Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: Fact and fantasy

628 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 3 4 5 6 7 26 Newer→ Last

  • Roger Lacey, in reply to Russell Brown,

    that’s what this site is all about, isn’t it? Silencing people you don’t like. ;)

    Do tell.

    Wow! With just two words, you silenced him with a Greg Johnson ear worm. That will teach him for messing with the Russ.

    Whatakataka Bay Surf Club… • Since Apr 2008 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to mark taslov,

    . From any other angle it looks like our collective shortsightedness.

    There is an element of that , but on the positive side we have had only a very short time in which to soil our nest , and arguably we have become aware of the problems much sooner than most.
    Is it naive or unrealistic to think that we will fix the problems before any other nations do , even if it means a reduced national income (it does not necessarily mean that of course)?

    And to be fair, it is only about 50 years (maybe less ) since we became aware that there was a problem with agriculture. Some farmers have changed their practice in that time but most have not , and a small number have become considerably more damaging as a result of the overstocking that is possible with irrigation , nitrogen fertiliser , purchased supplements, and “dairy support”.
    The last-mentioned class would have been the subject of ridicule only a few decades ago for “buying their production”. That phrase was a synonym for carrying more stock than one’s farm could support.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 343 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Is it naive to think that we will fix the problems before anyone else does

    This is not a finite set of problems, so fixing them before anyone else is not a realistic objective. Billing it as a competition between nations could only lead to shortcuts being taken. So yes. As you previously said:

    that our exploitation of our environment is sustainable

    your taxed dollar • Since Mar 2008 • 1293 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to mark taslov,

    I meant in the context where Godzone has a competitive advantage in the production of clean, green foodstuffs. A free market, such as it is , is necessarily competitive , is it not?

    “This is not a finite set of problems ”

    Possibly; sustainability is not a yes or no . It is always relative until the sun goes out.

    It is not clear what you mean by shortcuts ; the shorter the better , one would have thought.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 343 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    Farmer Green is inclined to the view that an immediate redesign of the dairy industry , in particular, limiting the use of nitrogen , irrigation , imported supplements , dairy support etc to lower stocking rates would have a noticeable and desirable effect overnight. The economic impacts need not be fatal, if an added value strategy was adopted at the same time.

    What we are talking about is the carrying capacity of our soils in their present state i.e. their ability to sequester the effluvia of the livestock carried, so that little is lost to water. Exceed the capacity of the soil , and pollution and economic loss will result.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 343 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Sacha,

    The decline would lag from the previous government’s term as well – but we can only imagine how bad our position will be in a few more years.

    Of course there's some lag, but if National were actually the environmental messiahs we'd probably have seen less of a decline, possibly even a stabilisation. Dropping 14 places in four years is pretty serious, particularly since I doubt that 2008 was the benchmark year. As things stand the current government have done next to nothing about anything related to environmental improvement, aside from their efforts over domestic fires (and I believe a lot of that was actually the councils, as my understanding is that we don't have a national standard on wood-burner particulate outputs).

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3731 posts Report Reply

  • Susannah Shepherd, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    In 2008, New Zealand ranked first among 146 countries in Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index , which ranks countries on the quality of their environmental policies. The report compares international data on criteria like habitat loss, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and protected marine areas.

    In 2012, however, the country slipped to 14th.

    That points to something in the policies, or lack thereof, of the current government. Even if it’s just a solid track record of indifference and inaction.

    Or, as is actually the case IIRC, it might point to Yale changing their methodology between those two studies.

    Regardless of the state of my memory, it does point to the essential pointlessness of these international comparisons. Yale says we're in the top twenty. The study published in PLOS One says we're in the bottom twenty. And as Mike pointed out earlier, you'd be unwise to cite that study as a measure of New Zealand's water quality. I for one find it hard to believe that it's less safe to drink from or swim in the rivers of New Zealand (or some other named environmental disaster areas like Iceland) than it is in most of the countries named as top environmental performers - Central African Republic? Mali? Eritrea? Really?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2008 • 57 posts Report Reply

  • Harry Musgrave, in reply to Susannah Shepherd,

    I for one find it hard to believe that it’s less safe to drink from or swim in the rivers of New Zealand (or some other named environmental disaster areas like Iceland) than it is in most of the countries named as top environmental performers – Central African Republic? Mali? Eritrea? Really?

