Home' Greymouth Star : January 22nd 2019 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Tuesday, January 22, 2019
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Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
Phone 03 769 7900 (office)
769 7913 (editorial)
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Editor Paul Madgwick
Sports Editor Viv Logie
Chief Reporter Laura Mills
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Hokitika reporters 03 755 8422
TODAY IN HISTORY HEATH LEDGER
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
“ You are my refuge and my shield; I have put
my hope in Your word.” — Psalm 119:114.
350 words or less
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“Praise undeserved is satire in disguise.” —
Henry Broadhurst, English politician (1840-1911).
Francis Bacon, English statesman
and essayist (1561-1626); Lord
Byron, English poet (1788-1824);
Sam Cooke, US soul singer (1931-
1964); Piper Laurie, US actress
(1932-); John Hurt, English actor
(1940-2017); Jim Jarmusch, US film
director (1953-); Linda Blair, American actress
(1959-); Michael Hutchence, Australian singer
(1960-1997); Diane Lane, US actress (1965-) .
1771 - Spain agrees to cede
Falkland Islands to Britain.
1901 - Death of Queen Victoria at
age 81, after 63 years on the British
1924 - Ramsay MacDonald
becomes Britain’s first Labour
1941 - Australian forces claim the Libyan port of
Tobruk after the Italians surrender.
1973 - In its Roe vs Wade decision, the US
Supreme Court legalises abortions.
1984 - Passengers escape when the ferry
Karrabee sinks at its moorings at Sydney’s Circular
1997 - The US Senate confirms Madeleine
Albright as America’s first female secretary of state.
1998 - Theodore Kaczynski pleads guilty in
Sacramento, California, to being the Unabomber.
2004 - Ann Miller, US dancer and actress in films
including On the Town and Kiss Me Kate, dies
2008 - Australian actor Heath Ledger is found
dead in a New York apartment.
2017 - World No 1 Andy Murray crashes out of
the Australian Open, falling to German Mischa
WEST COAST YESTERYEAR
The Greymouth fountain, which has been out of
working order for some time for a major overhaul
job, is still not back in working order.
It was hoped that the fountain would be
working again by Christmas but repair work has
been held up for parts.
A major overhaul has been done on the bowl
of the fountain but rusted holding brackets were
found to be in need of replacement. These will be
replaced by stainless steel brackets.
The main hold-up at present is for special rubber
fittings for valves which have not yet arrived here.
It is not known when the fountain will be back in
working order, but work on it will be completed as
soon as possible.
A Greymouth man, Mr Mervyn Ashby, has been
released from hospital following an accident in
the Upper Buller Gorge during the weekend.
His daughter, Linn and a Dunedin woman are
still patients in Nelson Hospital.
The accident occurred near Newton’s Flat when
Mr Ashby’s car, which was towing a caravan, was
involved in a collision with a bus travelling from
Mr Ashby and his daughter, and a woman who
was a passenger in the bus, were admitted to
hospital with injuries, while Mrs Ashby and other
passengers in the bus were treated for minor
Mr Ashby’s car has been described as a write-
off while his caravan and the bus received minor
Three West Coast boys are among the 180 Air
Training Cadets from town and school units from
throughout the country who will be attending
the annual ATC adventure camp at Dip Flat in the
The three boys, Cadets C Tuck, T Brown and
P Hopkins, will leave Greymouth by railcar for
Christchurch, where they will board an RNZAF
Hercules and fly to Woodbourne.
Three boys from the Buller area will also attend
the camp, where they will work in bush craft,
shingle slide crossing, steep gorge rope work,
safe river crossing, navigation and general
Water raises a stink
ew Zealand’s clean, green
image took a beating
this summer as tourists
travelling through the
pictures of lakes and
rivers off limits, due to contamination by
farm effluent, garbage and human faeces.
A booming dairy farming industry, along
with a surge in tourists seeking unspoiled
natural attractions, has taken its toll on the
country’s environment, heavily marketed
as ‘100% Pure’.
Particularly affected is its vast network
of once pristine rivers and lakes, which
are now some of the most polluted among
OECD countries, according to some
About 60% of them were unfit for
swimming, the Environment Ministry
said in a report in 2014. Experts said water
quality had deteriorated further since.
