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Hi! I am Deirdre Kent and I live in a retirement village in Waikanae, an hour north of Wellington in New Zealand. For the last 20 years I have been thinking and writing and acting on the topic of New Economics. This site has a lot of blogs about New Economics, including a lot about my last book. However, more recently my passion has been on advocating for Whole Food Plant Based Eating. So here you will find new material on that topic.

Because I am older, I started eating this way for health reasons, although others adopt it for environmental reasons and of course animal welfare reasons. I want to stay alive and I also am glad that eating this way is one of my small contributions to reducing emissions.

I will be blogging here and giving you links to material from the various authorities on this topic.

So enjoy!

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Councils should have power to create rates vouchers

Last weekend we heard from Auckland Council about their dire situation regarding rates. The Herald reported 23 May 2020 that they had “put together a $65 million hardship package for people struggling to pay rates as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. They were also looking at reducing some services temporarily and selling or leasing more non-core assets.”

Mayor Phil Goff “has firmed up a Herald report this week that council stands to lose $500m in the next financial year, saying the council expects to have $550m less cash and it is conducting a review of jobs with redundancies likely.”

Frankly this is not on. As citizens we rely on councils for potable water, reliable sewage, community halls, swimming pools, and without wastewater systems we would have floods every time there was a downpour. After the 2001 earthquake Christchurch citizens told us how important it was to have water. It was more basic than having electricity.

In January Hutt City Councillors held initial discussions about what’s been recognised as a national challenge facing local government – funding the renewal of water infrastructure, with some estimating the investment required across the country to top $17.2 billion over the next decade.

Water supply and effective wastewater and stormwater systems ensure urban environments function properly. In addition, the ‘three waters’ deliver public health, economic and quality of life benefits for communities.

So we solve one health crisis and are threatened with another.

For years Councils have been telling central government that they can’t continue to require higher standards for the purity of water and other services without the matching funds to do this. The burden of climate adaptation mostly with  councils as they struggle to get their wastewater systems up to scratch to deal with more frequent and severe floods, and they are faced with having to retreat from the coast after coastal erosion has made sea walls  impossible to keep rebuilding. The Fox River landfill disaster in southern Westland was the first of many.  Almost 20 historic landfill sites in the Tasman district are at risk of being exposed by storm surges and sea level rise. Auckland has 89 of the 112 landfills nationwide at risk from just half a metre of sea level rise, and dealing with them may come down to excavating and completely moving them.

Then to add to Councils woes, today the Minister for Building and Construction Minister for Building and Construction announced that  Government is scrapping the need for consents on low-risk building work, such as sheds, sleep-outs and carports.

This will allow the construction sector to kickstart important work on larger projects, providing more employment opportunities and assisting New Zealand’s post-COVID recovery. Right, that is less money for already struggling councils.

In summary Councils have too little money for too much responsibility and that includes keeping residents safe from big weather events and from health hazards of declining water standards, rising sea levels, waste pollution.

We are now in a situation where, no matter how much we want to support local businesses, in reality after a first burst of enthusiasm, we are more reluctant to part with our dollars. There is no penalty for doing so. That is the problem. We have a currency that is trying to be a currency for saving and a currency for spending, and in deflationary times these clash.

Councils need another superpower

Now we come to the suggestion. Unprecedented times means we consider what was previously unthinkable. Local Councils have legislative power to levy rates on homeowners, but they do not have the power to issue money. As Yuong Ha told broadcaster John Campbell last Tuesday, the Reserve Bank has this power to create money . “It’s our superpower”, he said. “Just as the Government’s superpower is to levy taxes and change them.”

So if we gave Councils the power to issue money, what would that look like? It could be in the form of a rates voucher, good for the payment of rates to that Council. The former leader of the Social Credit Party Bruce Beetham when he was Mayor of Hamilton in 1976 proposed financing municipal projects with “rates vouchers”, but the council, dominated by his opponents, passed a 20 percent rates increase instead. And the council’s lawyer had also advised it was illegal.

