Sunday 16 June 2019

Climate Change Survivalism Is Not The Answer

The End Of Civilisation: Despairing of the major powers ever agreeing to take the steps necessary to slow global warming, The Daily Blog Editor, Martyn Bradbury, has drawn up what amounts to a survivalist agenda for New Zealand. Quite rightly, I believe, he regards these islands as being better positioned than just about anywhere else on the planet to weather the worst aspects of Climate Change. Our government, says Martyn, should act now to prepare us for the dark times to come.

FOR 700 YEARS the little fishing town of Lamu has lived sustainably. Empires have risen and fallen, and still the lateen-sailed dhows have ventured out upon the Indian Ocean and returned laden with fish. The town boasts a unique and distinctive architecture: so distinctive that UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site. Surely, that would be enough to keep the people of this little town, situated on the northern coast of Kenya, safe from the depredations of the wider world?

Sadly, no. Not far from Lamu town, the Chinese are engaged in one of the biggest construction projects in Africa. They are dredging and polluting the pristine channels between the islands of the Lamu archipelago in preparation for building a massive sea-port. Why a seaport? So their huge coal-carriers have somewhere to unload their cargo. What will Kenya do with all that coal? Why, it will burn it in the huge coal-fired power-station the Chinese are building.

But, didn’t Kenya sign-up to the Paris Climate Accord? Isn’t it pledged to reduce its carbon emissions? Yes it is. Even worse, when the coal-fired plant is in operation, it will increase Kenya’s carbon emissions by a factor of 7. So, the town of Lamu, and its fishing fleet, will not be the only ones to suffer from the malign effects of China’s “Belt-and-Road” construction binge. We all will.

This is the madness that Martyn Bradbury, the editor of The Daily Blog, drew to our attention in his blog entitled “We Are 31 YearsAway From Civilisation Collapse Yet The Things We Argue And Debate Right Now Are So Petty.”

Despairing of the major powers ever agreeing to take the steps necessary to slow global warming, Martyn drew up what amounts to a survivalist agenda for New Zealand. Quite rightly, I believe, he regards these islands as being better positioned than just about anywhere else on the planet to weather the worst aspects of Climate Change. Our government, says Martyn, should act now to prepare us for the dark times to come.

Buried amid the many very sensible suggestions for making this country as self-sufficient as possible, I noticed one proposal that sent a chill down my spine. There must be, according to Martyn, a “large scale increase in Navy, Army & Airforce”. Clearly, like so many survivalists, Martyn anticipates the arrival of unwelcome visitors, and he is determined to be ready for them.

When the pitiful boatloads of climate refugees begin to appear off our coast, New Zealanders must possess the necessary military hardware to drive them from our shores. Even if they have nowhere else to go? Absolutely. New Zealand will be in the same position as a lifeboat which has reached its maximum occupancy. If any more survivors of the shipwreck attempt to climb aboard, then the lifeboat will capsize and sink, drowning everyone. To save those lucky enough to have found their place of safety, everyone else must be beaten back.

But what sort of people would we become if we were willing to countenance, day after day, the destruction of refugee vessels, and the inevitable drowning of hundreds, and, ultimately, tens-of-thousands, of desperate men, women and children? You might say that the worthy end (the survival of civilisation in these isolated islands) justifies the terrible means required to achieve it. I would say that the means we adopt to achieve our ends will inevitably determine those ends. A civilisation predicated on the murder of tens-of-thousands of desperate human-beings cannot be anything other than a horror story.

Besides, New Zealand does not possess the sort of military-industrial complex capable of supplying its government with the array of munitions required to send the fleets of climate refugees to the bottom of the sea. To acquire the warships, reconnaissance aircraft, fighter-bombers, long-range missiles and satellite guidance systems such a policy necessitates, we would have to enlist the aid of either the United States or China. Which would make New Zealand their ultimate bolt-hole – not ours.

They might consent to let us live on as their hewers of wood and drawers of water. We do, after all, have a global reputation as efficient producers of food. But, make no mistake, that is what we would be: the servants (or slaves?) of whoever ended up taking over New Zealand. The most trusted of us might be permitted to serve alongside the soldiers, sailors and airmen of the occupying power. And every now and then, the most prolific of these local butchers would be awarded a medal. The land of Shepherd, Rutherford and Hillary would have become the land of remorseless killers.

Personally, I’d rather New Zealand, generous and welcoming to the end, sank below the weight of those to whom we never failed to offer a helping hand.

To those who told him that, in the end, it was better to be Red than dead, the celebrated Russian novelist, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, always retorted: “No, better to be dead, than live as a scoundrel!”

I couldn’t agree more.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 7 June 2019.


mikesh said...

I remember a comment by Lord Crawley (Downton Abbey) about his family's land. He said "This is not my land, I'm Just its steward for the time being."

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"This is not my land, I'm Just its steward for the time being."
Yes of course. For the time being until I hand it on to my children, and they hand it on to their children and so on. Unless someone pisses all the family fortune away and it has to be sold. Not my land – my arse.
The problem is that human beings are rarely bothered to think long-term. And the problem is that capitalists has been downplaying climate change and fighting against anything that is proposed to cope with it that even looks like interfering with their profits. People like Lord Crawley.

