107 Nobel laureates blast Greenpeace

July 2nd, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

More than 100 Nobel laureates have signed a letter urging Greenpeace to end its opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The letter asks Greenpeace to cease its efforts to block introduction of a genetically engineered strain of rice that supporters say could reduce Vitamin-A deficiencies causing blindness and death in children in the developing world.

“We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against ‘GMOs’ in general and Golden Rice in particular,” the letter states.

Better to let the kids go blind and due, than allow GMOs according to Greenpeace it seems.

GMOs have now been around for 20 to 30 years and there hasn’t been a single negative incident. And many many benefits. Why does Greenpeace (and the Green Party) continue to ignore the science in favour of their near-religious belief that genetic modification is wrong.

Roberts said he endorses many other activities of Greenpeace, and said he hopes the group, after reading the letter, would “admit that this is an issue that they got wrong and focus on the stuff that they do well.”

Greenpeace has not yet responded to requests for comment on the letter. It is hardly the only group that opposes GMOs, but it has a robust global presence, and the laureates in their letter contend that Greenpeace has led the effort to block Golden Rice.

The list of signatories had risen to 107 names by Wednesday morning. Roberts said that, by his count, there are 296 living laureates.

So that is a huge proportion of the living nobel laureates.

Nobel laureate Randy Schekman, a cell biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Post, “I find it surprising that groups that are very supportive of science when it comes to global climate change, or even, for the most part, in the appreciation of the value of vaccination in preventing human disease, yet can be so dismissive of the general views of scientists when it comes to something as important as the world’s agricultural future.”

Greenpeace and the Greens only support science when it concurs with their beliefs.

Norman leaves Parliament for Greenpeace

September 11th, 2015 at 1:20 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Former Green Party co-leader Russel Norman will resign as an MP and from the Green Party to head Greenpeace New Zealand.

Dr Norman, who stepped down from the co-leader position in May and was replaced by James Shaw, will leave Parliament next month.

In November he will become Greenpeace New Zealand’s executive director, taking over from Bunny McDiarmid, who has been in the role for 10 years.

It is no surprise Dr Norman is leaving Parliament, following on his resignation as co-leader.

The Greenpeace jobs looks ideal for him. The hours will be more family friendly than Parliament, but will allow him to continue his advocacy in an area he feels strongly on. I wish him well.

Dr Norman said he would also resign from the Green Party.

“Greenpeace’s staunch position on political independence is one I have always had huge respect for and it is for this reason that I will [resign].

I think that is being silly. Just because he resigns as a member doesn’t mean people won’t see him as the former co-leader. What will count for Greenpeace’s reputation is their actions. Have they ever disagreed with the Green Party on an issue for example? As a contrast I’m on the board of the Taxpayers Union that has criticised the National Government on scores and scores of issues. Independence is about substance, not just form.

Dr Norman’s resignation will see Marama Davidson become the party’s 14th MP.

Ms Davidson, from Manurewa, Auckland, is a political commentator who has worked at the Human Rights Commission for ten years.

Marama is a very popular candidate within the Greens, and from what I have seen she should be an effective MP.


Why do myths and misinformation drown information, facts and science?

April 1st, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A guest post by John Hughes of The Norwood Resource:

Why do myths and misinformation drown information, facts and science in the seismic surveys and marine life debate?

The public deserves an open, transparent and honest debate on the issue of seismic surveys and marine life and the unfortunate issue of cetacean strandings.  However, possibly as a result of the major “vacuum” left in this subject area by the offshore petroleum industry, regulator and scientific community, the “green” activist groups like Greenpeace NZ feel free to mislead the public in pursuit of their objectives.  But what are their objectives, when they so blatantly ignore information, facts and science and instead peddle myths and misinformation?  Before providing a possible answer to that question, let’s have a look at some of the outrageous claims made by organisations such as Greenpeace NZ and their supporters:

