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?

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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.

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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.

Wrong???

“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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

greenpeacebillboard_460x230

 

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.

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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
EPOCH CC31965
Te Kahui Mana Ririki CC28437
UNICEF CC27773
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.

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Greenpeace hypocrisy

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

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

bp1

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.”

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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.

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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.

 

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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?

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Jones v Greens

October 3rd, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Isaac Davidson at NZ Herald reports:

A Greenpeace spoof of a Sealord advertisement has brought an angry reaction from Labour MP Shane Jones, who has accused the environmental group as anti-worker and duplicitous towards Maori.

Mr Jones, a former Sealord chairman, also singled out the Green Party, “the political wing of the Greenpeace movement”, for its support of the stunt, which he felt undermined the company in a tough economic climate.

The Greens do seem to be against a lot of jobs. Against mining jobs. Against oil jobs. Against fishing jobs. Against roading jobs.

Mr Jones said it was “a step too far” and the equivalent of economic vandalism at a time when jobs were scarce.

“When the Green Party and the Green Priests [Greenpeace] take on a role of using that ad to humiliate, trash and parody not only the brand of the company but its workers, it’s a step too far.”

Imagine the fun we’ll have if we have a Labour/Green Government in 2014!

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Greenpeace ad ruled misleading

April 4th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Advertising Standards Authority has partially upheld a complaint against a Greenpeace television advertisement. The TV ad showing a dead penguin said:

Over 20,000 birds were killed by the ‘Rena’ oil spill

Deep sea oil drilling could be 1000 times worse

Bryan Leland complained pointing out that the  count for the Rena was around 1,300 not 20,000 and that the 20 million estimate for a deep sea oil drill is ridiculous as the Gulf of Mexico spill killed 3,800 seabirds.

Greenpeace’s response on the 20,000 was that research shows 10 times as many birds die in oil spills as carcasses found.

Their response on 1,000 times worse is based on the Gulf spill being over 1,000 times as much oil as the Rena. They say their advertisement was meant to be that the impact on the environment would be 1,000 times worse, not that 1,000 times as many birds would die.

Interestingly in their response Greenpeace say the complaint should be ignored because Bryan Leland is a member of the Climate Science Coalition. Unable to win on the facts, they now try to get complaints dismissed on the basis of membership of a group.  That is a terrible thing to do, and they should be ashamed. How would they like it if someone advocated that a complainant should not be heard, because they are a member of Greenpeace.

The ASA Complaints Board found:

The Complaints Board was of the view that the statement “20,000 birds were killed” was expressed in a manner that denoted a strong absolute statement of fact.  It said that the Advertiser had presented a best practice estimate as an absolute fact when as they had stated in their response to the complaint it had only been “reported that over 2000 birds had been identified which had died as a direct result of the accident [Rena]”.  Accordingly the Complaints Board said the statements expressed in the advertisement were not clearly distinguishable as opinion (as opposed to fact) and therefore the advertisement was in breach of Rule 11 of the Code of Ethics.

If Greenpeace had said “Some estimates are that as many as 20,000 birds died” then they may possibly have got away with it. Or they could have just kept to the facts and said 2,000 dead birds were found.

On the 1,000 times worse:

Turning to the second substantive claim identified in the complaint, that a deep sea drilling incident could be “1000 times worse” (than the Rena incident), the Complaints Board noted that the use of the word “could” presented the claim as an opinion or possibility as opposed to an absolute fact.

By using “could” they get away with it, despite the fact most people would take the ad to be credibly suggesting an oil spill could kill 20 million birds, when the Gulf of Mexico spill killed just 3,800.

Incidentally, even if the figure of 20 million was correct, it would be useful to remember that predators such as possums and stoats kill 25 million birds a a year in New Zealand.

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Arctic drilling facts

February 29th, 2012 at 9:22 am by David Farrar

A useful article in Stuff:

Oil drill ship Noble Discoverer is heading from New Plymouth for the Arctic, north of Alaska, to explore for what could be a super-field for oil giant Shell.

The Chukchi Sea off Alaska could hold the equivalent of 4 billion to 77 billion barrels of oil, but it is likely to be gas and light oil condensate. …

Shell plans to drill up to six wells in the Chukchi Sea during the next two northern summers. Noble Discoverer will drill within the Burger Prospect, which is about 90kms off the North Alaskan coast in shallow water of just 42 metres. …

Earlier this month the US Government approved Shell’s oil spill response plan for the Chukchi Sea, which was seen as a milestone on the way to offshore drilling this northern summer. The plan includes a new Arctic capping and containment system to be trialled before drilling starts.

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Shell was required to prepare for a “worst case” oil spill nearly five times that of their previous plan. It also needs access to a rig capable of drilling a relief well that could kill the well if needed.

In a major government caveat, Shell must also stop drilling in any hydrocarbon bearing zone 38 days before November 1, so if there was an accident, all capping, response and well-killing work could be finished in open sea before ice forms in Chukchi waters. That government move reduced the drilling window by about a third.

US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said this month that Alaskan energy resources held great promise and economic opportunity, but exploration had to be cautious and “under the strongest oversight, safety requirements and emergency response plans ever established”.

