New Zealand Map

The World Today for November 23, 2022


The Little Country That Could


Few people on Earth enjoy clear night skies. Light pollution obscures the skies over where 80 percent of the planet’s population lives. In New Zealand, however, National Geographic reported, the country is on track to become one of the largest certified so-called “dark sky” territories where light pollution will be kept to a minimum.

Whether against the encroachment of electric light against the night sky, strong anti-climate change actions, falling unemployment and increasing workers’ rights, or a more inclusive democracy, New Zealand appears inclined to go full steam ahead with any policies that protect the high quality of life in the small but affluent English-speaking archipelago in the South Pacific.

What’s more, New Zealand recently entered the small club of nations that have more female than male lawmakers, added the Associated Press, highlighting how the country wants to also be inclusive and socially progressive while representing its unique brand of assertiveness.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, for example, has been actively making trade and political connections on trips around the world, walking a line between advocating for open societies and government transparency and striking trade deals that benefit her constituents, the Diplomat wrote.

Before meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, for example, she said she expected to be able to speak freely without retaliatory Chinese actions, noted Stuff, a New Zealand-based news magazine. The prime minister said she and her Chinese counterpart should be able to discuss business and listen to each other’s concerns about regional stability. Moreover, the Economist noted how overall, the country is toughening up against its larger rival.

Not everyone in New Zealand is behind Ardern, however. Farmers, for example, have protested against her government’s most notorious anti-climate change initiative, a tax levied on cow burps and farts, science news site Phys.Org reported. The tax would apply to six million cows and 26 million sheep that emit methane and nitrous oxide, two greenhouse gases. Protesters have taken to the streets against the tax, arguing it’s unfair and citing how New Zealand’s livestock has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world, as Newshub, a local news website, explained.

Issues like these show how deep tensions develop in New Zealand politics. The Guardian argued that centrist parties won’t likely win outright in elections in 2023. A centrist party will need the support of either a right-wing populist and libertarian party alliance or a left-wing coalition of socialist, greens and ethnic Māori political organizations. Voters, in other words, will have an important say in who governs them in the succeeding years. A precipitous drop in the housing market, as Reuters detailed, could motivate folks to head to the polls, too.

The New Zealanders will make their opinion known, for sure, as they gaze at the stars.

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