  1. The constant “noise” from Greenpeace NZ and its supporters is “eloquently” represented in the extremely misleading opinion piece published in the Otago Daily Times on 23 January 2015 (http://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/opinion/330803/oil-search-puts-dolphins-risk#comment-67018) entitled “Oil search puts dolphins at risk”. There is very little, if any, valid evidence amongst the emotive but very inaccurate terms used by Ms Penwarden (and Greenpeace). For example:
  2. The article says Ms Penwarden “links seismic testing for oil and gas with serious harm to whales and dolphins”. How can this be so if no credible documented cases of harm to cetaceans exist in over 40 years of seismic surveying (note the correct term “surveying”) using compressed air as the seismic source?;
  3. Her description of seismic acquisition is so unrepresentative, using terms such as “detonators” and “blasting,” that are surely meant to mislead a caring and giving community. “Velcro” has done a good job of presenting a factual description of seismic surveying in an online comment rebutting her article so I will not repeat what he/she says.  However, I’d like to add that Ms Penwarden’s statement that seismic arrays “reach about 260 decibels (dB) on a logarithmic scale on which it is known that anything above 170 dB disturbs marine organisms.” is incorrect.  Firstly, she has used a theoretical value (of 260dB) for the sound level of a seismic array.  This would only be achieved if all the 20-30 elements (compressed air cylinders, commonly called “airguns”) in the, say, 10m x 15m array occupied the same location.  This is clearly impossible!  The actual decibel level within 1m of any part of the array would be between 220 and 240dB, depending on the type of array.  Due to attenuation with distance, there would be NO sound levels received from the array that are greater than 240dB.  Secondly, given sperm whales and bottlenose dolphins vocalise at 236dB and 225dB respectively (a lot more than 170dB), how can Ms Penwarden claim they would be disturbed, letalone “seriously harmed” as mentioned elsewhere in her opinion piece?  After all, these cetaceans (or others in their pod) would receive these sounds at close to their emitted levels whereas any received levels from the seismic array would be lower than their own vocalisations;
  4. As a matter of interest, sperm whales and bottlenose dolphins use their vocalisations (clicks) to echo locate – just like the furry bats mentioned by Ms Penwarden. One is left to consider why she did not use this analogy – perhaps she is aware that sperm whale and dolphin vocalisations are at similar levels to seismic pulses?  See figures 1 and 2 in the linked article, which discusses whether seismic surveys prevent cetaceans from communicating.  It is obvious that sperm whales and dolphins continue to vocalise during seismic operations.  Why else would Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) be required by some regulators? (http://thenorwoodresource.org.au/2013/10/26/do-seismic-survey-sounds-prevent-cetaceans-from-communicating/);
  5. She perpetuates distorted claims that the mass stranding of the melon headed whales in Madagascar was caused by a seismic survey. The Independent Scientific Review Panel (ISRP) concluded that they “systematically excluded or deemed highly unlikely nearly all potential reasons for the animals leaving their typical pelagic habitat and entering the Loza Lagoon (an extremely atypical area for this species). This included the use of seismic airguns in an offshore seismic survey several days after the whales were already in the lagoon system, which was originally speculated to have played some role but in the view of the ISRP clearly did not.”  Surely this says the ISRP concluded the seismic survey “CLEARLY DID NOT” cause the stranding, even in Ms Penwarden’s language!;
  6. She further strongly implies the 100-tonne blue whale washed up on Tapuae Beach in Taranaki was caused by a seismic survey. This is inconceivable given the levels at which blue whales vocalise (188dB – which would be equivalent to the received levels less than 500m from a seismic source).  Furthermore, extensive and detailed monitoring carried out in 2003 in South Australia (http://petroleum.statedevelopment.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/27149/epp32report_bluewhales.pdf) showed that blue whales are relatively unaffected by seismic surveys.  This is not surprising given true blue whales spend their summer months in Antarctic Waters where the sounds from calving/cracking/colliding icebergs have similar levels, frequencies and periodicities to seismic sounds. (http://thenorwoodresource.org.au/2013/10/18/the-antarctic-waters-are-certainly-not-quiet-and-yet-many-whale-species-feed-there-throughout-the-summer-months/);
  7. Finally, she and Greenpeace claim that the unfortunate stranding of 3 Gray’s beaked whales on Whatipu Beach near Auckland in January was caused by a seismic survey, which I understand was 200km away. Given that strandings in NZ are very common and there is NO correlation between stranding events and seismic surveys, why are they ignoring the readily observable facts?  How do they explain strandings that occurred in the absence of seismic surveys, either before seismic surveys were invented or in seasons when seismic surveys did not occur?

Prior to this, during late 2014, the campaign waged by Greenpeace NZ was at best hysterically misinformed and, at worst, deliberate deception.  Greenpeace’s claims about the impacts of seismic surveys were and still are, so wildly incorrect, it surely leads most thinking people to conclude the latter (ie that they are perpetrating deliberate deception in the pursuit of donor funds).

Let’s have a brief look at some of their more outrageous claims:

  1. Greenpeace claim: “These blasts are nearly as loud as the nuclear bomb dropped over Hiroshima“.  This is surely a deception of the most serious form as it ignores the facts and science.  As can be seen in an article already published on the TNR website, drawn from readily available information, comparing seismic sounds with typical sounds in water (and air), a typical seismic source is approximately 230dB whereas an atomic explosion is 248dB in air BUT 310dB in water.  Thus, an atomic explosion such as Hiroshima, is more than 8192 times louder than a typical seismic pulse. This is very different from Greenpeace NZ’s claim that seismic pulses are “nearly as loud” as atomic explosions.  Furthermore, seismic sounds are no different from many common natural sounds in the ocean, including humpback breaching and the sound of calving/colliding icebergs.
  2. Greenpeace claim: “…even if it were dramatically quieter, the sound alone would be enough to kill a human“.  This is also totally false!  A human has never been killed by the sound from a seismic survey.  Humans work, relax and sleep on seismic vessels while the seismic source is activated.  If a sound as loud as the Hiroshima nuclear bomb occurred every 10 seconds near the seismic vessel surely humans could not withstand such noise impacts, letalone work, relax and sleep.
  3. Greenpeace claim: “…whales and dolphins can’t hear one another or find food and in extreme cases, it could lead to strandings and death.” Again, this is totally false.  In over 40 years of using compressed air to generate seismic survey pulses there are no credible examples of whales and dolphins stranding or being killed.  However, this is not enough evidence for Greenpeace – they still prefer to believe it “could” happen, even if it has not.  Similarly, it is inconceivable that whales and dolphins cannot hear one another in the presence of seismic surveys as i) those species that do vocalise (eg sperm whales, dolphins, blue whales) are generally identifiable on passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) systems run during seismic surveys and; ii) many species spend the summer months in very noisy soundscapes, such as the Antarctic waters that, due to calving/colliding icebergs, have similar sound frequencies, periodicities and levels to seismic surveys.  Furthermore, species such as sperm whales use vocalisations (clicks) as loud as 235dB in their foraging for prey.  Thus, how can seismic survey sounds significantly lower than this sound level at the location of the animals (and their prey) prevent them from feeding?  For example, at just 128m from a 230dB source the received level would be 188dB, significantly lower than the 235dB at which sperm whales vocalise.
  4. Finally, after some obvious hesitation, as presumably even their scientific advisers could not possibly suggest there was a link, they finally asked the question on their Facebook page if seismic surveying contributed to the very unfortunate stranding of over 140 pilot whales at Farewell Spit: https://www.facebook.com/greenpeace.nz/photos/a.417987320774.213959.11870725774/10153088845845775/?type=1&theater

In their response to some critical comments about their credibility, Greenpeace responded saying “We’re not saying that seismic testing caused the stranding but we are saying there is evidence that it could be harmful to whales and dolphins – and more importantly that there has been no research done by the Govt to determine whether or not that is the case.

