Meatless days won’t save world

September 8, 2008

The United Nations wants us to eat less meat to reduce our carbon footprint.

People should have one meat-free day a week if they want to make a personal and effective sacrifice that would help tackle climate change, the world’s leading authority on global warming has told The Observer

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which last year earned a joint share of the Nobel Peace Prize, said that people should then go on to reduce their meat consumption even further.

I hope he knows more about climate change than diet because health professionals are generally agreed that we shouldn’t eat too much meat at all and that three to five small servings of lean red meat a week is enough.

So we should already be having a couple of meat-free days if we want to lower our risk of heart disease and some cancers. But urging us to do it for environmental reasons is more contentious.

Obesity is literally a growing problem for some but others are starving because the world is short of protein and the mad rush to replace fossil fuels with bio fuels is one of the reasons for that. This prescription for meat-free days could also have unforeseen consequences without reducing carbon emissions.

I hope the work on climate change for which the doctor is so highly regarded is more credible than his pronouncement on meat eating because he doesn’t seem to realise that that some people going without meat doesn’t necessarily alter the number of animals being farmed and the total amount of meat being eaten. Farmers might keep the same size of herds and find new markets and customers for their produce.

Also not all meat production is equal. The extensive grasslands production methods used in New Zealand, Australia and Argentina has a much lower carbon footprint than intensive grain fed systems employed in most of Europe – even when you take into account transporting the meat part way round the world to get it to the market.

Crop production and processing isn’t necessarily equal either. While generally producing a given amount of nutrients from crops may result in lower carbon emissions than producing the same amount from meat; some meat production could be more carbon-efficient than growing, harvesting and producing some crops.

The science is not settled on climate change and unscientific pronouncements like these from Dr Pacahuri only add to the questions.

[Bob Edlin has a related post at Dig n Stir.]

Hat tip: Inquiring Mind


Do you sense a diversion coming?

September 8, 2008

Inventory 2 reckons that Labour will launch a diversion to take attention off tomorrow’s priviliges committee revelations by Owen Glenn.

There are no prizes, just the glory, for the best prediction made about what the diversion might be. You can make yours by popping over to Keeping Stock.


ETS flaws

September 8, 2008

Ngai Tahu says the Emissions Trading Scheme will threaten Iwi assets.

And National environment spokesman Nick Smith says news errors  have been found in the ETS legislation:

These significant errors will needlessly cost industry millions of dollars. Fonterra alone has identified the cost at $13.5 million per year.

“Government officials have accepted these errors, affecting clauses 57 and 69 and schedules 3 and 4 of the bill, and are now scrambling to find a way to make the corrections.

“The problem is that the opportunity for amending the bill has passed, as only the title and third reading stages remain.

. . .”It is not good enough for the Minister to dismiss concerns by saying these are just technical amendments when a few words wrong can cost many millions of dollars.

“This bill represents one of this country’s biggest economic reforms. It is grossly irresponsible to be ramming it through with hundreds of new amendments, when the public has had no opportunity to comment, and when not a single MP can credibly claim to understand it.

The Electoral Finance Act was bulldozed through against advice in much the same way Labour and its allies are ramming through the ETS legislation. The EFA has had a chililng effect on democracy and ironically for legislation which is aimed to combat climate change, the ETS will have a chilling imapct on our economy and society.


SFF votes for PGW offer

September 8, 2008

Silver Fern shareholders have voted to accept PGG Wrightson’s offer to take a 50% stake in their company.

The counting is still going on but they already have the 75% majority needed for the deal to go ahead.

Jamie McKay has just interviewed SFF chief executive Ketih Cooper about the vote on what happens next on The Farming Show. It will be on line here later.

[Update: TV3 reports on the result and what it means here.]

[U[date 2 – Rural Network reports more fully here.]


Liberal’s mission helps Nats

September 8, 2008

Glenn Jameson has been criticised by some Libertarianz for working for the National Party election campaign.