It is time to make these vouchers legal. I believe they should be designed to circulate fast within the council’s area. They should decay like ordinary goods decay. Manufacturer Silvio Gesell in the late 19th century long depression, caught out with unusable warehouse goods in Argentina, while those with money hoarded it or increased their money due to interest, wrote,  “Only money that goes out of date like a newspaper, rots like potatoes, rusts like iron, evaporates like ether, is capable of standing the test as an instrument for the exchange of potatoes, newspapers, iron and ether.”

The Miracle of Wōrgl

After decades of attracting loyal followers during the 1930’s depression, Silvio Gesell’s theory was put into practice, but only briefly.  It was in the small town of Wōrgl, Austria 1932 that the Mayor put aside 20,000 schillings and used them as backing for notes called Work Certificates. They paid their employees partly in Work Certificates. Each note had 12 spaces on the back and a stamp had to be stuck on every month to validate the note. To avoid paying for the stamp people spent the Work Certificates quickly. Locals paid their taxes early to avoid the penalty. The city paved roads, built a bridge, a reservoir and a ski jump. Unemployment declined dramatically in the area – in contrast to the ongoing depression in the rest of the country. The currency was so successful that people came from miles around to witness the Miracle of Wōrgl. But within 15 months after pressure from commercial banks the government made it illegal and Wōrgl went back to unemployment.

Of course nowadays  we don’t need actual notes. Paying in local vouchers can be done electronically and this would probably require the eftpos terminals to accept two different currencies, one local which decayed and one national. I’m sure this challenge can be met.  And in these extraordinary times Government must contemplate changing the laws to make this possible. Otherwise any venture would be short lived. We must learn from history.

Inflation safeguards needed

Of course built into the legislation must be a provision to control for inflation. Fortunately there are two methods of controlling inflation. One is to limit the number of vouchers spent on labour. Wōrgl found that after a very short while they had to withdraw a third of their notes because they were circulating so fast they were causing prices to rise. The second is to adjust the rate of decay. This rate is not just minus 1-2 percent a year. They started off with a -12% rate, which was obviously too strong. So there will have to be  local currency control committees everywhere for this job, perhaps elected.

This would save councils, ratepayers, businesses, and customers precious national dollars. It would provide councils additional funding for necessary local  projects, and be especially useful for paying labour. When our very health is at risk Government can’t go on watching Councils suffer. Nobody wants libraries or pools to close or have limited hours. Nobody wants decaying infrastructure or neglected parks and playgrounds.

Public discussion so far has largely focussed on the huge Quantitative Easing programme of the Reserve Bank  to buy Government bonds to lower interest rates.
The purpose is to increase the money supply and lower interest rates to stimulate the economy.  But the velocity of circulation has been a neglected factor in kickstarting the economy. This can be achieved by designing and introducing this a new decaying currency working alongside the national currency. The local currency has a circulation incentive. The vouchers itch in your mobile phone, asking to be spent The design changes the consumer’s mindset. It is a spending currency. The national currency can be a saving currency.

This new money would stimulate the community economy like nothing else. Local businesses would have to be persuaded beforehand  so that they promise to receive this as payment and then they could pay their employees partly in local vouchers. Councils would have their rates paid and the threat of crumbling infrastructure would disappear.

 

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It’s our Superpower to create money says Reserve Bank chief economist

On Tuesday 19th May John Campbell, host of TVOne Breakfast, interviewed  Yuong Hu, Chief Economist of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and asked him about printing money. If the Reserve Bank is going to buy billions of dollars in Government bonds where does the money come from?

Q. Is Quantitative Easing the same as printing money?

A. Well the process is very similar. But rather than being bedazzled by the term Quantitative Easing (and us economists love throwing around these fancy terms), it might help if I can set the scene. I think the name of the game is still the same. We want to lower interest rates. The economy is taking a big hit right now. It needs all the support it can get. And the central bank can provide that support by pushing interest rates low and keeping them low. So we have got to find different ways of getting interest rates down. Quantitative Easing is a fancy name. You probably would have heard of the OCR. That is a more traditional way of doing monetary policy but we are now using Quantitative Easing. A good analogy would be the OCR is like 10 man rugby – very traditional but Quantitative Easing is (inaudible) backline.

