If you access this site using the kn.com.au URL you will shortly find that it doesn't work any more as the domain expires. From now on you will need to use http://www.keynet.co.nz
If you access this site using the kn.com.au URL you will shortly find that it doesn't work any more as the domain expires. From now on you will need to use http://www.keynet.co.nz
One of the reasons for coming back to NZ from Australia is that we believed those meteorologists who, for a decade, had been saying that climate change would hit Australia harder than almost anywhere else in the world. So, while American denialists are crowing about how cold its been so "global warming is a lie", we get this;
Heat pushing farmers beyond limit
Vast tracts of central and northern Australia are gripped by an unrelenting drought that is decimating cattle herds and threatening to force pastoralists off their land.
Scattered rain has fallen over the past two days across some dehydrated parts of Queensland, and a searing heatwave that drove temperatures into the high 40s is now easing.
But weather forecasters see little chance of drought-breaking rains before autumn, with temperatures expected to remain above-average until March at least.
The heatwave pushed the mercury to more than 48C in the hottest parts of the state, dropping birds from the sky and killing thousands of fruit bats in Queensland and New South Wales.
Some climate bloggers are still casting around for more appropriate terms than global warming, even if that is literally the truth and the simplest statement of what is happening, "climate change" doesn't seem to cut it as conveying enough urgency and the other day I saw someone trying "climate disruption" as well.
I'm tending towards "the end of climate". The whole point of even discussing climate is that it gives us a framework for making decisions about water management, what to grow and where etc. Its a statistical, backwards-looking tool that has depended on the inertia of the global weather systems that have reliably cycled over years and decades, producing similar series of warm, wet, windy, cold days that we have called seasons and on which we have come to rely.
I say we can';t rely any more on the past being a predictor because the global heat management system has become chaotic, all the patterns are breaking down. Last year at this time we were entering the worst NZ drought in 70 years while people were drowning in Australian floods and catchment dams were being spilled to stop them over topping. Since then we have had the wettest May on record around our place, followed by a mini winter drought, some rain, then another dry stretch in spring.
This year the Aussies have returned to relentless drought, Chicago has been colder than Antarctica and we are having the perfect summer with a few days of fine warm weather followed by a day or so with rain. It couldn't be better, even the temperatures have been in a range that has kept mildews and moulds at bay, although the insect pests are a bit higher than before, I think.
Like most people around here, I was expecting another drought, which is why we sold off 3 of our 5 cows and had several dams and ponds dug. We didn't expect them to fill till next winter and when I bought a bag of grass seed to get some cover on the bare earth, the guy at the store said it was a waste of time, that I'd be back for more in Autumn. I agreed with him, but I also said that, although I was expecting a drought, nowhere is it written that we have to have one. I sowed the grass and a lot of it is growing well. It will need more in autumn, but for now it was worth the bet.
And the dams are nearly full.
Pacific weather systems are driven by the southern oscillation index which, for a couple of years now, has been in neutral, neither pushing one thing nor another. I saw it called "La Nada" rather than El Nino or La Nina. The bad news is that La Nada predicts nothing at all, any kind of weather is possible.
Which means we have to farm and garden for every eventuality, expecting some of the bets to fail. That is going to drive up the cost of food even more because for every spud or apple we harvest, maybe 3 other bets will have failed. That is food insecurity.
Just don't look for anyone in the public eye even beginning to broach that conversation, let alone talking about the end of climate.
As a result of overzealous recycling, the nation of 9.5 million citizens must now import rubbish from other countries in order to feed its waste-to-energy incineration power plants. Each year the Scandinavian country imports 80,000 tonnes of garbage, mostly from Norway, to fuel homes and businesses.
While at one level its amusing and we can admire the Swedes' intelligence and ability to stick with an idea, it raises a problem that I have been harping on about for a long time. Right now we have a lot of people trying to figure out how to turn the vast amounts of waste we create into something useful, from insulation and other building materials to methane and other forms of energy.
In the medium term, however, that is a dead-end strategy because the waste stream itself is dependent on excessive, unsustainable consumption. As the Global Financial Crisis continues to roll out and become an increasingly economic one, our ability to generate waste streams will diminish; we will buy less stuff and that we do buy will have less packaging and we will throw out less of it.
Anyone trying to create a busines based on that waste is NOT an environmentalist nor have they thought through the whole process, they are every bit as invested in our failing waste-producing economy as the worst waste creator, literally.
