Sunday, January 28

today I landed. . .

. . . on "the property" of a person who expressed upset at my sudden appearance. I was bemused by his response to my landing on the big open grassy area in front of his house. In my 11 years of paragliding people are generally intrigued at watching someone swoop around above their homes, and enjoy talking about it when given the opportunity - after all flying like a bird is one of man's oldest dreams.

As I walked away I thought about this brief exchange.
I was not particularly bothered - it was far too nice a day to let his mood impact on the fun I had been having - but I wondered if this was symptomatic of the strange assumption of ownership and property rights that seems to have befallen our culture.

Since the time of the industrial revolution, more and more of the commons have been lost to the people, and increasingly ownership has been cornered by a small class of
wealthy property owners. Surely the means of production, starting with the textile mills which heralded the industrial revolution, ought to have been the shared property of the people - especially those who worked them. But no, the convention was to continue the models that society had been familiar with on the land, and the wealthy continued to build wealth on the backs of those whose muscle produced the goods.

Is it time yet, to question the old assumptions?

Saturday, January 27

property 'rights'

After posting the last item on the economic takeover of Aotearoa, I got to thinking about property rights and our relationship to this 'concept' we find so mightily defended in the West. After all it is only a convention - albeit one that most Westerners agree on - that if we 'own' property we have certain rights.

Globalisation and Autonomy: "Are there other ways to imagine human-territorial relationships that do not reproduce problematic assumptions about different people's characteristics, property, and autonomy? Is there another way to imagine property relations and autonomy that does not divide and dehumanize people? "

Do we need to accept the current notions, or can we: "refuse notions of competing autonomy and individual rights, and propose complex ideas of relational responsibility for the land and each other."

Are the processes of economic takeover, described in the last post, simply part of a last ditch effort by the elite to control the remaining pristine and life-supporting environments of the planet? Are they based on conventions, that one day will be meaningless, as more basic processes of inter-dependence come to the fore and we learn how to live cooperatively, in a low-energy world, using the resources that exist - but are not, and can never be "owned," by mere mortals?

selling off Aotearoa

When I opened up this email from Christoph Hensch I was more than a little concerned. I am witnessing this trend directly and personally here on Waiheke Island, where I live. Northern hemisphere refugees, wanting to escape the social, political, and environmental degredation of their countries, are arriving with pots of overseas money and buying up large.

Awareness is the first step.

Foreign Control - Key facts

  • Foreign direct investment (ownership of companies) in New Zealand increased from $9.7 billion in 1989 to $82.7 billion at September 2006 - over 700% more.

  • Foreign owners now control 41% of the share market. In 1989, the figure was 19%.

  • In 2005, the Overseas Investment Commission (OIC) and its replacement, the Overseas Investment Office (OIO), approved foreign investment totalling $14.3 billion, which was well above the average of $8.8 billion for the previous decade. All but about $3 billion was sales from one overseas company to another. Until August 2005, only company takeovers involving $50 million or more needed OIC approval, except those involving land or fishing quotas. Until 1999, the threshold was $10m. As from August 2005 the government increased it to $100m and replaced the OIC with the OIO in the government department, Land Information New Zealand.

  • In 2005, the OIC approved the sale of 149,473 hectares of rural land to foreigners, of which about 100,000 hectares was from one foreign investor to another. Foreign owned land covers more than one million hectares or about 7% of our commercially productive land area.

  • Statistics NZ figures, as of March 2006, list the biggest foreign owners of New Zealand companies as, in decreasing order: Australia, US, UK, Singapore, Japan, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

  • Transnational corporations (TNCs) make massive profits out of New Zealand. These can truly be called New Zealand's biggest invisible export. In the decade 1997-2006, TNCs made $50.3 billion profits. Only 32% was reinvested, and in some years more was sent overseas than was earned or the reinvestment was significantly offset by capital being taken out of the country.

  • The great majority of foreign "investment" is a takeover, not creating new assets.

  • Foreign investors are not great for employment - they only employ 19% of the workforce, despite owning a huge proportion of the economy. Foreign ownership does not guarantee more jobs. In fact, it quite often adds to unemployment. TNCs have made tens of thousands jobless.

  • Foreign ownership does nothing to improve New Zealand's foreign debt problem. In 1984, total private and public foreign debt stood at $16 billion. As of September 2006, it was $182 billion, equivalent to well over 100% of New Zealand's Gross Domestic Product, despite all of the asset sales and takeovers.

  • Ownership means political power. Foreign control means recolonisation, but by company this time, not country.

  • Nearly everything that has been done to New Zealanders in the past decade has been done to "make the New Zealand economy attractive to foreign investment". This is what it all means to ordinary New Zealanders - we are involuntary competitors in the race to the bottom.

CAFCA home

Saturday, January 20

2,000 tomatoes

Did I tell you that this year is my year for focusing on food? Specifically local food production in all its wonderful and diverse forms.

I see us using the great breadth and depth of wisdom and knowledge we have, so we can begin to enjoy an abundance of healthy and vibrant, locally grown food fit to nourish our souls. I see a generosity of spirit as one after another land owner or land care-taker, offers access to the earth for the purposes of growing food. I see us building the soil - a sure sign of a civilisation that believes there is a future and respects the life giving earth which will nourish future generations. I see a community of healthy happy people with full stomachs, and not one person left out. I see men, women and children coming together to engage each other in conversation about real things and I see us feeling good about ourselves, as we contribute to the good of the whole.

After watching the wonderful film about Peter Proctor's work in India, I thought a little research was in order. I entered "Biodynamics" in google video and the one which caught my eye was a one
minute piece that shows a tomato plant, the like of which I have never seen. I was curious what he put in that hole, so I went to [] the link given in the description and found this 10 minute presentation that describes some of the key components of a recipe that has given others the same result.


