Mad Lord Monckton’s in town

If you happen to be in Northland, Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Gisborne, Hastings, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Paraparaumu, Wellington, Nelson, Blenheim, Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin, Gore or Invercargill between April 1st (yes, his tour began in Northland on April Fool’s Day) and April 26th 2013, you are at risk of intellectual abuse from Lord Christopher Moncton. And possibly, verbal abuse, as several members of the audience suffered at the event I attended in Hamilton, at the University of Waikato.

Nexus, the student magazine, had already reported on the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley’s visit, here. The fact that I received a flash colour-printed pamphlet in my home mailbox decided me to attend. Nobody else from the Nexus team was keen.

The event was hosted in the PWC Lecture Theatre building of the Management School, a location I had not visited before, so that also piqued my curiosity.
Why was a journalist being hosted by the School of Management?
It got more interesting after I’d got past the sales table (climate denial bumper-stickers, all important for the Land Rover; books by Ian Wishart, Lord Monckton, and DVD’s of various of Monckton’s talks) into the auditorium, where the crowd (mostly comprising farmers & their wives, it seemed) were welcomed by Dr Ron Smith from the School of Political Science, who was profusely thanked for his hospitality once Lord Monckton had been introduced.
Monckton went on to thank Mrs Smith for her excellent dinner, then made a rather sly dig by suggesting that he’d tried to lure her to his Scottish estate to run the catering there. All the audience laughed at the ‘compliment’; seemingly without picking up that he was making a very upper-class joke about having to eat with the servant class.

It went on in that vein, with dog-whistles, misrepresentations of fact and outright lies.

A young man in the row of seating in front of me took him to task about a logical contradiction performed in the space of two concurrent sentences; Monckton then refused to allow the young man to finish his sentence, then demanded that security come and take him away if further ‘heckling’ occurred.
I then asked for clarification of whether Lord Monckton has meant phrase a, or phrase b, as it appeared confusing to listeners. He then went through a long, convoluted response, during which he neither rescinded from one statement nor the other, confirming in our minds that he was determined not to admit to any fault, more than his determination to deliver clear information.

Obfuscation followed misrepresentation, sprinkled with a few more lies.
He began by claiming that NIWA had been falsifying figures since 1970, in order to prop up the climate change argument, then carried on to impugn the academic and research credentials of the IPCC, various specific researchers output, and then did an analysis of the 2007 IPCC report using a spurious mathematical allusion based on sine waves (most of the audience being older folk for whom Eton’s Tables, slide rulers and sine waves were basic mathematical knowledge… catch a teenager now who would recognise any of those instruments, you’d be lucky), which had no bearing on the graph of temperature differentials that he then spoke over the top of, overlaying broad arrows to provide ‘interpretations’ of the raw data in the chart to show ‘trending’ was neutral … based on his statements about sine waves, of which this chart had none.
My notes taken during the talk get a little sweary around about here, with many “oh, bollocks!” scribbled alongside paragraphs of rapid transcription.

There was also the surprising, and self-aggrandizing, statement that he’d seen an advance copy of the 2013 IPCC report, followed by some critical statements about the contents.
This struck me as precipitous; so I checked the IPCC website for the report publishing schedule.
Yes, it is due out in 2013. Final papers for some sections are not due to be submitted until October this year, however, so I don’t know how he comes to have seen a “scientist’s draft” of the final report in March/April.

He had a go at the Australian Carbon Tax regime, with a very unpleasant few digs at Julia Gillard that were bigoted on about three levels – class, race and gender – and what surprised me most was the venomous approval he got for this – obviously a lot of people who fear any form of reduction in carbon consumption, thus assume that carbon tax is merely about raising income for other Government programs. Refutation of that idea here. There was a lot of rhetoric around the need for farmers to continue to run big gas-guzzling SUV’s/Range Rovers, and very little concept of any over-consumption that could be curbed.

