Friday, March 26, 2010

Graham on ECan and sustainability

In his general debate speech on Wednesday, Green MP Kennedy Graham launched a blistering attack on the government's plans to overthrow Canterbury's elected regional council and replace it with an appointed dictator:

the Creech report is a shoddy piece of work and fails rudimentary tests of professional standards. First, the report lacks intellectual integrity. It criticises Environment Canterbury for being science-driven and not science-informed. The Creech report is politically-driven and not politically-informed. If it were politically informed, it would acknowledge that democracy is bigger than business; that the subsidiarity principle is bigger than government; and that one does not replace elected councillors with appointees of central government, just because they are making decisions one might not like. That is political arrogance of the highest order.
But its not just arrogant - its also a perfect example of the clash of worldviews in New Zealand, between those who want to grow endlessly, like a cancer, and those who want us to live within our environmental means. Canterbury is at the sharp end of that clash, its aquifers sucked dry and its rivers filled with shit, to meet the demand of farmers for more water to feed more cows making more milk producing more money for their corporate owners (the family farm have gone the way of the Moa long ago). This is opposed by people who see rivers not as "water pouring out to sea", but as valuable in and of themselves, and who want to be able to drink what comes out of their tap without being poisoned by cowpiss. But when the people cry "no more" and elect councillors who work (albeit too slowly) to protect the environment, the advocates of growth try and remove their right to vote. Growth, it seems, comes before even democracy.

Fundamentally, the growth lobby is unsustainable. You can't shit in your own nest forever. If we poison our rivers and drain our aquifers, there will be no economy. Canterbury's farmers, pushing for unfettered water use, are like the people on Easter Island cutting down the last tree. But they're not just destroying their own futures - they're destroying ours as well.