    I imagine's there's not a lot of fertiliser runoff in those rivers....

    Since Jul 2009 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Farmer Green,

    If no more tourists come to Godzone , would that not be a good thing, cetera paribus , for the environment?

    Largely irrelevant, I think.

    1: All activity damages the environment. The problem us humans have to figure out is how to limit that damage while maintaining a decent quality of life.

    2: Tourism is no more a problem than any other human activity. All humans have always needed to trade and travel and tourism is hardly a new phenomenon. Nor is that going to magically vanish. I suppose we could go back to the days of sail.... If I were a sci-fi writer I'd write a novel in which nuclear powered ships sailed the globe delivering goods and travellers to their destinations, Australian mining was powered by the immense photovoltaic potential of that pile of bone dry dust, and all countries used a particular mix of renewable energy generation to suit their own natural conditions, and some bright spark had figured out how to process nuclear waste and/or cold fusion without killing us all.

    Or, as you wrote:

    Exceed the capacity of the soil , and pollution and economic loss will result.

    Expand that to the 'capacity of the environment', and adjust the inevitable consequences accordingly, and we agree.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1723 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to mark taslov,

    Better rattle your dags ;)

    And I've visited and lived in much worse than Beijing. I still remember not long after I moved to Taiyuan one of the older, wiser expats telling us young'uns that to avoid lead poisoning we should always wash our face and hands as soon as we got home from any trip out to minimise the amount of 'dust' we ingested and eat plenty of brocolli as it's supposed to be good for leaching heavy metals from the system. And when the plane landed in Yuncheng and the door was opened I instantly smelt coal and thought, "Ah, back in Shanxi.... home... sort of..."

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1723 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to llew40,

    <q>air enough Islander, I have not seen the effects of tourism on the West Coast.</q

    Where on the Coast do you live llew40?>

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    ourism is no more a problem than any other human activity.

    I certainly would agree that all Pakeha activities on the West Coast have damaged the general environment (gold mining, coal-mining, forestry, farming in general, and - laterly- dairyfarming -) BUT

    tourism - on the West Coast - has broken small communities in a way none of the other activities have done. It has broken the networks that SUPPORTED environmental protection and/or reinforcement here.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Susannah Shepherd,

    And as Mike pointed out earlier, you'd be unwise to cite that study as a measure of New Zealand's water quality.

    If the fertiliser-use standing is accurate, the water quality implications are straightforward - especially when you consider that we fertilise largely for pastoral applications, which gives us the twin problems of fertiliser run-off *and* cowshit, as opposed to agricultural fertilisation, where the uptaken nutrients are harvested and removed. "General environmental standing" and "water quality" are not automatically linked, but that specific measure is.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    And I've visited and lived in much worse than Beijing

    I respect your courage Chris. When you leave, your insight and expertise of the terrain here and hereabouts will be sorely missed, but I can't deny (based on my current snot blood content) that I won't feel greater peace of mind knowing you and family are safe and healthy in x% clean green ANZ. Just keep Timaru off the cards ;)

    your taxed dollar • Since Mar 2008 • 1293 posts Report Reply

  • Stripe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Oh, nothing. Nothing. :)

    Taipei, Taiwan • Since Jul 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • llew40, in reply to Islander,

    hi Islander

    I live near the Manukau coast. Havent had the fortune of visiting the West Coast for over 25 years, will be rectifying that with my children this January. Cannot speak with any authority at all on impact of tourism on the area. Can speak with some authority on tourism trends.

    Since Nov 2012 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    FG:-
    “The most important thing is that our exploitation of our environment is sustainable i.e. the resource base is not being depleted. And it is equally important that we residents are comfortable with the compromises that are necessary to maintain the altered environment, economy and society that we all wish to live in.”

    CW:-
    “1: All activity damages the environment. The problem us humans have to figure out is how to limit that damage while maintaining a decent quality of life.”


