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The Road to Perdition

PowerLess New Zealand

PowerLess NZ is a group of scientists, energy analysts and concerned citizens whose principle objectives are to alert both Government and the general public to New Zealand’s looming energy crisis. Our aim is to support development of renewable energy resources at both a private and public level, as well as encourage a firm move away from dependence upon fossil fuels.

Media Release for Immediate Use
31 March 2004, Wellington

The Road to Perdition

"New Zealanders should not be worried that the country might run out of electricity, although the price of electricity might well be higher," Pete Hodgson.

We feel the need to remind Pete Hodgson of engineer Scotty’s assertion to the Enterprise’s Captain Kirk “but I canna change the laws of physics Captain.”

Hodgson’s sadly flawed statement assumes he can bootleg entropy thus providing for a never-ending “sustainable growth” in demand for energy from a finite supply.

The problem is neither fossil fuels nor renewable energy sources are infinite!

No amount of money will fill an empty hydro dam. No amount of money will provide another natural gas field the size of Maui. The weather doesn’t respond to price increases, the propeller of a wind turbine will not rotate on a windless day. It is not possible to create energy from a resource that does not exist.

From these simple irrefutable facts we infer that growth whether it be economic, in terms of electricity generation or in relating to New Zealand’s population is not sustainable, certainly not from any logical point of view nor from any physical first principles.

There is no denying the difficulty faced by any politician in admitting these facts. Sustainable growth, oxymoronic as it sounds is the economic Holy Grail. However, it is in fact the non-sustainability of such enterprises that gives rise to the concept of sustainable development. Sustainable development is our adaptive reaction to the realisation that resources are finite.

And so we if examine the predicament New Zealand finds itself in. The politicians’ obligation to show sustainable economic growth (a truly bizarre contradiction in terms if once accept the proposition that resources are finite) we need to mirror this with growth in electricity generation.

The assumption by New Zealand business, government and many people is that the aggregate economy will grow forever. Any reckoning against the laws of physics and logic essentially rebuts this assumption. Until we, as a nation face up to this fact we are on the road to perdition, and the gas tank is nearly empty.


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