I love the great outdoors, I’ve grown up immersed in what it has to offer and care greatly about its future and making sure the next generation is lucky enough to enjoy the scenic wonder and recreational pursuits that I’ve been fortunate enough to. While I’m passionate about the environment I don’t consider myself a greenie.
I remember growing up seeing a bumper sticker which read “the only fresh air is the space between a greenie’s ears”. The phrase has always stuck with me.
It's often said our reckless capitalist consumerism is killing the planet, but its my view that illogical rhetoric from the green lobby, personal apathy and misplaced polices of political parties both foreign and domestic are also contributing threats.
Aside from a handful of exceptions, the poorest countries on earth have the largest challenges in terms of their environment and the loss of native flora and fauna going forward.
Their lack of wealth means they have very few choices and they are easily exploited by large corporations.
At a local level, if people are cold they need to burn what they can to keep warm or cook food. If they are hungry they need to eat what’s available regardless how or where it’s grown to survive. They don't pause to think about preservation for the greater good, they simply don’t have that luxury.
This is well supported by research with a body of evidence showing that once GDP per captia passes $5,000 USD people start caring more about the environment and improvements begin occur in many key indicators.
New Zealand relative affluence gives us choices. We can choose to use plastic bags or not, or to protect some areas of our country from logging or mining for the next generation. Even though in doing so we might forego some short-term economic gain, our country can afford it.
Thus we have chosen to try to restore some of our native species and become predator-free by 2050. These wildlife preservation campaigns are not cheap, neither is pest eradication, and all of these things come at a great cost and all rely on a successful economy to deliver funding.
There is a balance between the economy and the environment and here in aotearoa we at least have the freedom of speech and political alignment to debate where that lies and what policies we need to achieve it. However the conversation is often sidetracked by the extreme green lobby and their views that at times defy logic and common sense.
As a result of this global green pressure we are about to spend $14 billion over the next decade on buying carbon credits to meet our Paris accord obligations. This is despite our greenhouse gas emissions being an inconsequential 0.1 per cent of global emissions. How many new waste treatment plants, waterway and beach clean-ups or recycling campaigns could that money buy? Not to mention social services or even tax cuts for hard-working Kiwis.
The Australian government is in the equally difficult bind of justifying rising energy costs associated with phasing out their 6 remaining coal power plants while globally their are over 1000 new plants either under construction or planned. Is there a better way they could contribute to environmental causes without impacting on the well being of their population. I'd rather they focused harder along with NZ on tackling illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean for one and not leave it solely to NGO's like Sea Sheppard.
Then there is the argument around well what is the natural or ideal state for the environment? Riddle me this, what is more natural, a handful of Hereford beef cattle drinking from a high country creek or thousands of flush toilets funneling human waste, sanitary products and cleaning chemicals via sub-standard local septic and centralised waste treatment stations back into our waterways, oceans and ground water?
While it may be manageable and sensible to exclude livestock on intensive lowland farms from our waterways, excluding those animals on our extensive high country farms would require millions of treated fence posts, concrete troughs and lengths of plastic piping from here to the moon.
The visual pollution alone would be devastating to our high country vistas, not to mention the use of fossil fuels and other chemicals to complete the water systems.
We need to continue to have a common sense approach that allows the drivers of our economy to continue to operate in parts of our landscape so that we can foot the bill to protect others and maintain the quality of life Kiwis expect.
The environment is vital for our economy and our economy is vital in allowing us to protect the environment.
The fact they go hand-in-hand is often forgotten by certain elements in our society.
Read the original column in the Mountain Scene online HERE
Subscribe to updates below