Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Report from New Zealand: How to wreck paradise

Family members of mine have lived in or made long visits to New Zealand, and they have always been completely taken with its charm: the friendly people, the slower pace of life, the egalitarian society, the clean environment, and the breathtaking natural beauty. But that was quite a while ago. New Zealand's embrace of the global economy is quickly destroying what had been the country's greatest assets. New Zealanders have now firmly joined the rest of the world on an unsustainable path as they buy more SUVs, build more suburbs and country palaces, and adopt the shop-til-you-drop attitude so prevalent in other consumer societies.

The author of the linked article reports that New Zealand officials dismiss talk of an impending peak in world oil production. They insist that huge oil finds are ahead that will push the peak back to 2067. Even if they are right (and this seems highly doubtful), what sense does it make to continue down a path that will lead to your own petroleum-inspired doom?

Perhaps the most telling thing in this piece is its discussion of local government, a discussion that points to a possible way to begin moving politically toward a more sustainable society. National governments in New Zealand and elsewhere seem incapable of even considering the possibility that their current joint trajectory might really be a suicide pact.

(Comments are open to all. After clicking on "Comments," click on "Or Post Anonymously" if you don't have an account. See the list of environmental blogs on my sidebar.)

No comments: