SOLO-International Op-Ed: Pike River—It's the Greens, Stoopid!

Mark Hubbard's picture
Submitted by Mark Hubbard on Wed, 2010-11-24 12:57

SOLO-International Op-Ed: It's the Greens, Stoopid!

Mark Hubbard
November 24, 2010

I feel empathy for the families and friends whom the perished miners leave behind; only a monster would have no such empathy. I do not feel grief though, for the same reason I feel no personal grief for the millions of young men who died in the last two world wars: I knew none of them personally, as I knew none of these men.

There have been far too many plastic tears in the reporting of this disaster. The suspension of Parliament tomorrow is farcical – though for quite other reasons I wish they’d suspend themselves in perpetuity.

Following the coverage, many involved have acquitted themselves well—one man especially whom I have grown enormous respect for: that man is Peter Whittall. It’s no accident this great man has risen from miner to CEO. If you want a case study in competency, how to communicate, and simply being ‘human’, then use Mr Whittall as a prime example. His behavour in the media exudes a morality and sensibility of man qua man.

I also think the police acquitted themselves well, despite the flack they’ve taken, with only one error. They took a reasoned approach, as I would have hoped they would, and as Lindsay Perigo states, the second explosion has shown their prudence was well-founded.

But for me there was that one error. I think Stepehn Franks was right. If I am a free man, then that includes the freedom to die nobly, or stupidly (take your pick). There can be no equivocation on this point.

If I don’t want to wear a cycle helmet then, according to reason, I am stupid. But that’s still my prerogative. So long as I am initiating force on no other, then I’m free to do as I want, includng dying stupidly; or, I am not a free man. The same tyrannous morality that stops me doing so, also stops me euthanising myself when I feel my quality of life has gone.

If men wanted to go into this mine to rescue their loved ones, as irrational and ill-advised as that would have been, that was still their prerogative. If the police did physically stop this, then the police were beyond the mandate a free society should have given them.

These are hard questions emotionally, but they are also very simple. (I don’t know if people were stopped from going down the mine: some comments from the grieving relatives would indicate this, but it is merely supposition on my behalf. And it doesn't change the principle.)

So to the simpler issue of where my anger truly lies.

From my empathy for these men and their loved ones there is anger, and the anger is this. This mine can increase the standards of living of us all via the mechanism of free markets and wealth creation. So should it exist? Yes. The mine was known in the industry as ‘gassy’: that is, the coal seam released a lot of methane as it was mined, which is dangerous, despite its being a 'wet mine': this fact caused problems and cost overruns throughout its development, especially around the ventilation system (cost overrun $7 million just on that). Was there a way to reduce the danger of a ‘gassy’ mine to the workers who took out the coal? Yes – an open cast mine would have held none of the risks this mine held, for the methane would have dissipated immediately with no enclosed spaces to build up.

So, why was Pike River not an open cast mine? Answer: the bureaucrats in DOC who place a higher value on a tree, than on humanity, and certainly an individual human being.

It is significant that DOC have felt they needed to put out a press release disclaiming any responsibility:

But their very own press release damns all the bureaucrats involved. Quoting:

Environmental concerns did not compromise safety at the Pike River mine, Conservation Department director-general Al Morrison says. "We set stringent conditions and they met them to the extent that we gave them a conservation award."


"The Pike River mine had to navigate sensitive environmental challenges above the ground, as well as difficult geology below … The company has an access agreement with DOC. Once mining has finished, all evidence of the project has to be removed, such as buildings, bridges and powerlines. Pike River Coal has spent millions of dollars to meet environmental guidelines. It recycles water, has kept its surface features to a minimum and has zig-zagged powerlines and roads around ancient rimu trees."

And, the truly damning part:

"New Zealand has an opportunity to be a world leader in developing `green mines'. Our mine at Pike River proves that it can be done. It was likely any new mines would be underground. In such cases the surface impact is small, the infrastructure is removed at the end of mining and the small areas affected are restored. On the small areas affected, trees grow back."

Well now we know what a green mine does: it kills humans.

So, under DOC’s watch, under the Gaia-worshipping eyes of the bureaucrats, open cast mines will never occur in NZ, and the same wasn’t an option for Pike River. Yet if Pike River had been an open cast mine, all 29 of these miners would still be alive.

Anger should be directed at that fact, which is also the reason why individual liberty is being destroyed, as New Zealand lurches further and further toward Nanny State tyranny: a planned economy built necessarily on the backs of our planned lives, of which this disaster becomes part. And remember the bright side: the trees and snails were all saved.

