Personally, I’m still batting for Jacinda’s Team of Five Million and her political leitmotif of kindness that continues to have us at the centre of the world stage. As a result, it seems vaguely shocking that media at this moment seem to be relishing the arrival of a bewildering political caravanserai hacking its way towards a general election.
Political character assassination and unconstructive carping are the tactics of Australian political strategist Lynton Crosby and known as “flinging a dead cat on the table”, but the danger is that distraction and distaste will turn off weary people with more urgent agendas like saving their livelihoods, their businesses, their families and their neighbours.
At this moment I would have more respect for Opposition hopefuls, including Judith Collins and even Labour’s coalition partners, if they used the generous air-time they seem to be getting to demonstrate that they are in Team NZ with the other five million of us; that they are on board to rebuild a cleverer, kinder and fairer human race.
We locked ourselves down for the common good, led the way in several aspects of Covid management and could be flagbearers for global recovery and more wholesome economics unfettered from the fallacies of GDP’s money-churn.
We are now open for business, sport and social contact. The rest of the world needs us to lead and keep our edge. It would be tragic if we succumbed to the current clamour and distraction.
And actually, while civilisation is in an existential balance, the odds aren’t bad.
Give or take structural anomalies like the US’s Electoral College, more than half of American voters signed for a continuation of Barack Obama’s people-centric initiatives. Britons lost out to foreign interference and the first past the post jerrymandering that gave Boris Johnson five years as prime minister with 43 per cent of the vote. Fistfuls of nations are tragically sinking under “strongmen” because of blatant electoral fraud.
We all know that the pre-Covid 19 “normal” saw an ever-decreasing number of individuals – fewer than a busload, though few of them can probably remember taking a bus – accelerating away with almost all of the inherited wealth of 5000 years of civilisation and the labour of an abundant planet’s workforce of nearly eight billion.
We can do better than that. As a cheerful young woman committed to shopping locally as a way of restoring local business is proving this week, we are better than that.
I used a weekend of my deep lockdown to attend a global conference in Los Angeles, hastily but very successfully transferred to Zoom.
Interactive conferencing with scientists, engineers, ground-breaking educators, and poised and generous women who have worked tirelessly between Africa and Washington for most of a lifetime, inevitably gives one a better view of our prospects as a race than we are usually allowed.
Peter Fiekowsky’s Foundation for Climate Restoration produced the first UN forum on the subject at the United Nations last September. A quietly spoken physicist with 27 patents to his name and 30 years’ experience as a global lobbyist for poverty and climate issues, he was among keynote speakers this year.
The language switch to climate “restoration” was a breakthrough in itself, and the science to begin work on large scale carbon recapture from the atmosphere is already complete, he told his startled global audience – many of us up and dressed, if a little owlish, in our respective small hours.
Commercially viable atmospheric carbon recapture would be vital, alongside mitigation and adaptation, in getting atmospheric carbon levels down to conditions resembling those in which civilization developed and flourished, he said.
All it is waiting for is the right global leadership and political will.
So in my world, it’s game on and my What’sApp strings are alive with discussion: books (Lynne Twist’s The Soul of Money is a current contender and New Zealander Max Harris’s 2017 The New Zealand Project another with a lot of useful groundwork), video clips and creative opportunities at every level from microbes to the next world economy.
We don’t need to have all the answers to every issue before starting on solutions. Where’s the fun in that, if you are shut outside the box? But we need to empower leaders who will set out clear and inclusive goals and policies so we can align to a result that leaves no-one and nothing behind. Luckily, there’s a team of eight billion out there to work on the “how”. • Liz Waters