NZ Herald on Mike Joy

November 27th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The editorial yesterday:

Russel Norman is absolutely right to say that scientists must be free to perform their academic duty to report environmental degradation. But in talking about concerns raised by Massey University scientist , the Green Party co-leader should also have noted that any comments from academia should be fair and accurate. If not, they can expect to be the subject of well-warranted criticism. Such is the case with Dr Joy’s comments about New Zealand’s environmental record.

Specifically:

Dr Joy told the newspaper that although this country promoted itself as “100 per cent Pure New Zealand”, the reality came nowhere close to matching this. “We don’t deserve 100 per cent Pure, we are nowhere near the best in the world, we are not even in the top half of countries in the world when it comes to clean and green,” he said.

Maybe Dr Joy has not travelled a lot. I have. To say we are not even in the top half is bonkers. No doubt he has some criteria that he bases his claims on – but the criteria he uses will not be ones most people would regard as vital for clean and green.

But the reality of New Zealand is also a long way from the bottom half of the countries of the world in terms of pristine environments. Whatever its deficiencies, it is nonsensical to place this country in the company of the world’s more polluted nations.

The 2008 Environmental Performance Index has NZ 7th highest in the world. The Greenest Countries Index has NZ at 19th out of 141. We are 13th lowest for air pollution. So of course not perfect, but Dr Joy’s smearing of NZ as being in the bottom half is just cherry picked data to make shock headlines.

Dr Joy is also making something of a habit of this practice. In an Opinion article in the Herald in April last year, he exclaimed that “far from being 100 per cent pure, natural, clean, or even green, the real truth is we are an environmental/biodiversity catastrophe”. This implies a situation where there is great damage or suffering. On no account could that be considered close to reality.

We have had a big loss of biodiversity. But that is more a historical issue. Yes many species were wiped out 150 years ago. So does that mean no one should visit New Zealand today?

Academics have a right and responsibility to comment publicly on issues of importance to the community without fear or favour. Their expert knowledge makes them an important part of any public discussion. But their comments must be appropriate. Dr Joy’s exaggerations fail that test. If he wants his criticism to be treated seriously, it will have to be expressed in a more judicious manner.

When academics become politicians, they get treated as such.
UPDATE: I should make clear I have no problems at all with academics publishing research showing our is not as good as it could be. I doubt anyone does. The issue is around the words Dr Joy used to describe New Zealand, and the timing of his comments – which appear to be timed to do maximum damage to NZ.
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59 Responses to “NZ Herald on Mike Joy”

  1. Nookin (3,361 comments) says:

    “the real truth is we are an environmental/biodiversity catastrophe”.

    If that is so, what is Chernobyl, Exxon Valdez, BP spill, China (remember the Olympics — the smog and the sea pollution)? What about the rain forrests? Emotive language is wholly inapropriate because it indicates a lack of objective criteria. Science needs objective criteria.

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  2. Colville (2,272 comments) says:

    It would be interesting to check Joys bank records for undisclosed deposits from the Aussie Tourisim lobby.

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  3. Lance (2,662 comments) says:

    I can just imagine his colleges going… oh fuck, what a dick!

    I know that happened a lot in the Psych dept Uni of Auck. They were not impressed when one of the academics said something to the media that was bullshit and would be told so at staff meetings. You know shit topics popular in the 90’s like repressed memories, all men a rapists etc.

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  4. greenjacket (467 comments) says:

    According to Ministry for the Enviornment, “the levels of nutrients (which, in excessive amounts, reduce water quality) in our most polluted rivers are only about half the average for all rivers reported by countries to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)”.

    What is it about the Greens and their hostility to scientific evidence?

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  5. lastmanstanding (1,297 comments) says:

    Joy is a moron and an economic traitor. Its Ok for him sitting in his secure little Uni post pontificating. He doesnt have to make a living in the real world competiting against other countries for export dollars.
    His income is secure and paid by those of us who get off our arses and get out and do the business.
    Like many PhDs hes full of his own bullshits.

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  6. James Butler (74 comments) says:

    I can just imagine his colleges going… oh fuck, what a dick!

