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Blog by Dave McArthur 9 June 2009                                                           

Prediction Time.

Even the bloody school janitors have been warning them. Statements by our politicians, economists and journalists that “no one did or could have predicted our current economic malaise” are garbage. The truth is they were told it would happen and  they did not want to know.

It is true that the “experts” they preferred to listen to could not have predicted the current economic implosion. We are all subject to a continual barrage of predictions from this wide range of highly paid “experts”. Most fail to withstand scrutiny and form a litany of failure.  By comparison here are the predictions of a low paid janitor.

The advantage a school janitor has is that he or she is not beholden to sector interests. Our income is derived from our labour cleaning scunge off carpets and scrubbing stained S-bends. Our insights are not bound by status and career imperatives.  The dominant prophets in our media are representatives of the money trading sector and the universities while speculators, fossil fuel exploiters and money traders essentially control the media itself.  All have to serve the short-term interests of their employers whereas school janitors are free to gaze to the horizons of reality and to contemplate the simple and the absurd.

In my case I entertain the simple notion that our economy is based on the destruction mineral oil and that it is absurd to value its capacity for doing nearly all our pushing, pulling and lifting at a mere 0.1 cents a man-hour of labour, which is its energy equivalent.

I entertain the simple notion that, whether we like it or not, we are stewards amidst the flux of the universe(s) and we go to absurd lengths to deny both change and our roles as stewards within change.

I also entertain the notion that the above absurdities combine to make it eminently possible that our current behaviour make it very likely that we will do the complete absurd, which is to generate a truly catastrophic global war by about 2013. The odds are now very high that soon billions of humans will perish amidst appalling misery because of our absurd behaviour. No one will be immune or safe.

My prediction is awful and is not inevitable. I remain with hope. I am aware that societies can make abrupt changes in behaviour into profound harmony that lasts centuries just as they can erupt in sustained warfare.  I draw hope from, for instance, the wonderful story of King Asoka  the Cruel who became transformed into King Asoka the Kind, thus transforming the Asian continent for millennia.

We human beings are similar to cats in that they live a trace existence on the edge of being domesticated and being feral. One moment the cat is purring with contentment as we scratch its belly and the next microsecond it is hissing ferociously and its teeth and claws are violently imbedded in in our hand. Trust has evaporated into mistrust in an instant. Next moment the cat is purring again. Trust is manifest again as though it is incapable of vanishing.

Similarly we live a trace existence on the edge of being civilised and being barbaric with some societies being more honest about this reality than others. New Zealanders are practically oblivious to this reality and thus easily slip into barbarism.

If we measure civilisation by a nation’s tendency to conserve and share the resources of this planet equitably and by the pollution the nation creates then countries like New Zealand rate among the most barbaric on Earth.  In this context the rating of New Zealand this week as “the most peaceful nation on Earth” by the Institute for Economics and Peace in its Global Peace Index indicates a vast denial of reality. It is absurd.

Why this is so will become apparent as I catalogue my predictions.


My earliest predictions that I can recall occurred in the late 1960s.

I wrote an article “Blessed are the Barren, for they shall inherit the Earth”, in which I argued that we should treasure all those who remain barren for in their generosity they provide salvation for humanity. All countries, like New Zealand, which based notions of economic wellbeing on continually expanding populations doomed humanity.

*I myself did not remain barren and have a beautiful daughter. However the prediction that the continuing growth of the human population would prove unsustainable affected my life. The decision to have even one child was so traumatic that I became ill so that a doctor said there was nothing medicine could do to help me. How I survived is another story. My refusal to have more than one child made life very difficult for me.

Fact: New Zealand Population - 1900: 823,000 - 1950: 1,908,000 - 2000: 3,802,000 - 2009: 4,213,000

And our population of 4 million destroys resources more resources daily than do nations of 50 million people.

Fact: For instance we destroy our global mineral oil resource at the rate of 38.48 barrels a day per 1000 people compared to say, Bangladesh  (0.63 barrels) or the Congo (0.17 barrels) – a nation from which we extract so many of our most vital minerals.


Which brings me to another early prediction: I predicted that the predictions of the Club of Rome would be proven correct if current patterns of consumption of minerals continued. So it is. We are now at high risk as our access to cheaply accessed minerals ceases.

