web analytics

A Sugar Coated World

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, October 24th, 2017 - 42 comments
Categories: capitalism, disaster, Economy, Environment, farming, farming, food, global warming, science, sustainability - Tags: , ,

According to this study carried out over a 27 year period on nature reserves in Germany, the volume of flying insects in summer has plummeted by about 80%.

Quite a few articles of late have made the observation that the days of the car windscreen being ‘bug splat city’ of a summer evening’s drive seem to be thing of the past. And I think many would say the same about the congregations of flitting moths that used to dance around outside lights left on at night.

According to this study  by the US Dept of Agriculture, we can sensibly suggest that the nutritional content of plants has dropped by about 30% since the beginning of the industrial revolution  (ie, since 1840 or thereabouts).

Off the back of insect numbers taking a dive, bird numbers are taking a dive too. So for example, starling numbers are down by about 80% across the UK since the mid 1970s,  and they are now on the endangered list (red listed). You can go through google keying in various birds and the change in their population if depression is your fancy.

Various media commentators have been putting these crashes in bird and insect populations down to farming practices and our use of agri-chemicals. Now, not to put too fine a point on it, but that argument’s bullshit. Yes, mono-culture and the use of insecticides most definitely affect insect and bird populations. But the declines are global and not limited to heavily farmed areas, or countries employing modern, chemical reliant modes of agriculture.

From this article (Yale University) – “According to global monitoring data for 452 species, there has been a 45 percent decline in invertebrate populations over the past 40 years. DIRZO, “Defaunation in the Anthropocene” – SCIENCE (2014)”

The common global factor affecting insect numbers, isn’t mono-culture or chemical use, but atmospheric levels of CO2. High CO2 levels induce plants to accumulate more sugars at the expense of protein. And we know what happens in that scenario. We know that increased sugar levels and diminished protein levels equates to increasing degrees of malnutrition and death. We could flip over to various sustainable farming practices tomorrow morning, do it across the entire world, and insect numbers would keep dropping.

Table (a) and (b) below show the shift in the carbon /nitrogen ratio (essentially the sugar/protein mix) of goldenrod samples from 1840 onwards in response to CO2 levels, and  the resultant drop in the plant’s protein levels.

Since the more recent drop in nutritional content of goldenrod tracks the drop in other studied crops/plants from the past 40 years, it would seem safe enough to assume those other plants/crops (that we have no historical samples extending back to the 1840s for ) would show a similar long term decrease in nutritional content as that exhibited by goldenrod. That being the case, insects that rely on plants as a food source are pretty well screwed. And as a consequence, any plants that rely on insects for pollination are pretty well screwed. And anything that relies on insects as a principle food source is likewise screwed. Not only that, but the poor of our own species whose main source of protein is from plants, yup, you got it – they’re screwed.

So yeah. Maybe sugar coating the world by sparking up every bit of fossil we can lay our hands on isn’t such a good idea after all. Not that you’d pick that up from any government policy in any part of the world that’s supposedly designed to head off global warming.

Policies proclaiming no new internal combustion engines for sale by 2025, ’35 or whenever; net zero emissions by 2050 by way of trade or tax or whatnot; and any other damned thing I’ve come across by way of government action on global warming are so far wide and so far short of the mark, that the policy makers and the politicians behind them ought to be, at the very least dragged through the streets to stocks where they can be pelted and buried under whatever increasingly useless starchy fruit and vegetable we can lay our hands on – at least while we have enough insect pollinators around to provide us with ever more starchy fruit and vegetables.

But you know that what we do now is what we’ve always done before and will probably do in the future.

We’ll continue to be party to a general culture of encouragement that claps and yelps for the brave foresight of stupid politicians and idiotic policy makers whose policies explicitly and primarily promote this economic and cultural shebang before all else. And we’ll continue to snatch at the false hopes that high-ride on the magical thinking behind the latest “techno-fix“. And we’ll do that because we’d much rather entertain notions of human indomitability and of ‘progress’ than open our eyes to the yawning chasm of physics that sits between us and the future.

It’s called “stupid”: Doesn’t end well.

42 comments on “A Sugar Coated World”

  1. esoteric pineapples 1

    I noticed that starlings were nesting in the eaves of the semi-derelict house I bought so when I fixed the house up, I cut round holes in the new eaves so they could continue to do so and made it so it is very hard for rats to get to the nests.

    I only have a quarter acre section but have some goats (fed with food from off the property) and chickens and ducks, plus I put lots of tiger worms in the soil and planted lots of trees and let the grass grow long so I’m pretty lucky to have heaps of birds around. Plus lizards as I made some “lizard hotels” of stones and bricks they can be safe in.

    We need to get away from seeing nature as something to be dominated. All properties, big and and small, need to leave at least 10 percent of their land wild – much like the Bible idea of a 10 percent tithe to give to God.