Again, this demonstrates how Greenpeace misleads the public.  The facts tell us that there have been NO credible cases of adverse impacts on whales and dolphins from the sound of seismic surveys in over 4 decades of seismic surveying using compressed air, and the science explains why this is so.  Thus, the so called claims by Greenpeace that seismic surveys ‘could’ harm whales and dolphins must surely be highly selective and ignore a 40 year track record plus the facts and science.

In summary, organisations like Greenpeace NZ surely have a responsibility to ensure that their claims are factually based and verifiable.  “Truth in campaigning” should apply equally to lobby groups in the same way as “truth in advertising/reporting” applies to businesses.  Unfortunately, at best, these lobby groups are either displaying a high level of ignorance or, at worse, they have deliberately chosen not to display the same high level of honesty that they themselves demand from others.

Thus, in answer to the question posed at this beginning of this article: “why are organisations drowning information, facts and science with myths and misinformation?”  It is as simple as the blatant pursuit of the donor dollar!

John Hughes
The Norwood Resource

Greenpeace scores an own goal

December 12th, 2014 at 9:04 am by Lindsay Addie

Greenpeace has incurred the wrath of the Peruvian authorities by unfurling a banner on the Nazca Lines which is designated a world heritage site by UNESCO.

The BBC explains.

Activists from the organisation placed a banner next to a figure of a hummingbird, carved more than 1,500 years ago. They were hoping to increase pressure on UN negotiators currently meeting in Lima. The Peruvian government said it would prosecute the activists who took part.

So what is Greenpeace’s justification for this stupid act?

“With our message from the Nazca lines, we expect politicians to understand the legacy we need to leave for future generations,” said one of the activists, Mauro Fernandez, on a video produced by the organisation.

That all sounds rather self righteous. The Peruvians aren’t amused.

They say the green group entered a strictly prohibited area and left footprints. The government is asking for the identities of those involved and threatening prosecution and six years in prison for the offenders.

“It’s a true slap in the face at everything Peruvians consider sacred,” Deputy Culture Minister Luis Jaime Castillo said, speaking to news agencies.

Greenpeace has apologised.

A statement released by the group said: “Without reservation Greenpeace apologises to the people of Peru for the offence caused… We are deeply sorry for this. “We fully understand that this looks bad. Rather than relay an urgent message of hope and possibility to the leaders gathering at the Lima UN climate talks, we came across as careless and crass.

Despite the apology hopefully the culprits will be prosecuted.

UPDATE: Here’s a photo of the banner.


Photo: Associated Press

Greenpeace claims court loss as a stunning victory

September 9th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I think Greenpeace has hired the former Iraqi Minister of Information.

Their release claims:

Organisers of an online campaign aimed at raising the profile of climate change as an election issue, say they have been vindicated by the High Court on crucial points of law.

This morning the High Court released its decision on the Climate Voter website at http://climatevoter.org.nz  which the Electoral Commission considered to be an ‘election advertisement’ and therefore subject to a range of legal requirements.

Lawyer for the Climate Voter initiative, Dr Matthew Palmer QC, says the Court’s judgment accepts the core legal arguments made by the Climate Voter groups.

What they don’t mention is that they actually lost the court case!

The High Court ruled that the Electoral Commission was correct in saying their Climate Voter website was an election advertisement.

All this means is that they need to put a promoter statement on the website. But the bigger impact is that this could make it harder for them to claim charitable status, as they are now on the record as running election advertisements.

The court ruling is here.

Greenpeace whoops

September 5th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Greenpeace USA has apologised after discovering an image in a promotional calendar was shot by Alain Mafart – one of the French agents who bombed the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour in 1985.

Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira, of the Netherlands, died in an explosion. The attack has been described as the only act of international terrorism on New Zealand soil.

Greenpeace USA said on its website that publisher Workman Publishing had sourced an image from a nature photographer, Alain Mafart-Renodier, during production of the 2015 calendar.

“It was later discovered that Mafart-Renodier is … Alain Mafart, one of the French military operatives who was involved in the bombing of the Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, in New Zealand in 1985.

You’d think someone at Greenpeace would recall the name, when checking the calendar!

I regard the early release of Mafart and Prieur to Hao Atoll as the most disgraceful foreign policy decision of the 4th Labour Government. They should have served their ten year terms of imprisonment, and not been sent to a pacific island on an extended holiday.

Who is a charity?

August 7th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Greenpeace has won the right to register as a charity, the Supreme Court found today.

No. They have won the right to apply again.

Greenpeace has been involved in a lengthy court battle after a previous application to register as a charity was dismissed because it was found to be too political and its protests could land them on the wrong side of the law.

Today the Supreme Court found that political advocacy for a charitable undertaking is allowed.

It was a 3-2 decision which will now mean that almost anyone can be considered a charity. Family First certainly will be eligible now.

In light of this decision Greenpeace will now have to the right to apply to the Charities Board, formerly the Charities Commission, for reconsideration.

This decision made New Zealand democracy a little stronger, Greenpeace’s executive director Bunny McDiarmid said.

“It means that the Supreme Court has now recognised that trying to change our world for the better, and taking on government to do that, is a public good.

On that basis, the Labour Party is also a charity. So let’s make donations to all political parties tax deductible. I’d donate a lot more if I could claim it off tax!