    Yeah that’s exactly what they… oh, wait.

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  7. nasska (11,580 comments) says:

    Someone’s playing around with the water supply on varsity campuses this week. Yesterday we had some prize dork from Auckland banging on about charter schools & today it’s the turn of the moron from Massey.

    One a shill for the socialists & now a Green who would make Kath Delahunty seem sane by comparison. What’s happening?

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  8. shoreboy57 (140 comments) says:

    He is effectively a lobbyist – should get smacked by the Green’s own bill

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  9. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    someone’s playing around with the water supply on varsity campuses this week.

    It’s called tenure: the idea that you can do whatever you like and not get fired. I’m still trying to work out why any sane person thinks it’s a good idea.

    Fact is, they’ve always been like this. Maybe it’s more that the media have filtered out the stupid in the past.

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  10. Auberon (873 comments) says:

    Mark Unsworth went way up in my estimation following his late night email to Mike Joy last week. He summed Joy up perfectly.

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  11. Doug (410 comments) says:

    Don’t think we are that bad but could do better.

    http://www.mfe.govt.nz/environmental-reporting/report-cards/water-quality/2012/index.html

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  12. annie (539 comments) says:

    We aren’t catastrophically bad, but we aren’t all that good, either. Rivers we drank from as kids are now more like open sewers (we had those for greywater, too, btw) – lowered water levels, eutrophication, and you can smell the cowshit if you scoop up sediment.

    We do need to clean our acts up, but the Chicken Licken approach isn’t particularly helpful to Dr Joy’s cause.

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  13. itstricky (1,852 comments) says:

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/SC1211/S00072/association-of-scientists-stands-behind-dr-mike-joy.htm

    Oh, go on DPF, publish it. Go on, you know you want to…

    Doesn’t suit you? Oh, I see. Yeah I guess you’re right, *ALL* of the New Zealand Association of Scientists are quack moron traitor academics who just get paid out of the public purse to come up with excaggerations to back polictican ambitions.

    Of course. Why didn’t I see it before. I must be just one silly sausage.

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  14. somewhatthoughtful (466 comments) says:

    “but the criteria he uses will not be ones most people would regard as vital for clean and green.”

    What the hell does anyone care about what indexes most people use? It’s the indexes that new zealand fails on that matter, because they’re real indexes that scientists respect and have agreed on.

    Do i not recall you doing your little annotation dance on that article that came past a few months back discussing the issue of unqualified people thinking that they have a right for their ignorant opinions to be included as part of public discourse?

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  15. thedavincimode (6,803 comments) says:

    ickysticky

    Does that mean his comments aren’t exageration and misrepresentation? Because his mates said so?

    Perhaps you are a silly sausage, or one of his mates, or him. Or his mother.

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  16. adamsmith1922 (890 comments) says:

    Dr Joy would appear to be Dr Sad

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  17. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    Has anyone been to a country and stayed for a week or so, then arrived back at Auckland airport and thought “ew, yuck, it’s NZ air. I can barely breathe, and it stinks, and there’s rubbish everywhere!”?

    I haven’t been everywhere in the world, but even at our international airport with its jet fuel and bird-free grass, in our most populated polluted city, and the dread of having to go back to work in the back of my mind, I always feel it is much cleaner and greener in NZ.

    We may not be 100% Pure, but we’re 99.8% – which is close enough for me.

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  18. AG (1,827 comments) says:

    @DPF: “The issue is around the words Dr Joy used to describe New Zealand, and the timing of his comments – which appear to be timed to do maximum damage to NZ.”

    You might want to rethink your criticism then, DPF. Joy’s comments as reported in the NY Times (which aren’t actually the ones the Herald editorial quotes – that was a later comment made to the Herald’s own reporter, but the editorial’s author (cough, cough John Roughan) can’t tell the difference) were made to the Herald Tribune months ago. They were then recycled into an article for the NY Times without Joy’s knowledge or further involvement.

    So any claim (such as you appear to be making) that Joy deliberately sought to leverage off international interest in The Hobbit to run down New Zealand is unfounded … as well as defamatory. Just saying.

