scientific advisers, unlike their colleagues in the West, still command a significant measure of credibility and respect. It is possible that a policy of radical adaptation to AGW may yet emerge from the People’s Republic.

Radical adaptation to AGW is, however, the best the peoples of the world can hope for, and they need to understand that its global application is unlikely to be pretty. With an average rise in global temperatures of 2C now more-or-less locked in, the ecological consequences in terms of human access to adequate food supplies and fresh water will, by mid-century, be generating massive social upheavals. Millions of climate change refugees will be on the move across the globe in search of sustenance. Few, if any, of their fellow human-beings will be willing or able to help them. With global food resources dwindling, charity will begin – and end – at home.

Just how drastic the situation is likely to become by the time today’s teenagers are in their 40s and 50s is spelt out with chilling clarity in yesterday’s (4/4/14) NZ Herald by the independent journalist and international columnist, Gwynne Dyer. In a column headed “World’s Grim Future – Warm and Hungry”,  Dyer cites a (long suppressed) study commissioned by the World Bank in 2007 to obtain a rough idea of the consequences for global food supplies of a 2C rise in average global temperatures.

“What the think-tanks told the World Bank”, says Dyer, “was that India would lose 25 per cent of its food production. China, I have been told by somebody who saw the Beijing think-tank’s report, would lose a catastrophic 38 per cent.”

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The results of this study have never been published, says Dyer, “because the governments concerned did not want such alarming numbers out in public and were able to restrain the World Bank from releasing them.”

Dyer’s journalistic background is in the study and reporting of warfare. His response to the World Bank study’s findings is, therefore, akin to that of the military strategist. Working on the assumptions contained in the World Bank Study, and the predictions of a further study by the World Resources Institute (assuming a 3C rise by 2050) Dyer’s conclusions are bleak.

“If you want to go on eating regularly in a rapidly warming world”, says Dyer, “ live in a place that’s high in latitude or high in altitude.”

After detailing the huge swathes of the currently productive world in which crop yields will be drastically diminished – the Middle East, most of Africa and South America, North America (“except in Canada and a few US states along the Canadian border”) along with India, China, the whole of South-East Asia and Australia – Dyer lists the much smaller number of countries in which food production is likely to rise. These include Russia, Scandinavia, Germany, Poland – and us. Yes, according to Dyer and the World Resources Institute, food production in New Zealand will be “sharply up.”

But before we start congratulating ourselves, it is important to digest the true meaning of Dyers final paragraphs.

“But this is not a ‘mixed’ result, in the sense that it all works out about even. The total population of the countries where food production will be stable or higher in 2050 will be less than half a billion.

“At least 8.5 or 9 billion will live in countries where food production has fallen, sometimes very steeply. It will be a very hungry world.”

And a very dangerous one.

In geopolitical terms, the most likely mid-century combination will be a vast Eurasian Federation encompassing China, Russia, Poland, Scandinavia Germany and Northern France with the United Kingdom and Japan possibly tacked on as “unsinkable aircraft carriers” strategically positioned to defend the Eurasian landmass against attacks from across the Atlantic and Pacific.

Depending on how weakened the United States has become by 2050 (basically speaking, whether or not it still possesses a credible nuclear capability) it is possible that what remains of the United States in productive terms, plus Canada and Alaska, will be permitted to join the dominant Eurasian Federation.

As for the rest of humanity – all those currently living below 40o North and above about 35o South – well, they will be left to their own devices. Many, of course, will attempt to overturn what for hundreds-of-millions of their compatriots amounts to a sentence of death, by laying siege to the Eurasian Federation. If history is any guide they will not be successful. The Han Chinese have raised-up walls against importunate barbarians for millennia, and the record of Russians, Germans, British and Americans when acting in defence of the “White Race” is hardly encouraging.

And our fate? What shall become of New Zealand in a world grown mad with heat and hunger? How shall we defend our shores from millions of Australian climate change refugees? Let alone from the billions in Asia and Africa whose way to the still-fertile north is blocked and whose own afflicted territories can no longer feed them?

Two choices present themselves.

The first is that we could declare ourselves to be the world’s ark – offering a welcome to every sea-tossed soul who found his or her way to our shores. We could announce to the world that, here, in Aotearoa New Zealand, humanity would work out a way to live more lightly upon the earth; and a way to co-exist more peacefully and harmoniously with itself.

We would have to pray that our distance from the rest of the world, a factor we have always regarded as a curse, would now afford us a measure of protection, and that these narrow islands would not be over-run, and that the best and most generous intentions of its people would not be over-ruled.

