Matthew Henry John Bartlett

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Monday 08 January, 02007

I like your bass

by Matthew Bartlett @ 3:14 pm

Helen Clark, to NZ Labour Party conference in Rotorua, 28 October 2006:

Why shouldn’t New Zealand aim to be the first country which is truly sustainable – not by sacrificing our living standards, but by being smart and determined? We can now move to develop more renewable energy, biofuels, public transport alternatives, and minimise, if not eliminate, waste to landfills. We could aim to be carbon neutral. I believe sustainability will be a core value in 21st century social democracy. I want New Zealand to be in the vanguard of making it happen – for our own sakes, and for the sake of our planet. I want sustainability to be central to New Zealand’s unique national identity.

65 Responses to “I like your bass”

  1. Toby says:

    d’oh – forget the reference to point 49. Misread it…

    I’ll stand by the rest of 50.

  2. Compare The Bible with the slightly higher-ranking other ‘Big Book’ in the Whitcoulls Top 100 list, and you’ll find The Lord of the Rings spends a lot more time talking about trees and animals. You’ll find that The Age of Men (and women) was saved by a bunch of trees at Isengard. And the environment was needed to destroy the one ring to rule them all, thus the environment saved the Age of Men.

    Being green, far. We need nature, clearly.

  3. kathy says:

    This is off the main thread BUT as you seem to realise, pointing out that helen doesn’t have kids is a low blow. After all, at least half the people on this site don’t have kids but we don’t ignore their opinions for that reason. I need to believe that even those without progeny can care about what happens to the envioronment for future generations. Perhaps in some ways it would be easier to focus on envioronmentalism if you weren’t focusing just on your family unit, who knows? I can’t easily say if I spent more time thinking/acting about envioromental issues before/after motherhood arrived.

  4. Toby says:

    How odd – I thought the LOTR was a work of fiction, fantasy in fact…

    Don’t get me wrong, I am a Christian agrarian at heart, and have been reading Berry for years. Another favourite book is Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful. My hero is The Deliberate Agrarian, Herrick Kemball (don’t know how to link to it, but google him)

    But the Christian Agrarian’s lifestyle and philosophy is marked by balance. Environmentalists today are far too extreme, far too idealogical. Not very practical.

    I particularly don’t buy into the whole “global warming” hype. Especially not the claim that it’s caused solely by human activity, or that we can somehow solve it. Biofuels, my arse.

    Just live a good, balanced, Godly life and you won’t go wrong.

  5. Richard D. Bartlett says:

    Given the audience, Toby, I think you might want to flesh out your second-last paragraph a little further if you intend to instruct anyone’s opinions on the matter. I mean, dismissing out of hand global warming and its causes and our responses to it is a good way to get yourself dismissed with equal brevity.

    Peace.

  6. Toby says:

    RE: climate change – I tend to hang out in these circles
    climatescience.org.nz

    Instead of trying to solve a contrived global catastrophe, I suggest we live small, humble lives and try to reduce our own footprints. Eat seasonally, buy locally, walk more, recycle.

    Even if our Venerable Leader would succeed in reducing our total greenhouse gas output to 0 (and she’d have to cut down all our trees, kill all our cows and stop all of us breathing)
    it wouldn’t mean diddlysquat.

    If you really want to make a difference, deal with India and China first.

    Peace

  7. Lynton says:

    I agree with paragraph one. However, the government is trying to reduce emissions, not remove them all together because they know that is impossible. If we did manage to reduce our emissions to below 1990 levels we would be able to show to the world what is possible, developing technology or ways of achieving efficiency that could then be used in China and India.

  8. D says:

    I’ve been thinking about the question… I have a couple of reasons as to why New Zealand should not make sustainability of the environment a key to our national identity.

    (1) New Zealand does fairly well on a global scale in terms of pollution and renewable energy supplies. If we’re doing fairly well (and in comparative terms I think we are), why is there a need to make sustainability the “key” to our national identity? The company I work for and most companies I read of have very strong environmental policies.

