Joules hears voices from another world.
on any cartoon
two -My first Adventure-Hearing Voices in my Head
Joules and the Knowledge Economy: All
images on this site are copyright 2001.
11 May 2005
2.3 Concussfusion with EECA
Have you ever
suddenly seen through a massive con? If you are like me, you don’t
know whether to rage against the perpetrator, to be depressed by your
ignorance or to laugh at your own gullibility. Of course, a lot depends
on what you detect the motivation of the con artist is. Recently I
experienced all those mixed emotions on scale. I discovered I had been
conned on a grand scale by what some call the Neocons.
First I had
better check out we agree what a Neocon is. It’s not easy. Google
throws up Princeton’s
rather unhelpful definition.
a conservative who subscribes to neoconservatism. “
It then adds to
the circle of confusion:
approach to politics or theology that represents a return to a
traditional point of view (in contrast to more liberal or radical
schools of thought of the 1960s)
is much more upfront and makes far greater sense. It states:
is a controversial term whose meaning is widely disputed….Critics of
the term argue that the word is overused and lacks coherent definition.”
It does seem that
the Neocons (neo means new) are very much associated with
movements such as the Free Trade Movement. How confusing! This movement
is basically a so-called liberalising mechanism for the radical
stripping away of the attempts of communities to conserve their
cultures and natural environments, thus providing the multinational
corporations with unhindered access to community wealth.
Wiki also says
that Neoconservatism and neoliberalism are both labels given to a strain
of fiscally oriented conservatism that began in the 1980s.
The word fiscal
rings bells and it is possible that I am indeed talking of the US
Reagonites, the UK Thatcherites and New Zealand’s very own Rogergnomes.
Whatever, the advent of these guys coincided with relatively high
inflation and they imposed severe “fiscal remedies” to reduce it. A
major feature of these remedies seemed to be the transfer of enormous
quantities of wealth from the poor to the rich. And as inflation rates
dropped, these economic whizzes and their media and university minions
were able to claim their policies worked. I bet there are a lot of
people like me who kind of swallowed their line even if we knew
something was fishy in that we had become so much poorer in the process.
Well, what a con!
I won’t go into the motivations of those who perpetuated it. I am sure
some genuinely believe their fiscal measures solved that inflation. I
give them the benefit of the doubt that they are just fools like me too.
I now understand how our failures to conserve valuable resources such as
soil, water, forests and fossil fuels will come home to haunt us as
inflation in a thousand forms.
In my last blog I
sounded off about those who live in a Lala Land where oil and gas flow
in endless supply. I am a simple man and my hunch is that inflationary
pressures will less ravage those communities that minimise their
dependence on these resources. These are the smart ones that conserve
the best land near their cities for growing a range of foods, that
develop ‘smart’ electricity grids, that have rail systems that move
a person with a thousands times the efficiency of a car and that invest
in insulated dwellings rather than insularating motorways.
This makes my
city, Wellington City, the Capital of New Zealand, the “Creative
Capital” a prime candidate for becoming a local Centre of Inflation
and Debt. We have built over the nearby market gardens, trashed our
electricity grid, designed the city around cars and 80% of our dwellings
are uninsulated. On the positive side, its great that our Council has
recently reconsidered its decision to design the city around a V8 car
race track. Congrats to Councillors – you will not regret your
decision. Gentle hint: I am advised the money planned for the V8 race
track is sufficient to provide a light rail track right down Jervois
Quay to Courtney Place – which was the original sane plan of our
I have just
checked out my hunch on the relationship between oil and inflation.
There is lots of e-stuff comparing the relative power of trade unions
and inflation levels when oil/gas prices rise. My summary: weak unions=
lower apparent inflation as lower-paid people carry the can. Others
argue that the US, for instance, is more “energy efficient” now and
uses less oil in the production of wealth because of the growth in
service industries. Perhaps these analysts should hop out of their Lala
Land SUVs more often*. All the US has done is transfer the demand for
oil to their sources of manufactured goods now. China’s demand for oil
is up 28% on this time last year. Anyway this argument is pretty
irrelevant to New Zealand.
