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Prof Slooten is the new chairwoman of Dunedin-based Wise Response, a coalition of academics, engineers, lawyers and artists that has campaigned on environmental issues for the better part of a decade.
While the challenge of climate change was often foremost in the public eye, overpopulation and over-consumption were the major issues driving that problem, she said.
"It sounds like, who could ever be opposed to growth?
"It’s a brilliant concept that they chose that word for this outrageous over-consumption and inequality that is happening.
"There is some kind of economic machine in the background saying we must have ever-increasing energy use, ever-increasing amount of travel, ever-increasing amount of importing goods.
"Apples from New Zealand being sent to the States and apples from the States coming back here ... it’s completely mad."
Prof Slooten takes over from Prof Sir Alan Mark (88), whom she called a trailblazer in conservation, a tireless campaigner and a "hugely important figure" in New Zealand’s environmental movement.
"He’s just been this huge figure in conservation and science and has done a beautiful job of combining those," she said.
Sir Alan said he could no longer put the time he needed into the role, but he would continue to live a life consistent with the values he campaigned for, including limiting his contribution to climate change.
"On a per capita basis we’re extravagant [in New Zealand]," he said.
"Our contribution per person, per capita is massive.
"We need to be aware of what we’re leaving for our kids and our grandkids; it’s a [big] mess."
This year Wise Response has written submissions on the proposed South-Eastern South Island Marine Protected Network; the Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-Track Consenting) Bill; the Otago Regional Council’s annual plan; the proposed National Inshore Fisheries Plan; the review of the Crown Minerals Act 1991; the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Bill; and open letters to the Minister of Finance regarding monetary policy, government debt and bonds, as well as an "intergenerational open letter for climate action now" to the New Zealand Government.