Random Play by Graham Reid

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Random Play: It's Not Easy Being Green-ish

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  • poffa,

    hey my 1st potential customer i have some wonderfully carbon absorbing totara trees u can purchase to ease the burden

    auckland • Since Jun 2007 • 31 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    I was down at a local cafe buying a couple of cakey things. The counter girl put them in a plastic container, and I said, "Oh, but that'll just go in the bin? Can I have it in a paper bag." So she put them in a paper bag and threw the plastic container in the bin.

    I tried.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    <sigh> I'm with you on this one Graeme. No point discussing it tho' lest I be jumped on by the Eco-snobs (they're not all bullies, some just look down their noses at you) most of whom are self-serving hypocrites.

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    It'll be interesting to see how those people using SUVs for the school run assuage their guilt ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    i agree entirely. santimony runs deep, and is easily accessible.

    if you utter the immortal words, "but... i'm a vegan!". the first thing i think is, "food miles" on those fancy fruits and vegetables you need to keep yourself alive in the winter...

    it's the same way i remember anti-vivisection punks in their leather docs.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    We're a pretty accusatory culture at the best of times

    So true, regretably, so true.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    It's OK, your carbon footprint increase is negligible. The bus already runs, so unless you've pushed it over the magical number where they put another bus on, hardly any increase there at all.

    The true magic of public transport! You can let your wife have the rollerblades back in compensation.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • kazel C,

    Hi, Your Carbon footprint should actually decrease. By leaving your home, you will no longer be heating and lighting a home just for one, no longer boiling a jug for one, watching tv etc. Your home carbon output will decrease dramatically, yet the office you will be going to is probably not even going to 'notice' an extra body... being already heated/airconditioned... and the bus is already going that way whether you are on it or not.

    In the UK they have run studies on this and to their horror realised that the move to encourage people to work from home was hugely wasteful of resources. We are all better off catching the bus to an office. Yuck.

    Since Jul 2007 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    What was the old environmental campaign?
    "Only leave your footprints behind"
    Calculate yours here:

    A little political will and wisdom would be appreciated (we live in hope).

    Central Plains Water will save drilling for the ever reducing 20000year old water. BUT will poison our water through nitrogen & the effluent we get while others get affluent. Let’s not open our eyes to the sea water invading the aquifers.

    Our Mayor strikes a Charlton Heston like stance on Fires in CHCH - if he had that charisma he’d stand for Mayor again - just looked grumpy old & bitter & he doesn't have asthma.
    Under his leadership all cycleways work was stopped.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Buggar seemed to cover my tracks there will have footprints shortly

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Nat Torkington,

    I'm (unusually for me, I swear) a free-market loon when it comes to this. Solving the world's climate problem seems like it has only a few steps: (1) measure the harm in a consistent fashion for every action we take, (2) make price include harm, (3) let people then choose the environmentally better course of action because it's also the cheaper course of action. Yes, shipping food across the world might then make it cost more and it might even force NZ to do something other than ship meat across the world--but isn't shipping food across the world exactly the kind of environmentally harmful activity we want to limit?

    Actually, we don't know that it is. We're not even up to step 2 where prices reflect environmental damage. We've barely touched step 1, measuring the harm. We can't figure out what to measure. "Carbon footprint" is a pretty crude measure of damage, and nobody's yet agreed upon where to stop the infinite regression of "but to get the food to the store you need to ship it in a truck and that truck had to be made and the parts for that truck had to be flown in and the aircraft had to be made and its parts had to be flown in and ..." so as to avoid idiotic situations like that one.

    Until then I advocate ignoring guilt other people would foist upon you with their poorly-made arguments about the damage you're doing the world. Do what you want to to improve your effect upon the world, but turning the global course from World Fucktitude will require a larger change than "those who understand the problem and can change their small part of it voluntarily do something".

    (Written from an air-conditioned house in Colorado with three SUV-class vehicles out front. No liberal guilt here!)

    Ti Point • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Pollard,

    Completely agree. Eco guilt is not helpful and risks a backlash which would be even less helpful in sorting out the rather large issues surrounding our effect on our environment. Hard to know how to live your life these days although probably the best thing we can do is vote for the party that has the best environmental policy as well as doing our bit where we can with out becoming an eco martyr.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2007 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    We can't figure out what to measure. "Carbon footprint" is a pretty crude measure of damage, and nobody's yet agreed upon where to stop the infinite regression of "but to get the food to the store you need to ship it in a truck and that truck had to be made and the parts for that truck had to be flown in and the aircraft had to be made and its parts had to be flown in and ..." so as to avoid idiotic situations like that one.

    Sounds like a bunch of nonsense to me, who sold you that line?

    The environmental cost of the trucking/shipping/parts of those things will be part of the charge the company sets for moving your goods. You don't need to figure it out, that's their job.

    All any one company has to do is figure out their costs - that is, their current costs, and their additional environmental costs - whether that be levies on petrol, green taxes, whatever - and charge appropriately.

    The transport company will charge more for long trips that use lots of diesel. The company that sells the parts will figure any environmental costs into the price of their goods. The shops will figure it into the markup on the goods that they sell.

    This already happens with petrol taxes, custom and tax duties etc. Just about every good and service would have a component of petrol tax in it - large or small.

    Doesn't seem like rocket science to me, just another thing people in business have to consider when setting their prices.

