Nicky Hager: the chemistry of change (Climate change in New Zealand)



I’ve known Nicky Hager for a few years now and we’ve rarely talked shop. I tend to gush a little over my guests on this podcast, and for that reason I’ll keep this intro short. He is extraordinary, John Pilger and Seymour Hersh can tell you that. He has spoken truth to power fearlessly for more than forty years. In the last week the Labour government announced an end to offshore oil exploration; the culmination of seven years of work by individuals and organisations committed to addressing climate change in a meaningful way. In the same week Attorney-General David Parker announced a government inquiry into Operation Burnham; the 2010 SAS raid in Afghanistan that was the subject of the book he co-authored with Jon Stephenson, Hit and Run.

We talked about the chemistry of change: why it’s hard to get, and why people work for it.

Down the road from Parihaka – resisting oil and gas in Taranaki

Lyndon Devantier and Catherine Cheung are ocean scientists and activists living on the side of Mount Taranaki, just down the road from Parihaka.
They came to Taranaki in 2009 and became aware of the deep roots the region has in oil and gas extraction.

They also live in the place where non violent resistance was born.


Lyndon and Catherine and now deep into the biggest fight you could have in Taranaki, and they will be involved in the Climate Summit alongside Oil free Wellington and a raft of other activists in the next couple of weeks.

I say this all the time – I was overwhelmed by the courage and warmth of my guests. When you are ready to enter this fray you will find yourself in finest company there is. Thank you again, Lyndon and Catherine, for your time, and see you again soon.

Sunday the 25th 10 to 5 at the Dowse in Lower Hutt for information on moving on from Oil and Gas this weekend.

02:09 - Lyndon's story - discovering the extraction in the energy province
08:14 - Catherine's story - joining Climate Justice Taranaki and learning about fracking in NZ
12:09 - Taranaki's deep investments in fossil fuels and dairy.
14:20 - Food security and self reliance.
16:46 - Models and current trends in ocean temperatures
17:42 - Picking the right trees
20:04 - Motunui - Gas to gasoline.
21:19 - The methanol industry, fracking, fugitive emissions and urea
22:43 - Gas as a transition fuel and other myths
24:60 - Intergenerational Inequity
25:56 - Adam Smith and protecting the common people from the industrialists
26:46 - Separation of powers lost and secret meetings with the oil industry
28:27 - Taranaki regional council monitoring reports and consents to discharges contaminants into air and rivers
31:45 - Recent drought and climate change affects on the farm
37:30 - Key pieces of legislation that prevent us considering climate change
39:44 - Lawyers and the Pacific Ocean Climate Change conference
41:44 - The other activists - Gen Zero and 350
42:37 - The need for policy and legislation changes to reflect reality
43:43 - Government agencies participating in the search for minable methane clathrate - the smoking gun of mass extinction
48:24 - Climate rally in Wellington
52:14 - Industry, denial and muddying the waters
54:17 - GeoEngineering proposals and particulates from burning fuels - the double curse
58:02 - Growing awareness, district council to join global convenant
59:32 - Local governments now having to deal with consequences
01:01:46 - What would you most like to see happen now
01:02:34 - Taranaki Energy watch taking council to Environment Court - needing financial support
01:07:15 - Petroleum conference - saying no to more block offers
01:08:24 - EPA currently going after Mike Joy
01:11:46 - Legislation change required to stop these groups from being hamstrung 
01:13:39 - Onshore drilling and mining - landowners learning they can lock the gate
01:19:46 - Many climate change skeptics now quietly rescinding their views 
01:21:06 - Last thoughts - come to the rally - get involved.

This episode was recorded in Okato, New Zealand.

Next episode I hope to talk with Amanda Thomas, lecturer at the school of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences at Victoria university. We’ll be taking a look at activism and violence, looking at a paper she co-authored about a event in Dunedin – we’ll also be discussing the outcome of the Wellington Oil Summit.