All in all, it was like having bucketfulls of cold, dirty water thrown at me repeatedly, and as I left the campus to walk home, I found myself thinking seriously about the ethics of research, and how it is that researchers who have to conform to stringent guidelines can still be completely undermined by those who misrepresent their research outcomes.

I have linked to sites that proved the actual research referred to so disparagingly by Lord Monckton, and have refrained from linking to any of the climate denial websites where his arguments may be found.
If you desire, out of some intention of fairness, to read his viewpoints, by all means google for yourself. The wikipedia article linked under Monckton’s name may provide some examples of his reasoning.

Advertisements

Weekend Walk along the Waipa

Well, it was a lovely day for a walk in the countryside.
Pity about the cow-poo in the river, though!

Te Awamutu branch invited Waikato members (& some locals who are interested) along to see for themselves just what the water quality degradation is like in our region.
This was to have been a “Dirty Rivers Tour” kayak down the river, with Russel Norman and Eugenie Sage leading the way, but the drought has led to lower water levels than usual, to the point where kayaking was deemed irresponsible.
Eugenie came along, fresh from appearing on TV earlier in the day in Auckland on The Nation for TV3.

Local farmer Keith Hutton liased with farmers Gary Charlston and John Pievenga so that our group, ably led by Te Awamutu Branch convenor Leane Steele, could have an up-close-and-personal tour of the banks of the Waipa River, and see for ourselves what the risks are from stock grazing on the river margins.

We were also lucky enough to have Regional Councillors Stu Kneebone and Paula Southgate with us, to give an overview of how the WRC is dealing with water quality management and current trends in water quality, along with District Councillor Laurie Hoverd.

From the Pievenga’s farm we were able to see some examples of riparian planting along a stream on the farm, and some riverside remediation work across the river on the site of the 1820’s battle at Matakitaki, an area of land that has been recently returned to the local iwi alongside Purekireki Marae. The Waipa flows swiftly here, and seems narrow – I had to be reminded by a local that during the land wars, British flat-hulled battleships were steamed up these rivers to deliver troops into the battles. Much history here, amongst the green and wooded rolling hills, with the river looping and twisting.

Another piece of local lore shared was to do with the Pirongia Restoration Society, who have run environmental projects on Mt Pirongia for a while now, beginning with a pilot area in 2006 and now working to bring the birds back into Pirongia Forest Park all over the peak of the mountain.
They have funding from Waikato River Authority to get an envirocentre going in Pirongia Village, and have a project to restore the river margins along the Waipa River, in partnership with Waipa District Council and the Pirongia Residents and Ratepayers’ Association. Grassroots action at it’s best, with huge local community support.

Update:
I completely forgot to plug the work Eugenie has been doing on the RMA, which is under threat of further dilution by National. See here for the submission guide and links to relevant information. Deadline 5pm, Tuesday 2nd April 2013 – that’s straight after the Easter break.

I’m only going to say something briefly about the job losses at DoC – it stinks, and 140 more redundant public servants is not how to improve the ‘bottom line’, Mr Key, especially whilest there is more legislation in the works to demonise the unemployed – how is adding to the pool of well-qualified, experienced unemployed going to help matters?
Canberra will once more be absorbing our best and brightest, at what cost to our future viability as a functioning nation? This is such venal and short-sighted ‘cost-cutting’ that I’m tempted to rant at length about corruption amongst Government Ministers, since it so obviously prefers the enactment of policies that favour MNC’s who wish to operate in our country.

Orientation week – clubs day is O-for-oarsome

So, summer is officially over and students are flocking back to universities all over Aotearoa/NZ. Well, unless you’ve been gated by one or more of the fresh new tertiary education policies pushed out by our Minister for Education, What-the-Hekia Parata, over the summer break. (see Holly’s excellent post on that here.)

I’m acclimatising to a new city and a new campus, and thus, here is an O-week post about the Greens on Campus Waikato. We’ve already met for some KOA action (of which others have posted much more than I this summer, so I won’t go over it again) and we’re just starting on the new “I’m in for the future” campaign to run through 2013.

