Monday, 29 September 2008

Meat anyone?

So, another week and another poll on the beautiful Zackarate Island. But what's this? A gruesome photo? SHOCKNESS!

Yes, the topic we were talking about is related to the killing of innocent animals and no, I am not a raging righteous vegetarian. The poll question was would you consider/do you eat less meat for the environment? The first point I would like to make is less related to the environment, and more to decaptitated cows. I believe that if you can't handle the truth about where meat comes from, then you shouldn't be eating it. That point alone has created many a vegetarian. It also graphically illustrates the fact that city slickers have become quite withdrawn from where there food comes from. Put someone like myself (who has only lived in a city) on a small organic farm on an island in the middle of nowhere with all the food growing that I could need, and, within a year, I would probably starve to death. Thus, even city slickers should be brought up with the knowledge of how to grow food, making us more in touch with our diets, more likely to grow some fantastic home vegies, and thus lead more healthy and sustainable lives.

Back to the poll, when talking about climate change, especially in this country, we happily look at transport and say we can cut emissions here, here and here. The energy and industry sectors come under the same scrutiny, in general terms. But never do we seriously look at agriculture (unless you're in the Green Party of course), writing it off as a necessary evil when it comes to emissions and environmental impact. Of course that's true, to some extent. But the fact of the matter is that we eat too much meat, both from a nutritional point of view and a environmental one.

Simple physical principles come into this whole meat business. According to my year 12 biology text book (so it must be true!) plants take 1/100th of the energy out of the sun that hits their leaves and turn it into biomass (stored energy to make things simple). In turn, herbivores and omnivores eat the plants and take 1/10th of the energy out of them, which they turn into biomass of their own. Omnivores and carnivores can eat this meat and again take 1/10th of the energy from it. So, no matter how you calculate the end result (whether by over-simplifying or not) you need a lot more resources and space to grow 1kg of meat than to grow 1kg of veggies. With veggies you don't need to grow food to feed them, they make their own. Besides that, plants take carbon out of the atmosphere when they grow, animals put it back in. Cows especially produce a lot of methane, which is a gas with roughly 20 to 25 the warming potential of carbon dioxide when talking about climate change.

In an ideal world we would all be vegans (and be happy about this arrangement). But in reality, even if we wanted to, not everyone could become a vegan. Everyone's bodies work differently, and it's about finding the right balance for you. If you can be a healthy vegan, and are happy with that, fantastic, big ups to you. But if not, don't sweat it. It's not worth putting your health on the line for. But in general we eat too much meat. Eating too much animal protein can cause kidney damage, probably among other things. As with everything, moderation is the key.

And as for those nay-sayers who say Greenies are only about less less less in a more more more culture, thus being killjoys who will never win much support, I say SHUT UP! We are all in the same waka, and if we don't start taking sustainability seriously, we will all drown together (though the poor ones on the bottom of the heap will drown first of course). By framing sustainable changes positively, we will do much more to steer ourselves towards sustainability. Who doesn't want to eat more healthy, therefore live more healthily and be happier with more energy? You can count me in.

As for myself, you can put me in the I consciously eat meat less category. Depending on my living situation, I try and eat meat no more than twice a week (including fish). If you don't want to go vegetarian, I suggest you try setting a reduced meat quota. It's amazing how little you notice the lack of meat! And if someone said to me I had to kill the next animal I ate meat from, I would have to. Otherwise I would be a complete hypocrite. But I would be thankful that it gave it's life so that I could be healthy. Such is the circle of life.

(Photo by 10b travelling)

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

I've been selected!

Youngest candidate receives Pakuranga electorate for his 19th birthday

Tonight Zachary Dorner officially became the Green Party's candidate for Pakuranga, four days before his 19th birthday. At that age he is easily the youngest candidate in the country out of the established political parties.

On becoming the Green candidate for Pakuranga, Dorner said “I am excited to be able to represent the Green Party in Pakuranga. I am seeking the Party Vote, which is the most important. I want everyone in Pakuranga to know that we in the Green Party have practical solutions in our approach to the big issues of our time. I am positive about the future, creative ideas and a ‘can-do’ approach is abundant in New Zealand."

Although Zachary Dorner's chances of getting into Parliament are slim, the lack of representation for young people in Parliament was a major motivation for standing. Mr Dorner does not rule out a serious attempt at becoming a young Green MP in the future.