*Note: It seems
many US citizens are indeed hopping out of their SUVs. News comes of
Ford and GM getting bogged down to their windowsills as SUVs sales drop:
JEREMY W PETTERS
May 4, 2005
May 3 - The latest automobile sales figures show that Americans are
increasingly wary of gas-thirsty sport utility vehicles. That was
particularly bad news for General Motors and the Ford Motor Company,
which both saw their sales slip last month as consumers continued their
steady march into Asian car companies' dealerships. ..
even as sales were expanding for the industry, they were shrinking at
G.M. and Ford. The decline was the sharpest at General Motors, the
world's largest automaker. G.M.'s sales fell 7.7 percent from the same
month a year earlier, primarily because of a weak demand for S.U.V.'s.
The lack of appetite for S.U.V.'s also hurt Ford, which sold 5 percent
fewer vehicles in April compared with a year ago.”
“Junk status for the two auto giants' debt will mean higher interest
costs, further cutting into the beleaguered outfits' profits
General Motors (GM
) and its shareholders had been bracing for the bad news. But Ford Motor
) and its stockholders thought a cut to the outfit's credit rating was a
little farther down the road. On May 5, Standard & Poor's downgraded
the debt of both carmakers to junk status (see BW Online, 5/5/05, "GM and Ford: To the Junk Yard").
In a country
driven by “patriotic” causes, GM and Ford should have noted sites
It has a poll indicating:
2 Out of 3
Americans see Buying More Fuel-Efficient Vehicle as “Patriotic.”
High Gas Prices Already Driving Half T Do So.
Could it be NZ
Incorp. is heading for junk status too? I understand SUV sales have
quadrupled in NZ since 2000. A lot of these are tatty looking
second-hand imports. Maybe now we can pick up the US slack and import
some lovely shiny new ones more in keeping with our Clean Green
You think I am
being facetious? I am not so sure. Over a decade ago I said to one of
our present cabinet ministers that I thought Labour’s promotion of Jap
imports in the 1980s was a recipe for disaster – gridlock, debt, waste
etc. She replied that it had to be done – it was plain embarrassing
for visitors coming here to see the old cars that people up the East
Cape were driving around in and anyway they were entitled to a decent
car. I figure we could have given East Capers a brand new car each, kept
our Image and profited from savings in motorway expenditure, health
bills and fuel imports in the cities.
Back to my search
of proof for oil (gas)-inflation link. I strike an excellent site
containing stuff that makes a lot of sense to me, the Energy
Bulletin. Sure, the site has a very limited idea of the nature
of energy but it does have an idea of the impact of oil costs. There is
a good read on it, taken it from Futurereality.org
Published on 15 Apr 2005 by FutureReality.org.
Archived on 15 Apr 2005.
Higher Oil Prices Fuel Inflation?
by Ronald R. Cooke
news story that compares the rising price of oil to the rate of
inflation made the rounds of American media last month. Reporters,
pundits and some economists repeated the parable without giving it much
thought. The essential claim is that in 2005, higher oil prices will not
drive up the rate of inflation as much as they did in the 1970s because
oil consumption, as a percentage of GDP, has decreased by half since
then. We have become much more efficient in our use of oil, claim the
analysts, and therefore higher oil prices will only have a modest upward
impact on inflation.
...And a final note. The model I developed for
the American economy can be applied – with some revision of the
assumptions – to the economy of any industrialized nation. Japan,
France, Australia, South Korea – it doesn't matter.
Although the statement is true, the concept masks a lot of dirty little
Here is why....
Inflation knows no borders. It will be everywhere."
should be brain food for all those who represent communities – whether
it be town and cities or groups of workers or car owners. Last week our
union leaders came out arguing increased fuel costs must be offset by
wage increases. That’s not going to help the poor in the Post Cheap
Oil Age. Its better to push for revolving funds to insulate homes and
provide smart local electricity grids, more effective public transport
and other measures that reduce our dependence on oil and Gas.
And I heard one
trade union dumping on the Carbon Tax this week. That is doubly
unhelpful. We live in the least energy efficient homes in the OECD. They
are thermal shacks. Smart communities adopting the Carbon Tax and
adapting their economies to it are at the forefront of technology. A
by-product of that is much smarter and more sustaining dwellings for
Same goes for our
Automobile Association. 60 years of massive subsidies to private
motorists have not made motoring anymore efficient and that inefficiency
will compound now to destroy the quality of life of many AA members. Who
do you really serve? Your members who have to get to work and freight
goods across cities or the oil companies?
