100% Pure vulnerablity

Well the Greens have been banging on about it for ages, but yesterday another report reinforced our economic vulnerabity to other countries finding out that our 100% pure label doesn’t stack up. An article in the DomPost referred to the Providence Group report “Code Green”:

“No other country tells the world they are 100 per cent pure,” said Providence Report director Dr Sandy Callister. But according to international research New Zealand’s ecological footprint – a measure of the impact it has on the environment – was, on a per capita basis, only slightly behind the US and ahead of Britain, she said. The marketing campaign also created a paradox in a world where travellers were becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of long-haul flights, Dr Callister said……..

“The bottom line driving our economic well being is our ability to make nature work for us,” Dr Callister said. “We are a deeply biological economy and the threat of global warming creates very big risks for the health of our environment and our economy.”

New Zealand politicians were starting to talk the talk on global warming but it’s still in lower case, Dr Callister said. “To date the government and the business community are supportive of voluntary measures. But this passive approach won’t cut the mustard. Already New Zealand is way behind other countries’ initiatives. Our sectoral initiatives and policies are simply not bold enough.”

This is a message that Rod Oram has also been pushing.

Unfortunately many New Zealand businesses and business organisations still have their heads in the sand about sustainability. When I criticised Tourism NZ for forgetting about the environment in their 2005-6 annual report their response was that I was wrong because the annual report was about the past not the future. Now aside from the wisdom of only looking backwards and of thinking that climate change had nothing to do with the 2005/6 year, this claim was false as the report from the Chairman was all about challenges in the future and he forgot the environment and climate change.

This is disturbingly common in government and business.

34 Comments Posted

  1. There’s a letter in the Otago Daily today from a Swiss couple staying on a sheep farm They were disgusted to see cow sewage in the stream from the nearby farm and then again next day… “If this happened in Switzerland…!! (and) NZ’s clean green image is a myth”
    JH

  2. Kiwinuke – you funny – Last I look we got NO say in how gummint’works

    Which is a play on “gumming up the works” for folks not following my little spelling adventure.

    As to both your and BB’s comments, I can’t take either seriously enough to continue the thread.

    BJ

  3. The first response to this post from big bruv (“Really good work Russel..is it the Green parties intention to not only sabotage our primary producers but to totally destroy our overseas markets as well?”) made the entirely reasonable and sensible inference that it is totally the Green Party’s fault that NZ’s economy is not 100% Pure and environmentally sustainable.

    What’s more it’s clearly the Green Party’s fault that people are starting to realise this. It’s public knowledge, after all, that the Providence Group is just a front for a bunch of lefty green economic saboteurs.

    Well spotted again big bruv – make those lefties squirm.

  4. Ecomonkey

    “A society has the morality it can afford”

    People do what it is economically feasible for them to do. It is the government that makes some things easier than others, and this government has made if eminently clear that we are supposed to all become landlords.

    Of course, if you are a landlord YOU do not pay the energy bill. If you are a tenant YOU do not have the right to add insulation to your attic… You probably can, chances are the landlord won’t ever find out, but it isn’t exactly reasonable cause you are just renting.

    Gerrit had a good point about the difference between arguing for something and actually making it possible. The changes required to make rail WORK have to be made and the trains have to run conveniently and on-f’n-time. This government is bad, and the alternative was worse. That is likely to be the outcome we get next election if we ourselves do not lift our game.

    Politically.

    Getting knocked off one’s bike is not a reason for not cycling.

    Are you the sole support for your family, with 4 other people reliant on your income for their well-being? Do you have a couple of small children? It is one HELL of a reason, and around Wellington it is a hell of a risk. People who ride every day have a prang every year, and I am not as young as I was… I heal slower.

    We do what is economically feasible for us as individuals in the environment that we collectively (by voting for these politicians) have created. The pollies need to lift their game. The Green Party needs to put more people in the game. That means doing better at the next election.

    respectfully
    BJ

  5. Hi uk_kiwi,
    Yes I agree, politicians could and should be aiming for specific things such as those you mentioned and much more.
    It is an unfortunate fact that government and politicians are not very reliable and tend only to act on that which they can either profit from or are forced to do by the threat of bad press / revolution etc. That is why I think we, as individuals, also have to play our part and do what we can to enable our world to function in a less destructive way.
    I’m sorry if my reference to ‘sustainability’ seemed intangible and ‘airy-fairy’. What I mean by this is using what we need rather than exploiting the planet’s resources for financial gain, not falling prey to consumerism for the sake of consumerism and ensuring that health & wealth (i.e. a lack of poverty) is readily available for all.
    This I feel is in line with the UN definition of Sustainable Development – to achieve a higher quality of life for all. More specifically aiming to eradicate poverty, protecting natural resources and changing unsustainable production and consumption patterns. More detailed Sustainability aims can be found at the Millennium Project: http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/goals/goals02.htm

  6. ecomonkey said “IMHO, if this were true, NZ would be a very different country than the one we’re currently living in and the 100% pure image would be much closer to a reality.”