    • Bill 1.1

      Don’t get me wrong esoteric. What you’ve outlined and what you suggest are both laudable. (The ‘jungle’ around my place used to be a garden too 😉 )

      But build all the safe places and encourage all the wild flowers or what-not that you might wish for – and living things are going to continue to die, and probably at an increasing rate and across an ever broadening range of species, simply because we burn fossil fuels that raise environmental CO2 levels that are turning what were once valuable food sources into carbohydrate rich “junk food”.

  2. weka 2

    Can’t fault the conclusions there Bill.

    The only thing I would say is that I see it as a both/and situation. Climate change affects the food chain globally and insects are a linchpin part of that. Agriculture also affects insects (and microbia) which has a local effect but because of the scale will also be having a global effect.

    The reason I’m looking at it that way is because the solutions need to be systems thinking based. At the moment we are still largely basing our responses to climate change on mechanistic thinking. Green tech or CCS etc, it’s all fiddling with this thing and that will reduce that thing over there. What we need is to radically change our whole systems, and that includes standards of living supported by fossil fuels and industrial agriculture.

    The headline on Monbiot’s article is stupid. But industrial farming is so utterly damaging to the ecosystem and is now so widespread and growing* that I’m happy enough to put it up there with climate change. Not in a ‘which is worse?’ competition, but in a ‘this is a concurrent problem that urgently needs our attention’ way.

    We can’t separate climate change from food production, because they are having interrelated effects, but also because the thinking that underlies both is the thing that is killing us and everything else.

    (as an aside, I think you are comparing all insects globally and flying insects in German reserves. The numbers are different, and the reasons are going to be complex and interrelated).

    *there’s that gnarly population issue again.

    • Bill 2.1

      Ban the use of all insecticides and whatever other chemicals today and insect numbers will continue to plummet because we’ve completely fucked their food source by spewing too much CO2 into the environment.

      Introduce the most holistic agricultural practices world-wide today, and insect numbers will continue to plummet because we’ve fucked their food source by spewing too much CO2 into the environment.

      Stop burning fossil today and common industrial agriculture – besides much else – falls over or becomes impossible (so there’s the change) and CO2 levels might then drop at a rate that averts or halts what’s being increasingly referred to as ‘the sixth great extinction’ – that we’ve brought into being.

      So (unfortunate analogy) not sparking any more fossil kills many birds with one stone, while simply changing common agricultural practices achieves nothing beyond a change in agricultural practices that leaves the effects of global warming to be the broom that clears up the mess we’ve made.

      On insect numbers, I’m not comparing but just providing the stats for flying insects (Germany) and the 452 species of invertebrates studied on a global level by Dirzo et al.

      And population has got nothing whatsoever to do with any target for less than 2 degrees C of warming. Concentrations of wealth on the other hand play a major role – the very richest among us (according to the studies that have been done) are responsible for about 50% of our global CO2 emissions.

      • Robert Guyton 2.1.1

        Bill – what surprises me is that insects haven’t adapted at the same rate CO2 has increased; insect populations are capable of rapid assimilation and change in response to external factors, so why this hasn’t happened in this instance puzzles me. My understanding is that many insects feed on sugars for energy then on protein for reproduction, but still, the figures provided seem … curious to me. I hope insects don’t start looking around for other sources of protein 🙂
        I wonder if in fact the loss of habitat to agriculture and city, coupled with the saturation of all niches with synthetic chemicals, standard and nano, isn’t contributing more to the phenomenon than is shown in the article. Rambling thoughts, I know, but I’m not convinced…

        • Bill 2.1.1.1

          I admit that I’m struggling to imagine an adaptation that might ameliorate malnutrition.

          There was a throw-away line by Carla Tanson (fashion designer) the other week commenting that wool quality had dropped since the 70s. It’s stuck in my mind because I wondered if it was possibly an early effect of poor nutrition. I mean, there’s only so much a sheep can eat in a day, and if all their food is denuded…

          I’d be curious to know a bit about current levels of supplementary feed for the likes of beef cattle compared to the past, and how it measures up against meat quality. (ie, is more feeding out required now to produce the same quality and quantity of meat as say 30 or 40 years ago?) Probably far too many contributory factors and variations to arrive at any firm conclusions. But still…

          • weka 2.1.1.1.1

            If species couldn’t adapt to changes in nutrition availability they wouldn’t have survived. I don’t know if the timeframe is adequate, although it’s a given that species are already adapting to CC in various ways.

            Things that might affect sheep and thus wool would be (in no particular order) – CC, degradation of soil over time (that’s new), increases in artificial fertiliser use, changes in pharmaceutical use, different breeding, changes to pasture, changes to stocking rates… I’m sure there are others. Trying to look at one and not the others leads to less effective solutions.

            • Robert Guyton 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Modern pasture grasses are bred to produce much higher sugar levels than past varieties. Modern pastures are practically monocultures, where in the past, there was a mix of species. Our poor beasts live for a briefer time than previously, in part because of these things. If the sugaring-up described in the article is real, all herbivores, including insects, perhaps, though they aren’t mammals and have different needs, could suffer a similar fate. Could we, should we be (desperately) breeding species of plants that have lower sugar levels, despite higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere? A race against time!

