Are Governments implementing mass surveillance because of looming climate change catastrophe?



As the National Party inch NZ further away from a Democracy and closer to a casual Police State with GCSB mass surveillance powers and a genuine suffocation of democracy from Ecan water rights for Farmers to denying carers of the disabled the opportunity to take the government to court, such erosion of civil rights oversees is being connected to climate change fears.

While here we have senior Government MPs questioning why Journalists should have protection from spying while killing off the publics right to protest on the water and complain against oil drilling, the crack down on civil liberties and expansion of domestic spying programs overseas is being driven by more than corporate interests.

Nafeez Ahmed from the guardian puts forward the case that intelligence apparatus around the globe are gearing up for fear of social unrest due to increasing weather events associated with climate change and resource collapse…

Top secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents disclosed by the Guardian have shocked the world with revelations of a comprehensive US-based surveillance system with direct access to Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants. New Zealand court records suggest that data harvested by the NSA’s Prism system has been fed into the Five Eyes intelligence alliance whose members also include the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis – or all three.

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…previously I had seen National’s drive to asphyxiate democratic oversight on a vast array of issues in 5 short years as the sort of pig headed arrogance generated from a wealthy back ground and life experience that doesn’t extend beyond the social interaction of private education and had seen the Government’s desire to criminalize protest as merely a bonus for corporations.

Perhaps though the need to spy on us all and persecute those activists willing to fight back is driven by a far larger fear within the 5 eyes community that the collapse of consumer capitalism from climate change could cause far more disruption than they can contain…

Just last month, unilateral changes to US military laws formally granted the Pentagon extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic “emergency” or “civil disturbance”:

“Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances.”

Other documents show that the “extraordinary emergencies” the Pentagon is worried about include a range of environmental and related disasters.

In 2006, the US National Security Strategy warned that:

“Environmental destruction, whether caused by human behavior or cataclysmic mega-disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis. Problems of this scope may overwhelm the capacity of local authorities to respond, and may even overtax national militaries, requiring a larger international response.”

Two years later, the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Army Modernisation Strategy described the arrival of a new “era of persistent conflict” due to competition for “depleting natural resources and overseas markets” fuelling “future resource wars over water, food and energy.” The report predicted a resurgence of:

“… anti-government and radical ideologies that potentially threaten government stability.”

…I don’t believe for one second that John Key’s spying powers or suffocation of democratic oversight or his ‘free trade’ deals or criminalization of protests are for our security at all. They are being put in place in a world of rapid climate change challenges far greater than are being honestly articulated and they are being done precisely to limit the options of our dissent becoming unmanageable.

What on the outside looks like legislative favors for corporations are really structures to prevent our collective voice, once raised, from being able to alter their plans. These laws are aimed at the first wave of social rights activists and environmental campaigners who will try and generate change. The NZ Police recently asked Facebook for the account details of over 100 NZers in only the first 6 months of this year, Facebook refused nearly half of those requests which begs the question, who were the cops trying to spy on and are they protest groups?

One gets a chill feeling that John Key would relish making conscientious objectors unconscious objects.


  1. I think the domestic spying is more about corporate governance and controlling the population, especially environmental activists and suspected thought criminals who we know are being targeted in the US following the occupy movement began.

    Monsanto collects data on those who protest against GE and now the GCSB and or the NSA will be keeping tabs on activists here to allow the exploitation of the last of our resources regardless of what we think or concerns about the consequences.

  2. A very brave article. Proof of the veracity of your theme can be found (at least in the US) from reports of authorities targetting people who are trying to be self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency and food independence are seen as threats to both corporate and government control.

    A brave new world, is now a place where independence is seen as extemism!

    • People who are independent of the system are examples that the system itself is wrong and the people in power can’t have that.

  3. I totally agree. We cannot put the planets weather, nature and animals back once it’s all destroyed. What are these people (not) thinking! It makes me cry to see what is happening. The solution to everything it seems is just to drill the deep sea, burn more coal, frack everything, and pollute our fresh water… This insanity has to stop, and its just getting worse. It is deeply frightening to the point everything else is just a fly to swat, the planet is all we stupid humans have! I feel sorry for all the biodiversity, the precious beautiful nature. How unbelievably sad this all is. I bet the spying is to keep control because it makes me angry enough to want the idiots responsible heads on a spike. Now we can’t protest without being put in jail, unbelievable.

  4. What on the outside looks like legislative favors for corporations are really structures to prevent our collective voice, once raised, from being able to alter their plans.

    And now you know why laws should only be passed by referenda.

  5. Interesting.

    It has been postulated that the future of humanity in a world ravaged and impoverished by climate change will be dystopian one. In which the privilege and comfort of a tiny minority will achieved through the mass violent repression of the bulk of humanity, even up to allowing, and even facilitating, the deaths of millions of human beings. (The term for this future process, has been termed “dieback” by those who have described it.)

    It could be that this vector towards mass repression, leading to the supervision of mass human “dieback”, is an unconscious response to the looming existential crisis posed to the political establishment, of both left and right. A political establishment that will be at risk unless they take more and more extreme actions to preserve their privileged status as regards the rest of us.
    Under such extreme conditions of climate degradation, violent repression of the majority effectively sentenced to an early death, would become the norm, and fundamental in maintaining any top down and unequal society.
    Here at the beginning of this process, the looming crisis of environmental degradation on a global scale is never mentioned in fact it is deliberately and actively and universally ignored.

