Invest in sustainability or uddermine our future?

Some straight talking from Michael Coote in an NBR (July 1st) article about the Indian economy. Noting the government’s enthusiasm for a free trade agreement with India,  Coote writes that :

“The D-word – dairy – cited by Mr Key in in linking together the wonders of free trade with China and India should give cause for concern.  Recent reports on how the likes of the Hauraki Gulf and the Kaipara Harbour are changing into marine sewage ponds thanks to bovine excrement and fertiliser runoffs show we are being ‘uddermined’ by poisoning our country to feed foreigners.  Yes, we can sell artificially sustained grass-fed dairy products, but no – as Mr Key so painfully discovered as an interviewee on BBC television – we can’t keep lying about our pure, clean and green image.”

I spent a great day at the Ice Ideas Conference on Friday and came away more convinced than ever that we have the people, the ideas and the capacity to put our economy on a vastly more sustainable footing.

Nobody in the room of some six hundred was heard to suggest that selling more and more  milk powder, or raw logs, or any other high volume / low value commodity is going to give us any joy economically, socially or environmentally.

Those commodities will inevitably hit environmental limits and constraints, as dairying has already shown, and trying to create financial capital at the expense of natural capital is a fool’s errand.

7 Comments Posted

  1. If only dairy farmers would consider the idea that all creeks, rivers and streams on their property must be clean enough for children to swim in, then the ongoing idea that all rivers run to the sea, would be pristine instead of heavily polluted. Our harbours could remain a thing of beauty.
    Although I do believe it is all our responsibility to ensure rivers are clean as they flow through all types of land ownership on their way to the sea. Some of the streets I see are awash with litter & oil seepage and this is also a result of too many cars.


  2. Great post, David. Dairying is just a modern gold rush and for the early gold miners anything that got between them and the gold was quickly dealt to. Our Central Otago environment has been permanently altered for the sake of gold and now we are seeing huge changes to the environment for the sake of milk.

    Nick Smith has provided $15 million of contestable funds in an attempt to clean up our waterways. Perhaps Fonterra could see their way to making a small donation to the cause out of their $293 million of post tax profits from the last half year.

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