They’re a keen bunch; Waikato holds the record for sustainability initiatives being put in place earlier than any other campus in Aotearoa/NZ, has some of the flashest recycling bins scattered around the campus I’ve seen anywhere, and environmental science/common sense is ingrained in the University administration.
Looky here, a whole page about the environment on the academic website!

So when campus Greens said they wanted to erect a geodesic dome, WSU said, “sure”.

Cath with the domebuilders

Cath with the domebuilders

From the inside

From the inside

The stall was not adjacent to the dome, which is made of recycled coreflute billboards from the 2011 election campaign, so there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing to keep checking on it and answering questions from bystanders.

Greens on Campus co-convenors Theresa and Amy had organised a really good stall kit, and as we set up at 9am, it all went up very quickly. ‘Many hands make light work’ was truly the order of the day as first the stall, then the geodesic dome were set up.

It was our privilege to have Green MP Cath Delahunty with us for the day, which flew by as we conversed with students, handed out stickers, leaflets and cake, and signed up new and old members to the club.

Cupcakes!

Cupcakes!

stall_people

We even got photographed by the Uni marketing photographer, and this pic went up on the University of Waikato FB page in the ORI 2013 album.
Credit to Stephen Barker/Barker Photography.©The University of Waikato

Uni_PR_stall_team

Transport Heavyweight Championship: Julie Anne v Gerry

Julie Anne Genter is a transport heavyweight. She’s got all the academic qualifications and consultancy  experience to know what she’s talking about as far as transport is concerned. Gerry Brownlee is a heavyweight too, although his most admirable qualification in that regard appears to be his loyalty to the National Party and his being prepared to take one (or two, or three) for the team.

So here’s how they shaped up in 3 rounds of sparring in Parliament last week:

Round 1:

Round 2:

Round 3:

Big points win to Julie Anne.  We have the long Easter recess for Parliament now, but I suspect when it resumes Julie Anne will win by TKO.

We Greens support non-violence, so however big and ignorant the opponent is, we still need to leave him or her with some respect. So no KO leaving Gerry convulsing on the canvas – although I’m sure you could do that, metaphorically, should you choose, Julie Anne.

Back Benches is still going strong

It’s Tuesday already, my how this week has flown!
Which means tomorrow night is Back Benches filming live at the Back Bencher pub in Molesworth St, downtown Welli.

Green Party MP Steffan Browning, Labour MP Charles Chauvel, New Zealand First MP Andrew Williams, and National MP Tim Macindoe are this week’s panel line-up, and the topics under debate will be –
HOUSING CRUNCH?: Are we in a Housing Boom or a Housing Crunch? Perhaps it depends on whether you’re a renter or an owner? Should you buy or rent? Which is more affordable? Rents are on the rise and affordable housing is becoming more scarce. Why are rents going up? Does there need to be a limit on how much a landlord can raise the rent? Is this a local council issue? Should this be a national government issue? Or should we let the marketplace decide what it can bear?

SAVE THE DOLPHINS: Just 55 little (adult) Maui Dolphins are left. Is it time for urgent action to save the endangered animal? Can they be saved? Do we save endangered animals no matter the cost? Is a sanctuary or a net ban the solution? And do we need to have a big look at our fishing industry? Do you eat sustainably or do you throw a little Snapper or Bluefin Tuna on the grill?

[Yeah, I’m shameless, that was pasted straight off TV7’s website. ]

The episode is up on TVNZ on-demand here.

Co-incidentally, there was a pretty big march through town today by supporters of Maui’s Dolphins being protected.
While they stopped to yell outside MAF (ably MC’d by Pete Bethune) I got this pic:

Some staunch painted laydees marching for Maui's Dolphins

Some staunch painted laydees marching for Maui's Dolphins

Update:
FB scandal has broken out over the painted ladies pix put up on albums by photographers associated with Forest & Bird/WWF/Greenpeace et al, covered here by Coley Tangerina.
More on the campaign to save Maui’s dolphins here.

Last Chance for Maui’s Dolphins!