His response is:

I have a single-minded objective: to help bring an end to the most corrupt government New Zealand has ever seen. . .

That she [Helen Clark] said this without blushing demonstrates just how deep the corruption has seeped. She sees no vice in stealing money from the taxpayer to fund an 11th hour campaign that saw her retain power by the narrowest of majorities. She has justified within herself the bullying of the judiciary to drop charges on a prima facie case of the public money. She sleeps soundly at night in the knowledge that she took the unprecedented step to rewrite the law to make the aforementioned theft legal so as to avoid being taken to court by Libertarianz leader Bernard Darnton.

Two years later her government followed up this Mugabean act with the EFA, singularly the most draconian, anti-freedom legislation ever written in New Zealand: the act that works to dissolve the first and last right of a citizenry in a civilised country – that is, the right to criticise one’s government.

When I took the role on the marketing team for the National Party I knew I’d have to suffer the enmity of most of you here. I also knew I’d be roundly criticised by my peers for a campaign that was always going to have fewer teeth than its predecessor. I don’t blame Cresswell & Co. for their mockery, outrage and sense of betrayal; they will never see the light that exists between National and a party that is truly corrupt.

I want to see the restoration of free and fair elections in New Zealand, and since Helen Clark refuses to step down for the good of her country I’m doing everything in my power to make her. John Key has promised to end the EFA. It’s my job to make sure he has the chance to do so.

There is only one party which can end Clark’s government and that’s National.  Jameson recognises that and has chosen to use his skills to work for National because he wants to defeat Labour.

The comments below his post make entertaining reading.  Some are from people who pride themselves on being liberal but are appalled at he’s exercising his freedom to work for whoever he chooses; others accept his right to do it.

And for those like me who saw the the health billboard and thought, good policy – bad grammar, Jameson explains:

For the record, the line I’d written was “LESS BUREAUCRACY”. They wanted the message to be about fewer bureaucrats. I was overruled on the grammar. The ‘mistake’ was deliberate and all this extra attention it has generated appears to have made the minor embarrassment worth it.


PM triggers early election

September 8, 2008

Sadly it’s not ours but the Canadian PM.

Canada’s prime minister has triggered an early election, dissolving Parliament in a bid to bolster his party’s grip on power in a vote next month that will be the country’s third national ballot in four years.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he expects the October 14 vote to produce another minority government but recent polls show the Conservatives could win the majority they need to rule without help from opposition parties.

Analysts said Harper’s party has a better shot of winning now than if they had waited until being forced into a vote later when the Canadian economy might be worse off or after Canadians could be influenced by the US presidential election results.


Come home campaign canned

September 8, 2008

What a surprise – the come home Kiwis campaign didn’t work.

A marketing campaign aimed at luring expat New Zealanders home from Australia has been canned and declared a failure.

An evaluation of the campaign, obtained under The Official Information Act by The Dominion Post, found it received more media coverage in New Zealand than Australia.

The campaign was launched in May 2006 at a cost $1 million a year.

A similar campaign was more successful in Britain where it was launched in November 2005.

The evaluation found New Zealanders were more integrated in Australia than in Britain and the lifestyle was not sufficiently different to be a selling point.

It was cancelled because it had “not proven to be effective”.

Neither campaign made any difference in the number of people leaving New Zealand.

It’s not people choosing to leave the country for their OE nor choosing not to return that is the real problem.

It is the people who feel they have to go and can’t come back because they have a better life in other countries that is the real problem.

The solution to that is not spin, it’s economic growth and the social improvements which come with it.


EFA litigious bomb

September 8, 2008

The ODT couldn’t have said it better:

There can be no doubt now that the Electoral Finance Act is a litigious bomb waiting to go off.

You can read the rest of its editorial here.


ETS makes us naked emperor

September 8, 2008

One of the many criticisms about the rushed legislation to introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme is that we are outpacing our trading partners.

