He states that forestry, farming and fishing account for more than 69% of export receipts for New Zealand and compares this with the 72% of mining and oil receipts of Australia, suggesting that New Zealand’s exports are more sustainable.
I would suggest that his comparison is foolish.
Forestry may appear to have some sort of sustainability, providing we don’t worry about the lack of biodiversity, nor the paltry receipts we earn from the huge amount of unprocessed wood going out as logs.
Modern farming methods are without question unsustainable. The following facts have to be acknowledged. Phosphate fertilisers continuing to be mined elsewhere and brought in to the country, indicate an unsustainable practice. Nitrate fertilisers continue to inexorably pollute our otherwise pristine table waters, (even once all streams are fenced off), leading to an unsustainable situation. Relative to the volume of milk produced, water usage is extraordinarily high and unsustainable, (selling bottled water would use less and possibly be a higher net earner). Methane emissions from ruminants, a huge contributor to global warming, is an unsustainable practice and it will be a very long time, if ever, that this condition will change. The trucking of vast amounts of water laden bovine excretions (milk) around the country, only to have most of this evaporated away before the sale of a dry commodity is surely unsustainable.
Fishing also suffers from an obvious lack of sustainability, in that there are now substantiated predictions that, even if the oceans don’t warm up to the levels being scientifically predicted, the world’s fish stocks will be depleted within 40 years. There is little New Zealand can do about this on the world scene.
We must stop fooling ourselves. Not only are we still selling commodities, many of them unprocessed, to a faraway world market, we are selling against producers who are closer to market, on lower cost structures and often unrestricted by laws of behaviour. The growth of livestock numbers in developing countries is one of the worrying aspects of our future value as an exporter of animal protein.
To cap all this is the proven and growing recognition that animal proteins and fats are the basic cause of all our major ailments, such as heart disease, cancer, vascular disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, obesity, arthritis and so many more debilitating and hideously costly diseases, the management of which are economically unsustainable.
I suggest that our situation is no more secure than Australia, when they have “dug up all the ground”. I don’t know what our alternatives are but I sure do know that we should wake up to what our problems are.