According to at least one New Zealander we’re well on the way to sharing a similar fate as the 14th century Easter (or ‘Rapanui’) Islanders.
This morning Linda Clark was interviewing Peter Lloyd – a Hawkes Bay senior anesthetist turned climate change expert. He had grave concerns for New Zealand and the planet in the light of climate change, peak oil and our “head in the sand” approach to the world’s dwindling resources.
He basically reiterated what many environmental groups have been saying for years – but he made it clear that he’s not affiliated with any group. “…I’m just a concerned citizen who wants to educate and tell my friends so they can prepare themselves…” (for what he sees as the inevitable collapse of life as we know it).
Peter has obviously done a lot more research than myself, but had come to similar conclusions.
Listen to the interview
(Note: The audio is only available until March 5th 2006).
He claimed that biofuel is just part of the solution, but said that New Zealand cannot grow enough crops or animal products to replace our current demand for oil (“it would take four years to grow what we consume in one”, he said). He said that instead, biofuel might be used to provide essential services, such as powering farm machinery and transport in the production of food (as it stands our entire food production process would come to a grinding halt without oil).
He also wondered about the feasibility of continuing New Zealand’s produce-export business using biofuel powered ships (personally, I think that wind-powered ships could also be part of the equation).
Then Linda Clark brought up the plans for a new city south of Christchurch – in the Pegasus region. The idea is that they’re going to build a new city, with big houses, a man-made lake, a shopping complex and schools – with people commuting to-from Christchurch. I can’t find any solid information on the internet to back this up, but if it’s true then, wow, how short-sighted is that?
From what I heard the scheme sounds money (developer) driven. It crossed my mind if they were planning to use grey-water, solar power (like the new Pier Complex apartments at Paraparaumu Beach), and other sustainable living principals.
So if oil gets too expensive to buy (because of shortages and/or China snaps it all up), then where does this leave New Zealanders?
I for one live an hour out of Wellington, and commute (by train) five days a week. We use a car to get the kids to/from school (and some car-pooling). We get our weekly organic vege box couriered over from Napier, and the most of the rest comes from the supermarket. At this time of year about 10% of our food comes from our home vege garden. We could not survive off our garden alone without a major investment in our time, money, good soil (we basically live on a sand-dune), and a reliable energy/water supply.
The thought has crossed my mind, that if an energy crisis does prohibit travel and food production, and we were forced to be more self-reliant, then what’s to prevent someone stealing our home-grown food anyway?
I know some of you will be thinking all this is unlikely to happen (despite the many warning signs), and if it does then we’ll adapt.
I’m a cautious optimist, but I do believe that change of some sort is coming, and that I (we) need to be thinking about how our family, friends and wider community might cope (or not cope).
For a start I think that that my children need to be taught basic survival skills (grow your own food), adaptability (use your limited resources creatively), and an attitude to life which enables a degree of independence from the system (know how to look after yourself).
…the sort of stuff that was second nature for our great grandparents!