Monday, November 19, 2012

Calling us on our bullshit

New Zealand likes to consider itself "clean and green", "100% pure". Its a central part of our national identity, and a central part of the way we market ourselves overseas. But its a lie, and now the New York Times is calling us on our bullshit:

The clean and green image has long been promoted by the isolated country in its striving to compete in world markets. But an international study in the journal PLoS One measuring countries’ loss of native vegetation, native habitat, number of endangered species and water quality showed that per capita, New Zealand was 18th worst out of 189 nations when it came to preserving its natural surroundings.

Dr. Joy said that for a country purporting to be so pure, New Zealand seemed to be failing by many international environmental benchmarks.

Last month, the New Zealand Ministry for the Environment released a survey showing that more than half of the country’s freshwater recreational sites were unsafe to swim in. Fecal contamination of waterways, caused largely by dairy farming — the source of 13.9 billion New Zealand dollars, or $10 billion, in annual exports, nearly a quarter of New Zealand’s total — was widespread.

The survey showed that people who swam in those rivers were at a high risk of illness, including serious diseases like giardiasis, cryptosporidiosis and campylobacteriosis. The waterways were the cause of 18,000 to 34,000 cases of waterborne disease each year.

There's more there, and its damning - and it will no doubt affect our international image. National will no doubt shrug, quibble the numbers, and say that its just the price of their mates making more money. But the rest of us should take it as a challenge. Environmentalism is a core part of kiwi identity, and as a nation we should be living up to that aspiration, rather than letting the government shit all over it for the profit of the few.