All political parties talk about growing the economy. People need jobs and a source of income. Somehow the materials and technology we need and use each day need to be created and transported. Somehow we have to live. But does growing the economy that we need to do all of this really need to be environmentally irresponsible? But does being environmentally responsible mean being economically irresponsible?
To both the answer is no.
Sometimes the traditional economic development methods simply do not work any longer. Whereas market driven housing might cost $550,000 to buy a 3 bedroom house in northwest Christchurch, compact housing can cost a fraction of the price; whereas coal, gas and oil contribute substantially to carbon emissions world wide, clean burning rubbish in Waste-to-Energy plants such as those in Europe and the United States can create electricity and reduce wastage at the same time.
Contrary to popular belief environmental related industries actually contribute a substantial amount to the economy. The estimated value of fresh water related tourism and recreational pursuits is $1.7 billion. If well known fisheries and fresh water resources are protected, there is no reason why this figure could not grow further. And it is well known overseas how much New Zealand relies on its environmental image to lure tourists. The tourists themselves are not stupid – they observe how we treat our environment and they are quite happy a few have told me to blow the whistle in their countries of origin if we are not clean.
New Zealand has the potential to be a leading nation in scientific research. The nation that split the atom and developed base isolators to protect buildings from the shock waves of an earthquake, has slipped behind in recent years. This is shown in the mathematical and science performance figures for New Zealand released by the O.E.C.D.The unfortunate war on science that started under the previous Government needs to stop because it is misleading and shows an ignorance of how scientific theory works.
New Zealand can be a leader in clean energy. A few examples of how we can improve our energy are below:
- The country can invest in tidal energy, of which there is an abundance – an estimated 8,800 megawatts of generating capacity if tidal power were fully harnessed. Unlike hydroelectric, wind and solar power, it relies on the twice daily rhythm of the tidal flow..
- Micro generation units are popular overseas and starting to become known in New Zealand – they include micro hydroelectric power schemes installed in irrigation races; some New Zealanders are also experimenting with small solar panels so that during sunny periods they can reduce their power bill, and hopefully heat their water at the same time
- Should Manapouri power station no longer be required by Comalco to run the Tiwai Point smelter new Bluff, then the 850 megawatts it would add to the New Zealand grid would increase available power by about 10%
- In countries such as Denmark rubbish is burnt in combustion units to generate power
So, this idea of National that we will somehow not be able to keep our emissions down because we will be burning more coal is rather absurd. But it is also silly because the two very forms of fossil fuel that Simon Bridges is concerned Labour and New Zealand First are going to cap are in fact themselves serious sources of carbon emissions.
There is one other source of economic development going forward that New Zealand are yet to realize the development potential of. Housing does not need to be the big palatial structures one sees getting built today. Nor do they need to be on life-style blocks, which I believe are actually a misuse of what could be perfectly good agricultural land for growing fruit and vegetables or light grazing. Micro housing is becoming quite popular. Compact housing packages with just a small block of land can retail for less than 1/3 the price of a standard house.
All in all, I believe the age of smart living is here. We have the means and the know how.
Do we have the will?