I had a lot of fun illustrating this comic which explains what swimmable means.
Like Cameron, I too grew up reading and drawing science fiction and exploring nature. This year my ‘journey of discovery’ took me deep into the Waitakeres for my own Avatar experience.
There, in the moonlight, I crouched in the middle of a small stream prodding and splashing away like a child. Like Jake Sully I was enchanted with tiny animals that (unlike glowworms who glow for hours) release a bright burst of bioluminescence. The limpets I was teasing are called Latia and they release bioluminescent slime as a defensive mechanism.
You won’t find these alien limpets anywhere else in the world and you also will no longer find them in most New Zealand streams. They need clean water, and we have filled our lakes and rivers with too much sediment for them to survive. Our waterways are far from 100% pure. Most of the rivers that are pristine are high in the South Island where it is too cold for Latia to survive.
Our government wants to treat our streams and rivers like drains. The legislation they have proposed sets extremely low standards for our waterways. I agree with the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment – sediment is one of the three big issues affecting our waterways. Yet our Government has not included sediment as an attribute in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, and we can’t manage that which we do not measure.
In the 100% Pure ad James Cameron tells us that ‘curiosity is the most powerful thing we own’. My curiosity has changed the way I see the New Zealand environment. It has altered my enjoyment of the New Zealand wilderness. Where before I just saw bush, now see invasive plants. Having heard the morning chorus in our wildlife sanctuaries I am let down by our silent mainland forests.
So a few years ago I started a personal project about the positive stuff – the things that make New Zealand unique. MostNZ.com is a website showcasing what we can celebrate about New Zealand, how to experience those things and most importantly how to keep them. It’s a lot more honest than the 100% campaign but it’s still advertises New Zealand.
We can grow tourism and the economy by growing, protecting and restoring our wilderness. But to do it we need more, James Cameron; more curiosity, more imagination, more vision.
Let’s at least try for 50% pure. Let’s focus on the quality not the quantity of our exports. Let’s start doing restoration at an industrial scale and let’s really invest in our scientists who dream of a predator free New Zealand.
Like the narrative arc of James Cameron’s blockbusters we have tasks to master, battles to win and transformations to witness. The New Zealand story must have our unique environment at its heart.
James Cameron ends his Ted Talk with ‘‘No important endeavour that required innovation was done without risk.” – “Failure is an option, but fear is not.”
“No!” This is how we teach restraint, over time the child masters the rules and becomes a functioning member of society. But he finds pleasure in the quiet places where no one can yell “No” at him, places where the rules don’t apply, where he can be wild and free.
There is a huge psychological transformation that occurs when you’re outdoors and find that you are no longer alone. Every imaginable cultural judgement can be projected in just a single person. They are not just changing our behaviour they are changing how we think, making us self conscious.
Some people feel this more than others, but perhaps this is why humans bleat and stomp about environmental rules. Because when we are in the wild with all those wild things, we feel wild too. We feel free from all those rules and judgements, those “No”s. So we fight those that tell us “don’t go there”, “don’t kill that” or “leave that alone”. Because they are reducing our freedom, which is true. But unfortunately we live in a world of human expansion and decreasing environmental resilience, our choices now have a greater cost than those of previous generations. We are slowly learning we can longer afford to be wild, we have to share our freedoms, not just with this generation but the next one too.
The reason the human population has grown so fast is because we are so adaptable and culture (our behaviours and technology) has evolved and will continue to evolve much faster than our genes. Those that are following the rules, participating in restoration, conservation, trash removal, pest eradication, citizen science and moving from eating to recording wildlife are developling a new culture. This new culture is already growing fast and with it some of our wilderness is coming back, building resilience and expanding our freedoms. We are finding a new way to be wild and free.
Thanks to Tom for the links
In this post I discuss solutions to New Zealand’s nitrogen pollution issue.
While I was at Gather yesterday I had two more ideas.
1. Barking Drones
Drones can already herd sheep. I’m sure if they barked they could herd cows. Moving cow campsites every night would distribute the Critical Source Areas (CSAs) and have a significant impact. A really smart drone might even be able to move an individual cow three meters south east to avoid an existing urine patch or move them mid-event!
2. Top-dressing Drones
Instead of one large chemical dump, drones could be used to distribute tiny payloads to targeted sites. They could be solar powered and use the internet to predict rainfall.
There is no reason the same drone could not do both jobs. They would both build a map of nitrogen distribution over time… smart farming.
With rotational grazing on Dairy farms the campsites are less of an issues. So braking drones would be best used in Beef farms or run off areas (dry stock).
I did the math on using a splash drone (all weather) for fertiliser application:
Splash Drone $2,200. 45kph, 35min to charge, 17min flight time, Max wind speed 40 kmph, Lift 1kg.
I will assume 1 minute to get payload.
45kmph speed for 15mins = 11.25km travelled.
The average NZ Dairy farm is 150ha. 1 ha = 200m return flight.
The done needs to be able to fly 150*200 30,000m or 30km
So the drone either needs to be in the middle of the farm, carry more battery and less payload or the farm needs two drones.
Equip farm with sensors so drone can fly 24hrs by itself.
35min charge + 20 minute run + refuelling = 26 trips per day or 26kg per day, 9,490kg PA.
94 kg N/ha/yr = 14,100 kg PA.
So you would need 1.3 drone stations on the average farm, but the hope is that with regular and targeted applications volume can drop dramatically. It would require a very large solar array, maybe a 20K system with big batteries if you are flying at night.
I am helping some awesome people setup the Freshwater Foundation.
I was stoked to have helped design this eBook for Mike who is a kiwi ledgend.