Environmental catastrophe in Indonesia has NZ link

Rupertdebear drew attention in today’s Open Forum to an ongoing environmental disaster in Indonesia.

The catastrophic environmental, financial, social disaster presently taking place in Indonesia is grossly under reported in our media. Why? Radio New Zealand have some reporting on what is taking place with a comment that links the events to New Zealand Farming.

He linked to an RNZ report  Indonesian haze chokes orangutans.

Indonesia’s threatened orangutans are being choked by the haze from the land-clearing fires burning on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, and being driven out of their habitat into farmland, where they risk being shot.

They covered more of the poor cute animals in danger story before getting to the crux of the problems.

The smoke in this part of the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan has been dense for three months.

Visibility at times is less than 50 metres, and the pollution is so thick that an estimated half a million people are suffering from acute respiratory problems.

The scale of this man-made disaster is immense.

One organisation, the Global Fires Emissions Database, estimates Indonesia has overtaken China and the United States to become the world’s biggest polluter.

It is extraordinary for a nation without major heavy industry and where most people cannot afford to drive cars.

Repeating: The scale of this man-made disaster is immense.

But as Rupetdebear says the media in New Zealand don’t seem to have been particularly interested. Rugby has been far more important it seems.

But there is a New Zealand connection to the massive deforestation as our farmers use KDE, a palm plant by product. The expansion of palm production has driven deforestation in South East Asia.

Maggy Wassilieff explains:

The drivers for increased palm oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia are:
1. very productive plant
2. The demand for trans-free vegetable oils (FDA regulations)
3. The demand for biodiesel.

The palm kernel foodstock is a byproduct of palm-oil production.
It was never the driver for the plantations.
Ill-judged green ideas on biomass fuels and “healthy” foods have played a role in the environmental destruction of Asia’s finest tropical rainforests.

And Rupertdebear adds a long comment but it’s worth repeating in a post:

PKE is a byproduct of these industries which in themselves have dirty secrets large and small. The whole question of Palm Oil is a subject of complex considerations and difficult decisions.

However it is significant that there is compelling evidence that here, in NZ, substantial amounts of PKE are derived from uncertified sources. In other words it is illegal under one or several jurisdiction and certainly immoral and unethical. Leaving this where it falls, I believe that New Zealand farming sector needs to be held to account. In a recent exchange on the Radio New Zealand website I posted this response the recent environmental report on farming.

I am not providing the links here – but you may follow my authorities here:

rnztalk.nz/t/farming-damaging-environment-report/1846/17

Many of us think that the environmental damage caused by New Zealand farming is serious. It gives rise for deep concern on many levels. Issues of cost and efficiency, public health including the imminent threat to our water supply and long term food safety, animal welfare, even how we think of our self as a nation and our international reputation. The list could go on.

Many of us have seen the environmental problems with our own eyes. As someone who retains a close association with the land, I recognize such damage when I see it. Even if I had not had this experience, a casual reading of the media would alert me.

This month the Otago Regional Council’s regulatory committee heard that non-compliance in the 2014-15 financial year was the second highest since the council introduced its effluent discharge enforcement policy in 2007-08. Action over “effluent rule” breaches also peaked in 2014-15, with 18 infringement notices issued and 25 prosecutions undertaken.

Travel south and the situation appears worse. Hundreds of Canterbury dairy farmers have been caught out breaking their resource consent conditions
.
A report by Environment Canterbury (ECan) found more than a third of dairy farms were breaking effluent discharge rules in the last 12 months. In the Orari-Opihi-Parora zone, the third largest in the region, more farms were breaking the rules than following them.

At the beginning of this decade the Crafar Farms became the poster boys for dirty farming. Over a five year period (2007 -2011) multiple pollution and animal welfare offences of the most sickening kind took place – protected, one suspects in large part, by the money involved. At the end it was estimated the Crafar Farms owed $NZ200 million.

Lessons from The Crafar Farms are many but two that are particularly relevant are debt driven compromises and overstocking. The constant chase for the next dollar and unforeseen consequences – perhaps.

One of the many disturbing aspects of this type of crime was the time it took agencies charged with controlling pollution and animal welfare to effectively respond. As reported in 2009 by the New Zealand Herald there are questions (that are still unanswered) about how MAF dealt with the Crafar Farms. These questions include how animals were slaughtered and the speed with which authorities moved to bring under control a management that simply wasn’t managing in the best interests of anyone – man nor beast.

If you think that our authorities are now onto the question of farm related pollution you might want to think again. How does 11 years of polluting sound. To put this into context consider this question, what is the difference between a terrorist and a farmer?

What might be your response to the discovery that a “terrorist” was planning to release toxins into your water supply or poison your food ?

