Weak turn out on Climate Change no indication of importance



A good turn out in Wellington and Christchurch was dragged down by a mediocre turn out in Auckland for this weekends climate change protests…

Rain clouds bursting in Auckland meant many of the 15,000 protesters gathering in Albert Park had to run for the trees. But after a wet start the sun emerged just in time for the march to begin at 11am.

Another 8000 people hit the Christchurch streets and 7000 Wellingtonians marched on Parliament at lunchtime.

…this is surprising because the enormity and severity of what we are facing with climate change demands radical and immediate change. Let’s be clear, the latest research shows that things are far worse than the IPCC has concluded and what is happening in real time is the beginnings of tipping points becoming feedback loops. In short we can’t stop dramatic climate change and it will be hard to prevent catastrophic climate change. That’s the science settled reality, but the turn out suggests people don’t understand or appreciate the severity of the situation.

There are a couple of reasons why:

NZ has one of the highest proportions of climate deniers in the developed world and NZers famed reluctance to think beyond talkback radio cements this.

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– Mainstream media is far more interested in promoting clickbait infotainment minus the info and bait so this climate denial ignorance becomes empowered rather than challenged.

– This is a defacto Green Party demo and the Greens aren’t strong in Auckland.

– Poor communication of the event and the decision to put a climate change protest up against the Grey Lynn Festival suggests a terrible blunder.

This lack of connection between wider groups is partly because of the split nature of the social media bubble and partly because the Left in Auckland doesn’t have enough clear leadership.

This lack of populist reach was spelled out in a guest blog this week that asked some of the same questions when looking at the Activist Bootcamp and Step It Up conferences.

The climate change protests in the weekend managed to highlight more weaknesses than strengths.


  1. I thought the Auckland march was great. Bigger than any march for a long time, broad participation, lots of young people, and a good spirit. Yes, there is always room for suggestions as to how such protests could be improved next time. But let us celebrate our successes and more people getting involved in the mass movement demanding real action to combat global warming.

    • On talking about improvements. If we could sort it so disable people could participate, that needs to happen!

      Albert Park is not exactly a friendly park for disabled people, nor is walking up Queen street.

      On the plus side, nice divergence and broad participation. But, you were at the march, and it could not be said the crowed represented the whole population on a purely in a demographic manor. It was very over represented by Pakeha.

      I wonder if the idea of think global act local could be put to better use in Auckland as well. This city is massive. How many people would have liked to participate but did not have the money to park in the central city, nor the cash to catch public transport? How many have kids, and a 10 min car ride to a park for a rally would have suited them better?

      This suggestion requires more work, and more action. That said the critical mass has been reached for a divergence, and multiple events across the city to get the maximum amount of involvement.

      Because if nothing else, yesterday proved people can work together, now it’s time to reach out.

  2. Past

    Preindustrial CO2 280ppm Early atmospheric measurement CO2 316ppm

    The facts became irrefutable in the early 1960s, after Charles Keeling demonstrated that the atmospheric CO2 concentration was rising inexorably (just as Arrhenius had indicated it would in 1896) at about 1ppm per annum.

    CO2 322ppm

    The US presidential advisory committee made it quite clear in 1965 that business-as-usual would eventually lead to disaster. The wording of the committee’s report was altered because “What was good for General Motors was good for America’. Corporate power dominated scientific reality.

    Human population around 3 billion.

    CO2 exceeds 330ppm

    In 1972 Meadows at al indicated in ‘Limits to Growth’ that pollution would peak in the early-to-mid 2000s, and resource constraints would bring Industrial Civilisation to its knees; nobody in government was at all interested in science-based predictions, and phony economics -in which energy supplies are infinite and pollution has no effect- was vigorously promoted. Corporate power dominated scientific reality.

    James Hansen reiterated the warning (that business-as-usual would lead to disaster) in 1988. Reagan and Bush senior rejected sound ecological policy and promoted rapid looting-and-polluting: “The American way of life is not negotiable.” Corporate power dominated scientific reality.

    CO2 exceeds 350ppm

    1997: Kyoto negotiated, and subsequently phony schemes to allow polluters to keep polluting via ‘carbon trading are set up.

    CO2 exceeds 370ppm

    Kyoto abandoned as a failure. Emissions trading still makes money for opportunists while failing to address the emissions predicament.