Friday, January 19

the video compilation

Here is the 34 minute video compilation that Derek and I put together with the help of a dear friend and video editor.

It is a collection of short clips from six current documentary films describing some of the challenges that face us as a species. They are organised under the headings of Peak Oil, Economic Collapse, Climate Change and Responses to these. Here is a list of the films and a description of the specific short clips which are included in this 34 minute compilation:

The Power of Community - A succinct history of Peak Oil and how Cuba came to their own Peak Oil moment with the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980's. It shows a little glimpse of the grass roots response to the need to feed their population, when their oil-dependent agriculture was no longer able to do so.

Oil Smoke and Mirrors - Richard Heinburg, author of The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies, and the book Powerdown: Options and Action for a Post-Carbon World, expresses how easy it is, even for him, to fall into a level of denial about the significant changes that are almost certainly headed our way. A few other highly reputable politicians, business people and a geologist speak about dependence on Oil, the potential for global economic upheaval, and an explanation of why the media is largely quiet on these subjects.

David Attenborough's BBC documentary, Can We Save Planet Earth - CO2 is made visible in a clever graphic display and explanation of its sources and effects. We hear about China's direction and their part in the growing total of CO2 that is being released into our atmosphere.

Denial Stops Here - Michael Ruppert offers his insights into the global economic environment and makes some startling suggestions about the implications of the current situation.

An Inconvenient Truth - It is hard to go past Al Gore's big CO2 and Global temperature chart for the last 650,000 years, without asking what might be in store for us.

The End of Suburbia - despite this being the oldest film in the line-up, with footage taken from the Paris meeting of ASPO (Association for the Study of Peak Oil) in 2002, it's contribution is valuable. This puts recent world events into perspective, and helps explain some of the lead up to them.

We hope this compilation (in all its amateur and jerky wonder) captures the essence of key issues which are already facing us as we race towards a global population of 7 billion persons. A key message is that each of us needs to learn how to reduce our footprint on this earth, and find ways, through cooperation and mutual support to meet our needs without disadvantaging future generations.

There is nothing refined about this production, but it is our humble effort to share information with you. Now if you know of anyone who wants to throw some money at this project, and have it made into a cleaner presentation, we are more than happy to help. But this was the result of some concerned citizens who squeezed in a few late nights in their busy schedule to put this together with limited technology.

Saturday, January 13

one man, one cow, one planet

Thanks Michael for inviting me over to watch this video with you. Wow!

Peter Proctor is the lie to the belief that "I" can't do much to change things for the better. I would love one day to know that I had done one tenth of what this man has done to benefit the human community.

This film will screen at the Waiheke community cinema on January 30th.

If you are lucky enough to live on Waiheke Island, but you can't wait, then order the DVD directly and support our kiwi producers - well done guys, this is fabulous footage, edited expertly. For the rest of you, if you are beginning to wonder how you might eat when the oil gets too expensive and scarce for driving farm machinery, then order one today.

Tuesday, January 9

meet Betsy

She is a sweety, a soft blue, round and solid. Born in 1956 with lots of life in her yet, she has outlasted many new cars that have cycled in a few short years between the production line and the scrap heap.

As my friend Tom said after we had towed her home, she is an iconic piece of New Zealand history, and deserves to be honoured. When I first arrived in New Zealand in 1968, there were an abundance of Morris Minors on the road - imported in parts and assembled here in readiness for many adventures in a young country with a wonderful future.

The way these cars were built makes them easy to work on, and even I can learn and understand the basics of how the internal combustion engine works in this case. She was running, registered with a Warrant of Fitness, up until just over a year ago, so while she has no spark at the moment it shouldn't take too long before she bursts into life again, to begin her next adventure as our second family car.

Sunday, January 7

The Fluoride Deception

Sitting at the beach yesterday, I listened to some debate about the possible health benefits and possible dangers of choosing to add flouride to people's diet, through tablets or flouridation of municipal water supplies.

I decided to do some research for myself and while there was a volume of information in the form of articles and essays presenting it's pros and cons, I found this video was a most thorough explanation of the issue:

Christopher Bryson, an award-winning journalist and former producer at the BBC, discusses the findings of his new book The Flouride Deception.

EARLY REVIEW of The Fluoride Deception:

"Bryson marshals an impressive amount of research to demonstrate fluoride's harmfulness, the ties between leading fluoride researchers and the corporations who funded and benefited from their research, and what he says is the duplicity with which fluoridation was sold to the people. The result is a compelling challenge to the reigning dental orthodoxy, which should provoke renewed scientific scrutiny and public debate."

In Donora, Pennsylvania, the most notorious air pollution disaster in US history implicated Flouride in 19 deaths. According to Bryson, this incident was largely responsible for the start of the environmental movement and yet the cover up was so thorough that this is an unknown event to most environmentalists.

Thursday, January 4

Keith Olbermann "Sacrifice"

Outspoken, clear, eloquent, passionate, and revealing! Keith was bold enough to refer to the the war profiteers, the building of detention centres, a $125 million courtroom complex at Guantanamo Bay complete with restaurants, and the need for war to sell more humvees. Too bad about human life, but there's too many of them and they are just "dumb stupid animals" anyway according to Kissinger - the new advisor to the Pope!

Wednesday, January 3


Nanosolar is on track to make solar electricity:
  • cost-efficient for ubiquitous deployment
  • mass-produced on a global scale
  • available in many versatile forms
Nanosolar has developed proprietary technology that makes it possible to simply roll-print solar cells that require only 1/100th as thick an absorber as a silicon-wafer cell (yet deliver similar performance and durability).

The technology dramatically lowers the process cost and complexity involved in the production of thin-film solar cells and makes it possible to scale production very rapidly.