2007 - 2021

All the Blah Blah Blah

Despite the hype and the frenzied yet banal media coverage, all of this was inevitable, all of this was foreseen.

COP couldn’t not fail. It was designed to fail.

The political elites which gathered in Glasgow have no vested interests in changing the economic system they enjoy the benefits of.

The ‘hosts’ were largely absent.

There is no surprise that the British team that brought you Brexit and openly flout international law and renege on treaties they themselves have just negotiated should be the same team that have failed at COP. When Boris Johnson did appear in Glasgow it was a deeply embarrassing experience with him using the international stage to proclaim that Britain wasn’t really corrupt.

The COP process is riddled with Big OIl and fossil fuel companies clinging on to their profits while investing heavily in greenwashing their past and our future.

Not all of the media is useless.

Last week, openDemocracy revealed that officials from major oil companies including BP would be speaking at COP26 – despite assurances from organisers that they would not be welcome. openDemocracy also revealed that BP spent years spying on peaceful climate campaigners, even hiring a private intelligence firm to do so.

Jenna Corderoy revealed that details of a secretive meeting between the PM and the BP were among dozens of crucial climate documents the Cabinet Office has refused to release.

DeSmog reported that General Motors, one of many polluting companies at the heart of the COP pantomime: “General Motors, one of the world’s largest industrial corporations, is backing the “Pathways to 1.5” pavilion at the Glasgow summit, which explores how businesses can reach the Paris Agreement target of restricting global heating to 1.5°C by the end of the century.”

The Ferret’s Rob Edwards reported that (‘Scottish Government urged big oil to use young people to boost COP message’): “During a conference call in February 2021 the then energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, pressed for young people to be involved in “sharing the good practice” of oil and gas companies.

“An official minute of the call released under freedom of information law reveals that he asked the UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) to talk to Holyrood political advisers about the industry “raising its profile internationally” at COP26.”

Lily Hnderson from the youth climate campaign, Fridays For Future Scotland, said: “Rather than challenge the dangers posed by the oil and gas lobby, the government lent them PR advice on how to tokenise our generation. If we are to save the planet we must stand up to the fossil fuel lobby, not pander to them.”

But if sections of the alternative media are large parts of the media are dangerously useless and seem just illiterate on the most important issue humanity faces.

Radio 4’s flagship “World at One’s” coverage consisted of Sarah Montague asking Allegra Stratton “Is 1.5 still alive?” relishing the phrase as a sort of joshing clever play on words. The Herald published an attack on Nicola Sturgeon accusing her of ‘abandoning Holyrood’ by attending COP. The Daily Record, on the last day of the climate conference reported that Kate Middleton had forgotten to zip up her ‘£645 Smythson Panama Ciappa East West Tote’ handbag.

Among this pathetic coverage was peppered the familiar litany of lifestyle tips and banal ‘micro steps’ because “we can all do our bit”. Absent from 90% of the media coverage is any analysis of the actual changes required to create the conditions for a liveable future. Environmental justice, the absence of the global south, the failure of elite rule, the impossibility of a growth economy on a finite planet, or the brutal economic injustice at the very heart of all of this all are absent as the mainstream media chatters on and on and the politicians blah blah blah.

Despite the rhetoric that some magical solution would arise from this farce at the last minute, by Friday the initial draft (itself completely inadequate) was being watered down. The  language on accelerating phase out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies was watered down and now become only “unabated” coal & “inefficient” subsidies. The call for new 2030 climate plans next year was now “requests”, not “urges”. The draft treaty was being undermined not strengthened.

At the heart of this epic failure are the myths sustained and nurtured by the media dialogue. Last week saw Mark Carney launch the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), Carney lamented: “A few years ago, the financial system held a mirror to the climate crisis. Not any more.”

Carney announced an eye-watering $130 trillion (£96 trillion) deal.

But, as David Whyte revealed on Bella, all was not as it seemed.

