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Speaker: My People

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  • stephen walker,

    i think Bart is pointing out that we inhabit a finite planet with finite resources. do all of you really think that humanity can just carry on digging up, pumping out, etc., forever? an economic system that requires endless exponential growth to function properly is a pretty short-term affair in the lifetime of this planet. so how do you go about trying to use fewer resources? I would suggest that if human beings don’t think up and implement a more rational way to conserve the planet’s resources, the reality of resource depletion will force changes not too far down the track, whether we like it or not

    tokyo • Since Nov 2006 • 628 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    i think Bart is pointing out that we inhabit a finite planet with finite resources.

    And I wonder how many 'exploit the earth or die - it's not a threat, it's a fact' types have been to Nauru or Easter Island?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3912 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    do all of you really think that humanity can just carry on digging up, pumping out, etc., forever?

    And the best way to stop this from happening is preventing people from having more than the officially sanctioned number of children? Really?

    Lower Grey Lynn • Since Jul 2009 • 782 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    so Martin, please point to the part where i said anything of the sort.

    tokyo • Since Nov 2006 • 628 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Again, the 'number of children' thing was a passing suggestion by someone on another thread.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    Stephen, I may have misread your post but I thought you were agreeing to what Bart posted up-page where he said:

    I’ll also argue that those people who do have big families are doing some harm to our planet – less harm than any merchant banker but more harm than a family of 2 or 3 children

    I'm not questioning whether we:

    can just carry on digging up, pumping out, etc., forever?

    because I agree that we can't.

    But in a thread about families, which moved into a discussion about some parents having too many children, and who should pay for that etc., I read your comment as another suggestion that the few families here that have more than 2 or 3 childer have single-handedly (well, I suppose it takes two) ruined the planet.

    Lower Grey Lynn • Since Jul 2009 • 782 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Worth remembering that the most populous country on the planet is now also the most productive (industrially). Humans are resources, at some level.

    Whilst infinite expansion is unlikely to be tenable on Earth, I don't think we really know the actual figures on what this planet can support with real confidence because we don't know the future of technology. We don't know how much energy we can tap, nor how far we can stretch it. We currently only receive a minuscule fraction of the energy roaring past us from our local fusion reaction.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    So a family with no children would be even better for the planet? Or maybe we should all kill ourselves to achieve the best outcome for the planet?

    and

    Without children, we have no continuance

    and

    "save the rainforest, sterilise a Brazilian"

    and

    And the best way to stop this from happening is preventing people from having more than the officially sanctioned number of children? Really?

    If you want to argue extremes then go play on kiwiblog. None of those points is anything like what I’m saying. I have made it utterly clear that I value the children but I also am conscious that choices families make have real consequences.

    I made my comments in response to the statement that we need more babies because New Zealand doesn’t have a big population. I think that argument is seriously flawed because it considers New Zealand independent of the whole world and also ignores the benefits of a low population. It is also mired in the dogma that the only way to grow “wealth” is to grow population.

    At no point have I suggested we penalise families for having lots of babies I just think we need to approach how we care for children from a perspective of helping the children directly and completely without using the lazy approach of handing the parent some cash and saying we trust you to get it right.

    Oh and evolutionary arguments have no relevance to homo sapiens at the moment. We don’t have any selection pressure therefore there can be no evolution and that has been true for 10s of thousands of years. The only thing likely to end our species is total environmental collapse as a result of overpopulation and diminishing resources and not from lack of breeding. It is utterly inappropriate to consider declining population a threat to our species at this point.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3115 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    and who should pay for that etc

    Actually most of the discussion has been about how to pay for the best care of the children. With a strong thread of "that family rorting the system by having lots of babies is a myth".

    Who is obvious ... all of us.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3115 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Worth remembering that the most populous country on the planet is now also the most productive (industrially). Humans are resources, at some level.

    Yeah but would you move there (to Changzou say) as a lifestyle choice. And dont pretend you are a poor farmers child with no other choices or give me this, yeah if I had to for work or some other bullshit.

    actual figures on what this planet can support with real confidence because we don't know the future of technology.

    Figures .....you want figures .......We could all live like monks. Well I do any way so doesnt bother me. And I suppose we could send a few million to live in the desert. With the aid of technology Im sure their lives could be made reasonably comfortable. Of course they would have to pay for it.

