The Dim-Post

March 30, 2010

The hole that Gerry dug

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:00 am

Claire Browning at Pundit makes the most articulate critique of the government’s mining strategy I’ve read so far. My position has shifted over the last two weeks. I was sceptical but ready to consider the merits of mines on a case by case basis, but Brownlee has acted in such incredibly bad faith that we simply can’t consider separate cases because we can’t trust a single thing the government tells us on the subject.

(Thanks to Joe for the image.)

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74 Comments »

  1. “We can never be as rich as Australia, as they got all that mineral wealth” has ow become “We want to continue borrowing $240 million a week because we don’t want to touch our mineral wealth.”

    Comment by Berend de Boer — March 30, 2010 @ 7:08 am

  2. 1. The government appears to be lying to us about the extent and distribution of our mineral wealth.

    2. I’m all for exploiting said wealth, I just don’t understand why Brownlee is fixated on mining the areas of our country on which mining is specifically prohibited, when the surveys indicate that the majority of our mineral wealth is not in those areas. Doesn’t that seem weird to you?

    Comment by danylmc — March 30, 2010 @ 7:18 am

  3. Nothing is weird to mine when we’re borrowing $240 million a week commie!

    Comment by Guy Smiley — March 30, 2010 @ 7:28 am

  4. the surveys indicate that the majority of our mineral wealth is not in those areas.

    Are you able to provide an online link to that information danyl?

    Comment by Ataahua — March 30, 2010 @ 7:29 am

  5. That bad old gummint lying to us. Conjecture and speculation. You need a few more coffee’s.

    Comment by oliveoil — March 30, 2010 @ 7:49 am

  6. “If you are explaining, you are losing.”

    Gerry Brownlee wears the Clown Shoes in this government!

    Comment by andy (the other one) — March 30, 2010 @ 8:06 am

  7. And you are the clown puncher andy????

    Comment by oliveoil — March 30, 2010 @ 8:17 am

  8. I read somewhere that this photo – I think it was this photo – was of a man-made lake that was the result of mining.

    I can’t remember where, so can’t confirm the accuracy of the claim, or its applicability to this particular image, so you may wish to take it with a grain of salt.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — March 30, 2010 @ 8:28 am

  9. Like most things you see on the web, that lake is more likely to be the result of Photoshop than of mining.

    Comment by Joe W — March 30, 2010 @ 8:33 am

  10. Ahh .. yesterday’s sideswipe. Different lake. Carry on.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sideswipe/news/article.cfm?c_id=702&objectid=10634951

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — March 30, 2010 @ 8:34 am

  11. @Graeme

    Scary how the best journalism is know found in the entertainment and style sections of Teh Herald.

    Comment by andy (the other one) — March 30, 2010 @ 8:39 am

  12. John Armstrong is busy in today’s Herald doing his usual passable impression of Fox Mulder as he wants to believe his hero Super Key will pull mining triumph from the jaws of conservation defeat.

    I really am nonplussed as to why, of all the issues you could pick to expend a significant portion of your poll lead amongst the aspirational, sea-kayak-owning-Tarawera-crossing white middle class, you would choose one that is simultaneously as disasterous politically as mining schedule four of the conservation estate and as economically inconsequential as mining will prove to be.

    It is almost as if Gerry Brownlee is an arrogant buffoon corruptly on the take from the mining industry… oh wait…

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 30, 2010 @ 8:48 am

  13. @sanctuary “sea-kayak-owning-Tarawera-crossing white middle class”

    Read: minority sub demographic of bone-carving-wearer-on-Waitangi-Day man

    Comment by oliveoil — March 30, 2010 @ 8:56 am

  14. how has Brownlee acted in bad faith?

    Comment by Neil — March 30, 2010 @ 9:04 am

  15. Neil, he’s announced an industrial objective (mine) in order to achieve an economic goal (emulate Australia) at the same time as floating a policy reform (reevaluation of the status of conservation lands), at the same time saying “we just want a conversation”, the results of which conversation he is employing to amend his objective — but only to the extent necessary to undertake as much of the policy reform as is politically tolerable, with the end goal of being able to campaign on “emulating Australia”.

    There are too many interlocking ulterior motives for it to be even tremotely trustworthy. It’s not so much a matter of moving the goalposts as giving Richie McCaw the right to rewrite the breakdown laws during the Rugby World Cup.

