Why being Carbon Neutral by 2050 is meaningless

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This is Carbon Neutral 2050

Over at the terribly dull Standard, the Labour Party cheerleaders are in full voice…

I suspect a few lefties are now weighing up the failure to put forward a capital gains tax with the success in putting forward a zero carbon target and thinking that the compromise was an appropriate one. 

mickysavage

…what a load of arse. If you honestly think being carbon Neutral by 2050 is the solution, you don’t understand the fucking problem.

Let’s put aside that none of this Carbon Neutral 2050 stuff is actually enforceable and that while methane doesn’t have the life of carbon, it’s over 20 times more potent at holding heat. This means a small spike of methane can have huge impacts on the planet.

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Being soft on methane is such a spineless move for a sunset industry like dairy who even in their death throws of being economically viable in the wake of synthetic meat and milk still manage to drag our collective feet on any meaningful legislation.

Methane is now becoming the new danger front on climate change. The huge amounts of frozen methane on the bottom of warming oceans and the methane that is pouring out of the permafrost all look like tipping point events that once embarked upon we can’t do anything to stop.

The Greens, who know this, are using environmentalism to get elected but aren’t prepared to be radical enough to do the things that must be done, and this isn’t the first example.

Take the new Government’s much vaunted decision to ban future oil exploration rights. The decision does bugger all for the here and now, they are just vacant promises made in the future sometime which can be easily reversed.

Look at the pure sophistry of making NZ carbon neutral by 2050.

By 2030, over 50% of the oceans will be collapsing as bio-habitats.

By 2030, East Coast cities in the U.S. can expect to see two to three-times as many flooding incidents.

By 2030, 122million will be driven into extreme poverty as  direct result of climate change.

By 2030, 100million will die as a direct consequence of climate change.

By 2030, even if the Paris Agreement is actually implemented, we will see a planet warm to 3.4 degrees by the end of this century meaning there will effectively be no future civilisation capable of surviving on a planet that warm.

By 2030, the global annual cost of global warming will be $3trillion.

2030, the number of extremely hot days — classified as maximum temperatures of more than 35C — are tipped to climb in all capital cities.

Oh.

And by 2050 NZ might be carbon neutral.

Yay!

See, when you actually compare what the planet will look like by 2030, being carbon neutral by 2050 looks meaningless doesn’t it?

The magnitude of what we need to do to adapt to counter the nightmare unending capitalism has wrought upon the planet is simply beyond the capacity of the current political establishment and that is most apparent with the Greens.

This is less transformative and more glacial, except there won’t be any glaciers by 2050.

I think we need to stop seeing ourselves as a country because that lulls us into a false belief that there are many levels of oversight at work when NZs deregulated neoliberal civil service is threadbare and rubbed raw. We need to start redefining ourselves as an Island, which immediately resets values of sustainability.

To survive climate change we must embark upon Fortress Aotearoa…

  • Move away from intensive farming and look to become domestically self sustainable in terms of food.
  • Solar panels on every roof by 2030
  • Insulation in every house by 2030
  • Investment in our own pharmaceutical industry for basic medicines.
  • Immediately ban all water exports
  • 5 year Parliamentary term.
  • Upper and Lower House (Upper House 50-50 split between Māori & Pakeha that can hold up legislation if unhappy about Treaty issues)
  • Massive investment into R&D from Government with the understanding research is to benefit NZ first before sold offshore.
  • Large scale increase in Navy, Army & Airforce.
  • Mass limiting of tourism numbers with increased tourist taxes.
  • Only citizens can vote.
  • Sustainable immigration and an end to exploitative international student workers.
  • Resettlement Programms for all pacific island neighbours.
  • Increase refugee in take to 5000 per year
  • Fully funded public services.
  • Mass Green housing rebuild.
  • 100% renewable energy for entire country.
  • Massive tree planting across previous farming land.
  • Wholesale re-write of state services act to end commercial values.
  • Financial transaction tax
  • Wealth tax
  • Multinational tax
  • Inheritance tax

We either take the science seriously and move to radically adapt with some foresight or we have our hands forced by catastrophic climate change with no foresight.

40 COMMENTS

  1. So are you going to force all of humanity to become vegans then? What about stopping population growth, are you suggesting we can enforce a one child per couple or family policy, globally? Why this obsession with dairy farmers, farmers in general. They are producing the food most people consume and want to consume.

    Of course farming needs to address the climate change challenges also, but what about the urbanites, those living in cities, where it should be possible to build public transport systems used by most, that provide more efficient, that is energy efficient and less polluting alternatives?