    What I am getting at is that politicians could be aiming for specific things- for example stopping farm runoff and the dead lakes, more money for native species conservation, and making sure that DOC gets funding to build new tracks & huts.

    Those are worthwhile tangible things rather than some airy-fairy ‘sustainability’ and impossible climate change targets. Also we live in a very consumerist, energy intensive, money focussed society, like all developed countries. Expecting people to give that up is expecting a lot…

  7. JH said: “People may want to use public transport but not like the skin heads they were hasttled by last time they used it.”

    Is this really a good excuse? One can get hassled by others in any situation, even in one’s own private vehicle or on one’s own front porch. If this ‘reasoning’ were valid, no-one would ever leave their houses for fear of harassment or conflict.

    JH said: “If I ride my bike it will have a tiny effect on global warming and I run the risk of getting knocked off i do.”

    Life is a risk. Getting knocked off one’s bike is not a reason for not cycling. Do we still use airplanes knowing there is a possible threat of crashing or a ‘terrorist’ attack? Or still walk around knowing there is a possible threat of being knocked down by a vehicle when crossing the road? Or eat another meal knowing there is a possible threat of getting food poisoning?

    Every ‘tiny’ effect adds up to a more significant effect. No journey can begin without taking one small step. This is the way of progress.

  8. ecomonkey Says:
    December 11th, 2006 at 5:00 pm

    People may want to use public transport but not like the skin heads they were hasttled by last time they used it.
    If I have some treated timber off cuts..Do I take them to the dump where they will sit in a landfill or burn them (which is illegal) and dump the ash.
    If I ride my bike it will have a tiny effect on global warming and I run the risk of getting knocked off i do.
    JH

  9. Hi JH – I agree in a sense that one can’t always judge people by their actions or in this case perhaps non-action. However, ‘most NZers’ is a lot of people. If so many feel a certain way, it seems odd that all those people do not act in accordance with their feelings/thoughts.

    Given the threat of global warming, the erosion of our daily resources and the level of poverty that still exists and continues to grow in our world, what kind of ‘circumstance’ qualifies as an excuse?

  10. ecomonkey Says:
    December 11th, 2006 at 11:18 am

    UK Kiwi said:
    “As for 100% pure, most NZers are all in favour of clean water, clean air, preserving native flora and fauna, and also maintaining the kiwi relationship with “the great outdoors?.?

    IMHO, if this were true, NZ would be a very different country than the one we’re currently living in and the 100% pure image would be much closer to a reality.
    =================

    I don’t think you can’t always judge people by what they do. A lot of people want to do the right thing, but actions get buried by circumstances.

    JH

  11. Sustianability should include a growth function that allows for changes to the environment to suit what the people desire.

    For example if you want efficient rail travel between Auckland and Wellington make the resources (including land development, powerstation for electricity, powerlines to supply the rail network , modernised bridge and tunnel alignments, etc. available even at a cost to the environment.

    As far as rail traffic is concerned you need to provide a real service before the public will use it on a regular basis.

    Standing in a drafty and cold Newmarket station with the grandchildren, waiting for an hour for a train that we were told was scheduled, is not getting me out of my car.

    I think the adage build it and they will use it needs the rider, build “and run” it efficiently and the public will use it.

    We wont use the Auckland trains again until there is a marked improvement in service and comfort.

  12. UK Kiwi said:
    “As for 100% pure, most NZers are all in favour of clean water, clean air, preserving native flora and fauna, and also maintaining the kiwi relationship with “the great outdoors?.”

    IMHO, if this were true, NZ would be a very different country than the one we’re currently living in and the 100% pure image would be much closer to a reality.

    Perhaps the issue is that whilst “most NZers [may be] in favour” they do not act in a way that supports this favour. It is one thing to prefer clean water, clean air etc – I am sure that 99% of the world’s population, given a choice, would ‘favour’ these things – and quite another to act in a that supports this.