Whyte wrote: “… it was obvious to anyone who bothered to read the small print that there was no $130 trillion “deal”. All that the $130 trillion figure represented was a crude, back-of-the-envelope sum of the combined assets of all of the signatories. The figure released by Carney and the alliance was a notional one, dependent on a rather stretched leap of faith. The total assets held by signatories amounted to roughly 40 per cent of the world’s financial capital (or something close to £130 trillion). If those signatories no longer invested in carbon projects, then all of their assets could be regarded as “green”. Simple.

“Few do read the small print, and we saw some spectacular misreporting. The New York Times headline screamed: “Financial industry, with $130 trillion, to pursue climate goals”; Bloomberg followed suit with: “Carney unveils $130 trillion in climate finance commitments”. He had done nothing of the sort. And they knew it. Michael Bloomberg is, after all, part of the GFANZ inner circle.”

There was no White Knight. The bankers weren’t coming to the rescue. Nobody was coming. Capital wasn’t going to abandon the drivers of growth, exploitation and consumption that are at its heart. That’s not a surprise, that was inevitable. COP was designed to fail.

If the Glasgow COP saw the best and worst of humanity gathered in one city, if it represents a historic failure of an almost unimaginable scale, the only positive that can gleaned from the entire hellish process is that it itself is a revelation. The myths that surround COP: of a reformable capitalism; of politicians with the will and the motivation to effect real change; of technology as a saviour; all are redundant, empty. All those myths are broken and exposed.

Is 1.5 alive?

No it’s dead. It was killed by corporate power and a historic failure of political leadership and all the blah blah blah.

But, as the artificial light shines down on the Blue Zone, on the SPADS and policy wonks, on the craven journalists and the corporate whores – outside are the rest of us: the young and the conscious, the fearful and the dispossessed. COP26 was the last chance for the powerful to prove that they had the capacity for change, that they had some moral authority or some flickering sign of leadership. They failed. But this wasn’t our last chance, it was theirs.

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  1. Anne Winther says:

    This is our beginning. If one thing came out of these talks, it is the building of solidarity amongst us, the people. Our connections run deeper than before. This depth strengthens our resolve and capacity. Our job is to go out into the world and build our community to make the changes we have to make for all life on this planet.

    Thank you Mike!

  2. Mons Meg says:

    ‘Despite the hype and the frenzied yet banal media coverage, all of this was inevitable, all of this was foreseen.’

    It was indeed. As I said even before the curtain went up, this is nothing but spectacle. Even the protest had a hint of carnival about it.

    1. James Mills says:

      It was ”Bread and circuses ” for the masses – but without the bread and with a plethora of clowns !

  3. Alistair Taylor says:

    Thank you Mike, for this and all the other coverage.
    Bella Caledonia goes from strength to strength. A much needed platform and place.

  4. GordonD says:

    The failure of COP26 was both foreseeable and in fact foreseen. The crucial thing now is how people around the world react. Will it be with despair or anger? Despair will probably mean inaction and passivity in the face of ‘inevitable’ climate change: a continuation of business as usual until there really is no alternative possibility to climate chaos. Anger though could motivate people to take matters in to their own hands rather than invest their hopes in politicians or greenwashing corporations.
    In Scotland are we going to meekly accept the continued dominance of the fossil fuel industry and its contribution to overshooting the global carbon budget? If not, what are we going to do to stop it? Elsewhere I believe there is a post-COP campaign being planned to target the Total oil corporation, one of the biggest investors in developing new oil extraction and pipelines. Maybe closing down Cambo could be something we could start with here?

    1. Mons Meg says:

      ‘The crucial thing now is how people around the world react.’

      I suppose that, for people around the world, life will go on in its diverse ways.

      Life can be a sair fecht. Thank goodness for spectacles like COP26; they take us out of ourselves for a wee while and provide an occasion for performative rituals through which we can seek purification.

      Next up: Children in Need.

      1. GordonD says:

        Except of course that, for a lot of people, life is not going to go on in its diverse forms. And those in the global south are going to be hit harder and sooner than the rest of us.

        1. Mons Meg says:

          Indeed! That’s how evolution works. One possible outcome of the environmental revolution we’re currently living through is that it will produce ecological conditions under which we – as a species – will not thrive.