    A government can hardly crack down on farmers when urban dwellers do not change and carry on as per usual, polluting the air with CO2 and other emissions, contributing to climate change.

    We have to get rid of the private motor vehicle, full stop.

    And despite of improved production methods, the manufacture of anything containing steel is also highly polluting, contributing to climate change, so all those who drive cars, whether fossil fuel or electric powered, they still also contribute a lot to climate change by using cars made from steel, that have a significant carbon foot print.

    https://www.treehugger.com/climate-change/lighten-primary-steel-production-responsible-9-percent-co2-emissions.html

    http://energy-transitions.org/sites/default/files/ETC_Consultation_Paper_-_Steel.pdf

    Steel production is forecast to significantly increase, emissions will continue.

    And even doing your laundry creates a carbon foot print:
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1808/S00323/your-clean-laundry-can-leave-a-dirty-carbon-footprint.htm

    Planting trees can only be done to a degree, as in the end you cannot plant trees on fertile land needed to produce food crops, as then you only create a new problem by solving one.

    We have to RADICALLY change how we live as humans, we cannot simply blame farmers and their cows, for producing what most still want and feel they need as foodstuffs.

    Or are you suggesting we get ‘rid’ of a large number of humans, whichever way, as they may not be able to be fed anyway?

    And if you come with artificial meat, and so, that also needs to be produced from some resources also using energy for production, distribution and so forth.

    I wonder what is a vote winner with all these scenarios?

    • Humans also breath out a lot of CO2. And fart methane, especially vegetarians. Some of them are very nice, but there are too many humans, and they make too much mess. Me more than most.
      D J S

      • Vegetarians / vegans / Plant based ester all don’t require livestock associated diet so with methane per capita is less for such folk.

        Also loss of wilderness, tropical forest and habitat destruction is much much less.

  2. Finally, something I can vote for!

    Maybe someone can start a Climate Change party with those as the policy points. I know thousands of secondary school students who would vote them into parliament in 2023 🙂

    Truthfully, it gave me a tiny sense of hope to see such a sensible list written down!

    • Aaron, so long as we have the MMP system in place, there is no point in trying to create a Climate Change party. In my opinion none of the parties in parliament is worth voting for but there are already in existence (but not in Parliament) several parties which are Leftish:- Alliance, Social Credit, Internet Party,etc so you dont need to create a new Party, just take over one of these. It shouldn’t be too hard – they only poll a handful of votes.
      The question then is why doesn’t anyone vote for them? The reason is that with the MMP system they wont get even close to the required 5%, so your vote will certainly be wasted. Bearing in mind that the Greens and NZF might also fail to get 5% each those few lost votes could be enough to tip the balance National’s way. So vote Social Credit; get National. No thanks. Few voters will take the risk. Ultimately MMP as it is presently defined leads to first-past-the post (which Labour and National would dearly want).
      We need to abandon MMP and replace it with the Single Transferable Vote (STN) where your vote is never wasted no matter how small a party may be. Then I could vote Social Credit with a clear conscience.

      • The parliamentary system and parties with a vote every 3 years gives too much room for vested interests to apply pressure which is counter to the peoples wishes.

        STV is a start

        Remember the NZ voted overwhelmingly in a national referendum not to sell off ( partially privatise) 49% or our our publicly owned energy corporations, yet the banker john f key ignored that and sold.

        A more binding system is needed.

  3. Humanity faces an unprecedented crisis in the conditions for its long-term survival. The planet has warmed before, but never this fast. Mass extinction is a regular geological event, but it is now happening faster than at any time since the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction: a megaphase crisis in microphase time. Humanity has never existed on a planet that is 3C-6C warmer than the Holocene, which is predicted by century’s end, regardless of what we manage to do with our emissions. And humanity has never before faced the comprehensive exhaustion of top-soil fecundity and tragically comprehensive biodiversity loss.

    The emerging forms of authoritarian reaction are characteristically denialist about this catastrophe, from Trump’s Sinophobic conspiracism to Bolsonaro’s efforts to extirpate the landless workers’ movement. But the dominant response of fossil fuel giants is that of the majority of capitalist sectors and liberal states: to embrace ‘green’ capitalism, carbon markets, carbon taxes, and green technologies, whose total effect is to lock in carbon emissions.

    The Pentagon positions itself as an ally against climate change while hypocritically securing the conditions for the efficient exploitation of oil and gas concealed under thawing Arctic ice. Environmental movements have coalesced and dispersed since the 1970s, and have since lacked the structural, disruptive capacity, and also the strategy, to achieve the depth and scale of social transformation necessary to slam on the brakes of the crisis.