    L

    Comment by Lew — March 30, 2010 @ 9:19 am

  16. Danyl: I just don’t understand why Brownlee is fixated on mining the areas of our country on which mining is specifically prohibited,

    I do understand it. Every other option, like spending $240 million a less a week on government, is off the table. These are national socialists after all.

    Comment by Berend de Boer — March 30, 2010 @ 9:31 am

  17. Lew, what you are saying is you don’t agree, its not the same as gutter sniping that Brownlee has ulterior motives, not in a sane universe anyway.

    Comment by oliveoil — March 30, 2010 @ 9:34 am

  18. I can’t see how it’s untrustworthy. He’s put forward a pretty clear proposal.

    I’m agnostic as to whether any such mining can be justified but I’m still willing to look at each proposal on it’s merits. If no mining takes place then so be it but I think we are entitled ton know what the economic cost if not mining is. Which is all that will happen in the first stage.

    My wife and me work in health and education and have begun to despair greatly over the under-resourcing of those areas in NZ compared with Australia. If we were able close that gap without more mining then that would be great but we haven’t managed to. Australia is spending money got from mining on science research and lots of other things that will continue to give them an advantage.

    Comment by Neil — March 30, 2010 @ 9:37 am

  19. olive oil, I do disagree, but that wouldn’t prevent me from approving of the process if it were a decent one. If the object were simply to double the mining industry’s size over ten years, that can be done (according to MER’s own documents) without touching Schedule 4.

    Neil, the only thing that’s clear about the proposal is that he’s undertaking the process with the objective in mind. He’s ove the view that mining is a magic bullet, and we just have to dig up the stuff and the riches will start flowing. I’m fine with mining — but let’s mine smart, not stupid. Let’s stop thinking of it as a quick and dirty get-rich scheme and do the research, refine the science, do things efficiently and in an environmentally sustainable fashion. Add to which, let’s develop a business model where we get to keep more than 1% of raw value plus the direct operational costs and taxation paid by the mining companies — a value-added mining industry, like we have value-added dairy, meat, grape and tourism industries.

    We have 60% of the resources outside Schedule 4 to get those techniques perfected, and in a generation or so when we’ve done so, perhaps there’ll be scope to consider unlocking those areas. The rocks aren’t going anywhere.

    L

    Comment by Lew — March 30, 2010 @ 9:47 am

  20. ‘My wife and me (sic) work in health and education”

    Jeez Neil, I hope you’re the one in health.

    Comment by Guy Smiley — March 30, 2010 @ 9:48 am

  21. how has Brownlee acted in bad faith?

    1. He opened the debate by confidently asserting massive dollar numbers, then when the numbers were ‘challenged’ (most came from the mining lobby, or were just fraudulent) he protested that he was just trying to have a ‘conversation’.

    2. He’s citing estimate values for entire regions (ie you dig up the entire region you might get this much wealth) and then insisting that there will be environmentally sustainable ‘surgical’ mines.

    Comment by danylmc — March 30, 2010 @ 9:56 am

  22. Anyone has ever seen the numbers of strip mining the Coromandel? You know, those pictures of a completely bare Coromandel that shock everyone. Was it worth it? I.e. we cut down every tree, was the created wealth enough to put NZ one step up the ladder (so we don’t have to strip mine land on such scale now) or was it all fairly useless destruction in the grand scheme of things?

    Comment by Berend de Boer — March 30, 2010 @ 10:04 am

  23. “My wife and me work in health and education and have begun to despair greatly over the under-resourcing of those areas in NZ compared with Australia. If we were able close that gap without more mining then that would be great but we haven’t managed to.”

    I understand your position but I think it’s bizarre that mining is being presented as our last great hope of retaining first-world status, as if all the talk about New Zealand becoming an exporter of innovative, value-added goods had never happened.

    Mining is capital-intensive, and there are real possibilities for NZ companies to create better, more efficient or somewhat cleaner mining technology (and there are companies looking along these lines), but apart from that it’s about as basic a primary industry as we can get and not environmentally sustainable in any meaningful sense of the world (“we can keep doing it for a while” != sustainable).

    I think if we want to ensure we have an economy that can sustain first-class social services and increase prosperity, the real emphasis ought to be on things that actually build on NZ expertise and innovation and gain their value from that – not just rocks which we’ll sell once and likely never see a dollar from again.