    We currently only receive a minuscule fraction of the energy roaring past us from our local fusion reaction.

    Dont you mean use not receive. And whys that then?

    Humans are resources, at some level.

    Everything "at some level" is a resource to something. But I'd rather be a resource as wormfood that a "resource" in mass numbers in a massive city in a system that seems to care little about me, except as a "resource" to keep its GDP ticking over.
    But then that just me.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1149 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    Sorry to hijack this conversation (though this is related, somewhat... sustainability etc) but I am anxious to find a good home for some tickets we bought and can't use.

    We have some Prof. David Suzuki tickets - and this is his last lecture series before retiring into obscurity. He's here as part of the Readers and Writers Festival..

    The tickets - for tonight tonight (Wednesday Nov 10th 7:30 PM) at the Owen Glenn Building 12 Grafton Rd, Lecture Theatre 098 - there are 4 tickets. We are double booked and much as I hate this lecture, we are committed elsewhere.

    We paid $15.00 each but we're giving them away free to a good home because we hate to waste them.

    Drop in to West Auckland Physiotherapy Clinic, # 3 Captain Scott Road, Glen Eden (phone 818-3125) first come, first serve.

    David Suzuki Legacy Lecture

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    much as I hate this lecture

    typo?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3115 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    What can I say? I find it offensive that Ehrlich's Population Bomb arguments come up in a thread on Jackie's lovely post about the families she works with.

    Lower Grey Lynn • Since Jul 2009 • 782 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    much as I hate this lecture
    typo?

    Arrrgh, yes, very typo. Much as I hate to miss this lecture, we are double booked...

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I find it offensive that Ehrlich's Population Bomb arguments come up in a thread on Jackie's lovely post about the families she works with.

    No they didn't until you brought them and I find that really disappointing since you could have been constructive.

    What was said was we need to provide our children with all they need, better. Then we talked about how to do that and someone suggested a decreasing benefit to the family based on number of children. Then several people (myself included) suggested that this harmed the children and instead there ought to be a better way of doing it. Then someone said we ought to encourage more babies because NZ has a low population. Then I said no we have enough people on this planet already and we don't need to encourage more. I also pointed out that there is a cost to having lots of babies, which is not meant as an argument in favour of limiting the number of babies - you put those words in my mouth - something Craig has discouraged.

    Note that is very different from suggesting we should penalize large families. That is the leap you made.

    My desire in those whole thread has been to explore how we can get the best possible care for our children. And also to point out that we really should want to contribute more tax in order to do that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3115 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    the 'number of children' thing was a passing suggestion by someone on another thread

    Actually, I've checked and I'm wrong about that. First, Yamis raised the issue of family size and resources upthread.

    What do people think about married couples who are both unemployed most of the time but continue to add to their family despite the fact they are already in state housing (3 bedrooms for 8 of them - by choice as it's cheaper) and can't afford to replace the broken windows in their vehicle or put child seats in it?

    I'm referring to my neighbours who have six kids under the age of nine and are about to add a seventh. They do a good job of looking after and caring for them in a basic sense but there comes a point in time when the hole gets dug too deep.

    Then it was Sally who proposed this notion - also upthread, not elsewhere as I thought:

    I believe we can make a case for a diminishing family benefit with each child with no additional funding after three (or four) children. Three is not an entirely arbitrary number because it is the generous side of the average number of children that most people in NZ currently choose to have.

    Disagreement followed. Can I return to one of Jackie's responses above that I totally agree with and which I believe is honouring the spirit of her post:

    You can, however, make sure that they get the support to be the best parents they can be, and their children have a chance at a good life. It's not necessarily state help that people need, either, but for their neighbours and friends to look out for them. For the community to care.

    Resources are more than money or things or employees. Aroha is too.

    As is coordination of many caring intentions. Here's one tool for that, already being used for some New Zealand local projects like this or this.

    snap, Bart

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    No they didn't until you brought them and I find that really disappointing since you could have been constructive.

    This is where I thought you invoked the population bomb argument:

    I’ll also argue that those people who do have big families are doing some harm to our planet – less harm than any merchant banker but more harm than a family of 2 or 3 children

    If that's not what you meant, I'm sorry.

    Lower Grey Lynn • Since Jul 2009 • 782 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Yeah but would you move there (to Changzou say) as a lifestyle choice.