*I decided to live without a passport come what may and I have.

Early 1970s

My prediction was China would become a very powerful nation within a generation. Understand the People’s Republic of China was then commonly portrayed as a destitute nation and was not even allowed into the UN until 1971. I figured its adoption and promotion of family planning policies, culminating in the 1979 “one child” policy plus its use of bicycles would see it far surpass nations such as the USA in influence. And so it is coming to pass.

*I went out and bought a book on “Teach yourself Mandarin” but never mastered the phonetics of this language. I did attempt to understand the works of the great Zen Chinese scholars.


About 1987 I predicted to Hon Roger Douglas that the Labour Government’s Economic Reforms would work directly against their stated objectives of increasing the wealth of the average New Zealander and, specifically, they would result in a doubling of the prison population within a decade. This came to pass.

I was belated in coming to this accurate prediction of Rogernomics. The first person I know who predicted the failure was my neighbour and retired “wharfie” (stevedore). Early in 1985 within months of the election of this Labour Administration he told me he was not renewing his membership of the Labour Party, something he had proudly maintained since the early1930s. He accurately predicted the new Labour Administration could not be trusted as far as he could kick them - they would sell off our national assets to rich people and leave New Zealanders debt ridden. Our national statistics prove I was utterly wrong to attempt to convince him otherwise and I owe people like him a big apology for not listening to and acknowledging their wisdom.

*I have never voted Labour since.


Watching the CNN 24 hour coverage on the new “private channel” TV3 in New Zealand of our invasion of Iraq I predicted that our abuse of our carbon potential would put humanity at catastrophic risk and the brief twenty years in which New Zealand had enjoyed a relatively independent media was at end.

Within two days our State-owned channels had given away any pretence of reflecting the needs and aspirations of our sovereign nation and now both state and privately owned channels are simply large sewer pipes pouring images of violence in the form of criminality, corporate greed, housing speculation, wasteful consumption and degradation into the nation’s lounges.

We now face massive challenges from our wasteful combustion of mineral fuels, both from their depletion and from pollution.

*I have never bought a car since and refuse to fly, despite being heavily penalised by the Government and women of New Zealand. I have also devoted tens of thousand of my “spare hours” exploring ways that promote sustainable uses of carbon.


I predicted at considerable personal cost that the TransAlta structure that replaced the community owned electrical networks in the Wellington region would collapse within a decade. I worked for this structure and perceived it as profoundly corrupt and violent. I predicted it would cost New Zealand dearly and cause much misery. It rapidly grew to be the largest “energy company” in New Zealand, controlling one third of all households. It collapsed in 2001 within weeks of Enron, a mirror corporation in the USA. Its existence formed a lasting blight on the communities it directly affected, destroying many billions of dollars of wealth.

I also publicly predicted that the NZ Electricity Industry Reforms will work directly against their stated objectives of providing more intelligent uses of our electrical potential. A consensus now exists that this is true.

* In 1997 I “ceased” my twenty-year career in the Bulk-gen electricity industry. My family and I became subject to constant threats of violence because I dared to blow the whistle on risks to the public good. The photo essay of the collapsing grid in my street is symbolic of the evil nature of TransAlta-OnEnergy and its destructive impact on New Zealand.


I predicted the popular use of “greenhouse”, “global warming” and “carbon trading” symbols would be proven dangerous. I predicted that carbon trading would actively promote carbon pollution and unsustainable uses of fossil fuels. The vast bulk of the evidence since supports these predictions.

Already tens of billions of dollars have been transferred from communities to private corporations via taxes, Bulk-gen electricity charges, etc while air pollution and deforestation have increased.

In 2006 Frameworks Institute research of the “greenhouse = atmosphere” equation strongly supports the prediction that this use of the “greenhouse” symbol is unsustainable. 

In May 2009 the New York Times reported that consultants to the Obama Administration now advise against the use of the “global warming = bad” symbol, again because this use is found to be unsustainable.

In 2007 I formulated the Sustainability Principle of Energy, which provides a scientific basis underpinning these predictions.

* I now predict if carbon trading is ratified on scale at Copenhagen in November then catastrophic global war will almost certainly occur with 5 years as the negative consequences of our vast undervaluation of mineral oil/gas are amplified.


