It was encouraging to see thousands of ordinary New Zealanders out on the streets and at Parliament on Tuesday 9th November, protesting, waving NZ, Maori sovereignty and United Tribes flags. Parliament was in lockdown, perhaps fearing a US Capitol-style invasion.
Irrespective of the reasons for protesting, the overall themes were perceived loss of freedoms - compulsory lockdowns, mandatory vaccinations, freedom of choice, ominous climate change proposals. The right to protest within the law is fundamental in a true democracy and must of course be upheld.
With the lockdown of Parliament unprecedented in the last 40 years, according to Speaker Mallard, politicians dared not address the crowd. Imagine the reception Prime Minister Ardern would have received had she fronted! Instead we had a dismissive comment from Ardern to the effect that the protesters were “not reflective of the vast bulk of New Zealanders” - a dangerous and ignorant comment in that these brave souls had the courage to demonstrate, whilst many others who might have quietly agreed with them, stayed at home.
It is well-known that one of the politicians’ favourite strategies is fear. Keep the population fearful and you can do almost anything. Today, we live in fear - of Covid19 (though the death rate in NZ is negligible by comparison with the common ‘flu), and we are encouraged to be most fearful of the imminent apocalypse of climate change, to name just two. These issues are of course being stoked for all their worth by the Ardern government, without them offering any realistic and useful strategies to confront these fears. There are solutions, if we wish to pursue them, as is pointed out below. Also, both National and Act have proposed sensible solutions, only to be dumped on by a highly biased media.
A year or so ago, I was engaged in discussing climate change and global warming with a good friend of mine who has a very sound science background. We shared our views on what exactly is or seems to be contributing to global warming. If you accept and believe that according to the IPCC international reports, the major contributing factor is claimed to be the increase in “greenhouse” gases, CO2, Methane, etc, all man-made and totally ruinous. This is not factually correct because various natural phenomena also produce methane and CO2, but then who do we believe? The doomsday proponents would have us believe that we are already doomed, reminiscent of the character in the TV series “Dads Army”, whose inimitable character, Fraser the undertaker, frequently resorted to his memorable line, “we’re all doomed, ye ken, we’re all doomed!”. We must now live in absolute fear, according to the Ardern government - if Covid doesn’t get you, then climate change will! Only she and her government have the answers, so listen up! Except they are not producing any answers or solutions, are they?
Just more bumbling and obfuscation. Ask anyone outside New World for their understanding of current border restrictions and Ardern’s “traffic light system”. I will guarantee most would not have a clue!
When I suggested to my scientist friend that the IPCC reports are equivocal and have been seriously and scientifically challenged around the globe by a host of other scientists, it became clear to me that man-made gasses whilst certainly contributing to global warming, are not the only or perhaps even the most important cause. Why did I conclude this controversial outcome?
Well, my friend surprised me with a report from the American Institute of Physics (18 August 2019) which provides overwhelming evidence that the major contributor to global warming is in fact the effects of solar activities, namely sunspots and solar winds. In an article entitled “The Discovery of Global Warming”, the AIP provides a 20-page extremely convincing argument that solar activity has a huge, measurable, cyclical and influential impact on global temperature- and has always had, over millennia, all evidenced by modern science, not “indigenous knowledge”.
A recent report attributed to The Guardian, of 1 April, 2020 (online) on the results of scientific analyses of ice-core samples from Antarctica show convincingly that the Antarctic sub-continent was once tropical jungle! Not an ice-sheet in sight! Oh, and by the way, apparently oral history reports now show that our Maori people first discovered and then visited Antarctica, according to The Guardian of 11 June 2021 (online).Perhaps they could describe the environment they found there?
So, where is all of this heading, do you think? Climate Change and Global Warming have escaped from the restraints of hard science and have become, yes, you guessed it, political and cultural issues which require, perhaps even demand, political and authoritarian responses. We are all doomed, according to our political masters and mistresses unless we all totally reorganise the way we live. Two political groups in New Zealand claim to have the sole, overwhelming monopoly over environmental issues. The Green Party, sometimes called the “watermelon party - green on the outside but very red on the inside”, have claimed the emotional high ground over environmental issues for decades. Only they are concerned. More recently, Maori sovereignty activists likewise claim that they, and only they, have the knowledge or “matauranga” to deal effectively with our natural environment. They have even convinced at least one university and the prestigious Royal Society of New Zealand of this unbelievable, spurious, invalid claim which is being accorded extremely high approval by the Ardern government by mandating the enforced ownership by government, for example, of ALL water resources in New Zealand - to be co-governed by iwi Maori. There seems little doubt that their claim to own of all water in New Zealand will be mandated by the Ardern government and ordinary New Zealanders will end up paying a royalty to iwi Maori (16% of the population) for all water consumed or used by ordinary citizens (the other 84% of us). Hold on, do not we all have some claim to or input into our water resources? Not according to Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who has stated she will seize all water resources, whether we agree or not.
