Let’s be nice to our neighbours

September 23, 2011

The slogan goes: I support New Zealand and anyone who plays Australia.

It should be I support Australia unless they’re playing New Zealand.

Paul Henry asked on Radio Live yesterday afternoon, who we’d rather have living next door? I agreed with him I couldn’t think of anyone better than the Aussies.

They’re not just our neighbours, friends and allies; they’re good neighbours, friends and allies.

Unfortunately there are morons on both sides of the Tasman who take what should be the sort of friendly rivalry you get between siblings far too far and get stupid.

Some of them are on television. I just saw someone interviewing one of the USA team and saying, don’t worry you’ll have all of New Zealand backing the Eagles because we don’t want the Wallabies to win.

He’s not speaking for me. I like the USA and have good friends there but tonight I’m backing Australia.

In other news – no surprises last night in the Springboks’ 87 – 0 win against Namibia.


Word of the day

September 23, 2011

Togogata – to turn one’s attention and anger from one person to another.

Friday’s answers updated

September 23, 2011

Thursday’s questions were:

1. Who said: “Auto racing, bull fighting and mountian climbing are the only real sports  . . .  all others are games.”

2. It’s courir  in French, correre in Italian,  correr in Spanish, and rere  or oma  in Maori, what is it in English?

3. What are the capital cities of  Namibia and Georgia (the country not the state) ?

4. What the common name for  Narcissus?

5. Whose face is on the New Zealand $10 note?

Points for answers:

James got a clean sweep for which he wins an electronic bunch of daffodils.

Adolf got one on trust and a bonus for satire.

Robert got one for extra information.

Andrei got four and a bonus for wit.

Adam got three.

David got three (accepting that run is related to flee) with a bonus for deduction and perseverance.

UPDATE: PDM got 1/2 with a bonus for satire and another for my oversight. (not sure if the lack of a $10 note is a cry of poverty or reflection on money machines which usually dish out 20s and 50s).

Answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Irony on irony

September 23, 2011

There was more than a little irony in the idea of the Minister of Entitlement and Indignation Chris Carter accepting a post witht he UN to sort out corruption in Afghanistan.

But now there’s more. He did his valedictory speech a couple of weeks ago, started the new job last week but has only just got around to tabling his resignation with the Speaker – and it doesn’t take effect until the end of the month.

What’s worse, collecting two salaries for a fortnight; accepting yet more pay for being an MP when he’s no longer being one; or that parliamentary rules allow that to happen?

Hat tip: No Right Turn

Tanty, tanty – updated

September 23, 2011

Tantrums can be entertaining for observers, but they’re rarely amusing for the victims, especially if they’re being defamed.

You would think someone aspiring to be in government might have learned something from the Supreme Court’s granting Erin Leigh’s appeal to sue a former public servant who provided Trevor Mallard with information with which he attacked Leigh in parliament.

But no, Mallard is now besmirching the reputations of several other innocent people in a misguided and unfounded attack on Bill English.

I’m not going to dignify it with a link you’ll find more than enough about what he’s done on the following blogs:

Over at Keeping Stock, Inventory 2 asks what’s upsetting Trevor?

Whaleoil uses it for yet another post on how Labour isn’t focussing on what matters.

Matthew Hooton, one of the people maligned by Mallard, entitles his response Mallard goes mad.

Mallard’s post not only attacks these people it hurts his party and its members, which is what I assume has motivated a brief post entitled Please at Imperator Fish.

The public tantrum is stupid for many reasons including the fact that the daily political round-up at Liberation  which prompted it, covers a range of views and clearly states who sponsors it.

Any link between one of them and the Finance Minister is drawing a bow so long the archer has directed the arrow to his own foot.

Update: Dim Post has some  advice for Mallard in Deep thought punching your weight edition.

Update 2: Kiwiblog reckons Trevor has joined the truthers and birthers.

Woe isn’t us

September 23, 2011

Woe is us, the end is nigh, the world as we know it will collapse under the weight of growing populations and the environmental problems there-of.

