‘An egregious calamity’
Sir David Attenborough, the renowned naturalist and broadcaster, has today announced he is giving up on warning of the imminent collapse of civilisation due to climate change and instead will focus on complaining about the traffic-flow problems on Manchester St and the PC-gonemad way Santa is being portrayed lately.
Earlier this week Sir David had issued an impassioned plea for action on climate change, saying: ‘‘Right now we are facing a manmade disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years’’, a plea that was met with a collective ‘‘meh’’ and the sound of mass shrugging.
Since then, Sir David explained, he had been listening to talkback radio and combing through the letters-to-the-editor pages and online comment sections for reactions to his warning.
In doing so had experienced, in his own words, a ‘‘gridlocked-roadto-Damascus revelation’’.
‘‘Listening and reading it suddenly struck me that, judging by the intensity of emotion expressed, the greatest threat to humanity is not rising sea levels, catastrophic crop failure and dwindling biodiversity.
It is, instead, the imminent extinction of the ability to drive a car down a particular city street without being held up, on some occasions, for many minutes at a time.
‘‘Oh, and also those social engineering snowflakes who think Santa can be a woman, or dare to wear something other than the outfit that Coca-Cola dreamt up in 1931.
‘‘These are clearly the issues in the forefront of mankind’s collective consciousness,’’ Sir David went on.
‘‘So be it. From now on until my last dying breath I shall make it my mission to highlight the plight of those poor souls stuck in the northbound lane between Hereford and Worcester sts for up to three phases of lights.’’
Sir David then announced the production of an epic 12-part series, Life On Manchester St, which will use state-of-the-art slow-motion videography to document the impotent, apoplectic rage of a motorist who chose not to cross the CBD via the one-way system and is now being passed by a bus.
‘‘This, I fully intend, will be my magnum opus,’’ Sir David intoned, ‘‘capturing what surely must rank as the most egregious calamity of our time, along with kids’ Christmases being ruined by introducing them to another interpretation of a totally imaginary character.
‘‘Well, that’s what Angry of Spreydon and that columnist I read last week say, anyway.’’
Sir David’s sentiments are set to be echoed by Her Majesty The Queen, who in a sneak preview of this year’s Christmas Message, pays tribute to the enraged victims of the Manchester St traffic planning fiasco.
‘‘At this time of year especially,’’ she will say, ‘‘one’s thoughts turn to those who are less privileged than oneself.
‘‘A case in point are the unfortunates who through no fault of their own get stuck behind a car attempting a left-hand turn into Gloucester St.
‘‘I am sure you will join with me in wishing them a better and less congested 2019. Seriously, what a bummer.’’
As I flew back into Southland last weekend from a regional sector meeting in New Plymouth, looking down on the emerald patchwork quilt of the Southland plains, I reflected on how good it always is to come home, and how well the region is looking with an exceptional growing season so far.
My arrival back in Invercargill coincided with another successful Invercargill Santa parade last weekend. It is probably dawning on many of us that another year has almost flown by. Why is it that the last month of the year always seems to be the most frenetic?
For the first time in some years Environment Southland had a float in the Invercargill Santa parade, which along with our presence at the Wyndham A&P Show on Saturday, launched the start of our engagement campaign to understand what Southlanders value about freshwater, called ‘‘Share Your Wai’’.
This will continue right through until March, with staff and councillors going out to various events and asking you to fill out a short survey and offering you the option of going into a prize draw. You can also contribute (and enter) online at www.haveyoursay.es.govt.nz.
This engagement is part of our People, Water and Land programme, which is being developed and delivered in partnership with Te Ao Marama Inc. (the environmental arm of Nga¯ i Tahu ki Murihiku)
The programme has two major planks. One is implementation – getting things happening on the ground.
This will involve staff supporting groups and individuals carrying out a wide range of projects and initiatives that will ultimately and cumulatively have a positive effect on water quality.
The Government’s recent announcement of the One Billion Trees Programme, with financial incentives for planting and fencing native and exotic trees, has the potential to boost the planting of riparian areas, creating or restoring wetlands and plantings in unproductive gullies.
To qualify, the area must be a minimum of one hectare (and in some cases a minimum of 5ha), for an establishment grant of $4000 per hectare for natives and $1500 for exotics.
A guide with the details is available online, www.teururakau.govt.nz or via www.mpi.govt.nz.
The other plank of our People, Water and Land programme revolves around setting up a regional forum. Its role will be to advise our council on ways to meet the communities’ aspirations and objectives for freshwater – through both on-the-ground actions and rules.
In doing so, the forum will need to consider the impacts on the community, plus economic, environmental, cultural and social impacts.
Another important aspect will be advice on the time frame needed to achieve those goals and to inform the limit-setting process for discharges to, and abstractions from, waterways.
We will begin advertising for expressions of interest for potential forum members before Christmas, with the closing date likely to be in early February.
So if you’re interested or know someone who could represent the various views of the community, keep an eye out for the ads or speak to one of our staff or councillors when they are out at community places for the Share Your Wai campaign.
We also plan to have public meetings in the new year to explain the forum’s purpose and encourage people to put their names forward.
The forum’s membership will need to have a good balance that can reflect the views of the entire Southland region rather than representing any particular interest group.
This means forum members will need to be community people who have the time and the ability to carry out the role, and who have the best interests of Southland at heart.
On Thursday I attended the official re-opening of the fourth pot line at the Tiwai aluminium smelter, and the opening of the new venison processing plant at the Alliance farm gate Lorneville site.
These are both very positive milestones for Southland.
One thing they have in common is that they are moving much of their product into high value niche markets, providing the confidence to expand their capacity, which augers well for the future.
As this will be my last column for the year, I would like to wish you a safe and happy Christmas holiday time, where hopefully you will get a few days off before the next year begins.
If we can capture the atmosphere of goodwill and support that was evident at the Invercargill Santa parade I’m sure Southland will be in a good place to handle any challenges the new year brings.
❚ Nicol Horrell is the chair of Environment Southland
Letters are welcome, but writers must provide their name, address and telephone number as a sign of good faith – pseudonyms are not acceptable. So that as many letters as possible can be published, each letter should be no more than 250 words. We reserve the right to edit letters for length, sense, legal reasons and on grounds of good taste. Please send your letters to: The Editor, The Southland Times, PO Box 805, Invercargill; or fax on (03) 214 9905; or email to let[email protected] Anyone wishing to make a complaint to the New Zealand Press Council should first put it in writing to the editor within one month of the article being published. If not satisfied with the reply, complainants should then write to The Secretary, NZ Press Council, Box 10879, Wellington, including a clipping of the disputed article and copies of the correspondence.