clean, green my arse

March 8th, 2008

Alright, despite the sheep-loving stereotype, New Zealand’s biggest industry is actually dairy. And dairy could well be its most destructive industry, too, especially in terms of water resources, sucking up obscene amounts of water then dumping amounts of pollution into what little water is left that can only be described as offensive.

Alright, that report is from Critic, which is nowhere near as good as Salient despite being the newspaper of Otago University, and it is just a teensy, weensy bit polemical in that way only undergrads and talentless journalists can be (no offense intended to either undergrads or that rarest of species, talented journalists), but it’s still better than what passes for mainstream media.

Still, reading about people and companies (and apparently it’s more and more companies instead of the traditional family farm) setting up dairy farms in already arid, drought prone areas, areas that are projected to only get drier as global warming progresses, areas like Canterbury or the Mackenzie, only strengthens my suspicion that the brain drain has had a far more drastic effect on New Zealand’s collective IQ than most people suspect. Sure, Muldoon famously quipped that he wasn’t worried about New Zealanders migrating to Australia because such migrants improved the national IQ of both countries, but Muldoon was a fool who should’ve been strapped into a giant catapult and fired in the general direction of Australia before he could have ever entered parliament, even as a primary school student on a field trip- and preferably on a trajectory that would drop him in the Tasman Sea roughly half way in between the two countries. But really, I have to seriously wonder about the IQ, or lack thereof, of people who decide to install dairy farms in areas that just plain don’t have enough water for anything more intensive than sheep farms run the traditional Kiwi way. I mean, large parts of the South Island do very closely resemble the mountain areas north and west of Beijing in terms of environment and climate- dry’s a bone, dry as the coats that take their name from that phrase will keep you even in the midst of a monsoon (yes, I know the coats are Aussie, but they’re popular in New Zealand, too, like Holdens, because they’re bloody useful and designed for life in the south of the South Pacific), far too dry for dairy.

Reminds me of the last time I was in Wellington, showing around two friends of a friend, Belgians (they loved Kiwi beer, but that may well be because they’d just come from a month in Australia). These two, after only two weeks in Aotearoa, one night in the pub over pints of Dunedin’s finest (well, almost), turned to me and said: “You Kiwis have this reputation for being clean and green, and you talk about it, but it’s bollocks. The way you treat your environment, if you had anything like Europe’s population, your country would be a mess.” Or words to that effect. Sadly, I could not argue with them. No sane, honest Kiwi could’ve. Sometimes it takes an outsider to show you the truth of your own country, and sometimes that outsider has only just got off the plane.

And it’s things like this (environmental issues, not necessarily beers brewed in Dunedin) that would make me vote Green if someone held a gun to my head and forced me to take part in New Zealand’s coming election. Much as I despise politicians in general, and as much as I loathe the Greens’ positions on such things as China and their ridiculous  PC moralising on things like “human rights” (pull your heads out your arses and start looking at human responsibilities, please), New Zealand needs some serious environmental arse kicking in parliament.

That last paragraph was not in kind of endorsement of or encouragement to vote for or to not vote for any political party. If you’ve read this far you’re smart enough to make up your own mind.

Although I will say that New Zealand needs an expat constituency- a system that allows us expat Kiwis to cast a party vote without having to enroll in any particular electorate. I’m sure I’m not the only one with no permanent address in New Zealand, and don’t tell me to enroll in my parents’ electorate: I have never seen the house they currently live in, nor the one they lived in before that (although I do have ties, of a kind, to that neighbourhood- I mean, I was born within a 10 minute walk of that house, and we lived not too far up the road until I was two, and the church we attended while I was in high school was just as close by, and…).

Alright, too many tangents upon tangents, time to stop.

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