Major report finds NZ's environment is in serious trouble
April 17, 2019 9:58 PM   Subscribe

'Decades of denial': major report finds New Zealand's environment is in serious trouble (Eleanor Ainge Roy, Guardian)
A report on the state of New Zealand’s environment has painted a bleak picture of catastrophic biodiversity loss, polluted waterways and the destructive rise of the dairy industry and urban sprawl.
posted by Start with Dessert (14 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
This isn’t a surprise at all, humans have pretty much destroyed every environment in earth, - did we really think NZ was somehow going to escape this?
posted by Jubey at 10:13 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]

If anyone could? They sure seem to try.
posted by traveler_ at 10:57 PM on April 17

This isn't really been a surprise, we were calling the previous National (right wing) govt on it for years - they depend on rural votes to get elected and have been firm believers on not calling those creating agricultural runoff to task - it can't go on forever, and it's gone on far far too long - to make matters worse there has been large scale movement from sheep to dairying which is inherently far more dirty (but also far more lucrative, provided you can quietly shovel the shit into a nearby stream)
posted by mbo at 12:01 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]

Man, all those billionaires that built bug out cabins there are going to want their money back.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:20 AM on April 18 [8 favorites]

For a more graphic description of diary farms and how dirty they are, you can of course count on MeFi fave Sarah Taber: thread.
The orchard vs dairy beef boils down to "dairy farms are disgusting." In the CA desert, the manure crusts up & blows away onto neighboring orchards' fruit. There's also just *so much fucking shit* on dairy farms that dairy farmers have a warped sense of hygiene in general.

When I lived in WI, you'd routinely see dairy farmers stomp into grocery stores in their barn boots & tracking shit all over the grocery store. They took a lot of glee in it. "HAHAHA NOW YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR FOOD COMES FROM YOU WIENERS"

Worked w one central CA orchard with a neighboring dairy that was absolutely disgusting- it wasn't just shit blowing in the breeze. They just dumped their trash in a bare dirt yard, where it'd all blow into the orchard.

The orchard was going crazy trying to maintain basic hygiene with this constant onslaught of shit and garbage. Wanted to buy the dairy, which wasn't doing great financially, just to clean it up.

The dairy *knew this.* Kept jacking their "land price" up accordingly.
AKA the dairy's only business plan at that point was to be so disgusting that their orchard neighbors, who were actually making money, would be forced to buy them out at exorbitant price.

So tl;dr if you thought patent trolls were awful, contemplate dairy farms for a minute 😂
posted by Space Coyote at 5:41 AM on April 18 [12 favorites]

Man, all those billionaires that built bug out cabins there are going to want their money back.

Because if there is one things billionaires are known for it is living low impact lifestyles in peaceful harmony with pristine natural environments.
posted by srboisvert at 5:49 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]

Seems like all the dot.commers looking to retire to their bunkers while the world burns are SOL. What a shame.
posted by Middlemarch at 10:49 AM on April 18

So yes recycling is always an additional bit of hassle, but concentrated cow manure is known to be reusable in a modern economy.

Huh. It's hard to get people to give up milk and cheese, but a boycott of any dairy that wasn't committed to closing the manure cycle might work.
posted by clew at 11:00 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]

A different take - I'm an NZ farm-consultant - waterway specialist. I'm not providing citations for all this as it'd take ages. Check out Keith Woodford's blog for in-depth critiques and data - I write agricultural bits on my own blog too which may be of interest to some.

These are very complex issues. They are also issues that are very easy for political groups to divide for their own ends, especially in a country with high numbers of urban dwellers and little education about the urban sector.

The last National (Right - wRong wing) is not the sole cause*; a farming culture with a firm belief in very conventional farming (high fertiliser\chemical inputs, a progress mentality and love of techne rather than the art of farming) makes it difficult for organics to develop. This article mentions the extreme price difference between conventional and organic milk price; conventional dairy milk powder ranges from a seventh to a quarter of organic powder. The organic price is very hard and stable. BUT due to (especially) Fonterra (a govt-controlled co-operative) organic farmers do not receive much of this price difference. Fonterra\National sees\saw a shift to organics as threat to the old order.

Despite only receiving a small premium organic dairy farmers have smaller herds and a dramatically smaller footprint.

Thing is it's very easy to point the finger at the dairy industry as a whole and treat them all the same. Also there is some conflation of stock types e.g in the Taber piece - where she has the phrase "dairy beef" - that is an oxymoron, as dairy cows don't make for high-quality meat. Also that's a US article and many of the issues (and attitudes) in that article are rare here.

One thing that is a real issue is stock numbers, for many land types they are too high. And this tends to lead to sediment loss in a climate increasingly dominated by very extreme rainfall and droughts. Sediment tho' is not simple. A methodology called 'sediment fingerprinting' identifies sediment origins. Much of the sediment in some river catchments dates from 1860's gold rush. Most sediment in farm areas recently converted to dairy dates from intensive sheep farming.

*NZ's lack of response to climate change tho' can be firmly hung around National's neck. As a result NZ is at last a decade behind other nations as a response needs governmental policy and funding as that is how NZ resource law functions.
posted by unearthed at 12:29 PM on April 18 [8 favorites]

speaking as a californian: welcome to the party, pal
posted by entropicamericana at 12:54 PM on April 18

When I lived in WI, you'd routinely see dairy farmers stomp into grocery stores in their barn boots & tracking shit all over the grocery store. They took a lot of glee in it. "HAHAHA NOW YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR FOOD COMES FROM YOU WIENERS"
Pretty much this. I grew up in a mostly dairy-farming area in the UK and this describes a lot of the farmers I came across over the years. They'd pull stunts like making sure the public footpaths crossing their land were covered in ankle-deep putrid shit so that a walk in the country was unpleasant and stinky. They have this attitude that real country folk don't mind the smell and we're all just soft townies etc. But even the ones that aren't actively malicious just don't care - they'll let the muck run off into water courses and kill the fish.

It almost makes me want to go vegan.
posted by winterhill at 2:04 PM on April 18

It’s been exceptionally warm in Greenland lately and ice is melting a month early

You might have heard about the exceptional heat this year in the northern hemisphere and around the world. March was just declared the second warmest on record globally

Records have been shattered in Alaska. Scotland hit 70 degrees in February. Winter warmth has torched the U.K., Netherlands and Sweden as well — coming on the heels of Europe’s warmest year on record. But they’re not alone.

Greenland is baking, too. In fact, its summer melt season has already begun — more than a month ahead of schedule.

posted by They sucked his brains out! at 7:01 PM on April 18

Unearthed: sounds like there's a place for a kiwi organic milk co-op ... which could simultaneously pay organic farmers more and undercut Fonterra
posted by mbo at 5:13 PM on April 20

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