In a Colmar Brunton sur vey conducted
last month, 82% of respondents said they
were “extremely or very” concerned about
the pollution of rivers and lakes, more
than any other issue including living costs,
child poverty and climate change.
“New Zealanders are extremely worried
that they are losing their ability to swim,
fish and gather food from their rivers,
lakes and streams,” Martin Taylor, the
chief executive of Fish and Game New
Zealand, a non-government agency that
commissioned the sur vey said.
“People see those activities as their
birthright, but over the last 20 years, that
right is being lost because the level of
pollution in water ways has increased as
With an election coming next year,
political experts said water pollution could
be a key issue for Prime Minister Jacinda
Ardern. Ms Ardern led a coalition to
power in 2017 promising social reforms
and laws to protect the environment, but
business confidence has suffered under her
More than 13,000 people signed a
#toomanycows Greenpeace campaign on
Twitter launched last week calling for a
ban on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser.
“New Zealand already has way too many
cows, and synthetic nitrogen is the key
driver of the dairy intensification and
expansion that leads to the dangerous
double whammy of harm to rivers and
climate,” Nick Young from Greenpeace
New Zealand has nearly five million
cows, more than its human population of
about 4.7 million.
Popular swimming holes near the famed
Mount Taranaki in the west of New
Zealand’s North Island were shut this
month due to high E coli bacteria, an
indicator of faecal contamination. Tests
are under way to determine the cause, but
effluent from nearby dairy farms has been
blamed in the past for contaminating
Dairy NZ Chief Executive Tim Mackle
said dairy farmers had been doing their
bit, with 97% of water ways on dairy farms
fenced off from cows, and significant work
done to establish riparian margins and
“The reality is that all types of land use
contribute to water quality — and that
farming, whether it is vegetables, fruit,
beef, sheep, dairy, deer or even wine —
must all work together to make sure
water ways are protected,” Mr Mackle said
in a statement.
“The most polluted rivers actually run
through urban centres, and this is where
the public can do their bit too.”
Only about 15% of New Zealand’s
streams run through dairy farms, he added.
Dairy and tourism directly contribute
about 3.5% and 6.1% respectively to New
Zealand’s $200b GDP.
Both industries rely on the country’s
clean, green image with cascading rivers,
unspoiled forests and lush pastures that
made it the ideal backdrop for the popular
Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movie
New Zealand is a sparsely populated
country, spread over a mountainous area
about the size of the United Kingdom or
California, more than a quarter of which
is set aside for reserves and national
Hoards of tourists are expected to arrive
in the country next month during the
Chinese New Year, a peak travel season,
which residents feel will take a further
toll on the natural environment. Chinese
are the second largest source of tourists
to New Zealand after neighbouring
Australia, according to 2018 data.
Apart from polluting the water,
residents also fear mass tourism and
freedom campers may destroy the
country ’s iconic landscape, as seen in
places like Venice, Boracay and Bali.
Overcrowding in Venice forced the
local administration to restrict access to
tourists while Boracay was shut down last
year, after mass tourism turned the famed
Philippines island into a “cesspool”.
Richard Davies, tourism policy manager
at the Ministry of Business, Innovation
and Employment, said the increase in the
number of campers had caused problems
in some areas, waste being one of them.
“ We have a collective duty to care
for our environment and for New
Zealand, and there have been a number
of initiatives to help educate local
and international campers on how to
camp responsibility, and funding for
infrastructure to help local bodies to
address the issues that can arise,” he said.
Mike Joy, a senior researcher at Victoria
University of Wellington’s Institute
for Governance and Policy Studies
said the environment was paying the
price for hands-off governance and the
intensification of dairy and tourism
“It’s an own goal ... they are shooting
themselves in the foot. The biggest value
add this country can have is its clean,
green image and they are just ruining that
image,” Mr Joy said.
The Government has said it was
committed to improving water quality.
In 2017 it set a national target of making
90% of New Zealand ’s large rivers
and lakes swimmable by 2040, with an
interim target of 80% swimmable by
Mr Joy, who is a member of some
government working groups, said change
would only happen if governments
took on the powerful dairy and tourism
“Right now, a lot more money is spent
on spin and propaganda but there’s been
very little change.” — Reuters
Want to be cheered
up at the start of
this benighted year?
