We are cretins ruled by delusions

A set of measuring spoons

UPDATE 1: 26 May 10:45 am

So it’s starting. It’s becoming real. For so long just a pie-in-the-sky dream of climate activists wanting so much to save the world from our greed, selfishness and general all-round bad qualities, the grand plan for the Earth’s climate is at last about to take a material form.

The Herald tells us today: “Mercury Energy hikes prices to reflect ETS“. Wonderful. Now we get the higher prices we demanded in order to change the climate. Now we shall be poorer, but happier. Now we can relax. The world is being put to rights.

The Herald says:

The ETS is a government-imposed cost on all electricity and gas production that emits greenhouse gases, reflecting the total volume of greenhouse gases produced by the electricity and gas industries as a whole.

Once upon a time, dear reader, in far-off times when our forefathers were subjects of the King of England, or the Netherlands, laws were introduced to require accurate measuring of everything that was produced and sold by measure. Standards were introduced and strictly enforced to ensure none of His Majesty’s loyal subjects might be defrauded by the unscrupulous manufacturer or vendor.

A council of the deluded governs the stupid

And now, in more enlightened times, what do we find? We find that the thin air itself is being sold and bought by government decree without so much as a weighing machine, a standard volume measure or even just a regular bag to measure it by. To increase the nonsense quotient, the product being bought and sold is wanted by nobody, it is unmeasurable, uncollectable, undeliverable and entirely useless.

What an achievement! This represents government of the stupid by a council of the deluded.

In this delusion, the government-imposed cost “reflects” the “total volume” of greenhouse gases produced by the electricity and gas industries “as a whole”.

Anybody like to hazard a guess as to what that means?

I have read the section of the Climate Change Response Act 2002 headed “62 Monitoring of emissions and removals” and it makes no mention of measuring emissions. It specifies no measuring equipment, no measurement units and no periods for regular measurement.

But it does mention calculations. All these emissions will be calculated, based on theoretical rates of emission and removal for the particular process involved. In other words, nobody will have the slightest idea of how much carbon dioxide is being emitted in any period. Everybody will be guessing, hoping their “calculations” are correct.

This is not a drill

Even the minor greenhouse gases are to be calculated, not just carbon dioxide, so error margins will be enormous, as these are unbelievably minor gases, present in the atmosphere only in a few parts per billion. The stakes, however, are very large. You had better pay close attention to accuracy, or you might receive a fine of up to $50,000 and/or five years in prison!

Those are the penalties for being late with an emissions return, making a mistake in your calculations, failing to collect or record some data, or simply making a mistake on your emissions return. Your work will be checked by what the legislation cheerily refers to as “enforcement officers”. This is serious; this is not a drill.

Emitters, of course, will be hoping their calculations won’t be discovered because they’ll be doing their level best to under-report their emissions. The independent “verifiers” will no doubt be doing their best to exaggerate the same industry’s emissions, because it is highly likely that their fee will be based on the amounts they are called on to “verify”.

Mercury Energy logo

An industry hoping to sell their surplus carbon credits will for a time do their best to exaggerate their own emissions so they are allocated more than they deserve.

The country already pays for an enormous bureaucracy that has been assembled for the sole purpose of monitoring the huge number of transactions that must be registered under the ETS legislation. Transactions, one must say, which are all worthless, since they involve a transfer from one place to another (e.g., either into or out of a tree) of a substance that nobody wants (carbon dioxide), which does no harm (all plants eat it) and is vital to all life (carnivores’ prey eat plants).

Mercury Energy said:

the scheme would increase wholesale electricity and gas prices and the effect for Mercury Energy customers would be an extra $5 a month, 3.3 per cent, to average residential electricity bills and $1.75 a month, 2.4 per cent, to average residential gas bills.

That sounds manageable, doesn’t it? About five dollars a month, let’s say ten dollars if we include petrol. Fairly reasonable.

But those higher prices for power, gas, petrol and diesel will be going into everything that uses them for production, storage or transport. Think about the ramifications. A household’s extra costs won’t be 5% of their power bill ($100 per month?), but 5% (or more) of their entire budget. Would that be something like $3000 per month?