          But life itself is pretty resilient in the fecundity of its random diversification. It’s survived cataclysmic climate change many times in the past. It will survive in one form or another whatever conditions the planet throws at it in the future.

          As a species, we grossly overrate our significance. Consider the lilies of the field…

          1. GordonD says:

            I don’t know whether or not it was intentional, but that comment comes across as remarkably crass: the casual indifference to human suffering of a modern day Malthus. Malthus saw starvation, suffering and death as the inevitable and unavoidable consequence of over-population, an act of nature rather than a failure of social relations. And similarly with climate change, the social Darwinist arguments about evolution and the unimportance of people (especially those far away and ‘other’) ignore the fact that the science is not predicting a natural event but describing the consequences of political and economic decisions we are choosing to make right now.
            Although Malthus’ ideas have long been discredited they continue to live on in sections of the environmental movement. A similar trope is ‘humanity as virus’, welcoming the forthcoming culling. Again this is more popular among those who don’t expect it will include them or their families.

          2. Mons Meg says:

            Indeed, Malthus failed to factor in the increase in human productivity that capitalism would bring, which virtually eliminated the problem of scarcity. The negative side of the dialectic, however, which none of his critics foresaw (not even the sainted Marx), has been the degradation of the environment that this industrial revolution would bring also. It’s this immanent contradiction in our relations of production (the benefits vs. the costs of capitalism) that’s driving the environmental revolution we’re currently living through.

            Anyhoo: ‘crass’ or not, I’m just calling into question the anthropocentric or humanist assumption that shapes the narrative of catastrophe by which characterise this environmental revolution. As I say: from the point of view of life itself, as a species we grossly overrate our own significance.

          3. GordonD says:

            Apologies Mons Meg for any implied aspersions on your intentions. And indeed it is obviously true that humanity is a very brief and passing phase in earth’s story, and of little consequence for ‘life’ in the abstract. As even bourgeois economists acknowledge, in the long run we are all dead. But even if we admit all that, it’s only another way of saying that if *we* don’t care about human society, and the consequences *for us* of how we live and share the earth’s resources, no other bugger will.
            Up until fairly recently I was dismissive, and a little contemptuous, of Doomers: those who have accepted that climate chaos is inevitable and Near Term Human Extinction unavoidable (and therefore all that is left to do is prepare for our exit). Doomers themselves dismiss any calls to action to prevent or mitigate climate change as “Hopium”. However I have to admit it is increasingly hard to avoid despair, especially in light of the hegemonic power of capital and states to keep our choices within ‘business as usual’ or ‘green growth’, and what that really means. Perhaps I am just navigating myself through the various stages of grief at the loss of hope for the future for my own and other people’s children? Maybe still caught up in the anger and negotiation, but heading for acceptance? I don’t know but anger is a useful and motivating force, and I’m holding on to it.

  5. Doug Haywood says:

    Thank you Mike, great digest.
    Time to roll up the sleeves…
    https://www.stopcambo.org.uk/

    1. GordonD says:

      Looking at this stop cambo campaign though, it’s clearly a standard, NGO driven, top-down initiative that appears to be limited to directing supporters to engage in letter writing and petitioning politicians. I can’t help feeling that if this kind of activism was going to be effective we wouldn’t be in the position we are. The site claims the ‘support’ of Nicola Sturgeon, ignoring her obvious reluctance to come out categorically against the development, and the continued reliance on extractivism by the SNP despite the inclusion (capture?) of the Green Party in Holyrood government. All these NGOs were ‘inside the tent’ at COP26, and what did that achieve?

      1. Doug Haywood says:

        Hey Gordon,
        Oh totally, I only share the website as a starter for ten. I hear there is a global campaign against Total in the offing too?
        Happy to be pointed towards better campaign options and resources if you have?
        Enjoyed this below, I think Andreas Malm’s book is next on my reading list…

  6. SleepingDog says:

    I’ve just finished Barry Sanders’ book The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism (2009, AK Press). It is not a general world history on the topic, concentrating largely on the recent decades of US military environmental destruction and pollution, and is a shorter and easier and more relevant read for it.

