12 little green lies

July 17th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Professor Jeff Bennett has published “Little Green Lies: An exposé of twelve environmental myths“.  The very very very abbreviated summary of them is:

Proposition 1: ‘Peak Oil’ has been reached.
The annual production of oil, while rising over the last century, is about to fall because of growing scarcity. Such is our dependence on oil and the fast rate at which we are using it that we now need to take active policy measures to save what we have left.
BUT
No-one knows for sure what petroleum reserves are available. As known reserves are depleted, price rises stimulate more exploration and technological advances that will expand the available supply of petroleum as well as substitute energy sources.

Proposition 2: Renewable energy production should be stimulated.
Non-renewable energy supplies are being depleted so quickly that we will soon experience power shortages. Non-renewables are also ‘dirty’ sources of energy. Renewables must be stimulated to ensure the on-going supply of clean energy.

BUT
Renewable energy sources are limited in their short to medium term potential to meet demand. Picking ‘winners’ to be stimulated is likely to be mistaken given rapidly evolving technological change. Renewables have their own environmental downsides.

Proposition 3: Consumption choices need to be informed by products’ ‘food miles’/’ecological footprint’/’embodied energy’/’virtual water’/’carbon footprint’.
People need to be aware of the impacts they have on energy/the ecology/water/climate etc. when they buy goods and services so that they can reduce their impact on that resource. Each of these resources is scarce and we need to conserve them, especially for future generations.

BUT
By focusing on just one scarce resource (water, energy etc.) in their consumption decisions, people can ignore their impacts on other scarce resources and result in a ‘false economy’. What happens when the ‘virtual water’ index goes against the ‘embodied energy’ index? Which index is ‘trumps’?

Proposition 4: World population should be capped.
More people mean more pressure on the world’s scarce resources, including the environment. The only way to protect the environment, stop starvation and ensure that there are enough resources for future generations is to stop population growth.
BUT
People are a resource. They have the capability to develop innovative technologies and institutions to deal with growing scarcity in specific resources. New ways to satisfy peoples’ wants and new sources of scarce resources can be discovered.

Proposition 5: Economic growth and trade are bad for the environment.
Economic growth, fuelled by international trade, means more pressure on scarce resources including the environment. To protect the environment and to save resources for the future, trade should be restricted to cut growth.

BUT
Trade and growth bring wealth to people. Wealth increases peoples’ demands for environmental protection and the ability of society to provide environmental protection, especially through technological development.

Proposition 6:No waste should go to landfill.
Waste should not be wasted. It is a resource that can be re-used and re-cycled. Sending waste to landfill means that more ‘virgin’ resources must be harvested/mined. Waste in landfill can also be a source of air and water pollution.
BUT
Recycling and re-using ‘waste’ is a process that uses scarce resources. Policies that prevent landfill disposal can cause more resources to be used than they save and do not necessarily reduce virgin resource use. Landfills need not be pollution sources.

Proposition 7:Water and energy should be used ‘efficiently’, whatever it costs.
Water and energy are scarce resources. Their use needs to be minimised so that future generations will have enough. Governments should invest in technologies that ensure the least amounts of energy and water are used in producing goods and services.
BUT
Investing in ‘efficiency’ measures means using other scarce resources as substitutes for energy and water. A ‘false economy’ results because the other resources including labour and capital may well be scarcer than energy and water.

Proposition 8: The environment is of infinite value and must not be harmed.
The environment provides us with our ‘life-support-system’. Without it we cannot survive and so we should protect it at all costs. We should make absolutely sure that rare and endangered species are cared for so that their numbers increase.
BUT
Without the environment we could not exist and so its absolute value is infinite. However, that is not the relevant question for policy. Changes to the state of the environment yield finite benefits and costs that need to be traded off.

Proposition 9: We must reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to avoid global climate change.
Human induced global climate change is a serious threat to the continued ability of the planet to support humanity and current ecosystems. The damage caused by climate change will be so large that GHG emissions must be reduced now.
BUT
Reducing GHG emissions would be costly. The decision to bear those costs should be made with reference to the expected benefits reduced GHG emissions would yield. Reducing GHG emissions will not eliminate the risk of climate change.

Proposition 10: The care of the environment cannot be entrusted to the private sector.
The environment provides ‘public goods’ that should be available to all for free. That means the government has to be responsible for caring for the environment. The private sector will either destroy it or try to profit from it.
BUT
The public sector will face problems in managing the environment. Information for decision making is costly. Incentives for politicians and bureaucrats can conflict with public best interest. Private solutions can be lower cost and better aligned with society’s well-being.

