My wife just chimed in: "Plastic supermarket bags! Even Australia does that better" (although they have a minute population density. On the other hand they're also shitting in their monstrous backyard even way worser than newziln, mate...)
I agree that GMOs and pollution belong in different debates, and I really don't want to go there. Way back then I remember arguing that the perceived or real threat of GMOs to New Zealand's clean green image was nothing compared to the very real and present threat posed by New Zealanders' personal and collective lack of environmental conservation sense. Things have changed a little (rubbish sorting and recycling!) but nowhere near enough.
1. Germany is a country of 357,000 sq km’s and 82 million people.
2. New Zealand is a country of 268,000 sq km’s and 4.4 million people.
You can’t compare them. It’s absurd.
Obviously one cannot compare the demographic situations of Germany and New Zealand. This is why German waterways and air are much more heavily polluted than New Zealand's.
But my point is a completely different one: when pointing fingers at obvious shortfalls in agricultural/forestry/enviromental legislation and practices, one should also question the way we ourselves think and act.
Ask yourself if you apply the same environmental consciousness to your own lifestyle decisions: When was the last time I chucked something toxic in the trash without a care what would become of it? Do I sometimes leave my empty car running just to get the air-con cranked up, or because I'm just dashing into the dairy? The reasons why such apparently little things make a collective difference need to become part of our thinking if we want to live up to the image we'd like the world to have of us.
As someone who has avidly read Public Address from the outset but only very rarely made the time and effort to contribute to the discussions, I distinctly remember bringing up very similar concerns 10-15 years ago in a response to Russell on a Public Address post about GMOs in agriculture.
Living in an extremely environmentally aware country (Germany) and working in agricultural research, I am often confronted by Germans who have visited NZ for longer than the average tourist and are astounded and shocked by commonly observed practices: burning paper and plastics, burying plastics, fridges, vehicles (whatever) in backyards or on farms, discarding batteries. electrical goods and other toxic trash in household waste, tipping solvents, paint waste or motor oil down household drains, or pesticide leftovers into farm runoff, washing cars on the street with soapy runoff into wastewater, and so on....
For such activities Germans may fear being reported to the authorities by their neighbours, the result being a fine or possible court appearance. The culture is underpinned by a moral responsibility to preserve their environment, and a knowledge of how to do that, which I find to still be largely absent amongst the majority of New Zealanders I know.
In comparison to some European countries at least, the "recycling culture" in NZ is extremely recent and nowhere near as ingrained. I think the point I made all those years ago was that the image of NZ that we and most tourists treasure is only "clean and green" because of a very low population density. Even if you live alone on a very big section your back yard will at some point start to stink if you continue to crap in it!