    The author writes that the military-corporate-armageddonist powers have been waging terroristic war on the living planet. I guess we have just heard the declaration at COP26. As a USAmerican citizen, he holds his own nation (empire) to account (p146), calling on fellow citizens:
    “We need to lead the environmental movement for radical change because we are responsible, with our way of life and our military, for murdering the planet faster and more effectively than any other country in the world.”
    I fear we could be waiting indefinitely for that kind of leadership, especially as Sanders says, militarism has infected popular culture and everyday life so deeply, with USAmericans conditioned to respond to politician’s threat stimuli with support-for-military-action responses; and Congress can cut child healthcare, education and welfare, but every steep rise in the bloated military budget passes; and the military and its mercenary auxiliaries are largely immune from being held to account for atrocities. While successive administrations have muzzled agency voices on behalf of the planet.

    Sanders mentions Martin Luther King’s description of a “society gone mad on war”, which could apply equally to the current British Empire, and its cultural militarism, royalism and anti-environmentalism. I don’t think Sanders’ suggestion of a tax strike would be practical in the land of PAYE, though. Sanders also describes how only a few rightwing evangelical Christians have broken ranks with their anti-environmental co-religionists there (Peter Geoghegan has alleged that rightwing Christian groups from the USA are secretly funding some of the most reactionary anti-environmental politics in Europe).

    A recent report on UK military environmental impact is summarised in this article, with a short explanatory video:
    https://declassifieduk.org/exclusive-uk-military-and-arms-companies-produce-more-carbon-emissions-than-60-individual-countries/

  7. john burrows says:

    The ‘Market’ is driven by disaster. It always has been.

    Rebuilding/renewing broken infrastructure are the biggest bills we accumulate. On the whole, bankers and captains of industry don’t really care how they make their billions. Until alternate tech’s arise and are allowed to flourish, oil, coal and gas will continue to power the mobility of global society. Suppression of these tech’s are the greatest threats we face on this front.

    The factors of these industries filling the UN enclosure in Glasgow only tells you who is making the choices on the issue of planetary integrity. I am not particularly enthused that the current wolves in sheep’s clothing don’t particularly care if the planet burns.

    Tsunami’s, earthquakes, floods, drought and pandemics. These are the forces that stress our biosphere daily, with or without our deciding to stop using fossil fuels today, tomorrow or in fifty years. A planet is a very large thing. Forces that have built up over centuries will require centuries to dissapate.

    Disaster is already built into the global financial system. Only catastrophes force change. As it has always been. We are not in control now. We have never been in control. It is absurd to think we ever will be.

    But we can choose leaders who understand the need for a strategy for defense. The Conservatives have retreated to faith. They have abandoned reason. Their strategy for defense is to have no strategy. They are not remotely interested in solutions. Only causing problems.

    Mitigation is all we have left. This is where we must focus the use of hydrocarbons. Our gratuitous use of these fuels has to end. Building everything in China for the consumer society has been a disasterous choice that must be ended.

    A reversion to supporting local manufacturing can at a stroke radically reduce the contribution of international shipping to the global carbon footprint. A not insignificant source of the global megatonnage of carbon we directly inject into the atmosphere, the length and breadth of all of the worlds oceans.

    If you’ll pardon the aporism, we are mainlining carbon using millions of dirty needles. There are over 400 thousand ships in Lloyds directory alone.

    The current Conservative leadership, of course, are going in the exact opposite direction on this issue. Unsurprisingly, shooting themselves and everyone else in the foot, is one of their defining characteristics.

    We should have made these choices fifty years ago, when we first started reading the data. We got part of the way with the Montreal Protocol but the effort sputtered afterwards. Cop26 is just the latest pale imitation.

    These meetings have been reduced to theaters of the absurd. Sincerity is not in the mix. Until it is, they will remain nothing more than opportunities for industry, finance and governments to make a pretence of taking action. The environment itself is shut out of their deliberations.

    Catastrophic change is already happening and will continue to happen with ever increasing intensity. Physics does not make moral judgements. We are on a roller coast ride. Just try to hang on. And vote for people who will be part of the solutions. Not head in the sand dinosaurs.

