Smiths Environmental Failures | The Jackal

10 Nov 2011

Smiths Environmental Failures

We all know that the world we live in is becoming more polluted. Our consumerism relies heavily upon many products that are produced using unsustainable practices.

There's little legislation to deter this destructive process, with many producers using non-recyclable substances, which invariably end up as landfill. With over 3 million tonnes of waste dumped into landfills each year... the OECD rates New Zealand as a leader in waste production.

Per capita, New Zealand is currently third at producing non-organic and non-recyclable waste. Auckland alone creates 180,000 tonnes of waste each year... 14% of this being potentially hazardous.

Despite this, polluting industries continue to be undercharged for the disposal of the waste they produce. Inadequate disposal technologies and the extent of waste means many toxic materials leach or are simply dumped into our waterways. An estimated 10 million tonnes of waste is discharged yearly from pulp and paper mills... making any claims that New Zealand is pure clean and green complete rubbish!

Yesterday the Minister for the Environment Nick Smith admitted something that we all knew already... New Zealand had fallen short of its "100 per cent Pure branding, but only just."
"We need to acknowledge that we have challenges, like water quality ... and having that concrete data enables us internationally and domestically to ... verify those claims we make about New Zealand's clean, green brand."
The concrete data unfortunately shows that we can no longer claim to be 100% pure clean and green with 90% of our lowland rivers currently too polluted to swim in. Being able to swim in only 10% of lowland rivers is hardly an endorsement of our clean and green branding. Despite this, Smith continues with his ignorant rhetoric:
To the suggestion that there was no wriggle room in the 100 per cent, Dr Smith said, "We're damn good. "If you take the latest index that is produced internationally, they give us 99.1, that's pretty close. If I had a report card on 99.1, I'd be pretty happy."
International index? Smith says that he will not put a "straight jacket around farmers" by including them in the ETS... completely failing to recognize that climate change is one of the greatest environmental threats facing the world. Not to mention National's failure to implement proper policies to reduce farm runoff, meaning an end to many things that Kiwi's hold dear.
It's not just water pollution that's the problem though... with high rates of respiratory illness from airborne pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, smoke and photochemical smog now characteristic of urban atmospheres. These cause over 10,000 premature deaths in New Zealand each year.

Let's not forget one of the most downplayed yet problematic pollution issues we face, noise pollution. Despite many studies showing noise pollution to be highly detrimental to people's health, National has no plan to remedy this or the many other pollution problems we face.

National has completely failed to incentivise the private sector to become part of the solution concerning New Zealand's excessive pollution problems. In fact they've devised policy that gives incentives to polluting industries to increase their environmental and socially damaging practices.

Yesterday Russell Norman from the Green Party commented on National's environmental failure in regard to funding farm irrigation by $400 million:

“Subsidising irrigation will lead to increasing land use intensification – putting more animals and fertiliser on our land – and the science is absolutely clear that this leads to increased water pollution."

“National’s irrigation investment is an investment in the degradation of our rivers and lakes. When the degradation inevitably happens, the taxpayer will end up having to pay for waterway clean-ups."

“John Key must stop simultaneously subsidising pollution and pollution clean-up and focus on preventing environmental damage from happening in the first place,” said Dr Norman.