    No, but as you say, that's just me. I would also not move to South Auckland. It's not my 'hood. But I'm not about to say they should stop making babies down there, so I don't have to pay for them, or share oxygen. I see South Auckland with hope, actually, as the most dynamic part of New Zealand. That where I live in West Auckland nearly entirely resembles Jackie's town (well OK, less Maori, more PIs and Asians), only shows that there is mobility in this city.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Dont you mean use not receive. And whys that then?

    Actually, I meant both. We don't use all of what we get, and we don't get all of what is there. The first ratio is much smaller than the second, though - from the Sun, the Earth looks like a little star in the night sky - all the rest of it's glorious radiance blazes into the void.

    But even of what falls on the Earth, we tap only a fraction. When you consider that energy is the ultimate driving force of life, I think that life on this planet is still only a drop in the ocean of what it could be.

    Should we be satisfied with our small plot? Ask the same question of your Chinese farmer, considering a move to the big smoke. It's a personal choice. Some will be satisfied, and can trace lineage back into ancient times, milling about in the same little anthill. Others won't. Try to stop them, and you will find you can't. Better to embrace them, keep the door open both ways. Some return. Some bring treasures with them. Others are never seen again. This is the functional whanua of humanity, the World-Family, that I partake of. Let it grow! May it prosper.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    That where I live in West Auckland nearly entirely resembles Jackie's town (well OK, less Maori, more PIs and Asians), only shows that there is mobility in this city.

    Ha! No Asians around here, and very few Maori that attend here, Ben. Pretty much all PI families. (Just a technical point, you understand).

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3112 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Another technical point: I think it was Giovanni who noted that we don't have an overpopulation problem in New Zealand, but I don't believe he was necessarily advocating procreating hardcore for the Fatherland or anything.

    the population bomb argument

    I, along with Martin, am finding this to be a sort of dodgy subtext of the thread. But perhaps it isn't meant to be.

    Let it grow! May it prosper.

    My irredeemable nerdiness means that I heard this in Leonard-Nimoy-voice.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3583 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    (Just a technical point, you understand).

    Oh? So the resemblance is more than I'd thought.

    My irredeemable nerdiness means that I heard this in Leonard-Nimoy-voice.

    Gotcha! My Kirk voice says it simpler "Where do you get the RIGHT to try to control us???", shortly before banging one of the alien hotties, then beaming up. Aliens should be allowed human children, even out of wedlock, with no plans for their upkeep. Could be all good! Or it could look like William Shatner.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    It is utterly inappropriate to consider declining population a threat to our species at this point.

    Bart, I didn't, and I don't. As you've gone to the trouble of quoting my facetious "sterilise a Brazilian" line as if it were something that I'd offered in all seriousness then I'm moved to respond. I do think that it's of some significance that we now seem to be actively poaching the labour forces of less economically "developed" countries in order to subsidise or own standard of living.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3291 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Some bring treasures with them. Others are never seen again.

    Oh Ben you gloss over so much with a little statement like this, which appears to give balance.
    That wobbly middle ground again.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1149 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Ok so my comment has confused people

    While I’ll argue vehemently that we ought to provide better for all the children regardless of how big the family is, I’ll also argue that those people who do have big families are doing some harm to our planet – less harm than any merchant banker but more harm than a family of 2 or 3 children.

    Was in response to Gio saying we don't have a population surplus and part of a post about our local population being part of a whole planet.

    What I was trying unsuccessfully to get to was that I don't want to penalise children for being part of a large family and I'm not keen on penalising parents either. However, I also don't think it's appropriate to promote having larger families because ultimately more people isn't a viable strategy for growing "wealth" (social, cultural and financial).

    I don't think we need to actively try to encourage smaller families because that happens naturally anyway so long as you don't actively promote larger families. That's one reason for me wanting to disconnect providing for the children by paying the parents. You might choose to do both for different reasons but simply paying the parent because they have children is, to me, lazy.

    I also do believe that having more babies is an environmental cost, much more so in a developed country like NZ than in a poor country. That isn't a directive to stop having babies but it is something to think about in much the same way people think about which car they buy or whether they need to be a three car household. To repeat myself, that is simply meant to reinforce the idea that our path to "wealth" can't require having lots more babies in NZ, even if NZ isn't overpopulated itself.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3115 posts Report Reply

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