Junk food farming

In these columns not long ago, our resident global warming cynic claimed that the increasing amount of CO2 in the air must be a good thing because it is causing an increase in photosynthesis, enabling plants to produce more carbohydrates.
He was indeed quite correct about the increase in carbs.

Food plants are now producing more and more sugar.

But, alas, the extra CO2 is also restricting the ability of plants to take up nitrogen, even when nitrate fertilisers are applied.


Consequently, some food plants are already producing 8 per cent less protein.

As CO2 levels grow even higher, junk-food grass on dairy farms will produce less milk, while junk-food cereals and soy beans will nourish fewer people. (tinyurl.com/lessprotein)

Even worse is the 30 per cent reduction of protein in the pollen that some bees feed on.
This junk-food pollen is thought to be a factor in the mysterious die-off of beehives.

With fewer and fewer bees to pollinate fruit blossoms in orchards and clover flowers on sheep farms, there will also be fewer apples to keep us healthy, fewer kiwifruit and lambs to export overseas. (tinyurl.com/poorpollen)

When I first started reading the Chronicle back at Mangamahu in 1947, the winds blowing across our farms contained 320 parts per million of CO2, quite enough to give us kids plenty of nourishing farm-grown food.

By the time the young readers of today's Chron reach my present age, those CO2 levels will have doubled, and for children growing up at Mangamahu in those times, there may be nothing to eat but junk food.


Flying school

I would like to congratulate those responsible for purchasing and establishing the New Zealand Commercial Pilot Academy in Wanganui.

I have been watching with interest as this building was constructed by local companies and took the opportunity on their open day to have a look through.

It is obvious by the layout of this top-class facility that a huge amount of thought was put in and the high level of finish is testament to the local contractors and organisers.
What a fantastic idea to keep the usage of our airport up to a level that will sustain its current status or maybe even lift it.

Also great to see the progress on the control tower refurbishment and, who knows, maybe we will one day see this as an operational control tower again as the demand for air space increases. Wanganui needs this type of forward thinking.


Time for unions

For the price of a flat white or a bottle of beer each week, you could get higher wages, an on-call work advocate, mediator and employment lawyer - in case of emergencies - along with a swag of discounts.

It's the modern deal promoted by unions.
Early last century, New Zealand was one of the most unionised countries in the world,
according to Te Ara, the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand.

Those days are no more.

For the year ended March 2013, New Zealand had 138 unions with about 370,000 members representing 16.6 per cent of the total employed workforce, according to Companies Office records.

Aside from a blip in 2009, when membership rose 3.9 per cent, union membership has been declining and a 2 per cent drop in 2012 saw it fall to its lowest level in five years.
Tellingly, 40 per cent of unions have fewer than 100 members; the median number of members is 136.

The 10 largest unions have 79.3 per cent of total union memberships with public sector unions dominating the landscape.

Nurses, teachers, police and public servants in unions number more than 177,000.
The "health and community services" industry has the most union members at 100,357.
The education sector is the next largest union group with 86,158.

Is it time for the new government to look again into the benefits of unions?

Chairman YNZF ,Taranaki-Wanganui Electorate

Send your letters to: The Editor, Wanganui Chronicle, 100 Guyton St, PO Box 433, Wanganui 4500; or email editor@wanganuichronicle.co.nz