Finally! A political party that seems to be listening to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and others. The latest IPCC report (released in September 2013) was unequivocal: “Human influence on the climate system is clear.” Humans need to take action, the report stated:
“Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”So, which political party was it that made that opening statement?
It was the New Zealand Values Party – in 1975!!!
The political manifesto that the Values Party published then (Beyond Tomorrow1) remains today as one of the most visionary and sensible documents ever published by any political party in the world.
What Was the Values Party
The New Zealand Values Party was scrambled together just six months before New Zealand’s 1972 general election becoming the world’s first green political party. Promoting an entirely new approach to politics, the Values Party eschewed both left and right political doctrines and focused on a zero growth blueprint for the future. Zero growth! Neither the capitalists nor the socialists could tolerate such anathema. But, almost 2 percent of the voting public did.
When it contested the next election, in 1975, Values gained over 5% of the vote. If New Zealand had had it’s MMP system then, this would have translated to four of five seats in the New Zealand Parliament of 87.
Had those few party members gained access to the realm of public decision-making in New Zealand, would we have seen an alternative socio-economic path taken to that of the past four decades? Such a small initial difference may have been just what was needed to make a significant difference in the future of the world.
In 1972 and 1975 the terms “global warming” and “climate change” had not entered our vocabulary. But, the warnings were there.
Warnings from the 1970s…
Just a few months before the Values Party was founded an important book was published. The Limits to Growth2 had, in fact, informed the thinking of the founders of New Zealand’s fledgling political party.
Both the authors of the book and the members of the political party were dismissed at the time as crack-pots, doomsayers or just plain starry-eyed tree-huggers. Yet, those authors and party members may have been the sanest, most visionary and realistic people around.
Today, we know that the authors of The Limits to Growth were correct. Unfortunately, we did not heed their warnings.
… and Solutions
There were some solutions being offered as well. Beyond Tomorrow was 80 pages of visionary alternatives designed to promote sustainability and social justice for the poor and marginalised, yet retaining and enhancing well-being for all.
It’s Not Too Late
There were warnings in the 1970s. There are warnings today. We took no notice in the 1970s. Will we do so today?
1. Beyond Tomorrow: 1975 Values Party Manifesto, New Zealand Values Party, 1975.
2. Meadows, Meadows, Randers, Behrens III, The Limits to Growth ( A report to the Club of Rome), Universe Books, New York 1972.
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