Eric Roy, quoted in a column by Steve Braunias in the Sunday Start Times (not on-line) put it this way:

Climate change, he said, was like a nudist club where every other nation was a member but New Zealand was the only country taking its clothes off.

The Dominion Post  uses less colourful language:

The Government should have opted for a more measured approach, linked to what other nations do. It should have sought to build a political consensus for an enduring system, and National should have been a more willing participant in that.

There is no question that Labour is well-intentioned. Despite that, the legislation is part of a strategy that remains deeply flawed. It risks concentrating on the accountancy of who ends up picking up the bill for carbon emissions, rather than on reducing those emissions. The debate over what sort of assigned amount units – a form of Kyoto carbon credit – can be used to balance the books is a symptom of that. So too is the decision to pay an average of $112 a household as a one-off compensation for the expected increase in the cost of power.

The reality is that the scheme, designed to meet New Zealand’s Kyoto protocol commitment, will end up increasing the prices that consumers pay for all manner of things, and damage the economy, without necessarily doing anything about reducing the amount of carbon emitted in New Zealand.

The high economic and social costs might have been justified if the ETS was going to have a positive impact on the environment but it won’t.

The money and energy which would be better spent on research will be wasted on bureaucracy, consultants and traders.

There will be no decrease in global emissions as a result of our scheme and there may even be an increase if production is exported.

To extend Eric’s metaphor, the ETS will turn us in to a naked emperor. It will strip our economic and social fabric without providing any environmental benefit to cover us.


Death by overcrowding

September 8, 2008

Emergency doctors say overcrowding in hospitals  is killing patients.

They are calling for a 15% increase in the number of beds to help solve the problem, following research that indicates hundreds die every year.

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine is holding a conference in Melbourne on Friday to combat the crisis of overcrowding in hospital emergency departments, caused mainly by having too few inpatient beds.

An international review of studies on EDs, done for the college, finds that overcrowding and blocked access increases the risk of death 10 days later by 34%.

The review, by the University of New South Wales, calculates the excess death toll in Australia is similar to the annual road toll of about 1500.

Dr Tim Parke, clinical director of Auckland City Hospital’s adults’ emergency department, said yesterday the number of deaths in New Zealand probably matched its road toll too.

Typically, more than 400 people die on New Zealand roads each year.

Who was it said if we gave them a little more tax they’d “fix” health?

Who’s taken a lot more tax and wasted it on bloating the bureaucracy rather than increasing front line health professionals?

The ideal occupancy of inpatient wards is 85%, but many New Zealand hospitals often run at more than 90%, especially in winter. Waikato Hospital reached 109% last Monday.

The college says the core problem is lack of beds and a 15% increase is needed in Australia and New Zealand.

“Nationally, we would hope occupancy is 85%.” Dr Parke said, “And if that means more beds, then so be it.”

. . . When hospitals are overcrowded, ED patients can wait many hours and, in one North Shore Hospital case reported last year by the The New Zealand Herald, four days, before being admitted to a ward or given surgery.

Overcrowded emergency departments lead to worse outcomes because of factors like delays in starting antibiotics for pneumonia, delayed heart-attack care and patients simply being overlooked because they are on a trolley in a corridor.

I wonder if over crowding also means people are sent home sooner than is optimal which can prolong recovery and lead to more re-admissions.

Early discharges also put pressure on over-stretched community services.


Let there be more light

September 8, 2008

The New Zealand Association of Optometrists has joined those criticising eco-blubs which will be compulsorary from next year.

National director Lesley Frederikson said members were reporting their patients, especially the elderly, were struggling to read since installing the new energy-efficient bulbs, which are to become compulsory from next year.

“As we age, we need more and better lighting for reading. The eco-bulbs are coiled fluorescent lamps that radiate 75 percent of their light horizontally. When installed in a downlight, or similar fitting, most of the light cannot escape,” Dr Frederikson said.