  8. John Monro says:

    Some comments made here about Malthus, to criticise him. . I would respectfully disagree, Malthus was right, and I would call his concerns a remarkable 220 odd year prescience, now coming to haunt humanity, the early dribbles of climate exodus and overpopulation which are now landing on the shores of this country and the borders of Poland, the coasts of Greece, Italy and Spain, and the US/Mexican border in the New World. .The agricultural revolution that fed all these people is stuttering and will fail, due to climate change, but also its inherent unsustainability –with pollution, insect loss, soil loss and misuse, water constraints and misuse and salinisation etc., The Club of Rome was right too, though we have another 10-30 years or so to go before that reality hits home. I am presently writing a submission on New Zealand’s Emission Reduction Plan discussion document (blah, blah, blah). We are one of the fastest growing nations in the OECD (average of 1.9% population growth in the last five years) due to insupportable immigration numbers putting pressure on all our resources, housing, hospitals, schools, infrastructure, transport, energy and emissions (emissions rose by 4.8% in the last quarter – https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU2111/S00278/greenhouse-gas-emissions-rise-in-june-2021-quarter.htm ) Yet this ERP comes with not a single mention of population growth, yet it pretends to start our direction to “net zero” (a weasel phrase if ever there was one) until 2050, thereby rendering redundant every single economic or environmental projection. It made me so angry that a nominally “Green” politician, James Shaw, co-leader of the Greens in NZ, should come to Glasgow almost completely empty handed, and the promises he made were a lie, promising a 50% reduction in net emissions; the reality being about 22% and that to be achieved by purchasing 66% of our NDCs from overseas!!! NZ is unfortunately remains an environmental criminal and one of the world’s most accomplished environmental hypocrites.

    Malthus was right, and environmentalists and left wingers who deny or obfuscate this issue are seriously blinkered. James Lovelock’s opinion piece in the Guardian the other day is pertinent and Mike Small’s welcome and apt contribution here fills things out a bit more. Lovelock starts:

    “I don’t know if it is too late for humanity to avert a climate catastrophe, but I am sure there is no chance if we continue to treat global heating and the destruction of nature as separate problems”.

    The beginning of my submission to the ERP here in NZ also echos these sentiments:

    “Nothing else is or ever will be sufficient to deal with or reverse the existential threat of global warming other than a revolutionary change in the way we do business, organise our societies and come to terms with our true place in nature. The Emissions Reduction Plan discussion document (ERPDD) in this regard is a testament to so many decent and clever people contributing their very best but doing so in a system which they cannot even think to question; as such this is a total failure of imagination and understanding, and dooms us and our children to an increasingly fraught and frightening future”.

    Thanks for your time. JKM

    1. Mons Meg says:

      The migrants who are now landing on the shores of this country and the borders of Poland, the coasts of Greece, Italy and Spain, and the US/Mexican border in the New World aren’t refugees from climate change but from poverty and war.

      I also think you’ll find that the environmental ‘crisis’ isn’t being caused by overpopulation in the areas of the world from which those migrants are ‘invading’ our borders and shores, but by the needless overconsumption on our part that’s been made possible by the economic and environmental exploitation of which the poverty and war that has displaced them is a consequence.

      1. John Monro says:

        Well, obviously I don’t agree, your belief that overpopulation isn’t an issue is a huge blind spot, something oddly shared by those on the right, and the left, and by so many environmentalists. In the right, it’s just a general unconcern about anything other than short-term wealth and economic activity, on the left it could be an irrational fear of being seen as a racist, or cultural imperialist, or may be just simply a deep misguided belief much as right wingers believe in capitalism or that a miraculous downfall of capitalism to some kinder socialist and environmentally friendly system will solve humanity’s problems. That’s just fairy tale wishful thinking.

        Here’s a rationally argued web page on the matter https://mahb.stanford.edu/library-item/growing-global-overpopulation-migration-destabilizing-world/ but there are many others.

        There are many articles in well respected media outlets as to climate change, drought, failed crops etc being at least in part a cause of people fleeing. The Syrian civil was in part related to serious drought and social upheaval. The refugees from Central America similarly. You cannot always conveniently separate the underlying causes, but none exist without the others.

