I am a New Zealander- a ‘kiwi’ , a pakeha, a white male.
In 1200 AD these island lands had never seen a human, the land was almost completely covered in dense forest (what we call ‘the bush”) . Only one mammal lived here- the bat- perhaps blown by storms from Australia over 4000 kilometres away: – a few lizards, the seas teemed with fish and the remainder teeming wildlife were birds. When the white man (pakeha) came in the 1800s they reported that the sound of those birds’ dawn chorus was deafening- but no more.
We now live in a land where we have a few refuges of remainder bush where tourists can walk and believe they are once more in a primeval forest, but where the sounds of the dawn chorus is no longer deafening; where the pigs, possums and rats we introduced have played their part in the destruction of the bush , but where man has been the ultimate destroyer. Where the living world is silent, but the sound of man and his inanimate machines is everywhere.
We live in a land where introduced grassland ( where once was dense bush) feeds countless sheep and cows whose effluent pollutes our streams and rivers and the farmers’ fertilizers and pesticides destroy the living soil. We live in a land where humans do not care to notice the ongoing destruction of our natural world in the name of ‘progress’ or even more benightedly, “growth”. It is a tragedy that we use the word ‘growth” which talks to the living world , to greenery, and to life, to describe the destruction of our living world into a world of concrete and tar , electronics, steel and dead trees.
NZ Labour’s “Lets Get Moving” slogan for our upcoming general election, and the National Party’s slogans that everything depends on the economy, all represent a foolish, immoral and an intellectually bankrupt view that we can continue to destroy our natural world with human ‘progress’ and ‘growth’ without any repercussions.
However it is the New Zealand Green Party’s openly stated policy that more jobs and ‘growth’ are compatible with a sustainable future for the planet and New Zealand that really takes the cake. Those are more jobs that result in more of our once-living land sealed over, more trees and other vegetation destroyed, more insect species gone forever , more birds and other species irretrievably lost to the planet . Those more jobs and infrastructure are many more nails in the coffin of a world that sustains us humans and the rest of our precariously living world.
We have to change; right now, to a policy of no-growth; of a steady state economy which values and reveres all the life in our world. We desperately need political and economic polices which understand that the human ‘growth’ we have experienced over the past 100 years has been on the back of environmental destruction. We can no longer afford that trade-off; we have already traded away too much of our living world for cheap baubles.
We need to understand that all life is sacred. Not simply because it is a morally and humanly good thing to do- but because our future lives depend on it.
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