Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Today is not a good day to be a New Zealander.

The situation with the MV Rena worsened overnight, drastically. There is now anywhere up to 350 tonnes of oil in the water. There is still little official response to the oil washing up on beaches, with local volunteers spearheading the effort to clean it up despite the risk to themselves in doing so without proper safety gear, which any prepared country should have available. Meanwhile, National's plan is... to wait until it gets worse. @BreakingNews on Twitter, an international newsfeed, has already tweeted that this is our worst maritime environmental disaster ever - how long until they drop the word 'maritime'?

Meanwhile, leaked documents have revealed the government's stance on establishing a marine reserve in the Ross Sea. That is, we can't do it, because it would damage our ability to fish toothfish. Toothfish are longlived and slow-maturing, and as soon as I learned that it told me everything I needed to know. They're fucked. It's been a consistent story through history - species that are longlived and slow-maturing have a tendency to die shortly after encountering humanity. (Not all of them, to be clear - the fact that there are still longlived and slow-maturing species alive does not negate this point. The fact that many of them are critically endangered especially doesn't.)

Today, I am honestly ashamed of this country. I fully believe that the current government will destroy anything that stands in its way if its allowed to continue down this path, and while that would be terrible anywhere, the fact that New Zealand has so much biodiversity that simply can't be found anywhere else makes it even more tragic. The only glimmer of hope lately has been the truly impressive response by the Greens to the Rena disaster - they have been incredibly active in talking to the public, investigating what's going on and keeping people informed - check out this post by Gareth Hughes regarding the helpfulness of chemical dispersants. No one else in the public view is asking these questions. Their web presence is especially vital these days in reaching those who otherwise would have to rely on mainstream media for news, when the media both locally and worldwide has repeatedly failed over the last several months and years to represent situations accurately and without bias.

The fact that anyone could genuinely believe that humanity does not have an important impact on the planet is utterly depressing. The fact our government itself seems to think that "opinion" is more important than science is even moreso.

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