An NZAO study also found that as with people’s eyesight, the bulbs’ performance went downhill over time, losing about a third of their brightness by the time they expired.

The final complaint involved the bulbs’ need to warm up before reaching full brightness.

Dr Frederikson warned against installing the bulbs in hallways where the light would be used only briefly as it might reach just 20 percent of its brightness.

“This can make the risk of tripping and falling much greater.”

She said the elderly and those with reduced vision needed options when sorting their lighting.

“It would be a sad irony for many if eco-bulbs saved the planet but we were no longer able to see it.”

My sight is deteriorating and I’m at the stage which enables me to read without glasses in good light. I struggle in the living room where we’ve got eco bulbs and I have to use desk lamp in the office because the eco bulbs don’t provide enough light for me to read by at night.


Vote expected to be close

September 8, 2008

If the vote over whether PGG Wrigthson takes a 50% stake in SIlver Fern Farms required only 51% support I think it would succeed.

But it requires 75% and the result is predicted to be close.

Informed observers are picking support by Silver Fern Farm (SFF) shareholders on whether to form a partnership with rural servicing company PGG Wrightson will lie between 70% and 80%.

This means the vote on the key resolution – the second of two to be considered – could go either way.

It amends the co-operative’s constitution and needs 75% support for the partnership to proceed.

“It will be close because there is such a high threshold,” SFF chairman Eoin Garden said.

. . . Other farming leaders agree the vote will be close.

Meat and Wool New Zealand chairman Mike Petersen said the final count on the key resolution would be 70%-80%.

“It will be a line call whether it gets through,” Mr Petersen said.

Federated Farmers Otago meat and fibre chairman Rob Lawson said there appeared to be plenty of support for the proposal, but it was too close to say whether it was sufficient.

He said the decision meant today was a key day for the industry.

Southland Federated Farmers president David Rose also said it would be close.

“I can’t pick it at the moment.”

Friday’s special general meeting of Alliance Group shareholders made it quite clear that they have no wish to merge with SFF so if the vote goes agaisnt the merger today SFF’s plan B won’t involve the other big co-operative.

And given that there will be around 9 million fewer sheep to kill this year, whether PGW is involved or not the meat industry has not yet finished what SFF calls its “right sizing”.


United Future not interested in Sth Island

September 8, 2008

The first South Islander on United Future’s list which was announced yesterday is Robin Loomes in Port Hills at number 11.

He’s a statistician so no doubt he’ll be able to work out that at current polling  which puts UF at .5% the odds of him getting in to parliament and his party having a South Island MP are well below the margin of error.

Given that polling I suppose it’s irrelevant because they’re unlikely to have more than one MP anyway. But the party’s best ever result was eight MPs (in 2002) so it would have been a better look to have a token South Islander in the first eight.

People who say MMP is more representative obviously aren’t talking about geographical representation.

The complete list is:

1. Hon Peter Dunne MP, Leader – (Ohariu)
2. Judy Turner MP, Deputy Leader – (East Coast)
3. Denise Krum – (Maungakiekie)
4. Graeme Reeves – (Wairarapa)
5. Pulotu Selio Solomon – (Mangere)
6. Murray Smith – (Hutt South)
7. Neville Wilson – (Mt Roskill)
8. Frank Owen – (Palmerston North)
9. Janet Tuck – (Epsom)
10. Karuna Muthu – (Rongotai)
11. Robin Loomes – (Port Hills)
12. Greg Graydon – (Tamaki)
13. Damian Light – (North Shore)
14 Vanessa Roberts – (Wigram)
15. Aaron Galey-Young – (Auckland Central)
16. Ian McInnes – (East Coast Bays)
17. Kelleigh Sheffield-Cranstoun – (Waimakariri)
18. Brian Ward – (Rangitata)
19. Vaughan Smith – (Wellington Central)
20. Jim Stowers – (Manurewa)
21. Bryan Mockridge – (Papakura)
22. Jayati Prasad – (List only)


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