So their extra costs could be something like $150, not a mere $5. But, as a reader (Bulaman, below) reminded me, GST is going up on 1 October, adding another 2.5% to the prices of everything subject to GST. This could raise our average family’s costs by up to $75, for a total increase of $225.

If you’re an economist reading this, could you please give us an idea of the practicality of these crude calculations? Or if you happen to know of a better set of figures, leave a comment; I’d like to know more about this.

We’re moving away from the temperature series and I’m out of my comfort zone.

It’s late, I’ve been out, there’s a lot more to say, but let me post this as is and add to it later. What do you think? Are you outraged?

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25 Thoughts on “We are cretins ruled by delusions

  1. Bulaman on 26/05/2010 at 8:24 am said:

    Don’t forget higher GST goes on top !!

    • Of course! From 1 October we can add another 2.5% to these figures. So, based on $3000 per month, our average household’s costs will rise by about $75 just from the GST, taking the total increase to $225.

      Not all of that domestic budget has GST on it, with the large-ticket items such as rent and finance charges being exempt. So it won’t be that much. Where’s that economist?

      Thanks, Bulaman.

  2. Yes, it could give the Nats some courage to resist our campaign against the ETS. Such ambitious targets will either destroy the EU from within, as countries realise they must rebel against the deliberate impoverishment of their own people, or the ETS will fail. Meanwhile, China, Brazil, India and the rest are watching quietly from the wings as our industrial capacity moves inexorably to the countries that are not destroying their own economies.

    The Greenies must be rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of turning back the Industrial Revolution. For note this:

    The Commission will argue that the lower target has become much easier to meet because of the recession, which resulted in the EU’s emissions falling more than 10 per cent last year as thousands of factories closed or cut production. Emissions last year were already 14 per cent below 1990 levels.

    How much easier to meet the targets when ALL the factories are closed! But when the factories restart in China or India, there will be no ETS in place to limit their success.

    Of course, we may be too poor by then to buy their products.

  3. Good article… Apparently there is a good book out in the UK now by NZ professor Bob Carter – which will NOT be available in NZ until 20 July… coincidence? Hopefully people will start LISTENING to reason (eg ACT party is doing their darndest)…


    Greenies seem to be bunch of nitwits… who listens to them anyway?

    cheers from a Chicago girl living tenaciously in Titirangi.

    • Thanks, Lisa. Yes, ACT are trying very hard to campaign against the ETS. They are the only politicians prepared to oppose this deliberate wrecking of our economy.

      I haven’t seen Bob’s new book, although it was launched a few weeks ago in a celebration held at Parliament.

      Greenies… yeah, well. A lot of what they say makes good sense and over the past 30 years or so they’ve turned us all into eco-mentalists which I say is a good thing. However, some of what they say does not make good sense, which tends to put ordinary people completely off everything they say.

      The extreme eco-mentalists actually say outright that humans shouldn’t be on the planet. Some of them would make an exception for people who give up all modern technology, like soap and windows. Ridiculous.

      You have a funky web site, my friend!

    • Hi Richard,
      I hope you mean ‘funky’ in a good way? 😮

      Besides not polluting in the conventional sense (eg disposing of trash by ‘accepted’ practices, not pumping toxic waste into waterways, etc), what type of ‘green’ polices are good? I haven’t seen any so I’m curious. Green economic programs & technologies are not working in oh, Spain and a few other European countries. So ‘green’ economics don’t make sense… C02 is not a pollutant… The DDT thing didn’t work very well for the 5 million who have died from preventale malaria… hmmm…. I’m all ears, Richard… give me some examples! cheers… http://saucyusa.blogspot.com/2010/04/stupid-earth-day-is-naked-communism.html

    • val majkus on 15/06/2010 at 11:48 pm said:

      Hi Lisa; you can order Prof Carter’s book from his website (by the way he’s Australian); here’s the link http://members.iinet.net.au/~glrmc/new_page_1.htm; although it says ‘pre order’ I would think you can order from that site and you get a discount from on line ordering; enjoy!

  4. Hi Lisa,

    I meant funky in a good way — I even smiled as I wrote it.