The second is that we could, once again, become the far-flung southern farm of a northern master. New Zealand could become the most highly valued colony of the Eurasian Federation, well-protected from climate-change refugees by the Federation’s ruthless navy and air-force. These latter, well-schooled in the grim business of sinking the boat people’s vessels and shooting down their packed airliners, would make sure that the “world’s best food” flowed freely to its northern markets, and that wealthy Eurasians continued to enjoy their expensive holiday homes and “remnant world” experiences untroubled by the wretched of the earth.

The second choice offers the better chance of survival (and, let’s face it, we’re half way there already!) but the New Zealand that endured would be very different from the country we live in today. We would have become the willing accomplices of a global crime of unspeakable cruelty.

Undoubtedly, a New Zealand which adopted the first option would be running the grave risk of being taken advantage of by its desperate and starving neighbours – some of whom, the Indonesians, for example – have a terrible record when it comes to the treatment of conquered peoples.

Somehow, though, it’s the choice I hope we do make. Open, welcoming, generous and always with our eyes on the prize of a better tomorrow. Because, having made it, even though it spelled our doom, we could meet our fate with our heads held high and, paraphrasing King Theoden in The Lord of the Rings, tell what is left of the world:

“We go to meet our tipuna. And even in their mighty company we shall not now be ashamed.”


  1. Excellent piece Chris – don’t know that I agree with all of it but it is broaching the issues du jour and expressing the kind of thinking that we will need to adopt.
    Two potential ideas for political parties aspiring to oust the incumbent:
    1. A Ministry for the Future which is assessing 20 to 50 year strategies
    2. A dedicated Ministry of Climate Change that is working on adaptation, mitigation and GHG reduction.
    Perhaps our big hope is that China makes the necessary moves – and soon.

    • Why bother with political parties?

      Everyone can see how we have democracy now, and everyone can pretty much see how a future democracy would function once problems of sustainable development had largely been solved. What nobody seems to be able to show is how the democracy we have now can democratically become that future sustainable democracy.

      Were I an environmental activist (and I am not), I would not be wasting further time on the Sisyphean task of convincing the voting public to vote for the right sort of parties. This has been going on for at least 20-30 years in most democracies and the results have been shockingly poor.

      Talk to the military people who are actually going to have to fight the wars that climate change causes. The military are pretty hardened people, but imagine the Australian Navy being asked not to send back boat people, but to kill them. They don’t want to do that.

      Talk to the mega corporations that aren’t so dependent on fossil fuels. The corporate world isn’t some monolithic bloc, but a loose association of often diverging interests.

      Democracy can’t solve this problem – at least not quickly enough to make a difference. I personally value the lives of my children and grandchildren over democratic principle. You’d have to be some kind of monster not to.

      And yet I’ll get voted down for saying this, mostly by democratic fundamentalists who have absolutely no idea how they are going to take conservative climate deniers out of the political game, or even how they are going to convince enough people to vote for change in time.

      Any solutions that aren’t the same old same old Green politicking?


      Stop wasting everyone’s time then.

  2. If we open our doors to the masses, where will all this food be grown? We can’t have both arable land and millions of people.
    If our country is so desirable, those intent on ‘owning’ our land in the future will do so at the point of a gun. This could lead to two nations squabbling over us (like US and another aggressor)which won’t be too healthy for us either.
    We have not just a warming planet to worry about but the geopolitics of it also.

    • Check out the land sales to foreign owners in the last two years. This is already happening. US and China biggest buyers of productive kiwi land closely followed by European and South American agribusinesses.

    • “We can’t have both arable land and millions of people.”

      Yes you can. Europe has managed to do both for example for hundreds of years. You just stick the majority of the people in small concentrated areas called Cities.

      • Gosman says:
        April 6, 2014 at 7:19 am

        “We can’t have both arable land and millions of people.”

        Yes you can. Europe has managed to do both for example for hundreds of years. You just stick the majority of the people in small concentrated areas called Cities.

        Sorry?! How stupid are you?!

        And pray tell, Mr Clever Boots, what do you feed those millions in cities: How do you clothe them? Where does the water come from? The electricity? The building materials? The consumer goods? The vehicles? The metal for those vehicles? The oil for those vehicles?

        And where does the waste go? The solid, liquid, and atmosphere wastes?

        Try figuring out the whole picture instead of making naive statements that even a nine year old could pick apart as nonsensical.