    Comment by Sam Finnemore — March 30, 2010 @ 10:05 am

  24. I think Brownlee honestly believes that mining can boost our standard of living. I’m quite capable of judging the figures presented one way or another, I never interpreted them as meaning that was what would be mined but what the general potential is. He was making the point that we have considerable mineral wealth that we can choose or choose not to mine.

    I’m not sure where the 60% comes from but the problem is that some high value mineral reserves are on sch 4 land.

    Comment by Neil — March 30, 2010 @ 10:07 am

  25. “He was making the point that we have considerable mineral wealth that we can choose or choose not to mine.”

    And you don’t detect any particular preference there for the former over the latter? :)

    Comment by Sam Finnemore — March 30, 2010 @ 10:16 am

  26. slight preference for the former I suspect.

    Comment by Neil — March 30, 2010 @ 10:23 am

  27. No kidding. If this is a conversation, it’s the kind of conversation you might get with a really persistent door-to-door marketer, who honestly believes that a herbal-filtered watercooler or the chance to get right with Jesus would boost your standard of living, and would really, really like to get the conversation around to you accepting this fact and signing up on the instalment plan, come (heh) hell or high water.

    Comment by Sam Finnemore — March 30, 2010 @ 10:31 am

  28. Rod Oram’s piece in the Sunday Star Times was very thoughtful.

    Comment by Carol — March 30, 2010 @ 11:19 am

  29. “Let’s … do things efficiently and in an environmentally sustainable fashion.”

    A semantic note: mining, by definition, can never be environmentally sustainable. Something is environmentally sustainable when the environment replaces those resources being used. Coal, lignite, gold, etc., will not be replaced for several billion years.

    This is to distinguish ‘sustainable’ from ‘damaging’. Mining can be more or less damaging to the ecology: Open cast mining directly destroys much greater tracts of the bioshpere than ‘surgical mining'; Depending on what’s being mined, the resource itself can be more or less damaging (i.e. coal is more damaging through emissions than, say, goald).

    But mining any finite resource can never be sustainable, by definition. Unless one lives on a flat Earth with infinite boundaries. Like Gerry Brownlee.

    Which brings me to my next point. I’m curious: once we’ve done digging up our mineral wealth to buy our way out of the current recession, what’s our get-out-of-jail plan for the next one?

    Comment by James — March 30, 2010 @ 11:27 am

  30. what happened to innovative business? or is that too hard now? me and my friends are all trying to start fast-growing tech companies (of various merits) and are finding the lack of investment a bigger problem than anything else. surely something should be done about this rather than trying to destroy our finite resources.

    Comment by chris — March 30, 2010 @ 11:41 am

  31. ‘mining any finite resource can never be sustainable, by definition’ Maybe so, but most commentators are discussing mining in an environmentally sustainable way. Spot the difference?

    Comment by Galeandra — March 30, 2010 @ 11:43 am

  32. “I think Brownlee honestly believes that mining can boost our standard of living.”

    i’m not. i think he saw an *easy way* of putting more money into the economy. a bit like landlordism, you sit on your ar$e and wait for the money to roll in.

    we might need a bigger boat.

    Comment by che tibby — March 30, 2010 @ 11:45 am

  33. “We have 60% of the resources outside Schedule 4…”

    I keep hearing this stated as fact. If it is fact, then surely the opponents of Schedule 4 mining can win the argument hands down, by pointing out specific sites where mining should be focused on.

    Someone is bullshitting: either Brownlee who reckons the only good stuff is in Schedule 4, or his detractors who reckon there’s a whole lot of gold somewhere else.

    Comment by Pat — March 30, 2010 @ 11:47 am

  34. I think Brownlee honestly believes that mining can boost our standard of living.

    HOW can he think this when he KNOWS that the Crown gets diddly-squat for any mining activity that takes place.

    Look at it like this: (the following analogy is based on one that I saw elsewhere..)

    I’m the govt, and I know I have a $100 note buried in my backyard. To get it out, I give a mining company the rights to dig there. It costs $90 in effort, wages, infrastructure and so on, to dig it up. The mining company gives me 20c for the privilege, and keeps the remaining $9.80.

    In addition, after the miner clears off, I find I have a pool of toxic water and a huge pile of contaminated soil left behind. It costs me $100 to clean up my yard.

    Comment by progger — March 30, 2010 @ 12:06 pm

  35. We’ve got two opposing views coming from the same people all the time.

    Take GBI, its supposedly a pristine beautiful gem that should never be mined.. yet a look on Google Earth shows its really something more like a nuclear bomb strike. Its a fucked up piece of real estate struggling to get back to something, and frankly a bit of mining would relieve its barreness.

    Then the all time excuse for our poor economic performance “Oh but Australia has minerals”. So we get a shot at our minerals and the same people complain that we are rich enough!

    Economic prosperity doesn’t come from sitting on our arses and admiring the scenary.. and trying to suck the riches from visitors, but from utilising our resources productively.

    JC

    Comment by JC — March 30, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

  36. JC: from utilising our resources productively

    Indeed, JC.. and mining is about as unproductive as it gets, you blithering fool.

    Comment by progger — March 30, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

  37. yeah but the Nats seem to want to destroy those resources ………………. for money.

    I seem to recall that mining accounts for about 1% of our gdp …………… so a massive 100% increase in mining will lead to sweet Fa in terms of making the country wealthy.

    Comment by nznative — March 30, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

  38. Its a fucked up piece of real estate struggling to get back to something

    Don’t hold back there JC, bet the locals have a slightly different opinion.

    Comment by andy (the other one) — March 30, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

  39. “Then the all time excuse for our poor economic performance “Oh but Australia has minerals”.”

    Can’t speak for all on the Evil Monolithic Greeny Left, but my personal take on this is that “Oh, but Australia has minerals and they’ve chosen to dig up huge tracts of their country to mine them, so they’re sitting pretty for now but wait until prices slump and all they have is craters”. New Zealand is a different country, with different values, and I think we’re capable of doing well by a different route.

    “Economic prosperity doesn’t come from sitting on our arses and admiring the scenary.. and trying to suck the riches from visitors, but from utilising our resources productively.”

    You’ll note above that I don’t advocate a 100% ecotour economy, but rather more emphasis on the ideas and technological innovation that many NZ companies do so well. I think the focus on mining is unfortunately drawing attention away from other parts of the economy where we could get equal benefits from encouragement and investigation, with less long-term costs. The argument seems to be “we’ve got to do something”, but does that automatically mean we ought to do this?

    Comment by Sam Finnemore — March 30, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

  40. “Don’t hold back there JC, bet the locals have a slightly different opinion.”

    Yeah, well.. a look at Google Earth shows they live clustered around a couple of bays, like the last Norsemen in Greenland. Paradise looks to be smaller than a postage stamp on Eden Park.

    JC

    Comment by JC — March 30, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

  41. Pat, the 60% figure has been bandied about by pollies and talking heads on both sides. It’s good enough for Gerry Brownlee, though — so given that, yes: it should be easy to win this argument. Glad you agree.

    L

    Comment by Lew — March 30, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

  42. i think we need to note that australia is a country where you can find ten ounce gold nuggets by wandering around in the desert with a metal detector.

    we need to move 10 tonnes of quartz, crush it, and add arsenic.

    that said, a 100% increase in mining’s contribution to GDP would increase it and agriculture to parity with aussie (~5% of GDP).

    Comment by che tibby — March 30, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

  43. “add cyanide” shurely?

    Comment by Leopold — March 30, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

  44. whoops. “highly poisonous chemical being kept in vast lakes FAIL.”

    Comment by che tibby — March 30, 2010 @ 1:45 pm

  45. Mr Brownlee. The Minister of Low Hanging Fruit.

    Comment by James Francis — March 30, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

  46. JC’s an expert in making bald assertions on topics he knows nothing about. I suspect Brownlee also forms his opinions by consulting google earth.

    Comment by Guy Smiley — March 30, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

  47. “~5% of GDP”

    but about 1/3 of their exports.

    Comment by Neil — March 30, 2010 @ 6:52 pm

  48. Australia’s minerals are largely located in its many, many deserts. This fact cannot be ignored. Digging up huge gold nuggets, opals, bauxite, and uranium in the middle of crappy desert land can in no meaningful way be compared with digging up tons of rock, washing it in cyanide to extract a few ounces of gold/siler, and then dumping said cyanide-ridden mud on sensitive conservation land. Trying to pretend they are equivalent is the height of disingenousness.

    Comment by Eddie C — March 30, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

  49. “Trying to pretend they are equivalent is the height of disingenousness.”