Proposition 11: Agriculture and mining are always in conflict with the environment.
Agriculture and mining are extractive industries which deplete our stock of natural resources, often irreversibly. They also cause environmental degradation including soil erosion, biodiversity loss and chemical contamination of water and air.
BUT
While there are some trade-offs between agriculture, mining and the environment these can be reduced through the use of management techniques and technologies. Offsets and remediation work on farms and mines can improve the environment.

Proposition 12: Decisions regarding the future of the environment should be made using the ‘precautionary principle’.
If there is a risk that a proposed action will harm the environment, the precautionary principle requires policy makers to place the burden of proof on those proposing an action that it will not cause environmental damage.
BUT
There is always some risk of environmental harm resulting from human action. Demonstrating that there is no risk of harm is impossible. There are also uncertainties associated with not taking action which the precautionary principle ignores.

On proposition 1, George Monbiot has conceded that the peak oil claims were wrong, and that supply is increasing and has not peaked.

The book is only $30. Professor Bennett is speaking at the CIS in Sydney on the 1st of August.

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62 Responses to “12 little green lies”

  1. Scott Chris (5,977 comments) says:

    Pfft. The prof personifies the anthropocentric viewpoint. Highly subjective analysis.

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  2. RRM (9,666 comments) says:

    What happens when the ‘virtual water’ index goes against the ‘embodied energy’ index? Which index is ‘trumps’?

    I think if that happens you need to get yourself a 1967 Cadillac El Dorado, hot-fuckin’-pink, with whaleskin hubcaps and all-leather cow interior and big brown baby seal eyes for headlights… yeah! And drive around in that baby doing 115 miles an hour, getting 1 mile per gallon, suckin’ down quarter pound cheeseburgers from McDonald’s in the old-fashioned non- biodegradable styrofoam containers… yeah! And when you’re done suckin’ down those greaseball burgers just toss the styrofoam containers right out the side, there ain’t a goddamn thing anybody can do about it. You know why? Because we got the bomb…

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  3. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    Proposition 13: We, the Greens, are communists who want the system to collapse to install a new order.

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  4. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    It’s rather frightening that an academic has to resort to dubbing differences of opinion ‘lies’. Presumably his arguments, or writing, isn’t able to attract attention on its own merits, so he’s going for controversy.

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  5. RRM (9,666 comments) says:

    Also the objection to proposition 3 is a pretty luddite objection. We can’t possibly know all of the various environmental impacts that consumer products have, therefore we should just not worry about any of that. :???:

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  6. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    I’d be interested to see sources for each of these propositions: specifically who is making such claims. It couldn’t just be a case of finding ‘a Green’ saying something,however outrageous or unscientific, and extending this to ‘all Greens’ could it?

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  7. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    Yeah, seems the good professor is making up stupid views and attributing them to his (undefined) opponents) – sadly a common tactic nowadays – in order to be able to refute them. Much easier to discuss politics in a fantasy world were all your critics are nut jobs.

    I never heard a greenie saying “No waste should go to landfill” (minimum yes, but not none) or that “agriculture is always in conflict with the environment” (unless he is only addressing a handful of primitivist nutters in the US, in which case we may as well ignore him as he’s got nothing to say about 99% of environmental thinking).

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  8. RRM (9,666 comments) says:

    Mike- surely not, no-one has EVER done the reductio ad absurdam to ANYTHING the environmental movement has EVER said!

    WHOA!

    Sorry – that mutant climate change hockey stick flying pig nearly took me out…

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  9. DRHILL (121 comments) says:

    “People are a resource”

    Soylent Green!……Soylent Green!!!

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  10. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    “New ways to satisfy peoples’ wants… can be discovered.”

    Such as soma, or writing more ridiculous books reassuring people that complacency is an OK option.

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  11. Kimble (4,412 comments) says:

    I expected to see all the Little Green Men whine about these being differences in opinion rather than lies.

    The Greens have this coming. They have been presenting their own value biases as facts for decades, so its only fair that their ‘facts’ are made ‘lies’ by someone merely identifying alternative (common) value judgements.

    The natural environment matters a lot to many people. Their views on issues such as recycling, population control, economic growth and renewable energy are often held strongly and emotionally. But some of these views are best described as ‘little green lies’. Sometimes people bend the truth because they believe they are protecting others from the harm caused by environmental decay. Others do it for personal gain. But unlike ‘little white lies’, telling ‘little green lies’ is not harmless. If they become so widely accepted that they form the basis of government policies, our society can be worse off for them. They can even end up causing environmental damage.

