I am frequently reminded of Richard Prebble's commentary on the wonderful TV Show “Yes Minister” (still running on SKY). He said “The public thinks that “Yes Minister” is a comedy, the civil service knows that it's a documentary, and the Cabinet Ministers know that it’s a tragedy.”
I last quoted Prebble’s comment in an essay “Can a New Government Actually Change Anything?” written just before the last change in government. Maybe it is time to re-visit it.
It opens “My previous column argued that, while a new government may instantly change the mind-set of Parliament, changing the mind-set of all the bureaucracies, agencies and corporations put in place over the last nine years will be much more difficult and take much longer.”
I am convinced that this is still true, and indeed the difficulties have increased. During the last twenty years, the concepts, myths, and falsehoods surrounding the term “sustainable development” are now so embedded in our legislation controlling markets, land use, energy, transport, construction, and any other human activity one can think of, that unwinding it presents a gargantuan task. And undoing the brainwashing that has allowed this to happen is even more daunting.
In many cases “sustainable development” is a code word for responses to Anthrogenic Global Warming. Just about all our RMA documents take it for granted that sea levels are rising on every coastline and that these rises justify “managed retreats”. The Christchurch City planners decided rising sea levels posed a greater risk to Christchurch than Earthquakes.
They were wrong but don’t hold your breathe waiting for them, or anyone, to admit it.
The tenuous theories of AGW have spawned a belief that we must be cured of our addiction to our cars and accept that public transport is the necessary and virtuous alternative.
It must be coming evident that the science connecting Greenhouse gases to damaging climate change grows more tenuous by the day and the costs of using these theories to justify central planning of everything are causing Governments everywhere – but especially in Europe – to suddenly loose interest. They have real problems to deal with – not mythical conceptions of disaster in a hundred years’ time.
But how long will it take all those bureaucracies, policy documents, climate research institutes, and “green” based companies to fade away? They will be reluctant to admit error – too many careers have been built on these shifting sands.