The fire's stoked, the Conclave's met, the white smoke has belched: Auckland University has pontificated what we must do next.

How lucky we are, we are endlessly told, to have the academic Conclave up the hill, away from the cares of the workaday world, able to think and ponder, and tell us what to do.

Their latest Government submission is clear: we must urgently reconsider "our current economic, technological and social structures".

"Why?" you might well ask. Well, to show "leadership". No other country is turning their economy, technology and society inside out, or upside down, so we must lead the way.


It's our image. We need to be on the world stage as "socially progressive" with a "clean, green image".

But don't worry. The University Conclave don't wish our utter ruination: "We are not calling for an end to dairying, which we acknowledge plays a useful role in New Zealand society."

Twenty-five academics make up the Conclave. They must have worked 24/7 to conclude that our major source of income "plays a useful role".

But dairy is not off their hook. That's because "intensive dairying ... is very problematic for our waterways and may lead to biodiversity loss".

Dairying must be pared down.

There also must be no new roads. The driving of "fossil fuel-propelled cars" is "an extremely deep-rooted ideology" which must be overturned. We must walk, cycle, use solar power and wind turbines.

The Conclave want Government to do all that to us. That's leadership.

It's unclear how the members of the Conclave are selected or how they reach their conclusions. But we do know they rest their prognostications on the modern-day equivalent of inspecting the entrails of a goat. It's not their goat. It's a worldwide ensemble of computer models known as CIMP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5).


The models are much more definite than goat entrails and show precisely what they are programmed to show: that burning fossil fuels cooks the Earth to dangerous levels. The Conclave warn of "runaway climate change".

Their difficulty is the Earth is resolutely refusing to warm.

In the language of the modellers, the Earth is having a "pause" or "hiatus". It's not that the models are wrong; it's just that the Earth is taking a break from being told what to do by a computer. The Earth hasn't warmed for nearly 20 years despite the continued and increasing burning of fossil fuels.

The Conclave stick to the model like the ancients stuck to their goat entrails. It's what the model says that's important, not what's happening in the real world.

Dairy farmers must face facts about how the world works, not programme how they would like it to work. They must confront the economics of what milk costs and what milk returns. The Conclave have no such need. But the kicker is that dairy farmers must milk a great many cows just to fund the Conclave in the manner to which they are accustomed.

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