    This is just another case of an environmentalist being vilified for deviating from the Green orthodoxy.

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  12. m@tt (612 comments) says:

    Proposition 3. Yes I agree league tables for food is a pretty dumb idea, even if the stated aim is worthy.
    As for the rest, mostly he’s saying things ‘might’ not be as bad as some people say so let’s just pretend it’s all hunky dory until we know for certain.
    To which the appropriate response is prove your assertions.

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  13. Kimble (4,412 comments) says:

    or writing more ridiculous books reassuring people that complacency is an OK option.

    Inaction IS an OK option, when action is more detrimental than inaction.

    Your reflexive ‘something must be done!’ atttitude betrays you as nothing but a zealot. A member of the Green flock. The book was written because of people like you, not FOR you. As is in the quote above, your views are held strongly and emotionally.

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  14. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    Well let’s see what our own Greens have to have about a couple of those:

    Proposition 4: World population should be capped.

    Excessive levels of consumption and global population numbers must be drastically reduced.

    And:

    At the moment it is estimated that the maximum population that New Zealand can sustain (based on the level of useable productive land and the ecological footprint of each person in 1997/98) is around 5.7 million. [from the Ministry for the Environment's "Ecological Footprint of New Zealand and its Regions" currently being developed further.] However at this stage the figure is based on the level of useable productive land and doesn’t take fully into account other crucial sustainability indicators such as water, carbon and energy footprints. Furthermore a range of factors may cause the total productive land capacity to be reduced in the future e.g. as a consequence of climate change/sea level rise or peak oil etc.These factors mean that we should treat the figure of 5.7 million with caution and as an indicative upper limit figure only.

    Source: http://www.greens.org.nz/policy/population-policy

    Yep, a tick there against Prof Bennett’s proposition #4.

    Proposition 5: Economic growth and trade are bad for the environment.

    However, global trade as a source of prosperity now exceeds sustainable ecological limits, and in many countries it has increased rather than decreased poverty, ill health and social distress.

    Source: http://www.greens.org.nz/policy/trade

    And:

    Growth in GDP is not an adequate measure of the success of our economy.

    Source: http://www.greens.org.nz/policy/economic

    A tick against proposition 5 also. (Definitely WRT trade and implicitly WRT economic growth both with the reference to trade already exceeding ecological limits and growth in GDP not being an adequate measure.)

    So our Greens show policies in line with 2 of Prof Bennett’s assertions. I have work to do, so will leave others to explore some of the other propositions if they choose to.

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  15. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    Kimble – “complacency” is not the same as ”inaction” and, for heaven’s sake, do you really want to claim that if somebody says “something must be done” they must be a “zealot”? You are going to find an awful lot of ‘zealots’ if that is the case.

    “The Greens have this coming.”

    Do you mean ‘Greens’ or ‘greens’?

    “They have been presenting their own value biases as facts for decades, so its only fair that their ‘facts’ are made ‘lies’ by someone merely identifying alternative (common) value judgements.”

    Absolutely fine to offer differing value judgements, but not to make up things to attack your opponent on, nor to offer one’s own value judgements as facts. Saying “they did it first” doesn’t make it right.

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  16. RRM (9,666 comments) says:

    And I see he’s speaking at the Centre of “Independent” Studies… :lol:

    Almost tempted to make the trip over for that. Anyone who puts forward an argument centred on characterising the whole environmental movement as “myths” and “lies” has got to be worth it for entertainment value alone.
    I bet he gets angry. Corporate sock puppets usually get angry, I think it helps them to believe their vested interests and kow-towing really are a sound philosophical viewpoint…

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  17. Kimble (4,412 comments) says:

    do you really want to claim that if somebody says “something must be done” they must be a “zealot”?

    When you dont know the extent of the problem, or whether it is a problem, what the solution should be, or if that solution would actually work, what the relative costs of that solution are, or even accept that there may be costs to the solution, then YES, you are a zealot.

    Your claim of complacency presumes answers to all those questions, and you demonise anyone that points that out.

    Its as pathetic as any religious zealotry.

    Saying “they did it first” doesn’t make it right.

    So lets say you take the high ground; call your opinions opinions rather than facts. What do you end up with?

    You end up with your mere “opinion” being dismissed out of hand because the other guy has “facts”.

    If they call them facts, then we can call them lies.

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  18. Kimble (4,412 comments) says:

    Anyone who puts forward an argument centred on characterising the whole environmental movement as “myths” and “lies” has got to be worth it for entertainment value alone.

    Strawman.

    I bet he gets angry. Corporate sock puppets usually get angry,

    Jeff Bennett is Professor of Environmental Management in the Crawford School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University.

    Do you ever get depressed about how completely full of shit you are?

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  19. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    “So lets say you take the high ground; call your opinions opinions rather than facts. What do you end up with?

    You end up with your mere “opinion” being dismissed out of hand because the other guy has “facts”.”

    So you are arguing in favour of dishonesty – misrepresenting your own opinions as ‘facts’ because that makes them a better debating tool.

    “When you dont know the extent of the problem, or whether it is a problem, what the solution should be, or if that solution would actually work, what the relative costs of that solution are, or even accept that there may be costs to the solution, then YES, you are a zealot.”

    Yes, but that isn’t the situation we are dealing with.

    “Your claim of complacency presumes answers to all those questions, and you demonise anyone that points that out.”

    No it doesn’t. If people are working to seek answers to these questions I don’t call them complacent, nor do I ‘demonise’ them. I think you might need to calm down – we don’t all work in angry combative mode.

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  20. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    bhudson
    Your argument about proposition 4 doesn’t make sense to me. Apart from the argument about whether a few, some or all ‘Greens’ believe world population should be capped, it doesn’t seem to me the NZ Green Party policy that ‘New Zealand’s population should not exceed the ecological carrying capacity of the country’ means the same as ‘global population numbers must be drastically reduced’.
    The main point here though is whether it is desirable for the human population to continue to grow at its present rate. There are argument each way on that, from Professor Bennet’s Pollyanna-ish announcement that ‘new ways to satisfy peoples’ wants and new sources of scarce resources can be discovered’ to some demographers’ views that population numbers are likely to level off rather tna continuing to grow exponentially.

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  21. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    “Do you ever get depressed about how completely full of shit you are?”

    Sorry about wasting your time with my previous post – If I’d realised you were only interested in slagging people off, I wouldn’t have bothered replying. Let me know when you’ve grown up and I’ll discuss things with you.

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  22. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    Big Government sock puppets usually get angry, I think it helps them to believe their vested interests and kow-towing really are a sound philosophical viewpoint.

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  23. RRM (9,666 comments) says:

    Do you ever get depressed about how completely full of shit you are?

    I’ve tried a couple of times to write a response to that, but I keep coming back to exactly the same thing I said in the comment you are responding to…

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  24. RRM (9,666 comments) says:

    @ Manolo – true true, nutters on opposite ends of almost ANY spectrum are usually pretty much alike!

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  25. Paulus (2,565 comments) says:

    The New Zealand media are all over the Greens, as they are pissing all over Labour – daily on RNZ and TVNZ, plus the so called newspapers.

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  26. tom hunter (4,566 comments) says:

    … ridiculous books reassuring complacency is an OK option.

    Which was one of the main sources of scoffing noises over the last decade, or noises of great anger and hatred when it was supposedly the war criminal George Bush who stiffed the Kyoto Treaty. Great were the lamentations at the time about the perils of “doing nothing”. Naturally the US has been trending down in GHG production ever since.

    But of course the secret lay in the debate framing of the question/accusation about “doing nothing”. What Green opponents argued was the following:

    I’m afraid the climate change crowd are now stuck with those of us who always argued that the relentless march of technological innovation, without targeted subsidies and government planning, would solve both the “problem” of ever-increasing CO2 production and provide the ability and the wealth to adapt to future environmental change – just as we have for thousands of years.

    Actually that’s me many years ago on this blog – and here’s a typical response from when I repeated the claim:

    If we just sit back and wait for the relentless march of technological innovation to rescue us from our excesses it is inevitable that one generation will hit the wall. It may not be ours but it may be partly due to our arrogance.

    That quote is not from some screaming environmentalist or hard-line left-winger, but Kiwiblog’s very own sensible-shoes-moderate-centre-leftist-I’m-not-an-extremist-like-you-lot commentator. Which just goes to show you that the danger lies as much with moderates as with “extremists”.

    Then there’s “Peak Oil” of course, with the same angry finger-pointing – and the same result.

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  27. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Thanks Kimble

    My lunch time has been made all the better for seeing Sam handed his arse on a plate.

    ………..says Sam..I wouldn’t have bothered replying. Let me know when you’ve grown up and I’ll discuss things with you…

    You can’t discuss facts with people like you Sam, because when you have been smoked over you then just rely on , as Kimbkle points out, opinions which most time have no relation to the facts.

