Word of the day

18/07/2012

Philanthropy – goodwill to fellow members of the human race; active effort to promote human welfare; an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes; the effort or inclination to increase the well-being of humankind, as by charitable aid or donations; an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes.


Thursday’s quiz

18/07/2012

1. Who said, ” We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”?

2. The Owen G. Glenn Building houses which school at which university?

3. It’s donner in French, dare in Italian, dar in Spanish and hoake in Maori, what is it in English?

4. What is the title of Owen Glenn’s autobiography?

5. Which sports club does he co-own?


Little Green Lies

18/07/2012

The green movement is very good at emotional claims, but not all of them stack up under scrutiny.

The book Little Green Lies: An exposé of twelve environmental myths by Jeff Bennett,has put a dozen of the claims under scrutiny and found them wanting:

There are twelve propositions addressed in the twelve chapters of this book. Although each proposition is considered in a separate chapter, many of them are interrelated. In the list of the propositions that follows, a short outline of each ‘little green lie’ is set out along with a brief exposition of the counter-proposition that will be advanced in this volume.

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.

This writer is not an ill-informed zealot. His qualifications are impressive:

Jeff Bennett is Professor of Environmental Management in the Crawford School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. Jeff lectures, researches and consults on the economics of environmental policy issues.

None of this takes away from the need to tread lightly on the earth but it does reinforce the need to base claims on science.

Good intentions aren’t enough if they’re doing more harm than good.

Hat Tip: Kiwiblog


Do we need another inquiry?

18/07/2012

Owen Glenn’s $80m donation to fight family violence and child abuse is an extremely generous one.

Otara in South Auckland, one of the country’s poorest urban centres, is to be used as the “pilot” community in the implementation of a series of programmes, and will immediately receive $8m from the Glenn Family Foundation.

The rest of the $80m pledged by Mr Glenn is to be doled to various organisations nationwide over coming years.

Mr Glenn has also offered to fund a Royal Commission.

His generosity is unquestioned and is a wonderful example to others with the means to help others.

But do we need another inquiry?

The causes of violence and abuse are well known, any spare money should be spent on addressing them rather than yet more talking about them.


Small fall in GDT milk price

18/07/2012

The trade-weighted price of milk dropped .9% in this morning’s GlobalDairyTrade auction.

The price of anhydrous milk fat went up 3.3%; butter milk powder increases 7.2%; cheddar was down 2.9%; milk protein concentrate was up 2.4%; rennet casein was down 1.8%; skim milk powder was up 5.2% and whole milk powder was down 5.8%


Low inflation, low interest rates

18/07/2012

The CPI rose only .3% in the June quarter and the annual increase was only 1%.

That is very good news for households:

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Statistics New Zealand today reported that inflation rose 0.3 percent in the June quarter, annual inflation fell to 1 percent, its lowest level since 1999, and the CPI is increasing at its slowest rate in more than 12 years. At the same time floating mortgage rates, at around 5.75 percent, are at their lowest level in 45 years. This is saving a family with a $200,000 mortgage about $200 a week compared with what they were paying 4 years ago. These factors are helping New Zealand families save more, pay down debt, and get ahead.

. . . Hon Dr Nick Smith: What other factors are helping New Zealanders get ahead?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Although inflation has been falling, the economy has continued growing moderately. This is reflected in real after-tax wages, which have increased by about 11 percent since September 2008. The components of this are that gross wages have increased 12 percent, after-tax gross wages have increased 20 percent, and inflation has been a bit over 8 percent, which leaves the 11 percent increase. This is a vast improvement on the situation in the 9 years to September 2008, when New Zealand’s real after-tax wages increased by only 4.4 percent in total.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: How does the current level of inflation, at a 13-year low, compare with what the Government inherited when it came into office in 2008?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: When the Government came into office in November 2008, annual inflation was running at 5.1 percent, rather than 1 percent, as it is today. That is because power prices had risen by 72 percent in 8 years, petrol prices were around 10 percent higher than they are now, and floating mortgage rates were at decade highs of almost 11 percent. The lower inflation we are now experiencing, combined with steady increases in after-tax wages, mean most Kiwi families are better off now than they were in 2008, and that is why they are able to reduce their debt and increase their savings.

In the late 1980s we were paying more than 25% for seasonal finance. That sounds like a wonderful incentive for savers but raging inflation took too much of the value from savings.

Low inflation and low interest rates are a much better combination for businesses and for savers.

 

 

 


July 18 in history

18/07/2012

390 BC Roman-Gaulish Wars: Battle of the Allia – a Roman army was defeated by raiding Gauls, leading to the subsequent sacking of Rome.

