A Dunedin environmental contractor has launched a petition demanding Environmental Protection Agency chief scientist Dr Jacqueline Rowarth be removed from her position for her comments on the state of the Waikato River.
Matt Thomson launched the petition on Friday and by Monday 207 people had signed it.
Asked what he hoped to achieve, Thomson said it was launched chiefly to “rark things up” because he felt outraged the EPA’s leading scientist had made “farcical” comments about the river.
Rowarth’s comments were made to farmers at a Primary Land Users Group meeting on October 3, when she said the Waikato River was one of the five cleanest in the world, based on OECD data.
The New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society said the claims were false and were based on outdated data and factual errors. Her analysis was based on OECD river nitrate data from 2002-2004, whereas the most up-to-date (for 2011) showed the Waikato had dropping from its 5 per cent ranking in 2002-2004 to a 24 per cent ranking.
Thomson, who said he was affiliated to the Green Party, said he was not sure what he would do if the petition gained traction.
“Maybe it will get some critical mass and I’ll take it a step further. The issue is that she’s been given this position, and she was already sympathetic to the farming industry.”
Now we get her real heresy. This Green Party activists thinks that her sympathies are wrong. Anyone who disagrees with the Green mantra that farming is an evil polluting industry must be sacked in their totalitarian world.
There is a legitimate disagreement over how clean the Waikato River is. Scientists often disagree in their conclusions on the same data. This is a case for further dialogue. And it is not just all other scientists vs Rowarth. This article by scientist Doug Edmeades backs her analysis up.
I am in no position to judge whose conclusions are best supported by the evidence, but I will judge activists who launch petitions to sack scientists because of their views.