I predicted the movie The Day After Tomorrow would destroy the communal science of atmospheric processes and dis-empower people. I had analysed both the work of the Potsdam Institute’s work (a prime consultant to the movie) and the book it was based on, The Coming Global Superstorm. Subsequent Potsdam audience research in 2004 after the movie release failed to support their central hypotheses and instead supported both my predictions.


In web postings and letters to media in New Zealand I predicted the price of mineral oil would be close $US80 a barrel in 2008 and this would result in the collapse of global credit systems. This made me a subject of ridicule as the price was under $US40 and so-called energy experts were predicting similar prices till after 2020. In particular I predicted the motor and air travel industries would become sunset industries with the high mineral prices putting corporations like GM and the USA in general at risk of bankruptcy.

Sample published in The Cook Strait News  February 2005. 
".. A year or two back I stood up at a meeting discussing regional transport investment priorities and suggested the exercise was pointless. The investment programme was based on the recent Government predictions that oil would be $19 a barrel in 2004. I predicted it would be over $40. Many thought me a nutter. I will now predict that without the sudden appearance of an extraordinary leader like US President Carter, oil will be close to $80 a barrel in 2008. Already lower income people are being hit by the inflation resulting from rising oil and gas prices. Their plight is set to worsen sharply."

* I pray to the wisdom of the universe(s) for guidance.


Before its premier in New Zealand I predicted that the Al Gore movie “An Inconvenient Truth” will result in increased car use and jet travel while all notions of stewardship as manifest in carbon taxes would be rejected in New Zealand in favour of psychopathic structures such as carbon trading. This would happen despite my accurate prediction of sharply increasing mineral oil prices. Subsequent to the movie’s general release new car imports reached record levels, New Zealanders’ use of jets increased over 14%, deforestation increased, as did our gas pollution while the Carbon Trading ethos was enshrined in legislation by an almost unanimous Parliament. The Carbon Tax ethos was dismissed as “impossible”.

* Again I pray to the wisdom of the universe(s) for guidance.


I predict that the advent of the privatised KiwiSaver superannuation scheme will mean the end of Universal Superannuation in New Zealand and that it will siphon away the remaining wealth of the many into the pockets of a rich few. It will act essentially as a subsidy for the money traders and most account holders will inherit valueless accounts.

This prediction is being fulfilled with funds that could provide for the real needs of elderly people –insulated homes, quality electrical products, mass transit systems etc – being siphoned off to support the profoundly destructive lifestyles of the money traders.

Just as the age of entitlement to NZ Universal Super was raised from 60 to 65 now there is talk of extending it to 67 and beyond, which means for those whose lives are shortened by a lifetime of labouring for an income will now find their superannunation may be halved yet again.

* I pray I die in dignity.


I predict that if Barack Obama becomes president he will invade Pakistan. Invasions take many forms and soon after his inauguration in 2009 he invaded Pakistan using drones etc to terrorise and radicalise the population. This prediction was easy to make – Barack said he was going to and his use of symbols revealed he fundamentally represented the US status quo.

* I have now cancelled all but one of my subscriptions to traditional New Zealand media and invest those funds in Internet based news systems

2008 May

This is the first record I can find of my long-standing predictions that the NZ Green Party and NZ Greenpeace will reject the Carbon Tax ethos (acceptance of stewardship) and endorse the Carbon Trading ethos (denial of stewardship). What is interesting is that after the Green Party made its pivotal and extremely powerful endorsement of the NZ Emissions Trading Strategy in Parliament in September 2008 the Green Party co-leader objected strongly to a Radio NZ reporter’s statement, “We all knew you were going to support the legislation”. The language of both the Green Party and Greenpeace made their final decision inevitable, even though it is clear that members did not know how they would vote.

* I realize the Sustainability Principle may well be a powerful predictive tool that allows us to transcend our vast capacity for denial of change/stewardship.

2008 July

In my submission to the Great Wellington Regional Council I stated my belief that Matt Simmons is correct: mineral oil prices would rise to about $US150 a barrel. They had just breached the US100 mark and I predicted they would plummet towards Christmas and begin rising again steadily about May 2009. I explained my simple calculation: the price of mineral oil has no relationship with the value of the resource and factors such as the US election, product marketing, short term profits etc dictate the price. It could remain absurdly undervalued to near depletion point of reserves.

