“It was bullshit. The whole thing was bullshit. And even to this day now it’s still bullshit.”
Those are the words of one of the Havelock North residents struck down by gastroenteritis in the 2016 campylobacter outbreak in the town as a result of contaminated drinking water.
It was sheep shit, not bull, that is thought to have been most likely responsible for the contamination, which led to four people dying, 45 being hospitalised and an estimated 5,500 – a third of the town’s population – falling ill.
But the bullshit comment reflects the ongoing sense of injustice I encountered when I interviewed more than 40 people who lived through the incident and became ill, cared for someone who became ill or bore witness to events.
The interviews – with 21 males and 20 females aged 17 to 84 – were prompted by wanting to know the stories of the people behind the numbers so frequently cited by media and in announcements related to the official inquiry into the contamination.
I heard of intense physical pain and hardship, in many cases lasting long after the outbreak itself. There was anger about how the crisis was handled, scepticism about several aspects of official accounts of it, and feelings of grievance over what is seen as a lack of accountability.
Another reason for the interviews was to develop our understanding of environmental victimisation.
In this well-constructed report, Roger Brooking uses an eco-global criminological lens to explore the problem of our greenhouse gas emissions from personal vehicle use. His findings are nothing short of startling!
This report focuses on the environmental harm caused by road transport emissions in New Zealand. Using an eco-global criminology perspective, it points out that these emissions contribute to greenhouse gas emissions around the world (now over 400 parts per million) and analyses the devastating impact this is having on the climate and the environment, including in New Zealand.
According to StatsNZ (2016), the most damaging greenhouse gas
emissions emitted in New Zealand are carbon dioxide (43.8%), methane (42.8%)
and nitrous oxide (11.6%). Combining the global warming potential of these
gases into one formulation, the Ministry for the Environment reports that in
2017, the country emitted 80.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent
(CO2-e) – an increase of 23% on emissions in 1990. Even though our emissions
are increasing, New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions make up only 0.17%
of the world’s total emissions (Greenhouse Gas Inventory, April 2019). Our tiny contribution seems to underlie the
National Party’s approach to climate change which is to not take the issue too
seriously and avoid “shutting down businesses here, only for them to go
offshore to less environmentally friendly places” (National Party website,
There’s another perspective on these statistics which is far more
concerning. Although our total emissions are small, New Zealand emits 18 tonnes
of greenhouse gases per person every year (Fyers, 2018). Per capita, that makes New Zealanders the
21st biggest contributor to global warming. Out of 43 developed countries with
international commitments on climate change (Annex I countries), this makes us
the seventh biggest contributor per person (Ministry for the Environment,
When I was four, I had a pet goat called Skipper. It wasn’t most the most creative assignment of names. Skipper skipped around a lot. I also had a ewe called Mary (who, incidentally, had a lamb).
Last week, New Zealand Police released a video of an officer using his taser on a goat back in 2016. The officer is seen tasering the goat, which he later described as ‘stressed and uncooperative’, 13times. The goat is seen in severe distress. Turns out that the police have used their weapons to subdue quite a few goats in recent years. Chickens and cats too.
How it that this kind of action toward an animal is considered plausible, and for such a minor offence like ‘getting in our way’? Remember when animals played with us and comforted us, and forgave us for giving them unimaginative names? Animals have taught all of us valuable lessons about empathy and responsibility, whether they lived with us, were in our storybooks or were not real animals at all but stuffed ones sitting on our bed. They were our teachers. Animals are known to help in rehabilitating offenders for these very reasons.
My postgraduate class and I have been discussing how our society is not just anthropogenic but actively speciesist. How as adults we shuffle our childhood animal mentors into categories like stock, wildlife or pest, based on how useful they are to our wellbeing. Continue reading It’s not OK to taser animals→