John Hurley said...

I don't know why people think we are somehow a life raft apart from "land uplifted high". We would soon be swamped and we seem already to have outpaced that sweet spot of people to resources. One feature of the current angst over AGW has been the sidelining of population issues by the likes of Keith Locke.
In the 1960's demographers bemoaned the population bomb in the Pacific Islands whereas due to later academics it became taboo (as Greg Clydesdale discovered).

Anonymous said...

Obvious point - the building up of naval forces would be less about stopping desperate boat people, and more about at least dissuading another country from invading us for our food and water. Sure, we could never beat off a truly determined invasion, but once you factor in the logistics (New Zealand is a long, long way from anywhere), it might make aforementioned country think twice.

greywarbler said...

I suggest read John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids. The theme throughout is try to find a location where you can settle with other like-minded people trying to live normal human lives. Do good if you can but only within your capacity, to survive and retain your freedom and self-respect and community, you avoid being imposed upon by others beyond the capacity of yourself and the community, practically evaluated.

It seems a good book for a guide as to the likely problems, and how to survive them and find a way to meet with other intelligent, kindly and pro-active, cohesive people.

It wouldn't include enabling everybody who turns up on the periphery entry to the group, in fact this is illustrated as being the basis for the collapse of a group that would otherwise have had a chance of being successful. The group moves from southern England to the Isle of Wight which they defend against invaders, and all work as a group for mutual support and enable those with skills to develop useful measures for their use and advantage.

Brendan McNeill said...


The good news is that there is not going to be a climate emergency in 12 years (IPCC) or in 31 years (Bradbury & Co). Now I appreciate we have school girls advising us differently but here are the facts:

C02 makes up 0.04% of the earths atmosphere, approximately 400 parts per million. Of that 0.04% human contribution is estimated by scientists to be 3.0%, or 12 parts per million, which is to say almost nothing.

New Zealand’s contribution to the 3% is 0.17% which is nothing. So, assuming 12 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere is causing a “climate emergency”, your readers need to understand there is nothing New Zealand can do to influence global carbon emissions, nothing we can do to influence the climate, the ‘average’ global temperature or sea levels.

We are told that 400 parts per million of C02 is ‘too much’ in the atmosphere, however science tells us that below 180 parts per million life on earth ceases to exist. If 400ppm is too much, and 180ppm is too little, what is the ‘ideal’ amount of C02 in the atmosphere? Nobody knows.

The more sane estimates of sea level rise by the end of this century is in the region of 200mm to 300mm. This is going to cause some problems for those in coastal regions, but we will adapt, just as human beings have always adapted in the past when we lived through droughts, famines, mini ice ages, plagues and wars.

The good news is that more CO2 makes for a greener planet, increased crop yields, and a more temperate climate in Europe and here in New Zealand. What’s not to like?

The idea that we are going to be swamped by climate change refugees is, frankly absurd.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Ah Brendan. For someone who criticises people who talk about religion when they are not "theologically qualified" you certainly have a lot of opinions on stuff where you're not qualified to judge. Why on earth is it that the excessively religious and the right wing can't see that climate change is going to be a problem? I say follow the money. You're scared it's going to cost you.

Exkiwiforces said...

Well Brendan, let’s see you if you right in 15yrs to 30yrs time? Because before I left the service (RAAF) due to a medical discharge in Jul 18 the data, I had seen for the Asia/ Pacific region and further backed by this years World Peace Index (WPI) have stated that CC is a threat to the Region. Heck even the NT Top End has had the driest wet season on record, with the current trend pointing to less rain next season and every cattle station in the Northern NT is busy de stocking. As a NT resident for the last 8 yrs and spending a lot time out with work (including the MER, PNG Highlands and FNQ) Fishing, Hunting and as a NT Bush Firefighter I’ve notice certain changes into a our climate and the environment with these changes to our climate. Also last yr Javan Highlands with the West Papua and PNG Highlands experience drought conditions during there wet season which is unheard off even before the white fella turned up!

My last few yrs as RAAF Ground Defence instructor in the NT, with time in the following sections in our Nth Regional HQ for RAAF SecFor SQN Operations Planning a future planning CC is starting to be a major concern for the ADF and the NZ. I spoken about this on another blog site saying I predict that based on current weather trends here in Oz atm, the West Coast, Southland, with other parts of the Sth Island and lower Nth Island will experience the same wild winter weather conditions this yr as they last year.

sumsuch said...

Yep, Guerilla Surgeon, the Right is disproved by their rejection of climate change and finite resources. The PR is different, hence Hooten and Brendan O'Neill carry on. A fury of a politician would change that. Rather than these bureaucrats of politics. When reason ignites 'too late, too late'. Too late.

The straightforward of politics, which pisses off by its apparent complexity our individualised atomised children, is 'for the people' or 'the powerful'.