            • Bill 2.1.1.1.1.2

              If species couldn’t adapt to changes in nutrition availability they wouldn’t have survived.

              Yup. And if you read the post and the supporting literature through the links, you’ll read more than enough by way of rigorous study and observation supporting that scenario – ie, increasing rates of non-survival.

              There’s nothing at all wrong with teasing things apart btw. It’s called focus and has nothing to with ‘discounting’ or ‘ignoring’ other dynamics or contributory factors around any given problem.

              It’s especially worthwhile if some common determining factor is suspected to be at play. And sure, given the nature of the world and things, it’s not always possible to isolate and study a single dynamic or factor. But that’s why Ziska’s work on goldenrod pollen is, I’d say, quite exceptional and important.

              And it dovetails (as per the linked Politico piece) with other study and research done on accelerated growth rates, the impact that has on nutrient levels (ie, light and CO2 concentrations) and the knock on effects for other components of a food chain/web.

              • weka

                I’ll just state that I don’t disagree with you on the significance of insect decline or probably even cause. I just think that ag is a huge issue along side CC in this and can’t be separated out. Yes, we can tease out different factors to look at them as well.

                There’s some work being done on increasing nutrient in food density via regenag (using that term broadly, Robert will hate it but he can come up with a better cover phrase). Basically work with nature and use natural cycles increases nutritional value.

                That doesn’t mean it overrides the CC effect, nor that we keep using FFs, it means when/as we stop the FF we have tools for restoring some of the damage. That restoration is critical for both lessening the impact of CC/preventing worsening, and for adaptation around what is already locked in. I don’t see why it can’t used in wider nature not just food crops.

                Handily, those processes and the underlying thinking are also where the solutions to CC lie as well.

                • Bill

                  I’d be interested to know if whatever work you’re referring to has factored in the effect of elevated CO2 levels. (Given the date of the Ziska study, the history behind such research and the fact the results seem to have caught the scientific community unawares, I’d have my doubts.)

                  And it’s important, because the healthiest seed stock could be planted in healthiest soil, watered to perfection or whatever, and the effects of elevated CO2 levels on the process of photosynthesis (at least for C3 plants – ie, 85% of all plants) means the resultant plant/crop will have diminished nutrient levels because of inhibited uptake of nitrogen as well as the effects of dilution.

        • adam 2.1.1.2

          Robert the fastest mutating life form on the the Planet bacteria, took how long to adapt to trees? Insects are substantially slower at adaptation, plus it’s only been 50 years.

          We are at the stop or die place.

          Ware are not going to stop, so we are going to die.

          The Plant will be fine by the way. Just the greater extinction of many life forms – including us.

          • weka 2.1.1.2.1

            Not sure why people think the planet will be fine when the planet is made up in part of life forms.

            I’m pretty sure that insects will already be adapting to CC. It’s more whether any species or life form can adapt in the given time for the specific issue.

            This is why I think looking at CC and excluding agriculture doesn’t make sense. We need to do both to give the optimal chance for life.

            I agree we have to stop the FF now though.

          • Robert Guyton 2.1.1.2.2

            I believe the planet won’t be “fine” and like any living system, ails when members of its community die off: an ocean with only two species if fish swimming in it, isn’t “fine”, it’s buggered and knows it. Any intelligence a complex natural system might have would surely be in crisis mode as it’s components disappear. I reckon the planet is in crisis mode now and isn’t uncaring, unresponsive, unaware of its dire state. I believe humans are one of those organisms the planet doesn’t want to lose. I reckon we should apply all of our energies to retaining every living thing, or at least, those that remain, for the planet’s sake (I don’t separate “planet” from any individual organism, including humans. The planet is the whole living, writhing mass of life, not a wet rock spinning through space upon which things live. 🙂

            • weka 2.1.1.2.2.1

              thank-you.

            • Bill 2.1.1.2.2.2

              Gaia or Medea? Hmm.

            • marty mars 2.1.1.2.2.3

              + 1

              Yep Papatūānuku is our mother – we are born from her, love, live and die with her. There is never a seperation apart from the contrived, arrogant and silly mental one some people construct.

              • Robert Guyton

                Yes, Marty – sadly though, we are caught in a thinking-trap that began long ago and is proving difficult to extricate ourselves from; when you develop a brain like the one we humans lug around inside of our fragile and over-sized skulls, it’ll come up with ideas that can destroy the lugee. We’re facing the most critical test a sentient being can face right now; change fundamentally or die. I reckon we’ll do it but I recognise that there’s no guarantee we will; that and tidying-up the mess we’ve already created won’t be easy, but hey, whatayagunnado?

      • weka 2.1.2

        I wasn’t suggesting doing one and not the other. In fact I specifically said both need to be done and for specific reasons.

        However since you put it that way, ban fossil fuels today, and a myriad of other serious as fuck problems will continue, for the reasons stated. People by and large have a world view that engenders ecological collapse. Even in the best case scenario with CC, we will still need to change our other practices in addition to FF use, for both mitigation and adaptation reasons.