Herald on electoral law

July 18th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

It is only a matter of time before bad law comes back to bite those who made it. Provisions of the Electoral Act regulating independent advertising in election campaigns were passed by the previous Labour Government with the support of the Green Party, and only slightly altered by the present Government. Now, seven years after its enactment, the electoral finance law is frustrating environmental groups that want to make climate change an election issue.

Six of them, including Greenpeace, Forest and Bird, Oxfam and WWF New Zealand, started a campaign called “Climate Voter” last month, aiming to force all parties to address climate change before the election. Whatever view may be taken of their cause, no democrat would deny them the right to put it in front of voters. But if they do, the Electoral Commission has ruled, their material will be deemed election advertising and subject to a discouraging array of statutory registration and accounting requirements.

The rules are less restrictive since National rewrote them, but they remain bureaucratic, which makes them onerous and off-putting for people who are not routinely organised for the purpose. The Climate Voter campaign is aggrieved to find itself subject to the act and has decided to challenge the commission’s ruling in the High Court.

“This is about freedom of speech,” said Steve Abel of Greenpeace. “There is a very real risk that if this law goes untested, many advocacy and civil society groups in New Zealand could be gagged. Some may even be forced to take down entire websites.”

I campaigned against the Electoral Finance Act. The most repressive portions of that were removed, but National did a deal with Labour and the Greens and agreed to keep in restrictions on third party advocacy. I believe that was wrong. I don’t think there should be any restrictions on third party advocacy during elections except to correctly identify the promoter of the advocacy.

He is echoing the warnings this newspaper and other critics expressed seven years ago. It is a pity green groups did not speak out at that time.

They went along with the Clark Government’s overreaction to pamphlets circulated before the 2005 election by a small religious sect, the Exclusive Brethren, whose material had been particularly harsh on the Green Party.

Now, the environmentalists want the courts to draw a distinction between that sort of campaign and theirs. “We think the law was clearly not intended to capture non-partisan, civil society groups,” says Mr Abel.

Typical hypocrisy. They’re saying that the restrictions that they no doubt supported, should apply to everyone but themselves.

The Greenpeace campaign is clearly aimed at influencing how people vote. There is a difference between commenting generally on issues, and running a campaign designed to change voting behaviour.

The only reason to regulate such advertising is to prevent it being used to circumvent financial restrictions on party advertising in an election period.

That purpose could be met if the law applied only to overt endorsements. In seeking to regulate all paid advertising of political issues in the three months before an election, the law remains too broad. Its registration and financial reporting requirements are too onerous for all but the most organised pressure groups, such as trade unions, and discourage others who could afford to promote their interests or concerns.

I agree. The law should be amended.

Environmental advocates seem to be under the impression the law applied only to the rich and the conservative. The courts are unlikely to see it that way.

Hoist by their own petard.

Greenpeace taking Electoral Commission to court

July 15th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Newstalk ZB reports:

Environmental groups are taking the Electoral Commission to court over a ruling on a climate change campaign.

Greenpeace, Forest and Bird, WWF and others launched the Climate Voter initiative last month.

But the Electoral Commission says the campaign counts as an “election advertisement”, and is therefore subject to rules around wording of communications and spending restrictions.

Greenpeace says the ruling could gag grassroots advocacy groups – and the organisations are planning to take a freedom of speech test case to the High Court.

Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel says it’s become a free speech issue.

“Organisations that are advocating for anything, whether it’s better cancer funding or milk in schools or lower taxes, the organisations should be able to do that without having to put a promoter statement on under electoral law.”

Organisations can advocate on issues without promoter statements. But if they are seen as encouraging a vote for or against a political party, then they need a promoter statement.  As this is a campaign headlined “Make your vote count” I am not surprised the Electoral Commission thinks they should have a promoter statement.

You might wonder why they don’t just stick a promoter statement on their website. The organisations backing it are already known. So why are they going to court, rather than sticking on a promoter statement?

Well Greenpeace has another lawsuit before the courts at the moment (a supporter might ask what proportion of their donations are going on lawsuits!) fighting the decision to deregister them as a charity due to their political advocacy. If they put a promoter statement on their website, then they weaken their own case that they are a charity, not a lobby group. So to try and keep up the pretence they are a charity, they are going to court again.

I hope the Electoral Commission seeks costs, if Greenpeace loses.

Greenpeace executives commute by jet to work!

June 29th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

One of Greenpeace’s most senior executives commutes 250 miles to work by plane, despite the environmental group’s campaign to curb air travel, it has emerged.

Once again, it is do as we say, not do as we do.

Pascal Husting, Greenpeace International’s international programme director, said he began “commuting between Luxembourg and Amsterdam” when he took the job in 2012 and currently made the round trip about twice a month.

The flights, at 250 euros for a round trip, are funded by Greenpeace, despite its campaign to curb “the growth in aviation”, which it says “is ruining our chances of stopping dangerous climate change”.

One Greenpeace volunteer on Monday described Mr Husting’s travel arrangements as “almost unbelievable”.

Why doesn’t he take the train? Only 6 hours, and you can work on the train.

Greenpeace staffer loses $5.5 million currency trading

June 25th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The ABC reported:

Greenpeace has fired an employee who lost the environmental charity $5.47 million in a failed gamble on international currency markets.

Greenpeace communications director Mike Townsley said the unnamed employee “went above his authority” in agreeing the deal with a broker who was meant to mitigate currency losses for the charity.

So Greenpeace does play the currency markets – this staffer just went too far.

So $5.5 million of donations flushed down the drain.

Greenpeace, known for its militant anti-drilling campaigns at oil rigs in the Arctic, has a total annual budget of about $432 million.