    You point out some of the stupid or extreme green policies. There are some others. They oppose:

    all forms of nuclear power, no matter how safe the modern designs (some are small enough to be carried on a truck, need no intervention for several decades, serve a small community of a few hundred houses and leave no radioactive waste).

    genetically modified organisms of any kind, no matter how useful in increasing production, resisting disease or pests, or producing therapeutic materials to save human lives.

    climate change — you mentioned CO2 of course — and all the human products and activities said to cause it.

    forestry. They seem to have an almost pathological aversion to using trees for anything at all, especially those growing in Africa and South America. The campaign to use only trees from “sustainable” forests for paper is a reluctant compromise. They seem to have forgotten that harvesting what grows on trees is the very perfection of sustainability.

    You mentioned “conventional” pollution, which is mainly where the green organisations began and it is still a worthy activity. To that I would add some of their work on over-fishing and fishing practices, protection of the ocean and prevention or control on toxic chemicals reaching the environment. These are good things.

    I agree with you on economics, DDT, and the implied general single-minded lunacy that lashes out at any manifestation of modern life, from a board room to a can of paint.


  5. I definitely agree about not over-fishing and not over-using resources, but man has evolved by … using resources.

    Do greens use computers? Then they must be pro mining because technology uses minerals. Hypocrisy anyone? Deal with reality please. La la green land is for utopia wishing immature babies. Reality = life is hard. You only go around once. Earth is plentiful and beautiful, but a tough mother f’er. It doesn’t care if you use plastic.

    Too many ‘green’ policies seem to be about “you over there, do without so I can have mine”. They want to live without? Fine – go live in a man made hut without any modern convieniences like sterilized food, medicines, roads, cars, plumbing…. have FUN! I’ll stay in the modern world, thanks…

    Genetic modification? what so all dogs have to only be wolves now, too? that is genetic modification… so the F what?!

    AGW religion seem to be about keeping man IN misery or to a minimum on the planet. Well, heck, if they want less people on the planet, perhaps they would offer to sterilize themselves. …. could be a good start

    …. greens cause the gulf oil spill in the states… why? because green policies say NO NO NO: don’t drill close to shore! Drill waaaaaaay out there … green policies just MIGHT be the death of us all

    Got to go pay my higher Mercury power bill now… because Nats embrace green AGW religion… just great

  6. Andy on 29/05/2010 at 8:37 pm said:

    I have emailed every Nat MP and stated my position which is this:

    We can ill afford an ETS in the current economic climate, especially with regard to the state of the European economy, which threatens our export economy in a potentially devastating way.

    Taking a billion or so of the public’s money and investing this in forestry is, in my opinion, a profligate waste of money.

    We would be much better investing money in providing incentives for the public to improve their energy efficiency via insulation, double glazing, etc.

    Even though I find NASA’s James Hansen’s views on climate change alarmist, he and I are actually in agreement on this issue. He would prefer a simple carbon tax at port of entry that facilitated the kind of actions that I have described, and seems to feel that Carbon trading is a process that is fundamentally wrong and open to fraud.

    An ETS creates an artificial market that will be hard to dismantle. Although it ostensibly creates an incentive for emitters to move to low carbon alternatives, the reality is that whilst a coal power station is in the mix, the renewable sector gets windfall profits and it is their interests to maintain an artificially high price.

    I suspect that National will pay dearly for this pig-headed approach to the ETS. The mainstream media are completely out of touch with public opinion (see the letters in this weeks ChCh Press after their breathtakingly naive editorial about “Saving the Planet”)

    For what it is worth, I have a meeting with a local National list MP on Monday. I will give him the hard words that he might need to look for a career change. If you keep emailing the MPs, esp the list ones whose jobs are on the line, they will listen. I don’t really think politicians have a clue about this and we really need to get out there and let them know what we think

    • I agree with your summary of the costs of the ETS, although I disagree that improving energy efficiency is important enough to require public expenditure; why not leave it to the market? Public money is urgently required in education, health, defence and policing.

      Good on you for taking the initiative and meeting with the MP. I agree that we must keep telling the government what we think, because public opinion is the only voice they hear.

    • Andy on 30/05/2010 at 6:16 pm said:

      I’m glad you responded to my slightly “devils advocate” message I was proposing before.