        I totally don’t underestimate the potential of the death cult to continue doing seriously fucked up things even if they no longer have access to FF. And a big drop in FF use won’t stop industrial agriculture although it may slow its ability to damage. Ploughing for instance is a pre-industrial revolution technique. It worked in the past because of the smaller scale (see, population again), and because the soils were relatively intact, and because we didn’t have CC.

        But now we have disturbed soils on a much larger scale, we’re at Peak Soil, and CC demands we stop ploughing because it damages soil and releases carbon and prevents sequestration. None of that is dependent upon FF.

        Again, we need to address both issues at the same time because they are part of the same problem.

        “And population has got nothing whatsoever to do with any target for less than 2 degrees C of warming.”

        It does have a lot to do with the carrying capacity to of nature though. If the insect population has dropped as much as claimed then we will need every tool available to prevent the worst case scenarios, and just banning FF won’t be enough. We need to actively work with nature, not treat it as a machine.

        • Robert Guyton 2.1.2.1

          Thornbury, Southland is hosting this years national ploughing competitions, celebrating the men and machines that have enabled farming in New Zealand since way back when – hooray!

          • weka 2.1.2.1.1

            I’m surprised they’re not laying concrete in Thornbury by now to get all those dairy cows off the mucky paddocks.

        • Bill 2.1.2.2

          Other practices would change or adapt (or vanish) by way of necessity if we stopped sparking fossil and took the further absolutely necessary step of using only carbon free energy – unless I’m completely over-looking some practice that has a huge planetary impact that could possibly continue regardless of access to energy…

          Note. I’m not saying let everything else be. Ban the nicotinoids today and shift whatever agriculture and industrial practice as can be shifted. But in a market economy that’s spewing very twisted incentives, I won’t be holding my breath waiting for worthwhile levels of change. Those changes come when the perverse incentives of the market are gone. And the market’s gone as soon as we dump fossil.

  3. McFlock 3

    Interesting point about plant sugars and CO2. Hadn’t seen that before.

  4. Patricia Bremner 4

    We need to change to no fossil fuels, sadly that isn’t happening anytime soon.

    We fly we drive we burn fuel. Bill it feels hopeless.

    Have they checked whether it is reversible?

  5. Richard Christie 6

    we can sensibly suggest that the nutritional content of plants has dropped by about 30% since the beginning of the industrial revolution (ie, since 1840 or thereabouts).

    How do you justify the 30% figure. “Sensibly suggest” doesn’t amount to an explanation.

    Serious and genuine question.

    • Bill 6.1

      The 30% figure comes from this article on Ziska’s work (Ziska’s work being the US Dept of Agriculture study linked to in the post).

      They found that the protein content of goldenrod pollen has declined by a third since the industrial revolution—and the change closely tracks with the rise in CO2.

      And since all plants (all C3 plants if you want to be persnickety) have exhibited similar drop in protein or nutrition levels over the past 40 years or so, and since all show similar drops in in relation to one another in field trials that subject crops to elevated CO2 levels….

      The “sensibly suggest” is an extrapolation, a joining of the dots if you will – not an explanation.

      • Richard Christie 6.1.1

        Thanks, the Politico article is a good read. All the same I remain wary of untested extrapolations. This may change.

        Thanks for bringing this topic to my attention.

  6. Tony Veitch (not etc) 7

    Bill, totally agree – the inherent stupidity of the human race will doom us all to extinction – it’s just a question of ‘how soon’!

    As an example, how about this in today’s Press – grazing dairy cows in the Red Zone of Christchurch!

    As if we haven’t got enough dairy cows!

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/98131105/cow-fodder-highest-and-best-use-of-cleared-suburban-christchurch-land

  7. In Vino 8

    I know I am not a scientist, but the decline in insect numbers I have noticed in my region I had linked with something completely different – the arrival of two new insect species: the Asian Paper Wasp, and the South African Praying Mantis.

    Neither of these two particular species are declining in numbers around here. The wasps are already around in high numbers, and there are plenty of fresh mantis egg-cases about to hatch out after a cracker season for them late last summer. I suspect that these two species have greatly reduced the numbers of all other insects.

    They are voracious. The wasps land in long grass, climb down into the undergrowth, and not emerge for ages unless they have had a quick find and kill. They take whatever form they can track down of whatever species. I have seen a queen paper wasp chase down, attack and decapitate an almost-grown male mantis in medium grass.

    Monarch Butterflies and caterpillars used to be protected from earlier predators here because, as they eat milkweed, they were poisonous to them. Unfortunately, this poison does not protect them from the new predators: both paper wasps and SA mantids will happily chop up and consume both caterpillars and butterflies straight off the swan plant.

    At about the time these new predators arrived we were warned of impending insect plagues because of warmer winters. Instead we got big numbers of the new predators, and the numbers of all butterflies (especially the pesky white one), moths, beetles, etc seemed to shrink.

    Throw in the Varoa mite wiping out all wild beehives, and it seems to me that there is much more at play here than the just the rise of CO2 levels.
    In areas where the German wasp is a pest, it is still very much present, being safe while growing in colonies, protected from paper wasps and mantids .

