Some news items that are of significant interest to me personally:
Climate change bill, independent commission announced
The government has unveiled its plan to combat climate change, under which methane will be treated differently to other greenhouse gases, in response to push back from the agricultural industry.
The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill – introduced to Parliament today – sets out a plan for the next 30 years.
The government has also set a new emissions reduction target for all greenhouse gases, except methane, to net zero by 2050, in line with New Zealand’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.
“The government is today delivering landmark action on climate change – the biggest challenge facing the international community and New Zealand,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
Agriculture was “incredibly important to New Zealand”, Ms Ardern said, but also needed to be “part of the solution”.
“That is why we have listened to the science and also heard the industry and created a specific target for biogenic methane” and adopted what’s known as a “split gas” approach.
Read more (RNZ News)
Should New Zealand history be compulsory in schools?
Is Aotearoa New Zealand alone in not mandating the teaching of its own history in schools?
A leading historian has renewed calls to make New Zealand history a compulsory subject in schools. Vincent O’Malley says the Ministry of Education’s reluctance to mandate the subject is not good enough.
He says the current curriculum was “failing” young people. “Any half decent education system anywhere in the world should deliver a basic introduction to the country you live in, that you grew up in. Ours is failing to do that. A lot of young people are asking to learn about this history.”
Read more (TVNZ One News)
Standards vital for new cannabis industry
MANU Caddie, chief executive of Ruatoria-based Hikurangi Cannabis Company, says a University of Otago academic is right to claim cannabis is unable to be considered a medicine because it contains multiple active ingredients.
Professor Michelle Glass published an opinion piece in the New Zealand Medical Journal last week suggesting there is no need for the Ministry of Health to develop new regulations governing cannabis as medicine because the Medicines Act already outlines the standards a product needs to reach in order to be considered a medicine.
Mr Caddie says recognition of cannabis as a medicine is challenging when whole plant extracts contain active ingredients in addition to THC and CBD.
Read more (Gisborne Herald)
Education Minister Chris Hipkins says anti-vaxxer parents are ‘pro-plague’
The education minister doesn’t think children shouldn’t miss out on school just because their parents are what he calls “pro-plague”.
The Northland DHB has suggested unvaccinated children stay home from school for the next two weeks, after two known cases of measles have been discovered. Northland has the lowest immunisation rate in the country at 85 percent.
Chris Hipkins said the DHB should be stepping up to ensure the region has sufficient immunisation levels. “Clearly there is an issue there that the DHB needs to address, they are responsible for that. I don’t believe that kids should be denied their right to an education, particularly if it’s a conscious choice by their parents not to immunise”, he said.
He said he uses the term ‘pro-plague’ for anti-vaxxers because that’s what they are. “It is a statement of fact. It is a ridiculous position, it is not based on science, there are very good reasons why we require a certain level of the population to be immunised, so that we’re not susceptible to massive outbreaks.”
Read more (RNZ News)
Mohua goes from rare to common in 21 years
The once rare mohua/yellowhead has for the first time become the most common native bird counted since predator control began in the Landsborough valley in South Westland.
Mohua numbers have risen more than 30-fold and overall, native bird numbers have doubled in the 21 years since monitoring began in 1998, recently analysed Department of Conservation (DOC) results show.
DOC Principal Science Advisor Dr Colin O’Donnell says the long-term study charts the response of 13 native bird species following sustained predator control to suppress rats, stoats and possums.
Read more (Scoop Sci-tech)
Celebrating New Zealand Sign Language Week and working toward an accessible future
For Deaf Aotearoa‘s executive assistant Erica Dawson access to political knowledge and information has “opened a whole new world”. It started in 2017 when a sign language version of the final debate between Jacinda Ardern and Bill English began.
For the first time the clash was aired with a hand-to-hand battle between interpreters. Signs for policy words needed to be created, and people within the deaf community helped ensure viewers were given the correct messages from Ardern and English.
Last year Ardern announced all post-cabinet press conferences would be interpreted into NZSL going forward. That’s meant for the first time in Dawson’s almost 30-year life, she has been able to follow politics.
Read more (Stuff National)