Mark Hubbard:

SOLO (Sense of Life Objectivists):

Ahem: vindication

Mark Hubbard's picture

In repost to those who were saying my comment about Pike River as an open cast mine was out of order:


The option of open casting the Pike River coal mine remains on the table but will not be considered any time soon, the Government says.


Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said there was a good opportunity to save jobs by open casting the mine.

"The experts are telling us in recent days that this very much can be an open cast mine, the same as the open casting Stockton plateau," Mr Kokshoorn said.

Mr Brownlee said a stimulus package, to be announced next year, would most likely focus on creating new jobs, possibly by pushing forward other projects in the area.

He did not discount open casting the mine, which would involve removing about 150m of rock, but said he felt it was too soon to discuss it.

"While it's known to be 100 percent feasible, and Mayor Kokshoorn is right to say that, I think that is a very big consideration and we'd have to know a lot more about it," he said.

Mr Brownlee said such a move would not require the declassification of Department of Conservation (DOC) land.

"It is land that DOC have a relatively low classification on ...

Note how there appears to be a contradiction between Mr Brownlee's 'low classification' in today's quote above, and the statement in my earlier piece from Al Morrison, Deputy-General of Conservation, that 'stringent conditions' were placed on Pike River. Is someone telling porkies here?

(Cross post to: http://tribelesshispursuitofha... )

Interesting Hilton

gregster's picture

The report conclusions seem overly optimistic, with hindsight.

Higher than 90% chance of Methane anywhere in Pike River seam

HWH's picture

The coal seam has a medium to high gas content throughout the resource area. Methane is the dominant gas at >90
%. The trend in content is variable, however a number of earlier samples have been found to be incorrectly tested.
Typical of seam gas contents is a low Q1 value (< 0.5 m3/t).
Page 8 under heading "Gas and ventilation"

and heres another excerpt from a report by Faculty of Engineering, Underground Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong Year 2006

The mine has been designed to have a minimal environmental impact through:
• Underground mining;
• Access through a stone drive (tunnel) and transport of coal in a steel slurry pipeline (Figure 4); and
• Mine planning to ensure no adverse effects on the land surface from subsidence.

Whatever lame excuse they come up with in defence of forcing this mine underground, the bottom line is that they are culpable of homicide.

Just another symptom of a system that allows pollies a blank cheque on the legislature, the public armoury and taxpayers wallets for the sake of securing their snouts at the trough.

microfilm scanner

Mark ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Don't beat up on yourself. If it is true that Pike River couldn't be open-cast for valid reasons, the eco-fascists would forbid such a thing anyway for INvalid reasons.


Kasper's picture

I knew there was something a miss here... My Shandra making such an argument, wasn't at all possible Tongue

It was Shunda you were dealing with over at NOTPC, not Shandra Smiling

Retort to the Umbrage Taking on Notpc's Cross Post

Mark Hubbard's picture

Mmm. Let me dig a deeper hole.

One of the problems that I see with society at the moment, is also umbrage taking: looking for something to take offence at as a type of emotional bullying to close down debate.

I said very clearly at the beginning of the article I had full empathy for the families involved, including the above poster, obviously, only a monster would not.

I said one of the heroes out of this was the Pike River CEO for the competent and sensitive way in which he responded to the crisis.

Unlike many, I also made the point that I believe the police were right in this instance, indeed, have been proven to be so, and did not deserve the flak they’ve been taking.

But I also said I know no one involved, and this issue does have some interesting issues devolving from it. My main intention when writing it was in respect of the point made in the first part of the piece: that is, there was some conjecture that rescuers were held back – being careful to point out this was not substantiated, however, if so, then in a free society it would not have been the job of the police to stop them (advise them their actions were stupid, certainly, but if they were knowing, consenting adults, then so long as they harm no other, their actions are their choice).

A free society can exist in no other way. I was making that philosophical point.

By the time I got to that, however, there were a number of interviews with miners, such as the one quoted, that pointed to the possibility of this mine being opencast: I was entitled to take them at face value – though if wrong in the case of Pike River, I regret that. But there was another point I was making by way of this for which I need not apologise: much of NZ’s mineral wealth can be safely mined on an opencast basis, and the living standards of all Kiwis could be improved by this. But will it happen? No. Green politics will not let it, most particularly on the DOC estate. This was proven in the recent ‘uninformed’ protests that have essentially closed the mining debate down in NZ completely, for which we are all the poorer. (Just as uninformed Green politics had already shut down a vital part of the forestry industry on the West Coast, seeing many of the last family mills go to the wall).

