OnPoint by Keith Ng

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  • Paul Campbell,

    Of course what we all really want to know is - "how does this relate to the price of blocks of cheese?"

    The Greens really want the dairy farmers to be spending some of their new found wealth cleaning up their environmental act - pushing them from both ends is not IMHO a smart move even if it is populist and able to get the media's attention

    (Mind you the alternative is for the Greens to be pushing the oil companies to drop their prices - I bet the seemingly hour long ad that Shell have just started running pisses them off)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2173 posts Report Reply

  • Jimmy D,

    A Westpac economist recently made the comparison that New Zealanders complaining about the price of milk was like Saudi Oil Barons complaining about the cost of filling up their hummers. Milk is making the country richer, at a low relative cost to the individual. Our other big exports are meat (the price of a cow has tripled in recent years) and, you guessed it, oil and gas. Welcome to the imaginary recession.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    The only place where leadership on climate change can come from is the Greens.

    We are f*@#'d, if that is true. But with it going mainstream it can be taken out of hands of fringe politicians - there is still hope.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    Why would you do that? Why now, at a crucial point when climate change is going mainstream? Why over food prices, which is a media beat-up from start to finish? Why?

    Because they are undertaking a cynical exercise in political repositioning to take advantage of Labours "tax-cuts, get-your-tax-cuts" swing to the right of centre. They sense a considerable portion of the electorate want an alternative left of the Clark led and Key led parties of the centre. They are probably correct.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    But they need to accept the simple fact that most of the people who support action on climate change are not out to destroy capitalism or globalisation.

    Amen. I want to have the Greens in Parliament for their deep understanding of (and not-just-populist commitment to) the long-term impacts of a carbon-costed economic world. But every time I think "geez those main parties are pissing me off, maybe I'll vote in the Greens for that reason" they open their mouth and spout ideological ideas masquerading (poorly) as economic concepts. Tis a shame.

    And those '04-'08 milk prices are extraordinary! I clearly don't pay attention in the supermarket because I honestly believed the "milk is horrendously more expensive than it ever has been" stories. Although "7% above the average of the last 4 years" just doesn't have the ring of "60% rise" does it...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1721 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    I honestly believed the "milk is horrendously more expensive than it ever has been"

    I was in the Post Office the other day and noticed KiwiBank offering mortgages for 8.9%. I thought, that's "not too bad".

    Because when I first looked at buying property interest rates were nearly double that amount.

    The media says we are poorer so that must be right, right?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1616 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Roberts,

    Presumably we pay the lowest rate in the world for dairy products, since our milk is priced at the global rate less shipping half-way around the globe. Although that would be more true if we offshored all our value-add factories: cheese would have to be re-imported, but we would have to ship all the milk not just the solids so transport goes up and local milk prices drop. No more blessed are the cheesemakers if they're stealing milk from the mouths of schoolchildren!

    Not only do the Greens seem to be turning more populist with 'Food Security', but I am troubled that they are turning inward to kiwi angst where they have often brought a global perspective.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Why would you do that? Why now, at a crucial point when climate change is going mainstream? Why over food prices, which is a media beat-up from start to finish? Why?

    A number: 0.31% of the party votes cast in the 2005 general election. That's how close the Greens came to electoral oblivion, and I don't think they want that to happen again. Like it or not, the Greens can't rely on true believers and I'm not surprised they're making a play for red-greens who don't really give a shit about policy wonkage but really want to stick it up the evil crypto-fascist global corporates.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    According to StatsNZ's Food Price Index, the average price of 2 litres of milk in April 2008 was $3.22.

    Man I want to shop where StatsNZ shop. My 2 litres of milk cost me a heap more than that - up over $4.

    The only future I can see in what the Greens have been talking about here, is some sort of post-peak oil future. That is, assuming it becomes less and less viable to take advantage of local production efficiencies around the world because there's so much less ability to transport it, we might have to look at a future where more food gets produced locally, and some of what we export gets redirected into producing what we currently import.

    However, it'd be suited for a long-term think paper, rather than current policy. There's more pressing issues that the Greens can get traction on.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • Christiaan,

    Well with the mess you "moderates" and your capitalist friends have got the world into a little radicalism would be welcome in my opinion.

    London, UK • Since Dec 2006 • 120 posts Report Reply

  • Nick D'Angelo,

    </sidebar>

    If they succeed in having the local price of milk pegged to a local price cap, can we have the same for seafood? We've had to pay 'export prices' for fish for years, making it very expensive. The obvious argument is that seafood isn't a 'staple' like milk/dairy to which I say ... why is that?

    Seafood is a 'luxury' because it is so expensive. But imagine if it was cheaper meaning you could eat it 3-4 nights a week. That would be a lot healthier for our society than the crap we eat now. (Presuming everyone doesn't get their seafood servings by buying crumbed fishsticks at the supermarket).

    Simon Laan • Since May 2008 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Well with the mess you "moderates" and your capitalist friends have got the world into a little radicalism would be welcome in my opinion.

    Really? You might want to justify that a little. Was the Cold War, WW2, Tsarist rule, Fascist, Communist radicals so good?

    Give me moderates any day.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1616 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Seafood is a 'luxury' because it is so expensive. But imagine if it was cheaper meaning you could eat it 3-4 nights a week.

    Would that include abolishing quotas and encouraging industrial driftnets? You know, increase supply and force the price down. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    One other thing the Greens need to get real about is making farmers pay for the emissions of their livestock. As pointed out in this article by an associate professor at U Auckland, animals don't generate CO2 and methane from nowhere. They take it in through their food and release it subsequently. They're not dredging up deeply-sequestered carbon deposits from millions of years ago, they eat grass, that's probably only a few months old. At worst they should be carbon-neutral, and if that article is correct they actually sequester carbon back into the ground.

