Monday, September 07, 2009

Under the mountain

At the most basic, vulgar level, landscape expresses itself in a specific price: the added cost of a beautiful view in real estate, the price of a plane ticket to the Rockies, Hawaii, the Alps, or New Zealand... at the same time, landscape represents itself as "beyond price," a source of pure inexhaustible spiritual value... an "ideal state" quite independent of "real estate"... the land, real property, contains a limited quantity of wealth in minerals, vegetation, water and dwelling space. Dig out all the gold in a mountainside, and its wealth is exhausted. But how many photographs, postcards, paintings and awe struck "sightings" will it take to exhaust [the value of iconic natural landmarks]?
Thus wrote W J T Mitchell in Landscape and Power (1994, University of Chicago Press, p15) as abridged by Claudia Bell in Inventing New Zealand (1996, Penguin New Zealand, p34). I only mention it because it was written by someone from Overseas, and New Zealanders only take notice of the bleeding obvious when it is said by foreigners, so quoting it here might have some effect.

Or not, as the case may be. For the Government's simple plan to dig up the Conservation Estate to see if anything shiny can be found underneath is motivated as much by spite as by greed. Spite, after all, is an essential component of Government policy-making. It could be seen in the decision to bring back the Knights and the Dames: the Labour-led Government had done away with pomp and circumstance, so they must be brought back; and, as a bonus, the people who were honoured during the Interregnum were given the opportunity to upgrade their awards to Business Class. Spite guides the the odious lifeform known (for the duration of its stay on this planet) as Gerry Brownlee: digging up the bush will make some people very rich indeed, but it will also annoy the Greens.

Because if there is one thing the Right hates more than Labour, it is the Greens. The Grumpy Old Men who dominate the daytime airwaves attest to that. They demand the removal of the Resource Management Act, so that men like themselves can chop down trees and cut up hills. They call for the building of nuclear power plants, not because there is any need for them here (there is none) but because they cannot abide this country being nuclear-free. They scoff at schemes to limit plastic bags, as if the livelihoods of humble plastic-bag makers were threatened by middle-class environmentalists with hessian sacks.

More reasoned voices of the Right have rushed to the Brownlee's defence. That Mr Hooton was on the radio last Monday, to tell us that there would be no damage to the Environment, because the miners would not set foot on the Conservation Estate: they would mine under it. Of course! How silly of us to think otherwise. Mining operations could be based in some undesirable part of the country - Penrose, for example - and miners could commute to their work through tunnels leading to resources under the National Parks. On the other hand, Mr Hooton could be talking out of his adit.

Mr Farrar, on another hand, takes the view that we will lose only piffling amounts of clean and green New Zealand. It will barely be noticed. Besides,
A conservationist will look for the balance. They may say okay that 11 hectares of land has huge economic value. What if we purchased 500 hectares of land over there to replace it in the conservation estate. The conservation estate gets to grow, we get the economic benefits of the land’s economic value – a win/win. That is what we should look for.
Yes, that's it. Let's replace these 11 hectares of native bush with 500 hectares of farmland. We can grow a new bush on that, a bigger and better bush. If we don't, then schools and hospitals will suffer.

You see, the problem with the natural environment is that it is not economically useful. It is all just unimproved land, slovenly wilderness, sitting there and contributing nothing to our standard of living. It really is time the environment bucked up its ideas and started making an effort. And it really is time the Greens had those smug looks taken off their faces. There is gold in them thar hills and there are Greens in Grey Lynn who are going to be very upset. At the end of the day, it's a win/win.


aj said...

Don't you understand? it is in everyones interest to use all our resources to increase our wealth (Pamela in the Listner)

Just don't fret for our children's children. Selfish bastards.

nznative said...

you've got to remember ............ its their turn now.

They certainly are ramming through a lot in their honey moon period and they seem to be getting away with a lot by spin and bullshit.

Hopefully when they do finally get the boot the damage they have done and more predatory society that they like to live by can be unwound.

Its good to be an arsehole if your a natianal ..............

Philip said...

Just don't fret for our children's children. Selfish bastards.

Then again, the evil Muslims breed faster than real people, so perhaps it's a meticulously planned, cunningly disguised long-term cultural revenge tactic. So they think they can cheat global calamity by having more children? We'll show them, the bastards.

Word Verification: tredil, a Cornish pasty with a footprint in it.

David said...

A brilliant, lucid post.

Adit: classic!