    Human population around 6 billion.

    CO2 exceeds 380ppm

    NZ Green Party conveniently forgets about peak oil and abrupt climate change and promotes international tourism as a key ‘sustainable’ component of long-term policy.

    The phony stabilise-at-450ppm atmospheric target and the phony 2oC ‘safe’ limit are promoted.

    CO2 breaks through 390ppm

    Annual increase exceeds 2ppm

    Arctic Sea ice melts to a record low area and thickness.

    Methane, with a warming potential well over 100 times CO2 for timeframes that matter erupts from permafrost and clathrates.

    NZ Green Party promotes ‘quantitative easing’ to stimulate economic growth and demands an enquiring into loss of manufacturing jobs.

    Emeritus professor Guy McPherson tours NZ and suggests that rapid change away from the culture of consumerism is required: “nobody’ (well not more than 1%) is interested in changing the culture of consumerism. Corporate power dominates scientific reality.

    Arctic Sea ice melts to an even lower record low. Craters appear in permafrost as methane erupts.

    Much hoopla when seasonal CO2 breaks through 400ppm.

    Interest rates are maintained at close to zero to stimulate economic growth.

    California experiences worst drought in modern history and faces catastrophe if winter snows do not come: temperatures are too high for winter snow.

    Human population approaches 7.5 billion.

    CO2 permanently exceeds 400ppm: almost unnoticed.

    CO2 equivalent lies somewhere in the range 700ppm to 1200ppm, depending on value assigned to methane (which UNIPCC ignores altogether).

    2015 the hottest year ever, with multiple feedbacks triggered.

    NZ Government rejects very conservative sea level projections as ‘speculative’, and sees no need for risk assessment. Government lies about everything else, and people continue to believe the lies.

    Paris climate negotiation predestined to fail abysmally (as all others have) because operating a fossil-fuel-based civilisation which is founded on fractional reserve banking and interest on loans is incompatible with maintaining life on Earth; banks and corporations continue to determine government policy.


    The Earth becomes largely uninhabitable for humans some time between 2030 and 2060.

    • The Earth becomes largely uninhabitable for humans some time between 2030 and 2060.

      I’m not disputing the history lesson, but the final sentence (above) is not supported by any consnsus of the global scientific community.

      • It follows fairly logically if you look at the websites that make these warnings and extrapolate… but few seem willing to speak out, and any who do are ignored by the MSM, who continue to give equal time and space to denialists. How strange. But can one expect privately-owned media outlets to behave independently of those who pay the piper and call the tune?

        Our system is seriously flawed, and capable of promoting the self- destruction of our own species.

        Mike Joy got bollocksed here in NZ for daring to point out that we are seriously polluting and destroying our streams and rivers.

        But our Leader can always find another ‘scientist’ to give him a differing opinion.
        When he made that comment, he should have been attacked for bringing into ridicule the nature of science itself.

        No such rigour in our media here.

      • The few who have extrapolated this are regarded as cranks or just ignored. The MSM and our beloved Leader can always find another scientist to contradict them, and why would you expect the privately-owned MSM to bite the hand that feeds them? They still follow the ridiculous practice of giving equal time to denialists whenever any of the history is pointed out.

        Beware – we are actually stupid enough to destroy our own viable living environment ourselves, and deny that we are doing so.

        It would not be the first time – read ‘The March of Folly’ by Barbara Tuchman.

    • Thanks for this list – a real eye opener and heart breaker.


      • Why do conspiracy theorists always talk in capitals? least you didn’t mention the sheeple.Though i agree Carlin is great

  3. Protests and marches mean nothing to those who are helping create these climate disasters and who deny their impacts on the world climate and environmental disasters. They laugh at our marches and know that nothing much will come from them. Climate warfare, as well, is going on under our noses all over the world.

    Marches may make a few feel good for a day and give us a moment of feeling organized, but we need major and swift changes and we need to expose the culprits of this ugliness as well as the same greedy lot who invest in perpetual war.

    We go round and round and round with horror stories and this keeps us stuck when instead we should be focusing on exposing and stopping these greedy criminal corporations that run the show in almost every country. Some MAJOR changes are needed and marches and protests are not the answer. If the world were run by ethical and sane people instead of defunct ( corporate owned ) governments, we then know for sure that there would be enough money to help end these many nightmares as well as world starvation. Nothing changes if we continue doing the same things over and over. Governments are not the answer. Exposing the rot in them ( and the criminal bankers ) and getting rid of that rot is a very good start ===>> Iceland etc.

