We are the problem. My earthday talk for 350.org.nz and Fridays for Future

Its earth day today April 22nd but more importantly just three days three days ago was New Zealand’s ecological overshoot day!

So, starting from January 1 until April 19 2022 we lived within our planetary life supporting system means, but that ended last Tuesday. Now every day until the end of the year we go into ecological debt, we are living on borrowed time, borrowed from our kids, from our future.

Ok so we are debt, everyone is in debt aren’t they mortgages, car loans etc?  

Yeah but this is ecological debt, this isn’t like fiscal debt, this isn’t something where you can have a windfall and pay it back or have it written off by the bank or government. The interest on this debt this is worse than the evillest loan shark, they can’t repossess the car or beat you up for this one. No, this a debt we pass on to everyone following us. A deadly debt for our kids. Its accelerating fast last year our overshoot day was May 15th!

How does good old Clean Green Aotearoa NZs April 19th overshoot day compare with other countries? We are number 14in the world, so 14th from worst.  

In a study just out, the other day, published in the Lancet titled ‘National responsibility for ecological breakdown’ Aotearoa NZ could be found in a pack of 30countries most responsible for ecological breakdown.

We are in the “High-income countries” category which means while we represent only 16% of the world population, we are responsible for 74% of resource use. 

Wealthy countries and people like us are the primary drivers of global environmental degradation, representing a process of ecological colonisation.

So, we must urgently and drastically scale down resource use, that means for us at least a 70% reduction in what we consume. For a liveable climate we must reduce emissions by 10% per year, every year.

This means the solution is NOT kidding ourselves that buying an EV or pushing for a life that looks anything like what we have now but without fossil fuels. That is neither possible nor acceptable we have to accept that how we live is radical not how we need to live with 70% less being radical.

One big problem I think is that we humans are great at self-delusion and self-delusion scams are growing like a virus. A perfect example is this thing called ‘net-zero’ it is an emperor with no clothes. Completely fake. The ‘net’ bit is the scam.

We delude ourselves about our emissions because we don’t count embodied embedded emissions. For example, Sweden reports ~ 5 tonne per capita GHGe emissions footprint but a recent study revealed embodied emissions in their imports amount to another 9 tonnes. So, by missing this you get emissions profiles declining for rich countries (and claims of decoupling) but really emissions are just loaded onto the country manufacturing the stuff we buy. Same here, we don’t account for the emissions embodied in imports like cars, EVs, building materials renewable energy infrastructure almost everything we take for granted.  

So, what is our government doing about our terrible environmental record? Virtually NOTHING

We have our leader showing great leadership over immediate issues like Covid but utterly failing on climate. Our (Climate is our nuclear moment) PM Jacinda Adern the other day at the opening of Transmission Gully highway celebrating its opening claiming (falsely) it will reduce emissions.

Our Climate Commission is in court for fudging the numbers and its leader Rod Carr said the other day that we are doing well with electric ferries, electric planes and cars. Inexplicably delusional.

So, don’t expect anything realistic from Government it is up to us, we must lead the charge and demand real change.

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