    Whether or not it's something that we want to do, is one question. Whether or not it's possible - seems like a silly question to me.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Nat T
    Economics is the answer but enlighted guidence should point the way. This does require govt involvement (maybe not this or the next NZ govt) to achieve sustainability.
    You can't speed for safety reasons - so too environmental rules can prove to be effective as well.
    The carbon footprint is pretty crude, as any frootprint is. But it's a start and this is becoming more sophisticated.
    The footprint isn't an excercise in hypocracy. It's an excercise in measurement.
    No-one is truely off the gridd in NZ (including the selfdeluded treeplanters offsetting their Greek Holiday) we all need to actively work towards a solution. The arrogance of Jeanette Fitzsimon on - my car burns straight crude but I drive better than you to offset this - still burns at the back of my neck.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Did any one see the article in New Scientist linking Obesity to global warming ?

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Raf Manji,

    Some good points here and funny stories (Robyn!).

    Eco guilt like eco consciousness is simply a process of evolution. When you come out the other side you relax and realise that the marketwill solve it way better than any bureaucratic intervention.

    As Kyle and Nate note when externalities (those costs we don't pay for now but will do at some point) are priced into the system then consumers will make their normal purchasing decisions.

    It's easy enough to price in the external cost of say dairy farming since its measurable and can be charged easily (ie levy per cow/tonne of nitrogen etc). Its also a local issue and therefore easy to manage.

    Measuring the cost of carbon is a lot harder and its a global issue which is why its so hard to do much about it. Eventually something will happen but it wont be solved by silly ideas like Kyoto.

    Bottom line: As a consumer you can only react to whats in front of you: price, quality (which includes environmental aspects) and brand (which includes ethical principles).

    So forget the guilt.........worry more about attachment to material possessions but that's another story :-)

    Christchurch • Since Jun 2007 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,


    You're ignoring vast scope of the impacts of Dairying and by doing so pass on the true costs to others.

    Nitrogen is not the full story (it's pollution or production costs).
    The aquifers drained has well passed sustainable levels (if it ever was) and now we invite the sea water in. Drill 80m for fresh water when you're 20m above sea leave and deplete the fesh water, equilibrium will be achieved by sea water intrusion.
    Effluent run off hasn't been addressed and is often ignored.
    The real cost of Dairy is paid is the FREE water used to irrigate the land. Canterbury exports our water (sourced for free) to the world via the Dairy industry. This is not sustainable.
    Free market policies are not sustainable where is NZ a low wage economy v High wage international market. If we truely had a global economy free market (with all costings accounted for) free market might work but dairying would be done closer to market & not in NZ.

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Raf Manji,


    I gave nitrogen as an example of an externality. Effluent run off is another. Work has been done on this in the UK (Jules Pretty at the University of Essex) and NZ (Steve Wratten at Lincoln University) and others are working on it.

    As it happens i was one of the developers of Trucost which is based in the UK but founded here in NZ (see www.trucost.com).

    So just to clarify i believe everyone should pay the true costs of their activity. Where physical limits are required then they come into play also. You can read more about this at my blog.

    Christchurch • Since Jun 2007 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    It seems I've been caught boxing out of my weight division (again).
    What is your position on Canty water?

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Raf Manji,


    I wouldn't say that. I think you made an important point. Water is of exceptional importance, as a raw resource, an input to production and its value as an ecosystem service.

    I think we need to look very carefully at allowing massive abstraction of water for irrigation purposes. It's one thing taking water from rivers that would just flow out to sea but another taking water from aquifers which are losing volume.

    A story today is a reminder. In Brazil a plane went off the end of the runway in wet weather killing many hundreds of people. It turns out that recommendations were made to lengthen the runway many times and everyone agreed. However, economic considerations dictated that nothing was ever done. Ditto New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.

    When politicians say there isn't enough money to do something or it will have a negative economic impact we should examine things very closely.

    Dairy farming should pay its way on all counts and that includes paying the true cost for the water it uses.

    Christchurch • Since Jun 2007 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    One of the things I notice with this whole debate "guilt trip"is that it is always everybody else who must change
    Dairy farming... bad, mining fossil water , not paying for free water etc
    City people using huge amounts of energy cart their food to them and their waste away plus just driving around in SUVs
    The experts flying around the world ( I had to laugh at the woman in the "Listener" who is doing just that while living in an uninsulted house)
    No large city is sustainable
    So is the answer that we disperse to the country and live on a acre section and eat only what we produce or is with in walking distance?

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 578 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Actually dense large cities are probably most sustainable: you can heat and light apartments far cheaper than the equivalent suburban homes and leave the food growing to specialists.

    Specifically wrt to the dairy farmers, if their costs go up, they'll put their prices up - and then consumers will indeed pay. You seem to think that costs will never end up with the end user, but that's actually the whole idea.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,


    Dairy prices are not dictated by cost of production (they'ld be a lot lower if they were) but rather the international market price for Milk.

    The Dairy industy puts the price of milk up on a whim in NZ.

    International prices for water range from (USD) $0.40 in Canada -$1.91 in Germany per M cubed. Nothing is charged to Dairy Farmers in NZ. Although prices of dometic water go as high as $14.68 in some low wage economies.


    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Raf Manji,

    The answer Raymond is that environmental costs should be priced into the system. It's as simple as that. If you have an uninsulated house you will use more energy and pay more for that. If you fly around the world you will pay more.

    As Stephen notes the end user (the consumer) will only change behaviour when the price signals are correct.

    Christchurch • Since Jun 2007 • 14 posts Report Reply

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