Q. Are you printing money? Are you somewhere out the back with the printer?

A. Metaphorically we are. That’s one of our special powers. Central banks can print money or create money. These days it’s done electronically. We’re in a digital world. It’s not analogue. We are not physically up there turning the crank and the handles and money coming out. If I can I can use a simple analogy. There are retail interest rates like mortgage rates and these set at a margin  above the wholesale interest rates. We pay the retail price. We are  trying to do with Quantitative Easing is to lower the wholesale interest rates in the economy, in this case Government Bond rates. Then banks can pass on the lower rates and this will lead to lower mortgage rates and lower business rates.

Q. Yes but can I come back to my obsession? But you are creating money. Who gives you the right to do that? Who says you can?

A. Well the Government does. I mean it’s written. It’s our superpower if you like. Legislation says that. All central banks have that power, just like Government has the power to levy taxes and change taxes. Central banks have the power to create money.

Q. When the Government eventually repays you what happens to the money?

A. It gets unprinted. When that money gets repaid, it sits on the Reserve Bank’s balance sheet and we just metaphysically destroy it by undoing it with a few keystrokes.

Q.  It just ceases to exist. Boy. You can see how people get confused by this, can’t you?

A. I think people get confused by the Quantitative Easing. To the uninitiated it feels astounding, but central banks actually do this on a daily basis. We have been in the business of creating money for years. There is nothing untoward about it. We have done this for many decades. It’s just that it has grabbed all the headlines. It’s like finding out you can lift the line-out jumper.

End of interview

My take on this is that he didn’t spell out the mechanism by which interest rates are lowered. I understand from a letter that Grant Robertson wrote to Amanda Vickers that buying bonds on the secondary market, that is from banks in NZ and overseas, pension funds and other institutions is the method they prefer because it lowers interest rates, or is supposed to.

However my belief is they should buy bonds directly from Treasury because it then Treasury has a debt to another branch of Government and the debt can just lie on the books. There is no need for repayment. This is the big difference between what they are doing now and what would be best for taxpayers. I read that Grant Robertson and those in RBNZ have not ruled out this possibility. It is just that they had better get on with it because one bank economist estimated the other day that RBNZ is buying at a rate of $1.1 billion a week.

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The Minister of Finance replies to a plea to use monetary financing

Amanda Vickers of Waikanae wrote in March to the Minister of Finance and here is his reply.

16 April 2020

Amanda Vickers 

Dear Amanda

Thank you for your email on 27 March 2020 regarding the Large Scale Asset Purchases (LSAP) programme. In particular, I note your suggestion that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand buy bonds directly from the Treasury rather than using the secondary market.

On 23 March the Reserve Bank announced a LSAP programme of purchasing New Zealand Government bonds on the secondary market. This followed the Monetary Policy Committee’s decision that further monetary stimulus was needed to meet its inflation and employment objectives in the light of intensifying economic implications of the coronavirus. The programme will purchase up to $30 billion of New Zealand government bonds, across a range of maturities in the secondary market over the next 12 months.

The LSAP programme is designed to help the Bank meet its economic objectives of keeping inflation low and stable and supporting maximum sustainable employment. The Bank would normally do this by changing the Official Cash Rate (OCR). But the OCR is currently at an historic low of 0.25 percent, therefore it is using LSAP as another tool to lower interest rates.

While central banks have the option to purchase bonds directly from government treasuries, the Reserve Bank is currently making its purchases in the secondary market. Doing so can influence the bond markets to reduce longer term interest rates thereby reducing the cost of borrowing for households and businesses. It will also enable the sellers of assets to use the money they receive from the Reserve Bank to switch into other financial assets, such as new lending. These are effects that could not be achieved through the direct purchase of government bonds from the Treasury.