        Honestly. You ACT-types… *shakes head in disbelief*

        • Europe is able to supply the food, energy, clothing, shelter, and entertainment needs of the large numbers (Hundreds of millions) that live in urban areas and still have enough left over for export. Most of the nations in Europe have a much higher population density than NZ. Italy for example has over 50 million people in a land area around the same size. I don’t see the Italians freaking out of their population.

      • Can’t see much point in living herded into smaller and smaller shoe boxes and as water is going to get more and more precious, more people is about as dumb as it gets

      • Gosman – what is your principle line in political arguments? It seems you have NONE.

        In other posts you defend the governments present export policies, supporting the status quo of low value added mass dairy exports to China and some other places, exports also of logs, raw fish, raw fruit and oil and coal.

        Here you suddenly suggest we would have no problem taking in millions of climate crisis refugees or other migrants, as we could supply them with all the food and resources that the country so fare exports to pay its way.

        You are simply nothing but a troublemaker and idiot, I must say, coming with arguments that do not only fail to convince and have no substance, but also such that contradict other arguments you present at other times.

        You cannot have it both ways. Having tens of millions of population will mean less food and resource exports, more pollution, more costs and pressures of all kinds. So maybe you want us to become a little version of low wage Mainland China then?

          • You were saying something like this somewhere else. Yeah, Bangla Desh is a thriving economy, I believe, leading the OECD and other surveys for efficiency, productivity AND living standards, I presume, given they have so many people, a large “market” and “labour force”.

          • Having a larger population can be better economically financially.


            In reality though, having more people just uses up more resources at a faster rate making the society even more unsustainable.

  3. Third option: NZ builds up a credible defense force capable of preventing any landing by any other nation and close our borders.

    This is, in fact, about the only real option we have.

    • Build up a capable defence force? I guess that would end unemployment. NZ could be taken with a phone call now and in the future!

    • Hah, I can imagine it, get the army rolling out, to protect the vast thousands of kms of shoreline, with the armament they have. Even the Indonesians, even smaller and less developed countries would only smile with pity, being confronted by “defence” that New Zealanders could muster against any invasion of whatever type.

      Or maybe try guerilla warfare. I am struggling to see the modern day city dwellers go bush and be the “Vietcong” of Aotearoa.

      • Hah, I can imagine it, get the army rolling out, to protect the vast thousands of kms of shoreline, with the armament they have.

        Yes, there’s a reason why I said to build up a credible defense force. In such a scenario the army doesn’t really get a look in as nothing would get closer than about 2000km.

    • It would be easier simply to convince the world’s rich people and militaries to abandon their own countries and move here. We could easily fit most of them in.

  4. Over my life time I have witnessed those pushing right-wing political dogma trash the social fabric of my country.

    Pursuit of the same dogma will facilitate the destruction of the planet’s environment as we know it. Of this I have no doubt.

  5. Very very thought provoking.

    one things for real the nact / act govt has it global warming head so far up its butt we will go down like a sinking ship .

  6. Guy McPherson argues that we cannot adapt to climate change already underway.
    But there may be the possibility of adapting provided we have a socialist revolution within 10 years that destroys capitalism and organises and defends production for need.
    Our fate rests in the hands of the 1.5 billion Chinese workers who have to power in their hands to remove the CCP and institute a genuine social economy.

    • Dave – you have to be kidding. !.5 billion Chinese workers? Have you met the many middle class, and the increasingly “better off”, the ones “hungry” for more, that have acquired a taste of “western” food and lifestyles, that now often work in office and other jobs, and who rely on the true few hundred million migrant and non migrant workers they have in the vast country, to do the “dirty” and hard work?

      China is not a unified society, and there is a new CLASS system that has evolved, and you see some of the “better off” coming here, for a “better” life, less polluted. They are as “united” as New Zealanders and other people, that means that are rather divided, increasingly individualistic, perhaps a bit more core family focused, but that is about it.

      They have learned to compete, and the growth in China is not sustainable either, and once the bubble starts bursting, it is likely to be a range of bubbles, it will get nasty there. The government will exploit nationalism, use that, to manipulate the majority, and channel anger outwards, to keep the inner “peace”.

      That is when we all must worry. As the same power play that is going on in other countries, modern China is not immune from contagion. So I think a new “revolution” there, after decades of new class creating, that is perhaps being a bit over optimistic, to put it mildly.