There’s gold in
sunlight and Councils for their part can conserve and develop its
generating potential. They should be conducting ‘solar audits”
annually along with their financial audits. In my last blog I mentioned
the war being waged by the bankers of the Bulk-electricity sector on the
rights and ability of you and me to provide our needs from local
technologies including small-scale electricity generation. Siting an
insulated dwelling to the sun can be far more effective on every count
but this recent article in The
Guardian offers an example of those technologies.
Home wind turbines cut bills and pollution
Rooftop designs described as latest
accessory for homeowners
Paul Brown, environment correspondent
Tuesday May 3, 2005
A mini-wind turbine generating
electricity could soon become the homeowner's latest fashion accessory -
especially when people realise it could turn their meter backwards.
potential sales in the millions, manufacturers have developed a series
of designs to appeal to the discerning who both want to cut their
electricity bills and feel good about helping the planet.
a conference at the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in Watford,
delegates from local authorities, civil servants, developers and
manufacturers were shown several wind turbines costing less than £1,000
which can be fixed to urban homes or put on poles in gardens to provide
simple have the devices become that some can simply by joined to the
mains electricity supply using a standard 13amp plug - and to the
annoyance of the electricity supply industry, if you produce more power
than you can use when out at work or asleep, it turns your meter
backwards as it supplies the neighbourhood....
the first customers was former the energy minister Brian Wilson, who had
a wind turbine fitted to the side of his Glasgow home.
grants were available to homeowners and organisations like schools,
paying around a third of the capital cost and installation.”
I love it! Its
only autumn here and yet already my lounge is 11°C
as I write. There is a brisk wind outside and a cool breeze in here
around my ankles. I feel warmer already as I imagine a heat store
radiating away using electricity from my wind turbine. And why am I left
sitting in the cold? Well the bankers of the Bulk-electricity and Gas
sectors won big time with New Zealand’s Electricity Reforms of the
1990s. In fact they won huge time as it enabled them to trash just about
all the potential of our communities to make intelligent uses of
handed them control of your home in ways you probably cannot imagine.
For a start you lost a small personal fortune when you lost control of
your meter board. (Yes, you used to own it through your community –
much more on this topic in my Electric Thinking section of
www.bonusjoules.co.nz). Notice in the Guardian article the significant
role of the meter in home-based generation of electricity?
Here in New
Zealand the Bulk-electricity companies are trying to insist you must
have two meters if you generate a couple of units of electricity a day.
That keeps their lock on electricity use. Last I heard the Electricity
Commission was still sniffing nervously around the issue like it could
be a parcel bomb or an anthrax trap or something. And does it put the
acid test on the real beliefs of our political parties!
Just say you use
10 units of grid-sourced electricity a day and generate 5 units
yourself. With two meters the Government collects GST on 15 units. The
article points out the 10 million meters in Britain are reversible and
there are probably hundreds of thousands of similar meters here. Using a
single reversible meter, a net flow of only 5 units is recorded and that
household pays one-third the tax of the double-metered one. I expect
parties like ACT and National who are always banging on that we are
overtaxed to be out there picketing against any attempt “to tax us
stupid with two meters.” If Labour is serious about its Kyoto
commitments and about developing a “smart” resilient electricity
grid in the Post Cheap Oil/Gas Age, it will be on the picket lines
Reforms enable the siphoning off of massive bucks into the pockets of a
handful of people. To give you an inkling, consider your meter rental.
Most of our electricity meters are 20-30 years old and a brand new meter
can be landed in NZ for $30. We pay a “rental” of $50 or so a year
to the new owners of our dwelling’s meter. It is easy to figure that a
few bods have pocketed at lease half a billion bucks pure cash flow this
last decade. And this is but a trace of the total cash flow to the
bankers of the Bulk-electricity sector.
This cash flow
explains the extraordinary investment in Spin by the
Bulk-electricity/fossil fuel sector as it attempts to re-engineer our
images of energy to align with the short-term interests of their
bankers. You can practically print money if you own the symbols of power
and energy. How so? The words evoke the most vital and
profound sensations we are capable of. Control the evocation of those
sensations and you can frame a person’s worldview.
Our failure to
understand the potency of the symbols associated with power
and energy and the emotions they evoke in us leaves us
extremely vulnerable to the attentions of the Spin merchants. This
problem is compounded exponentially if you are a naive Educator or NGO.
The Energy Imagineers can generate huge leverage off your ignorance. In last
week’s blog I briefly outlined how Media Watch worked to
enhance TransPower’s case, just as they failed to confront the real
issues in their interview with Contact Energy last year.