The Reserve Bank will continue to follow developments and has the option to take further action to support stability in New Zealand’s financial system – such as widening the asset classes that could be purchased under LSAP. Purchasing Government bonds directly from Treasury is one such option that could be taken up by the Monetary Policy Committee if it were deemed appropriate and consistent with financial system stability.

Thank you for your interest and taking the time to raise your views.

Yours sincerely

Hon Grant Robertson

Minister of Finance

 

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This is a better way to raise all those billions Grant!

Recently I wrote to the Minister of Finance the following letter. I have not had a reply or an acknowledgement of receipt to date (ten days later)

18 April, 2020

 

Hon Grant Robertson

Minister of Finance

Parliament Buildings

Wellington

 

Dear Grant,

In the middle of all the work you and your teams are doing, you and Adrian Orr are about to make a decision that will greatly affect the lives of New Zealanders for years to come. You have to decide how you will borrow a great many more billions (we understand Parliament has authorised up to a total of $52 billion) to fund necessary infrastructure and government support.

Those of us who have family including grandchildren and great grandchildren don’t want them as future taxpayers to be beholden to some massive overseas finance institution like the Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase or Goldman Sachs and paying interest and capital back year after year.

WE WANT YOU TO DO WHAT THE GOVERNOR OF THE BANK OF ENGLAND HAS JUST DONE – TO FUND IT, OR AT LEAST PART OF IT, BY MONETARY FINANCING. THAT MEANS THE RESERVE BANK BUYS BONDS DIRECTLY FROM TREASURY AT ZERO INTEREST.

See this article from the latest (18 April) Economist where Andrew Bailey changes his mind within four days and says “it is better to be right than be consistent”.

As you know with deficit spending there is no great hurry to pay the principle as the overdraft could just sit on the central bank’s balance sheet for as long as the Government wants.

We don’t believe it is necessary to wait until public opinion is strongly behind this move, but we are working hard to extend and strengthen the coalition of organisations and prominent economists behind this move.

The following organisations or individuals that support this move appear to include Social Credit, Positive Money, Living Economies Educational Trust, Bernard Hickey, Shamubeel Eaquab, Geoff Bertram and yesterday BERL Ganesh Nana said on Morning Report the following:-

Economist Ganesh Nana of BERL. Morning Report 16 April 2020. Second half of interview. 

“Government must underpin economic activity. Government is the backstop, both central and local government. It is important not to go down the austerity track. Government debt is not always bad there are ways we can borrow and we use and others have used the term “helicopter money”. Government can borrow from The Reserve Bank. It is literally borrowing from itself. I noticed that many in New Zealand have an allergy to government effectively printing money. It has consequences but it is an element that government should not only explore but utilise. There are implications of course – you are running down the value of those who have assets. The value of my mortgage free house might decline a bit. And you benefiting those who have mortgages and other debts. We should not close off all the options just because someone told us 30 years ago it was bad.”

Question: Could you please ask Treasury to estimate the difference in the cost of the two alternative measures and publish the outcome? We as the public need to know.

 

Sincerely

Deirdre Kent, author of Healthy Money Healthy Planet – Developing Sustainability through New Money Systems and The Big Shift – Redesigning Money, Tax, Welfare and Governance for the Next Economic System

 

 

 

 

 

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Rebooting the Economy for Justice and Sustainability

Here is my recipe for what Government must do to revive the economy after the coronavirus.