    The roots of this ongoing disaster are social. The very evolution of fossil fuel use is linked to a growth paradigm based upon the imperatives of capitalist accumulation ever since the beginning of the ‘industrial revolution.’ Advocates of ‘green capitalism’ have failed to offer a plausible solution to a catastrophe that is more imminent than ever. Any attempt to avert climate change requires a mobilisation of resources and a profound change in production and consumption forms that are incompatible with capitalist social relations of production. But even if such an attempt is launched tomorrow, we are likely to face a long-lasting legacy of damages to the earth system. Warming and major biodiversity loss is locked in. Homo Sapiens are the asteroid at this moment in deep time. The 6th great extinction is underway and whatever we do now cannot change that. Our legacy will be a plastic covered rock with toxic levels of ionising radiation as the 450 nuclear power stations and the more than 500,00 or so nuclear warheads break down.

    What alternatives to the various miserable endgames mapped out for us by capital can we realistically envision? What new configurations of agency, strategy and vision are necessary for human emancipation and survival? Beyond denialism, how do we avert the potential for new climate-driven security regimes, eco-Malthusian crackdowns on the poor, and murderous eco-fascism? The chickens of anthropocentric Judeao-Christian post-enlightenment arrogance have finally come home to roost.

    • Humanity is who exactly? The risks of climate change are projected as global yet the risk is not global but disproportionality focused on the poor, marginalised and indigenous. If the risks are as percispatious as you assume then social and political equality are necessary, regardless of predictive knowledge or modelling technology, so sort that out first then the humanity you speak of will adapt accordingly.

    • In my usual style I’ll reply to both of you at once.

      So if you know how power works then you legalise something and everyone for example smokes marijuana in a slightly different way. Off course you would get the National party coming in with silly ideas about crime and punishment like absolute idiots. As soon as politicians make themselves into an idiot they should disqualify themselves from parliament immediately. Of course that makes me very pessimistic. We don’t need more bipartisan bullshit or consensus building or what ever. We need more of this attitude that says fuck you, who do you think you are…

      What’s more dangerous today are theses attitudes that reckon “oh but we don’t know for sure what will happen, it could all be a little less severe.” That is the worst attitude to have because if you ask any biologist they’ll say that by the time a problem is recognised then it’s far to late.

      So that’s why I’m pessimistic about political solutions because we’ve got Labour who will do deals with out thinking that well. No one in Labour ever assumes some one is going to have to get there teeth kicked in and I’m talking about with holding comfort and care from idiots.

      Jacinda, Winston and Robertson when they look at the numbers about oil and energy, minerals and chemicals as well as other ingredients necessary for modern life like grains then the environmental costs need to stack up against the jobs and benefits of going renewable. With Wind Farms and Solar Farms and other forms of energy then I think they can and will be independently minded politicians.

      Renewables just make a lot more sense and I think renewables can be the source of this missing attitude that we need to find. It’s no good playing defensive on limiting the damage all the time we have to be able to go on the offensive and tell all these guys like the people in and around the Taranaki oil sector and say “Y’know what, all you guys will be far better off working the new industries, in renewables.”

      We need people with attitude who owes no one anything and that’s my optimistic view. I’m hoping Labours energy policy persists through employment initiatives because if it doesn’t well the environment is in such a fragile state and we are talking about premature human extinction which would be a negative outcome of course. But never the less my optimistic view is we cultivate the correct attitudes.

    • Paul G, you describe a hopeless situation in terms I believe to be accurate, pretty much summing up the facts as we currently have them revealed by science reports and groups
      … most recently the realisation that the ecosystem is in a state of rapid collapse. Though even here we are told there is hope if we do ‘something’ within two years….hmm. Even if some new global system not based on capitalism were immediately put into place and acted upon by all, quite impossible, it is really too too late to reverse the damage already done. I guess the there is ‘still time’ scenarios are some kind of panacea to prevent mass panic, anyway anyone with half a brain can evaluate the data and the best we can do is head for the hills, buy a boat, build a house on poles, not buy anything in plastic, grow vegetables and flowers, stop cruelty wherever you see it (whatever is within your power) to feel some element of control …. “make hay while the sun shines” was Lovegrove’s advice. If its all too depressing probably a conversation with someone very old or with a terminal illness may help, as these people tend to be philosophical and accepting. Of course, not everyone is and rage, rage against the dying of the light.

  4. So you’re going for full fat Doomer.

    I suppose this is more realistic than expecting the rest of the work to do anything or worse go for the holier than thou – we’ll set an example for the rest of the world approach.

