1994. What a year. (That's right, millennials: years once began with a 1.)

I remember 1994 for Pulp Fiction, one of the most influential and imitated films ever.

What I don't remember it for is the 1994 Government's policies on swimmable waterways. I'd struggle to name the 1994 Prime Minister, much less the 1994 Environment Minister. Did we even have one? Was the environment a concept in 1994?

Cigarettes were still thought to improve stamina - remember all the smoking in Pulp Fiction - so the environment was probably leftie nonsense, cooked up by the same fun police who wanted to deny us everything good, like lead in petrol, salt in bacon and the seductive Barry White tones of a V8 engine.


Climate change was still global warming, a secret recipe known only inside oil companies. And for context: email was a newfangled whimsy called electronic mail. (It's like a fax? But free? Even overseas? HOW IS THIS MAGIC POSSIBLE??)

Hillary Clinton was First Lady. Donald Trump was ... anyway.

Why am I going on about 1994? Have I lost it completely? Well, 1994 happens to be 23 years ago, which makes it the same number of years back as 2040 is ahead.

2040, you may recall, is the year this Government plucked from the carbon-emission-filled air, to promise that 90 per cent of NZ's lakes and rivers will be swimmable. (While redefining swimmable to allow double the previous amount of E. coli.)

First of all, this promise seems premature: surely a promise for 2040 is something to offer in a 2039 election.

2040 will be as recognisable to us as 2017 is to the people of 1994.

2040 is so far ahead, it doesn't even sound like a year - more like a new chemical for killing rabbits.

2040 is the kind of year you'd see in the title card of a sci-fi movie: "It is the year 2040 ... " (Cut to landscapes of devastation, flames, and robots with machine guns for arms.)


Is anyone in 2040 seriously going to have a reminder set on their eyeball computer implant to check if that olden-days Government, that one elected in 2014, kept a promise they made in 2017?

Saying something will happen by 2040 is like a sulky teenager saying they'll get around to it.

There's an easy way the Government could have gotten round this bogus promise.

Forget 90 per cent. They could easily promise 100 per cent of lakes and rivers would be swimmable. Just identify the swimmable ones - and pave the rest. Boom. Not only do you get to say 100 per cent - always a good thing in politics - you also get a boon to the concrete industry, and straight away, extra highways all over the country, and brand new foundations for housing. (While they're at it, they could pave right around New Zealand, and smooth out all the jagged edges.)

I'm no chemist, but pouring concrete mix into lakes and rivers probably binds with all the cow poop for quite a structurally sound foundation.

Any cows caught in the lakes or rivers during the paving process will be immortalised as concrete monuments to our dairy industry.

What I don't get is how cows seem to have pooping rights over the whole country. More debate goes into where transgender children go to the loo than where cows do.

What, are cows sacred or something? Do cows have some sort of EU passport that allows them to cross whatever fence they like and do business? If so, we need to Brexit their rump.

Naturally, we're told that cows are pooping in our rivers for the good of our economy. The cows are doing it because they love us. We'll appreciate it one day.

This is how the global economy works. Cows poop in our rivers, to make milk powder, for the infants of China. In return, those infants in China grow into toddlers, and manufacture smartphones for us. We get some toxins, they get some toxins.

If we insist cows poop in Chinese rivers instead, no smartphones for us. That's the trade deal. It's the Trans Poo-cific Partnership. It's the circle of life, only instead of Simba being held up for us to worship, we hold up a turd-filled jar of E. coli, with a silver fern on it.

Unless a future hero invents a biodegradable diaper to put on every cow (which, once full, flies out to sea to fertilise coral reefs and repopulate fish stocks) then we have to accept that our much-advertised sparkling fresh waters will ever become more like a chocolate smoothie.