Okay, how is this? It
is starting to look like
interstellar travel may
be possible in a time
frame that would be
manageable for human
for cancer. But we know that we are
bound to find a cancer cure eventually, so
long as our civilisation is not destroyed
by war or global warming or a random
asteroid strike. Until very recently, our
understanding of science told us that
travel even to the nearest stars would not
That may still be true, for the answers
are not all in yet. But last April the United
States National Aeronautics and Space
Administration gave James Woodward
and the Space Studies Institute a Phase
2 grant under the Nasa Innovative
Advanced Concepts programme.
They got a Phase 1 grant in 2017 to
work on their proposed space drive. They
made enough progress to keep Nasa happy
and themselves credible, and they have
now been funded to test new designs
that increase the thrust produced by their
Mach Effect Gravity Assist (MEGA)
drive. If that scales up satisfactorily, we will
one day be able to build spaceships that go
to the stars.
I must admit that I really enjoyed writing
that last line, for all my life I have been
told that interstellar travel is only science
fiction. Real space flight is ruled by
Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s
classic rocket equation of 1903, which
says that a rocket can get into space by
expelling enough of its mass (fuel) at high
velocity, but also says that the payload and/
or the speed is strictly limited.
More payload or more speed is possible,
but only by burning more fuel. You must
carry that fuel all the way from launch,
which makes the vehicle heavier, which
requires more fuel, and so on.
The “tyranny of the rocket equation” is
what makes space flight so expensive, and
interstellar travel by rocket impossible. For
a manned spaceship to reach the nearest
star (Proxima Centauri, 4.2 light years),
slow down again when it gets there, and
do it all within one human lifetime, it
would have to burn an amount of fuel
roughly equal to the total mass of the Sun.
The fuel is the problem, not the distance.
If you did not have to bring the fuel with
you, sending a 400kg payload to Proxima
Centauri and putting it in orbit around
the most Earth-like planet would require
a few years’ acceleration at a modest 1g,
a maximum speed of 0.4c (four-10ths
of light-speed, so no major relativistic
effects), and a few years’ deceleration at the
far end. It would arrive in about 20 years.
All recent proposals for interstellar flight
have therefore abandoned rocketry and
assumed ultra-light vehicles that carry
large sails and are pushed by Earth-
based lasers or by the solar wind. Two
problems: The push dies away before they
have travelled even one light year; and
they have no way of stopping at their
So along comes Dr James Woodward,
who published his first peer-reviewed
article on the Mach effect in 1990, and Dr
Heidi Fearn, his colleague at California
State University, Fullerton. They worked
on the theoretical physics of the Mach
effect, they built miniature models of a
space drive that does not need to burn a
propellant and tested them, and gradually
the space community began to take them
Nasa is certainly taking them seriously
now. Contrary to what some of their
critics claim, what they are doing does
not violate fundamental physical laws
like every action must have an equal and
opposite reaction. However, it does run
contrary to our daily experience of those
laws by exploiting some of the more
arcane aspects of quantum physics.
I would explain the Mach effect in
greater detail, but I barely understand it
myself. Suffice it to say that their MEGA
drive uses electricity to produce mass
fluctuations within a block of metal,
which in turn propels the drive for ward
without burning fuel. What is it pushing
against? All the rest of the mass in the
This is not a sure thing. There is still
controversy over whether the “push” is
real, or just an electrical or magnetic
effect that creates a false positive. But
Nasa is willing to spend money on it, and
a lot of other scientists are now following
up on Woodward’s and Fearn’s work.
It would open the doors to the rest
of the universe for us. Exploration,
colonisation, unlimited resources, perhaps
contact with other intelligences — all of
that becomes much more possible than
it would be if we must remain forever
confined to this one small planetary
system. Of course it would make getting
around a great deal easier: the Moon
in four hours, Mars in two to five days,
Jupiter in seven or eight days.
How is that for (potentially) good
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
Interstellar f light a possibility
Cattle feed in a field in Golden Bay.
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