      You are right, the market is quite capable of looking after things like home energy efficiency.
      However, after a rather interesting and intellectually stimulating meeting with ACT members/others (of which I am not one) including David Round, Rodney Hide and Roger Beattie , I can see the need for political maneuvering in order to gain traction in this area.
      It is really hard to take the “evil denier” stance thanks to 30+ years of greenwashing, and the perception of a global need to take a stand.

      If we can provide a better alternative than the ETS (and that is not hard, let’s face it) then there may be an infallible argument for its abandonment of this system that is replaced by a simple tax to improve our lifestyles and reduce our energy consumption. This may be the political path of least resistance.

  7. It would be interesting to learn some of your conversations with those interesting people. You’re right, that reducing our energy use would save us some money. But why should it be supported/coerced by a tax? Is saving energy a community concern, and should it be more important than, say, saving salt, or reducing the size of the army? Is it not a trivial issue, what we spend on our home cooking?

  8. Bulaman on 31/05/2010 at 8:11 am said:

    The problem is mineral carbon. Once you find it, mineral carbon is essentially the same price it was 200 years ago. There are some variables on extraction but it is still very cheap. In the future it is likely that there wil be less of it and it will be much more expensive (supply/demand). To prepare us for a future using less mineral carbon and more sustainable carbon (without massive shocks) it seems to make sense to send market signals by placing a charge on mineral carbon. This is easily done at the border by customs so that everyone has to supply a certified “carbon status” for any good. The FSC style approach used for wood can easily be developed for other products so when a container load of plastic crap arrives at the wharf you present you carbon certificate (sustainable carbon or not) and a carbon charge is applied/collected. This makes all mineral carbon product more expensive.
    As a forester I want to see the price of steel and concrete quadruple. Forestry does not benefit from subsidies (ETS) and will infact collapse in the long run due to supply problems (high carbon price this year oh we won’t cut our trees this year then) for the processing industry. The forestry planting boom of the 1990’s did not occur because of Kyoto it happened because Asian log buyers were paying $150 per cube for our logs. Real products and real prices..
    A charge on mineral carbon is an efficient mechanism to move to sustainable practice.

    • What is the problem with mineral carbon? If it is true that the price is as low as you describe, then doesn’t that explain why it has fuelled our extraordinary progress? Because even the very poor can afford it.

      I don’t understand why you want to pre-empt the market by placing an extra charge on “carbon” before there’s any shortage. The history of hydrocarbon exploration is one of unending discovery of new sources, coupled with new methods of either extraction, processing or use which end up extending the life of known reserves. There’s no evidence that is slowing down.

      Please forgive my ignorance, but what is the “FSC-style approach”?

      You give a fascinating glimpse into some of forestry’s problems, and thanks for declaring your vested interest as a forester, but does your interest not colour your thinking? Of course you would like steel and concrete to be replaced by timber construction (if that’s your meaning) but what purpose would be achieved by a carbon tax? How does that help timber?

  9. Andy on 31/05/2010 at 9:01 am said:

    “The Climate Delusion” by Christian Gerondeau looks worth a read when it comes into English language print.


    I think any savings that an ETS would make in CO2 levels would be wiped out by China in a matter of days.

    I heard some anecdotes at the ACT meeting:
    (1) A fishing company with 2 deep sea trawlers will be paying $700,000 a year in ETS costs, and no way to recoup them.
    (2) You need to pay for carbon permits to remove wilding pines from your land.

    I am sure there will be plenty of fodder for bureaucratic stupidity stories come out of this crock.

    Ultimately, I don’t really buy into the Carbon tax thing, but my point above is that it is the better of 2 evils compared to an ETS

  10. Yes, it looks an interesting book It’s published in English now, incidentally, and can be ordered from Amazon (link at EU Referendum you’ve given above).

    It’s the “stupidity” stories I’m keen to hear about. The more we know what’s in store, the fewer of us will vote for it.

    It does seem that a tax is far better than an ETS. We know both are meaningless, but a tax is more easily abolished.

    • Andy on 01/06/2010 at 8:40 am said:

      I met with Aaron Gilmore last night. He is National list MP and based in ChCh. Clearly an intelligent man and well conversed with the ETS (he worked on part of it), and also a very approachable bloke.

      He did fill me in with the government thinking on the ETS. One argument is that by increasing fuel and electricity costs, this will force us to change behaviour, use more public transport, etc.
      I really can’t see the logic here. They could, for example, provide a disincentive to use large gas-guzzlers bu having a sliding scale road user charge based on emissions. The UK has this system, and it has worked in that SUVs are a rarity on the roads, at least compared with NZ. (This does of course start with the a priori assumption that we have a need to change public behaviour)

      A farmer can get $2000 per annum per hectare credits by planting trees on marginal land.
      I’d really like to see some numbers here, as I suspect to ROI on this could be quite low. How much does it cost to plant a hectare of trees? What is the payback time? What are the risks?

      From the public’s point of view, this is just another cost to be borne, that will affect all consumers across the board. I can’t see it really changing behaviour in a positive way, as it is no different to any other cost such as a GST hike. Unless of course, the cost of carbon is so high that we cannot afford to drive, in which case we are forcing recessionary behaviour.
      According to the government’s climate change website, the main driver of emissions reduction in NZ is recession.

      We also discussed the agricultural emissions aspect. I have a lot of doubt about this aspect in particular, and why we should be spending millions on re-engineering cows to fart less, when we have real environmental issues (such as pest control) to deal with.

      Finally, I do really think the NZ government think this is a “show-case” piece of legislation (the “most complicated act we have introduced”, according to Mr Gilmore – groan) that we can hold up to the world to show we are leading the charge. At this point I start to feel really depressed.

      I’d like to thank Aaron Gilmore for taking the time to talk with me yesterday. My comments here in no way reflect on him, as I am sure he understands.

    • Andy on 01/06/2010 at 11:35 am said:

      Also, some interesting comments from Chris de Freitas about the effectiveness of forestry over time as a carbon sink
      (Mondays Herald)


    • You present a lot of material for consideration, Andy, thanks for this.

      The government may want to change our behaviour, but they should explain why this is necessary. By introducing the ETS, they seem to declare the reason is to change the climate. But they recant on that objective, saying we are too small to affect the climate and our anti-AGW actions are symbolic only — for marketing purposes.

      Although our clients either have no ETS at all or, in the EU, it covers only 4% of economic activity, while ours will cover 100%, so they can scarcely complain, so why should we worry about them?

      Then they hint that reducing hydrocarbon use is a good thing, presumably to reduce ordinary pollution. But now they’re in the strange situation of attacking one problem with a weapon designed against a different problem. Which is stupid, you can’t achieve what you want if you use the wrong tool.

      Forestry is tricky. I don’t know all the facts, but if you’re talking pinus radiata, it’s 30 years to harvest. If (and it’s a big if) the ETS is still in force when you come to harvest your trees, you must replant immediately, or pay for carbon certificates at the current price of carbon. Most of the money the government is obliged to pay foresters is a windfall gain to foresters, because their qualifying plantations were planted years before the Kyoto Protocol was a gleam in a greenie’s eye.

      I’m gathering some costings which I hope to post shortly which will help people understand the effects of the ETS.

    • Andy on 01/06/2010 at 12:24 pm said:

      In my view any comparison with the EU is pointless.
      Euro is a failing bureaucracy and currency system and the crazy emissions targets that it is proposing (in particular the UK) are nothing short of political and economic suicide.

      Remember, Europe is run by undemocratically appointed commissioners who impose rules on its member nations. These “29” other countries that Nick Smith refers to are mostly within this union.

      Why would we want to follow the lemmings off the cliff?

      This article by Prof Philip Stott is worth a read:


    • Andy on 01/06/2010 at 12:26 pm said:

      Sorry, I shorted the above URL that got a bit stuffed


    • Andy on 01/06/2010 at 9:26 pm said:

      There’s a carbon calculator here


      where you can find such joyous facts that it costs $8 per year to own a sheep under the ETS.

      (Still puzzled why we need to pay for a sheep and not a human, but let’s not give them ideas 🙂 )

      The Emissions Unit Register is also worth a look

      There are a lot of Oil and Energy companies in the list, three councils, some govt departments (is that positive or negative feedback I ask myself) and some individual forestry owners as well as corporates .

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