    I have a particular bear-bug about this issue because one of the reasons I came to live in NZ was the ‘100% PURE’ and the ‘CLEAN, GREEN’ marketing campaigns – what a sucker huh! But the shame is that many people fall for this false advertising and end up disappointed. Likewise, many Kiwis fall for it too and fail to, or choose to ignore the facts about NZ’s real environmental and sustainable status. This si more than a shame, it is and will become more so, a catastrophe!

    What makes me sadder, is that NZ is the perfect country to become a real ECO-NATION. All the resources are here and there is much creative and entrepreneurial skill that could be utilised. What seems to be stopping it happening is:
    1. The false ethos that New Zealand cannot afford to INVEST TIME & MONEY in sustainable and green practices and the resulting lack of balance between focus on financial economy and focus on ethical & environmental sustainability. The sad truth is that New Zealand cannot afford not to invest in these practices.
    2. The lack of EDUCATION on real and practical sustainability, ethical & environmental practices. Although I think there may be much taught in schools, in the adult world there is little to educate the masses about these issues. I believe that both government and media are responsible for this.
    3. And last but perhaps most importantly, the PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY we all have for how our country functions. This ranges from voting for the party that will do the most for the country as a whole rather than the party that will benefit one’s personal finances, to cutting wasteful consumerism and instead focussing on the mantra of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. As for the many who refuse to partake in the simple act of investing personally in public transport (by buying a train or bus ticket) and prefer instead to moan about how bad public transport is and continue to drive private vehicles unnecessarily, this drives me insane – pun intended.

    phew – needed to get that off the proverbial chest!

    This is what 100% pure means to me. Even if that is a fluke due to a relative lack of people and not some innate greenness of NZers, it’s still a good outcome, and one which is part of the national psyche for sure.

  13. bj..i like what you say about the banks…

    everyone who even slightly cares about this place should shift their banking to kiwibank or tsb..

    if only ‘cos all the profits the others make..as you said..go offshore..

    (very ‘ungreen’ that..eh..?..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  14. jh – Well said!

    As a South Islander and a visitor-cum-resident in Queenstown (between 1959 to the late 1990’s) I couldn’t agree more!
    I hate to go there now, but still have friends in surrounding areas (who lurk in relatively unspoiled pockets of sanity and avoid the “town” as much as possible).

  15. Just to add, we don’t just borrow tourists as visitors, they tend to stay, and so we have drivers and staff for every nationallity (some not speaking engrish and not averse to a night on the back seat of the bus). Queenstown runs on foriegn labor as not enough Kiwis can afford to live there (or would want to) . It used to be “the jewel in the crown” of NZ tourisim now it’s a congested overdevelopped mess. [Otago Daily Times had an editorial about a big development and it was entitled “Enhancing the Gem”….!!!!?]. Queenstowns growth and elsewhere, is underwritten by cheap oil.
    As we invest in houses with asphalt on sand spits and over farm land, and fill them up with people from external soucres whose populations have been bloated by an ecosystem subsidised by oil, I wonder what the big overall plan is?. In the short term developers using “other peoples money” get rich, and (dirt bag) real estate agents, and it filters down through. At the bottom the rest of the population pay for a roading up date, increased rates etc. If we lived like the Amish we could just plod on for generation and generation, but what sort of economy does the government have in mind for the future? What is our comparitive advantage?. I think it was our low population and the ability to have a lot of space about and grow our own vegetables….Values.
    JH

  16. I’m a bus driver and driving a bus you get a lot of time to muse things over as you travel over the same highways over and over again.
    When I read about calls to reduce co2 emissions I was reminded that my job depends on diesel directly, and indirectly on airplane fuel. I also mused about the number of people who feed off a group of tourists when they arrive. Airline and airport staff, bus company employees, hotel staff, restuarants, jet boat and helicopter operators, souvineer shop and cafe staff, tour guides.
    Rhichard Hienberg in “The Parties Over” talks about the size of ecosystems and how that relates to energy flows through them and that the world economy is essentially part of the worlds ecosystem. If we were all part of a boys toy set he would take the tourist sector out and put all the pieces in their box.
    During the great depression people headed back to the family farm and those who lived on the land helped out city folk. Our governments policy seems to be in effect to “Grow the NZ economy” and “ensure we “make our way in the world” by exporting the Kiwi quarter acre, Kiwi farm. Unfortunately this will work as most of the world is overpopulated . A developer using “other peoples money” can always out bid, someone who wants a large section for their family.
    Jh

  17. Gerrit – This is a personal issue for me, not green policy. Nor am I talking about the low end rentals, though the efficiency of insulation in their houses IS of concern…

    Nope… I am talking about the fact that on a 70K or 80K income a house to LIVE in is realistically out of the question, but a house that I rent to someone else is paid for by the tax break… so I and my family choose to rent, because rents are enough lower than mortgages + rates to make that the better choice.

