So it appears that Wellington has potentially less than three weeks of water left. Can you believe it? This is Wellington. Not the Far North or the Canterbury Plains! Wellington.
There is no doubt that over the last three months we have experienced an amazing summer in the North Island (unless you are a farmer of course), the likes of which I can’t remember experiencing before in my lifetime. Well I experienced it when I lived in Australia a few years ago, a dry and parched land by nature, but not here in New Zealand.
So is it a one off event, part of the cyclical nature of weather patterns, or a foretaste of a drier, harsher future for this country under climate change?
Only time will tell.
But whatever the answer is to that question, shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to prepare for the worse case environmental scenario? Particularly seeing that with the recent demise of vast parts of the New Zealand manufacturing sector, primary production appears to be held out as the mainstay of our economic future. Well what does that economic future look like if drought becomes a regular phenomenon in large parts of our agricultural hinterlands?
You have to be worried when even our Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister, someone not prone to over-reaction or rash comments, states that the Government can’t guarantee future financial support to farmers if drought becomes a regular occurrence.
Whatever the outcome of this summer, surely these past few months have been a dramatic reminder of the need for the Government to increase its focus and planning of our future water use requirements (both domestic as well as commercial) and water-ways protection.
As the National Secretary of the NZ Dairy Workers Union, a union whose members’ economic wellbeing relies upon a healthy and productive primary sector, I urge the Government and all businesses to see this summer as a warning and to intensify the transition of our economy from one based upon fossil fuels to one centred around sustainable and renewable energy sources that do not cause long-term damage to the environment.
Not to do so could be economically disastrous for all New Zealanders – not just our farmers.