“Young people are a glaring omission from the so-called 'House of Representatives.' I want more young people to follow in my footsteps by standing and participating in the democratic process. The Green Party is the only Party that truly represents a youthful perspective at the moment, and I see no sign of that changing.

“In an election supposedly about trust I want people to ask themselves who they really trust. Who do they trust with taking serious action on climate change? Who do they trust to provide New Zealanders with safe, sustainable and healthy food? Who do they trust with their children's future? Their best answer to that question is for them to Party Vote Green on November 8.”

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Happy Earth Overshoot Day!

A day after Car Free Day it's Earth Overshoot Day! This is the day that, according to Global Footprint Network data, we have used all the natural resources that earth will generate this year, and from now on this year we are getting ourselves into natural resource debt. As has been the trend for many decades, we are borrowing more this year than we ever have before, now requiring 1.4 planets for our current consumption rate.

There's many more interesting things for you to read about on the link above, but I will mention this. The first year that we were in debt was 1986, which was one day of overshoot. This year it is about 98 days of overshoot. At 18 I have never lived a day of my life in a year that we used less than the earth provided for us. Given that next year I may have to take out a student loan, and my parents have always been in debt to pay for our housing, monetarily I have also never lived free of debt. Why must our economy run like this? Even though GDP has grown, can we really say quality of life has improved, or do we perhaps need to measure a lot more than just money?

On a related note, an interesting discussion has been happening lately about food and it's impact on the planet. The chairperson for the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has come out and said we need to eat less meat. This has had varying reactions, including people like Ken Livingstone (Mayor of London unfortunately) coming out strongly for the carnivores, advocating, if anything, an increase in the consumption of meat. More on this interesting topic later in the week, but in the meantime you can vote in this week's poll.

Have you decided who you will give your party vote to yet?

The results of this weeks poll. Obviously not a scientific one... I hope more people vote in my one for this week, as do I hope there will be a good turnout come November 8. But, as I said when I started this blog, internet polls don't show anything statistically sound, unless they have a very high number of voters, in which case they are a general indication only. I use them in this blog to raise issues.

I hope the voters who have decided in this poll are all voting Green... I do have a feeling there is an ACT voter who voted in the poll though but no matter. They are few and far between at the moment luckily.

Real freedom = freedom from cars!

Yesterday was Car Free day, and it was celebrated by the Green Party in style.

Above you can see what they did in Wellington as they launched the Green Party Transport Policy for the election. After convincing 48 Greenies to drive their cars (no small task) to the waterfront they got a very graphic example of why bussing is so much better for the environment and eases traffic jams so much. One full bus is so much smaller! Especially when you add the space between cars that you get when driving. Of course I would generally put myself in the bicycle crew at the front because it is far more fun, especially in hilly places like Wellington and Auckland (downhill of course is what I'm talking about!).

The Green Party transport policy would see the funness of cycling made much safer and, as I said in my previous post, a funding role reversal. No longer would transport funding be so weighed in favour of dirty cars, but weighed in favour of public transport, cycling and walking. Let's free ourselves from cars and make our cities more liveable!

I'm also very keen on the $1 off-peak travel anywhere for two hours for public transport, and the half price fares for senior citizens, children and, most importantly, students. The poor beggars (of whom I will be one next year) currently have to pay through their teeth and fork out full adult prices! Mental considering how poor they already are.
As for myself, I walked to university in Auckland with three others. We wore visibility vests, had music pumping from a wheelie bin (courtesy of Greenpeace) and spread the word and love, handing out Green Transport Policy leaflets.

Next major car-related day is Free Car Day. Look for ACT and National in particular to be capatilising on that with their transport policies. as free cars will be the only thing that makes driving cars everywhere affordable in the near future.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Let us get across!

This afternoon I attended a gathering of about 400 or 500 cyclists (from my rough estimate) beneath the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

The gathering was in favour of a cycleway and walkway being added to the bridge when maintainence is carried out on the bridge clip ons in the next year or two. It is an excellent opportunity to do this, but is at this stage by no means a closed deal. At the moment you can't walk or cycle over the bridge - which is absolutely crazy. Nor can you scooter. What do people do who don't have a car, or want a more sustainable option (besides bussing)? Estimated cost of the project is between $20 and $40 million, which "chicken feed" compared to the billions that go into other roading projects, as Keith Locke put it.

Above is me and Xavier Goldie, who is another young Green Party Candidate in the Auckland area.