    I am not trying to deny climate change – just saying that I had thought that the fall in insect numbers was explained by newly-arrived predatory insects.

    If the predatory insects themselves were also in decline I would then give great credence to CO2 levels affecting NZ. But the predators are thriving and healthy.

    • greywarshark 8.1

      Ditto in Nelson. Praying mantis cases absent or raided – SA white ones all over the place. Start friends of the blue ear anyone?

    • Robert Guyton 8.2

      The predators will do well, dining on the weakened herbivores, for a while, anyway; they’re getting their protein 2nd-hand and in any case, they’ll be bolder and more visible as they invade spaces humans frequent. We’re still free of many insect predators down South and that’s one of the reasons for choosing to live here – my apples don’t even get codlin moth, nor do my bees suffer varroa, we don’t have ant issues, nor South African mantis.
      Yet.

  8. Sparky 9

    An excellent article. Various herbicides have been linked to the decline in insect numbers too.

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/monarch-butterflies-under-threat-from-rising-herbicide-use/

    China is making moves to transition to electric cars across the country and moving from coal to nuclear (yes I know that’s not ideal but its still an improvement). All in an effort to improve their environment and cut down on emissions.

    Meanwhile here in Luddite NZ we are doing jack shit aside from talking about signing sketchy “so called” trade deals (TPP11 and others) that “chill” environmental policy by letting big business govt. Yay…..