  1. Have a Debt Jubilee. Our private debt has been growing steadily, fuelled mostly by the housing bubble. It has been going up since the GFC in 2008 and recently flattened out. So how does private debt get relieved? By a one- off handout to all citizens. Australia after the GFC was the only country to not to go into a recession after the GFC, largely because it gave $1000 to all who had paid tax. The handout was reduced for those receiving higher salaries and those receiving $100,000 or more didn’t get one. In addition they doubled the handout to first home buyers. Those receiving it must pay off their debt with it as a first action. Of course this should go to everyone with a bank account not everyone who had paid tax the previous year as it clearly omits those who care for children without pay or who care for elderly.
  2. Because the virus has exposed the huge poverty and homelessness in New Zealand, it is critical to address the housing issue. So far we have had the wrong approach. The large gap between rich and poor is largely the result of “the getting on the housing ladder” phenomenon. Those who own houses have seen their net wealth increase because the price of houses rises. Recently the best way to invest money is to buy property. The price of houses rises due to a. The building of government infrastructure like railway, hospitals or schools. b. Local government infrastructure like roads, buses, sewage, water, underground rail. c. Natural features like rivers, elevation, lakes, climate. d. Commercial activity in the area. e. Neighbours building. In other words society as a whole is responsible for rises in house prices. The capital gains belong to society not the individual land owner. Of course the building value doesn’t increase it is actually the land value that increases. Land Value Tax is the obvious solution but the nearest thing we have now is the rates let’s look at that. Unfortunately if we have got into the practice of striking rates on the capital value of the house so we disincentivise building. So one of my first actions would be to legislate to require all councils to strike rates on land value alone (or unimproved value). This would also stop urban sprawl. I also think rates should be levied as a percentage of land value, and this should be raised at the same time as income tax and GST are phased out. GST is regressive and income tax is plain illogical. And you could reduce the cost of resource consents which would make it cheaper to build. While talk of a wealth tax is easily understood, it should be for using land and other natural resources not that acquired through entrepreneurship or hard work. This action would also divert investment towards useful businesses. Most investments in NZ now are property because our tax settings have encouraged it.
  3. The third thing I would do would be immediately would be to establish a public bank like the Bank of Dakota to fund infrastructure. Alternatively the Social Credit leader and many economists have talked about the Reserve Bank buying Government Bonds at zero interest from the Treasury. I am not sure which of these would be better.
  4. You may have thought that a UBI should have been first on my list. No, it’s not because if it is funded the wrong way it is disastrous. For example by putting up GST or income tax – wrong. UBI should be thought of as “sharing the rents”. People are getting back what they are entitled to. In other words our real wealth is our land, our water, our fisheries, our forests, the air. Those who monopolise more than their share should compensate the rest of society. Carbon taxes and pollution taxes fall into this category as well as land, which is the big one. But also tax on natural monopolies, like the monopoly to create the country’s money which the banks have.
  5. Legislate to allow councils to create a local currency with a circulation incentive. The law would also require the more well-off local people to back the currency with national currency and a committee to ensure there was no inflation. This currency is strictly for spending and is not a saving currency. It may be that government itself could issue this currency, since it would be simpler to alter all EFTPOS machines to accept two currencies and we are a small country.
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Why I no longer eat dairy

At first I was convinced by the whole organic milk argument and for years I had it delivered. I had been convinced by Sally Fallon, President and founder of the Weston A Price Foundation. l made my kefir from it and gulped it down as though there was no tomorrow, to  the consternation of my doctor daughter. Kay Baxter from the Koanga Institute sold us Sally Fallon’s book (and thank heaven I wasn’t attracted to the idea of eating a lot of raw offal, something the book was keen on). But the raw milk argument seemed logical at the time.

I also suffered from a congested nose most of the day and had to sniff something up my nose at night time to stop it from blocking. I also took a drug to prevent nighttime asthma. I also found I had low bone density. Mmm. Hold that thought.

Then at the beginning of 2019 I visited Dr Luke Wilson for a second opinion. I asked him how to reverse my heart disease and get off all these medications. He recommended I look up Dr Caldwell Esselstyn online and I there began my journey to Whole Food Plant Based eating and researching.

So I stopped the milk and replaced it with oat, soy or rice milk.