        Lack of concern in regard to overpopulation, too many people for the planet’s resources, and too many for local resources is a huge blind spot in the left and in environmentalism generally (George Monbiot is a classic example) – the ideological blinkers are huge. Almost all the present planet’s problems are related in one important way or another to over-population.

        When I was born, in 1946, the world population was about 2.5 billion, it has now tripled. It is not racist to be rationally concerned with over-population. For instance the population of the US, Europe, Canada, and Australia has increased by over 400 million people over my lifetime and is equivalent in ecological footprint to 3 billion Indians or others of the world’s poorer citizens. It is not presumably racist to worry about population growth in these Anglo Saxon and white European countries, which is just as important and greatly more so in ecological demands and damage as in any poor Ethiopian or Middle East citizen- whose population problems are also truly dire. Too many opponents of those arguing that population growth is the biggest single issue facing mankind seem to assume that us modern-day Malthusians are only concerned about populations in Asia or Africa or other poor parts of the world. Well, yes we are concerned, hugely, but any rational Malthusian has to be just as hugely concerned by population growth in their own societies. And in doing even this, that is not understood either. . Politicians, economists, demographers all to a man, they mostly are men, seem to fret hugely about the terrible state of societies with stagnant or decreasing populations – Japan, Italy, Greece, much of eastern Europe and former communist states – and actually put in place policies and incentives to grow populations. Falling GDP, horror. This is ridiculous. A falling population is the sign of a mature society, and any issues in that society with an “ageing” population can easily be dealt with changes in social policies, taxation, work opportunities etc.

        I think for anyone to say that overpopulation is not a problem has then to state what the “ideal” population for the planet would be – to preserve human dignity, renewable resources, non-pollution, food, water, fresh air and stable climate, along with massively more space for nature and for people to find space, solace and spiritual fulfilment? I was born in 1946 when the global population was around 2.5 billion. So was the planet so seriously “underpopulated” in 1946 that having three times as many people in my single life time is so much better? And this racist or cultural angst, it’s a diversion. If we seeded and grew 5 billion extra people in laboratories, all white and speaking English, there’d still be overpopulation. How much easier is it now to deal to environmental damage, global warming, ocean depletion, soil loss, deforestation with five billion extra people? Name a single social, economic or environmental problem that is made easier to solve with millions or billions more people. What would the planet and nature give to have our population back at 2.5 billion, or even 700 million, which is what it was a couple of hundred years ago?

        Sorry, overpopulation, along with our hyper-capitalist, over strained corporatist and globalised economic system (yes, i admit this) are going to kill uncountable millions of us before too long.

        1. Mons Meg says:

          It’s not so much that I believe that overpopulation isn’t an issue. It is an issue; as a concept, it has consequences for our behaviour. It’s more that I take issue with the concept itself; I remain to be convinced that ‘overpopulation’ is a thing any more than ‘overproduction’ is.

          Capitalism has increased our productivity to such a degree that it has abolished scarcity and therefore overpopulation. There would only be overpopulation if there wasn’t enough wealth to go around. But there’s more than enough wealth to go around; only our current relations of production (which tend to accumulate the wealth we produce in fewer and fewer hands) prevent us from distributing that wealth efficiently. The narrative of ‘overpopulation’ (just like the narrative of ‘overproduction’) thus serves the private accumulation of wealth or capital by masking the real reason for poverty, which is the distributive injustice of capitalism rather than absolute scarcity.

    2. GordonD says:

      Here is an alternative view from New Zealand, in a review of Too Many People? Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis by Ian Angus & Simon Butler. Without denying the reality that more people will consume more resources, the book’s authors methodically and convincingly demolishes the (neo) Malthus myth, and the nasty and often racist policies advocated by right wing populationists, and put the focus firmly on capitalist growth as the cause of environmental crisis.
      https://climateandcapitalism.com/2011/11/13/too-many-people-a-review-from-new-zealand/

      1. Mons Meg says:

        I haven’t read Too Many People, but I have read Ian Angus’ Facing the Anthropocene.

