Mahurangi Matters, 14 November 2018 – Readers Letters

NZ meat is neat

All food has an environmental impact, so unless you can live on fresh air, what you eat will affect something, somewhere.  Climate change, water, biodiversity and soil are important to farmers and our customers – it’s an exciting time to be in in the sheep and beef sector. As a (former) politician, Christine Rose (MM October 31) should know that pasture-based farming in New Zealand simply doesn’t align with overseas reports based on vastly different production systems. I’m also surprised that as an environmental advocate, Christine didn’t mention the overwhelming impact of methane emissions from rice, at over 10 per cent of agricultural emissions, or the almond industry in California, which has devastated the water quality in that state. NZ beef and lamb greenhouse gas emissions have reduced by 30 per cent since 1990, while still producing the same amount of meat. Our pasture-based production systems mean that almost no other country in the world can produce meat with such a low energy footprint. Even taking into account shipping, the footprint of producing lamb in NZ and sending it to the UK is less than the footprint of producing that lamb in Britain. NZ’s actual greenhouse emissions are tiny compared to most nations. The information in the study Christine refers to, ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow’, was retracted by the scientists who wrote it, when they realised that they had miscalculated and underestimated transport’s contribution to greenhouse gases. Energy remains the biggest threat to limiting climate change, yet our superpower countries seem unwilling to solve it. The sheep and beef farmers that I work with are certainly focused on a sector that produces protein that is good for the environment, good for the animals, and good for you. Enjoy your barbecues this summer.

Nicky Berger, GrassFed in the City

Crayfish crisis

Thank you for bringing the plight of the Goat Island marine reserve to the public’s attention (MM October 17), but the story is far from complete. The reserve’s crayfish population collapsed in 1998. When we alerted the Leigh Marine Laboratory about this we received ridicule as thanks. We estimated that three out of every four crays had disappeared. The year 2000 official census confirmed that 85 per cent had vanished. They didn’t come back – a serious problem for marine conservation. In fact, all our coastal marine reserves are losing both quantity and quality of sea life, as documented by many studies. For Dr Nick Shears to blame “fishing on the boundaries” is disingenuous and he should know better. Catch data show that the sudden crayfish collapse was not accompanied by an equally sudden spike in fishing effort, nor catch landings. True, fishing the reserve’s boundaries does drain fish out, but this cannot affect the entirety of the reserve within, nor happen suddenly and almost completely after a lifetime of stability. The Seafriends website is now a must-read for those who care about our future. It explains why our seas are in such a worsening state and what we must do.

Dr Floor Anthoni, Omaha

Marvellous Mahu

Mr Woodward wrote in praise of Auckland Transport’s new service to the city (MM October 17). The same should be said of the Mahu Express, which provides a regular, efficient and friendly service on modern, new buses between Snells Beach, Warkworth and Auckland city. The trip usually only takes between 50 to 60 minutes. I am not sure how long it took Mahu to obtain consent from Auckland Transport to use the express bus lanes, but I gather that process was not easy. It would be a great shame if there were further difficulties placed in the way of what is an excellent and innovative private service. I would recommend Mahu Express to anyone.

Paul Dale, Point Wells

Why the silence?

Does anyone else wonder why the national media hasn’t publicised the proposal for a new mega-landfill north of Auckland (MM October 31)?  A new landfill represents a failure of our society to create a sustainable resource management system. If our culture really valued our environment, we wouldn’t allow another landfill unless it was managed in an entirely different way. We would demand that many materials be banned from landfilling. We would require, as a condition of the new landfill consent, that existing recycling facilities be expanded or new, recycling facilities be set up to accept these materials instead. We would require manufacturers and importers to take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of the goods they produce. We would need mandatory product stewardship schemes so that all manufacturers were playing on a level playing field to prevent the irresponsible from shirking their environmental responsibility. The reason we think the national media has not publicised this environmental catastrophe is because ultimately we need to pay more for waste disposal. Solutions lie in raising the national waste levy. Until we as a society are prepared to make recycling compete with landfilling by paying higher disposal costs, we will continue to get disastrous landfills instead of environmentally responsible options. We can demand a better system and could be writing to our local board and councillors now.

Betsy and David Kettle, Sustainable North Trust (abridged)

A story about a new Sail GP competition (MM October 31) incorrectly stated Tim Smyth had been with Core Building Composites for eight years. In fact, he was with the company for 17 years. Apologies.