      Most there have now a taste for the same kind of consumerist goods and services that the west has had a taste for for decades. They want “better” lives, and more goods, more living space, better conditions and so much else. This expectation puts pressure on governments there to deliver, and on resources and so forth.

    • The Chinese workers organising en masse would really bring the corporates to a grinding halt and they would run out of places to hide. Russia, Brazil and India not withstanding.

      It is the key question of our lifetimes, can capitalism be stopped before the planet has had it and survivors live in a futurist nightmare ala “Waterworld”, “Elysium”, “Mad Max” and “Bladerunner”.

      • Tiger Mountain – I think “Soylent Green” best sums up where we’re heading under unrestrained capitalism; runaway Greenhouse effect and pollution, and uncontrolled population growth.

        Harry Harrison, who authored the novel “Make room, make room” in 1966, (upon which the movie is based) saw the future very accurately…

      • Very easily.
        Imagine a painter in a room with some paints and a blank canvas. The painter creates a painting that is worth far more than the paints in their tubes and the blank canvas. There has been economic growth.
        Or an author writes a book that is sold in an electronic format. Economic growth.
        I think you mistake “things” for “resources” – but that excludes human resources.

        • But the problem with this explanation is that not all of the economic growth is in efficiency gains or intellectual output.

          Some of the growth includes a growth in the use of resources.

          Some of the growth includes a growth in population.

          We consume more and more “stuff”. This requires more resources to produce. Much of our “stuff” is not recyclable.

          If you ignore the increasing use of resources then yeah, it works. Facts get in the way of your economic ideology though.

    • By the way, I read you blogpost on Kiwiblog.

      One thing you seem to have forgot is that the Greens have a point when it comes to resources and nations fighting over them.

      Practically all wars have been fought over resources and/or markets .

      Once upon a time it was called building empires.

      That become unfashionable, and was replaced by “spheres of influence”.

      That became uncool as well.

      So now we have trade agreements.

      Trade, markets, and controlling resources. These are the driving force that “justify” governments spending vast amounts of taxpayer’s money to attack another nation and either absorb it or install a friendly government.

      The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was about the US securing dominance over the region’s oil supplies and locking out competitors (China).

      It certainly wasn’t about so-called “weapons of mass destruction”.

  7. At present I am in north of Thailand, I have been coming here for more than 10 yrs. At this time of year for more than a month the sun is totally obscured by smoke a thick haze from the burning of scrub and rice stubble. For 2/3rds of a train trip of 500 kms we pass throu fires or burnt areas. The government denies this is so and tells us that it blows from Burma or Laos. A local governor has asked that locals stop wearing dust masks as it may scare the tourists from visiting and presents a bad image. In our area locals can be fined for burning rubbish so its done at night so the morning air is toxic with the smell of burned plastic and rubbish. Until there is some education and will to change in areas like this there is not chance of reversing our effect on the planet.

    • Burning of scrub and rice stubble is carbon neutral in regard to greenhouse gases but wholesale deforestation isn’t.

      The main problem lies in the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal and to a lesser extent oil. When positive warming feedbacks such as release of methyl clathrates from the melting Arctic and permafrost kick in, it’ll be all over; a 2 degree rise will have been wishful thinking.

  8. Something that techonological illiterates like Chris completely miss is the changes to our food production system that are in the pipeline. Presently we have a very inefficient farming system for many products. I mean inefficient in terms of the energy expended. And carbon dioxide emitted.
    It is quite possible that within 20 years time, animals will no longer be farmed in industrialised countries. Not because we all will have become vegetarian but because biotechnology will have advanced to the point that farming animals will be considered redundant, inefficient, cruel, polluting and just plain pointless.
    Technological illiterates often scoff when you tell them these sorts of things but when you have a strong understanding of the pace and direction of technological change it becomes clear just how rapidly these changes are occurring.
    Here’s an article:

    Of course none of this is to detract from the science of climate change which I believe is very solid. It’s just that I’m less gloomy about the degree to which we can adapt to and mitigate the changes that climate change will create.

    • Something that techonological illiterates like Chris completely miss is the changes to our food production system that are in the pipeline.

      That’s rich coming from someone who cites a financial rag to support his scientific fantasies.

    • Well, I’d certainly want to bet the future of the planet on an unproven technology that will solve perhaps one of the myriad problems created by climate change.

      • How is this betting the future?
        It seems the oligarchs who control everything have yet to decide to do anything about climate change. Meanwhile, very clever people who truly do care about things that humans value are working on the solutions to the problems that cause climate change. Changing our food production system is a big part of helping to reduce climate change.