They are a very large multi-national. That’s a bigger turnover than many of the companies they target

Greenpeace having problems in India and NZ

June 24th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Hindu reports:

Following an Intelligence Bureau (IB) report that alleged foreign-funded NGOs were creating obstacles to India’s economic growth, the Home Ministry has clamped down on Greenpeace, an international campaign group present in 40 countries.

In a letter dated 13th June, the Ministry has directed the Reserve Bank of India that all foreign contributions originating from Greenpeace International and Climate Works Foundation — two principal international contributors to Greenpeace India Society — must be kept on hold until individual clearances are obtained from the Ministry for each transaction.

The RBI has been asked to direct banks to this effect. The central bank has also been asked to report to the government if any government department or institution is receiving such funds.

Greenpeace was specifically targeted because the IB report had charged it with orchestrating “massive efforts to take down India’s coal-fired power projects and mining activity.”

So Greenpeace India is funded by Greenpeace International? There are laws restricting the amount foreign companies can donate to NZ political parties. Should money from Greenpeace International be seen as a foreign election donation?

And they have problems in NZ also.  They had a website attacking Simon Bridges, which they have closed down as the Electoral Commission said it was an election advertisement that doesn’t have a promoter statement.  They could of course have simply stuck a promoter statement on the website, but I guess that would not help their court case where they claim to be a charity, not a lobby group.

Should Greenpeace reimburse the taxpayers?

January 5th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

3 News reports:

Australia’s foreign minister may ask Greenpeace to help foot the bill for consular support to the Arctic 30, but the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has ruled out a similar move.

Thirty Greenpeace activists – including two New Zealanders – were released just after Christmas after being detained for four months in Russia.

The group had been protesting against Arctic oil drilling.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australian taxpayers were entitled to ask why they should be covering the cost of assisting Australian activist Colin Russell to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

“It took a huge effort and a lot of money to get this guy out and the Australian taxpayer paid for it,” Ms Bishop said yesterday.

“If it is a deliberate strategy designed to provoke a response and potentially to risk breaking the laws of another country, the question of cost recovery does arise.”

Citizens of a country who accidentally end up on the wrong side of the law in another country, should get consular assistance. But it is a fair point Julie Bishop makes, that when they travel to a country to deliberately break the law, then shouldn’t the organisation that put them up to it, pay the costs of their assistance?

Greenpeace loses in court

December 20th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Greenpeace has lost a bid to have the granting of Anadarko’s offshore drilling permit declared erroneous in the High Court.

Greenpeace’s case was based on Anadarko’s omission of annexes from the impact assessment it was required to submit to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to be granted a petroleum exploration permit for an area in the Taranaki Basin.

Anadarko is drilling an exploration well it began within the permit area on November 26. …

The High Court ruled the evidence did not indicate any error by the EPA, and said there was no evidence that resubmitting the impact assessment supplied in the discharge management plan would achieve any meaningful objective.

A “careful and proper consideration of the completeness of the impact assessment” has been undertaken by the EPA. In addition, the impact assessment was independently and internally reviewed, Justice Mackenzie found.

The EPA will be pleased with the ruling that it has done its job well. Oil drilling and prospecting is not without risk, but the probability of a major problem is very very low.

Beware the Greenpeace petitions

December 9th, 2013 at 7:14 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Greenpeace is using the contact details from people who sign petitions to cold-call them and ask for donations.

The tactic has been labelled invasive, unethical and a possible breach of privacy by a Victoria University marketing professor.

Their parliamentary wing does much the same thing. The main reason the Greens spent tens of thousands of (taxpayers) dollars paying people to collect petition signatures wasn’t to actually have a referendum, but to harvest e-mail addresses for their database.

However, Greenpeace New Zealand fundraising director Michael Tritt said it would be “wrong” if it did not use the details people provided when they signed petitions.


“People aren’t silly. They know if they put down a phone number or email, there will be some form of communication.”

Not at all. Contact details on petitions were traditionally for verification. At the most they might expect a communication directly related to the petition such as an update on what has happened with it. They don’t expect to be called asking for money!

According to Greenpeace NZ’s 2012 annual report, its expenditure last year was $8.5 million. Of that, $2.7m was spent on fundraising.

Mr Tritt confirmed that was mostly to pay people to solicit money, but said for every dollar spent on fundraising, Greenpeace should get $3-$4 back.

It currently employs the equivalent of 50 fundraisers who get paid $18.40 an hour. They do not get commission but may get taken out for lunch if they had a good month, he said.

Of those, 20 were employed to call people at home, while 30 were “outreach campaigners” – street collectors sometimes uncharitably referred to as “chuggers”, or “charity muggers”.

So almost a third of what you donate to Greenpeace just covers fundraising.

Hooton on Greenpeace

November 24th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Matthew Hooton writes in NBR:

They were there, they said, for everyone.

This week, Greenpeace chief executive Bunny McDiarmid led a self-described flotilla to try to stop Texas-based company Anadarko from exploring for oil off the West Coast of the North Island. The effort, according to Ms McDiarmid, was “in defence of our oceans, future generations, our climate and our coastline.”

Her sidekick, former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, went further, claiming to speak for all living creatures.

Both insist Anadarko is not welcome in our waters. …

In my life, I have swum in the ocean, sailed Lasers, gone snorkelling, caught the odd fish, water-skied, built sand-castles and strolled along Piha at sunset. The New Zealand coastline and ocean are as much mine as Ms McDiarmid’s. So too “the climate.” I also have just as much interest as her in “future generations.” Indeed, when I speak of these things, I do so without ambiguity or conflict.

