Groser promotes ecological disaster | The Jackal

19 May 2012

Groser promotes ecological disaster

I had to laugh while reading a speech given by Tim Groser yesterday in which he claims that people who promote localized food production and security of supply are acting instinctually and that not wanting to rely on other countries for food is rooted in people's hunter and gatherer DNA.

Despite there being a clear and present danger to worldwide food supplies, Groser claims that starvation is only caused by a lack of funds and that people promote sustainability because of their evolutionary memory. FFS!

Groser then applies this reasoning to how countries around the world should manage their supply and demand requirements, which is a little insane to say the least.

What the idiot fails to acknowledge is that there's a number of challenges facing the world that need careful consideration and meticulous planning if serious disaster is to be averted.

The causes have been well documented and the subsequent solutions are known... All that is stopping them from being implemented are ideologically blinded politicians who have lost all touch with the real world. Is this a disaster? I'll let the facts speak for themselves:

Water depletion:

It's easy for New Zealander's to become complacent about one of the fundamental building blocks of life... water. Aotearoa is blessed with an abundance of the stuff after all, which supports our productive industries and outdoor lifestyles.

Why worry you might ask... after all planet Earth has 1.4 trillion cubic kilometers (km3) of water, which is a heck of a lot isn't it. However only 0.6% (8.4 million km3) of this is fresh and it's depleting at an alarming rate... 20% decline in renewable freshwater in the last few decades. Already approximately 80% of the world's population (5.6 billion in 2011) live in areas with threats to water security.

There is no doubt then that the world is fast approaching a time when supply will simply no longer meet demand en masse with scarcity of usable freshwater therefore at the top of my list. The degradation through pollution, environmental conditions and over consumption are of major concern.

Climate Change:

Anthropomorphic climate change is happening faster than predicted and is already impacting on the worlds ability to produce enough food to sustain us. Rising sea levels will increase the risk of erosion and saltwater intrusion into arable land and an increase of extreme weather events such as droughts and floods will have an adverse impact on food production.

If present trends continue, the total cost of global warming will be approximately 4% of gross domestic product (GDP) with hurricane damage, real estate losses, energy and water costs projected to cost the US almost $1.9 trillion annually (in today’s US dollars) by 2100.

Arable land:

Today, the NZ Herald reported on the World Wildlife Fund's Living Planet report 2012 (PDF), which is sobering reading indeed:

The planet's population passed seven billion last year and is forecast to reach 9.3 billion by 2050. Much of the growth will be in Africa, Asia and Latin America - tropical regions where biodiversity has suffered most as forests are destroyed, land use intensifies and rivers are utilised.

In Africa and Asia, a scramble for land is underway, with external investors securing access to agricultural land for future food production, often at the expense of the poorest. Since the mid-2000s, an area almost the size of western Europe has been transferred in land allocation deals.

The article puts the average New Zealander's ecological footprint at 35th highest in the world among 149 countries measured, making our clean and green image just that... a mirage.

Peak oil:

Many people might not realize that peak oil has come and gone and we are now in a phase of terminal decline. That means production will not meet demand which will in turn push up prices. In the US the surplus oil production capacity was projected to disappear this year, and the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day by 2015.

With New Zealand being dependent on our export sector to drive the economy, even small increases to transportation costs to reach our worldwide markets have a detrimental effect on the bottom line. This could in fact decimate our export revenue gathering ability entirely rendering New Zealand's primary production ineffective at creating wealth and therefore largely defunct in terms of productive land use.

Despite these facts, Groser states:

We are perfectly capable, for example, of increasing food supply by 70% over the next 40 years – we increased global food supply by over 140% in the 45 year period to 2005. Can we achieve about half the increase in production we achieved globally over the last 4-5 decades? Sounds rather modest to me as a global goal.

A Minister for Climate Change Issues should be more aware of the inherent problems within his ignorant and hypothetical statement... being that much of the increased food productivity over the last few decades is a result of cheap oil, available arable land, abundant freshwater supplies and an absence of climate change.

Along with overfishing, believing these problems can be mitigated by simply intensifying production, which will place even more pressure on the environment, is naive to say the least. Unfortunately for New Zealand's potential for a sustainable future, intentionally ignorant is the best summary of National's environmental policies.


Stern Review -
Freshwater resources and their management -
The Cost of Climate Change -
Global biodiversity decline of marine and freshwater fish -
General situation of world fish stocks -
WWF Living Planet Report 2012 -
The Joint Operating Environment (JOE) 2010 -