Thursday, February 26, 2009


we are on the move again

Three years on this property with all its food. However it is all over. We couldn't manage it. Didn't fence off the back part and front part to graze so it was a burden for mowing. And the work too much for a couple of oldies.

However we have learnt a lot and the soil is now fantastic in the vege garden. We can do this in our new garden at 215 Rangiuru Road.

The hope of having a local currency to help us with labour didn't eventuate. But at least we have had a year of Transition Town and we have lots of wonderful friends now. The networks are growing! The hope of having a Community Land Trust didn't eventuate. Malcolm doesn't want it so that is that.

However by now there is economic collapse. Oil peaked in July 2008 and the price was $147. It is now $36 a barrel and oil isn't paying for itself as it costs $65 to produce a barrel. Saudi Arabia has peaked. A lot of crises colliding. Financial collapse since Oct 08 just continues.


Saturday, November 08, 2008


The politics of change in New Zealand November 2008

I am pleased to report the sun rose this morning and the birds started to sing. Last night a National/Act/United Future government was elected and Helen Clark announced she will resign as leader of the Labour Party. The Greens scored eight seats and may get another.

So we come to another political cycle. Helen Clark, who has had a good nose for how the public thinks, has been ahead of them once too often and has paid the price. She will, no doubt, get a good job with the United Nations.

Meanwhile the need for local activity in sustainability becomes more and more important. Those of us who reserve their political action for growing a grassroots movement to strengthen local resilience in the face of peak oil, climate change and economic upheaval will be more resolved than ever to grow this movement.

In Otaki electorate we now have a National MP and he needs to become aware that there are many of us who want food, economic and energy resilience at local level. When the first National MP mentions transition towns in Parliament we will have made progress.

Meanwhile I was so impressed by the quality of television coverage on the election. It kept us enraptured for four and a half hours. We only went to bed when we couldn't stand John Key's smirks any more. He will never be a Barack Obama in oratory though he did his best last night to emulate him. But the commentators were so good! Even Michele Boag the former National party president was able to drop her partisanship and give measured commentary with political wisdom and judgement. Former MPs like Paul East, Richard Prebble (radio) all came out well. Jenny Shipley looking slimmed down and elegant in her wonderful glasses knows how to hold her tongue when it comes to commenting on Winston Peters' departure.

Oh Winston. What will Parliament do without you? What will the Press Gallery do now? You were so relaxed and happy to be out of Parliament and your lined quizical face was compelling viewing. You lost with grace and thank you for all you have achieved.

We had change in 1975 when Rob Muldoon won, elation when David Lange won for Labour in 1984 and then again a downer in 1991 when Jim Bolger won. Each time a National Government was elected I said we had to get back into protest mode. But I am not sure I have the stomach for protest nowadays. We will see. Some of the policies of each Labour Government were reversed by the incoming Nats but not all.

What will the new Government do with the Repeal of Section 51 of the Crimes Act legislation? Do they bring in a pro-smacking bill? No, I suspect. First we will see a change to the Resource Management Act. Then ACC. The prison bill will soar. If my grandchildren get a job in police or the armed forces, that's where the jobs will be. But they will also be in green businesses and in other government departments.

As for peak oil, we wonder if world oil production of sweet crude has now peaked and so has the global GDP. That's what Richard Heinberg thinks. There is no money for investing in more drilling or exploration because US $12 trillion was lost in one week on the sharemarket in October. Even after Obama was elected the US stockmarket dropped 9% in two days. There is no capital for getting more oil. The Nikkei is down to under 9000 and the UK interest rates are 3%, US 1%, Japan 0.3%. Ours will no doubt go down and so will our currency. We won't be able to afford our oil if the price goes up because our dollar will be so low. Or maybe that will be a while, I don't know. Peak oil has met the imperative for economic growth. The economy can't grow without abundant oil so we now have a million unemployed in US and one in four homes are worth less than the mortgage owed on them. Ford and GM are in deep trouble and British Airways profit was down over 90%. They were predicting only four airlines will be operating in Europe soon.

I am looking forward on the 12th November to the release of the new IEA report. A leaked version said oil output will decline 9% a year if there is no new investment. Nine percent. Whew.

So this morning the train came through at the usual time, the birds sang and the seeds are still pushing up. Cycles continue. Fortunately with MMP we don't get the wild swings. We used to run from one end of the football paddock to the other. This time, hopefully the swings will not be so great. It is such a waste of time repealing everything the previous government passed...

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Friday, November 02, 2007


The price of oil has soared

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Letter on biofuels, climate change, peak oil and food inflation

Recently I had a letter to the editor published. The reason why we came to the property which grows food was peak oil. I never thought 20 months later that it is all starting to show up in food prices.

Here it is:

16 Sept 2007

The Observer
Kapiti Observer

Dear editor,

Local body candidate Robert Atack rightly draws attention to Kapiti's future with climate change but without cheap oil.

On August 23 the Dominion Post reported that phosphate fertiliser di-ammonioum phosphate had rocketed 80% in two months largely as countries such as China were using it to fertilise their vast tracts of land in biofuels. No doubt this will feed through to food prices.

On TV3 on September 15th the President of Federated Farmers attributed the 100% rise in the price of wheat this year partly to the competition from biofuels for land use.