    Some recent examples of this;

    1/ Nowhere in the contest for the leadership of the Labour Party have any of the candidates been asked the question; “What actions will you take to combat climate change. (1)*

    2/ Opposition towards a new coal mine planned in North Waikato spearheaded and led by anti climate change organisation Auckland Coal Action has been reported in the media as a NIMBY struggle conducted by locals opposed to having a coal mine near their homes and schools. The main objection to this mine based on grounds of climate change championed by ACA and which the locals have rallied around was airbrushed over. (2)*

    3/ A large privately funded windfarm project that would have injected tens of $millions into the local economy and created 1013 permanent jobs in the Waikato, (an area hard hit by redundancies in the coal mines due to the importation of cheap imported Indonesian coal) Was canceled because electricity generated by such coal is too cheap for the windfarm to compete with. This major setback for an area hard hit by unemployment caused by the fossil fuel industry was barely mentioned by the media. A media that daily screams headlines about the jobs that will be lost in the fossil fuel industry if action to prevent climate change is taken. (3)*

    4/ At the major mainstream ‘left’ political blogsite ‘The Standard’ in light of the current contest going on for the leadership of the Labour Party I tried to bring up the matter of this windfarm project as an example of where with just the littlest bit of political leadership this project could be restarted. And a thousand plus new permanent jobs in the renewable could again be on the agenda, only to be banned from commenting on this website until this contest is over. (4)*





  6. Are you writing this for an NZ or US audience? The “English” certainly suggests US.
    “What on the outside looks like legislative favors for”
    “Government’s desire to criminalize
    “deals or criminalization of protests”

    I realise NZ has been co-opted by the US and all, but I thought you would at least be one of the last to fold to our new US overlords. You do know you can select dictionaries other than “US English” in browsers/word processors!

  7. Whether people recognise it, climate change is the most significant thing happening on this planet right now. It’s the equivalent of an asteroid heading straight for earth. Inevitably, those who want to stop the destruction of life on this planet will rise up and inevitably the forces of short sighted (or uncaring) vested interest will try to stop them throught the relationship between governments like ours, corporates and spy agencies. The foremost target of spy agencies are going to be environmentalists, without a doubt. The only legitimate avenues for resisting are going to be the Greens, Mana, and Labour (when it finally catches up and move genuinely to the so called “left”) which is why it is so important to actively support them, not just give them your vote. Best thing you can do is become an active member of one of these political parties.

    • “Whether people recognise it, climate change is the most significant thing happening on this planet right now”

      So what is it with The Standard?

      It is noticeable over at The Standard that though they often go long, on reporting about climate change and its effects, it is mostly “What a terrible thing”, woe are we, type message. There are never any solutions raised. And to dare to suggest that the new Labour leadership should take even the simplest of measures to fight climate change is to face vicious censorship. I made a comment that describes how a fully consented and detailed scheme to build a wind farm on the Western coast of the Waikato region that would provide over a 1,000 permanent jobs was cancelled due to the cheap cost of coal fired electricity.(1)* I suggested that the new Labour leadership whoever they might be, could by showing the slightest bit of leadership make this scheme viable. Lynn Prentice accused me of “grandstanding” and dumped my comment to the end of that days thread on the Open Mike where no one would read it. So I posted at the top of the next open mike with a comment about being dumped the day before. Lynn Prentice accused me of lying about being dumped and banned me from commenting on the leadership race until it is finished. So what accounts for this schizophrenic stance toward climate change by The Standard? We all know that the National Party and government are the political champions of big business and will never do anything that will hurt corporate profits and so are unlikely to take concrete measures to combat climate change. But what about Labour and by extension Labour friendly websites like The Standard, why are they opposed to taking concrete measures against climate change? In my opinion Labour and The Standard are in a double bind, not only do they not want to offend the corporate sector, they do not want to offend the trade unions as well. The biggest private sector union is the EPMU. The EPMU is the leading trade union affiliate to the Labour Party, it is also the union that represents the coal miners and oil rig workers. The EPMU don’t want to see any cutback in these industries. No doubt this is a hard nut to crack. But it will never be overcome without some display of leadership to the trade unions about the need to make the transition to a low carbon economy. The Standard wants to keep action against climate change in the too hard basket, not to be raised as part of the leadership debate, or indeed as an election issue come 2014. Meanwhile the world bakes while we do less than nothing.

      A move by Contact Energy to back out of a windfarm on the Waikato’s west coast has blown away hundreds of potential jobs in a move described as another disappointment to a region buffeted by lay-offs.

      The Hauauru ma raki venture, planned for the coast between Port Waikato and Raglan, was expected to inject $180 million into the regional economy, including $115m of household income over a five-year construction period. It was also tipped to create an estimated 1033 jobs once operational and generate enough power for around 170,000 homes,….

      ….Waikato District Council Mayor Allan Sanson said he was not too surprised by the news.

      “It was always going to be marginal in relation to the fact that there was already generating capacity and surplus available.”

      …..”The project is fully consented and with the right policy settings it could be built in stages over time.”

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