But, whilst these political, social and cultural dramas will be played out, there is evidence that “hard” science is coming up with real, effective and practicable answers to some of the problems we face. Scientists at Lincoln University some years ago developed a type of grass which dairy cows could feed upon, which produced far lower levels of methane gases than the methane levels which more common grass types produced. At the time, this discovery was vociferously and strenuously opposed and denounced by the Green Party, not because of its beneficial effects, but because it involved genetic engineering of the grass types! The Greens are of course opposed to genetic engineering.
Then, 10 November 2021, we saw Lincoln University scientists developing a system of reducing dairy effluent outputs, via an “Ecopond” system - apparently reducing all sorts of pollutants and emissions to near-zero. But no, dairy farmers are the enemy and must be condemned and vilified at every opportunity, according to the Green Party and its Ardern-led Labour Party chums, eh?
The standoff is now very clear. Science can produce an ever increasing and impressive array of outcomes to reduce man-made greenhouse gas emissions. But these amazing discoveries will, I predict, end up playing a minor part in the world-wide race to reduce emissions, because the political, social and cultural importance of the environmental doomsday predictors will take the high ground - as recently evidenced by the highly-politicised COP 26 Conference in Glasgow. Just tell me, what real, tangible, practical solutions have resulted from COP26 so far, apart from political posturing?
The University of Auckland has recently declared that “matauranga Maori “ or Maori knowledge, is now consider to be equal to, and has parity with, world-science, so clearly, New Zealand’s climate change response must by definition be lead by our first migrants, eh?
Every New Zealander I know is highly conscious of protecting our environment if we can. Most of us re-cycle; will buy environment-friendly products; condemn those who willingly pollute our spaces, such as freedom campers and litterers; and applaud efforts to ensure our spaces and homes are clean. We all have this interest, not just the Green Party and Maori sovereignty activists.
The introduction of electric vehicles (EVs) is eagerly awaited by many of us as an alternative to using fossil fuels for travel. Another solution - New Zealand is blessed with opportunities to substantially increase the generation of electricity from solar, wind and hydro sources. Why, then, is this corrupt Ardern government annually importing two million(!) tons of dirty, cheap coal from Indonesia? And not even a peep from the Greens, would you believe? Surely, our future investments must be in renewable energy sources? Or, does that translate into ethno-nationalistic developments owned by ethnic minorities?
The picture is becoming clearer. Yes, we can, should, and must plan and develop new strategies to deal with climate change - at least that part which is the inevitable result of human activity. We also need to acknowledge the critical roles which the sun inevitably plays in our climate changes. But we also need to resist the obvious political intention to invest such opportunities in a small, ethnic minority who falsely claim they, and they alone, are the sole arbiters of our environmental future. But, then, even they, the tangata whenua, must kow-tow to the Green Party whose superior and overwhelming claim to environmental supremacy shows no sign of abating-whilst in the meantime they espouse the most strident left-wing, ageist, racist and sexist agenda imaginable.
And, of course, we need to put all of this into a global perspective. Where is the bulk of human emissions occurring? Which countries are the largest emitters? In which hemisphere is the bulk of human emissions occurring? Does little old New Zealand in the far South Pacific with a tiny human population by comparison, really contribute significantly to global emissions? Really?
At a conference I attended some years ago in Queensland, it was proudly stated that Australia annually exported two million tons of iron ore to China to be converted into steel, using huge amounts of coking coal- from Australia! The point being made was that the ore extraction process was a model of environmental processes, returning the land to it’s original state. Uh?
When I was a young lad growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, plastics were unheard of. Our groceries and butchers’ products were wrapped in brown paper then tied with jute string. Everything, including clothes, were recycled, darned, repaired and re-used. Our meats were kept in a “safe”. Preserves were common. Refrigerators something magic! One never threw anything away, unless it was completely knackered. Vegetable gardening was a common and enjoyable necessity. Bicycles were our main mode of transport, or trains if going beyond our home town. The only “fast foods” we enjoyed were milk shakes and pies! How common, how utterly boring by today’s standards!
Our politicians were, in the main, capable and experienced people who could be relied upon to be honest and dedicated-regardless of their particular political philosophy or identity - a factor never considered 70 years ago. All candidates for Parliament had to front up to their electorates and convince their electors of their personal suitability for office. Ha ha! Imagine that happening today!
Our Police were respected and highly professional. They were not politicised to the extent they appear to be today, using their “discretion” when unable to exert their authority. Service in the Armed Forces was admired and valued. It still is by many New Zealanders of all ethnicities - one of the very few organisations which truly embodies diversity.
An ideal society? No, we had the doomsday threat of the Cold (Nuclear) War hanging over us for many years; the threat of militant Communism spreading throughout South-East Asia; Britain entering the Common Market; pandemics - Polio, TB, Asian Flu; Sars; Aids; etc. Yet we survived, often through being vaccinated!
Perhaps I lived in a better time? I really do think so.
Armstrong is retired, follows politics, and writes.