    I realise that it's good for the Greens to have our farmers become less efficient on the global scene, because of their radical anti-free-trade/anti-globalisation stance, but for those of us who don't live in some economic la-la land it's good that our primary produce is amongst the most efficient in the world.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    The Greens really want the dairy farmers to be spending some of their new found wealth cleaning up their environmental act

    And rightly so. The farm runoff issue is a pretty big one. But the Greens need to work out which farm pollution sources are real, like pasture runoff, and which are just bollocks, like my post above about CO2 and methane emissions from livestock.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    But imagine if it was cheaper meaning you could eat it 3-4 nights a week. That would be a lot healthier for our society than the crap we eat now.

    Throw a fishing line into the sea. It's real cheap.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • Nick D'Angelo,

    Throw a fishing line into the sea. It's real cheap.

    Yes, I do that. And I grow my own vegetables. And I have a stand of fruit trees. And I hunt wild pigs in the bush on weekends. With my bare hands so the pig has a chance ...
    If only the local council would let me keep chickens and a cow - I'd really be self sufficient.

    Simon Laan • Since May 2008 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    As pointed out in this article by an associate professor at U Auckland, animals don't generate CO2 and methane from nowhere. They take it in through their food and release it subsequently.

    I'm no scientist, but this doesn't make sense to me:

    When it comes to methane, it is not clear why methane emitted by farm animals counts as a net source of a greenhouse gas. The emissions from animals, whether from the lungs or the gut, are all produced from the food the animal took in. Animals do not add to the stock of atmospheric carbon and methane, they simply return it.

    He's basically saying that it doesn't matter where the carbon is - ground, plants, cow, air.

    Clearly it does matter where the carbon is. If we burn a big forest, all the carbon gets released into the atmosphere. That's an environmental problem.

    With cows, fertilizer gets put onto the land, turned into grass, eaten, and then released as gas into the atmosphere. The cow and/or its milk get taken away for our use.

    It's only a neutral system if no fertilizer goes in, and no milk/cow comes out. And there's enough green grass and trees around the cow to convert all the gas that it releases back into a solid state.

    Perhaps someone with science qualifications that don't relate to computers could confirm.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    they eat grass, that's probably only a few months old. At worst they should be carbon-neutral, and if that article is correct they actually sequester carbon back into the ground.

    There are many people studying livestock and greenhouse gas emissions, and I've never heard the claim that livestock are greenhouse gas neutral. I know there are plenty of scientists at the CSIRO and other scientific agencies working very hard to reduce the large emissions of methane produced by livestock. I suspect de Freitas is just being contrarian, as he often is.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2136 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Mathew you're right in one sense - but the Kyoto stuff works because carbon is carbon - the atoms of carbon from oil reserves are exactly the same as those from grass - it's OK to release N units of carbon over here if you have the credits from some one who fixed N units over there.

    So people growing pasture ought to be able claim credits for the carbon they are fixing (but not for example for that contained in fertiliser or feed from elsewhere).

    That all works if it's all CO2 - methane's a much worse global warmer (quick web search gives 20 times - lets just assume that number for this example) than CO2.

    So if you're fixing CO2 but releasing it as CH4 then for every unit you release you probably need to purchase 19 units of carbon credits to add to the 1 credit you got for your fixing of 1 unit of CO2

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2173 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    Matthew,

    They take it in through their food and release it subsequently. They're not dredging up deeply-sequestered carbon deposits from millions of years ago, they eat grass, that's probably only a few months old. At worst they should be carbon-neutral, and if that article is correct they actually sequester carbon back into the ground.

    Cows have a heavy AGW impact because methane is 20x as effective a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide and cows eating grass convert carbon dioxide to methane. The grass sequesters carbon dioxide from the air and then the cow eats the grass emitting some carbon dioxide and some methane.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    He's basically saying that it doesn't matter where the carbon is - ground, plants, cow, air.

    Clearly it does matter where the carbon is. If we burn a big forest, all the carbon gets released into the atmosphere. That's an environmental problem.

    Think about the relevant ages of the carbon sources. Trees live decades, if not centuries. Grass, particularly in a pastoral setting, gets cropped after a few months at most. It never gets a chance to be a long-term sink.

    How many millennia worth of carbon is locked into a coal seam or an oil field? That's why it's a problem that all that carbon gets released in a matter of hours when they're burned. Overall the world is a carbon-neutral system, but we're changing the balances in a very short period of time by digging up and burning carbon that's been locked up over very, very long periods of time.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    In the interests of rational debate, I'm linking Jeanette's speech here. It seems that the Fonterra quote was a throwaway jab, in the context of a speech that made a number of other concrete proposals, many of which seem quite sensible.

    Secondly, I too wonder where Fitzsimons got the 60% figure from. I don't think they pulled it out of nowhere, but they clearly aren't shopping at the same place as StatsNZ...

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2136 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    More to the point, is it really Fonterra's responsibility to keep milk cheap for New Zealanders?

    Not really. But at the same time the Greens are righ tto ask what we get out of the dairy industry. They polute our atmosphere, poison our rivers, dodge their taxes, and we don't even get cheap cheese.

    Screw that.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1652 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    yup - Kyoto is IMHO all about not making it worse - what we really need to start doing is pumping carbon (any carbon) back under the ground - want a radical thought? stop recycling newsprint, start throwing it in landfills, same with plastic bags, don't burn old wood landfill it

    We actually want to raise the value of sequestered carbon to encourage making more of it - this will also raise housing and newsprint costs but it will also encourage people to grow more trees and raise the value of sequestered carbon in the form of houses

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2173 posts Report Reply

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