I think a big part of Transition is planning for the future we would like to see. It was suggested on the google group that rather than just focussing on the doom, we should be using that information to develop positive strategies. It was also suggested that a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat Analysis is a good place to start to try and help map ourselves out of the poo that is about to/already hitting the fan.
This I think is a very good idea, so I haveput my thoughts down in the SWOT framework of how I think NZ in general fares (see below)_. This is a work in progress and I would like others to add to this analysis and give comment.
I think that it would also be a very good idea if each TT group undertook similar analysis of their local region to determine what it is that we are up against and how we can develop strategies to overcome the threats and weaknesses we face.Strengths
· Low population (not that many mouths to feed)
· We grow a lot of food. NZ exports more food than we import.
· Abundant fresh water
· Geographically isolated
· Decent soil
· Stable democratic political system
· Minor but good quality reserves of oil and natural gas
· Good cool temperate to warm temperate climate
· Approximately 60% of electricity generated from renewable
The much-touted No 8 fencing wire mentality - using ingenuity to innovate with limited resources. This attitude got a good workout during the protectionism of the 80s, which really wasn't that long ago - so we should be able to resurrect it.
- experience with alternative currency systems (even national)
- fair number of social organisations (as far as I can judge from Kerikeri), showing the will for social engagement
- open minded people (as compared to my home country Belgium), willing to discuss and contemplate alternatives to the 'quest for growth'
- Maori population (especially the older people), who still have a living memory of strong local communities based around a share economy and small scale organical agriculture
Nowhere in New Zealand is too far from the sea, which tends to buffer temperature extremes.
New Zealand is a very good place for growing things. At present, much of what we grow is on the basis of potential export receipts (cows, pines), but there is a lot of potential to grow other things.
· Highly geographically dispersed population in both rural and suburban areas limiting the feasibility of public transport.
· Geographically isolated meaning at the end of the global supply chain.
· Very little manufacturing exists
· We import significant amounts of staple foods such as grains and pulses.
· Traditional grain growing areas are being converted to dairy
· We rely on significant amounts of imported synthetic fertilizers
· High rate of car ownership
- Foreign ownership of banks and most industry
- Tiny economy - super vulnerable to sudden changes
- Highly urbanised
- no long culture of local community life, most towns are spread out and lack a true centre
Health and medical supplies almost entirely imported - including contraceptives (it's a subset of the more general point about the lack of local manufacturing)
Domestic transport 99% dependent on fossil fuels
Pervasive culture of the private car
Governance arrangements at every level (local, regional, national) which favour cars and roads over other modes of transport
Poor urban, and very poor rural and inter-city, rail links and services
Electricity generation and transmission system not well organised to get renewably-generated power to domestic consumers: for example, 15% of New Zealand's electricity is used by the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, but, if this were to close, transmission constraints make it difficult to send this electricity to where most domestic consumption occurs
Political power of resource-extraction industries, e.g. Solid Energy (coal SOE)
Almost complete dominance of neo-classical ("liberal") economic views in Universities, the media, Government departments etc.: both in terms of the dominance of these views within institutions dealing with economics, and the dominance of economics over other disciplines
· Dependence on pastoral agriculture means there is a “clear slate” with which we can redesign agriculture to incorporate appropriate water management and polycultutral farming strategies. i.e re-localisation of food production. Thus reducing impact on natural systems through agriculture rather than increasing impacts
· Abundant opportunity through medium to micro hydro, wind and tidal systems to decentralize the electricity grid and further increase renewable generation.
· Spread out nature of suburban sprawl leaves opportunity to incorporate local food production into medium density population areas through the use of current wasteland, road verges, parks and backyards.
· Significant opportunities to close the loops on numerous waste streams such as nutrient and energy capture from sewage, putrescible waste, farming run-off and forestry.
- national currency with small population makes swap to alternative monetary system (i.e. interest free) easier, especially if current currency would become unstable (due to massive foreign devestment)
Many potential renewable energy resources are being barely utilised at present - for example, New Zealand has better solar energy potential than Germany, yet use of solar energy (both passive and active) in New Zealand is minuscule, because current policies, housing regulations etc. in New Zealand do not encourage the use of solar energy.
"Tightly coupled" political system which means that the chains of influence are relatively small - this cuts both ways, as it makes it easier for both ordinary citizens and for big business to influence political processes.
· Existing lineal/industrial paradigm
· Liquid energy shortfalls impacting on transport.
· Continued contamination of soil and waterways
- Quick fix band aid solution
- Foreigners withdrawing all their investments ala Iceland
- 'law and order' and overregulation response from government on growing crisis, thereby restricting local initiatives to build on alternatives
Most of population lives close to coast, and often not far above sea level - so, many cities and towns vulnerable to rapid sea level rise
Likely short-to-medium effects of climate change on New Zealand include more droughts in east of both islands, more heavy rain & flooding in the west - both threaten food production
Likely influx of climate refugees, firstly from Pacific Islands and Australia - this is a threat only if it overwhelms our systems' capacity to absorb additional people