    I’d like to believe that’s true, but this is an ambitious government. I think they’re still aiming higher…

    Comment by nommopilot — March 30, 2010 @ 7:15 pm

  50. Deserts are diverse eco-systems worthy of protection too Eddie, don’t be such a desert-o-phobe.

    Comment by oliveoil — March 30, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

  51. 1/3 of aussies exports, sure.

    2/3 of our exports are from (mostly) renewable sources. when aussie has mined out its minerals and has turned back to a dustbowl we’ll be raking it in.

    of course… they’ll own every square inch of us by then.

    Comment by Che Tibby — March 30, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

  52. “JC’s an expert in making bald assertions on topics he knows nothing about.”

    Unfortunately for that theory I’ve had 46 years training and management experience in this sort of stuff. To GBI you can add the Coromandel, a study in a handful of decent forests and vast areas of crappy soils and second growth; or our mountains which are really classic examples of world class erosion, or our tussock lands in the SI high country which are fire and grazing induced and replace the original forests there, or our native forests with their undergrowth almost completely destroyed by deer, possums and trespass grazing, or Whirinaki which is a monument to dead and dying Rimu which will blow over in just a few decades.

    As noted by the NZIER today we lead the OECD in protecting land and vegetation of dubious quality and have the lowest per capita income to protect and enhance it.

    Its time for NZers to get real and understand that protecting vast areas of low quality stuff is not conservation but a tip of the hat to a deluded public and greenies happy with third rate. Real conservation is about integrating production with protection, understanding that we have a particularly dynamic environment that requires changing attitudes and priorities for protection. Creating morgues for trees and tying up vast areas that we can’t afford to protect is not conservation.. its delusion and ignorance.

    JC

    Comment by JC — March 30, 2010 @ 7:45 pm

  53. “when aussie has mined out its minerals and has turned back to a dustbowl we’ll be raking it in.”

    more like saltbowl.

    Comment by Neil — March 30, 2010 @ 8:58 pm

  54. “Unfortunately for that theory I’ve had 46 years training and management experience in this sort of stuff.”

    Sure you do JC. What sort of stuff? The art of using google earth to make sweeping conclusions about the conservation value of large islands, or in just making random stuff up? But, perhaps you’re right and we do need to destroy the environment in order to save it, oops sorry I mean “change our attitudes to priorities for protection”. It is after all a very convenient argument: we’ve partially stuffed up the conservation estate, too expensive to fix, let’s dig it up instead!

    Comment by Guy Smiley — March 30, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

  55. “Unfortunately for that theory I’ve had 46 years training and management experience in this sort of stuff.”

    Oh so you’re a mining industry stooge with a vested interest in pillaging my great great grandchildren’s birthright?

    Comment by nommopilot — March 30, 2010 @ 11:19 pm

  56. “To GBI you can add the Coromandel, a study in a handful of decent forests and vast areas of crappy soils and second growth; or our mountains which are really classic examples of world class erosion, or our tussock lands in the SI high country which are fire and grazing induced and replace the original forests there, or our native forests with their undergrowth almost completely destroyed by deer, possums and trespass grazing, or Whirinaki which is a monument to dead and dying Rimu which will blow over in just a few decades.”

    So in other words, the whole idea of gradually allowing natural areas to regenerate over decades is a complete crock of shit, and thus except for absolutely virgin areas we should just go hogwild?

    No, wait, I got that wrong – *even* in absolutely virgin areas we can have a ‘sustainable’ go if the dollar value is supposedly high enough. Glad I caught that one before posting!

    “Real conservation is about integrating production with protection, understanding that we have a particularly dynamic environment that requires changing attitudes and priorities for protection.”

    Ah, you mean changing from the production first, protection dead last attitude that actually brought us loss of forests, mountain and hillside erosion, and rampant introduced pests, towards … more mining on the lands already deemed least despoiled?

    I see.

    Comment by Sam Finnemore — March 31, 2010 @ 8:19 am

  57. “So in other words, the whole idea of gradually allowing natural areas to regenerate over decades is a complete crock of shit, and thus except for absolutely virgin areas we should just go hogwild?”

    Nope.But neither do we need to preserve every last bit of regenerating forest either. We already try to protect more than we can afford and consequently it is declining in quality under the effects of natural change and pests like weeds, deer, possums, goats and domesticated animals.

    “No, wait, I got that wrong – *even* in absolutely virgin areas we can have a ’sustainable’ go if the dollar value is supposedly high enough. Glad I caught that one before posting!”

