Earth hour will kill us all! 1 – Lighting

In this series I’m adopting the language used by the global warming enthusiasts in an attempt to communicate on level ground.

This Saturday, we’re supposed to turn off all our lights for an hour to “join [WWF] in taking a step towards living more sustainably”.

But what is the real effect on the environment of switching off our lights and burning candles instead?

Modern candles are generally made from parrafin wax – ie, oil. They burn inefficiently, putting out most of their energy as heat, while producing a little bit of light as well. On the other hand, most of New Zealand’s electricity generation is from renewable sources (hydro), so produces very low carbon emissions.

So what are you doing if you huddle over candles this Saturday?

  • Depending on how many candles & lights you use, you may actually increase your carbon emissions (unless you make your own candles from tallow of course (a renewable biofuel), so the die-hard hippies are ok. But they probably have earth hour every night anyway).
  • Inhaling smoke, damaging your lungs (again no change for the die-hard hippies if they’re on the weed anyway). Smoke inhalation is a major health problem in the third world, and is one of the reasons we use electric light.
  • Wasting money. Electricity is far cheaper than candles – because it is more efficient.
  • Damaging local industry, sending money to China. Electricity is made by Kiwis, for Kiwis. Most of our candles are made in China (check your packet). Buy NZ made – use electricity this Earth Hour.
  • Creating a fire hazard. Candles are a major source of house fires. This week it could be you.

I’m sure there are more problems I’ve missed. If you don’t want your cemetary to be flooded by rising seawater in a hundred years, Buy NZ Made this earth hour, and use electric lights.

See also: Earth hour will kill us all! 2 – Appliances
Earth hour will kill us all! 3 – Entertainment

EDIT 1:
Although the Fire Service suggests torches as safer than candles, they’re at least as bad for the environment. Batteries are toxic and take a large amount of energy to produce relative to the amount of light you get out of them. And they’re probably made in China too. Don’t go there.

EDIT 2:
Rather than candles or torches, it would be far more sustainable to use some of New Zealand’s clean, eco-friendly renewable electricity, crank out the outdoor Christmas lights, and join MandM’s Earth Hour protest.

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One law for all day

Rather than doing my own detailed Waitangi Day post, I’ll recommend Peter Cresswell’s post, as he has written it far better than I could (bar his proposal of a new constitution, which I believe is unnecessary).

If you really want to know what Waitangi Day is about, read the treaty. Too many people go on about racist concepts they have invented, ignoring that the Treaty actually says:

In return for the cession of the Sovreignty to the Queen, the people of New Zealand shall be protected by the Queen of England and the rights and privileges of British subjects will be granted to them.

The Maori version is even more explicit

Hei wakaritenga mai hoki tenei mo te wakaaetanga ki te Kawanatanga o te Kuini-Ka tiakina e te Kuini o Ingarani nga tangata Maori; katoa o Nu Tirani ka tukua ki a ratou nga tikanga katoa rite tahi ki ana mea ki nga tangata o Ingarani.

Literally: This is an arrangement for the consent to the Government of the Queen. The Queen of England will protect all the Maoris of New Zealand. All the rights will be given to them the same as her doings to the people of England.

The treaty established one law for all. That is what we should be remembering and celebrating today, the end of tribal warfare and slavery, and the institution of equal rights for all – the legal framework that has given us the country we enjoy today.

EDIT: See also my post on flying a Maori flag on Waitangi day

John Key attacked at Waitangi

I have absolutely no respect for someone who thinks physically attacking the Prime Minister is a sensible way of getting their views across. Do these people really want to be taken seriously or not?

There seem to be many Maori who think Waitangi is a Maori event, and the rest of the country (such as the Prime Minister) only get to have anything to do with it with their leave. But that is nonsense. The Treaty of Waitangi was between Maori and the Crown, representing British settlers (at the time). It is as much a European thing as it is a Maori thing, and it is something for us all to celebrate. That anyone would think they can do what they like on Waitangi because this is about “their” race is disgraceful.

I hope Mr Key finds out what group these men are associated with and formally refuses to have any dealings with them in future, dealing with other Maori representatives instead. And I hope they are prosecuted for assault to the full extent of the law.

Yes there are real concerns held by many Maori, and issues that they would like Mr Key to address. But this is no way to encourage him to address them.

EDIT: See also
“One Law For All day”

“Maori flag on Waitangi day”

RMA reform – the good, the bad, and the ugly

National’s proposed RMA reforms have been released. The official summary is on Scoop. There’s some good in there and some bad. Reform of the RMA is certainly needed, it’s a horribly bloated piece of legislation. A few things that jump out are:

Removing frivolous, vexatious and anti-competitive objections
Good idea to get rid of anti-competitive objections. But what is “frivolous” or “vexatious”? Those words could mean anything. In practice this means:

  • Allowing the Environment Court to require security for costs.
  • Increasing the fee to appeal to the Environment court from $55 to $500.

Basically they are saying that any appeal from someone who is too poor to afford $500 plus an unspecified security deposit (could be thousands) is “frivolous”, and anyone who can afford that is not. This allows the wealthy greater access to justice than the poor and community organisations, and is a very bad move in my mind.

Streamlining decision making

  • This involves creating an Environmental Protection Agency (ie more bureaucracy) to determine whether a project is of national significance or not and push it through.
    I have no problem with streamlining things, but do we really need more bureaucrats to do less bureaucracy? Surely if it were streamlined we would need fewer bureaucrats?
  • Projects that are not of national significance can be sent directly to the Environment Court without the need to go through the local authority consenting process first.
    I understand the reason behind this. Currently our community is fighting the CPW irrigation scheme, and many organisations have spent thousands fighting the consents process knowing they will end up in the environment court anyway so their money is being wasted. But we need provision for one hearing, and one appeal. If the one E.Court hearing is the final decision, there is no backup if the first decision is faulty.

Minor changes to speed things up

  • Removing the ability for appellants to make general challenges or ones that seek the withdrawal of entire proposed policy statements and plans. But what if you have genuine concerns about the entire proposal?
  • Simplifying the process so that local authority decisions on submissions do not need to be made in respect of each individual submission but are to be made according to issues raised. Very sensible.
  • If consents are processed late, the fee must be discounted. Sounds like they were reading Family Party policy regarding building consents – this is a great idea. Can we have it for building consents too?
  • Allow local authorities to take enforcement action against the Crown. Also good.

So all up there is a lot to help push through big projects, a few things to help people with minor applications, and a definite bias against objectors regardless of whether their complaint is valid.

And still NO mention of private property rights ANYWHERE.

On average it may be more positive than negative, but there is a lot in there to be very concerned about. If they would only affirm common law private property rights they could throw away most of the RMA, just keeping a few bits that genuinely relate to Resource Management – such as permits for water abstraction etc. But unfortunately NZ elected a bunch of politicians who don’t have the guts to do that.

Other views:

Not PC thinks National is paving the way for Think Big 2.0

I am embarrassed to admit I actually agree with Russel Norman (Green Party):

However, increasing the filing fees for Environment Court cases and the requirement for security of costs will silence legitimate public input into local decision making. … How many community groups, made up of regular citizens, not millionaires, can come up with tens of thousands of dollars in security when they are trying to protect a coastal area from a property speculator?

Federated Farmers calls it “an ok first stab”, but has some concerns:

Some farmers will be dubious about changes that are aimed at streamlining projects of national significance and improving national instruments, without strengthening the rights of individuals to receive compensation.

Remember the Bill will be introduced later this month and open for public submissions.