    • I agree with your assessment of the situation, a few feel-good marches of the converted will not necessarily change the views of most, as past protests about social issues and other issues have shown. Sadly a large part of society frown on protesters, or pity them. And too often such marches are only announced via social media and other channels, that people use who are already informed.

      People need to be sent a real firm message, and be confronted with the harmful consequences of their ignorant present consumerist and wasteful lifestyles, which includes driving everywhere in cars.

      Two thirds of travel in urban centres is done within a 6km range, a distance that can easily be covered by cycling, using public transport or by even walking, but most simply drive.

      A recent survey has also shown that kids cycling to school has dropped in numbers and it is at best only a fifth of all kids. Most get taken to school by car, and others walk, presumably also using public transport for parts of the journey.

      The average Kiwi is addicted to the car driving lifestyle, and is totally reluctant to give it up, and that is the largest CO2 source in this country, that is avoidable, but that contributes to global warming.

      Most have their heads deep in the sand.

  4. Martyn, seems like all but the Auckland demo were very well attended – in Dunedin was biggest demo in decades. Even in Auckland turnout was ok, right? Though I understand your frustration that they weren’t even bigger/better/more effective, think they deserve better than “weak” from TDB.

  5. The problem is that the majority of New Zealanders do simply not get informed about the serious consequences of climate change, and by looking at the mainstream media we can see the proof of too little reporting, and too little explaining of issues.

    People also tire of the same headlines about negative news, and we have a similar result as with the debate about child poverty and hungry school children. As the government itself neglects such topics, people shrug their shoulders and switch off, in resignation or in indifference.

    Climate change and the consequences are a complex subject, and too many dislike complex matters, as their brains have been fine tuned to only receive and act upon short, simple messages, such as the advertising industry use.

    As most see no significant signs of climate change, that affect them directly, they do not take the matter that seriously.

    Add the number eight wire mentality, and the attitude that nothing needs fixing unless a major direct problem hits people, and we have what we observe, wide spread indifference or lack of understanding.

    Again there will have been tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands out shopping in malls or at community sporting events or doing their homes up, rather than go and take part in a march.

    The slap happy, casual attitude that is so common in New Zealand is to blame, and in other countries people tend to take this major issue more seriously, apart perhaps people in the US and some other big polluting countries like Australia.

    Driving their beloved cars is a comfort few will want to give up, and they rather grow biofuel to keep driving in future, no matter whether that may mean using agricultural land for this, which will presently be used to grow food for the world’s population.

    I see us continue heading towards the cliff, as even Paris and the climate conference will largely be just another symbolic measure with pleas made, which may not be policed and enforced afterwards.

    What is needed is a firm commitment by all, a treaty that forces every member state to do something specific to reduce carbon and other climate harming or influencing emissions, but I can already hear the blame game the debate and disagreements that will occur.

    With all this, we will only have the converted go and preach to each other at such marches, which took place over the weekend.

    Things may have been different, had we a public obligation by broadcasters and other media to actually inform people about stuff that matters, so people will be confronted with stuff. Yet political debate itself has become farcical and is a side topic on TV and on radio of most stations, only followed by few. I am struggling to remember when I saw a science based documentary on TVNZ, TV3 or any other local station. It simply gets no longer shown, such programs. Dumbing down is the new normal.

  6. The Wellington march was pretty good. There should have been 100,000 plus protesting but I think we have a problem with New Zealanders in general that no progressive groups can rectify. They simply do not want to believe things are as serious as they are. It is beyond their minds to comprehend climate change.

  7. Whangarei had an average response – but there are so many out there doing such great stuff, that one just can’t attend everything – eg a TPPA meeting was held later on same day which appeared reasonably attended. Transition Whangarei is attempting to connect all those out there doing great stuff thus building a collective voice. I know a large number of those, who have no illusions, about the seriousness of what we face – most of whom were ‘heads down, tails up’ doing great stuff. So get connected with your community – and start doing great stuff – besides it is very therapeutic in so many ways – and we are going to need that. And cheers to Dean for organising Whangarei’s event – an example of doing great stuff.

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