That’s how some people see it.

Fortunately there is another, happier outlook: the Rational Optimist, Matt Ridley, reckons there is room for all.

The world now has almost seven billion people and rising. The population may surpass nine billion by 2050. We, together with our 20 billion chickens and four billion cattle, sheep and pigs, will utterly dominate the planet. Can the planet take it? Can we take it?

 Yes. Not only is such a huge population going to prove indefinitely “sustainable”; it is actually likely that the ecological impact of nine billion in 2050 will be lighter, not heavier: there will be less pollution and more space left over for nature than there is today.

The doomsayers are wrong? How can that be? Let’s look at some inconvenient truths:

Consider three startling facts. The world population quadrupled in the 20th century, but the calories available per person went up, not down. The world population doubled in the second half of the century, but the total forest area on the planet went up slightly, not down. The world population increased by a billion in the last 13 years, but the number living in absolute poverty (less than a dollar a day, adjusted for inflation) fell by around a third.

Clearly it is possible at least for a while to escape the fate forecast by Robert Malthus, the pessimistic mathematical cleric, in 1798. We’ve been proving Malthus wrong for more than 200 years. And now the population explosion is fading. Fertility rates are falling all over the world: in Bangladesh down from 6.8 children per woman in 1955 to 2.7 today; China – 5.6 to 1.7; Iran – 7 to 1.7; Nigeria – 6.5 to 5.2; Brazil 6.1 to 1.8; Yemen – 8.3 to 5.1.

The rate of growth of world population has halved since the 1960s; the absolute number added to the population each year has been falling for more than 20 years. According to the United Nations, population will probably cease growing altogether by 2070. This miraculous collapse of fertility has not been caused by Malthusian misery, or coercion (except in China), but by the very opposite: enrichment, urbanization, female emancipation, education and above all the defeat of child mortality – which means that women start to plan families rather than continue breeding.

Who would have thought it? Empowering women has positive economic and environmental consequences.

But more prosperous people want more food, do we have enough now and will we in the future?

. . . In 60 years we have trebled the total harvest of the three biggest crops, wheat, rice and corn. Yet the acreage devoted to growing these crops has barely changed. This is because fertilizer, irrigation, pesticides and new varieties have greatly increased yields.

They continue to do so. Growth regulators boost the yield of wheat. Genetic modification boosts the yield of cotton (while increasing the biodiversity in fields). New enzymes promise to cut the phosphate output and increase weight gain of pigs. These technologies save rain forest, by sparing land from the plow. If we went back to organic farming, the world would have to cultivate more than twice as much land as we do.

 ”Ungreen”  is greener than “green”. Conventional farming grows more food on less land than organic farming could and it is allowing reforestation.

. . . New England is now 80 per cent woodland, where it was once 70 per cent farm land. Italy and England have more woodland than for many centuries. Moose, coyotes, beavers and bears are back in places where they have not been for centuries. France has a wolf problem; Scotland a deer problem. It is the poor countries, not the affluent ones, that are losing forest. Haiti, with its near total dependence on renewable power (wood), is 98-percent deforested and counting.

Yet more proof that economic growth doesn’t have to come at the cost of the environment and that healthy economies have healthier environments.

Human beings currently appropriate for themselves and their animals about 24 per cent of the foliage that grows upon the Earth. That is a lot. But in much of the world they increase the quantity of that foliage by fertilizer and irrigation, so the net amount left for nature is about what it would be if we did not exist.

That is why I predict that by the second half of this century nine billion human beings will be living mostly prosperous lives, eating chickens and pigs and cattle while coexisting with about as much nature as was there before we even came on the scene. We will be steadily decreasing the footprint of each human life by moving to cities, getting our food from intensive fields fertilized with nitrogen fixed from the air, our energy from natural gas or nuclear reactors, rather than horse hay or dammed rivers, and our buildings from steel and glass from beneath the ground, rather than forest timber.