    So if we’re going for the civilisation-in-a-can approach what would I do:

    1) Recruit the brains. Setup an elite university and encourage immigration to support this.
    2) Ensure the smelters are kept going.
    3) stop the ban on genetic engineering.
    4) we’ll need phosphate so encourage undersea mining on the Chatham rise.
    5) The navy will need a very large boost in funding.
    6) 5 year parliamentary term
    7) we will have to build up strategic industries (and subsidise them).
    8) stop pointless immigration – incomers will truly have to add value.
    9) Invest in education heavily.
    10) somehow establish a pharmaceutical industry.
    11) We will need grain so stop the dairy nonsense on the Canterbury plains.
    12) we will need nukes. Fortress NZ will be an oasis and others will want to take it away from us. The lesson from North Korea is that bullies will not bully you.
    13) keep the population happy and share the wealth.

    Basically sustainability from a fortress NZ perspective is key which isn’t the same as the ecological form of the term. This would be hard to do but isn’t impossible.

    S

    • I disagree that Kiwis and Aussies are BS artists. We just haven’t been required to take the next step and action our own recycling processes rather than sending overseas.
      Sounds gruesome, but weaponry exists that can “vaporize” using direct energy. We should be able to demand for this technology to be made public in a controlled and vastly reduced energy form so that it can be put to “better” use.

  5. Carbon neutral etc, all hot air because it seeks to enable us to continue doing what we do.

    An alternative, Solid state economics…which means full life cycle and no external costs. What does that mean? It means production has to be sustainable within the environment and resource base.

    What does that imply? It implies a much lower energy footprint, much lower consumption and an end to growth based economic models.

    Will it happen? Yes, but only when forced by the prior systems collapse. That will come with the end of oil (yes it really is finite) and environmental collapse. Sure as eggs are eggs.

    In between times we will fool ourselves with electric cars and other technological side streets, in the belief that technology is the same as energy. It is not.

    • Nick you have some vital points.

      Financial collapse is likely to be well ahead of oil shortage.

  6. As Peter Garrett said on the John Campbell interview today on ‘TV one “breakfast” – Garrett said we need to join the UK Government who have already committed to a ‘law calling Climate Change a crisis’ and that locks changes to seriously begin now.

    NZ is just dilly-dallying around with no real plan of action.

  7. On the plus side we will be pest free in 2050 as well as carbon neutral. Lol.
    Or any other bullshit we want kid ourselves about! Think of the possibilities. I think we should have a NZ manned Martian colony by 2050, hovercars, the possibilities are endless.
    And space marines, we need space marines.

    • At least we are free of that particular pest. Though being in charge of the bank might be worse.
      D J S

      • Carbon neutral is doable to be fair, pest free is not.
        And we have to be carbon neutral pronto not in science fiction land eh.

        • More than mythical carbon neutrality is necessary.

          Restoration of environment, population reduction and a much reduced energy programme leading to a simpler lifestyle.

          Present patterns of travel consume energy, Non Renewable Natural Resources creating pollution, destroying environment and increasing dependency of supply of food from beyond local community.

          We are still bringing new pests into NZ as we appear blind to the problem of what is causing it.

          Duuhh!

  8. This = mindess stupidity: “somehow establish a pharmaceutical industry.”

    Drugs only suppress symtoms; they heal/cure NOTHING. An ailing human body is in need of NUTRIENTS – vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids & etc., etc.. A headache needs water for the dehydration, far more often than it needs Panadol & worse.

    Medical students learn nothing about health/nutrition. Nurses also suffer such lack of education.

    This retd. NZRN had to walk away from her profession to be able to live in integrity. I advise folk to swallow only real food & take supplemental nutrients because our soils lack minerals which plants need so as to synthesise vitamins. Most NZers are direly deficient in Magnesium. The Internet enabled me to learn meaningfully.

  9. Serious question (I’m not a scientist!);

    If all cows were removed from NZ farms, is there any net methane difference? Would not the existing grass merely senesce and then emit methane as it decays? Are there some studies that conclusively prove that cows are worse than natural (or restored) wetlands, or grasslands (natural or abandoned farms once the cows are gone)?

    In other words, Is there proof that cows are an ‘unnatural’ methane source beyond what would occur in their absence, or is there a touch of anti-farming bias involved?

    Further, is there any science to show the difference in methane produced by cows, as compared to animal-free arable farming where soil is turned (releasing methane), and organic waste matter and crop residues are left to decay to return into the soil? Apart from methane emissions, does anyone have figures for total energy input (ie carbon cost) of cattle-based farming, as compared to arable farming with its much higher mechanisation? My understanding is the organic matter percentage in cattle-grazed soil is usually massively higher than in arable cropping land, suggesting cows may be a little maligned by lack of holistic big-picture thinking.