In contrast, Ms McDiarmid speaks as a paid employee of a multinational empire with assets of $350 million and annual revenues of $435 million, of which about $110 million is paid to head office in Amsterdam.

The New Zealand franchise raises around $8.5 million a year, of which $2.5 million is spent on further fund-raising and another $2 million is paid to Amsterdam, including for the rights to use the Greenpeace brand. It is a similar setup to an oil company or fast-food chain.

Greenpeace is indeed a multinational brand.

Speaking, therefore, without the same financial interest in the matter as Ms McDiarmid, I say Anardako is welcome in my country, including along my coastline and out in my oceans. I hope they find oil, and lots of it, and I hope others do too.

Speaking on behalf of future generations, I then hope Energy Minister Simon Bridges gets on a plane to Norway before too long and learns what a successful oil industry and associated investment fund can do to transform the living standards of a small country, while not compromising its tourism industry or natural beauty. I hope that Mr Bridges and his superiors understand that if New Zealand does not drill our oil and sell it to transform our living standards, then – as global supplies eventually become scarcer over the next century – someone will one day come and take it. It’s always better to sell something than have it stolen. Mr Bridges should also increase the royalties the oil companies have to pay.

Having said all this, I also understand that there is a risk, albeit miniscule, of a serious spill. This would kill birds, seals, dolphins and whales, and swimming, snorkelling, sailing and sandcastles would be out of the question for a while. But I also know the environment would heal itself much quicker and more completely than Greenpeace will tell us, as was the case in Brittany after 1978, Prince Williams Sound after 1989, the Gulf of Mexico after 2010 and the Bay of Plenty after the Rena in 2011. It is a risk, in my view, worth taking.

Next time Ms McDiamid purports to speak for me, I would kindly ask her to also make these points. If her bosses in Amsterdam will allow it.

We’ve had drilling for decades in Taranaki. I get sick of people in Auckland and Wellington demanding that people in Taranaki and the West Coast should lose their jobs, to make them feel better.

How likely is an oil spill?

October 23rd, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New oil spill models have depicted the dramatic impact deep-sea blowouts would have on New Zealand, spreading across our most important fishing ground and hitting Auckland’s iconic west coast beaches.

The report, commissioned by Greenpeace and produced by data science agency Dumpark, sought to gauge the blow-out effects of two planned deep-sea drilling locations off the North Island’s west coast and the South Island’s east coast.

But an industry spokesperson last night slammed the study as inaccurate, “fear-mongering” and “science fiction”, while Government officials also described such a large-scale spill as unlikely.

This got me thinking. How likely is a large spill? Is it 5%? 1%? Less than 1%?

The Deepwater spill of course is the worst case example. But how likely is such a major spill. I found out that there are in fact over 4,000 rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. And Greenpeace is freaking out over one proposed exploration by Andarko.

One site gives some stats:

 Improvements in technology and better government oversight have made drilling inherently safe. In fact, since 1975, offshore drilling has had a 99.999 percent safety record [source: EIA]. The amount spilled has decreased from 3.6 million barrels in the 1970s to less than 500,000 in the ’90s. Believe it or not, more oil actually spills into U.S. waters from natural sources and municipal and industrial waste than it does than from offshore oil and gas drilling. As far as the toxic chemicals are concerned, specialists say most of them are at insignificant levels since discharges are regulated by state and federal laws. The mercury released, for example, isn’t enough to be absorbed by fish [source: Jervis].

So if I recall $2.2 billion is being spent in NZ on exploration. Do we want to turn that down for worry about the 0.001%?

Surely the debate should be about do we have the right risk management framework in place, not about trying to ban an entire industry.

Plunket on jailed activists

October 12th, 2013 at 7:32 am by David Farrar

Sean Plunket writes in the Dom Post:

I’ve never been held in a jail cell but it is, I imagine, not a very pleasant experience. I also imagine Russia would be one of the worst places to find yourself incarcerated, along with North Korea, Myanmar, El Salvador and China.

Certainly the 30 Greenpeace activists from 18 different nations currently held at the pleasure of Vladimir Putin’s government are finding the going pretty rugged.

Among their various complaints is the fact that it is cold, there are some nasty people in jail with them and the guards do not speak English. Well what did they expect – Sky and a sauna?

One cannot imagine that the crew of the Arctic Sunrise headed to the Arctic circle to illegally board an oil drilling rig with the expectation that a country with a long history of state repression and brutality was going to welcome them with open arms, put up its hands and cease drilling for black gold because a bunch of well-intentioned foreigners are worried about global warming, polar bears and whales.

The outcome was rather predictable.

It would have been the height of naivety for the world’s largest multinational protest group to think it could out run or out-manoeuvre a nuclear-armed ex-superpower with one of the largest navies in the world. So we can logically conclude that the Arctic Circle 30, including two Kiwis, set off on their protest with the expectation and indeed the intention of being arrested, quite legally, for breaching the laws of Russia.

In those circumstances the faux outrage Greenpeace is now expressing around the globe can be seen only as part of a carefully planned and executed campaign in which the 30 jailbirds were either willing participants or unwitting pawns.

They would probably have been disappointed if they were not arrested!

Greenpeace claims the Govt often requests them to liaise with them

August 2nd, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

 Charities which were “all sizzle and no sausage” should miss out on official recognition and the accompanying tax breaks, the Supreme Court has been told.

The court is hearing argument today about what limits should be placed on the advocacy work of charities before they go beyond what is allowable for a charity.

Environmental and peace organisation Greenpeace is arguing its political advocacy should not disqualify it from having charitable status.

They are a lobby group, not a charity. If Greenpeace can qualify to be a charity, then so can almost every lobby group in New Zealand.