  9. spikeyboy 10

    Very interesting article and link to Loladze s research. I’m planting a lot of old American Indian corns at the moment because of the high protein levels in them. You can start by getting some from Koanga website and then just save some seed. These are C4 plants which Loladze says hasnt yet been studied though the assumption is that they will be affected the same. Heres hoping not. Of course the only real fix is to stop burning fossil fuels but since thats unlikely possible ways of survival are also of interest.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • New Zealand First disappointed that Section 70 spouses won’t get relief
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First New Zealand First is disappointed that the removal of the spousal deductions has had to be delayed by the Ministry fo Social Development, due to COVID19 workload pressures. “New Zealand First has always stood for fairness when it comes to superannuation ...
    1 day ago
  • Winston Peters receives petition demanding more protection for nurses
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First On the steps of Parliament today the Leader of New Zealand First, Rt Hon Winston Peters received a petition from registered nurse Anna Maria Coervers, requesting an amendment to the Protection for First Responders Bill which will ensure the legislation also include registered ...
    1 day ago
  • Week That Was: Getting our economy moving
    It's been a busy seven days as we start to rebuild New Zealand together. From delivering extra support for small businesses, to investing in our artists and arts organisations, to cutting red tape on home DIY projects, we're rolling out our plan to get the economy and New Zealand moving ...
    1 day ago
  • Winston Peters: If protests condoned ‘why are we not at level 1?’
    Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says alert level 2 restrictions have to be discussed during today's Cabinet meeting. Thousands gathered across the country, including at Parliament, yesterday for Black Lives Matter marches where social distancing and mass gathering rules were flouted. Mr Peters said the breaching of Alert Level 2 rules at ...
    1 day ago
  • Northland rail work to help create regional jobs
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of State Owned Enterprises KiwiRail’s Northland rail upgrade steps up another gear today and will help Northland recover from the impacts of COVID-19, State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters says. The Government is investing $204.5 million through the Provincial Growth Fund to ...
    2 days ago
  • Green Party statement on the death of George Floyd
    “Today and every day we stand in solidarity with George Floyd’s family, friends and community who feel pain and fear about his untimely death at the hands of Minneapolis police”, said Green Party Co-leader and Māori Development spokesperson Marama Davidson. ...
    2 days ago
  • Lake Brunner’s Mount Te Kinga to go Predator Free
    Fletcher Tabuteau, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Hon Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation The West Coast forests of Mount Te Kinga at Kotuku Whakaoho/Lake Brunner are the latest predator free project to receive Government funding, announced Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher ...
    5 days ago
  • Green Party welcomes crucial financial support for creatives
    The Green Party says new government support for creatives and artists is a vital lifeline for a sector struggling to survive the COVID crisis. ...
    5 days ago
  • Strongest ever water reforms mean swimmable rivers within a generation
    The Green Party says major freshwater reforms announced today provide the strongest ever protections of our waterways, to help ensure the next generation can swim in the rivers of Aotearoa. ...
    6 days ago
  • Greens work to secure inquiry into Wild West student accommodation sector
    The Green Party has begun the process for a Select Committee inquiry into student accommodation, which has been exposed during COVID-19 as an under-regulated sector that straddles students with unfair debt. ...
    7 days ago
  • New Zealand joins global search for COVID-19 vaccine
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon Megan Woods, Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Hon Dr David Clark, Minister of Health Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods,  and Health Minister David Clark today announced a COVID-19 vaccine strategy, ...
    1 week ago
  • Budget 2020: Five things to know
    Budget 2020 is about rebuilding together, supporting jobs, getting business moving and the books back into the black. It’s an integral part of our COVID-19 economic response, and our plan to grow our economy and get New Zealand moving again. Here’s a quick look at the five top things you ...
    1 week ago
  • Coalition Government approves essential upgrades on Ōhakea Air Base
    The Coalition Government has approved $206 million in essential upgrades at Ōhakea Air Base.  Defence Minister Ron Mark said the money would be spent on improving old infrastructure. He said safety issues would be addressed, as well as upgrades to taxiways, accommodation and fresh, storm and waste water systems. "This ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Attributable to the Rt Hon Winston Peters
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First “I am not persisting with this case just for myself, but for all people who have had their privacy breached. Privacy of information is a cornerstone of our country’s democracy. Without it our society truly faces a bleak future. We now ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Forestry Minister Shane Jones moves to protect sawmills
    Forestry Minister Shane Jones has introduced a Bill to Parliament that he says will "force more transparency, integrity and respect" for the domestic wood-processing sector through the registration of log traders and practice standards. The Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill had its first reading in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Green MP joins international call to cancel developing countries’ debt
    Green MP Golriz Ghahraman is joining over 300 lawmakers from around the world in calling on the big banks and the IMF to forgive the debt of developing countries, in the wake of the COVID crisis. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Forestry Minister Shane Jones swipes back at billion trees critics
    Forestry Minister Shane Jones says concerns that carbon foresters are planting pine trees that will never be harvested are the result of "misinformation". "The billion tree strategy is an excellent idea, unfortunately from time to time it's tainted by misinformation spread by the National Party or their grandees, hiding in scattered ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Budget boost for refugee families a win for compassion
    The Green Party welcomes funding in the budget to reunite more refugees with their families, ensuring they have the best chance at a new life in Aotearoa New Zealand. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • How Budget 2020 is supporting jobs
    This year’s Budget is about rebuilding New Zealand together in the face of COVID-19. Jobs are central to how we’re going to do that.There’s a lot of targeted investment for employment in this year’s Budget, with announcements on creating new jobs, training people for the jobs we have, and supporting ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Winston Peters says China didn’t want NZ to go into lockdown
    Speaking to Stuff's Coronavirus NZ podcast, Foreign Minister Winston Peters revealed China tried to dissuade New Zealand from going into lockdown. “Without speaking out of turn, they wanted a discussion as to why we were doing it, because they thought it was an overreaction,” Mr Peters told Stuff’s Coronavirus NZ podcast. He also ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Changes made to Overseas Investment Act to protect New Zealand assets
    The Coalition Government is making changes to the Overseas Investment Act to ensure New Zealand assets don't fall into the hands of foreign ownership in the economic aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Associate Minister of Finance David Parker announced the Act will be amended to bring forward a national interest ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Winston Peters: Trans-Tasman bubble to help tourism industry make swift recovery
    A quick start to a trans-Tasman bubble could see the tourism industry make a swift recovery, according to Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters. "I believe tourism will turn around dramatically faster than people think," Mr Peters told reporters after Thursday's Budget. "Why? Because I think the Tasman bubble is [going ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Rt. Hon Winston Peters: Budget Speech
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First   Please check against delivery https://vimeo.com/418303651 Budget 2020: Jobs, Business and Balance   Introduction Acknowledgements to all Cabinet colleagues, and party ministers Tracey Martin, Shane Jones and Ron Mark, Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau and to caucus colleagues. Thank you for your support, your ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Funding boost for Defence
