Extinction Rebellion (XR) Wellington will be taking action at Parliament at 3pm on the 17th of April 2019 to draw attention to the sour side of our white gold. Esteemed freshwater ecologist Dr. Mike Joy will be speaking about the issues of intensive agriculture, bad water use practices and our extreme rates of freshwater pollution and species extinction – among the highest in the world.
Dr. Sea Rotmann, Wellington XR spokesperson says, “In our country, farmers are bound by a model that urges them to destroy the nation’s most valuable natural assets: land and water. We may believe that milk and dairy is our white gold, but this belief has long gone sour…”
“This demonstration, aptly held on the International Day of the Peasant’s Struggle, is to highlight what has been described as one of the most comprehensive eliminations of biodiversity ever: the death of our waterways.”
This abuse of New Zealand’s waterways also extends into urban areas, and in the lowland areas, 90% of wetlands are already gone. Imported fertilizers and animal feeds have polluted lowland soils with cadmium, to the extent that much of it can no longer be used to grow plants to eat.
Dr. Rotmann says, “Even as our remaining wetlands are destroyed for ‘development’, public money is spent on artificial ones because wetlands are needed to manage water. It is perverse, really, how badly we are managing our most precious resource.”
“Some of the most polluted rivers in the world (like the Yangtze and the Mississippi) would receive a ‘B’ grade using New Zealand water quality standards. It is an outrage that a developed country that sees itself as a leader in agriculture could let its water quality standards become this lax.”
“We lay the responsibility for this destruction here at Parliament, in front of the ones we entrusted to watch over it. Monitoring and management practices have become subtle forms of coercion, where communities are asked to trade jobs and wealth for clean water.
We want this government to finally tell the truth about the state of our water and land. We want the rules they set in place to reflect that truth. And we want immediate action to do everything in our power to stop the massive impact of intensive agriculture on our greenhouse gas emissions, our freshwater species and the quality of our water.”
Given the shocking events in Christchurch, Extinction Rebellion Te Whanganui-a-Tara wants to express clearly that we are an inclusive organisation that is committed to non-violence.
Dr Sea Rotmann explains, “We were all shocked by the events of 15th March. We were so inspired by the leadership shown by youth here and overseas, in the School Strikes 4 Climate protests which happened on the same day as the shooting. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. And we are leaving them our mess to clean up. Basically, we have borrowed a high interest loan from future generations and other species, and we have no way to make the repayments on time.
“Climate & environmental scientists tell us that action is beyond urgent – we are looking at runaway climate change feedback loops and have kicked off the 6th mass extinction event. Parliament, with cross-party support, passed gun laws within a month of the Christchurch shootings. This has shown us what can be done if there is political will and the situation is taken seriously. But twenty times more lives were lost in last month’s cyclone in Mozambique and Zimbabwe alone. Even if they did not die in our backyard, they are also us, and we all must stand up to combat this global threat, together.”
Extinction Rebellion Te Whanganui-a-Tara demands that our Government:
1. Tells the truth about the climate and ecological crisis
2. Takes the necessary steps (declaring a state of emergency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025) to address it, and
3. Creates Participatory Democracy to oversee the process.