The Maui’s dolphin is the most critically endangered dolphin in the world. In just a few short years, the population of Maui’s dolphins has halved from 111 in 2005 to an estimate of just 55 left today. The time for talk is over and urgent action is needed. The Government …should use the precautionary principle to put in place an immediate set net ban along the Taranaki Coast and to enlarge the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary.

Join Green Party MP Gareth Hughes and the last remaining 55 Maui’s dolphins in front of parliament on Wednesday 28th March to help us call for action and to launch our submission guides to the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Fisheries to put measures in place to protect this unique species NOW!

12.30pm – 1.30pm, in front of Parliament steps, Wellington.
Facebook event here.

Pictures will magically appear here after the event 😉

Green MP Gareth Hughes at the submission guide launch today

Green MP Gareth Hughes at the submission guide launch today

You can read more about the submission guide here, and see what Forest and Bird have to say as well.

Kiwis going the distance for cloth nappies

This is a little PR for a group I consider are on the right track.
Disclosure statement: my own children were clothed in a mixture of cloth nappies, both fitted and folded by myself, as well as disposable nappies on holidays, etc, when we needed an alternative. Back in the 1990’s! Hard Green luddite view of parenting, that’s me. My sister has also used some of the more modern cloth nappy solutions, and soon my own daughter will be experiencing the joys of the nappy arguments.

Upcoming Cloth Nappy Week 2012 kicks off with a weeklong road trip with a very specific distance in mind. With one million disposable nappies being thrown into New Zealand landfills each day*, or seven million each week, the number of nappies laid end-to-end would stretch to 2,100km – the distance from Invercargill to Auckland. It is this route the Cloth Nappy Week team of mums will be travelling from 14-22 April, in a bid to raise awareness of the benefits of modern cloth nappies over disposables.

“One million disposable nappies is a lot of landfill,” says Kate Meads, also known as The Nappy Lady, who is leading the nationwide movement toward more sustainable diapering solutions for parents.

“In a household with one baby, disposable nappies could constitute up to 50% of their total household waste. With around 145,000 children under age two-and-a-half using six to seven disposable nappies daily, one million disposable nappies are thrown into our landfills each day.

“Dealing with disposable nappy waste costs local councils tens of thousands of dollars per year, and the decomposing material in landfills creates methane gas, a major contributor to global warming. To put it bluntly, disposable nappies are harming our environment in a big way.

“While waste issues are fortunately becoming more and more important, in the meantime, our world is becoming more and more disposable. The big question for the future is, when our landfills are full, where will our rubbish go? I, for one, don’t want to leave my child with a legacy of garbage.”

Kate explains that a baby will need up to 6,000 nappy changes in the first two-and-a-half years of life, and at around 50c per nappy, parents are literally throwing their money away.

“Disposable nappies are seen as more convenient and less time-consuming than cloth nappies,” she explains. “I understand that mindset when it comes to our parents’
generation, but modern cloth nappies are so advanced in design and materials that they truly are no more difficult than washing a load of laundry.”

Cloth Nappy Week, which is a worldwide event taking place 16-22 April, is focused on educating parents about how stylish and easy-to-use cloth nappies are.

Kate and her team of Nappy Avengers is taking to the roads of New Zealand starting in Invercargill on 14 April, bringing workshops, information sessions, samples, competitions, giveaways and prizes to crowds of Kiwi parents around the country.

Cloth Nappy Week has an active website (www.clothnappyweek.co.nz) and Facebook community (www.facebook.com/clothnappyweek) and excitement is prepared to celebrate all things cloth.

“We are fortunate in New Zealand to have an extremely savvy, intelligent, passionate community of parents who are interested in cloth nappies, and a wide range of brands
to choose from, stocked by a passionate group of cloth nappy suppliers and retailers,” Kate says. “Cloth Nappy Week is the time for everyone to work together to spread the word, and I’m excited to be taking cloth nappies on the road this
year.”

Cloth Nappy Week is scheduled for 16-22 April 2012, and The Cloth Nappy Road Trip kicks off in Invercargill on 13 April, ending in Auckland on 21 April.

