And now for something completely unrelated to the Labour Leadership Campaign.
I recently stumbled upon the Department of Conservation’s vision statement. It is an appalling, poorly written and myopic document which shows how far concern for the environment has declined under this regime.
It is headed “Conservation for Prosperity”. According to this Government the primary or maybe only reason for conservation is the creation of wealth.
The subheadings are that conservation builds health and wellbeing, and conservation builds wealth. These disclose a totally human centric view of the environment. It is there for our benefit. It does not have intrinsic worth that should and needs to be protected. It is not something that we should be in balance with but something that we should use to the greatest extent.
At one level this is not necessarily bad but when you couple the cutting to the funding of branches of Government that are meant to monitor the environmental health of the country you have to be worried. We could be swept away on a feel good promise that we live in a country that is 100% natural while the environmental health degrades without us knowing about it.
The justification for conservation is said to be “investing in conservation is an investment in our prosperity”. So we will be richer if we look after the place. The Government obviously thinks that the only way to persuade people to do something is to appeal to their inner greed.
The Estate is also recognised for its contribution to our health and well being. This is fine as far as it goes but again it shows a totally self centred view of the environment and conservation is only good because we can derive a benefit from it.
The benefit the environment has on addressing climate change is addressed, well sort of. The statement says “[n]ative trees, tussocks and plants … soak up millions of tonnes of carbon every year, purifying the air we breathe.” Why DOC could not explicitly say that the soaking up millions of tonnes of CO2 also counters the effects of climate change is beyond me.
Rivers are said to be important because they “turn the turbines of hydroelectricity stations, giving us the power we need for lighting, heating, cooking and running businesses”. Apart from being sources of power DOC seems to struggle to understand what use or benefits are. They should do a bit of reading in the area and understand how, for instance, the ability of salmon to swim up river directly contributes to the health of the great forests in the west of the United States. There are many many examples of the complexity of the interactions that occur in nature that this document does not even hint at.
Fresh water is said to be important because we need it “to run all industries”. Our need to drink the stuff is oddly not mentioned.
The statement concludes by saying that “[i]nvesting in conservation is an investment in our prosperity.”
There is no mention of stewardship or the intrinsic value of the environment. The document clearly suggests that the environment is for us to use as we see fit. It does not realise that we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our grandchildren.
Having read this document I can now understand the mindset which thinks that there is nothing wrong in allowing the mining of our natural parks. It is simply because they neither understand nor care about nature.