Opinion: Manawatū farmer Pete Fitz-Herbert is worried about carbon farming and he's got something to say about it.
As you sit by your prematurely harvested and quickly wilting tree this Christmas, ponder this - have you heard about this carbon farming thing?
I think it's getting out of hand.
Most people don't appear to understand it, so they think it doesn't affect them, but it will very soon.
I have spent a lot of time trying to come up with a very simple and slightly odd way of describing it.
Would you let someone take a poo on your front lawn?
How about if they paid you to do it, how much would they pay you to allow them to do this?
What if they come back to do it again? You now have two poos sitting on your front lawn.
The pooers' friends hear about this deal and they want to pay to poo too.
I'm assuming you are starting to get the pattern here - "poo" equals pollution in tonnes of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide or methane.
The price paid is the carbon price in the ETS and, if you don't realise, the ETS is a big game of Monopoly with polluters and speculators that are currently having a gay old time.
But what you end up with is a hypothetical front lawn covered in everyone else's excrement. Or a carbon farm to offset the said excrement and no real change in the poo-llutors' behaviour.
A front lawn that is locked up and no future use to anyone, a neighbourhood filled with properties covered in - you guessed it - poo and a place that is not what can be described as a desirable and thriving community.
Did I lose you there?
Well, currently this is my beef.
Farms that grow food, jobs and are contributing members of society are being brought up by polluters, speculators, and anyone else wanting to jump on the carbon credit bandwagon, both international and domestic.
These farms are to be planted in pine trees and this is where the poo analogy runs out.
But the real effect is running out of control - farms all over the country are being purchased, planted in pines and having the gate shut for perpetuation.
They also contribute nothing to the country's GDP ever again, not to mention the destruction of rural communities and agricultural sectors.
They are also a ticking time bomb of a fire that will be seen from space the day that these so-called carbon farms burn in a dry summer on the entire east coast of the North Island - from Tainui to Tolaga Bay in about 2042.
Did I mention the government are the main cheerleaders currently shaking the fuel can - I mean pompoms?
They are even subsidising the tree planting and clearing the way for international money to flow in. But that's by-the-by.
So what have you learned?
Green pine trees burn well, the Christmas tree you have didn't offset the carbon emitted from powering the Christmas lights on it this month and the animal protein on the table is probably going to outstrip inflation to be rather expensive in the years to come because fewer farms + fewer animals = less meat.
Also, can we stop calling them carbon farms?
In my opinion, they have more in common with strip mining than farming.
I get the overwhelming feeling that at some stage in the future as a country, we may ask how we got so far up this shit creek without a propulsion device or income?
Just a thought.