        What’s your solution, Tom? Whingeing about how we’re doomed?

    • I hope you’re right in thinking there’s a technological fix to all our problems but, it seems to me, it makes more sense to try and work with nature than fight against her. “She” was been around a long time and every day we make more mind blowing discoveries of just how complex and clever she is.

        • Technology is defined as “the application of science, especially to industrial or commercial objectives” which we all know has caused us some problems in the past. I’m no Luddite, but I do feel that far too little attention to natural effects have been taken during our rush towards a brave, new world.
          A few salient examples would be the use of DDT and other pesticides which remain in the soil for decades. The wonders of boundless, cheap energy that nuclear fission promised. Montsanta’s unethical patenting of natural processes and use of unnatural one crop seeds. Ozone holes, climate change…need I go on.
          It takes approximately ten times as much energy to produce meat compared to cereal so, on the surface, artificial meat protein seems like a good idea. I just hope the scientists involved remember all the implications of screwing with Mother Nature and the dangers inherent in pissing her off.

  9. Wasteful, polluting. inefficient and unhealthy cultivation of animals to consume, is on its last legs.

    The excessive water consumption needed, damage to arable land and soils, pollution both atmospheric and terrestrial, high dependence of oil or energy, and transportation of products; all rule out continued madness with our focus on beef, dairy and other animal products.

    More than sixteen times the food can be harvested from the land with plants using less resources. Emissions would depend on how energy servicing is applied and the plants would help with atmospheric compensation.

    Heart disease, cancer and a range of Western diseases would virtually disappear. Whole plant foods without processing contain a complex range of nutrients interacting during digestion. Variety is important

    We need to use much less energy and consume less natural non renewable resources as these two are tightly linked.

    No economic argument is valid. It is a survival situation and our economy may become one similar to centuries ago.

    We have already used more than two thirds of our global mineral resources which are available to mine, with just the hard to harvest and process stuff left to last countless generations is any of our kind survive.
    The real energy cost is also crippling to our survival.

    Population growth and overshoot been devastating to the planet.
    We need to reduce our human population drastically and preferably by planned benign action. It will happen with collapse anyway. Tragically.

    • John I used to think the same as you about the need to reduce our population drastically and was delighted to find that this has been underway for years and is showing great success.

      This BBC documentary “Overpopulated” changed my mindset completely.

      Birth control in the 3rd world is showing remarkable success. Countries are on the way to population stabilization and reduction however it will get worse for another generation or so before it improves.
      Unfortunately the world population will continue to rise until it reaches 10 billion before stabilizing and dropping.

    • I totally agree with you John and what you say highlights that the problem will never be solved by trying to blame the greedy oligarchs for their inaction. It’s like witnessing a murder scene and lecturing the murderer for not rushing the victim to hospital.

      The problem is an educational and cultural one. That’s always very hard to change and to convince people that we all are responsible for the state of the environment.

  10. “After detailing the huge swathes of the currently productive world in which crop yields will be drastically diminished – the Middle East, most of Africa and South America, North America (“except in Canada and a few US states along the Canadian border”) along with India, China, the whole of South-East Asia and Australia – Dyer lists the much smaller number of countries in which food production is likely to rise. These include Russia, Scandinavia, Germany, Poland – and us. Yes, according to Dyer and the World Resources Institute, food production in New Zealand will be “sharply up.” ”

    Yes, food production will be “sharply up” in New Zealand, that means forget the environment, as the demand for food from elsewhere will mean, the economic interests will dominated, and no farmer and investor will be able to resist.

    New Zealand’s natural environment only still exists in some national parks and other environmentally protected areas, and was it not for the conservation efforts, the Kiwi and other native species would already be extinct now. You can get ready, and prepare for it, the Kiwi and other species WILL become extinct.

    As for the few countries where more food may be produced, they will be ruined environmentally, eventually, as the trend is to keep the head in the sand and pretend the worst will not come.

    Indeed, many economies are “addicted” to fossil and also nuclear energy and resources, otherwise they would collapse. And the costs to change, they will be significant, either in sacrifice of living standards and lifestyles, or in paying extra, or both. So in democratic, developed countries the challenge the environmentalists and the alternative energy and economy proponents have, that is democracy and demographics.