How about someone who releases 300,000 litres of effluent into a river on the Coromandel over a nine hour period ?

Well a Coromandel farmer was found to have done this and far worse in August this year. Over a period of 11 years a “staggering” amount of dairy effluent seeped into the Tairua River. He was finally fined less than $10,000 per year.

“In some respects this is about as bad as it gets,” said council investigations manager Patrick Lynch.

“Often we find discharges that result from carelessness, or even negligence, but someone deliberately polluting is rare, thankfully.”

Well I agree with Mr Lynch that we can be thankful that deliberate pollution is rare but I think we should be very concerned that they often find discharges that result from carelessness!

It is this careless risk that really speaks to the problem. What we know of the incidence of pollution from farming is but the tip of the iceberg. The far greater amount goes undetected except in our analysis of water quality. And the report card on this continues to frighten. As NIWA states:

“Despite a comprehensive clean-up of dirty ‘point-source’ discharges in the 1990s, water quality in many of our lakes and rivers is still declining. The cause this time is ‘diffuse-source’ pollution associated with intensive land use, particularly pastoral farming”.

And it is not as if we have only just discovered this. Read about the outbreak of bacillary dysentery in 1965-66 mainly centred in Stratford and the general problem with pollution from the Waitangi Tribunal.

The problem is well documented, well understood and closely related to our approach to climate change. Similar forms of denial are evident in both cases. Indeed in the way that we tolerate the destruction of our environment we see the tolerance to the destruction of our planet.

As I write this a fire is raging across the 5000-kilometre length of Indonesia.

To quote the link I am providing

“It is surely, on any objective assessment, more important than anything else taking place today. And it shouldn’t require a columnist, writing in the middle of a newspaper, to say so. It should be on everyone’s front page”.

A great tract of the Earth is on fire. It looks as you might imagine hell to be. The air has turned ochre: visibility in some cities has been reduced to 30 metres. Children are being prepared for evacuation in warships; already some have choked to death. Species are going up in smoke at an untold rate. It is almost certainly the greatest environmental disaster of the 21st Century – so far.

On this news site the most dominant story is one of Rugby!

I encourage you to follow the link above and see where we are heading. Watch the video it is happening now and it is horrifying.

Many of us think that the environmental damage caused by New Zealand farming is serious. It gives rise for deep concern on many levels. Issues of cost and efficiency, public health including the imminent threat to our water supply and long term food safety, animal welfare, even how we think of our self as a nation and our international reputation. The list could go on.

Many of us have seen the environmental problems with our own eyes. As someone who retains a close association with the land, I recognize such damage when I see it. Even if I had not had this experience, a casual reading of the media would alert me.

This month the Otago Regional Council’s regulatory committee heard that non-compliance in the 2014-15 financial year was the second highest since the council introduced its effluent discharge enforcement policy in 2007-08. Action over “effluent rule” breaches also peaked in 2014-15, with 18 infringement notices issued and 25 prosecutions undertaken.

Travel south and the situation appears worse. Hundreds of Canterbury dairy farmers have been caught out breaking their resource consent conditions
.
A report by Environment Canterbury (ECan) found more than a third of dairy farms were breaking effluent discharge rules in the last 12 months. In the Orari-Opihi-Parora zone, the third largest in the region, more farms were breaking the rules than following them.

At the beginning of this decade the Crafar Farms became the poster boys for dirty farming. Over a five year period (2007 -2011) multiple pollution and animal welfare offences of the most sickening kind took place – protected, one suspects in large part, by the money involved. At the end it was estimated the Crafar Farms owed $NZ200 million.

Lessons from The Crafar Farms are many but two that are particularly relevant are debt driven compromises and overstocking. The constant chase for the next dollar and unforeseen consequences – perhaps.

One of the many disturbing aspects of this type of crime was the time it took agencies charged with controlling pollution and animal welfare to effectively respond. As reported in 2009 by the New Zealand Herald there are questions (that are still unanswered) about how MAF dealt with the Crafar Farms. These questions include how animals were slaughtered and the speed with which authorities moved to bring under control a management that simply wasn’t managing in the best interests of anyone – man nor beast.

If you think that our authorities are now onto the question of farm related pollution you might want to think again. How does 11 years of polluting sound. To put this into context consider this question, what is the difference between a terrorist and a farmer?

What might be your response to the discovery that a “terrorist” was planning to release toxins into your water supply or poison your food ?

How about someone who releases 300,000 litres of effluent into a river on the Coromandel over a nine hour period ?

Well a Coromandel farmer was found to have done this and far worse in August this year. Over a period of 11 years a “staggering” amount of dairy effluent seeped into the Tairua River. He was finally fined less than $10,000 per year.

