The Herald does a great job in canvassing sustainability and climate change issues through its pages.
But some of the policies that the green movement advocates and recent "green" legislation may well prove to be negative rather than positive.
Many of the ideas also completely ignore the United Nations' call for a doubling of world food production over the next 20 years. At present New Zealand farmers produce food for 53 million people.
In New Zealand those who label themselves "green" seem to believe that they have all the answers, and that the rest of us should come into line. Many push organic farming and the use of biofuels in preference to fossil fuels. Many are against trade, and urge us to eat food that is locally produced. The use of biotechnology in agriculture is strongly opposed.
Some biofuel production may have potential. But producing biofuels from areas suitable for producing food does not stack up either environmentally or economically.
In recent months even the all-powerful EU has stepped back from strongly promoting such production.
In New Zealand, Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright has questioned the need for legislation that would make the use of biofuels compulsory. And London-based journalist Gwynne Dyer has predicted catastrophe, saying that it would be insane if we tried to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the use of biofuels.
Francesca Price from TV3's Wasted show, taking the Herald "green" test, gave a typical view. She said, "I try to eat as locally and organically as possible." This approach may sound great, but is it really sound?
I am not against people farming organically and selling the produce to people who prefer it. It is highly unlikely, however, that by producing or eating either locally produced and/or organic produce, we will be slowing down global warming.
Organic farming cannot feed the world. Several years ago I attended a conference where Dr Pedro Sanchez, chairman of the United Nations Task Force on Hunger, was speaking. When asked whether or not organic farming could feed the world, he was emphatic that it could not. He said that the maximum number of people that could be fed through organic production was four billion. We already have six billion people, and are headed for eight or nine billion in a few years.
If we are to slow the pace of global warming, the world needs more trees. Switching to organic farming would mean much more land would have to be used for agricultural production, thus limiting the land available for forestry.
As for favouring locally grown production over that from further afield, many examples show that food that has travelled a long distance, but has been produced under favourable conditions, may leave a smaller carbon footprint than local produce does.
Research carried out on exporting New Zealand lamb to Europe proved that the New Zealand product has a smaller carbon footprint than the local product.
Are the green advocates who oppose trade seriously suggesting that New Zealand should only be producing food for its four million residents, leaving production of food for the other 49 million people we now supply to farmers in other countries, whose carbon footprint is greater than ours?
The best way of producing food with the lowest environmental impact is to grow the most appropriate crops for the land and climate. Rice should be grown where the rain falls, rather than in areas where irrigation is needed. Fruit and vegetables should be grown where the soil and climate is suitable, not in artificially heated greenhouses.
We can all agree on some things that will help sustain the planet. They include using public transport where possible, recycling, reducing waste, insulating buildings, using solar energy and so on. These are useful, but can only take us so far. A total change of mindset is needed to make a real impact on climate change. The emissions trading legislation may reduce New Zealand's carbon footprint when farming is included, but it is likely to cause an increase in global emissions.
Taxing and therefore increasing New Zealand farmers' costs will inhibit production. The gap in production will almost certainly be picked up by producers in untaxed countries, who will leave a greater carbon footprint than we do. The overall impact on the environment will be negative.
Saving existing rain forests and re-establishing some forests that have disappeared is probably the most important thing we can do. This can be achieved only if we produce more food on less land, thus freeing up land for forestry.
If we are to slow down climate change and feed the world, we will almost certainly have to embrace some areas of biotechnology. There is potential here to deliver greater production with lower inputs of chemicals and fertilisers.
It can definitely be argued that many of the current solutions for solving global warming will make the world situation worse, rather than better. We need to think again.
* Brian Chamberlin is a former president of NZ Federated Farmers and a member emeritus of the International Policy Council on Agriculture, Food and Trade.