    Yes , clearly there is agreement, and we know , in respect of the dairy industry , how to do that right now.
    Reduce stocking rates ; produce less milk at the peak and more in the trough of the season ; realise a higher price for our dairy products by adding more value (more clean green and fresh , and less milk powder). Reduced stocking rates will reduce the need for irrigation, nitrogen fertiliser , imported PKE , and “dairy support”.

    So :-
    stocking rate regulations in order to incentivise the dairy farmers to think about how to add more value?

    That is a probable outcome of the Horizon’s One Plan. In the short term , a drop in national income as production falls , until the export price received can be raised, returning the national income to its previous level while reducing the overall impact of livestock on ground water ( we are talking about nitrogen in this context).

    Regulations to force dairy farmers to spread the effluent over the ENTIRE area that has supported the production of that effluent , thus reducing the loading on the actual “milking platform” where the current nutrient overload is occurring?

    Regulations restricting imports until the country is achieving some sort of balance between imports and exports?

    Or increase the national deficit/debt and hope it comes right eventually?

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 343 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Seems this will be an issue that will require more debate as time rolls on. The way we all live on this planet is something we all should be turning our attention too. (Expecting our current govt to take the long term view really is a smoke dream.) And putting those currently living on notice, this wont go away because it isnt convenient to deal with it right now. Maybe when this movie premiere thing is over it might be dealt with in a reasoned way. Here’s hoping…anyway.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1149 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to andin,

    There are farmers lowering stocking rates right now , and enjoying greater individual farm profitability from the reduced production.
    So what is the populace prepared to forgo in response to the reduced national income?

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 343 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Susannah Shepherd,

    Or, as is actually the case IIRC, it might point to Yale changing their methodology between those two studies.

    I seem to recall that the methodology in the first one was pretty ropey.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Peter Griffin has a useful post noting that when the Science Media Centre collected up expert opinion on government water quality initiatives, Mike Joy was not an outlier.

    The issue seems to be less our absolute position compared to other countries, but the trend, especially with respect to water resources.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Farmer Green,

    In this regard it must be noted , as other scientists at Massey have repeatedly pointed out, that we cannot have fertile soils without having some enrichment of the waterways.

    At no point has Dr Joy said we should stop using fertiliser or stop making milk. What he has said is that with very little effort we could dramatically reduce the fertiliser runoff (with little or no loss of yield) and prevent shit and piss running into streams (with a small reduction in land usage ie fence the bloody streams).

    This is not a discussion about stopping dairying, it is a discussion about what are the things we can reasonably do to protect the waterways while still maintaining the major economic driver in New Zealand. The problem is that FF and the Nats don't even want to talk. Individual farmers do get it and are willing to make reasonable changes.

    The word is reasonable and Dr Joy is being reasonable in the things he has suggested.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3108 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Perhaps Dr. Joy should be pointing out the economic benefits: it was Massey that published the research on reducing stocking rates.
    Sometimes a negative approach is counterproductive.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 343 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    reduce the fertiliser runoff (with little or no loss of yield)

    Science says that reducing stocking rates in order to reduce nutrient overload will result in decreased production .
    Nutrient overload on soils= "fertiliser run-off" (for nitrogen)
    Hill country erosion = "fertiliser run-off " (for phosphorus)

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 343 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Agreed , but less export dollars = less imported technology.
    Farmer Green’s point is that we have to somehow reach a consensus about how much environmental exploitation we will tolerate in return for modern technological comforts.

    You are wrong on both counts. Our export earnings have very little correlation with how much we import. You might argue that it should but it doesn't. However many economists would argue with you about that as well. This is also a false argument, you are equating protection of our waterways with a loss of export earnings and there is no data to support that.

    You second point is that "we have somehow reached a consensus" which is simply not true. Most people in New Zealand have absolutely no idea what is happening to our waterways. That is precisely what Dr Joy is trying to do ... to actually present that data about the degradation of our water quality. He has also made suggestions as to possible remedies. The Herald and others are busy trying to get him to STFU.

    Until people actually know what is happening there can be no consensus about trading pollution for toys, since at the moment people don't know what they are trading.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3108 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 3 4 5 6 7 26 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.