    Hon Ron Mark, Minister of Defence Budget 2020 provides a boost of $1.77 billion in operating and capital funding to enable Defence to continue to deliver on the tasks expected of it. “It’s been a busy year for the Defence Force. On top of our usual deployments they have responded ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Major expansion of school lunch programme
    Hon Tracey Martin, Minister for Children Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister, Minister for Child Poverty Reduction Hon Chris Hipkins, Minister for Education   A major expansion of the free and healthy school lunch programme, funded through the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, will see around 200,000 more New Zealand ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Jacinda Ardern’s 2020 Budget Speech
    Read Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Budget 2020 Speech. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Budget 2020: Next steps to end family and sexual violence
    The 2020 Budget includes significant support to stabilise New Zealand’s family violence services, whose work has been shown to be so essential throughout the COVID-19 lockdown. ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Response to charges in New Plymouth
    The Minister of Police Stuart Nash has issued the following statement in response to charges filed against three Police officers this morning in the New Plymouth District Court. “Any incident involving a loss of life in Police custody is taken very seriously. The charges today reflect the gravity of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Temporary changes to NCEA and University Entrance this year
    Further temporary changes to NCEA and University Entrance (UE) will support senior secondary school students whose teaching and learning have been disrupted by COVID-19. “The wellbeing of students and teachers is a priority. As we are all aware, COVID-19 has created massive disruption to the school system, and the Government ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 hours ago
  • Extended terms for the directors of the Racing Industry Transition Agency
    Minister for Racing Winston Peters today announced that the terms for the directors of the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) have been extended to 30 June 2021. Due to the COVID-19 crisis the transition period has been extended to ensure that the Racing Industry Bill can complete its progress through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Healthy Homes Standards statement of compliance deadline extended
    The deadline for landlords to include detailed information in their tenancy agreements about how their property meets the Healthy Homes Standards, so tenants can see the home they are renting is compliant, has been extended from 1 July 2020 to 1 December 2020.  The Healthy Homes Standards became law on 1 July 2019. The Standards are ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    22 hours ago
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission board appointments announced
    Justice Minister Andrew Little today announced details of further appointments to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. “I am pleased to announce Paula Rose QSO OStJ as Deputy Chief Commissioner for a term of five years commencing on 15 June 2020,” said Andrew Little. “I am also pleased to announce the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    23 hours ago
  • Release of initial list of supported training to aid COVID-19 recovery
    The Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF) will pay costs of learners of all ages to undertake vocational education and training The fund will target support for areas of study and training that will give learners better employment prospects as New Zealand recovers from COVID-19 Apprentices working in all industries ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    24 hours ago
  • Emission trading reforms another step to meeting climate targets
    The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will finally start to cut New Zealand’s greenhouse gas pollution as it was originally intended to, because of changes announced today by the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw. The changes include a limit on the total emissions allowed within the ETS, rules to ensure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Queen’s Birthday Honours highlights Pacific leadership capability in Aotearoa
    Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says the Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List provides an abundance of examples that Pacific people’s leadership capability is unquestionable in Aotearoa. “The work and the individuals we acknowledge this year highlights the kind of visionary examples and dedicated community leadership that we need ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Govt backing horticulture to succeed
    The Government is backing a new $27 million project aimed at boosting sustainable horticulture production and New Zealand’s COVID-19 recovery efforts, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “Our horticulture sector has long been one of New Zealand’s export star performers, contributing around $6 billion a year to our economy. During and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Applications open for forestry scholarships
    Applications have opened for 2021 Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships, which will support more Māori and women to pursue careers in forestry science, says Forestry Minister Shane Jones. “I’m delighted Te Uru Rākau is offering Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships for the third year running. These ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Excellent service to nature recognised
    The Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List once again highlights the dedication by many to looking after our native plants and wildlife, including incredible work to restore the populations of critically endangered birds says Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. Anne Richardson of Hororata has been made an Officer of the New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Wetlands and waterways gain from 1BT funding
    The Government will invest $10 million from the One Billion Trees Fund for large-scale planting to provide jobs in communities and improve the environment, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Forestry Minister Shane Jones have announced. New, more flexible funding criteria for applications will help up to 10 catchment groups plant ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New fund for women now open
    Organisations that support women are invited to apply to a new $1,000,000 fund as part of the Government’s COVID-19 response. “We know women, and organisations that support women, have been affected by COVID-19. This new money will ensure funding for groups that support women and women’s rights,” said Minister for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Govt supports King Country farmers to lift freshwater quality
    Healthier waterways are front and centre in a new project involving more than 300 King Country sheep, beef and dairy farmers. The Government is investing $844,000 in King Country River Care, a group that helps farmers to lift freshwater quality and farming practice, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. “Yesterday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Libraries to help with jobs and community recovery
    A major funding package for libraries will allow them to play a far greater role in supporting their communities and people seeking jobs as part of the economic recovery from COVID-19. “Budget 2020 contains over $60 million of funding to protect library services and to protect jobs,” says Internal Affairs ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Support for arts and music sector recovery
    A jobseekers programme for the creative sector and four new funds have been set up by the Government to help our arts and music industry recover from the blow of COVID-19. Thousands of jobs will be supported through today’s $175 million package in a crucial economic boost to support the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Legislative changes to support the wellbeing of veterans and their families
    Minister for Veterans Ron Mark has welcomed the First Reading of a Bill that will make legislative changes to further improve the veterans’ support system.  The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2, which will amend the Veterans’ Support Act 2014, passed First Reading today. The bill addresses a number of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Christ Church Cathedral – Order in Council
    Views sought on Order in Council to help fast track the reinstatement of the Christ Church Cathedral  The Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Hon Poto Williams, will be seeking public written comment, following Cabinet approving the drafting of an Order in Council aimed at fast-tracking the reinstatement of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Zealanders’ human rights better protected in new Bill