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  19. Dean Papa (784 comments) says:

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/SC1211/S00072/association-of-scientists-stands-behind-dr-mike-joy.htm

    heh. What would those dickhead scientists, with their fancy pants degrees know? Science is just lies from the pit of hell! I put my full trust in the denizens of Kiwiblog for informed opinions on such matters. Why trust the view of a mere scientist, when you can instead receive the collective wisdom of this ragtag gathering of pontificating know-it-alls and pseudo-intellectual ponces!? (btw, where’s tom?)

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  20. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Ain’t it great that we have Greens and Commies leaking smear news to worlds media right now. Nice one weasels.

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  21. itstricky (1,852 comments) says:

    thedavincimode

    “His mates” said two things (as I read it) in the release:

    (a) High emission levels and water quality issues in NZ; and
    (b) Why dismiss the guy as a quack or traitor and sweep it all under the carpet instead of having a real debate and investigation into the truth.

    (a) shows there is a real problem. I’m not sure what other organisation in NZ I might trust to give me the real evidence here. This is backed up by the comment of somewhatthoughtful above.

    (b) is what this article blog post is about – undermining someone because he’s not trying to hide the truth. This is backed up by the comment of tristanb above. If you really care about tristanb’s statement “I always feel it is much cleaner and greener in NZ” then surely you open yourself up to the debate rather than downcasting the guy and “He’s a quack, I’ll just move on with MY life, who cares”.

    If you’ve been to Madrid, Phuket, or London and blown soot black snot out your nose, surely you’d think to yourself that 99.8% Pure is worth protecting and nuturing by measuring where we are at and what we can do to make it better.

    In that context, who cares if he accidentally causes economic damage or reputation damage? Tourists will come back, and they’ll come back because we’re still 99.8% Pure, whilst London has degraded to 0.05% Pure. And reputation? Well, the public forgets right? Politicians know that, so do bloggers…

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  22. Scott1 (552 comments) says:

    was going to guess it was somthing like what AG says. there is no need for Joy to target his statements to cause maximum harm to NZ, he just needs to make comments wherever he can (as an academic is prone to do) about his work and then the media will do the rest of the work for him.

    Joy presumably just wants attention for his work… The fact we are talking about Joy and even better that he got the backing of the association of scientists as a ‘victim’ means he suceeded I suppose.

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  23. duggledog (1,559 comments) says:

    Tourist dollar helps pay for his salary?

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  24. Komata (1,191 comments) says:

    As a matter of curiosity (and perhaps I’ve missed it) does anyone know Dr. Joy’s actual political affiliations / associations?

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  25. peterwn (3,277 comments) says:

    AG – why did not the NY Times do a bit of investigative journalism rather than just taking for granted one person’s word. They could have at least done some comparison on NZ rivers compared with the Hudson River.

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  26. nasska (11,580 comments) says:

    We can settle for a pragmatic 95% “clean & green” & make our way in the world. Alternatively we can follow the Green loops & send the nation bankrupt.

    When (not if) Green policies sink the country our new masters will be the international banks we borrowed from & they won’t give a stuff for the environment. It will be mining, dairying, sweatshop manufacturing or whatever else pays the interest on what a needlessly insolvent NZ owes.

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  27. Steve (North Shore) (4,565 comments) says:

    Massey University Scientist Mike Joy is dissing NZ?

    Hey cork soaker, we pay your income. You should just do your job and not be a Green puppet. Some of what you say is true, but you have been Greenjacked. I don’t like paying for the negative public servants

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  28. Ross12 (1,432 comments) says:

    A friend of mine has access / ability to import some very high technology microbubble aerating equipment for use in settling ponds and other effluent treatment processes. He saw an interview with Joy on TV commenting on the Manawatu river issues and so he emailed Joy sending information about the equipment. Obviously Joy was not a potential customer but being such an concerned scientist in the area my friend thought he might suggest some people to talk to.
    As you might guess, Joy is so upset about the issues he couldn’t be bothered replying to the email.