    We agree! Many of our native forests already produce over 1 cubic metre of merchantable wood per year, ie, sustainable. Removing that material by portable sawmill and helicopters will have no effect at all on the remainder of the forest. In fact, the only way you can get a return of young growth Rimu to Whirinaki is to recreate the conditions that caused it to prosper in the first place, eg, volcanic upheaval.. you can emulate that kind of catastophic effect by bulldozer. I suggest you visit the forest, see the dead and dying Rimu.. and the only flourishing new growth where the bulldozers have pushed in tracks.

    “Real conservation is about integrating production with protection, understanding that we have a particularly dynamic environment that requires changing attitudes and priorities for protection.”

    “Ah, you mean changing from the production first, protection dead last attitude that actually brought us loss of forests, mountain and hillside erosion, and rampant introduced pests, towards … more mining on the lands already deemed least despoiled?”

    So where do you think all the Baltic timbers come from? And the UK oak and softwood, the Nth American softwoods, the Australian eucalypts and so on in the developed world..? I wont charge you for this, but in the main that vast quantity of timber comes from sustainably managed *natural* forests.
    Take the Californian redwoods.. of the 1.7 million acres, 26% is preserved and untouchable, but the vast majority of the rest is harvested sustainably. In other words, you have a balance between protection and production, plus plenty of income to ensure protection. Thats what we need.

    “I see.”

    Not yet.

    JC

    Comment by JC — March 31, 2010 @ 9:24 am

  58. JC,

    the only way you can get a return of young growth Rimu to Whirinaki is to recreate the conditions that caused it to prosper in the first place, eg, volcanic upheaval.. you can emulate that kind of catastophic effect by bulldozer. I suggest you visit the forest, see the dead and dying Rimu.. and the only flourishing new growth where the bulldozers have pushed in tracks.

    The “broken windows” theory of conservation?

    L

    Comment by Lew — March 31, 2010 @ 9:35 am

  59. “Not yet.”

    Sorry, forgive my habitual morning angrypost.

    There’s stuff I disagree with above, and other stuff I’ll have to think about a bit before replying properly. For now work beckons.

    Comment by Sam Finnemore — March 31, 2010 @ 9:50 am

  60. “The “broken windows” theory of conservation?”

    Not sure what you are getting at..

    But “pioneer” podocarp species like Rimu often carry the seeds of their own destruction in that they were among the first on the scene after a catastrophic event, ameliorated the site so that other plants could come in, but then were unable to compete. To get it going again you have to scrape down to mineral soil and allow light to get in through the canopy (up to 5000 Rimu seedlings per ha may get going under a canopy but the shading and duff layer usually kills them off).

    JC

    Comment by JC — March 31, 2010 @ 10:10 am

  61. Sorry, why did the discussion switch magically from mining to forestry? They’re completely different iindustries. Granted that it’s easier for JC to argue in favour of limited tree harvesting than strip mining, but as they’re not the same thing it’s irrelevant to her position. Still makes her facts up as she goes along regardless – “Many of our native forests already produce over 1 cubic metre of merchantable wood per year, ie, sustainable” wtf?

    Comment by Guy Smiley — March 31, 2010 @ 10:16 am

  62. “Granted that it’s easier for JC to argue in favour of limited tree harvesting than strip mining”

    Obviously if sustainable native logging is OK then automatically ‘surgical environmentally sustainable’ open-pit mining is OK. These things are clearly equivalent. If we could be reaping a cubic metre of merchantable timber from forests each year just think of how many cubic metres of sustainable lignite we could be digging out of the coromandel…

    Comment by nommopilot — March 31, 2010 @ 10:47 am

  63. We’ve got to clarify what this ‘surgical mining’ metaphor means. Does it refer to mining that resembles keyhole surgery where you stick everything in through a little hole? Is it like the sort of surgery where you open up someone’s body with a big cut, do things inside and close it up again? Or is it like the sort of surgery where you cut off someone’s whole leg because it’s going gangrenous? (not that the coal under our national parks is going gangrenous, but you know what I mean)

    Comment by kahikatea — March 31, 2010 @ 11:12 am

  64. Kahikatea, it’s a propaganda term which is intended to evoke the first example, but in fact is employed to encompass all of the above (and then some).

    L

    Comment by Lew — March 31, 2010 @ 11:29 am

  65. Lew,

    Ah.. the parable, not the New York “broken window(s)” programme.