    I pay my own rent, they pay rent to me, and the bank gets mo’ money to shift over to Oz… because that’s who owns banks here. Now you may want to take this discussion somewhere else, but you’d be missing the point massively if you did. This is a whack that I regularly take at the current administration’s tax policies and it isn’t “Green” housing policy. I haven’t even looked at our housing policy… I am pointing out that there are problems. I offered some solutions in the Dom Post a week or two ago, but I didn’t call them Green.

    First part of the solution is to make the effective marginal tax a monotonically increasing function… better if it is smoothly linear, that’s the goal… but it’s hard enough just to get it monotonic.

    That means that people on 70K who are making ten cents for every dollar of increased income, would see rather more of their earings and people on 700K who at worst are getting 60 cents for each additional dollar, would see rather less. The rewards of working harder would not be so uneven as to be irrational.

    Then I’d want to see the folks who are buying a house to live in get the same mortgage deduction as the folks who are playing investor.

    Do that and I might be able to afford a house, but interest rates become even more decoupled from housing prices. Then nail some capital gains on house sale profits… a big exempt if you live in the home.

    The malinvestment in “rental” property would cease and the market would change shape as a result… investment money would flow to other NZ enterprises. House prices would indeed go down, they have to go down because ordinary kiwis can’t put half their income into a mortgage payment. People like me might actually be able to go through the process of buying land and building….

    At least that’s my theory. Don’t lumber the rest of the party with it though… it isn’t their idea.

    respectfully
    BJ

  18. Remember that most of the tenants that occupy private rental housing would in the past have been housing corp (ie. state) tenants. Do you think it should be Greens policy to buy these rental properties from the private owners?

    Or is Green policy for the state to build new housing corp houses ( with the full insulation) and so unsurp the private owners?

    One way to reduce house prices I guess!

  19. The facade of 100% pure as a tourism draw need only last a few more years, a decade or two at most, as mass tourism will be severly curtailed because of the rising cost of air travel due to fuel costs.

    It is for this reason that (as someone who believes we should reduce or impacts on the environment) from the toruism perspective it wont really matter if the 100% pure slogan turns out to be just that, there are bigger fish to fry. It is inevitable that things will get worse before they get better.

    Turning to Mr Bruv’s point: much of what NZ does it can only do economically because environmental impacts are ignored. Unlike many I dont agree with simply charging environmental polluters, as you ultimately cant swap money for pollution. This leaves me at a loss as to know what could be done, but continuing the status quo will eventually lead to bad things happening.

  20. bjchip Says:
    December 8th, 2006 at 11:32 pm

    Yeah, there are some people who bludge on the rest of us. Always have been, always will be.

    Do you mean property investors BJ?
    JH

  21. Kiwi impact in terms of energy use is offset a little by our use of hydro for much more of our electricity than is the case elsewhere.

    Gerrit, the distance does I think, cancel out takeoff/landing expenses, but short haul air should not be a “feature” of our transport system. Weather considerations and terminal convenience make the use of high speed rail more efficient… if we would ever fix the system in place so that it could operate at speeds faster than a good bike rider reaches.

    Which shouldn’t keep us from insulating houses but our mal-invested economy which encourages rentals means that incentives for actual improvements in energy efficiency are, in many places, lacking.

    UK_Kiwi hits a real sore spot with the issue of “where the profits go”.

    respectfully
    BJ

  22. Maybe the Greens could separate out the issue of climate change and concentrate on the achievable issues facing NZ- if nothing else, it would make the blog a better place- every thread seems to end up about it.

    As for 100% pure, most NZers are all in favour of clean water, clean air, preserving native flora and fauna, and also maintaining the kiwi relationship with “the great outdoors”. This is what 100% pure means to me. Even if that is a fluke due to a relative lack of people and not some innate greenness of NZers, it’s still a good outcome, and one which is part of the national psyche for sure.

    BTW the NZ economy is in reasonable shape until you look at where all the profits go- Aussie.

  23. “a paradox in a world where travellers were becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of long-haul flights”

    Surely not just long haul? Short flights are just as bad if not worse because takeoffs (where a greater percentage of fuel is burned) are more frequent.

    A 737 flying up and down the country all day will use more fuel than (then?) a 747 flying all day to London? I know the 747 has got 4 engines and a 737 only 2, but comparitively speaking here (the 747 carries three to four times as many passengers as well).