        I’ve got a lot of time for Angus and the new generation of Marxists who link the advances in earth systems science with Marx’s original understanding of the metabolic interaction of society and nature. Marx himself remarked that Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species, insofar as it developed a materialist explanation of how life evolves, ‘completes’ his historical materialism.

        The problem I have with Angus is that he abandons this historicism for empty moralism. He exhorts us to create alternative relations of production, based not on having more things but living better, on qualitative change rather quantitative growth but qualitative change, without offering any suggestion as to how we might be able to do this, and with scant regard to the Marxian holistic premise that its the metabolic interaction of society and nature that determines us rather than we who determine that system. This lapse betrays him as just another ‘righteous’ bourgeois idealist.

        1. John Monro says:

          Oh dear Meg, I’d just so hate to be called just another righteous bourgeois idealist. How cutting you Marxists can be.

          1. Mons Meg says:

            Sorry, John; it’s not about you. I was referring to Ian Angus’ lapse into the ‘righteous’ bourgeois idealism I described.

      2. John Monro says:

        Gordon please see my answer to Meg. The book you refer to was published in 2011. Since then the population of NZ has grown at increasing rate, in the last 5 years at 1.9% p.a. (since 2000 around 1.4% p.a.) This is accepted as due to historically high rates of immigration. We are suffering some serious issues from this unplanned and excessive number of people joining this society. House prices most expensive in the OECD, crowded hospitals, schools, roads, water and sewage issues, electricity energy shortages and increasing global warming emissions, transport problems and traffic congestion and cities having to accommodate tens of thousands of extra people with infill housing of dubious quality – unplanned and not even needing planning permission – possibly our future favelas. Brian Fallow, retired NXZ Herald economic commentator wrote this article a few days ago. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/brian-fallow-immigration-too-much-too-fast/AOG4CGN5NGYEOE5FWFNJPJ7QYU/ Now immigration isn’t itself “overpopulation” but it’s a good illustration of what happens with unplanned and unmanaged population booms however caused, and this is a wealthy, democratic country. For the moment NZ is seriously overpopulated, at 5 million people, and it will take some years to sort all this out. But why? What actual benefit to this country and its citizenry do all these extra people bring? Yes, a short term boost to the local economy and GDP, capitalism loves that, big business loves it, but an intractable long term headache for society and government.

        The summary of the book you refer me to is exactly what I expected. Basically the authors are guilty of a false dichotomy. So capitalism, imperialism, greed etc, cause much of our present problems, OK, OK, OK, I get it……BUT then to hitch one’s argument to this notion, and not accept the other side of this argument, that the more capitalists there are, or the more the citizenry that can all be persuaded to become capitalists, the worse the problem.

        And it just isn’t true that only the poor suffer, what are the fires in Australia or California or Canada or Sweden or Russia or Greece or Spain or Portugal but people suffering? What about the floods in Germany and Belgium, and many other wealthy countries? Or the heat waves in France and Spain or the USA? We all suffer from what we do. The unfairness is that those that are not responsible for these weather and climate events are also seriously suffering, but that’s not a rational contradiction to stating there’s a population problem – the argument is specious. Secondly, poor populations might not cause planetary problems, but they are perfectly capable of ruining their own environment for whatever reason, war, corruption, etc. Poor people still need food and will damage their soils, they still need energy and will cut down trees, they still need water and will over-extract it or use excessive irrigation and cause salinisation. The more poor people in one marginal area, the more the direness of their situation. Ethiopia. Population 1950 – 18 million, population now almost 120 million. 120 million people, even poor ones, whose needs are simple still need seven times the simple resources of 18 million.

        I literally cannot begin to understand how any wise and interested person can continue to deny that overpopulation isn’t real, isn’t damaging, and ultimately will prove fatal.

  9. Glasgow Clincher says:

    I like your very last sentence.

  10. Rob D says:

    Brilliant Mike. The first truthful article I’ve seen on the subject. I got fed up of the coverage two days in “look at me, I’m so eco I’m at cop26, am I not special and lovely?” Said other journos.

  11. Chris Connolly* says:

    In the prophetic words of Kurt Vonnegut, writing in 2005:

    “The good Earth—we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy.”

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