NZ Lifestyle Block - - The Good Life - Make Cheese with Jean Mans­field (DVD) How to Make Cheese Vol­ume 1


Par­lia­ment so that we can have good re­gional de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

What we need in academia, civic lead­er­ship, busi­ness and the media, is the abil­ity – via some kind of struc­tured eval­u­a­tion process – to mesh to­gether all the bits that the spe­cial­ists can con­trib­ute. Clearly such a mech­a­nism can be ap­plied at any level but is es­sen­tial at the very high­est level so it is over-arch­ing.

At times the clash of spe­cial­i­sa­tions will be stark, for ex­am­ple, when the as­sump­tions of an agri-busi­ness pro­fes­sor come up against those of a wa­ter sci­en­tist. That mech­a­nism is go­ing to have to be long, wide and clear-sighted to put such dis­par­i­ties into mean­ing­ful per­spec­tive.

For a univer­sity, it should be easy. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive com­mit­tee could meet regularly, as­sess, and re­port. It may even be that they would end up with a sep­a­rate group of peo­ple spe­cial­is­ing in gen­er­al­is­ing (I’d love to write the job de­scrip­tion for that one!) and over-view­ing.

The use­ful in­clu­sion of our elected lead­er­ship in this process would re­quire qual­ity re­search from the Public Ser­vice. This would have to be un­in­flu­enced by min­is­te­rial pres­sure, or in­deed any pres­sure. Given that the Public Ser­vice is also a col­lec­tion of spe­cial­ist out­fits, it would be rea­son­able to again as­sume their need for a com­mit­tee of as­sim­ila­tive gen­er­al­ists.

Busi­ness is a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult – there is no moral correctitude about mak­ing money. Prob­a­bly, busi­ness is best driven by those Public Ser­vice spe­cial­ists, via reg­u­la­tion.

In the in­ter­ests of avoid­ing du­pli­ca­tion, it would be great if academia’s gen­eral in­te­gra­tion panel was in turn in­te­grated with the Public Ser­vice one. The near­est we get to this is the Chief Science Ad­vi­sor to the Prime Min­is­ter, Sir Peter Gluck­man.

Hav­ing come to these con­clu­sions some years ago, I have fol­lowed the stance of Sir Peter with in­ter­est. For a start, he is a clas­sic case of some­one with spe­cialised train­ing – in his case, health – step­ping into an ‘over­view’ arena where com­ments are ex­pected from out­side their ex­per­tise.

Long-term read­ers know what I think: that all life, in­clud­ing us, re­quires energy in­puts; that all eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity, when you trace it back, does too; that the sup­ply of stored so­lar energy (fos­sil fu­els) and the sup­ply of fi­nite re­sources they bring us, had

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to peak; that be­cause of this, ex­po­nen­tial ‘eco­nomic growth’ has to cease.

When Sir Peter made a com­ment about eco­nomic growth, I chal­lenged him, ask­ing him if his Of­fice had looked at the re­la­tion­ship be­tween energy and money. There was no re­ply, so I made an Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion re­quest. His of­fice – af­ter wait­ing for the long­est time al­low­able – replied in the neg­a­tive.

I took this to mean our chief sci­en­tific ad­vi­sor to the Gov­ern­ment, ex­pected to be a ‘gen­er­al­ist’, wasn’t able to pro­duce ev­i­dence that he’d stud­ied what he was ad­vo­cat­ing or what it was that un­der­wrote it. He could, of course, have pro­duced a rea­soned re­but­tal to my as­ser­tion.

I’m still all in favour of hav­ing a Chief Sci­en­tific Ad­vi­sor, given the need for in­te­grated think­ing. When you read what Sir Peter was writ­ing from early on, you re­alise that he is well aware of the is­sue too. Here are some ex­cerpts from his 2009 of­fer­ing on Cli­mate Change:

“Un­der­stand­ing the com­plex­ity of cli­mate science re­quires the in­volve­ment of many sci­en­tific dis­ci­plines, and this cre­ates dif­fi­cul­ties in reach­ing con­clu­sions.”

“The prob­lem that over­lays all of this is one of eco­nom­ics.”

“The global po­lit­i­cal com­mu­nity has yet to solve these con­flict­ing ex­pec­ta­tions.”

Last year, Sir Peter hosted the inau­gu­ral con­fer­ence of the In­ter­na­tional Coun­cil for Science here in NZ. From the con­fer­ence sum­mary, we get this wee gem:

“A re­cur­ring theme of dis­cus­sion at the con­fer­ence was the need for mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary and, in­creas­ingly, mul­ti­juris­dic­tional re­sponses to the types of ques­tions for which gov­ern­ments to­day would need (and ideally seek) science-based ad­vice.”

I couldn’t have put it bet­ter my­self.

Go for mul­ti­ple use

Ev­ery­thing we do on our blocks im­pacts some­thing else, or in­deed of­ten dis­places some­thing else. Mul­ti­ple-use al­lows us to do more. For ex­am­ple, Jen­nie and I have just planted a mix­ture of tree lucerne and flax on a slip-prone piece of ground. This will bring the birds and the bees, giv­ing us in­fill-seed­ing be­tween our plant­ings, and pol­li­na­tion, while also slurp­ing up ground-wa­ter and pro­vid­ing shel­ter. Ri­par­ian zones re­duce nu­tri­ents into wa­ter­ways, de­creas­ing weed growth, im­prov­ing bio­di­ver­sity and wa­ter qual­ity, and pro­vid­ing a bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment for swimming and fish­ing for you and your com­mu­nity.

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