Examining the greenness.

What a day. It started at home in Cambridge. I had to go to work for an hour, and then pack up the car and the family and drive south, and now I am sitting in a cabin in the holiday park at Foxton beach.  

Something I have been aware of for some time has been brought into stark relief in the last couple of days: I am constantly evaluating the 'greenness of things'.  Last night two young men visited our house; one is an apprentice diesel mechanic and the other is embarking on a career in the dairy industry. A quick, involuntary evaluation yielded the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that in twenty years time both of those industries will be niche, if at all. I feel almost traitorous for thinking it, but to my mind it seems inevitable.

As we left Cambridge I was evaluating the ethical and environmental justification for going on this trip at all. I am afraid to say that the outing is ecologically indefensible. We are down here to collect a new puppy for my daughter, and not a CO2 offset in sight.

Between Cambridge and Tokoroa it's all farmland. My wife and I talked about how it was once all native bush, and in places one can see vestiges of that. When I first came to New Zealand I lived in Taupo and burning piles of cleared tree stumps were a common sight - not so much now.

Then between Tokora and Taupo the farmland gave way to forestry and my wife asked me whether this was a 'greener' land use than farming. I thought about that: Yes and no - it's monoculture which is not great but it is trees, which is better than grass.

In Taupo we had lunch on the lakefront; meatless burgers at Burgerfuel which was a first for me. I don't really see the point in being vegetarian and then trying to replicate meat, but they were good.

Along the Desert Road I was thinking about the Kaimanawa horses. They are culled each year - there's a paradox - I'm not in favour of killing them but they are not native...

Then there's the army training ground and base at Waiouru, not very environmental but necessary for national security?

South of Waiouru, as with most of the country,  the the history of animal farming is almost indelibly marked on the landscape. It is commonly known that widespread intensive animal farming is not the way forward - if the way forward is to be for the betterment of the planet and survival of all the species. It made me realise quite how far New Zealand has to go. It's important to articulate right here that I am not against farming - I just think it has to change, and the magnitude of the coming change is worrying.

It has been a great day out with the family. And thought-provoking too, all the while evaluating the 'greenness of things'. 

I think it is a good thing to do.


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