Oceania nation 93 percent renewables energy while MPs lured by trans-Atlantic careers
Dazzled by the prestige of global assemblies and their high minded objectives there has emerged even in recent weeks a suspicion that many in New Zealand politics even see their futures in these exalted organisations instead of coping with the nation’s down-to-earth issues centred as they are on crime, homelessness, cost of living and balance of payments.
The problem for the everyday inhabitants is that this higher calling takes the form of politicians of most stripes claiming that any faltering in imposing on their taxpayers extreme and costly climatic political measures would be interpreted as “dragging the chain.”
Mid-year New Zealand’s energy consumption reached 93 percent from renewables, almost edging out the world champion Iceland..
Nurturing the guilt factor and thus their international opportunities this was hushed up.
Both parties are now frantically back pedalling on their exaggerated and distorted undertakings to these international organisations.
The scheme now is to pass the responsibility (i.e. the buck) to local authorities in the matter of plastering over the countryside wherever the opportunity arises with swathes of pine plantations.
Being shallow rooted and quick growing these are vulnerable to being swept away by the very climatic shifts that the plantations were somehow supposed to avert.
The failure of the government’s last two offset trade units auctions has contributed to the need to hedge, offset, responsibility for these very offset plantations.
At the outset New Zealand went overboard in trumpeting its virtuosity in conforming to international standards. Discarding other alternatives it went all-out on the pine plantations and this signalled the institutional anxiety to conform and to be top-of-the-class internationally.
This can now be seen to have had the direct opposite of the intended effect.
Examples include the pitted and pot holed roads created by the immense road trains carrying the logs.
There is the matter of the government’s direct financial incentives to acquire electric cars which are substantially heavier than the fuel version, and thus contribute to the pot hole outbreak.
The Labour-led government early burst of virtuosity in choking oil and gas exploration and which was materially responsible for the nation’s only oil refinery closing has had the effect of eliminating the local supply of the now badly-needed petroleum-based road surfacing additives required to cope with potholes.
Around half of one percent only of New Zealand is actually built over. With the exception of mountain range summits the rest is covered by vegetation of various descriptions.
The existing natural vegetation includes native, indigenous trees. It is only a few years ago that these were considered so sacred that use of these trees in anything so frivolous as wall coverings in government buildings caused these coverings to be to be ripped out.
How did the pine plantations replace these indigenous (and durable slow growing, deep rooted)) trees in the offset plantation pantheon?
The current official tilt centres on “community” (i.e local government) involvement in the pine plantations will be viewed as a poisoned chalice by these same district and regional administrations.
Official estimates range from a taxpayer exposure of $3 billion to $23 billion to the zero campaign. After the mid year disappointing auction with its carry over from the previous disappointing auction the notion of an exposure of even $30 billion is mooted.
It is not long ago that pine plantations were being cleared for dairy farms instead of the quite recent reversal now in which dairy farms are converted into pine plantations.
With their costly internationalist yearnings the local show-off politicians might take note for example that the OECD average of seven percent of social housing to their total housing stock compares to only three percent in New Zealand.
Proclaimed measures notably the pine one to prepare for the realities of warming sea temperatures and thus the southern migration of the hurricane season instead only drastically added to the problem.
Local government and its ratepayers will be wary of taking up co-governance on this once-fanfared scheme to curry international favour.
They will be aware too of the way in which local authorities now expected to shoulder the official pine plantation burden must cope with reducing “wilding” pine which for reasons still to be explained remain outside internationally-sanctioned respiration calculations, as does indigenous vegetation and indeed grassland too.
How exactly do the unchallengeable international referees in this social justice venture distinguish between a pine tree that happens to be just growing and one that is part of one of their certified special purpose plantations?
Unexplained in the reverence to anything from the multilaterals is the iron-dome formulation of the nation’s contribution of 0.15 percent to world carbon dioxide. In this formula most of this existing respiring cover was eliminated in a calculation that seemingly could only accommodate an authorised and artificial counter balance by the planting of the foreign pines.
Covid Arbiter’s Ascension to Public Intellectual bucked the trend
Fairground fortune-teller coiffed microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles has become the unlikely and even only politico-bureaucratic high profile survivor of the Covid era.
Others might have been ennobled yet Dr Wiles is the only one to remain in the public gaze equipped with such useful tools of contemporary prominence as personal newspaper columns.
Now she is framed in a full scale film Ms Information prominent on the marquee of the New Zealand International Film Festival.
Other mainstays of the Covid era have faded from public consciousness. These include the era’s prime minister Dame Jacinda Ardern and director general of health Dr now Sir Ashley Bloomfield.
Contemporary revisionism holds that the government hard line in dictates such as long duration lockdowns were too stern, severe, not to say unnecessary.
Dr Wiles propelled into public figure status in the immediate run up to the Covid pandemic in these remote South Seas was another hardliner.
She urged officialdom to concentrate on the virus itself and not on what she saw as side issues such as the economy, notably in its tourist form.
Her role as a harbinger was bizarrely offset by her presented persona as a mother, wife, and indeed housewife operating out of a modest timber frame bungalow directly fronting onto a nice Auckland side street.
Was it this Everywoman context that enabled the British scientist to escape the poisoned darts of retrospective retribution that pierced the flesh of the other officials and experts?
It is true that as a technical figure she avoided entanglement with the policy and operational implementation underpinning notably the harsh isolation regime.
It is true also that woven into her personal diary of the plague years was the pervasive non-organic yet compellingly mechanised social media.
Some conjecture that the microbiologist might reasonably have switched off all her devices. Yet science “communication” is part of her stated job description. So all her devices regardless of content had to stay live. Quite literally she is an actual social scientist.
Some might also say that she diagnosed curious elements of the mood of the society in which she now found herself practising.
Such as the innate distrust of the “expert” and especially so if they happened to be female.
Consciously or unconsciously the Edinburgh graduate also understood that in these southern latitudes there is no such thing as gratitude and not much admiration either. These tend to be exclusively channelled into sport.
Therefore she correctly judged that whatever or whoever eventually emerged from the Covid era it would not be heroes.
Her rejection of white coats and test tube festooned laboratories in favour of gaudy street attire, kitchen backdrops, and blunt language is evidence that she anticipated the post plague years hostility to overtly exercised authoritarianism.
A curious by product of the Covid era is that its rallying calls such as “Be Kind” and “Team of Five Million,” tend nowadays to be repeated somewhat cynically
Dr Siouxsie Wiles’ subsequent apotheosis as a significant public figure remains a picaresque outcome of the Covid era. The film Ms Information produced by Alex Reed and Phillida Perry and directed by Gwen Isaac portrays the real life “social” scientist’s ability to make people feel simultaneously soothed and threatened.
Mass communications philosopher Marshall McLuhan defined media entities as being either hot or cool.
They are hot if they are obvious. They are cool if you have to work them out…..as you do with the irreconcilable differences of Dr Siouxsie Wiles.
The film applies a prism to the multi-faceted Dr Wiles’ compelling evolution from microbiologist to public intellectual.
Catch Ms. Information as part of the 2023 NZIFF, screenings in Auckland on 23rd and 24th July, and 6th and 7th August in Wellington. Information for screenings nationwide available