Wednesday, October 21, 2015

An interesting change

Today the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand released Environment Aotearoa 2015 [PDF], our first "state of the environment" report since 2007. The report is supposed to be a "dry run" for reporting under the new Environmental Report Act 2015 (which is not yet in force), and it paints a fairly dismal picture of the increasing effects of climate change and dairy farming on our environment. But there's something very interesting about it: the topics have changed.

Back in March, Statistics New Zelaand released its topics for environmental reporting in 2015, a political hatchet-job which sought to measure extreme weather events not by incidence of fire, flood and drought, but by lightning strike density marine pollution by debris rather than oil spills, and the effects of climate change by milk production and ski-field operating days (yes, really). The overall thrust was to avoid looking at key environmental problems, while keeping the focus of others (such as climate change) on natural causes and other countries. But today's report doesn't track lightning strikes or marine debris or milk production or any of the other Ministerially chosen bullshit measures designed to obfuscate our problems. Instead, it actually looks at our environment. That's welcome, but I'm curious: what changed and why?