    I realise it must be hard seeing your belief system systematically taken apart piece by piece but you should read and learn and move on

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  28. Hiro Protagonist (17 comments) says:

    “Proposition 10: The care of the environment cannot be entrusted to the private sector.

    Private solutions can be lower cost and better aligned with society’s well-being.”

    Hey Tui – I’ve got a new billboard slogan for you!

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  29. Kimble (4,412 comments) says:

    So you are arguing in favour of dishonesty – misrepresenting your own opinions as ‘facts’ because that makes them a better debating tool.

    And if the author was saying these were incontrovertible facts, you may have a point. As it stands…

    If the greenies insist on calling their opinions facts (which they have for decades), then we should be able to point out they are “lying” based on nothing more than a differing opinion.

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  30. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    @mikey,

    What part of the NZ Green Party statement that “global population numbers must be drastically reduced” doesn’t make sense?

    Furthermore the NZ Green Party (in the second quote) were very clearly showing that they favour NZ population being capped at a level less than that which the Ministry for the Environment postulated that NZ can sustain.

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  31. Kimble (4,412 comments) says:

    Private solutions can be lower cost and better aligned with society’s well-being.

    Hey Hiro, you want to argue against this?

    Its going to be tough considering the weight of evidence we have on our side.

    You know. 99% of all human interaction.

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  32. toad (3,673 comments) says:

    As known reserves are depleted, price rises stimulate more exploration and technological advances that will expand the available supply of petroleum as well as substitute energy sources.

    Which is fine when you are on the salary of a tenured university professor, but what of the impact of the oil price rises on ordinary people? Greater inequality and impoverishment.

    Renewable energy sources are limited in their short to medium term potential to meet demand.

    No Green I know is disputing that for countries like Australia that have become totally dependent on fossil fuels. It is a matter of managing the transition at the same time as introducing more energy conservation initiatives.

    By focusing on just one scarce resource (water, energy etc.) in their consumption decisions, people can ignore their impacts on other scarce resources and result in a ‘false economy’.

    My understanding is that Green economics focuses on all scarce resources, not just one.

    People are a resource. They have the capability to develop innovative technologies and institutions to deal with growing scarcity in specific resources. New ways to satisfy peoples’ wants and new sources of scarce resources can be discovered.

    They can be discovered, but that doesn’t mean they will be discovered or are practical and economic to utilise. Relying on technology that does not yet exist and may actually never be developed is a very dangerous approach. Anyone for fusion power?

    Trade and growth bring wealth to people.

    Trade and growth bring wealth to SOME people, usually those who own the capital rather than those who do the work.

    Recycling and re-using ‘waste’ is a process that uses scarce resources.

    Sometimes. Gross generalisation.

    Investing in ‘efficiency’ measures means using other scarce resources as substitutes for energy and water. A ‘false economy’ results because the other resources including labour and capital may well be scarcer than energy and water.

    Another gross generalisation, and I don’t know many places where labour is a scarce resource at the moment.

    Changes to the state of the environment yield finite benefits and costs that need to be traded off.

    We need to know what the real benefits and costs are before making those decisions. Think Rapanui.

    Reducing GHG emissions will not eliminate the risk of climate change.

    No, but it will mitigate it.

    Private solutions can be lower cost and better aligned with society’s well-being.

    Neo-lib bullshit. The private sector’s sole motivation is profit for its investors. The private sector will become more environmentally responsible only if it is forced to do so by regulation or by adverse market reaction to its environmental degradation. Think cowshit in streams.

    While there are some trade-offs between agriculture, mining and the environment these can be reduced through the use of management techniques and technologies. Offsets and remediation work on farms and mines can improve the environment.

    Again, something that can happen, but not something that will happen guided solely by the invisible hand.

    There is always some risk of environmental harm resulting from human action. Demonstrating that there is no risk of harm is impossible. There are also uncertainties associated with not taking action which the precautionary principle ignores.

    A misunderstanding of the precautionary principle. Under the precautionary principle it is the responsibility of an activity proponent to establish that the proposed activity will not (or is very unlikely to) result in significant harm. It is about QUANTIFYING risk of SIGNIFICANT harm, not about demonstrating that there is no risk of harm at all.

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  33. tom hunter (4,566 comments) says:

    … but what of the impact of the oil price rises on ordinary people? Greater inequality and impoverishment.

    Which is why the Greens have always taken the lead in reducing the price of oil and other fossil fuels and …. oh wait ….!