So the drilling has been signed off by the Obama administration, with extensive safety and response requirements.

The reality is Greenpeace is against any drilling for oil pretty much anywhere. They want it left on the ground, and for us to abandon travel which involves oil. Now that is a legitimate view, but I’d be more impressed when Lucy Lawless starts taking diesel ships to travel overseas for her Hollywood career, rather than jet planes.

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Poor diddums

February 27th, 2012 at 9:24 am by David Farrar

Paul Easton at Stuff reports:

Actress Lucy Lawless told Fairfax at 11.30pm last night, from aboard the ship, that Shell was “going Guantanamo on us”.

“They’ve upped the ante. Shell are getting pretty pissed off, what one could expect.”

The protesters were being “bombarded” with the persistent booming sounds from loud speakers, including screams and feedback sounds, she said.

Oh how awful. Those nasty Shell people.

But a spokeswoman for Shell said the sounds were not being made in response to the protesters, but were just standard procedure.

Normal operations involve work throughout the day and night, she said.

“As part of routine work standard procedure requires the crane’s horn to be sounded when the crane moves over the vessel. There was no loud music or other extraneous noise.”

So these terrible Guantanamo type sounds are in fact the normal sounds of a working ship. I guess this tells you a lot about the protesters.

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Patrick Moore on the environmental movement

February 20th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

A commenter alerted me to this book extract by Patrick Moore. First some background on Dr Moore. He was listed on the Greenpeace website as one of its founding members. He was a director of Greenpeace International for six years and President of Greenpeace Canada for nine years. He was on board the Rainbow Warrior when the French Government blew it up.

He says:

You could call me a Greenpeace dropout, but that is not an entirely accurate description of how or why I left the organization 15 years after I helped create it. I’d like to think Greenpeace left me, rather than the other way around, but that too is not entirely correct.

The truth is Greenpeace and I underwent divergent evolutions. I became a sensible environmentalist; Greenpeace became increasingly senseless as it adopted an agenda that is antiscience, antibusiness, and downright antihuman.

So how did this happen?

In 1982, the United Nations held a conference in Nairobi to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first UN Environment Conference in Stockholm, which I had also attended. I was one of 85 environmental leaders from around the world who were invited to craft a statement of our collective goals for environmental protection. It quickly became apparent there were two nearly opposite perspectives in the room—the antidevelopment perspective of environmentalists from wealthy industrialized countries and the prodevelopment perspective of environmentalists from the poor developing countries.

Sounds like NZ doesn’t it? Some (not all) are just anti all development.

In the early days we debated complex issues openly and often. It was a wonderful group to engage with in wide-ranging environmental policy discussions. The intellectual energy in the organization was infectious. We frequently disagreed about specific issues, yet our ultimate vision was largely shared. Importantly, we strove to be scientifically accurate. For years this had been the topic of many of our internal debates. I was the only Greenpeace activist with a PhD in ecology, and because I wouldn’t allow exaggeration beyond reason I quickly earned the nickname “Dr. Truth.” It wasn’t always meant as a compliment. Despite my efforts, the movement abandoned science and logic somewhere in the mid-1980s, just as society was adopting the more reasonable items on our environmental agenda.

So how did the movement change?

The collapse of world communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall during the 1980s added to the trend toward extremism. The Cold War was over and the peace movement was largely disbanded. The peace movement had been mainly Western-based and anti-American in its leanings. Many of its members moved into the environmental movement, bringing with them their neo-Marxist, far-left agendas. To a considerable extent the environmental movement was hijacked by political and social activists who learned to use green language to cloak agendas that had more to do with anticapitalism and antiglobalization than with science or ecology. I remember visiting our Toronto office in 1985 and being surprised at how many of the new recruits were sporting army fatigues and red berets in support of the Sandinistas.

And hence why so many in the Greens are communists or former communists. At one stage almost half the caucus were former Maoists or Trotskyists. This is not a coincidence.

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Greenpeace not a charity

May 11th, 2011 at 2:17 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Greenpeace New Zealand’s political activities mean it cannot register as a charity, the High Court has decided.

Greenpeace appealed against a 2010 ruling by the Charities Commission which found its promotion of “disarmament and peace” was political rather than educational and while it did not directly advocate illegal acts, Greenpeace members had acted illegally.

In his judgment Justice Paul Heath found the commission was correct in its judgment and turned down the Greenpeace appeal.

“Non-violent, but potentially illegal activities (such as trespass), designed to put (in the eyes of Greenpeace) objectionable activities into the public spotlight were an independent object disqualifying it from registration as a charitable entity,” the judge said.