64 Great fire of Rome: a fire began to burn in the merchant area of Rome.

1290  King Edward I of England issued the Edict of Expulsion, banishing all Jews (numbering about 16,000) from England; this was Tisha B’Av on the Hebrew calendar, a day that commemorates many Jewish calamities.

1334  The bishop of Florence blessed the first foundation stone for the new campanile (bell tower) of the Florence Cathedral, designed by the artist Giotto di Bondone.

1389  Kingdoms of France and England agreed to the Truce of Leulinghem,  inaugurating a 13 year peace; the longest period of sustained peace during the Hundred Years War.

1656  Polish-Lithuanian forces clashed with Sweden and its Brandenburg allies in the start of  the Battle of Warsaw.

1670 Giovanni Bononcini, Italian composer, was born (d. 1747).

1811 William Makepeace Thackeray, English author, was born (d. 1863).

1848   W. G. Grace, English cricketer, was born  (d. 1915).

1855 New Zealand’s first postage stamps were issued. The adhesive, non-perforated stamps for the prepayment of postage were the famous ‘Chalon Head’ design that portrayed a full-face likeness of Queen Victoria in her coronation robes.

NZ's first postage stamps go on sale

1857  Louis Faidherbe, French governor of Senegal, arrived to relieve French forces at Kayes, effectively ending El Hajj Umar Tall’s war against the French.

1862  First ascent of Dent Blanche, one of the highest summits in the Swiss Alps.

1863  American Civil War: Battle of Fort Wagner/Morris Island – the first formal African American military unit, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, failed in their assault on Confederate-held Battery Wagner.

1867 Margaret Brown, American activist, philanthropist, and RMS Titanic passenger, was born (d. 1932).

1870  The First Vatican Council decreed the dogma of papal infallibility.

1887 Vidkun Quisling, Norwegian soldier, politician and convicted traitor, was born  (d. 1945).

1908 Mildred Lisette Norman, American peace activist, earned the moniker Peace Pilgrim, was born  (d. 1981).

1909  Andrei Gromyko, Soviet diplomat and President, was born (d. 1989).

1909 – Mohammed Daoud Khan, President of Afghanistan, was born (d. 1978).

1914  The U.S. Congress formed the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps, giving definite status to aircraft within the U.S. Army for the first time.

1918 Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was born.

1923 Jerome H. Lemelson, American inventor, was born (d. 1997).

1925  Adolf Hitler published his personal manifesto Mein Kampf.

1936 In Spanish Morocco, military rebels attempted a coup d’état against the legitimacy of the Spanish government, this led to the Spanish Civil War.

1937 Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist and author, was born (d. 2005).

1942 Bobby Susser, American songwriter and record producer, was born.

1942  World War II: the Germans test flew the Messerschmitt Me-262 using only its jet engines for the first time.

1944  World War II: Hideki Tojo resigned as Prime Minister of Japan due to numerous setbacks in the war effort.

1950 Glenn Hughes, American singer (Village People), was born (d. 2001).

1957 Sir Nick Faldo, English golfer, was born.

1963 Martín Torrijos Espino, former President of Panama, was born.

1965  Russian satellite Zond 3 launched.

1966  Gemini 10 launched.

1968  The Intel Corporation was founded in Santa Clara, California.

1969  After a party on Chappaquiddick Island, Senator Ted Kennedy drove an Oldsmobile off a bridge and his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, died.

1971 Sarah McLeod, New Zealand actress, was born.

1976 Nadia Comăneci became the first person in Olympic Games history to score a perfect 10 in gymnastics at the 1976 Summer Olympics.

1982 – 268 campesinos were slain in the Plan de Sánchez massacre in Ríos Montt’s Guatemala.

1984  McDonald’s massacre James Oliver Huberty opened fire, killing 21 people and injuring 19 others before being shot dead by police.

1984  Beverly Lynn Burns became first female Boeing 747 airline captain.

1986 A tornado was broadcast live on KARE television when the station’s helicopter pilot made a chance encounter.

1992  The ten victims of the La Cantuta massacre disappeared from their university in Lima.

1994 The bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (Argentinian Jewish Communal Center) in Buenos Aires killed 85 people (mostly Jewish) and injures 300.

1995  The Soufriere Hills volcano erupted. Over the course of several years, it devastates the island, destroying the capital and forcing most of the population to flee.

1996  Storms provoked severe flooding on the Saguenay River.

1996  Battle of Mullaitivu. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam captured the Sri Lanka Army’s base, killing over 1200 Army soldiers.

2005  Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement, first public joint statement by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the then U.S. President George W. Bush.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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