Democracy you can touch.

Teall Crossen worked on climate justice issues in New York for the Pacific. She returned home to be part of changing the government with the hope NZ could step up show some real leadership on climate change.

She came by for a chat not long after the new government was formed. Teall described New Zealand’s democracy as something you can reach out and touch. Certainly its starting to seem that way to me now.

A sight for sore eyes.


We have a new Government. One like no other before it. We have a young attactive woman in charge and a coalition party full of them. Large parts of the country are currently losing their minds over the result for a variety of reasons but this is one of them.

From the farmer bearing a banner stating that he felt conflicted by the fact that he was ideologically at odds with Labour’s leader yet felt an attraction to her nonetheless, to the talk show host ignoring his producer’s looks of horror while speculating on the sexual tension between older man and younger woman as they came together to plan the country’s future, we men appear to have some growing up to do. I’m a good deal older than the new round of female politicians and I can concur that I too find them attractive.

Its more than skin deep. They are warm, thoughtful, tolerant and disarmingly funny. Golriz Ghahraman’s quip “This is what meritocracy looks like” is one of the most delicious moments of the election. Yes that implied that women appeared to be better than men by a ratio of three to one. That’s a sweet burn right there. And its a turning point.

Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 9.07.59 am

After Winston’s decision Marama Davidson soothed David Seymour’s fears that she would bring the government down by pointing out she was in fact on the bus. This was followed by posters loving everything from the comeback to the lipstick.

Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 8.31.54 am

We’ve had women in government for years but this moment feels brand new and I’m very glad to be part of it. I’ve just found our women leaders to be a bit terrifying lately, but that’s partly because I was only seeing two (or three) of them. Marama Fox called me out in Twitter recently and I was taken by how gently she did it.

Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 8.32.18 am

I never did find the reference, so that makes it hearsay for now, and reminds me I should take better notes.

In the last couple of weeks right leaning pundits have abandoned Twitter in a tiny drove, starting with Matt Hooten and followed by Sean Plunket and Duncan Garner. The latter two were rage-quits, complete with media releases. To me Twitter is equivalent of the school playground. Everything happens there at once. Its very hard to control for good or bad, but its where the people are.

Listening to Garner and Plunket complain makes me glad they had retired to the staff room. I can’t hear the intercom from my corner, unless someone retweets it. No doubt they did get called a few names, but I saw many reasoned discussions about the lines they were both crossing. To see them so hurt by this makes me wonder whether they have ever spoken truth to power. It seems that real threats still come the old fashioned way. There is no shortage of men and women on the left that can explain this to them.

I posted a link to Bob Dylan’s ballad ‘I want you’ the day after the election. No song seemed to capture more perfectly that wistful, lonely feeling that the three years ahead were going to be lost, and with it our chances of avoiding catastrophe.

Surely the world in general would not take it to mean that I wanted the Labour leader to myself, that just I wanted her to win the election. Later I looked at the video with the clip I’d posted and it was from Cinema Paradiso – the one with all the kissing. Doh.


I’m telling you all this because I feel confident that this new breed of politician will be fine with our awkwardness so long as we can own it. I want them to know how very badly we’ve needed them and how extraordinarily glad I am to see them now. Teall Crossen of the Green party joined me for a talk yesterday and I will share that episode in the next few days.

Affordable Electric Cars – (Climate Change in NZ)

Sigurd Magnusson is a software developer turned EV advocate in Wellington, New Zealand. He and I talked about our hopes for the growth of Electric Vehicles here where we live.

While EVs have been seen as too expensive and not practical enough for some time now we both believe they have recently hit a point where they can pay for themselves.

We’re both shameless fans of the Nissan Leaf, and we do go on about it a bit. We’ve been talking with someone from about doing EV reviews and look forward to seeing more about them in the future.

Next episode we’ll likely have a government again and I’ll be talking to Teall Crossen of the Green Party about the three years ahead.

Thanks to Sigurd for coming by and putting up with the recording mistakes and over-cooked Oato-bahn cookies. The doom and gloom has been getting a bit much lately and having his relentless positivity in the room was a treat for me.

If you’re thinking about getting an EV yourself jump into the EV facebook group for your area and make yourself known. They’re a mighty helpful bunch.

You can learn enough in high school to know these things:


(Note: Next podcast episode contains a talk with Sigurd Magnusson. No dummies, not the Norwegian nobleman from the Battle of Florvag, he’s dead now. This is the one about Electric Vehicles)


Evolution is slow. You don’t need to be attached to animals to be alarmed by rapid species extinction.


Global Warming is very simple; you can demonstrate it in a school lab. Global climate modelling and prediction is really, really hard.


People are resources just like trees, cows and oil.


The amount of carbon increase in atmosphere is proportional to the amount of carbon extracted and released by human activity.


Grapes of Wrath captures the plight of millions whose lives were crushed by the failure of crops and financial systems. It showed the indifference of those who profit from disaster. It awakened the nation’s comprehension and compassion.


Just saying this now because:

  • I used to think most people saw things this way and now I’m not so sure
  • There is a good reason for the Greens combined environmental + social agenda
  • Pointing out that scientists disagree on the outcomes doesn’t remove the problem
  • I don’t care what you thought of Finding Nemo. The dying Barrier Reef is a massive warning.
  • You will find yourself caught up in this eventually. Maybe read some Steinbeck.

Did you get all of that?

I’m just making a quick list of things that stuck in my mind during this campaign. I’m sure there’s plenty more, and I haven’t gathered the links for these (I will!). I just thought I’d make a list before I forget some of them.