* I predict to our councils that every dollar invested in new motorway structures will destroy at least $5 in jobs.

2008 August

I predict Sarah Palin will win in the USA and New Zealand elections later that year.

Sarah exemplifies the essence of our psychosis. As Governor of the exotic dreamland of Alaska where infinite quantities of mineral oil abound Sarah is the personification of our delusions abut this resource. Our critical votes occur not at the ballot box but at the petrol pump, the food bazaar, at the airline counter and at the electrical points in our dwellings.

The main candidates in both countries fell over each other in their attempts to be seen as the main upholders of the delusion that cars and trucks are forever. Both new administrations have committed record billions of dollars to motorways to abysses.

2009 8 June

The world sparkles. The new washed leaves glisten glowing green. I breathe champagne air enlivened with the tang of the salt-spiced southerly zephyrs and sharpened by a shining frost that is now fading from the sunlight into the shadows. The roar of the surf from the departing southerly storm fills the stillness of the atmosphere. The clouds are motionless, rock-solid as the land’s shores are with the seas and skies. Within those shores the earth constantly shifts within itself as the shadows in its valleys and upstands dance with the movement of the sun. I feel a profound sense of privilege to be alive, to be able to experience this. Thus I have a thorough sense of the absurd when I restate my prediction that if we continue with our current abuse of our carbon potential then catastrophic warfare is inevitable.

As I said, the calculations are simple. When the price of mineral oil went from $US25 to $US50 a barrel the wealth in economies whose systems are based on $US25 were set to shrink by nearly a half over the next few years. This is the physical reality of the “credit squeeze” that our bankers deny with their Fiscal Speak. The “green shoots” they talk of are actually shredded dollar notes as the real value of these certificates of wealth evaporates.

The real value of mineral oil is $US thousands a barrel and until we place that truer value on it then our wealth will continue to evaporate. As predicted, demand for mineral oil remains strong and even at just $US60 a barrel I predict another wave of credit contraction and new demands from the world’s rich for a new round of subsidies (stimulus packages) to sustain their violent lifestyles. This could be any day now. And general civil unrest will grow. It really is a hopeless spiral of activity.

I personally remain with hope and as part of that optimism this week I posted an inventory or guide of symbols uses, categorised as to whether they are hopeful or hopeless.

The guide is an illustration of the Sustainability Principle of Energy at work and I am now confident of the enormous power of this principle to sustain us. It contains the wisdom that can enable us to avoid the catastrophic warfare I write of. It can be a source of immense wonder and beauty.

Do I predict it will prevent the catastrophic collapse of civilisation? You know I have no idea. I can only put it out there so the sustainable use of symbols has the potential to enhance our capacity to enjoy peace and harmony. You and your friends are the ones who decide whether acceptance of its wisdom generates a wave of prosperity or denial of its insights generates a wave of misery.

I do predict one thing. Our children will look back and realise that in particular it was the Green Movement (Al Gore, Greenpeace, Consumer’s groups, the Green Party, WWF, and other caring Environmental Educator groups) that most put their generation at the great risk they are now in. If they do not learn from the Sustainablity Principle to realise to why the Green Movement fails them so then our children will not survive as civilised beings at all.

And I should say this prediction is inconvenient for me because I love the well-meaning intent and passion of these folk. Indeed they are all terribly inconvenient for me in many ways. However the inconvenience always fades into insignificance as I become more mindful each year of of wonderful insight in the John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn”:

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,-that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Footnote: The cartoon that accompanies this blog is serendipitous. Bonus Joules and the Knowledge Economy was first published several years ago now. In this strip Bonus Joules is exploring the nature of our atmosphere and attempting to show how our “greenhouse” vision of it fails to evoke the awesome thermo-dynamism of Earth’s systems. The strip is prescient of recent discoveries that solar activity may directly impact on the distribution of the potent Warmer Trace Gas, water vapour, in our atmosphere.

My commentary is now dated in that while it hints at the physical nature of knowledge my use of the term “just an idea” reveals I was not truly aware of the probable reality that “Information is physical.” To put it another way, these thoughts, these words, these symbols are essentially the same as speeding bullets and the seeds of a forest.

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