Its a good way to start cleaning up the environmental damage that landfill is doing, but its also creating an even more concetratedly toxic material in the contaminated ash that is being shipped back to Norway. If all the Norwegians do is bury the stuff, they are lining up for an even worse problem down the track. At the very least it needs to be baked into building materials in a form that wont leach the heavy metals etc, or vitrified.
And then there's the energy budget. Right now its trucks burning diesel carting this stuff back and forth, they are talking about shipping stuff to and from the Italy, Romania and the Baltic states, much, much more diesel and then the energy costs of making the ash safe. I'm betting that quite soon we will reach a point where burning the diesel to make electricity will be financially better than moving the waste, so the only net benefit will be environmental, and that will be limited. If the sending nation has to pay dfor the transport they will very quickly decide that trading even more of their environmental standards will not only be preferable, it will be the only affordable option.
We are now in the phase of the process where we will reach the limits of every economic and energy strategy very quickly. This is just more evidence that the Club of Rome was right, we have reached the limits to growth and now we are trying to stave off the collapse instead of reorganising ourselves around the new reality.
Hell, we aren't even starting the public conversation about that.
I've been a fan of Gail Tverberg's stuff since I first came across it on the late Oil Drum. Gail is not an oil expert, she's an actuary, she specialises in statistics and data and demographics and she sees stuff that most of us miss.
Like this little ball of dynamite from Syria
Syria’s oil production is dropping. The drop between 1996 and 2010 reflects primarily the effect of depletion. The especially steep drop in the last two years reflects the disruption of civil war and international sanctions, in addition to the effect of depletion.
When oil exports drop, the government finds itself suddenly less able to pay for programs that people have been expecting, such as food subsidies and new irrigation programs to support agriculture. If revenue from oil exports is sufficient, desalination of sea water is even a possibility. In Syria, wheat prices doubled between 2010 and 2011, for a combination of reasons, including drought and a cutback in subsidies. When basic commodities become too high priced, citizens tend to become very unhappy with the status quo. Civil war is not unlikely. Thus, oil depletion is likely a significant contributor to the current unrest.
In 30 years, Syria's population nearly trebled but its ability to provide for that population has been shrinking for exactly half of that time. That makes reral sense as a driver of unrest and civil war.
Further down the piece she applies the same analysis to Egypt and Yemen and Saudi Arabia. In February 2004 I posted a piece (Now apparently missing from the blog) called "Did we just go over the hump" about why I thought we had reach global peak oil as Saudi Arabia gave all the political signs of no longer being able to pump the stuff at will.
I've had no reason since then to change my opinion and endless yapping about fracking being a game changer etc is just that; you don't spend billions squeezing out every last drop if you could spend millions to get buckets-full.
Oh, and Norway is about to get a right wing government in part because they have been able to blame the current one for "wasting the oil opportunity", just as the UK did in the 80's.
In every case, countries that find significant oil piss away the opportunity, they talk and act as if this finite resource is unlimited and time after time, within a single lifetime, it proves not to be the case. But apparently we have zero ability to learn from the mistakes of others, we have to do it all over again for ourselves.
And then we refuse to acept the reality so we elect fantasists, our own current shower of "not quite-free market" true believers, now in Australia, and Norway and so on. We elect "conservatives" because, having changed everything about the way we live, we suddenly don't want to change away from the good times and we are suckered into believing that they can, somehow, magically as it happens, be prolonged forever.
They can't. We are living through the early phase of how that "can't" turns into "didn't". And if you aren't, right now, taking substantive action to wrap up, you will be naked in the cold; probably praying for more global warming.
Its not just the fact that the market is driving more and more people into poverty, its that we are moving into a world where energy poverty is the norm and those who are not in a position to generate their own energy will suffer. (I also expect that those who CAN generate their own will be taxed to death for the benefit of the companies that sell it, but that's another discussion)
This bit has it right
"What's happening is the cartel that's been pushing prices up for the last decade is still operating. The big companies are essentially able to raise their prices without consequences and consumers simply have to pay or get disconnected," he said.
The reality is that they wont notice until so many of us are disconnected that their profits finally dip, permanently.
Contact Energy said the survey did not provide the complete picture.
"We have a range of pricing plans and highly competitive offers in the market along with a range of payment options that help customers meet their energy needs," it said.