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  29. Scott Chris (6,155 comments) says:

    the real truth is we are an environmental/biodiversity catastrophe

    It is true. Our clean green image is a sham.

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  30. alex (304 comments) says:

    FFS, why would anyone want to damage New Zealand? We all have to live here, has it ever occured to you that perhaps he is simply a concerned scientist who wants us to start cleaning up our filthy rivers? By bringing public attention to a problem, maybe something can finally be done about it. What a pathetic, knee jerk reaction to shoot the messenger. And this from the same people who didn’t care about tourism when they wanted to dig up National Parks.

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  31. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    The issue is around the words Dr Joy used to describe New Zealand, and the timing of his comments – which appear to be timed to do maximum damage to NZ.

    The quotes are several months old.

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  32. orewa1 (410 comments) says:

    Alex – “has it ever occured to you that perhaps he is simply a concerned scientist who wants us to start cleaning up our filthy rivers? By bringing public attention to a problem, maybe something can finally be done about it?”

    If it were that pure and well-intentioned, why would he publicise it in the USA rather than here in NZ?

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  33. nasska (11,580 comments) says:

    I understand that tourism in NZ contributes about 10% of our GDP but the high dollar is making the country less attractive to overseas visitors. Presumably the wide boys in the Greens have thought this through & have realised that all they need to do to get those tourists rolling in to revel in 101% “clean & green” NZ is to crash the value of the currency to the level of the Albanian lek.

    Destroying the farming industry is just part of their cunning plan.

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  34. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    This guy sounds like a climate scientist – all headlines and much panic.

    And taking about climate science – Micheal Mann is being disowned by some of hisprevious supporters. It happens to all scientists who tell lies.

    The same will happen to Mike Joy (I wont call him a Dr – people who have attained that level of abilty have usually learned not to tell lies.)

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  35. SPC (5,643 comments) says:

    “The issue is around the words Dr Joy used to describe New Zealand, and the timing of his comments – which appear to be timed to do maximum damage to NZ.”

    It would seem this has been exposed as a conspiracy theory.

    Another one, common here, is that academic criticism of National government policy or performance is somehow “unpatriotic”.

    Yet another, is that advocacy for environment standards is somehow of a design to undermine proper focus on making money.

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  36. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Translating joys comments into Redgreen language: “farmers need to pay more tax to no hopers and researchers”.

    The fact that scientists came out with emissions and water as examples of poor environment means we shouldn’t take them seriously. New Zealand has massive environmental problems but those aren’t two of them. Fisheries vandalism, urban sprawl and the fact that we are such a poor nation we can hardly afford to continue owning our clean environment come rapidly to mind.

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  37. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    No one here has tried to show that anything Joy said was factually incorrect. I wonder why that is?
    SPC +1

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  38. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    If it were that pure and well-intentioned, why would he publicise it in the USA rather than here in NZ?

    He didn’t publicise it the the US. He was interviewed by the International Herald Tribune. The IHT is owned by the New York Times Company. Some months after giving that interview, someone from the Times pulled some quotes from it to add to a story they were doing on New Zealand, which was topical because of The Hobbit.

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  39. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    This is terrible people saying stuff to fit their own agendas. You know, like when a party activist defaces opponent’s political posters during an election getting called ‘affirmative action’ by his Boss. Kettle, pot black IMO.

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  40. Scott Chris (6,155 comments) says:

    Destroying the farming industry is just part of their cunning plan.

    What, like the farming industry destroying the biodiversity of the natural environment is a cunning plan? Seems more like carelessness to me.

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  41. Scott1 (552 comments) says:

    well its a good add for the country in a sense.. I mean…

    “There’s two worlds. There’s the picture postcard, which is Queenstown and up in Mt Cook and all that kind of stuff which is perfect and where they make the Hobbit movies, and all that is amazing. But most of New Zealand, 70 per cent of it isn’t …..”

    stop right there….
    if Im a tourist – i wont be going to the worst 70% of the country with my tourist dollars… so it can be covered in bird poo and smell like silage for all I care.