At the moment this “charity” is running a billboard campaign personally attacking a Government Minister and calling him a liar.

The lawyer for the Charities Registration Board Peter Gunn, said the law permitted charities to be advocates but you could not have a charity that was only an advocate.

“You can’t have just sizzle and no sausage,” he said.

That’s a good point.  Does Greenpeace actually do anything practical to help the environment? Or do they just do campaigns?

To compare them to Forest & Bird, F&B do actually do a lot of actual conservation work – and they advocate on conservation issues also. Greenpeace seem to do nothing but run political campaigns.

Earlier Greenpeace’s lawyer, Davey Salmon, said Greenpeace and many other charities “engaged” with parliament and government.

They were asked to make submissions to select committees and they lobbied to change government policy.

They liaised with government often at government’s request, Mr Salmon said.

Okay here’s a challenge. Name one occassion since 2008 when the Government has requested Greenpeace to liaise with it? I don’t mean the standard “Here is a bill or policy which we seek feedback on which goes to everyone on a department mailing list”. I mean something significant.

That would have cost Greenpeace a lot of money

July 18th, 2013 at 8:25 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Greenpeace has erected a huge billboard in central Wellington accusing Energy Minister Simon Bridges of misleading Parliament over a meeting he had with oil company Shell.

The billboard, at the corner of Manners St and Cuba St, is almost 300 square metres and says: “Simon Bridges Pants on Fire”.

Greenpeace said Mr Bridges misled Parliament over his contact with Shell about a controversial Crown Minerals Bill amendment covering deep-sea protests.

The sanctions were rushed into law in May without public consultation

It later emerged Mr Bridges had met Shell in February, two weeks before taking a paper on the protest changes to cabinet. …

Mr Bridges said while the Opposition and Greenpeace may wish otherwise, there was no conspiracy.

“I was not, at any time, lobbied by Shell or anyone else to make the changes to the Crown Minerals Act … I met with Shell, but the issue was not discussed. Ministers regularly meet with business. However, decisions are made by Cabinet.

I wonder how you’d feel if you donated money to Greenpeace thinking they will use it to help the environment, and instead they spend what must be at least ten thousand dollars on a billboard to call a Minister a liar (without proof). Their money, they can do what they want with it.  But remember they are fighting in court for the right to be a charity not a lobby group.



At least they used a nice photo.

He said he was “chuffed” about the billboard.

“As a boy from Tauranga, I’ve always wanted my name up in lights in the big city. Now it’s happened and I managed to get Greenpeace to pay for it.”

Simon should ask them to do one in Tauranga also – should help increase his already massive majority.

Is advocacy charitable?

May 7th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Simon Collins at NZ Herald reports:

The Green Party is calling for a public debate about how charities are defined after a decision to remove Family First’s charitable status. …

Ironically, the Greens, whose MPs voted unanimously in support of gay marriage, were the only party to speak up for Family First yesterday. Green MP Denise Roche, who has prepared a bill defining advocacy as “charitable” if it is in pursuit of a charitable purpose, said the current law should be reviewed.

This is to allow Greenpeace to become a charity again. If you are going to allow highly politicised lobby groups to be charities, then wwhy not make political parties charities also? They all claim to promote policies to benefit NZ?

I think NZers should give money to the political parties and lobby groups they support. However they should not get to make a tax deduction for doing so.

Ms Roche, a former board member of Greenpeace NZ, prepared the bill when the former Charities Commission ruled in 2010 that Greenpeace was not a charity because of its political advocacy. That case is going to the Supreme Court in July.

If Greenpeace qualifies as a charity, then every lobby groups in NZ should.

Family First have queried the charitable status of the following:

Action For Children And Youth Aotearoa CC11198
Amnesty International New Zealand Inc CC35331
Caritas Aotearoa – New Zealand CC36055
Child Poverty Action Group CC25387
Te Kahui Mana Ririki CC28437
New Zealand National Committee For Unicef Trust Board CC35979
Human Rights Foundation Of Aotearoa New Zealand CC22917
Waves Trust CC24175
Humanist Society of NZ CC36074
Agender Christchurch Inc CC20922
Save the Children CC25367
QSA Network Aotearoa CC48531
Waikato Queer Youth CC29356
Rainbow Youth Incorporated CC24284

I can’t comment on all of these, but I would not regard the Child Poverty Action Group as charitable – they are a highly activist lobby group. Likewise the Humanist Society doesn’t seem charitable to me – they promote a belief system.

Greenpeace hypocrisy

March 6th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Greenpeace is a strident campaigner against big oil, and especially against BP.


A spy has sent in this photo of the Rainbow Warrior being filled up at the weekend – by BP!

Why isn’t the Rainbow Warrior running on biodiesel?

I guess it is the old maxim of a group saying “Do as we say, not as we do.”

An inconvenient truth

February 12th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Sue Neales at The Australian reports:

LAST year, Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates gave $US10 million to British scientists to crack a problem he hoped might help solve the looming world food crisis.

Unusually, this time the philanthropy of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was met with howls of outrage from left-leaning politicians and environmental groups that previously had welcomed its efforts to eradicate malaria and alleviate global poverty and hunger.

The reason? The Gates Foundation had dared to suggest that if British scientists could transfer the genes that give some root bacteria the ability to produce nitrogen from soil and air into wheat, corn or rice plants, it might help feed the nine billion people who will inhabit the planet by 2050.

How evil. They want to feed the planet.

Success would potentially allow wheat, rice, corn and other global food staples to be grown in even the poorest soils of Africa, Asia and South America without the need for costly fertilisers, greatly expanding world food production.

The potential is enormous.