What we don't have is the smart people from these companies trying to live in the same conditions on the same income and pay the same prices for the same amount of power. And don't expect it any time soon. The sooner we stop this idiotic experiment in running critical human infrastructure through profit-oriented organisations and understand that the people's resources are there for the benefit of the people, not the few, the better.
What we will also need is a people much more aware that the people's resources belong not to them, but to their great grandchildren and we are the guardians of those resources for their benefit.
Another data point.
The head of private security giant G4S admitted the company's failure to provide enough guards for the Olympics was "a humiliating shambles" as he faced a grilling from British lawmakers on Tuesday.
Chief executive Nick Buckles said he expected the company would eventually be able to supply 7000 of the 10,000 staff it had promised. An extra 3500 troops have already been drafted in by the British government to plug the gap.
Day by day we started to realise that the pipeline and the people we thought we were going to be able to deliver we couldn't.
But he insisted he would not resign over the scandal and said G4S, one of the world's biggest security firms, would still claim its £57 million ($86.5 million) management fee for the Olympics contract.
Frankly, I don't think he should be in the gun for this. He is doing what he is paid to do, maximise his company's profits by minimising his costs. If that includes being paid for work that is not done, so what? His ONLY interest is to maximise profits. Nothing else. Even better if he can do it at public expense rather than actually having to compete to actually deliver on his agreements.
The people who need to be in the gun are those who let and supposedly oversee the contract, and those politicians and "economists" who mindlessly, endlessly, relentlessly assert that private enterprise is more effective, efficient and smart than any publicly owned entity is or could be.
We have had the fiascos of NZ Rail and Air NZ being privatised and rescued at public expense, SERCO's running of our prisons is a crime in itself, British water supplies in a mess from privatisation, the insane cost overruns in any number of Military supply contracts from the US to Australia to fiascos with the latest NZ navy vessels. Boeing's Dreamliner is a nightmare of delays and inefficiencies, the Airbus 380 still a mess; everywhere you look, scams, incompetence, greed, corruption and stupidity masquerading as innovation and private enterprise superiority.
It has taken 3 bastions of private enterprise to repair my compouter. It failed in November 2011; I STILL don't have it back.
Are public entities any better? Difficult to tell since so many of them are now being run as "Business units" with financial goals rather than service goals, ACC for example. But running to the rescue in the UK are the cops and the military. Organsiations that, apparently, actually train people for service and have them available when needed.
It would be nice to think that, some day, far in the future perhaps, that the evidence might lead to a conclusion that Private enterprise is not only NOT the answer to all things, it is barely the answer to anything. But I'd settle for all the private enterprise boosters to just STFU
Time to do some actual work that produces something useful, edible and tasty. cape gooseberry jam for example.
Dorothy Chou, Google's senior policy analyst, wrote: "Unfortunately, what we've seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different. When we started releasing this data, in 2010, we noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it's not.
"This is the fifth data set that we've released. Just like every other time, we've been asked to take down political speech. It's alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect – western democracies not typically associated with censorship."
Get used to it, there is so much to cover up already, and as the GFC plays out, there will be much, much more that TPTB don't want in the public domain.
€700 million was withdrawn from Greek banks on Monday, according to remarks made by Greek President Karolos Papoulias and reported in the Wall Street Journal. The Journal reports that between €2 and €3 billion in deposits have been withdrawn from the Greek banking system each month for the past two years. January was a high point, with €5 billion.
While the guys at DR can be pretty right wing, this piece has it on the nail. But what interests me even more is that the ordinary Greeks have been on to the game for a long time. back when the alternative thinkers were saying PIIGS are the problem, and being mocked or ignored by the terribly serious people who think they run the world, Greeks were steadily stashing away hard cash against the certainty that sometime within a reasonable frame, they would be screwed totally by their Government and the banking system.
I wonder how many of the rest of us are that far ahead of the game? Of course, people in NZ, Aus, the US and UK for example, have no history of their societies collapsing into chaos and anarchy. The Greeks have been there within the lifetime of many people still alive; they know the smell and they are taking action.
We expect the Americans to try and steal everything that is not nailed down, its the normal process of the empire to appropriate everything. But to find a New Zealand government ministry assisting the theft is a bloody disgrace.
A rural library in Horowhenua says a United States company has hijacked the computer system it invented and taken the trademark on its Maori name.
