Saturday, 5 December 2015

Let the battle commence.

In the right corner we have the Environmentalists….. Mike joy, is a senior lecturer at Massey University’s institute of Agriculture and Environment, has been described as the “rock star” of Freshwater Ecology (Heins, 2014). I guess that’s because he charismatic and is able to communicate well with people. Maybe it’s the long hair. He is an ecologist who has waded into the muddy waters of political debate.
Joy’s (2012) says that New Zealand’s fresh water is in a shocking state and deteriorating fast. The main culprits are the farmers. The fertilizers they use are leaching off the soil into the rivers and the animal waste is creating dangerous pathogens. Nitrogen and Phosphate levels are increasing and we are killing off our native species. He is looking at the situation from the point of view that the health of the ecological system is of paramount importance. Given our dairy dependent economy he sees that the problem can only be solved by regulation.  Our Governments, central and local aren’t doing enough.

Everyone: The Environmentalists, the Government, The Farmers and the general public agree that clean water is desirable and something we should be striving for. The disagreement is over what is clean enough and how it should be achieved.

And, in the left corner, the leaders of the farming industry……the Federated Farmers. Their environmental spokesperson, Ian McKenzie (2014) says the Blame should not be put on the farmers but on run off from Urban centres. He asserts that water quality is good enough and that getting it to the standards that would please environmentalists is unworkable because it is too hard.  There are also the costs that include the price of plantings, fencings and waste treatment. 
Mackenzie (2014) claims that the Dairy industry in New Zealand has taken the bull by the horns (sorry, couldn’t resist it) and that the voluntary initiatives will be enough to remedy the situation to a sufficiently good standard. It is clearly a case of he who pays the piper calls the tune. Federated farmers are protecting the short term interests of the group they represent without looking at the long term economic and social implications.

Heins, A. (2014). Dr Mike Joy lecture. Retrieved from
Joy, M. (2012). Mike Joy details the scientific evidence against intensive dairying and how it is affecting our freshwater systems. How do you see it? Rural news. Retrieved from
Mackenzie, I. (2014). Why Green isn't the best colour for water. Retrieved from


Christina Victoria said...

The scenario of parties interested in short-term financial gain neglecting to consider the long-term environmental impact of their activities is all too prevalent across almost any socio-scientific market-related issue you choose to investigate, it seems. There is almost always a controversial so-called 'grey area' in these debates, e.g what constitutes 'clean enough', 'sustainable enough' etc. drastically differs among different sides of the debate, which makes these issues difficult to provide a solution to. Especially when there are immense commercial interests involved combined with an increasing demand due to a growing population.

By the way, I'm not sure if the fedfarm article you mention is appropriate. I think we're supposed to stick to scholarly sources and steer clear of sources that have the 'opinion editorial' label on them.

Gabrielle Joseph said...

Yeah. I think I lost focus on the scholarly articles when I got emenshed in the regulation side of the question and decided to rewrite the whole thing on Saturday. The Farmers didn't actually have a lot of scholaly research to back up their claims that fresh water was "good eneough".

Jindina Locke said...

Interesting that the farmers point the blame at urban centres. I studied the eutrophication effects of fertiliser run-off in a previous course, and it can be pretty damaging stuff. There was a great episode on "The Water Boys" looking at it, and they met a farmer who was doing everything the old fashioned way with rotation of crops and animals to avoid needing any fertilisers at all. I wonder if over-farming is depleting the soil to the point where adding back nutrients is now necessary.

Cherie Grey said...

I Love the way you framed the two sides like boxers in a prize fight. The topic itself leads to a lot debate as coming from a farming back I know how important grass growth is to a farmers lively hood.

Jill Godwin said...

I believe scientists have a figured out how to make milk from grass without the cow? 1: Is this correct, and 2: what does the research say about how the figures stack up exactly- I presume they don't as present otherwise it would be happening.