We’re not asking: Oil Free Wellington

James Barber is a member of Oil Free Wellington, an activist group trying to prevent oil exploration in New Zealand. Naomi Klein has pointed out in her book ‘This Changes Everything’ that humans can’t afford to burn the fuels already discovered. In the 80s we had nuclear arms proliferation, where Soviets and Americans together posessed enough destructive force to destroy us multiple times – the same is now true of fossil fuel reserves. And yet the exploration continues.

James joined me for a talk and to tell everyone about the rally for climate justice in Wellington during March the 26th and 27th. This will form a blockade at the oil and gas industry’s annual business conference.

This episode was a lesson for me on the principles and duties of civil disobedience – a tradition going back to H D Thoreau and beyond. The more we talk about New Zealand’s nuclear free moment the closer, it seems, we’ll come back to this point.

I’m at the Pacific Climate Conference here in Wellington this week, meeting and talking to lots of people involved in the problem. I’m not sure who I’ll be talking to next episode, but it will likely be someone I meet this week.

02:15 Origins and Goals – Climate Justice and systemic problems
04:00 Oil Summit
10:50 Genesis of Oil Free Wellington
12:20 Activism events from the past
18:20 Statoil Chevron complete surveyr
20:14 People’s flotilla, the Anadarko amendment and laws tested by Russell Norman and Greenpeace. More drilling expected this year
22:20 Questions about personal risks
24:20 Lengthy court processes
25:30 Uncharted territories and the CO2 graph
27:25 Farmers and coastal property owners now getting warning signs
28:30 Economic pressures on a farming operation, Industrial dairying and capital investment
30:14 350’s divestment strategies and revolutions in energy, food and transport
31:45 The industrial processes to create milk
35:25 Industrial processes that use livestock
36:00 Monocultures and 8 billion people
37:40 How do keep the world we have without adding to climate change
38:15 Returning to life in the 70s
41:50 Being more positive – making the world a better place. Working with unions.
45:10 Chosing the see the world as a resource
46:10 Indigenous peoples and consuming the world
49:00 Food deserts and enforced options of capitalism
52:20 Locallised services
54:10 Razor blades in trucks passing on the road
55:22 Counting cars in space
58:20 Sci fi and the absurd, bitcoin
1:04:00 Global networks of capitalism
1:05:00 Parenthood, life during a crisis and finding a tribe
1:06:00 Nauru and Holloway Road.
1:10:20 Tribes of climate activism – Paradise built in Hell
1:13:40 Sci fi ad
1:16:00 Blockadia and disparate communities

Blockadia with the Pacific climate warriors – 350 Aotearoa

Aaron Packard of 350 Aotearoa joined me for this episode. He is part of the global movement dedicated to climate action.

We talked about his work in the pacific, the new government, and the power of funds divestment.

I mentioned a bit from Vox about nuclear power – here’s a link to their video on the subject:

02:20 Aaron and Gecko, Launch of 350 2008
07:00 Cook Islands - another white guy with another idea. 
11:40 Waiting for a government that takes climate change seriously.
14:00 James Renwick Connecting news events to climate change
18:20 Water crisis in Cape Town
22:05 Combining action across a variety of groups - collaborate and amplify
24:30 Joining 350
26:50 Relaunch of fossil free campaign, churchs and universities divesting
28:30 Providing tools to start campaigns
30:30 You nuclear moment
34:15 Government since the election
39:35 Previous government and hoax conspiracies
40:15 Climate hawks and nuclear power (see the Vox piece
42:00 Decoalonisation - dirty coal from China to Africa
45:50 Blockadia in Australia's largest coal port with the Pacific Climate Warriors
53:25 Where are people at - the way humans expand
58:30 Opening up to the way different cultures relate to the earth
1:00:04 Stages of grief and addiction
1:08:00 Getting the 10% - sparking an unstoppable energy revolution
1:13:30 Education
1:16:50 Talking with sceptics
1:18:00 Katherine Hayhoe - getting people to talk about climate change