It was a blizzard.


National PM recorded employee illegally and lies about it. PM is involved in scandal. He also lies about it. Nothing happens.

Green Leader reveals minor benefit fraud while a single parent to highlight the current poverty issues. She winds up resigning after continued pressure. Her situation compared to Deputy PMs, a couple of scathing letters appear from old acquaintences appear then lawyers appear. Her situation compared to PM’s ‘double dipping’ more recently but are dismissed as absurd because a) he paid the money back by now b) his name was cleared but mostly c) the number were so much bigger and he lived in a much nicer place.

Documentary released about polluted rivers release by Al Jazeera – so everyone knows about them now.

Documentary released about mismanaged housing. Includes solutions around the world that (it appears) has not been considered here.

Television pieces showing large parking areas filled with families living in cars in Auckland. Another showing large numbers of pensioners in caravans.

Herald article tracing admissions for malnutrition. Show third world conditions for tens of thousands of young families.

Television article comparing school lunches between high and low decile schools. For the most part, the poor children had no lunch at all.

Greens release report from Environmental Commission on coastal inundation – 130,000 people, 2000kms of road, 5 airports, 43,000 houses. It had been withheld since april 17.

Offical information act request reveals report on decomissioned electric train – it was neither slower nor more expensive.

Report on 13 new coal mines to be created post election.

11B Fiscal hole invented, dismissed as false immediately by every available expert, then falsehood continued for rest of campaign.

Wildfires and drought destroy crops in US high plains. Wildfires out of control in West Australia. Half of an entire country goes under water. A one-in-one thousand year hurricane wipes out Huston. Another larger one wipes out Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Cuba and Florida a fortnight later. Another takes out Puerto Rico within a following fortnight. Nighttime satelite imagery shows the entire country in darkness.

Farmers gather in Morrinsville to complain about taxes that don’t exist and/or don’t affect them. They bring the tractor they used last time climate change came up as a subject. National MPs present are ordered by their party not to speak. Once gathered, they begin to talk about how badly the extra rainfall is affecting them.

Income, Water, Fart tax presented in TVs – ranging from misleading to false. Advertising standards authority dismiss complaints, finding some middle ground between ‘clearly misleading falsehood’ and ‘permissable narrative when you’re clearly taking the piss’.

PM dismisses housing crisis – ‘We have a housing solution’, PM dismisses poverty numbers – they haven’t formulated a method to count them yet, although they appear to be as high as 1/4 million. After much pressure, vows to drop them a little.

No one asks PM about carbon emissions. Or maybe they do – the usual answer is ‘our goals are ambitious’. The emissions have not reduced, since nothing has been done that might cause them to. Many things have been done that will cause them to increase. Huge amounts of infrastructure has been planned or built that will lock in those increases for decades – new coal mines, new coal burning facilities, new roads. One is touted as the most expensive ever built.

Plans for cheap, carbon neutral transport solutions in Greater Auckland area are revealed under official information act. They were abandoned without reasons.

Fonterra chief gets 8 million dollar pay packet.

Now we wait to see whether, for the second time in its history, National gets a fourth term. Under them we are assured to make no progress on reducing emissions, taxpayers will foot huge agricultural emissions costs, and poverty, homelessness and flooding will continue unabated.

Mutually Assured Destruction is a term from the days of Cold War. It referred to the proliferation of Nuclear weapons, when there were enough to destroy the planet seven times over. We now have enough investments in oil, coal and gas extraction to destroy ourselves several times over. So lets bring that word back.

And note, that while its happening, many of us will be watching it from cars with empty stomachs.

 (Edit) of course I missed this. The day before the election a man sets himself on fire in front of parliament. He died the next day. We’re reminded of the appalling levels of suicide and under funding of mental health services. And the 600 empty shoes. And the national MP conflating suicide with euthanasia in a weird way that manages to trivialise the pain on both sides of the argument at once. David Seymour responded with something thoughtful, catching me a little off guard. 

Whatever that barrier was that kept the weirdness away, it has fallen to the ground. Not sure when we’ll see it again.


Lets talk to an expert.

Goodness we talk about climate change a lot. And yet we rarely spend time with a specialist. That’s a bit silly. So this week I invited Victoria University’s James Renwick over for a chat. It really was that easy.

I made blue cheese and chilli salt scones and we talked about impending nightmare that is the destabilising of the planet’s climate.

James and I talked for two and a half hours. We wound up talking about quite a few books, some non fiction and some sci fi. Turns out we’re both nerds. I cut it back to make the episode shorter but can re-release the full talk later if anyone’s interested.

Here are the books we talked about. Sorry if they don’t all come up in the edited conversation – I was a bit ruthless. Like I said, if you want the longer discussion I can make it happen.

Naomi Klein – This Changes Everything
Naomi Klein – No is not enough.
Hyperobjects – Tim Moreton
The Uninhabitable Earth – (New Yorker)
The Three Body Problem – Cixin Liu
Elizabeth Kolbert – The Sixth Extinction
The Windup Girl – Paolo Bacigalupi
The Water Knife – Paolo Bacigalupi
The Mote in God’s Eye Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
Ronald Wright – A short history of progress –
Bruce Chatwin – Songlines

Because its 2017 and the Nats are still making jokes about fart tax I wrote and angry letter to Bill

It’s still a joke to you.

And because Leighton Smith decided to make the problem go away with talkshow host magic I gave in an finally created the Imagine My Relief List. There’s a tractor on it.

The Imagine My Relief List…