Climate change: solutions cultural, not technical

Letter to editor (Wellingtonian) on air travel in the context of climate change (a response to a response to an earlier letter of mine).

22 January, 2015

The Editor, The Wellingtonian

Dear Editor;

Correspondent Allan McKay (15 Jan) may be referring to ‘vortex surfing’ which is known to be used by birds such as geese in their ‘flying wedge’ long distance journeys taking advantage of updrafts created by lead flyers. It may be possible to use this technique with aircraft as well.

But relying on technical solutions when the main challenges are social/cultural, like those presented by climate change, will not be lasting. It’s like building more roads to address traffic congestion; it just encourages more cars so congestion remains.

In general, the social/cultural challenge is that economies based on the local are more sustainable. But it’s intuitive for New Zealanders to see that this confronts consumer culture (emergent in our case from the exploitation mentality of colonialism), which then highlights the challenge to the perceived need for so-called ‘economic growth’, and consequently the bank implemented money system and indeed capitalism itself, both of which rely on such growth. People can react to these challenges anywhere along a scale of joy to terror with the current middle electorate in NZ exhibiting a quiet desperation.

For example, inequality is implicated in the current system. It has become well documented (The Spirit Level, Wilkinson and Pickett) that inequality causes more social problems and unhappiness throughout all economic classes. But the demands of the 1% (especially 0.1%) for self-sacrifice from both lower and middle economic classes are currently deemed by the NZ electorate to be a duty if we are to avoid accepting the challenge of implementing a new sustainable culture.


Richard Keller
13 Endeavour St., Lyall Bay


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