* Source: Zero Waste New Zealand (www.zerowaste.co.nz/hot-issues/nappies)

Kate Meads

The Nappy Lady
http://www.TheNappyLady.co.nz

Sea Shepherd in docks at Wellington

The Sea Shepherd crew are in town to re-provision and have some R’n’R, docked at Queens’ Wharf until 21st February. There aren’t open tours of the ship, due to tight scheduling; a list of fresh commodity requirements is being circulated, as well as a stall selling t-shirts, caps, hoodies, and the usual clutter of small items to fundraise.
The crew members, with support from the local Sea Shepherd group, are very informative and can answer most questions about whaling, the current campaign, and what they hope to achieve this summer in Antarctic waters.

A few if us* are going down to drop off some vegan baking later this afternoon, I may put up some pix after the event.

Other commodities needed/requested include:
-fresh food (avocados, mangos, spinach…)
-frozen fruits and vegetables – olives
-nuts, cashews, pistacchios – crackers
-miso – juices, sodas, cordials
-dairy-free cream – fake meats
-tofu – cereals
-dried fruits – dairy-free milks (oat, soy, almond)
vegan treats (biscuits, chocolate)
-hot sauces, tabasco – maple syrup
-bragg, soy sauce, tamari – vegan chocolate spread
-peanut butter, vegemite spreads

*vegan foods contain no animal products (meat, dairy, eggs, honey, etc…)

Donations can be delivered to the ship located at:
Taranaki Wharf, Wellington

*[this is an action of the Wellington Craftivism Collective, I should clarify, not my usual coterie of Wellington Greens.]

Update:
Vegan cookies safely dropped off, and there’s still time for more donated items to be taken to the crew, they’re very happy to receive anything vegan on the list!

Ok, here’s those pix:

Bob Barker bow, tied up along Taranaki Wharf, Wellington.

Bob Barker bow, tied up along Taranaki Wharf, Wellington.

Bob Barker, stern end

Bob Barker, stern end

Gangplank and random Sea Shepherd crew leaving ship

Gangplank and random Sea Shepherd crew leaving ship

Back in the House, and Back Benches.

Well, it was a marathon busy day yesterday.
Seven maiden speeches in the House by new Green MP’s, our highest number of new MP’s since the Party first came into Parliament in 1999.
There’s speech transcripts and Parlie TV footage on Frogblog. So I’m not going to repeat the review of the afternoon’s speeches, except to say that I was very moved by each and every one of them, some who have been colleagues on issues campaigning for over ten years.
There are concurrent numbers of extra parliamentary Green office staff, too, so the mix’n’mingle afterwards was a good catch-up time & helped to work out who’s doing which jobs post-election.

Then later, on to the Back Bencher pub for another round of Damian and Wallace ‘back on home soil’, as they put it themselves, which seems like an extraordinary admission from two Aucklanders.

Eugenie Sage had her first experience on the panel, along with Alfred Ngaro (N), David Clarke (L, Dunedin North) and Richard Prosser (NZ 1st). There were some interesting moments as panelists wrestled with ways not to answer direct questions put by the presenters, and some bemusement when Prosser appeared to be quoting history when responding to questions about his party’s policies.

Alfred Ngaro (obscured), Wallace, David Clarke, Eugenie Sage, Damian obscuring Richard Prosser completely.

Alfred Ngaro (obscured), Wallace, David Clarke, Eugenie Sage, Damian obscuring Richard Prosser completely.

Holly Walker and a table of Green family & friends got quite a bit of notice during the evening, as well, especially during Damian’s wee pep talk to get incidental footage to use in the promo for this season of Back Benches. Being such great sports, none of the extremely relaxed Young Greens even considered the option of asking for appearance fees for performing in an advertisement.

Voluble and Relaxed Young Greens surrounding MP Holly Walker.

Voluble and Relaxed Young Greens surrounding MP Holly Walker.