    The law setting out New Zealanders’ basic civil and human rights is today one step towards being strengthened following the first reading of a Bill that requires Parliament to take action if a court says a statute undermines those rights. At present, a senior court can issue a ‘declaration of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Deep concern at Hong Kong national security legislation
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today reiterated the deep concern of the New Zealand Government following confirmation by China’s National People’s Congress of national security legislation relating to Hong Kong. “New Zealand shares the international community’s significant and long-standing stake in Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability,” Mr Peters said. “New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government invests in New Zealand’s cultural recovery
    Thousands of artists and creatives at hundreds of cultural and heritage organisations have been given much-needed support to recover from the impact of COVID-19, Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Jacinda Ardern announced today. “The cultural sector was amongst the worst hit by the global pandemic,” Jacinda ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Better protection for New Zealand assets during COVID-19 crisis
    Key New Zealand assets will be better protected from being sold to overseas owners in a way contrary to the national interest, with the passage of the Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Bill. The Bill, which passed its third reading in Parliament today, also cuts unnecessary red tape to help attract ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Cleaning up our rivers and lakes
    Setting higher health standards at swimming spots Requiring urban waterways to be cleaned up and new protections for urban streams Putting controls on higher-risk farm practices such as winter grazing and feed lots Setting stricter controls on nitrogen pollution and new bottom lines on other measures of waterway health Ensuring ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Record year for diversity on Govt boards
    The Government is on the verge of reaching its target of state sector boards and committees made up of at least 50 percent women, says Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter and Minister for Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa. For the first time, the Government stocktake measures the number of Māori, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New appointments to the Commerce Commission
    The Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister and Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister, Kris Faafoi, has today announced the appointment of Tristan Gilbertson as the new Telecommunications Commissioner and member of the Commerce Commission. “Mr Gilbertson has considerable experience in the telecommunications industry and a strong reputation amongst his peers,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Historic pay equity settlement imminent for teacher aides
    The Ministry of Education and NZEI Te Riu Roa have agreed to settle the pay equity claim for teacher aides, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. This will see more than 22,000 teacher aides, mostly women, being valued and paid fairly for the work they do. “Teacher aides are frontline ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Govt delivers security for construction subcontractors
    Subcontractors will have greater certainty, more cashflow support and job security with new changes to retention payments under the Construction Contracts Act says Minister for Building and Construction, Jenny Salesa. A recent review of the retentions money regime showed that most of the building and construction sector is complying with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New Zealand and Singapore reaffirm ties
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have marked the first anniversary of the New Zealand-Singapore Enhanced Partnership with a virtual Leaders’ Meeting today. The Enhanced Partnership, signed on 17 May 2019, provides the framework for cooperation across the four main areas of trade, defence and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • JOINT STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTERS OF NEW ZEALAND AND THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE ON THE FIRST AN...
    On 17 May 2019, New Zealand and Singapore established an Enhanced Partnership to elevate our relations. The Enhanced Partnership – based on the four pillars of trade and economics, security and defence, science, technology and innovation, and people-to-people links – has seen the long-standing relationship between our countries strengthen over the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government investment supports the acquisition of new Interislander ferries
    State-Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters has welcomed KiwiRail’s announcement that it is seeking a preferred shipyard to build two new rail-enabled ferries for the Cook Strait crossing. “This Government is committed to restoring rail to its rightful place in New Zealand. Bigger, better ships, with new technology are yet another ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Better protection for seabirds
    Better protection for seabirds is being put in place with a new National Plan of Action to reduce fishing-related captures, Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced today.   The National Plan of Action for Seabirds 2020 outlines our commitment to reduce fishing-related captures and associated seabird ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Milestone in cash flow support to SMEs
    Almost $1 billion in interest-free loans for small businesses More than 55,000 businesses have applied; 95% approved Average loan approx. $17,300 90% of applications from firms with ten or fewer staff A wide cross-section of businesses have applied, the most common are the construction industry, accommodation providers, professional firms, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government protects kids as smoking in cars ban becomes law
    Thousands of children will have healthier lungs after the Government’s ban on smoking in cars with kids becomes law, says Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa. This comes after the third reading of Smoke-free Environments (Prohibiting Smoking in Motor Vehicles Carrying Children) Amendment Bill earlier today. “This law makes it ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Parliament returns to a safe normal
    The special Epidemic Response Committee (ERC) has successfully concluded its role, Leader of the House Chris Hipkins said today. The committee was set up on 25 March by the agreement of Parliament to scrutinise the Government and its actions while keeping people safe during levels 4 and 3 of lockdown. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Foreign Minister makes four diplomatic appointments
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today announced four diplomatic appointments: New Zealand’s Ambassador to Belgium, High Commissioners to Nauru and Niue, and Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism. “As the world seeks to manage and then recover from COVID-19, our diplomatic and trade networks are more important than ever,” Mr Peters said. “The ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Bill to counter violent extremism online
    New Zealanders will be better protected from online harm through a Bill introduced to Parliament today, says Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin. “The internet brings many benefits to society but can also be used as a weapon to spread harmful and illegal content and that is what this legislation targets,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Mycoplasma bovis eradication reaches two year milestone in good shape
    New Zealand’s world-first plan to eradicate the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is on track the latest technical data shows, says Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor. “Two years ago the Government, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand and industry partners made a bold decision to go hard and commit ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New payment to support Kiwis through COVID
    Further support for New Zealanders affected by 1-in-100 year global economic shock 12-week payment will support people searching for new work or retraining Work programme on employment insurance to support workers and businesses The Government today announced a new temporary payment to support New Zealanders who lose their jobs due ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • PGF reset helps regional economies
    The Provincial Growth Fund will play a vital role in New Zealand’s post-COVID-19 recovery by creating jobs in shorter timeframes through at least $600 million being refocused on projects with more immediate economic benefits, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced. The funding is comprised of repurposed Provincial Growth ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government exempts some home improvements from costly consents
    Government exempts some home improvements from costly consents Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector to fire back up quicker ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago