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Kia ora e te whānau,

Thank you for picking up the green issue of Debate! I hope you find something interesting in here, be instilled with some hope for the future, or if you want - get angry at the current state of affairs. Because let’s face it, shit’s fucked!

It can feel pretty futile to catch the bus, ride your bike, or go vegetarian when Taylor Swift’s private jet is currently doing laps of the L.A metropolitan area. She’s one of many celebrities who use their jets to avoid traffic, multiple times a day. Someone calculated that Swift’s penchant for private air travel means she’s emitting over 500 times more CO2 each year than the average American – and over 4,000 times someone from India. It feels like we’re at a crossroads. Everyone seems to acknowledge the climate crisis, but those in power won’t do anything about it. Time and time again, scientists warn us that something needs to change, urgently. Our environment is so precious, but we treat it like shit. We can’t seem to pacify the dairy industry, even though most of their products are exported overseas. Not to mention the coal burning, and farm runoff flowing into our rivers. It speaks to how corporations are still being prioritised over the environment.

However, the government is very capable of enacting positive change. Well, we know they like to ‘set goals’. We do see occasional progress, with the banning of plastic bags and the Whanganui River being granted personhood - although, it’s important to note that’s within a colonial framework. And it still feels like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound. There have also been some pretty tragic setbacks. The colonial agenda becomes very apparent when we see mana whenua constantly disregarded at Pūtiki, Ihumātao and Shelley Bay - all for corporate interest. I used to tell myself “We’re fine, as long as plastic doesn’t start washing up on our beaches”, as if being in the Southern hemisphere makes us immune to the great Pacific garbage patch. We don’t even have that anymore, due to the sheer amount of plastic in our natural environment. As a result, we’re all ingesting around a credit card’s worth of plastic every week.

It definitely makes me nervous about the next election. The latest goings-on within the National Party demonstrate how they simply act like the rules don’t apply to them. We see Christopher Luxon, à la Scomo, sneak off to Hawaii during a cost-of- living crisis. Which is pretty twisted, given his recent disparaging comments about beneficiaries. Beneficiary-bashing and bald. I believe this shows a real disconnect from the problems people face in Aotearoa today, wherever Luxon stands on climate change. And just last week, it was revealed that National MP for Tauranga, Sam Uffindell, as a high school senior, beat up a young student. Further allegations demonstrate a pattern of aggressive behaviour continuing throughout his university years. It raises the question: why are National not vetting people more thoroughly? Shaneel Lal summarised the issue on Twitter: “Pākeha men admit to crimes and instead of going to jail, they become lawmakers ... I guess the rules are different if you’re a gang member, or brown.”

All that being said, I would like to end on a positive note. There’s some amazing work being done to combat these problems and a lot of it’s being done from the ground up. Community gardens are popping up all over the city – as well as beehives and other amazing initiatives. And hope is a powerful thing. If we all make small changes to our everyday lives it will have a big impact, despite Taylor Swift scorching the earth in her private jet.

Sam x


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