I cam’y say this is a big surprise. Greenpeace acts in a very political way. The actual court judgement is worth a read – located here. I thought the sections on how there is a difference between promoting peace and pacifism. This is a quote from Southwood v Attorney-General:

The point, as it seems to me, is this. There is no objection – on public benefit grounds – to an educational programme which begins from the premise that peace is generally preferable to war. For my part, I would find it difficult to believe that any court would refuse to accept, as a general proposition, that it promotes public benefit for the public to be educated to an acceptance of that premise. That does not lead to the conclusion that the promotion of pacifism is necessarily charitable. The premise that peace is generally preferable to war is not to be equated with the premise that peace at any price is always preferable to any war. The latter plainly is controversial. But that is not this case. I would have no difficulty in accepting the proposition that it promotes public benefit for the public to be educated in the differing means of securing a state of peace and avoiding a state of war. The difficulty comes at the next stage. There are differing views as to how best to secure peace and avoid war. To give two obvious examples: on the one hand it can be contended that war is best avoided by “bargaining through strength”; on the other hand it can be argued, with equal passion, that peace is best secured by disarmament – if necessary, by unilateral disarmament. The court is in no position to determine that promotion of the one view rather than the other is for the public benefit. Not only does the court have no material on which to make that choice; to attempt to do so would be to usurp the role of government. So the court cannot recognise as charitable a trust to educate the public to an acceptance that peace is best secured by ―demilitarisation‖ . . . Nor, conversely, could the court recognise as charitable a trust to educate the public to an acceptance that war is best avoided by collective security through the membership of a military alliance – say, NATO.

Justice Health notes in this case:

Irrespective of whether ―peace, in itself, can constitute a charitable purpose, it is more difficult to argue for that position with respect of disarmament. So far as disarmament is concerned, Mr Salmon makes a good point in referring to the non-contentious nature of nuclear disarmament in New Zealand, as a result of the nuclear free policy first given effect by statute over 20 years ago. But Greenpeace‘s objects refer only to ―disarmament‖, not to ―nuclear disarmament‖. In doing so they fall foul of the admonition against political lobbying about the way in which disarmament should occur, as expressed (for example) in Southwood.

This is key. Greenpeace promotes pacifism, which is not the same as peace. The former is highly political, the latter is non-controversial. I am sure many of their activists think the two things are the same, but that is more a reflection of the narrowness of their views.

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The Petrobas protesters

April 12th, 2011 at 9:01 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel said protesters were sending a message that the ship, and deep-sea drilling, were not welcome in New Zealand waters.

Don’t speak for all of New Zealand please.

Prime Minister John Key said the Government wanted to know what powers police had inside New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone. “You’re in an interesting space in the economic zone. There’s also issues about that boat, which is a foreign-flagged vessel … if that was happening on dry land, then the police would be in a position to do something about it.

“No-one’s arguing that people don’t have a right to protest, but when it actually stops the company carrying out what it’s been legally granted the ability to do, then that concerns me.”

And that is the key thing. Protest is good. Protest which impedes people from exercising their legal rights is bad. That is protesters setting themselves up to be above the law.

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The Greenpeace Fonterra Ad

October 7th, 2010 at 1:59 pm by David Farrar

Don’t agree with it, but I have to say a pretty damn effective attack ad. I wonder if that is a professional actress – too good to be an amateur I reckon.

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Greenpeace’s latest video

August 21st, 2010 at 9:51 am by David Farrar

This Greenpeace video is designed to convince people to oppose off-shore oil drilling in New Zealand.

However I reckon it is counter-productive. Videos of poor little seals, and penguins covered in oil tug the heartstrings and makes you want to boycott BP.

However a video of girls in bikinis posing covered in dripping sticky oil doesn’t have quite the same effect. In fact makes you want to go buy some shares in BP, and yell out “drill baby, drill” :-)

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Is Greenpeace a charity?

June 28th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Greenpeace New Zealand is fighting to gain charitable status after it was turned down by the Charities Commission for advocating peace and indirectly encouraging illegal activity.

I can’t say I am surprised by the decision. Greenpeace is a multinational lobby group, not a charity.

Greenpeace executive director Bunny McDiarmid said the environmental group had appealed against the commission’s decision to the High Court, where it would be heard in August or September.

“We think it’s worthwhile challenging this decision,” she said. “I think it’s an interesting debate that societies should have … around what is a charity and whether the law from 100 years ago is still relevant today.”

The rejection means Greenpeace could lose income tax exemption, which is granted only to registered charities, although people will still be able to make tax-free donations to the organisation.

McDiarmid said Greenpeace still had income tax exemption pending a court decision, but losing the status was not why it was challenging the commission’s ruling. “That doesn’t make much difference because we’re not a business.”

The commission’s decision in April found Greenpeace’s promotion of “disarmament and peace” was pushed in a political, rather than educational, way.

Highly political I would say.

Charities Commission chief executive Trevor Garrett said organisations that dabbled in political advocacy, but were primarily community-focused, such as Plunket, were safe, but those with an overt political role were not charities.

A sensible distinction.

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Sexy Coal

May 1st, 2010 at 9:53 am by David Farrar

While I don’t agree with their stance, I do have to say the Greenpeace video above is very well done. Humour can be a powerful weapon.

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Has Greenpeace paid up?

December 4th, 2009 at 1:19 pm by David Farrar

Now that John Key has announced he is going to Copenhagen, has Lucy Lawless handed over the cheque for $5,000 to cover his airfares?

I think Treasury should send someone over to Greenpeace to collect the money.

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