    That conflicts with the need to have oil constantly rising in price so as to persuade people to use less of the stuff, a strategy that will naturally effect poor people the first and the worst.

    It’s a real bugger dealing with those two conflicting “good” objectives via the political mechanism.

    Best to just leave it to the marketplace. As seems to be happening anyway around the world.

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  34. Richard Watts (11 comments) says:

    1. Peak oil has not been reached and technology will save the day.

    Hydraulic fracturing, 3D seismic and horizontal drilling are older than I am. The majority of world production, >60% come from oil fields discovered in the 40s, 50s and 60s. These technologies are only being applied now due to the recent increase in oil prices, not because someone just figured them out.

    The correct terminology is peak conventional crude. This means oil which costs a mere few dollars to extract out of the ground. I wouldn’t call LPG, Bitumen and fractured shale to be conventional crude oil. The oil which is left is expensive and hence the price of oil is significantly higher than it was a few years prior. Even the ‘lows’ of 80 dollars a barrel are still higher than the prices paid several years ago.

    2. Renewable energy costs too much.

    Yep. However it isn’t smart to bet on a 40 year operational lifetime of a fossil fuel plant and expect that in 40 years it’ll be cheaper to operate than the renewable options available today. Furthermore you have a greater assurance of cost as renewable energy represents a greater upfront investment which yields dividends in the future.

    3. Consumption choices.

    My standard operating procedure is if it costs more then it likely has a bigger impact. That’s a pretty easy way to figure things out, in the case of new technology you also have to take into consideration the research and development costs which are fixed over any number of units.

    4. People are a resource.

    People also require resources. The only reason why you can sit on your arse and type on a computer and communicate using technology which represents a trillion dollar or more investment is because of the net energy gained from fossil fuels. We have technology because of energy and we can use it again because of energy and the resources gained from the use of this energy. To make the best use of energy and drive innovation you need more energy and resources per capita, not more capitas.

    5. Economic growth is good for the environment.

    To maintain a high state of complexity in society you rely on the entropy (decreasing complexity) of the environment as a source to sustain this complexity. Economic growth represents greater human societal complexity and therefore requires more entropy on the part of the surrounding environment. You cannot defy the laws of thermodynamics.

    6. Waste should go to landfill.

    Well like anything it all depends.

    7. Ineffectiveness of some efficiency drives.

    It really depends of the values of the individual and the values of society. Some things take longer to pay back than other things and some things have other benefits which you may or may not appreciate. Again it depends. In the longer term efficiency is the best way to increase the total quantity of resources available.

    8. The value of the environment.

    Mother Earth ain’t your momma. Noone except for humans actually gives a damn whether there is still a functioning industrial society fifty years from now.

    9. The cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    The alcoholic who smashes into your car and gives you crippling injuries also found the cost to reduce his alcohol consumption to be too high. This doesn’t make you feel any better about it however.

    10. The private sector can protect the environment better than the public sector.

    I wouldn’t really know personally. However I would doubt that a publicly held company which is required by law to maximise short and medium term gain is a likely candidate.

    11. Agriculture and mining don’t always conflict with the environment.

    Reclaimed land if done well often indistinguishable. Agriculture as an ongoing activity is a different story. Mining comes and goes but agriculture tends to stay for the duration.

    12. The risk of harm.

    There is always a risk of harm even in the absence of action. You can ‘save’ a forest and then see it destroyed in a natural disaster for instance. There are always unintended consequences. If for instance you want to reduce spray thousands of tons of a particular chemical on an area you should know beforehand what the effects are.

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  35. unaha-closp (1,140 comments) says:

    Even shorter version of point # 3.

    Another “expert” comes out against school league tables.

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  36. Ed Snack (1,800 comments) says:

    And here’s Toad, showing why Marxism as a “living doctrine” (actually, it’s far better at creating the dead and dying, but nevermind…) with the following absurdity:

    Trade and growth bring wealth to people.

    Trade and growth bring wealth to SOME people, usually those who own the capital rather than those who do the work.

    Yep, according to Toad free trade is a conspiracy to make some people wealthy and top exploit the vulnerable. Which is why the world’s most closed economies are the top performers, like North Korea, and, oh, wait…

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  37. Scott Chris (5,977 comments) says:

    Which is fine when you are on the salary of a tenured university professor, but what of the impact of the oil price rises on ordinary people? Greater inequality and impoverishment.

    You can’t have it both ways Toad. The only way to discourage the masses from consuming cheap hydrocarbons is to make them more expensive.

