Dame Anne Salmond says it so much better than I could in the Herald today.
Also I see Internet Mana have a good clean water policy now too.
Water is life!
And this from Bernard Hickey on the environment/economy thing.
Prime Minister John Key said such a target was unrealistic and would cost billions to achieve.
"Swimmable is a very, very high and expensive goal. If we were to make that the national standard it would have an enormous impact on the cost for rate payers - billions I think," he said in July.
What are the numbers on this that aren't pulled out of John Key's proverbial? The simpler measures of fencing waterways and planting trees along them don't sound that costly, and are probably in many ways economically sensible in the interests of preventing erosion, maintaining soil quality (purely counting its fertility, not the wider measure of its level of pollution), and preventing stock losses.
Rivers clean themselves if they are allowed to flow free and the pollution sources are stopped. Stopping pollution and who pays to do that are political decisions. But can be done. I fear that fencing and planting of waterways is only a small part the solution when soils are overloaded and fragile, large quantities of water are diverted for irrigation, and businesses are allowed to use waterways as drains.
Thanks, Hilary. That was a nice contrast to reading Ian Mackenzie's scaremongering this morning, very specifically referring to Mike Joy as someone who farmers should fear as some kind of irrational environmental communist, or something like that.
Key probably imagines compensating every farmer for lost future herd increases or some such nonsense. Just like handing them public money to fence their stream boundaries.
He's also been called 'the academic Green Taliban' by an unpleasant oily thing in the news recently.
Mike Joy told me not to hunt whitebait because they are heading for extinction. So I don't hunt whitebait or short fin eels. I just like looking at them.
Swimming in the river with my family, is way down the list of concerns I have about water quality. It might be good to get district councils to run aquariums to show case our native fish, for children to get there environmentalist teeth into.
water running to the sea is just wasted draws an indignant response. ‘What about the cultural value, the swimming, the eels?’
For a really good example of this read about the Colorado pulse flow where they managed to get permission to let water flow to the sea again. The public response was impressive.
The problem I have is that while some parties have good scientific policies on water, there are other places where the policy is unsupported by any data at all.
While it's really clear to me that voting for National is terrible for the environment it is less clear that the other parties have consistent enough policy making to actually do good. And especially with the environment the obvious answer is often not the right answer. It's great to be well intentioned but not so great when you are not flexible enough to change position when new data comes along.
So yeah I'll do my best to vote for water but I would be much happier to vote for evidence-based policy.
The National have a bag of cash to buy and fence waterways. What is to stop this purchase being sold off to their wealthy mates in the future?
I just don’t trust these bastards.
A common political response is that we can’t afford to clean up the rivers as dairying and industry is too important for our GDP
"Political" is right
You mean you don't vote on emotion?
This new website Ours has a good comparison of party policies on a range of issues including the environment ours.co.nz http://www.ours.co.nz/cheatsheet/
You mean you don’t vote on emotion?
Well disgust is an emotional response and it certainly has influenced my vote :)
And especially with the environment the obvious answer is often not the right answer.
interested in examples when you have a moment
So a simple specific example: electric cars are good for the environment, right? Well it's more complicated, the batteries used in the cars use rare earth metals whose mining is very damaging to the environment but that occurs far away. And given the relative efficiency of modern internal combustion engines then throwing out a functional combustion engine to replace it with a new electric car bears the massive fabrication costs in both energy and pollution.
But all that said if we don't start actually using electric cars we'll never develop the infrastructure to make them truly viable.
So it's probably worthwhile ... maybe, providing we really can increase efficiencies, lifetime of batteries etc.
A more general example is any intervention in ecosystems - because as we have been discovering over time linkages are non-obvious and complex. One typical mistake is to assume all exotic species harm the indigenous environment. Pinus radiata is a good example of an exotic, surely it would be good to replace pine forests with natives, but that would almost certainly turn NZ into a net importer of wood rather than a net exporter, that would almost certainly result in the wood we would have supplied to the world, instead coming from much more at risk environments e.g. tropical rain forests.
None of that is to imply there aren't simple obvious wins that really are wins - but even then getting input from genuinely knowledgable (unbiased) experts will help do it better.
That's what I mean by evidence-based policy. Figure out what you want ideologically then let experts get the data and use that data to define how to achieve your ideology or, much harder, to redefine your ideology if the data show it to be flawed.
The energy used by a car during its entire life is less than that used in its manufacture, I was amazed to learn during my time with Greenpeace.
And the answer now is public transit and smarter urban design, not neoliberal electric cars. Modern diesel cars seem more efficient than hybrids. Got nothing on an electric train or bus or delivery truck powered by renewable generation. That's our future unless we privatise it all.
That's what I mean by evidence-based policy.
and that's what I've been seeing across the left.
Many of these problems are called ‘wicked’ policy problems. There is no simple linear problem – intervention – solution model. People don’t even agree on what the problem is. These are messy issues and require a lot of discussion, collaboration and trial and error before things start improving. The environment is a really good example. Democracy is really important because public engagement is a way for everyone to get involved and get some practical ideas from the grassroots as it were.
The National Party is really good at simplistic slogans for these complex problems (we are seeing examples of this at the moment) which usually involve throwing some money at a small part of the problem in the hope that the public will be distracted from the complexity of the issues. While locking the public out of the real decision making process such as with ECan, or controlling the ‘evidence’ such as with Ruataniwha.
Amidst all this Key-bashing, can somebody tell me what Helen Clark's Government and its nine-year tenure achieved on the subject?
Seems to me such self-serving, anti-Key claims when discussing water or child poverty or rheumatic fever etc are designed to impart the impression that all the bad things in these areas commenced when bad John took power.
Fairly naïve if not dishonest don't you think?
In the NZ Herald last Saturday there was an interview with Dr Joy, and in the printed version were a couple of large typeset statistics (not shown in the online version).
One that grabbed me was something like: "44% of our lakes are polluted" Can anyone shed light on what this statistic means/measures?
It struck me as seeming too high, given the large number of lakes we have that are basically in the middle of nowhere up mountainous areas. I'm not doubting Dr Joy's position and research, just trying to understand this particular statistic.
can somebody tell me what Helen Clark’s Government and its nine-year tenure achieved on the subject
That was then
this is now...
Feel free to live in the past, though.
They do things differently there, I hear...
Neither National nor Labour have a good past record on these issues.
The difference is National have basically said screw it we are just going to make money off the cows and to hell with the future because by then we won't be in power and don't care.
By contrast Labour have said they will do something about water quality, whether you believe them is another matter entirely. Similarly for The Greens who have said they will do something, again your belief is your issue.
So you are left with voting for a party that have stated they don't care or voting for parties that might come through on their promises. Doesn't seem all that complicated really.
I'm concerned about what we do now for the sake of us all and future generations.