    (2) I can think of several areas where I think we do poorly which I would rather have as central to our national identity. In particular, civil participation in government, development of rich communities, aid given to third world countries and

    (3) We lack the wisdom to know how to do so in a balanced manner. I think there has been inadequate research into this to date.

    If radical changes are needed to our way of life to preserve our natural environment (which I don’t think has been demonstrated), then accompanying this will be a need for a great deal of wisdom to bring about the changes carefully (read: without social upheaval, high burden on those least able to bear it etc.)

    (2) There is a strong focus in NZ in most companies and at government level towards sustainability and ecological awareness that we are at risk of overbalancing and falling over.

  9. D says:

    I’ve been thinking about the question… I have a few thoughts as to why New Zealand should not make sustainability of the environment a key to our national identity.

    (1) New Zealand does fairly well on a global scale in terms of pollution and renewable energy supplies. If we’re doing fairly well (and in comparative terms I think we are), why is there a need to make sustainability the “key” to our national identity? The company I work for and most companies I encounter have very strong environmental policies.

    (2) I can think of several areas where I think we do poorly which I would rather have as important (if not central) to our national identity. In particular, civil participation in government, development of stronger communities, affordable healthcare, genuine non-partisan political debate and aid given to third world countries.

    (3) We seem to lack the wisdom to know how to do so in a balanced manner. I think there has been inadequate research into this to date. If radical changes are needed to our way of life to preserve our natural environment (which I don’t think has been demonstrated), then accompanying this will be a need for a great deal of wisdom to bring about the changes carefully (read: without social upheaval, high burden on those least able to bear it, unintended harmful consequences etc.).

    One area where it seems excessive focus on the environment has already had demonstrably (and unnecessarily) adverse effects is in the housing market, where almost all of the massive increase in real house prices (relative to income levels) is the result of land price increases due to restrictions on land supply by local, regional and (indirectly) national government. This is occurring internationally and is well documented in the 3rd ‘Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey’ (see particular p. 25).

  10. Matthew says:

    Thanks D. Good thoughts. But,

    1. After a quick google, I find Columbia University has an Environmental Sustainability Index, which we were #14 on in 2005. That’s good, relatively-speaking, but as one of their press releases says: “No country is on a sustainable trajectory”.

    2. Yes, I’d add those areas in too.

    My feeling is that most of the ecological awareness stuff around is greenwashing. Even personally, it is much easier for me to talk about looking after the place than to chase the Hong Kong printers we use to see where they get their paper from and am I indirectly raping some old growth forest somewhere?

    After going to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce climate change dialogue my impression is that businesses in the main will do what they’re told, regulation-wise, and no more, and they’ll lobby against regs that hurt economic growth. I.e. the eco-awareness is skin deep.

  11. Richard D. Bartlett says:

    That’s exactly the point, Matt, “am I indirectly raping some old growth forest somewhere?”

    …and I think the value of that question will grow as quantifiers and qualifiers for that word indirectly are developed and pushed to the forefront of the public psyche.

  12. dan says:

    I agree with D.
    If this shift isn’t driven from the people up to the policy makers (i.e. not the other way around) then there will most likely be back-lash (“social upheaval, high burden on those least able to bear it, unintended harmful consequences etc.”), and the good ideas will be voted out ‘by lunchtime’.

    That’s not to say the government shouldn’t have a plan, but it should seek to nurture and educate people, so they genuinely want to look after the environment, rather than laying the policy smack down, as they are wont to do.

    But I don’t see it happening this way, alas. When was the last time a piece of policy passed through the house that was actually driven by, and had the support of, the majority?

    The government is the facilitator, and even the encourager, but they are not the driver.

  13. dan says:

    Sorry, spotted some ambiguity in my last paragraph.
    Please try: “The government should be the facilitator, and even the encourager, but they are not the driver.”

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