“In some respects this is about as bad as it gets,” said council investigations manager Patrick Lynch.

“Often we find discharges that result from carelessness, or even negligence, but someone deliberately polluting is rare, thankfully.”

Well I agree with Mr Lynch that we can be thankful that deliberate pollution is rare but I think we should be very concerned that they often find discharges that result from carelessness!

It is this careless risk that really speaks to the problem. What we know of the incidence of pollution from farming is but the tip of the iceberg. The far greater amount goes undetected except in our analysis of water quality. And the report card on this continues to frighten. As NIWA states:

“Despite a comprehensive clean-up of dirty ‘point-source’ discharges in the 1990s, water quality in many of our lakes and rivers is still declining. The cause this time is ‘diffuse-source’ pollution associated with intensive land use, particularly pastoral farming”.

And it is not as if we have only just discovered this. Read about the outbreak of bacillary dysentery in 1965-66 mainly centred in Stratford and the general problem with pollution from the Waitangi Tribunal.

The problem is well documented, well understood and closely related to our approach to climate change. Similar forms of denial are evident in both cases. Indeed in the way that we tolerate the destruction of our environment we see the tolerance to the destruction of our planet.

As I write this a fire is raging across the 5000-kilometre length of Indonesia.

To quote the link I am providing

“It is surely, on any objective assessment, more important than anything else taking place today. And it shouldn’t require a columnist, writing in the middle of a newspaper, to say so. It should be on everyone’s front page”.

A great tract of the Earth is on fire. It looks as you might imagine hell to be. The air has turned ochre: visibility in some cities has been reduced to 30 metres. Children are being prepared for evacuation in warships; already some have choked to death. Species are going up in smoke at an untold rate. It is almost certainly the greatest environmental disaster of the 21st Century – so far.

On this news site the most dominant story is one of Rugby!

I encourage you to follow the link above and see where we are heading. Watch the video it is happening now and it is horrifying.

Leave a comment

7 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  3rd November 2015

    Links I posted on the other thread:

    “PKE sold by Fonterra’s subsidiary RD1 is bought from INL, who import it from a single source, Wilmar International. Wilmar practices a “no burn” policy, respects designated conservation areas, employs wildlife protection experts, and is on target to complete RSPO certification audits for all their plantation operations by 2015. Wilmar recently announced that it no longer develops plantations on peat-land.”
    https://www.fonterra.com/nz/en/sustainability+platform/sustainable+dairying/sustainable+dairying+(sd)/sustainable+dairying
    -http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/palm-oil-giant-Wilmar-commits-no-deforestation/blog/47623/

    http://www.wilmar-international.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Wilmars-Efforts-to-Mitigate-Forest-Buring-and-Haze-Amended.pdf

    Reply
  2. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  3rd November 2015

    Goodness P.G. You could have done an edit on Rupertdebear’s missive.

    How on earth can I scroll through all that material on my little galaxy s3mini?

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  3rd November 2015

      There is some duplication in that screed as well – about farmers as terrorists.

      Reply
      • kiwi_guy

         /  3rd November 2015

        I was going to say I was all on board until that bit popped up:

        “what is the difference between a terrorist and a farmer?”

        And I get repeatedly accused of being “provocative” around here.

        Reply
  3. kiwi_guy

     /  3rd November 2015

    Indonesia is a Third World basket case, why do we let them immigrate here?

    “The current president, Joko Widodo, is – or wants to be – a democrat. But he presides over a nation in which fascism and corruption flourish. As Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary The Act of Killing shows, leaders of the death squads that helped murder around a million people during Suharto’s terror in the 1960s, with the approval of the West, have since prospered through other forms of organised crime, including illegal deforestation.

    They are supported by a paramilitary organisation with three million members, called Pancasila Youth. With its orange camo-print uniforms, scarlet berets, sentimental gatherings and schmaltzy music, it looks like a fascist militia as imagined by JG Ballard. There has been no truth, no reconciliation; the mass killers are still greeted as heroes and feted on television. In some places, especially West Papua, the political murders continue.”

    http://www.monbiot.com/2015/10/30/nothing-to-see-here/

    Reply
  4. Brown

     /  3rd November 2015

    What is the most populous Muslim country? Same shit, same culture, different country.

    Reply
  5. Rupertdebear’s screed (sadly unedited) was so filled with errors and distortions that it reflects poorly on Pete in repeating such garbage. For example, in one of Rupertdebear’s first paragraphs, Ruperdebear states “here is compelling evidence that here, in NZ, substantial amounts of PKE are derived from uncertified sources”. In fact shipments of PKE are certified (partly because it is a MPI entry requirement for biosecurity purposes).

    Reply

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