Look at Greenpeace’s
press statement this week:
*Power Co. tries Greenwash
Co. tries Greenwash at Sustainability Conference*.
Greenpeace headline has beautifully reinforced the PR “power” spin
and given extra momentum to the popular image of Bulk-electricity
companies as the source of power and energy. The release was also a
confused read for me till I realised they were not talking about PowerCo.
firmly caught in the web spun by PR merchants, no matter how it agitates
about issues. I am sure the NGO appreciates and endorses the vital role
small-scale distributed generation will play in the creation of a
sustainable electricity system. Greenpeace could have promoted it simply
by abiding by fundamental science such as the Principle of the
Conservation of Energy. Energy comes in many forms, including
electricity sourced from small-scale generators. How much more helpful
if their headline had read:
Co tries Greenwash at Sustainability Conference*
have won their recent case in Court with Mighty River Power but the Bulk
Generator won the real battle. It got invaluable advertising from it.
The New Zealand Herald delivers truckloads of complementary
copies of its issues into the nation’s schools each week in its
efforts to promote its broadsheet as a “newspaper” . Its May 3
advertisement for the Bulk Generator was in the form of the
giant fails to make protestors pay for guards.*
little more science would have made this scary
article more sustaining:
Energy –How much Remains?
4 may 2005-05-10 Article: Pacific Ecologist.
Its not a
cheerful read. The article basically implies that our children will be
the last of humanity:
total energy consumption in 2001 was 404 Quads (=4.22 x 1020
Joules). Assuming non-renewables continue to supply 92% of total energy,
and the rate of consumption continues to rise at 2% pa, simple
arithmetic shows the non-renewable energy endowment calculated for Case
1 would last until 2054, and for Case 2 until 2076.”
A hint that
images of energy are skewif (skew-gee if you are speak American) is
found in the table showing sources of energy (Non Renewable sources-
Oil, Natural Gas, Coal, Nuclear and Renewable sources - Hydro, Other).
The US Energy Information Administration generated the table. Such
agencies are often the home of purest Energy Gobbledygook. They
wouldn’t know energy from an energy form if they were dropped in a
universe pulsing with energy in a myriad of forms.
The table does
note their figures probably understate the amount of energy in the Third
World coming from traditional resources of dung and firewood. I wonder
if they count it when I sit in the sun to keep warm? The point is energy
comes in forms we use and also in many forms we don’t use because we
are silly, shortsighted, lazy, greedy, duped or ignorant. I will let Geocities
put the 404 quads of energy quoted into perspective:
earth’s outer atmosphere intercepts about one two-billionth of the
energy generated by the sun, or about 1500 quadrillion (1.5 x 10 E18 )
kilowatt-hours per year. Because of reflection, scattering, and
absorption by gases and aerosols in the atmosphere, however, only 47% of
this, or approximately 700 quadrillion (7 x 10 E17 ) kilowatt-hours,
reaches the surface of the earth.”
another way, more sunlight energy falls on our Earth in 24 hours than
all of the energy we ever had or ever will use from using oil. This
solar energy is some of the “Other”, the remaining 1% of “Global
such limited images of energy causes us to lose touch with our Thermal
Beings and we forget how to dance with the thermal flows. For instance,
those 700 quadrillion kWh that reach Earth create a massive potential in
temperature differences in the top meter of the soils, in the air and in
the oceans. With care and moderation, our backyards can supply many of
our requirements for a good life.
confusing energy with those few energy forms the article works to breed
a climate of confusion, deprivation and fear – the perfect breeding
climate for the PR Spin I spoke of earlier.
brings me to the subject of the cartoon strip: The Energy Efficiency and
Conservation Authority (EECA). I have run out of time and will leave you
with this question: If science is right and energy is conserved, then
what happens to humans who think they can conserve energy? Do they live
in a miserable world of fear and deprivation and use valuable energy
forms as if they are boundless energy itself?
and before I go I should explain this format. You may be finding it all
a little strange. The Bonus Joules cartoon was drawn as a web log
starting about three years ago. These blogs and the cartoon in its
original format can be viewed via the update page at www.bonusjoules.co.nz If you are
reading it on a news service like SCOOP the format is a little
different. If your network has sourced it off SCOOP it is a bit
different again. What was to be a historical blog on the cartoon blog
has become more of a topical weekly blog spliced with the cartoon blog.
And yes, I witnessed the shutters in action at EECA in 2001.
a friend in India signs off every email: “More in my next email”.
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