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  38. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    “My lunch time has been made all the better for seeing Sam handed his arse on a plate….I realise it must be hard seeing your belief system systematically taken apart piece by piece but you should read and learn and move on”

    LOL. Happy to be of service, Paul, Kiwiblog must be the only place in the known universe where comments like “Do you ever get depressed about how completely full of shit you are?” are taken as effective and systematic arguments!

    See you in the funny papers, folks!

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  39. F E Smith (3,315 comments) says:

    It’s rather frightening that an academic has to resort to dubbing differences of opinion ‘lies’.

    Why?  Lefties to it to right wingers all of the time, except the lefties use the word ‘hate’ as well as ‘lies’.

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  40. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    It’s a rhetorical advice. You invent an opposing argument and label it as a ‘lie’. No one takes it seriously, but it does have some effect in dramatising the point. If Professor Bennett were to call his book ‘Environmental opinions with which I take issue’, it would not sound as interesting.

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  41. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    “Why? Lefties to it to right wingers all of the time”

    So, if that is true, it makes it OK does it? “I’m lying, but he lied first”

    Personally, I expect academics to tell the truth, regardless of their politics.

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  42. slijmbal (1,223 comments) says:

    @Richard

    “5. Economic growth is good for the environment.

    To maintain a high state of complexity in society you rely on the entropy (decreasing complexity) of the environment as a source to sustain this complexity. Economic growth represents greater human societal complexity and therefore requires more entropy on the part of the surrounding environment. You cannot defy the laws of thermodynamics. ”

    laws of thermodynamics??? That is such nonsense in relation to the environment.

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  43. jaba (2,096 comments) says:

    RRM at 11:19 .. a great song

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  44. Kimble (4,412 comments) says:

    Kiwiblog must be the only place in the known universe where comments like “Do you ever get depressed about how completely full of shit you are?” are taken as effective and systematic arguments!

    That was directed at RRM. Or didnt you notice?

    It was after he called the author a corporate sock puppet when he is gainfully employed at a state funded University. RRM was completely full of shit.

    So, if that is true, it makes it OK does it?

    If you say your opinion is fact, then it is fair for someone else to present their opinion as a refutation of your “fact”. If you dont like it, stop presenting your opinion as fact.

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  45. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    It’s rather frightening that an academic has to resort to dubbing differences of opinion ‘lies’. Presumably his arguments, or writing, isn’t able to attract attention on its own merits, so he’s going for controversy.

    Oh the outrage… when 20 years of fact-free, or at the very least fact cherry-picked ‘evidence’ that we’re all doomed screamed by the MSM, IPCC and a brace of CAGW research-grant fattened scientists goes unchallenged.

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  46. Kimble (4,412 comments) says:

    You invent an opposing argument and label it as a ‘lie’.

    I recognise every single one of those opposing arguments, and so do you.

    The greens may claim to be open to compromise, to new ideas, they claim they dont object to every new mine, to all pollution, or to all private solutions. Just all the ones they have seen so far. Keep trying though, because we are nothing if not open-minded. The fuck.

    For all their boasts to the contrary, Sams kind dont do complexity and they dont do trade-offs.

    Immaturity is a defining characteristic of greenies; they want to have benefits and no costs (to the extent of denying costs exist <- valuing them at zero), they see themselves as virtuous and all opponents as evil, and they have never encountered a complex problem that didnt have an easy solution.

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  47. Richard Watts (11 comments) says:

    @slijmbal

    If you take an ore and then mine it and refine it you’re increasing the complexity of the ore into say iron/steel in exchange for the increased entropy of your fuel as the complex hydrocarbons are turned into simpler water + carbon dioxide.

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  48. Kimble (4,412 comments) says:

    The composition of ore is much more complex than the composition of pure iron.

    Or are you saying that complexity has been added in the form of simplicity?

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  49. Kimble (4,412 comments) says:

    2. Renewable energy costs too much.

    Yep. However it isn’t smart to bet on a 40 year operational lifetime of a fossil fuel plant and expect that in 40 years it’ll be cheaper to operate than the renewable options available today.

    I dont think anyone is saying that in 40 years renewable energy wont be cheaper than it is today, or that it wont be cheaper than non-renewable.

    This is what the author said,
    Renewable energy sources are limited in their short to medium term potential to meet demand. Picking ‘winners’ to be stimulated is likely to be mistaken given rapidly evolving technological change. Renewables have their own environmental downsides.

    Furthermore you have a greater assurance of cost as renewable energy represents a greater upfront investment which yields dividends in the future.