At the event Keith Locke announced parts of the Green Party transport policy for the election. We want to change the ratio of funding from 5 times as much being spent on roading compared with public transport, walking and cycling to a reverse situation where we spend twice as much on public transport compared with roading. That will ensure that we never have to fight another battle to get a very sensible cycleway built. We also will become more sustainable by using the roads we have much more wisely, rather than spending billions on new ones - which never helps ease congestion, it just creates more.

RIding whales before they become extinct

As I failed to tell you in my last post, the awesome candidate who is now standing for Maungakiekie for the Green Party is Rawiri Paratene, who was in Whale Rider. Like a number of Green candidates (including yours truly), he does not want to become an MP, but is giving his name and time to try and get as many Green MPs in the next Parliament. As he put it: "My message to people is to party vote Green, I say to people `Vote for your kids and your grandchildren – they will thank you for it." So to all of you who do party vote Green, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Saturday, 20 September 2008


Yes, that's where I'm at now. I've popped up again in Auckland, land of plenty (of people and stuff). On Thursday I came up here, and that evening I attended the Auckland Campaign launch as an Auckland candidate. Thus, I will now be hanging here for the next seven weeks.

It was a great night at the Safari Lounge in Ponsonby where we proudly announced the 21 candidates in 21 electorates - the first time we've had a candidate in every electorate. My one will be Pakuranga after my official selection evening coming up this week. Apart from the other excellent candidates there's also a very high profile candidate who has leant his good name and time, and will be running in Maungakiekie. So watch out.

Most important of all we have an undeniably strong message, summed up perfectly by our much-praised billboards. Which political party would you most trust with your children's future? I know I'm hedging my bets to ensure maximum Green representation in the Parliament.

I'm gonna be having a good time getting out that message in Auckland, so see you round.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Have you decided who you will give your party vote to yet?

With newly invigorated blogness happening, time for a new poll - which will now be renewed weekly. I promise.

This one's a simple one. Have you decided who your going to vote for? I know I have...

With all the madness of silly season almost in full swing it's interesting to take a look at how many people decide who to vote for (and sometimes also whether to vote) over what happens during the next 52 days (and counting). And with MMP that can have a huge impact on governing arrangements after the election.

On another similar note, a general whinge about the importance placed on polling data. It becomes an obsession in the media, and leads to what Nicky Hager calls "horse racing politics". It is a week to week commentary about who did what and how that effected their polling (even if it is relatively unreliable data), rather than the analysis we so desperately lack about what each party's policies are and how that will effect the country. But of course an election campaign focused on policy would be too much to ask for...

And, back to the matter at hand, maybe some of you undecideds are waiting for more policies to be announced perhaps?

Monday, 15 September 2008

Sorry! Just hit me on the head like a whack-a-mole

Monday, 15 September 2008
My dearest blog readers,

Please accept my sincerest apologies. It has now been a month since I last posted which is nothing short of embarrassing. This last month has been an abysmal effort on my part, and for that I am truly sorry. I can only hope that you will forgive me.

In my defense I have been busy and been thinking of you often, even if I haven't been communicating that with you. After the Guelph by-election campaign I traveled to my hometown (named with the very original name London, Ontario, Canada), the city where my dad was born and grew up (Windsor - accross the river from Detroit) then on the train all the way to Quebec (which took a complete day), then to Montreal to see what all the hype was about and then back to Ottawa. This was quite rushed and, just like my last sentence, was done all in one go. In Ottawa I hung with my fan-dam-ly some more and eventually ended up in a place called Shelter Valley for a folk festival by the same name. This was an excellent way to end my big trip, and the festival itself turned out to be a great example of a positive grassroots community doing good stuff, which had developed over the last five years. It was mainly volunteer run and, as a volunteer myself I was thanked many times. That made me feel guilty as I was really just putting in my 12 hours for the free entry, free camping and free food. From there I was on a plane, spent two days in Hollywood (like the start of my trip) and then back to home turf aka Wellington. Since my arrival I've been extremely busy sorting out my life again and helping out the Green Party who are to be a major feature of my life for the next couple of months.

Next I will be disappearing like a whack-a-mole in a few days, only to pop up again somewhere else. But, just like a whack-a-mole, I'm not going to tell you where or when - haha.

But I will promise you this. Things are serious now. The election date has been announced and as a candidate it's going to be exciting and I'm going to be working hard to bring a much greater representation for the Green Vision in Parliament. And during the next couple of months I will keep you up to date as best and often I can. So sorry again, from the bottom of my heart, and talk to you soon.

Love from Zack