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  42. nasska (11,580 comments) says:

    Scott Chris

    The farming industry can’t be allowed to destroy the environment but the whole issue is a balancing act. Sure, keep on the backs of those polluting waterways but let commonsense prevail. Science is solving some problems & a new generation of farm management is working on the others.

    If we want to keep living with 21st century lifestyles which involve many positives such as health, education travel, something has to pay for them & at present time agriculture represents 40% of GDP & is a major source of overseas funds.

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  43. V (720 comments) says:

    A proactive response by JK at this stage would be to fire 90% of these so called ecological researchers, and use the savings to fund real projects that improve the environment. After all we know what the issues are, time to wind back the research phase and start the action phase.

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  44. Yoza (1,879 comments) says:

    What we need is some sort of re-education centre where ‘academics’ who fail to manufacture good news stories, that conform to the informed beliefs of right-thinking people, can be sent to learn the error of their ways.

    I don’t know why they call them universities, they should be called pinko treason factories.

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  45. bereal (3,137 comments) says:

    mikenmild @ 7.59

    surely it is up to your mate, the idiot mike Joy to provide some evidence to back his ludicrous statement
    that we are not in the top half of clean green countries rather than others to be obligated to produce facts
    and figures to contradict the idiot.

    You fool.

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  46. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    The conservative denial of reality is what makes Stalinism inevitable.

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  47. Yoza (1,879 comments) says:

    bereal (2,304) Says: (at 10:03 pm)
    “mikenmild @ 7.59 surely it is up to your mate, the idiot mike Joy to provide some evidence to back his ludicrous statement
    that we are not in the top half of clean green countries rather than others to be obligated to produce facts
    and figures to contradict the idiot.”

    That is utter bollocks. If someone disagrees with the findings of the likes of Dr. Mike Joy, then the onus is on that person or group disagreeing with the message to demonstrate the error in the scientist’s research.

    As Russell Brown over at Public Address points out “The stakes are high in these issues and there are huge implications for our major export industries and our quality of life. That’s why any responsible news media organisation should seek to engage with the message — and not shoot the messenger.”

    This is the research linked to in the Russell Brown piece which slams the clean-green illusion: Evaluating the Relative Environmental Impact of Countries

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  48. Scott1 (552 comments) says:

    “The stakes are high in these issues and there are huge implications for our major export industries and our quality of life.”

    Apparently not. apparently we are in the bottom 50% of countries (for the last 100 odd years?) and yet we still enjoy the benefits…..

    I think what Mike joy is really more concerned with is the biodiversity of fish in the rivers etc. Which he values as a core “good” (or as a measure of the core good of diversity in the eco system). If you share that value and don’t value other things much then his point is compelling – but not all share that view.

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  49. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    I’m really surprised. When the Herald runs a shonky editorial, such as the one above, Kiwibloggers usually get stuck in to how useless a newspaper it has become, left-wing ‘bias’ in the media, etc, etc.
    When DPF cites a Herald editorial approvingly, and adds a few made-up jabs of his own, Kiwibloggers are supposed to buy it?
    Follow the links to Russell Brown’s column or, god forbid, the research itself, and make up your own mind.

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  50. Elaycee (4,393 comments) says:

    its sticky / trickydicky:

    …who cares if he accidentally causes economic damage or reputation damage?

    You complete and utter idiot.

    Every bloody New Zealander should care when a moron inflicts damage to our reputation.

    Because any damage to our reputation means there can be damage to our economy and that means a decrease in trading and that means less tax being paid and in turn that means there is less money to be spent on not just genuine social services but also on the career bludgers who wouldn’t know what its like to work a day in their lives. Unless you’re still at school, I suspect the latter group includes you! And if you’re still at school, I recommend you try harder – you’re heading for a fail.

