As a dairy farmer I hear a lot of criticism about the perceived environmental impact of farming animals on land, and this has made me extremely environmentally aware.
Everywhere I look I see the environmental impact of humans: people just moving around, eating, breathing and living their lives.
Every buying decision we make has an impact – whether it be food, clothes off the internet from China or an overseas trip. TV advertising incessantly tells us to buy more and more things to make us happy, to make our children happy and to tick off our bucket list.
Big shops bring us zillions of dollar’s worth of colourful plastic shaped into seemingly desirable objects, many of which are discarded quickly in the shape of broken toys, cracked garden gnomes and punctured plastic swimming pools.
Yet where is Greenpeace and other environmentally concerned parties to voice their dissent at this? Not chained to the door of big retail chains shouting advice at shoppers – they are more likely to be disrupting your food source at farm level.
There are news stories criticising food producers regularly, yet the ad breaks are all peddling environmentally destructive rubbish – cosmetics, cleaning products, overseas travel, cars, appliances and technology – and not a word is spoken.
Are farmers singled out as an easy target and a distraction from mass production attempting to satisfy never ending demands of insatiable consumerism? I believe so. And I do not understand it, nor do I enjoy the hypocrisy.
Farmers in New Zealand have somehow become a public whipping boy, severely punished for their perceived environmental impact when other individuals and industries inflict their own damage unchecked and unabated.
This is not an attempt by me as a food producer to avoid meaningful actions to lessen the impact of my own actions – quite the opposite.
It is an attempt to hold up a mirror to the way we New Zealanders, we humans, run our lives and meet our expectations.
Governments are only human and in democracies, they survive on popularity. They probably have no idea what to do about modern issues such as ‘climate change’. Why do we expect them to?
The Government has passed legislation restricting the far-away future of oil and gas exploration which makes some people happy and others angry and doesn’t really affect anyone right this minute, but is a clear signal of where the future should be going.
But the reality is that one cold winter’s night you or your mokopuna go to turn the heater on and there is no power … or you go to turn your cow shed on and there is no power.
It is on that day you realise it is affecting you.
At some stage we are all going to have to revise our expectations of future life. How can you justify an overseas vacation on a plane that inflicts such a huge detrimental effect on the environment, yet it is fashionable for many to jet around, skite about where you have travelled and where you are going next.
Even short road trips are going to become expensive if petrol is $3 a litre. That will make us pull our heads in and really restrict the unfettered movements that many Kiwis enjoy and take for granted.
But is $3 a litre petrol telling you, you can’t afford to do this because of the environmental effect?
The car itself is made of plastic, it’s been manufactured overseas and shipped here. Its movements and fuel are galvanised by dirty energy – fossil fuel – and it emits pollution everywhere it goes.
Of course I have a car too, but what do you expect me to do – ride a push bike or a horse? Maybe we all will.
– Lyn Webster is a Northland dairy farmer.
By: LYN WEBSTER