    People are not inclined to vote in parties that will bring change, that demand sacrifices. Actually most people show day in and out that they are in denial, and that they want to try and keep their lifestyles. Nobody is forced to drive their cars to work in the larger cities, nobody is forced to not use public transport, nobody is kept from cycling, walking, using buses or trains, where this is possible. Yet people do continue preferring to use their cherished cars every day, and on weekends.

    And there are other things that need changing. Some changes happen of course, like insulating homes, and building better insulated new ones. There is some new technology, but the uptake is slow and gradual.

    All efforts will not be enough, I fear, and in some countries, where they simply have huge populations, huge cities, and are so dependent on fossil fuels and energy, the change that is necessary is so great, people will to some degree have to be forced to do it, or else it will just not happen, until the economic realities force people to do so. Then it may be too late.

    Pollution is another aspect, besides of emissions into the air, by way of greenhouse gases. Waterways, rivers, creeks, lakes and the oceans are increasingly polluted on a global scale, and the huge population on this planet wants to live. That population is hardly sustainable, even if we all become vegetarians.

    New Zealand, as a last refuge for many, still not so densely populated, should be leading the world for the needed change to sustainable energy use and alternative energy use, at all levels, and that includes transport, housing, heating and more.

    Sadly the government we have is the ostrich head in the sand government, John Key does not consider climate change a priority. Instead he and his government, and the majority of people, cling to their addiction to fossil fueled transport and wasteful lifestyles. Buy and turf is the modus operandi with most packaging. It seems insane to do this, but that is what most do. Once there was reuse of jars, bottles and more, it used to be standard practice. Not anymore. And many other things are to consider also. Letting low paid in other, poorer, laxer places produce our computers, cars, and many other products, which have a high carbon and other cost as well, is simply shifting the pollution and problem offshore.

    Instead of all this, plans are for growth, more production, more waste, more output, more migration, letting Auckland grow to 2.5 million, while the IPCC predicts sea level rises that will expose many of our cities to regular flooding and damage.

    Is anybody up there (in the Beehive and in Parliament) and out there (around the country) thinking, I ask???

  11. “In geopolitical terms, the most likely mid-century combination will be a vast Eurasian Federation encompassing China, Russia, Poland, Scandinavia Germany and Northern France with the United Kingdom and Japan possibly tacked on as “unsinkable aircraft carriers” strategically positioned to defend the Eurasian landmass against attacks from across the Atlantic and Pacific. Depending on how weakened the United States has become by 2050 (basically speaking, whether or not it still possesses a credible nuclear capability) it is possible that what remains of the United States in productive terms, plus Canada and Alaska, will be permitted to join the dominant Eurasian Federation.”

    Now that is nonsense, Chris, go to the southern borders of Europe, go the the north of Mexico and south of the southern states in the US, go to Turkey and Greece, go to Russia even, and see the endless influx of the totally desperate already. They are just the gateways and highways of refugee migration, and that is what is happening already. Imagine the worsening due to climate change, and it will become a tsunami, that no power will be able to stop.

    If that comes true, we will have the book that so many frowned upon, which Mr Dotcom has kept with a friend for “investment”, become the leading literature guide for political philosophy of the future, I am afraid.

    It will be fascism, and racism and nationalism, and those northern powers and territories, they will certainly not form an alliance, they will rather fight between themselves, as humans have over history done repeatedly, sadly.

    No, whatever prospect there will be, it will not be a pleasant one.

  12. Throughout my life, but especially when I was younger, my father would speak about predictions made during the Second World War by fellow forced labourers.

    Many nights in the barracks, many of the labourers who were intellectuals would discuss the future. While the predictions as my father recite are rather sketchy and vague, the most noteworthy is a future apocalyptic war with China as the aggressor. Bleak quotes such as “the living will envy the dead”, “the Chinese will ride on the White Man’s back”, and “survivors will be full of joy to find the footprints of another person”. I never considered this seriously, but in light of the news in this column, should ghastly events take place mid-century; it would be rather extraordinary if those experiencing hell a century earlier correctly predicted a worse hell in the future.

    While change from the top appears hopeless, those below are in serious need of some considerable self-reflection. Instead of facing reality and taking action; sober thinking is a struggle so comfort and escape is found in the consumerist beast devouring us. Growth, growth, growth, work, work, work; perhaps everyone should stop working and try to make sense of what it is they’re working towards.