    Did you get the part where I called you an idiot? 8O

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  51. Steve Wrathall (284 comments) says:

    “Yes many species were wiped out 150 years ago. ”
    Actually the extinctions due to Maoris surpassed those post-European colonization. e.g. “The first 38 extinctions during human settlement were influenced by Maori hunting for food, indiscriminate forest burning, and introduction of the Polynesian rat and dogs. Since mid-1800 European arrival there have been another 19 losses …”
    http://terranature.org/extinctBirds.htm

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  52. alex (304 comments) says:

    Elaycee – Can you not grasp the idiocy in your own argument? Mike Joy didn’t go out of his way just to damage our reputation. He reported on facts. Are you seriously suggesting we just lie about environmental degradation, and just stick our heads in the sand? Know what will happen to our environmental problems then? They will get a hell of a lot worse, and then our reputation will really be in the shit.

    I don’t know why you are so keen on denying the reality of our environmental problems.

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  53. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Joy is an unscrupulous lobbyist who will seize any stone to throw in support of his noble cause irrespective of how flawed and misleading he knows it to be.

    He has zero credibility.

    Alex, he didn’t report on facts. His two sources, the 2012 MoE report and the international comparison paper are statistical crap which he must know but chose to ignore. He is a disgrace to science and to scientific honesty.

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  54. hannity (152 comments) says:

    Whats your field of expertise Alan?

    Perhaps you could link us all, to your’ honest’ facts as Elaycee is having trouble understanding the nub of the argument

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  55. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Maybe Dr Joy has not travelled a lot. I have. To say we are not even in the top half is bonkers.

    So why do we even bother training scientists when an academic failure turned obscure pollster/prominent fanatical party tribalist blogger can tell us everything we need to know as he backpacks around the world, only ever seeing that which confirms his pre-existing belief system?

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  56. Dean Papa (784 comments) says:

    what bunch of clowns in here. Really, a scientist needs to keep his mouth shut in case it hurts NZ’s reputation? How ironic then, to be promoting both censorship and propaganda in one fell swoop!!

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  57. Rebecca (1 comment) says:

    I would say that 100% of posters here produce feces. While it might be “truthful” to product photographic evidence at a birthday party or broadcast “facts” about the bride’s emissions at her wedding, only the Association of Scientists would insist that this is a noble act just because it’s true. That sort of behavior is what you expect from somebody desperate for attention and/or trying to rain on somebody else’s parade. Seems to me there is a time and place for everything and the New York Times on the eve of the Hobbit’s release was neither. Even if this Joy person were contacted by a foreign journo rather than the other way around, more fool him for shooting his mouth off and becoming patsy for a carefully timed hatchet job. To pretend this is just an issue of truth is sophistry from people who are supposed to be clever and should know better (as Treebeard says of Saruman in LOTR).

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  58. inoddy (3 comments) says:

    I read the relevant PLOS One journal article: “Evaluating the Relative Environmental Impact of Countries.” This ranks NZ 18th worst country. You can download it for free.

    The article has nothing to do with Mike Joy. It wasn’t written by him, it does not refer to any of his writings. It stands alone.

    This situation has nothing to do with Mike Joy. Why are we blaming him? NZ is 18th worst regardless. We are shooting the wrong messenger.

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  59. itstricky (1,852 comments) says:

    Elaycee,

    You took that far too literally without considering the context of my statement.

    Which is this:

    If NZ becomes 0.05% Pure through disregarding the statements of scientists “because they’re quacks who aren’t worth the paper they print on” then there will be NO tourist dollars. I’m sure you can follow your own, quite keen and succinct, description of economics to it’s obvious conclusion there…

    There are plenty of places around the world that should be absolute gems but are absolute pig pens because of these sorts of things.

    One scientist, saying one thing is not going to cause irreversible damage. 1000 random ranting Kiwibloggers inspiring each other to ignore him like sheep because he’s a academic quack in an ivory tower and “gets my precious tax dollars to do squat all” might, however.

    Either way, it seems from the comments above that when he reported his version of the facts was several months before now, so the timing is nothing about trying to wreck NZ’s reputation – as AG said above. DPF’s point in this blog post just doesn’t exist.

    BTW, His facts may be true and may not be true, by the way. That’s the beauty of it – you get to have your say and tell him why you think he’s wrong. At the end of the day nobody calls anyone else an idiot, however.

    Yes, I did get that part. I’m glad you’re passionate about something. You should channel it into something constructive to keep NZ 99.8% Pure.

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