    The survivor of the renewable energy battle will yield dividends, but you cant ignore the loss of capital from all the other failures. There will be more of them than of the other sort. The money wasted on the others wont advance your renewable cause one inch, but it is certain to mean that other things wont get done.

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  50. KH (694 comments) says:

    Can’t see an ever increasing world population will end up well.
    Rather – the world would be a better place, and humans around longer, if we went back to a population like that of 1800.

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  51. Kimble (4,412 comments) says:

    Rather – the world would be a better place, and humans around longer, if we went back to a population like that of 1800.

    So how long have you been an advocate of:

    1. Mass murder.
    2. Forced sterilisation
    3. You get the idea.

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  52. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    KH

    Absolutely, but you’d have to have 1800 conditions, you can’t just cherry pick – looking forward as well to again having Cholera, smallpox, typhoid fever, typhus, scarlet fever, tuberculosis (consumption), pneumonia, meningitis, dysentery, diptheria, and rheumatic fever around again.

    None of that universal sufferage bullshit, especially the women ( get them back in the kitchen), .

    huge infant mortality would of course keep any population explosion under control and as the mean life exptency of a male was about 50 we wouldn’t have any silly old buggers around.

    Positives- no treaty of waitangi

    big fuck off coal fires, loving it.

    One of the reasons NZ is so rooted is our pitifully small population.

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  53. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    ^^ Not so great for the women though. And people of colour were not held in great regard.

    The ‘have nots’ didn’t fare so well either – they were inordinately worse off then than now.

    Humans also weren’t around longer.

    And what happens to innovation and the continued development of learning if we shrink the total pool of potential talent by reducing the world population? Or is that supposed to be a selective thing?

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  54. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    RRM (5,005) Says at 11:19 am
    “I think if that happens you need to get yourself a 1967 Cadillac El Dorado, hot-fuckin’-pink, with whaleskin hubcaps…”

    Fucking “A” motherfucker.

    The Greens can kiss my ass and suck on my balls.

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  55. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    @RRM
    Because we got the bombs, thats why
    Two words, nuclear fucking weapons, okay?
    Russia, Germany, Romania
    They can have all the democracy they want
    They can have a big democracy cake walk
    Right through the middle of Tienanmen square

    And it won’t make a lick of difference
    Because we’ve got the bombs, okay? John Wayne’s not dead
    He’s frozen and as soon as we find the cure for cancer
    We’re gonna thaw out the duke and he’s gonna be pretty pissed off
    You know why? Have you ever taken a cold shower?

    Well multiple that by 15 million times
    That’s how pissed off the Duke’s gonna be
    ….
    Hey, you know you really are an asshole)
    Why don’t you just shut-up and sing the song pal

    I don’t drive a Cadillac . But my Chevy has an all leather cow interior. it’s also got a navigation system, that I can access at any time. At the push of a button a real time human answers my every whim. A bit like you Mikenmild.
    A chose not to take the whaleskin hubcaps. My hubcaps are made out of public servants.
    Former United Nations administrators.

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  56. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    @pauleastbay.
    i’m all for being back in the kitchen. Best access to booze.
    Fuck cooking the eggs, it’s mojito hour.

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  57. hj (6,747 comments) says:

    Thanks for promoting that DPF I just did a google and this is about it’s most prestigious venue.

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  58. hj (6,747 comments) says:

    On proposition 1, George Monbiot has conceded that the peak oil claims were wrong, and that supply is increasing and has not peaked
    ……..

    Conventional oil has peaked but substitutes have increased. The substitutes require more energy are dirty or aren’t suitable for
    vehicles but there are enough of them to “fry the planet”.

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  59. tom hunter (4,566 comments) says:

    Rather – the world would be a better place, and humans around longer, if we went back to a population like that of 1800.

    That’s worth remembering for the next time you complain about my cat calling the ‘left-wing.’

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  60. Bob R (1,357 comments) says:

    Err, in the case of sub-saharan Africa I would suggest that population control is a VERY important issue. It is set to double by 2036. That will not be sustainable. It will lead to conflict & starvation. Not to mention destruction of habitat for the wildlife.

    http://tinyurl.com/7cgn5u4

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  61. hj (6,747 comments) says:

    Thanks Richard Watts.

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  62. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    “Sams kind dont do complexity”

    followed by:

    “greenies want to have benefits and no costs ”

    “they see themselves as virtuous and all opponents as evil”

    “they have never encountered a complex problem that didnt have an easy solution.”

    Apparently the writer thinks every ‘greenie’ is identical and simple-minded. Who is it that doesn’t do complexity?

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