Rich possibilities ignored

LETTER

Gordon Webb seems to be working overtime to persuade people to do nothing about climate change. He projects no visions but the status quo and a ridiculous extreme, ignoring the rich possibilities in between. This paucity leads to something more a rant than an argument, as in the use of “hogwash” for the call to do good or provide leadership, and “self-righteous” for “responsible”. There are extraordinary underlying assumptions:

One, that to do right, if you can’t immediately see the benefits, is wrong.

Two, that the big populations of China, the US, India and the EU are not full of people just like us, looking everywhere for solutions. The problem with people who “don’t give a toss” starts at home, even without Gordon Webb’s encouragement.

Three, that solutions we can offer are limited to moral leadership (which Gordon seems to fear), and exclude inventive technologies, new planning and design for lower consumption, and improved social prosperity under new low-energy regimes. New Zealand is pretty good at innovation, and having a small population density gives us freedom to experiment.

Four, that we are all so selfish and shortsighted we think avoiding an economic slump for New Zealand is more important than avoiding a global one. There is a need for a general contraction of the overdeveloped economies.

To ridicule by exaggeration is a cheap debating trick. Clearly, we can’t go right out of farming animals. Even if we did, it would change rural production into something less visible and tradeable, yet probably greater, which is different from ending it. However, we could do with a drastic reduction from cow numbers that produce as much effluent as 90 million humans, yet somehow keep milk expensive at home.

We do not need simplistic black and white arguments. We need green ones.

Gavin Maclean

Gordon Webb seems to be working overtime to persuade people to do nothing about climate change. He projects no visions but the status quo and a ridiculous extreme, ignoring the rich possibilities in between. This paucity leads to something more a rant than an argument, as in the use of “hogwash” for the call to do good or provide leadership, and “self-righteous” for “responsible”. There are extraordinary underlying assumptions:

One, that to do right, if you can’t immediately see the benefits, is wrong.

Two, that the big populations of China, the US, India and the EU are not full of people just like us, looking everywhere for solutions. The problem with people who “don’t give a toss” starts at home, even without Gordon Webb’s encouragement.

Three, that solutions we can offer are limited to moral leadership (which Gordon seems to fear), and exclude inventive technologies, new planning and design for lower consumption, and improved social prosperity under new low-energy regimes. New Zealand is pretty good at innovation, and having a small population density gives us freedom to experiment.

Four, that we are all so selfish and shortsighted we think avoiding an economic slump for New Zealand is more important than avoiding a global one. There is a need for a general contraction of the overdeveloped economies.

To ridicule by exaggeration is a cheap debating trick. Clearly, we can’t go right out of farming animals. Even if we did, it would change rural production into something less visible and tradeable, yet probably greater, which is different from ending it. However, we could do with a drastic reduction from cow numbers that produce as much effluent as 90 million humans, yet somehow keep milk expensive at home.

We do not need simplistic black and white arguments. We need green ones.

Gavin Maclean

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Gordon Webb - 22 days ago
Oh dear, Gavin McLean just had to bring politics into the climate change debate. With the bizarre announcement that his Green Party wants to spend $2.1 billion in fast-tracking a light rail link between Auckland Airport and the Viaduct Basin (why that spot, the location of the next America's Cup event hasn't even been set?) and its propensity to spend other people's money, it's fortunate that at about 12 percent of the vote it won't achieve much.
But that aside - Gavin, if you really have some climate change demons you want to deal with, then throw away your computer, disconnect the electricity from your home and crush your car. It won't do any good but it might make you feel better. Then you can ponder how your personal sacrifice will stop China being free to increase its own greenhouse gas emissions through until 2030.