The scramble for biofuels is an illusory solution to the end of cheap oil. It is already stealing food from the poor in Mexico and Italy. This year close to 25% of the US corn crop will go to biofuel. Next year, with over 70 more bio-fuel plants under construction, the figure will be even higher. When US farmers grow more corn, they also grow less wheat and soybean. So the ripple effect is extending across all grains, and right around the world.

Butter is up 23% this week. International prices have doubled during the past two years on the back of drought pressures on milk production and competition for cattle feed from biofuel producers causing a world shortfall of milk. Cheese is next.

Climate change is also a contributor to soaring wheat prices. Many exporting countries suffered a mix of droughts, hot winds and flooding. Australian crops were down 50% last year. Time Magazine, Aug 27, warns, "And, if the world warms as expected over the coming decades, the terrible farming year of 2007 may be just the beginning."

If the production of oil peaked in April 2005 as many experts believe, this is feeding through to food price inflation remarkably quickly. With rises in interest rates and the price of electricity, petrol and food, households will have less disposable income. That is all the more reason to constrain rates by putting expensive roading projects on hold, to encourage local food growth (without expensive fertilisers), and to limit housing encroachment on first class horticultural land. Heritage fruit trees could be planted on public land. And now, oh for a local dairy factory!

Deirdre Kent

Monday, August 06, 2007


The price of oil

This year it hasn't risen much. Well at $78 a barrel the other day, we could say it has risen heaps over the last two years. But it would be worse if the NZ dollar hadn't risen steadily with it, as we buy our oil in US dollars.

We are greatly enjoying the property at the moment and are both in good physical condition again. And peak oil has still not entered the nation's consciousness.

Local body elections will see me working to raise awareness of oil. Robert Atack is standing as a candidate for Mayor and Council. He runs and has given us so many DVDs to educate us.

We have seen What a Way to Go, by Sally and Tim someone from US. Amazing. Not hopeful. No good news part at the end.

I am off to a symposium on climate change. What a mess we are all in. This year there have been so many freak weather events in N Z. Tornadoes are worse in Taranaki and West coast, floods in Northland Auckland, Coromandel and parts of Hawkes Bay but not us so far.

The twin catastrophes facing us make me appreciate my family much nore.

Going through Wellington yesterday I noticed silver beet growing in the middle of Lambton Quay. Wonderful.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Over a year later

My thoughts. We have moved to a property which can support quite a few people. Lots more food can be grown here yet.

Just seen a film which says 9/11 was an inside job with very credible people contributing. It is odd how one can go on with one's life as if nothing were happening. For instance on Monday I will take two trips to township to the bus, one to deliver Tereana and one to pick up Jan the wwoofer from Germany.

The price of oil has been around the $60 US for a while and it dropped quite a bit so we all got very casual about it. The new DVD says big trucks will be stopped by the roadside when they run out of diesel, there will be unemployment and and supermarkets shelves will be depleted.

I am getting involved in local music, going to the Otaki Live Music Club and the Levin Folk Music club but I will concentrate on the former and make it my business to get to know local musicians.

And I am getting to know the people in the same road. Next month Gary ad Singa and I have organised meetings to discuss a local currency, so things are moving towards relocalisation. But so much more to go.

Unfortunately I am not in as good physical condition as I would like. Can't manage this property and Malcolm is managing less and less, having accidents on the mower. Two today. Will have to get someone else on this property to help us and he will resist it fiercely. It is a terrible bone of contention betweeen us. Fortunately he doesn't resist wwoofers as much as he used to.

Jim and Rachel seem to be continuing as though peak oil isn't coming. Talking of going to Sydney. Or Nelson. Helen Clark has now acknowledged it and has got Cabinet to watch An Inconvenient Truth on global warming.

We have had a very very wet winter and cold spring. And it was 27 degrees in Dunedin the other day and 37 in Sydney. Terrible water problems in Queensland and Sydney.

Monday, September 05, 2005


After Hurricane Katrina

I wonder if anyone is about to name their daughter Katrina? After all the week of devastation and misery, I doubt it right now. Anyway during the crisis oil suddenly surged to over $70 a barrel and now that European nations have pledged some of their reserve oil to America, it has dropped again. However, the oil companies here didn't miss their chance and petrol is now up to $1.54 a litre. It cost me $61 to fill up the Hyundai Getz 1,5 litres. Just as well we bought it.

We have a conditional agreement to buy 202 Otaki Forks Road, a property of three and a half acres with 200 fruit and nut trees on it. I can't wait now for our house to sell, but I am concerned that my internet won't be so fast there.

Everyone is talking about the price of petrol and the mainstream media are now mentioning the phrase 'peak oil'. Article in the Dominion and the Weekend Herald about life after cheap oil have been done quite well, but the omission so far is mention that food growing worldwide is dependent on oil. That is major.

I find myself orienting towards those who have land in the district and thinking about how to fence the property so that we can put in kunikuni pigs and not have to mow.

I gave my son David Matt Savinar's book and have lent another copy to Rachel, who has read quite a bit but is pregnant and doesn't want to take in too much at a time.

Helen is showing the film 'The End of Suburbia" a lot. It is time we did it here.

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