The Horowhenua Library Trust devised a software system called Koha 12 years ago to manage catalogues and lending information.
The system is free and widely used by other libraries, churches, schools and corporations around the world.
However, the trust's head of libraries, Joann Ransom, says the American company LibLimehas been granted provisional rights to the name Koha by the Ministry of Economic Development.
She says LibLime is trying to adapt the Koha system for its own private client base.
"We did something really good and we gave it away to the world and it's been a glorious thing globally for 12 years. And now this American corporate wants to take it," she says.
Ms Ransom says she is astounded an international company could trademark a Maori word.
The library has three months to object to the decision and Ms Ransom says it has little money to pay for a legal case.
We live in a world where only those things that are done for profit may be done and that anything being done without a desire for profit can be treated as optional until some way can be found to profit from it.
Those who have assets that are not being used for profit can have those assets expropriated for the benefit of anyone who seeks to profit from those assets.
Theft of IP, theft of living treasure in the form of the Maori language within which Koha is a significant cultural factor, theft of the value that has been created by a great product that enables libraries all over the world to conduct their business without paying excruciating fortunes to commercial interests.
And there is the crime that Koha has committed. Because we have now reached that stage where any task done for free is defined as theft of profits from someone trying to profit from that activity and that must be stopped.
The people in MED who have sanctioned this are complicit in the crime and at the very least need to be hauled into the street,tarred and feathered and dumped in Wellington harbour then charged with polluting the environment.
I will also give good odds that someone will, once the deal is done, get "head hunted" by an affiliate company for a nice lucrative job. No crass, brown-paper-bag-full-of-cash corruption is needed in this corrupted system, just a nod and a wink.
- Internet NZ needs to step into this and fund the case against this theft
- Tweet it, FB it, letter to the editor it, and for Kiwis 3 days out from an election, kick some pollieass.
What a disgrace.
With his announcement of his new cabinet for Italy, Mario Monti completes the bankers' takeover.
Monti, a respected economics professor and former European Commissioner, said he would take the crucial economy portfolio himself.
Corrado Passera, the CEO of Italy's biggest retail bank Intesa Sanpaolo, was given the infrastructure and industry portfolio.
But after disputes among the parties which complicated Monti's task, the new government contained no politicians, as he was reported to have wanted. Some analysts say this could make it more vulnerable to ambushes in parliament as it pushes through unpopular measures.
Monti said the lack of politicians would strengthen rather than weaken the government by enabling it to avoid political disputes and press ahead with vital reforms.
"The absence of political personalities in the government will help rather than hinder a solid base of support for the government in parliament and in the political parties because it will remove one ground for disagreement."
Yes, yes, it all has to go through Parliament but the reality will be that Italy now exists for the exclusive benefit of the banking fraternity. Its first, and only, task will be to ensure that people with too much money and no sense of responsibility continue to get paid their king's ransoms at the expense of everyone else.
Monti is an ex EU commissioner, it is exactly that cadre that has pushed Europe into its current situation, and his top finance guy is openly a banker. We know exactly where their loyalties will lie and who will suffer.
Given the competence the bankers have demonstrated in their own business, let alone everyone else's, I would expect the first italians to start dying of starvation within the year. As I said over on FB the other day, Sarkozy will be next, although according to this morning's Marketwatch, he may have to shove a bit to get to the top of the queue with holland, Finland and now Austria in the crosshairs.
Oh, and we have been to the well in Austria once before.
I've been a fan of JHK for about a decade now as he issued jeremiad after admonition that the world as we knew it in the late 90's was surely coming to an end within some reasonable expectation of my lifetime. He's taken some flak for a couple of fine-grained predictions that ignored the Keynes Dictum that "Markets can remain irrational a lot longer than you and I can remain solvent." but I have never doubted that on the medium to large scale he was right.
His starting point was Peak Oil but as the financial insanity that it precipitated became first main stream then mania then desperate clinging to a sinking lifeboat while singing uplifting songs about a better day he has merged the two into an ongoing series of check marks against the steps on the way to a much smaller future. After the last week, as you might imagine, he is pretty much incandescent; which means he has missed today's action.
I'll try to help: this is a compressive financial and economic contraction (one is money, the other is activity). Late-summer storm that it is, it looks to be intensifying. Everything that's super-big is going down sooner or later. The exact sequence of failures is unpredictable. But you can be sure Nature is telling you to get local, get smaller, get finer, downscale, solidify your friendships, and drop your stupid grandiose fantasies about running WalMart on algae. This is change you don't have to believe in, because it is about to jump up and bite you on the lips.