  24. eredwen Says: big bruv seems to have adopted the role of “the Official NaySayer’s Cracked Record to frogblog? … (repeating his mantra over and over and over and over and over and … )

    Actually, dKosopedia classifies Big Thug and his ilk as being “Freepers”, and I think they sum it up fairly well:

    http://www.dkosopedia.com/wiki/Freeper

    Whatever you label him tho, be it Freeper, NaySayer, Troll, Little Blue Smurf. the behaviour is just downright boring and drains the energy of this blog to have to deal with him under the premise that he is “just some poor misguided right-winger who comes here to learn about our green philosophies”.

    If Big Thug was sincerely here to learn and work together with us towards constructive solutions for the pressing issues of our times then he would make it his business to read the volumes of policy information and suggested solutions that can be easily found on the Greens web site instead of asking baiting questions like….

    big bruv Says: All I am after is some detail..is that a lot to ask?

    ….that only seek to suck us further into his slimey little game of “let’s wear down the Moonbats”.

    Big Thug, surely you would feel more at home somewhere like KiwiBlog?

    Or are you really David Farrar under an alternative nickname?

  25. The NZ economy? In good shape? Wow… that’s gotta be some good sh!t you got hold of… 🙂

    Lessee… the effective marginal tax goes from 90+% for the poorest who are coming off benefits to 30% someplace in the lower middle class, zips back up to 90+% between 50K and 80K and then drops back to 39% or less from 80K upwards into the millions…. thats healthy right? Handing people who invest in houses and rent them a tax break but not handing the same sort of break to the people who just want to live in one is healthy? Then there’s the problem of a small local market at a large and expensive distance from everywhere else.. offshore ownership issues…. interest rates that don’t affect housing prices because the tax breaks pay for the house or the money comes from overseas… the malinvestment is spectacular… a fiat currency at the mercy of the larger players… dependency on foreign oil and foreign investment, I can’t even begin to catalog the stuff wrong here, but you worry about that single thing you feel you must resent and don’t seem to mind the rest.

    Yeah, there are some people who bludge on the rest of us. Always have been, always will be. You have a good point that we can do better than this than we’ve done in the past, Greens have their own ideas, but if you think we favour cheats you are completely wrong.

    respectfully
    BJ

  26. Big Bruv – the sort of detail you ask for IS a lot to ask. You won’t get it from any other party either, because nobody has that sort of detail in their crystal ball. Within the Green policies there are some missing bits, some really good chunks and a couple of things that need to be brought up-to-date. Concensus building is a slow process.

    (and I can see plenty…)
    You didn’t give us any details BB. Which do you regard as destructive? Why and how? Which cannot be implemented?

    You will have to wait for it until you provide some actual objection to something. We wouldn’t be able to rewrite all the policies here on this blog, even if we wanted to. You want answers? Ask questions.

    I am betting you have some good ones. I know a couple myself. I like the Green answers better than I like the answers of Labour or National or ACT or any of the others…. Fire away…. but don’t answer for us, let our answers be OURS, not yours. You’ve already stepped on our freedom to define our own positions elsewhere. It isn’t entirely polite to do that.

    respectfully
    BJ

  27. Stuey

    Last time I looked the economy was in pretty good shape save for a few thousand benefit bludgers.

    If I ever get elected i am going to:

    * End world Poverty
    * Stop all wars
    * Cure Aids
    * Make it illegal for NZ to ever lose at Cricket

    Before i answer your question (and I can see plenty in that little lot that will not only harm our economy but bloody destroy it, I suspect that may be the actual motive) could you actually tell me HOW you plan to do all those things ?.

    I cannot wait for this…..

  28. big bruv seems to have adopted the role of “the Official NaySayer’s Cracked Record to frogblog” … (repeating his mantra over and over and over and over and over and … )

  29. no, its the green parties intention to save the NZ economy and prevent us from turning into a third world economy by for example:

    * improving the disasterous balance of payments deficit (something like 70% of it is petrol costs)
    * investing the government surplus in infrastructure, inovation and education rather than gambling it on the overseas stock markets in Cullens super fund
    * turning NZ into a model eco-nation so that our branding is actually true
    * avoiding catastrophic resource depletion and minimising climatic disasters by reducing our ecological footprint and sensible land use, e.g. planting trees, water conservation, avoiding monoculture, promoting organics

    go on, name a Green Party policy that you think will harm the economy?

  30. Really good work Russel..is it the Green parties intention to not only sabotage our primary producers but to totally destroy our overseas markets as well?
    Is it Green party policy to turn us into a third world nation quicker than it is already happening?

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