For the past couple of weeks, the gloves have really come off on my radio show over the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and its controversial chair Dr Rod Carr.
First up, fighting out of the Blue Corner, was local body politician and raconteur Jim Hopkins. This is what he had to say:
"If I was Doctor Carr, or indeed anyone in the Government, [such as] James Shaw, I might take a trip to a place called the Netherlands, and have a look at how they manage to deal with things like water, sea level rise and the like.
"And maybe instead of spending, say, $350 million to amalgamate Radio New Zealand, otherwise known as the Green Party at Prayer, and TV One, otherwise known as Jacinda's little helpers - at least as far as the news department is concerned - maybe they could spend just a few million building bigger stop banks and taking gravel out of riverbeds!
"Seriously, if we are faced with climate change, let's start positively dealing with it by doing things that avoid the kind of damage that we are currently being exposed to - largely because of legislative refusal - to implement means that will actually prevent some of these things happening."
Hopkins went on to opine, "As for Rod Carr, he's just being the government's lapdog, nothing more and nothing less. He knows what James Shaw and Co. want. They want to blame 'dirty dairy' for everything and they'll do anything they can to penalise the sector. They want us to switch to regenerative farming, making mung beans and lentils, having classical music in the shearing shed, whatever virtue signalling reduces our income.
"The simple fact is, if we count everything that emits carbon, we should count everything that sequesters carbon. End of story. We're being conned by middle-class policy wonks, who see climate change as a way to redistribute wealth. That's the fact of the matter."
Hopkins' opinionated comments were a result of criticisms I'd made of Dr Carr on The Country. Why, I asked, did the CCC push back against several recommendations from He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) - the farmer designed emissions-cutting plan? Such as the eminently sensible idea farmers could offset their GHG emissions against all the vegetation on their farms that sequesters carbon – including shelter belts, native bush, woody vegetation and potentially even grass?
His CCC staff requested a right of reply.
So next up, fighting out of the Red Corner, in the interests of balance, I asked the Good Doctor if we were in danger of, metaphorically, starving before we fry, with the world in a food crisis? He responded by saying:
"We're not feeding the world. Our milk and meat protein provides the daily requirement for about 40 million people out of [a world population of] 8 billion. We are feeding relatively affluent people, who are consuming protein well above the daily allowance. From the developing world's point of view, we are not feeding the hungry poor.
"The next challenge is that lower-emitting forms of protein production are going to become quite significant in the middle of this century … and the world is doubling down on investment to create more of those."
My initial response to Dr Carr's comments was I didn't realise there was a daily protein allowance! And feeding 40 million affluent people is probably a good business to be in (which he did acknowledge) for a country that's struggling to balance the books. Besides, is it our remit as a nation to feed the world's hungry poor?
I left the final word to outspoken North Otago sheep and beef farmer, and award-winning environmentalist, Jane "Smasher" Smith, who pulled no punches in response to Dr Carr's comments:
"If HWEN goes through in its current form, 74,000 hectares, every year, will need to be converted to pine tree waste land. At the same time, $100 million of taxpayers' money is being spent on removing wilding pines and $1 billion is being spent on imported carbon credits. And I will back my industry forever. We've had a 30 per cent decrease in sheep and beef emissions since 1990 while there's been an 84 per cent increase in transport emissions [for that corresponding period].
"Why, as a country, when we're struggling to provide the bare basics of healthcare, housing and food for our people, are we penalising our food producers, and global food security, for a politically-motivated emissions tax? It's just nonsensical. People like Rod Carr come and go, but these changes will be here forever. And there's no coming back from that."
And therein lies the problem for Jacinda, James and Rod. They tread a fine line. Starve or fry? Or both? After all, there's nothing worse than a badly burnt Golden Goose.
- Jamie Mackay is host of The Country.