I love the great outdoors, I’ve grown up immersed in what it has to offer and care greatly about its future and making sure the next generation is lucky enough to enjoy the scenic wonder and recreational pursuits that I’ve been fortunate enough to. While I’m passionate about the environment I don’t consider myself a greenie.
I remember growing up seeing a bumper sticker which read “the only fresh air is the space between a greenie’s ears”.
That phrase has always stuck with me.
Well-intentioned yet illogical rhetoric from the green lobby, personal apathy and misplaced polices of political parties both foreign and domestic are the real threat to our environment.
Aside from a handful of exceptions, the poorest countries on earth have the largest challenges in terms of their environment and the loss of native flora and fauna going forward.
Their lack of wealth means they have very few choices and they are easily exploited by large corporations.
At a local level, if people are cold they need to burn what they can to keep warm or cook food.
If they are hungry they need to eat what’s available regardless how or where it’s grown to survive.
They cannot think about preservation for the greater good as they simply don’t have that luxury.
New Zealand is different; our relative affluence gives us choices.
We can choose to use plastic bags or not, or to protect some areas of our country from logging or mining for the next generation.
Even though we might forego some short-term economic gain, our country can afford it.
We have chosen to try to restore some of our native species and become predator-free by 2050.
Wildlife preservation campaigns are not cheap, neither is pest eradication, and all of these things come at a great cost and all rely on a successful economy to deliver funding.
There is a balance between the economy and the environment and we at least have the freedom of speech and political alignment to debate it.
However, it seems often the conversation is sidetracked by the extreme green lobby and their views that defy logic and common sense at times.
As a result of this pressure at a global level we are about to spend $14 billion over the next decade on buying carbon credits to meet our Paris accord obligations. This is despite our greenhouse gas emissions being an inconsequential 0.1 per cent of global emissions.
How many new waste treatment plants, waterway and beach clean-ups or recycling campaigns could that money buy?
Not to mention the social services or even tax cuts for hard-working Kiwis.
Also riddle me this, what is more natural, a handful of Hereford beef cattle drinking from a high country creek or thousands of flush toilets funnelling human waste, sanitary products and cleaning chemicals via often sub-standard local septic and centralised waste treatment stations back into our waterways, oceans and ground water?
While it may be manageable and sensible to exclude livestock-intensive lowland farms, excluding those animals on our extensive farms would require millions of treated fence posts, concrete troughs and plastic piping from here to the moon.
The visual pollution alone would be devastating to our high country vistas.
We need to continue to have a common sense approach that allows the drivers of our economy to continue to operate in parts of our landscape so that we can foot the bill to protect others and maintain the quality of life Kiwis expect.
The environment is vital for our economy and our economy is vital in allowing us to protect the environment.
The fact they go hand-in-hand is often forgotten by certain elements in our society.
Mark Wilson is a Queenstown National Party man who likes old-school stuff like burning coal and wearing denim