My point was how environmysticism is denying us all a greater quality of living, and that is a point worthy of someone not directly involved in this - able to look at the issues dispassionately - making.

As to this mine, I could argue – though I won’t – that the CEO’s interview on this was a little confusing, for he started ‘that sentence’ saying it was a shallow mine, but all this is now for the inquiries that will follow. I will only point out there seem to be a number of contradictions coming from mine management, the main one being, in 2010, according to mining experts I have also heard – particularly one from the US - every mine should be safe, there’s no excuse not to be. Well, this mine was tragically not safe.

But for any readers likely to get offended by an individual making a point, I suggest you read to the bit in the first paragraph where I state I have full empathy for the families: then stop reading at that point. If you want some personal advice, if you are grieving, then the Internet is not a prudent place to be, especially the blogosphere; I certainly wouldn’t be here. But as to my opinion piece, this was me making points important to myself about the nature of a free and prosperous capitalist society, and umbrage taking should not obscure these.

Now this further point made, I am going to keep, on this issue, a respectful silence from this point.

Edit. Later post to Shandra (yeah, I never was good at silence, but I'm keeping to the respectful, obviously). Shandra has stated that is it absurd to blame Pike River on the Greens.

My reply:

Only the inquiries to come will finally resolve the immediate cause of this: ultimately it's at the feet of management, for there is that contradiction at the heart of this that this was a 'no harm' mine. Obviously it wasn't, so if management was so wrong on that ...

But going outside of 'immediate' causes, is it so 'absurd' to blame environmysticism?

The Green movement have closed down a vital part of the Coast's forestry industry, seeing some of the final family milling operations go to the wall. That's as irrefutable as the harm done to the forestry industry was uninformed and economically crippling for the Coast. This shows the political strength of environmysticism in our politics, and what clout it therefore must have over mining as well.

Now into an area I enter with trepidation, again, because there are so many unknowns.

From the quotes in this article I gave, from the hubaloo we all witnessed when this government talked of mining the DOC estate, it seems obvious that it is politically unacceptable that any opencast mining will be allowed to occur (actually, any new mines at all): do you agree with that statement?

Taking this further, is it possible that instead of going after easy coal deposits on the West Coast via opencast, which would never have gotten through, the options were thus only to go after deep coal, such as Pike River instead, with its concomitant dangers?

I don't know. I'd be very interested in comments on the logic of that from those that do. And if the CEO is correct, opencast was not an option for Pike River for economic reasons (not environmysticism and noting in that speech he was at pain still to point out the importance of 'environmental issues'), then it appears we can't take the opinions of miners on this topic either - as I have found to my peril.

Spot on Mark! KASS

Sandi's picture

I have a few questions regarding this event.

Peter Witthall maintained on the Monday after the first explosion “I have to believe that there is every chance to get them out alive.” Yet after the apparent second explosion the miners are "confirmed" to be dead. Usually a body must be identified to confirm death. If there is no body then death is usually pronounced as "presumed dead".

There is footage available of the first explosion yet (to my knowledge) there is no footage made available of the second explosion.

KASS work to the Australian journo Ean Higgins, who questioned why Superindentend Knowles was heading the search and rescue.

Why is the local country cop doing it?" Was exactly the question that I wanted to hear a response to.

The look of look of complete indignation, repugnance and utter arrogence on Knowles faces was a real eye opener indeed. This was a fair question and his "how dare you question my authority" attitude was despicable!

This reasonable and fair question greatly offended Judith Collins, who was reported as saying that the question was "disgraceful." Yes Judith, you have spoken like a true NAZI.

Furthermore, as a typical National Socialist reaction to this, no doubt that all future questions from Journalists directed to YOUR Peace Force, must henceforth vetted and approved by the National Liberation squad!

Good stuff Mark

Sam Pierson's picture

If there's any practical way to show respect to these guys it would be to allow again open cast mining, end the 'green mine' fantasy nonsense and let the mining industry prosper!

Yes, it won't change the

Richard Wiig's picture

Yes, it won't change the Greens, Marcus, but it will make other people think.

You have to remember...

Marcus's picture

...that the Greens response to this will be that coal mines shouldn't be allowed to exist in the first place. And I suppose many people will agree with them.

Instead of less environmental regulation of industry - they will be call for more - until all NZ industry is completely extinguished.

That is their ultimate goal. A "human-free" environment.

Good stuff, Mark

Jameson's picture

... a commentary you won't find in any of our national newspapers.

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