    All the bulldozer does is emulate Nature; and the seedling doesn’t care which mechanism which provided the conditions that enabled it to survive and grow.

    Guy, is it your contention that native trees do not grow and produce wood each year?
    And the link between forestry and mining is obvious.. you want the current 83 mining sites in the DoC estate re-vegetated, don’t you?

    JC

    Comment by JC — March 31, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

  66. JC, so if bulldozing emulates nature, why don’t we bulldoze the lot? Come to that, why does nature need to be “emulated”, as you suggest, when it (nature) exists already? Unless the “emulation” to which you refer is not in fact “nature” but an imposition of technology intended to produce a result which is more preferable to us (being more akin to “culture” than to “nature” except inasmuch as we, too are part of “nature”).

    Anyway, with due respect to your 46 years of whateveritis, and your idea that bulldozing native rimu forests is the key to ecological salvation, I have a t-shirt (or at least a picture of one) for you.

    L

    Comment by Lew — March 31, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

  67. “JC, so if bulldozing emulates nature, why don’t we bulldoze the lot?”

    It was suggested many years ago, and the informed opinion is the next best thing would be a catastrophic windthrow :)
    The bulldozer thing (and indeed full scale logging)is just the example of how devastation works for Rimu. Examples of how you get plenty of regeneration after logging are well represented at Pureora Forest and other places.

    How much should we “preserve”? Well, we have about 0.6% of the original (virgin) Kauri forest, maybe 5% of the original Rimi, something over 10% of the beech.. and then millions of hectares of logged/second growth native forests and a shit load of scrub and tussock in the DoC estate.
    We definitely need to preserve the original forest, and representative areas of the second growth. The tussock I’m not so sure about, because thats been contaminated by 100 years of tramping boots bringing overseas grasses.. but say some representation.

    “I have a t-shirt (or at least a picture of one) for you.”

    Very good. Pity the environmentalists and anti miners didn’t take heed.

    JC

    Comment by JC — March 31, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

  68. Yes, we should clear fell the tussock. How much would that earn Gerry?

    And what’s a “representative area”? A hectare or two?

    Comment by Guy Smiley — March 31, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

  69. “And what’s a “representative area”? A hectare or two?”

    A hectare or two might represent 100% of some unique features; but generally you are looking for a minimum of 1000ha and for many representations over 10% of the total, provided they cover the full range of vegetation, whole catchments and so on.

    JC

    Comment by JC — March 31, 2010 @ 7:54 pm

  70. “…generally you are looking for a minimum of 1000ha…”

    Um who says?

    Comment by Guy Smiley — March 31, 2010 @ 8:57 pm

  71. “…generally you are looking for a minimum of 1000ha…”

    “”Um who says?””

    The NZ Ecological Society and the Forest Research Institute in submissions on the need for reserved land and ecotypes back in the 70s. If you go smaller the costs of protection rocket, and there are major problems avoiding outside influences such as climate, weeds, stock and pests. There are of course hundreds if not thousands of small reserves all over the country under voluntary protection, QE2 Trusts or Nga Whenua Rahui, but they are hardly representative of the full sweep of say, a forest that existed 150 years ago.

    You also need to be careful about the quality of such reserves.. I once had the job of reporting on Crown owned reserves in and around Wellington city, but some were not much bigger than a quarter acre section, had 90% gorse and were well tunneled by the local lovers brigade. There certainly was regeneration going on there, but it was mainly of the ambulatory type.

    JC

    Comment by JC — March 31, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

  72. jc ………………… you do realize that when you make comments like bulldozers being the equivalent to nature or you being able to judge the value of land from a look at google earth that most here see you as being the equivalent of a gibbering natianal party troll ?????.

    Paula Bennet needs to find you some real work for you ……………….

    The real question arising from the rip shit and bust mining proposals that the nats are touting is just how much money and influence does the mining industry have in our politics????.

    Is Jabba the Brownlee and greedy John getting some very large free lunches out of them ???????

    Comment by nznative — April 1, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

  73. Nations with little or no natural resources have compensated by harnessing their collective brainpower. In the immortal words of Ernie Rutherford, “We do not have money, so we will have to think.” Sadly, our movers and shakers seem to think Kath & Kim is a training manual.

    And notice the resemblance between David Harris’ essay “The Clever Country>/a>” and Germaine Greer’s verbal MOAB on her native Australia?

    Comment by DeepRed — April 1, 2010 @ 9:21 pm


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