Imagine: a falling population and a falling land requirement per person plus a rising income per head; a grand re-wilding of great parts of Africa, Australia and Canada; endangered species back from the brink; even some extinct ones, thanks to genetic engineers – my money’s on the mammoth first.

Imagine stronger economies, wealthier and healthier people with smaller environmental footprints.

Who or what could sabotage that journey towards Utopia?

. . .  Running out of fossil fuels? Not a chance: the discovery of how to extract shale gas has just given the world a quarter of a millennium’s worth of cheap fossil fuel. Running out of water? No: far more frugal uses of water are already in play where price and technology combine. Climate change? Hardly. Rising carbon dioxide is already measurably boosting yields of crops and the slow and small warming we have had so far – roughly half a degree in 50 years – has probably boosted rainfall slightly. Even the UN’s own models predict that a big warming by 2050 from here is unlikely.

There is only one thing I fear that could derail my dream: politics. The world now devotes 5 per cent of its grain crop into making motor fuel, in the mistaken belief that this somehow cuts carbon emissions. It does not: it displaces just 0.6 per cent of the world’s oil use, uses just about as much oil in cultivation, and encourages the destruction of rain forest, releasing greenhouse gases. And it starves people.

Growing food for fuel isn’t better for the environment and it is worse for people.

If there are three things I fear, as a passionate environmentalist who wants to see wild habitats restored all over the world, they are biofuels, renewable electricity and organic farming. Each would demand much, much more land from nature.

Woe will be us if we let emotion rather than science win the economic and environmental debates.

But woe won’t be us if  science prevails enabling economic growth in step with environmental protection and enhancement.

Greens want milk price set by commissioner

September 23, 2011

Fonterra has published a farm gate milk price manual which shows the link between global dairy prices, the amount farmers are paid and the retail price of milk here.

The Statement shows that the 2011 Farmgate Milk Price of $7.60 per kilogram of milksolids (kgMS) was based on revenue[1] of $9.51 per kgMS, less cash and capital costs totaling $1.91 per kgMS.

The 2011 Farmgate Milk Price is $1.50 higher than the previous 2010 Season’s $6.10 per kgMS. This is driven by an increase of $1.56 in net revenue, offset slightly by an increase of 6 cents in costs.

“These figures demonstrate what Fonterra has been saying all along – that the price New Zealand farmers are paid for milk, which in turn flows into retail dairy prices, reflects global prices for dairy commodities,” said Fonterra’s chief financial officer Jonathan Mason.

The 2011 milksolids payment to farmers of $7.60 per kgMS equates to approximately 66 cents per litre of liquid milk.

Over the past two Seasons, net revenues have increased $2.96, or 45%, but in the same period costs have increased by 8 cents or 4% – roughly in line with inflation.

When we export most of our milk, the global market price has a big influence on both the payout to farmers and the retail price.

Green Party MP Sue Kedgley gets the link but says:

“The Milk Price Manual confirms that Fonterra largely bases the domestic price of milk on the global price Fonterra would get by selling milk solids overseas,” said Ms Kedgley.

“We have heard evidence during the Select Committee Milk Price inquiry that the global milk price is hugely inflated by speculators trading in milk.

“This means that New Zealanders ability to pay for a staple food product is being adversely affected by global commodity speculators.

“The Green Party considers that domestic milk prices should not be determined by an inflated global milk price,” said Ms Kedgley.

“We consider a good first step in tackling this issue would be for the domestic price of milk to be set by set by an independent body or Commissioner, not Fonterra.”

Welcome to the socialist republic where the company which produces the milk would have to accept the price set by a commissioner.

The Argentinean government tried to keep the domestic price of beef down by imposing exorbitant taxes on exports. Famers faced with that market signal gave up on cattle and swapped to growing soya which gave them better returns.

Farmers here would make a similar response to an attempt to depress the domestic milk price which, in effect, would mean they were subsidising consumers.

If the Green Party wants to be taken seriously it’s MPs need to get a better grasp of economics.

They could start by looking at the law of supply and demand and the relationship between them and prices.



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