    • Yes, in several ways.

      Plant matter decomposes releasing some methane but some carbon is left in the soil.
      Pasture has foliage generally less than 300mm tall and often less than 100mm tall. Extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere with by a crop of grass is much less than many crops and very much less than wilderness which we desperately need more of. So pasture displaces other plant matter which is more effective in extracting atmospheric CO2.

      Cows produce methane from grass much more quickly than what decomposition of grass naturally would.

      But as grass decomposes naturally the variety of microorganisms and macro organisms on the ground are different to that in a cows stomach.

      This opens a possibility that some of the carbon in methane and even methane itself is captured within the soil by bacterium.

      There is a lot of research that supports the role of specific soil bacterium feeding on methane.

      When listening to presentations given at a recent Royal Society of NZ about methane emissions from cattle and mitigation of such, I was not impressed with the wild speculation and little substance given to support any likely mitigation.

      The presentation drew vigorously questioning by experts in the field. No significant reduction of methane by alteration of food or genetics was deemed practical nor economic.

      Reduction of cow numbers do reduce methane emissions.

  10. My children are all keenly aware of the climate change calamity approaching. We’re cutting down on meat & dairy consumption and using public transport as much as possible.

    By the time they are of voting age, they will be voting on climate issues. It’s in their best interests!

  11. Yes, it’s like cultural Marxist lipstick on a Neo-liberal economics pig; cynical, myopic, right-wing bigotry, guaranteed to end very badly indeed.

  12. Upper and Lower House

    Doesn’t work and we have multiple examples of it not working around the world.

    Really, I have NFI WTF people keep going on about this when the evidence against it working is so damn extreme. It’s as bad as climate change denialists.

  13. ‘while methane doesn’t have the life of carbon, it’s over 20 times more potent at holding heat’

    Methane in the atmosphere is oxidised to carbon dioxide, so its total contribution to trapping heat consists of its activity as methane PLUS its activity as CO2.

    ‘Global warming potential (GWP) is a measure of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps in the atmosphere up to a specific time horizon, relative to carbon dioxide. It compares the amount of heat trapped by a certain mass of the gas in question to the amount of heat trapped by a similar mass of carbon dioxide and is expressed as a factor of carbon dioxide (whose GWP is standardized to 1). ‘

    According to UNIPCC the global warming potential of methane is 34 times that of CO2 over 100 years and 86 times that of CO2 over 20 years.

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

  14. So the ‘censor’ objected to my normal critical comments from 21.30h and just before last night?! Astonishing.

    • They actually censor beggar all, to their credit, even stuff critical of authors, which most blogs won’t do.
      It does take a long time for comments to appear though, this site would hum with real time mods but I get everyone has real jobs.

  15. 100 % Bomber .Absolutely 100 % .

    Perhaps your finest moment .

    Perhaps your finest post

    Much gratitude .

    You are a life boat in a sea of propaganda .

    You are the bird song in the dark forest.

    You flush the toilet of neoliberalism into the sewers of history .

    Utter and total respect .

  16. Dr Russel Norman, says The Zero Carbon Amendment Bill has no ability to enforce its climate change targets…

    https://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/press-release/russel-norman-toothless-zero-carbon-bill-has-bark-but-no-bite/

    Zero carbon bill – let the battle commence

    WrittenBy: MICKYSAVAGE – Date published:8:21 am, May 9th, 2019 – 100 comments

    Yesterday I made  brief comment on Micky’s post, that I hoped that the National Party continue to oppose the Zero Carbon Bill so as to give the voters at least some chance to decide. 

    To which Solkta replied:

    solkta 13.1

    10 May 2019 at 7:38 am

    I just think you like your “war” too much. What if National oppose the Bill and win the election?

    First of all it was MickySavage who used the word ‘war’, not me.

    Personally I think Mickey is indulging in wishful thinking, Why would National pick a war over the Zero Carbon Act? 
    Russel Norman said, the Zero Carbon Bill is “toothless”, it would be a fight over nothing. 

    It would be like two bald men fighting over a comb.

    It might be entertaining, but it ain’t gonna happen.

    I will be surprised indeed if the Zero Carbon Act is ever even mentioned once by Nats in their election campaigning next year. By that time I expect the Zero Carbon Act will have become so obviously irrelevant, as to not be worth a mention.

    There will be no war over the Zero Carbon Act.

  17. Bomber
    Did you come up with the fortress Aotearoa checklist or is it transcribed from elsewhere. Interesting stuff.

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