If you fancy a little less fire and brimstone and a few more charts and details, you might try my favourite, pretty much my only economist worth reading, Steve Keen who talked last week to mark Colvin of the ABC in Australia, this is his summary.
... assets have got three letters at the front ASS. I think we should take them importantly. Assets can collapse in value overnight, as we’ve seen today, you’re liabilities remain there, and it’s liabilities that are driving this debt crisis.
They’ve got totally out of hand, and you, mate there may not be a magical level of debt, but when you have it going from 45 per cent of GDP to 300 per cent that is a runaway exponential growth process that can’t be sustained. And when it broke that’s what caused the financial crisis.
And we’re now in a permanent stage of deleveraging until we get back down to similar levels, about 100 per cent of GDP.[...] I think it’s permanent until the debt levels are paid down. We’re in a debt deflation where deleveraging by the private sector is going to reduce aggregate demand below aggregate supply and will slowly grind down.
MARK COLVIN: And the question of what we do about it?
STEVE KEEN: We have to abolish the debt. The debt should never have been issued in the first place and the financial institution that issued should go bankrupt.
We had our chance to sacrifice the banks in the attempt to save the economies of the world, but we chose instead to leave our economies for slaughter on the altar of Milton Friedman and now we are seeing where that leads. The reason we have no inflation despite a couple of Trillion being pumped into the world's economies in the last 4 years is that all that money is trivial on the scale of the debt. We LOST more value from the world's stock markets last Friday than all the pump priming by all the governments of the world in 4 years. And we lost about twice that much today.
And we will keep on losing that much day after day until all the unjustifiable debt is ground out of the system. It wont necessarily happen on consecutive days, there will be moments when things pause, flatten out, maybe even struggle upwards to pull in a last few idiot optimists who see a "buying opportunity". They'll be accopmanied by some fools being led to the slaughterhouse by ignoramuses like a so-called financial adviser my wife had some years back who was a "dollar cost averaging" believer. They'll be hanging in their a while yet. But then the process will resume.
Nicole Foss talks about debt being the creation of multiple, and mutually exclusive claims to underlying real wealth. Her point is that, necessarily, most of those claims wont be able to be met and the debt will be repudiated, defaulted or in some other way extinguished without repayment. And those whose personal financial and economic survival is locked into those superfluous claims will find themselves in serious poverty.
Actually, she's worth quoting in some detail. This from an interview in September last year but her shtick goes a lot further back than that.
People say "Oh, well they'll simply print." If you try and print your way out of deflation, what will happen is the bond market, which is in control of interest rates, will jack those interest rates up to the point where debt-junky governments will not be able to pay their debts at all. This will precipitate a wave of debt default, which is deflation by definition. So if you try and print your way out of deflation, you just get there even faster. There really is no way out, once you've had the creation of excess claims to underlying real wealth. And that's all that credit is.
It's quite different from a currency inflation where you actually have enormous amounts of physical currency created. This is not extra currency, it's not taking the underlying real wealth pie and dividing it into smaller pieces like a currency hyperinflation. This is the creation of credit, which is the creation of multiple and mutually exclusive claims to the same pieces of underlying real wealth pie. And when people realize that they've, these excess claims exist, there will be an almighty resource grab, underlying real wealth grab, and that is deflation. So that is vey much what we are looking at.
Her advice, and Kunstler's, for the last decade has been
Another guy who has had a long handle on this stuff is Rob Paterson who was giving me the lowdown on his take just on 2 years ago. To quote that piece,
Not only did he tell us about the deep sixing of his portfolio, but at one stage he pulled a handful of notes from his pocket and said, essentially, that he didn't even trust that. Another check off.
Like Rob I am turning any spare cash into real things, supplies like gravel, timber and screws (plus a nudge for my wife to stock up on needles for her sewing machine) and tools.
When people claim that they could not have seen this coming, that they really, really believed that they could make it work this time, there is one thing only to do and that is very quietly and unobtrusively to move away from them and get some serious distance between you and them. They are either seriously delusional or living in an ignorance so deep that when they realise how far below water they actually are, they will be pretty unsafe to be around.
OK, back to the garden.