Greenpeace Australia’s sustainable agriculture adviser Richard Widows immediately called the donation misplaced. He accused the Gates Foundation of feeding not the world but the profits of its biggest biotech and chemical conglomerates.

One can have a company make a profit, and help feed the poor. But the real sin is that the use of science conflicts with the near religious devotion some people have against science such as genetics.

“It’s the precautionary principle: that where the results of a new technology are still unknown, or where there is a lack of scientific knowledge or consensus regarding its safety, it’s smarter not to use it,” Greenpeace exhorts.

If one applied the precautionary principle the way Greenpeace does, we’d still think the world was flat as no one would have sailed too far in case they go off the edge.

It was this attitude towards GM crops that prompted two Greenpeace activists in July 2011 to climb over a fence at CSIRO’s plant research centre in Canberra and whipper-snip an entire trial plot of pioneering new wheat varieties bred using genetic engineering techniques.

The destroyed wheat plants had been genetically enhanced using a naturally occurring barley gene to modify starch and fibre levels and enhance nutritional value and human bowel health.

By accident, some genetic changes had also produced a wheat variety that has since taken the agricultural world by storm, promising growth and grain production 30 per cent higher than normal yields.

This is what they are trying to stop!

But while such anti-GM rhetoric was commonplace in the 1990s when the use of novel gene technology by the scientific community exploded, there are signs its ferocity is waning. Early this month, a British environmentalist, Mark Lynas, one of the first leaders of the anti-GM movement in the mid-90s, regretfully admitted to a farming conference in England that he had been wrong.

How long will we have to wait to hear the same here? I won’t hold my breath.

Lynas, a leading author on climate change issues, said he had slowly realised it was inconsistent with his reliance on evidence-based science and scientific knowledge to argue that climate change is a reality while simultaneously leading an inherently “anti-science” movement that demonised genetic modification of crops.

A point I often make. You can’t claim to be on the side of science for climate change and demonise science when it comes to fracking and GM.

Lynas told the conference this month that GM crops such as cotton, corn, soybeans and canola growing in the Americas and Australia had resulted in less pesticide and chemical use, reduced the costs of inputs to farmers, cut water usage and boosted food production.

And with three trillion meals containing food derived from GM-bred plants in 29 countries eaten in the past 15 years without one substantiated case of harm, Lynas is now certain it is safe.

Those who still cry out about the precautionary principle are just putting religious belief ahead of science.

The costs that Greenpeace didn’t bother to calculate

February 12th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged yesterday about the Greenpeace report that claimed all these economic benefits of New Zealand becoming 100% renewable and carbon free energy, and somehow was taken seriously despite not even calculating the costs of what they propose.

Someone said that there is no need for them to calculate the costs as they are environmental organisation, not an economic organisation. Now that would be true if their report was solely about the environmental benefits of implementing their policies. But this report is all about the economic benefits of their proposed policies. And to ignore costs when talking economic policies is just nuts. It’s like doing a report on the health system and ignoring the mortality rate.

Peter McCaffrey facebooked a good analogy:

In other news, my highly technical report which I’ve commissioned tells me that if the government provided every single New Zealander with their own personal satellite we could have the best Internet access in the world.

I have made a deliberate choice not to research the costs of such a program because the aim of the report is to spark a discussion rather than getting too bogged down in the numbers.

I’d like my own satellite and using Greenpeace logic it would be great for the economy if we all had own own satellites. Think of all the jobs it would create.

Now personally I am a fan of renewable energy and think it is a major part of our future. In fact it is a major part of our present also. But there is a difference between direction and absolutism. Now we do have some ideas of what the costs of the policies proposed might be, from the Greens’ own website:

Nikki Kaye: What advice has the Minister received on the statement by those who are promoting a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2020 that a 100 percent renewable electricity supply is easily achievable by 2020?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I am advised that that would require, first, the writing-off of $4.5 billion of thermal generation assets. It would also require $11 billion for the replacement capacity of 2,500 megawatts, and $2 billion for additional renewable peaking stations needed to ensure security of supply in a dry year. This amounts to a total capital cost of $17.5 billion, excluding the additional transmission investment that would be required, and this would amount to a 30 percent increase in the power price for all consumers. Going 100 percent renewable would also require the equivalent of another seven Clyde Dams to be built by 2020. I do not describe $17.5 billion, a 30 percent power price increase, and seven Clyde Dams as being easy.

So just this aspect would cost $17.5 billion, increase power prices by 30% and require seven new Clyde Dams in the next seven years!

That will require those printing presses to really be working overtime.


Typical Green economics

February 11th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Jason Krupp at Stuff reports:

Greenpeace New Zealand, which made headlines by illegally occupying oil drilling rigs, has opened a new front against the National-led Government – the economy.

Today, the environmental lobby group will make public a 30-page report, The Future is Here, outlining the economic gains within New Zealand’s reach if it begins transforming its oil-based economy to a green one. …

The think tank modelled what would happen if the country produced 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and was fully reliant on renewables for all its energy needs by 2050.

The headline figures suggest New Zealand could be oil free in 22 years, save $7 billion a year in oil imports by 2035, and create 27,000 jobs in the bio-energy sector. It would also reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 94 per cent on 2009 levels.

So what would this all cost?

Where the report stumbles is on the financial side, giving no detail on the level of investment required or the economic tradeoffs, making it impossible to judge if the transformation would be worthwhile or simply a pyrrhic environmental victory.

An economic report that doesn’t even detail the cost isn’t worth the recycled paper it is printed on.

Argent said this was a deliberate choice, with the aim of the report to spark a discussion rather than getting too bogged down in the numbers.

Oh yes, let’s avoid minor details such as cost. I mean you can just print more money – right?