Myself, I was hiding down the back with some more mature friends, and chewing my way through most of a block of Whitaker’s Dark Almond; my only concession to Valentine’s Day being to buy myself what I like, and share it with those I happen to be with as the week progresses. Don’t even bother trying to spot us, we were well shielded by loquacious and inebriated folk in the table nearer the bar.

The full episode is here on TV7’s chunk of the On-demand website.
Do have a look for the petition to save TV7 as well, while I’ve got your attention.
If nobody bothers, we lose them mid-year when this season finishes.

Travel soothes the mind

Well, that was an optimistic title, really.

I had some time on the West Coast over the New Year break, and while absolutely enjoying the hospitality of my various hosts, visiting friends and family of my son-in-law, I also had some opportunities to explore some of the less satisfactory side of life on the Coast.

But first: the good bits.

Here’s a lovely picture of natural beauty, the Hokitika Gorge (I’ll leave out the pix with people scattered through them, you’re just getting the unadulterated glacier-fed river and bush-clad gorge).

Hokitika Gorge from the swingbridge

Hokitika Gorge from the swingbridge

Then we wandered along towards Greymouth, and discovered Shantytown, which has gone up in price 500% since my son-in-law last visited a couple of years ago. As we weren’t a busload of asian tourists, we had a quick look, used the conveniences and left. It seemed like a good business, and the gift shop was doing a roaring trade in the smallest pieces of gold-flake I’ve ever seen in my life, but there you are, to each his or her own. The working small-guage gold-fields train from Kaitangata looked cute.

Kaitangata engine steaming towards the station, Shantytown

Kaitangata engine steaming towards the station, Shantytown

Further down the road, on our way to have a look at Lake Brunner, we stopped at the roadside info for the Brunner Mine disaster, the big news of 1896, and the reason we have any mining legislation at all, really. I popped across on the bridge that spans the Grey River, to check out the site remains and the memorial to the 65 miners who died in that incident, and found that there were also memorials to the 19 miners who died in the Strongman mine disaster in 1967, and the very recent Pike River disaster in November 2010.

Pike River Miners Memorial at Brunner Mine Disaster Memorial

Pike River Miners Memorial at Brunner Mine Disaster Memorial

In conversation with a local woman who was also by the memorial that day, I wondered whether the choice to work in the mines was not as real as she posited, due to the lack of other industry investment in the region. We discussed that one from opposing angles for a few minutes, before both coming to agreement on the fact that Pike River Coal had distinctly transgressed current mining legislation around safety, and that they would have to answer for that in Court in the remainder of the Commission of Inquiry. Meanwhile, there is at least one little boy born since the accident who has never met his dad, and many more family members who still grieve the loss of their brothers, sons, husbands and workmates and want an answer to why it was allowed to happen. Mr Whittall still has some actions to account for.

Greymouth is a pretty town, if prone to ground-level fog for much of the winter, according to my hosts. We had a late-afternoon lovo, the fijian version of hangi, but with a chilli-basted twist to satisfy the spicy palates of my relatives and their friends. With the afternoon sun glinting off the children’s paddling pool, and the surf crashing in the distance, I could fully appreciate why families would come to this part of New Zealand and relish the life it offers them. I left small-town New Zealand behind me when I moved to the city to study in my early adulthood, but I often find myself looking at provincial towns and seeing the beauty in their simplicity, their proximity to recreational areas, the unspoilt compact urban areas, and thinking ‘What if?’. Even the local newspaper had an attractive air to it!

Carpark wall mural at the Greymouth Evening Star

Carpark wall mural at the Greymouth Evening Star

Two days on the West Coast was hardly enough to satisfy me, and my traveller’s bug wants to be sated with a trip to Karamea, a look at Punakaiki Rocks, maybe an expedition to see the Denniston mine historic site before too much longer – there’s a lot to see in this area, and I can see myself coming back again.
Perhaps that is a fitting way to give some help to the Coasters, too – building tourism and art/craft enterprises, showing off the history without degrading the lives of those who remain engaged in local industries, making a sustainable future for those who live in this beautiful but often harsh environment.