    Reminds me of another story my father would speak about the war. In his home district not too far from his village the Germans were conducting a massacre, word from survivors were a number of Germans guarding the perimeter were waving at those about to be murdered to run; few heeded, the rest went like sheep to slaughter. A common sight in the media available from the time. Columns of humanity faithfully advancing towards their end, guards, few compared to the mass. No solidarity, no resolve, no consideration – no hope, albeit an empty one. It’s as if the human condition is so corrupted, many tire of life and surrender to a fatalistic outlook, salvation in their end.

    On a positive note, many diverse traditions forecast the dawn of an enlightened age. The Christian and Judaic World to Come, Hindu Satya Yuga, Hopi Fifth World, the astrological Age of Aquarius, to name a few. Their beginnings typically cited within the next 500 years and often preceded by a great upheaval. In this present highly materialistic mundane cynical world of ours, such notions are absurd or shyly avoided unlike the latter part of the previous century. I suppose the predicament we’re in now originated with the discovery and subsequent exploitation of the New World. In this paradise the original inhabitants may not have been technologically advanced like us, but perhaps spiritually advanced, as attested to by the once pristine environment.

    • Gee you just reminded of something my father used to say years (and years) ago. He used to say that if America and the USSR ever went to war, the winner would be China. Hmmmm. He has been dead for the best part of 40 years now

  13. No official publications (certainly not IPCC reports) make the claim that world food supplies will be collapsing by mid century. Most of the negative effects of climate change are predicted to bite at the end of the century.

  14. “We would have become the willing accomplices of a global crime of unspeakable cruelty”.

    Aren’t we already?

    As a western nation of mostly white people we depend on the suppression of rights throughout the 3rd world so that we can have cheap consumer goods.

    We need people in Asia to work in sweatshops so that we might buy many cute fluffy toys for our toddlers at Christmas. We need military overthrows and repression of democratic rights in Africa so that materials for smartphones can be mined cheaply and we can look at amusing pictures of cats at any time or place should we need to.

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure we’re accomplices already.

    Here’s a solution that people who only dwell in the political realm probably aren’t aware of (although I’m sure some of you are). It’s called Permaculture (a word the spell checker is telling me to re-spell as Aquaculture incidentally) and it has the capacity to save lives and prevent wars all over the world if enough people learn about it’s principles because it can be used to rebuild soil fertility in remarkably barren places.

    If you haven’t already seen this video I highly recommend it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1rKDXuZ8C0
    The first 8 minutes or so is well produced, but when it stops you might want to skip ahead to13:25 to get to the “what happened next bit”.

  15. Several years back, a group I was with got into a discussion about climate change.

    One person asserted that climate change was a myth, and that if any of us claimed otherwise, we were being sucked in by a global conspiracy on the part of – if I recall correctly – big business. And some other entity, the identity of which escapes me now, but may have been the Pentagon.

    I disagreed: I’ve been a gardener from childhood, and all my not particularly short life, I said. I can attest to the warming climate here. No reason to suppose the rest of the world is different. I remarked that this is an issue I’ve followed since worries about climate change were first voiced publicly by scientists. My impression from the tone of what’s been published over the last 2 decades or more – anxious, urging changes in practice early on, more recently a note of resignation, suggesting ways of adapting to the inevitable – suggests that it’s now too late to reverse the warming trend.

    Another person there, who’d worked in an institute where climate change is researched, agreed with me; that’s what the scientists there had said among themselves. We’re stuck with rising temperatures, and must adapt as best we can.

    “….all those currently living below 40o North and above about 35o South”. Latitude 35 south runs through the far north of NZ, around where 90-mile beach begins.

    These aren’t, of course, definite boundaries: there will be climate spillover effects both ways, just as there are with the tropics. Southern Queensland isn’t in the Tropic of Capricorn – not that you’d know it, sometimes. On the other hand, southern Victoria lies above Latitude 36 south (that is, closer to the South Pole) – not that you’d always know it there, either!

    So the effects at the boundaries – and those boundary areas are actually quite large – are likely to depend on how extreme the effects of warming are at lower latitudes, combined with the influence on climate of large land masses. That remains to be seen. In New Zealand’s case, it may well be that negative effects will be felt over a biggish chunk of the upper North Island, rendering the land useless for food production.

    Then there’s the issue of predicted sea level rise; NZ won’t escape the effects of that, which by itself may ruin some areas for food production. With regard to access to water, it seems unlikely that we’re going to be much better off than many other parts of the world; capricious rainfall, combined with unreliable seasons, isn’t much use to those who produce food, and too much is as bad as too little.