OK so here is why dairy is unsuitable:

  1. Milk is not actually designed for human consumption. It is designed to help a baby calf grow rapidly 650gm a day for 10-12 weeks before weaning.
  2. Dairy doesn’t prevent bone fractures. It is misleading propaganda of the dairy industry that it strengthens bones and the Ministry of Health, because New Zealand is so dependent on dairy exports, doesn’t do anything to correct this information. So our public remains chronically misinformed.Animal products makes the body acidic and since the body needs to function healthily within a very narrow pH range when the pH gets too low the body looks around to find something to neutralise the acid. So the bones are depleted.One good description of the mechanism for this is from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website. “Animal protein tends to leach calcium from the bones, leading to its excretion in the urine. Animal proteins are high in sulfur-containing amino acids, especially cystine and methionine. Sulfur is converted to sulfate, which tends to acidify the blood. During the process of neutralizing this acid, bone dissolves into the bloodstream and filters through the kidneys into the urine. Meats and eggs contain two to five times more of these sulfur-containing amino acids than are found in plant foods.
  3. Cheese is worst of all. In his book The Cheese Trap Dr Neal Barnard of Physicians for Responsible Medicine says that cheese is
    1. High in calories
    2. Food fat adds to body fat
    3. Fat slows metabolism
    4. No fibre in cheese to control appetite
    5. It is high in sodium and that means body soaks up water.

     

    As if this wasn’t enough, I know the nitrogen runoff from our dairy farms are polluting our rivers and growing cows to drink their milk involves methane emissions, not to mention the nitrous oxide that comes from the cow puddles.

    And I have read nutritionist T Colin Campbells’s lifetime work showing that casein is a good medium for cancer cells to grow. I know we have a great many cancer cells in our bodies at any one time and the issue is whether or not they will grow.

     

    Now I no longer need medications for blocked noses and although I missed blue vein cheese for a while, I now longer want dairy. Sometimes when I forget to take a little plant milk with me, I still succumb to a little cow’s milk in my tea, but half the time I just have it without milk.

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What’s in Meat and why I don’t eat it

8 slices of roast lamb, a lot of potatoes, parsnip and pumpkin roasted no doubt in animal fat and peas and carrots underneath. Bargain at $19.

Today I agreed to help a friend who couldn’t drive by buying her regular roast meal from a local shop and delivering it to her for her dinner. Knowing I was vegan she checked out if it was OK by me to do that for her. Yes it was.

But during the afternoon I felt a little uneasy and so I began to work out why I didn’t eat meat. So I did some online research and wrote the following–which I ended up not giving her because if she read it she might not get her money’s worth. Here it is, though I have probably left out heaps of reasons:

What’s in Meat and why I don’t eat it

Heme iron. Often described as being good because it is more easily absorbed than non heme iron, heme iron is actually now thought of as harmful because once ingested and absorbed, the body has no mechanism to remove excess iron. This causes oxidative stress and heme iron has been linked to metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, type2 diabetes, Alzheimers disease, arthritis, cancer and other serious medical conditions.

Neu5Gc. This may pose a significant health risk. The immune system recognises it as a foreign threat, producing antibodies to it and setting up chronic low grade inflammation. Neu5Gc has been linked to cancer as well as cardiovascular and other inflammatory diseases.

Endotoxins. Endotoxins are one of the most important bacterial components contributing to the inflammatory process. The high bacteria load in animal foods may trigger a surge of inflammation, which may be exacerbated by the presence of saturated animal fat.

Cholesterol  100 gm of lamb has 97 mg cholesterol. Your body makes enough cholesterol for you and you don’t need extra.

Saturated fat “Nutritionists agree an excess of saturated fat in the diet is the main cause of high blood cholesterol. 100 gm of cooked lean lamb has 10.3gm saturated fat” (quote from Beef and Lamb NZ)

Animal protein. An average woman needs 46 g of protein a day. 100gm of cooked lamb has 25 g of protein. Protein is not the key to weight loss – it is actually one of the biggest factors behind the obesity epidemic. Animal protein is not the healthiest food we can eat. It is strongly associated with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer. Westerners probably eat double the amount of protein needed.

Carnitine. When people digest meat a substance called TMAO (Trimethyl amine oxide) is formed in the body as a gut bacteria by-product. (The exception is when vegans eat meat because their gut bacteria is different, but this protection only lasts briefly if they continue meat.) People with higher levels of TMAO in their blood may have more than twice the risk of heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular problems, compared with people who have lower levels. Other studies have found links between high TMAO levels and heart failure and chronic kidney disease. High levels of TMAO in the blood have been shown to be a powerful tool for predicting future heart attack, stroke and death risks.

Many or all these inflammatory agents damage the lining of your arteries. Atherosclerosis associated with high dietary intake of meat, fat, and carbohydrates remains the leading cause of mortality in the US. This condition results from progressive damage to the endothelial cells lining the vascular system, including the heart, leading to endothelial dysfunction. Moreover the endothelium can’t produce enough nitric oxide which relaxes the inner muscles of the blood vessels, causing them to widen, stay slippery and smooth and increase circulation. Once there is damage to the lining of the artery, cholesterol passing by sticks to it, forming unstable plaques. Artery disease affects the heart, kidneys, lungs, lymph system, back, brain, sexual organs. Blood has to get unimpeded to all the body.

Compounds containing sulphur-containing amino acids

This quote is from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website. “Animal proteins are high in sulfur-containing amino acids, especially cystine and methionine. Sulfur is converted to sulfate, which tends to acidify the blood. During the process of neutralizing this acid, bone dissolves into the bloodstream and filters through the kidneys into the urine. Meats and eggs contain two to five times more of these sulfur-containing amino acids than are found in plant foods. Consuming meat leads to calcium loss which can lead to bone fractures”…” A 1994 report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that when animal proteins were eliminated from the diet, calcium losses were cut in half.”

Climate change While it is not so climate-damaging as beef, growing lamb produces more emissions per calorie or per gm of protein than growing ,any plant protein.

 

Sources. Websites of Health Heart Harvard, nutritionfacts.org, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, Dr Garth Davis

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Is arthritis pain just a matter of luck as you get older?

So many people I know have arthritis. One says her toes are all misshapen gnarled and twisted from it, another told me I was lucky I didn’t have any arthritis pain and yet another told me about her sore shoulder and the fact that the other shoulder already had a joint replacement. My neighbour had a knee replacement last year and goodness knows how many people I know with hip replacements. And we oldies take it all for granted, as though none can be prevented. The hospital waiting lists are long and the cost to the country keeps growing.

Well I didn’t know whether to say it on any of those occasions, but my arthritis pain in my fingers, sternum disappeared very soon after  I adopted a fully plant based diet early last year. If I had no doubt they would say I was just lucky or it was just a coincidence.

I understood from something I had seen on youtube that the lumps don’t disappear, the better diet doesn’t reverse the damage that has already happened but at least I was getting no more pain. But also, ringing in my ears is always the rhythmic sentence that Dr Michael Klaper says so fast. “When we adopt a wholefood, plant-based diet  the obesity melts away, the arteries open up, the blood pressure comes down, the insulin reception clears out, the asthmatic lungs stop wheezing, the skin clears up and the joints stop hurting.”

So today I was curious to find if there were any appropriate scientific papers. I went to nutritionfacts.org. There was one that said those who ate more dairy products were more like to need hip replacement surgery. Then I went to the site of the Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine and found one on the effect of fibre. “Those who consumed the highest amounts of fiber from the OAI and Framingham studies had a 30 percent and 61 percent lower risk for knee arthritis, respectively, compared with those who consumed the least. Researchers contribute the reduced risk to fiber’s role in lowering both BMI and inflammatory compounds in the blood”. (Not surprising when you realise that meat, dairy and eggs have absolutely no fibre.)

Then I did a google search on “osteoarthritis whole foods plant based” OK  –so it now looks as though there have been at least one study on the effect of a plant based diet on osteoarthritis. There is  one in 2019 published in an Arthritis journal lists all the anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants in various plant foods which could explain the reason pain is reduced on a plant based diet and the disease doesn’t advance so fast. It concludes “A whole food plant-based diet (WFPBD) has been shown to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis by reducing risk factors such as obesity, metabolic syndrome and Type II Diabetes.”

No doubt there will be more studies published.

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Meat and aviation industries use cute ways to measure emissions

When it comes to telling the public about their emissions, the aviation industry keeps telling us how much their efficiency has improved. That is they can fly further on a certain amount of fuel. But what they don’t tell us is that their capacity keeps increasing so much that overall their emissions increase. The planes are bigger, they have more routes and there are more planes flying.

The meat and dairy industries have been doing this too. When the scientists at FAO calculated the emissions from the livestock industry in 2006 and found them to be 18% of total global emissions, the industries didn’t take it lying down. Here is a piece from the GRAIN website (GRAIN is an international organisation of small farmers)

“The FAO was blasted by the meat industry after it released a report in 2006 putting livestock’s share of global GHG emissions at 18 per cent. “You wouldn’t believe how much we were attacked”, said Samuel Jutzi, director of the animal production and health division of the FAO.[22] The FAO soon buckled under the pressure and agreed to establish a partnership with the meat industry’s main lobby groups to jointly reassess emissions from livestock.[23] Both the partnership’s Steering Committee and its Technical Advisory Groups are dominated by representatives of meat companies, their lobby groups and scientists funded by meat and dairy companies.

As a result of the FAO’s partnership with industry, it has shifted its focus towards a narrow assessment of “emissions intensity”, in which GHG emissions are examined per unit of output (per kg of meat, litre of milk or unit of protein). Measured this way, animals that are intensively raised for maximum output of meat and milk—by a few million farmers mostly in the US, Europe, Brazil, New Zealand and a few other rich countries—have a lower “emissions intensity” than the animals of poor farmers, which are raised for many more uses and without access to the high protein feed, antibiotics, growth promoters and hormones used by intensive livestock industries. Poor farmers are thus said to suffer from an “emissions intensity gap” and should be pushed into what is termed “sustainable intensification” or, more broadly, “climate smart agriculture”.[24]

So like the aviation industry, for “emissions intensity” read “efficiency”. More efficient but more capacity for doing it!

Unfortunately the difference is that the meat and dairy industries have persuaded the FAO to do this too so we all get figures that are skewed and only a small proportion of the population is even aware that meat and dairy contribute to emissions, particularly big meat and big dairy.

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New Zealand’s agricultural emissions are high

Nearly half of New Zealand’s emissions are from livestock. A shocking 46.1% for the year 2012 as calculated by the Ministry for the Environment. (MfE). A large proportion of this comes from beef and to a less extent sheep. The MfE paper tells us tells us that in 2012 we had 6.4 m dairy cattle, 3.8m beef cattle, 3.1 m sheep and 1 m deer. So a total of 14.3m ruminant livestock.

So I read their paper calculating our emissions, or more accurately skimmed through it, reading the less technical parts of it as it is hundreds of pages long. I was looking for indications of what Global Warming Potential they were using for methane. It was only when I was reading a book by Richard Oppenlander that I saw the statement that methane is 72 times as powerful as carbon dioxide over a 20 year period and checked this out with Prof James Renwick of Victoria University. Yes he said that is the figure that scientists are taking now.

I finally discovered on a Stats NZ site that we do calculate our methane contribution with a GWP of 25 and once again questioned the climate science professor. He answered,

“Yes a GWP of 25 sounds right as they’ll be using GWP100. That’s still the standard under .the UNFCCC so is how we are required to report emissions (as I understand things), even though the science has clearly moved on to the two baskets approach. ”

But then I asked him if I was right to say the percentage contributed by agriculture would rise if methane GWP was 72, and he said no it would fall. So I was wrong, the headline above is misleading now and I will change it.

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