Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sustainability, Climate Change and Global Warming

Fresh water is vital to humans as well as to all plants, animals, insects, birds and freshwater creatures. It is one of the major international, national and local issues of the world. Fresh water for drinking  is vital for human survival as it is also vital for the growth of our food crops, meat and poultry. The higher quality the water the better the end product. Retention of our fresh water sources and resources must take top priority for the future of our civilisation.

Energy in all its forms are essential for us to continue to live in the manner in which we want to become accustomed with access to all the mod cons, entertainment and communication devices we can afford. Unfortunately global warming is a result of the  consumption of oil, coal, wood and other combustible products which have led to global warming and climate change which is now a main stream school of thought however the public discussion is still limited to those who want action and those who do not want action.

Population growth has continued to change the way in which we live. More people, more land for housing etc, more food, more  consumer products all adds up to more production, imports/exports and waste. Consumerism is still with us and getting stronger as technology develops faster than we can wear out our  purchases.

Collectively we all wish to see ourselves, our children and others in the world living a better life. Yet the would globally is facing huge challenges about how to deal with all these global happenings. Additionally people are trying to tackle these one at a time which only gets traction from time to time when politicians are listening.

This week a number of the worlds most powerful business leaders suggested that some of these are the biggest issues in the world to be resolved and they are important to business and to the world.

A recent spotlight on Denmark shows that as a country they have set about tackling a few of these issues like transport and energy with the bicycle now being one of the most preferred forms of transport and wind power a major source of energy.

The answer is not just one thing it is a variety of things that are all interrelated into the way in which we have developed our lifestyle. As some say there is no silver bullet. If fact it is more likely to be many small and larger changes that will enable us to develop ways to conserve this world for ourselves and our future generations.

When thinking about dams being created to store water, large tracts of good quality land being carved up for housing or  new form of waste disposal taking a larger tract of land, to more roads being created I think about a few words my Uncle used to say You know Alan, they are not making any more land. How true.

Here in New Zealand we still take an old fashioned approach to storing water by suggesting we create dams across rivers and valley entrance ways to create artificial lakes. Rivers, riverbeds and their valleys are a supreme source of biodiversity. Damming them is like killing nature.

We build more roads because we want to get more people some where faster even when there is a clear body of evidence that alternate transport  options are much better.

We build more subdivisions because it appears to be the only way we know to design living spaces rather than taking a community led approach we take a developer led approach and we get the housing a developer thinks we should have rather than something better.

We buy more stuff because we are told it is good for you yet in many cases we know it is not. Imported stuff costs something to make and something to get it to NZ all the time using energy resources.

 Lets just take the water issue. So what is the answer? There is no one big answer but there are a lot of little answers. Conservationists have for years argued that damming rivers is wrong because of the very high biodiversity social and cultural values. Using ground water at increasing rates  of extraction is likely to see a reduction in underground water stores in the very near future and if we are lucky it will not be contaminated.

We do need to think about this differently. Maybe the newly proposed Water Resources Strategy will help. The only problem with that is will it be accepted, will it provide the frame work for good decisions, can it change direction or stop things when the evidence is clear there is a problem or will we use it  as a tool to continue doing the same thing. Plans are OK but people make decisions based on those plans. If the decisions are wrong because we ignore a good plan we have a problem.

As my uncle said they are not making any more land lets take that a step further and say they are not making any more land, rivers, forests, birds, animals and nature. We have to work together to get it right now.

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