    At this juncture, there’s no way of telling whether Dyer’s predictions about floods of refugees will come to pass. But in any event, NZ is a difficult country to reach by boat, and will remain so, especially if seas become more stormy, as has been predicted. But without doubt there’ll be some; perhaps we’ll have the edifying spectacle of a boat carrying Australian climate refugees, among them former PM John Howard, being forced to wait at a detention centre somewhere near Stephens Island? Though not actually on it, I hope: it has endangered critters living there.

    Worthy as it may be to suggest that we open our doors to allcomers, in my view it’s unrealistic. I’ve seen nothing in my not-particularly-short life to suggest that humans in such situations will behave any better than they do now.

    We haven’t a hope in hell of being able to defend our coastlines militarily, even if every one of us were to be enlisted. Our sole defence is that this country would be extraordinarily difficult to invade successfully – as the Japanese would have discovered, had they attempted it during WW2.

    • We haven’t a hope in hell of being able to defend our coastlines militarily, even if every one of us were to be enlisted.

      The number of people doesn’t mean anything – its how many missiles you can accurately throw to extreme ranges and that you can stop the incoming ones as well.

  16. Perhaps it’s time to dust of a New Zealand Planning Council report: Can New Zealand Survive Nuclear War? produced toward the end of the Cold War.
    It’s conclusion was that we would be we’d run out of manaufacturered items such as pharmaceuticals pretty damned quick.
    And we would like have need of a navy to stop the refugees at sea.
    Scarey stuff.

  17. Here’s my paranoid opinion .
    Remember the Swine Flu ? I do . I caught it .
    I’d never been more ill . I was in bed for nine days and it took me weeks to recover fully .
    Remember the random nature of it’s spread ?
    You’re worried about hoards of Asians , Indians , Chinese swarming over NZ Co Ltd ? The North Island of McDonalds and The South Island of Starbucks . And over there , The Chatham Islands of Walmart .
    Stewart Island of The USA War Industry .

    Yea … I don’t think so .

    The irony is that all of us Kiwis should thank our lucky , lucky stars that here we are for no other reason than blind good luck . Cheek by jowel with the richest people on the planet who’ll soon be desperately trying to stay alive while protected by swarms of drones loaded up with viruses .

    If I were to be completely depressing I’d say a mass culling is on the way . A pre emptive culling .

    And if you think New Zealand can become a walled in garden of hugs and kittens while appealing to the common good in humanity ? Yeaaaa ? nah .

    Oh , and then you might come to appreciate the farmer . The Dirty Filthy Farmer .

    ” I have my BMW , I have my Guccis , I have my degree , I have my Calvins but fuck ! Am I hungry ! ?

    There’re things we Kiwis should be doing alright . Like teaching our kids to grow foods and of how to manage livestock and fisheries . Soon enough , you’ll be nailing the ipad over the hole in the toilet wall .

    Global warming or not . That’s where we’re heading .

    • You do realise that we only need about 1% of the population to actually be farmers don’t you? The rest of us do other stuff which includes supporting the farmers but the farmers are going to have to become organic farmers. The present dirty, filthy farming that we have is destroying the environment that will keep us alive.

      Oh, and BTW, we don’t really need farms either. We survived for 2.3 million years without them. Even as nomads we really didn’t use all our time looking for food.

  18. Here are some scary numbers for us
    They use to say methane was 20 od times worse than CO2 over 100 years, then ‘they’ came out with 33 times worse over 100 years, and there is a figure out there saying 72 times worse over 20 years ???
    Yet the stuff only lives in the environment as methane for about 8 years as it degrades into CO2, and as the amount of methane is increasing it doesn’t matter how long an individually methane particle ‘lives’ if the amount in the environment isn’t going down then the real forcing factor – methane/C02 could be between 150 and god knows? But lets say 150 for arguments sake
    400 ppm CO2
    300 ppm CO2e methane currently @ 2. and rising
    100 ppm CO2e possible under estimate of the other GWG’s
    The last time the planet was @ 400ppm CO2, it had taken thousands of years for the methane to thaw/be produced, live in the atmosphere, then get converted to C02, where as now we have gone from 280 ish to 400 in 130 years, we are something like 40 years behind the warming effects of the current level of CO2, as we are seeing the summer Arctic ice could be gone within a few more summers, leading to an even larger amount of methane belching out of the tundra, both under sea and on the land, there is something like 40 – 50 times more environment destroying crap trapped there than we have injected into the environment over the past 130+ years.
    That is why I call the current batch of humans Generation Z
    If we say a generation is 25 years then we are about 10 years into the last one.

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