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Another world is possible

Written By: - Date published: 7:02 am, September 28th, 2019 - 55 comments
Categories: activism, climate change - Tags: , , , ,

Yesterday, 170,000 New Zealanders took to the streets as part of the global Climate Strike. This is one of the biggest protest mobilisations we’ve had. To put it into perspective,

170,000 is also a curious number for NZ at 3.5% of the population. Erica Chenoweth, a political scientist at Harvard University, wrote a book about successful historical protest movements and what worked.

Looking at hundreds of campaigns over the last century, Chenoweth found that nonviolent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns. And although the exact dynamics will depend on many factors, she has shown it takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.

Chenoweth asserted

the notion that no government can withstand a challenge of 3.5% of its population without either accommodating the movement or (in extreme cases) disintegrating.

In her TED talk, Chenoweth notes that non-violent resistance has become more common and more effective in the past 50 years, and points to the inclusive nature of these movements: elderly, disabled people, women and children can all take part, and the movements tend to cross divisions of class, politics, gender, age and so on. This makes sense to me, because once you have broad engagement across a population, those people are also our law and policy makers and other power holders in society (journalists and MSM editors, educators, business people, politicians). Parliament is full of people just as scared about climate catastrophe as the people on the street.

This is how change happens. It’s important to note that success is dependent on the active and sustained participation of that 3.5% of the population. While I don’t believe we can rely on parliament to lead on climate action, I can’t help but think of the potential for a growing movement over the next year leading into the 2020 general election.

I’m also wondering about the potential of the Climate Strike numbers happening at the start of our local body elections and hope we can see sustained local movements building on the actions this week. Even if we don’t see this reflected in the voting now, the same kinds of pressure and engagement needs to happen at the local level.

Dunedin had 6% of its population march yesterday.

The last time that happened was when 10,000 people took to the street to protest the closing of neurology services in the city. They won. To get 9,000 people yesterday suggests a shift happening on climate action in not just the progressive parts of the community but the more conservative parts too.

Auckland’s march yesterday was 4.5% of the local population, Nelson 3.8%. Wellington was 18%. These are big, hopeful numbers. In part because, as Chenoweth reports,

… the visibility of civil resistance actions allows them to attract more active and diverse participation from [these] ambivalent people.

More and more people know that we can’t just go back to our ordinary lives and hope that climate change will do away. We’re on a tipping point of climate action being mainstreamed.

Also heartening were the number of businesses who closed in solidarity with the Climate Strike and to allow workers to march. Social enterprise support organisation Ākina Foundation recruited 267 NZ businesses this week to take part. Here too is change happening, because business owners and managers are also people increasingly concerned about climate action and the wellbeing or their children and grandchildren.  This is exactly the kind of movement we need at this point, because these are the people who will implement our climate mitigation and adaptation strategies once we are ready to change.

______________________________________________________________________________

By the way, because apparently some people haven’t been paying attention, School Strike 4 Climate NZ’s list of demands is:

  1. that parliament declares a climate emergency
  2. that all parties support and pass an ambitious Zero Carbon Act
  3. that the government ceases all exploration and extraction of fossil fuels
  4. that the government invests in building a renewable and regenerative economy now
  5. that the government gives practical effect to its responsibilities through the Pacific

https://twitter.com/ss4cnz/status/1177445317119115265

 

55 comments on “Another world is possible ”

  1. weka 1

    More signs of change,

  2. Robert Guyton 2

    "It has now reached the stage where it is getting totally out of hand"

    A glimmer of understanding from someone who trolled here not so long agosmiley

    • Pat 2.1

      who's that quote from?

      • weka 2.1.1

        Our own Boris Gosman?

        • Pat 2.1.1.1

          oh…so no one of any influence then

          • Robert Guyton 2.1.1.1.1

            I chose not to link to the blog as it's entirely empty of content smiley

            • greywarshark 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Ooh – do we get 3 guesses and a chocolate fish?

              • Robert Guyton

                I've forgotten the forgettable. Can't remember the unmemorable.

                • greywarshark

                  True, there is too much to think about, have to prioritise the good, the useful, the ideas and people with integrity, and let the detritus fall away. We have to think about triage in these coming days and years, there is only so much ability of each individual to use what their talents are, and time is limited and conditions not always amenable for action and processing new information and monitoring already implemented ideas and systems.

                  I suggest start limiting fictional television, a large part of which is accompanied by advertisements. It is highly coloured which increases the trip into unreality, and limits the time for living and using your own agency. The news is interesting to see the field of action where things are happening. But reading and radio and news clips will give you more bang for each minute of attention.

                  I did think this morning that we should give attention to our farming community in a supportive way as we demand they make changes, and into the future. It would be wise to listen to the Country news on RadioNZ each Saturday morning earlyish, and I think it is repeated. We need to understand our farmers, and their difficulties, and support them in their efforts, always thinking about crops and weather and animals. Apparently they are anxious about the new water rules, and there have been meetings of 300 etc. The genuine farmers, living on his or her farm, taking part in life in New Zealand should be our brothers and sisters, town and country combining together.

  3. WeTheBleeple 3

    The 'authority' of uneducated self-absorbed parenting is finally being called into question. Right (and left) wing adults are being rightfully questioned. This is a generation that seeks real answers, and rather than knee-jerk rebelling via drinking and stupid antics are instead mobilising against the utter BS we've all been dragged into (the BAU rat-race).

    Travelling in to the march on a crowded bus, there were maybe two kids burrowed into their phones the rest were lively, engaged, funny… They are smart, energised, organised, and they do us all proud.

    Even the online debate has changed. No longer a solitary voice in a desert of dumbass… many friends I'd never have guessed (Bikers, farmers, business owners, nat voting types) are joining the debate calling out the more vacuous/vicious trolls and gremlins where they spring up.

    Now watch as the ideas start being generated. The beach clean up, plantings and hikoi yesterday all prime examples of self-mobilised movement for change. Not only are the kids engaged, they're wanting and willing to muck in and get things done. It's not just that we support them or get out of the way: also, that we support them or get left behind.

    • Robert Guyton 3.1

      At yesterday's climate march in Invercargill, the roving reporter sidled-up to ask me my opinion:

      "Environment Southland councillor Robert Guyton, who is vocal about Southland declaring a climate state of emergency, says it's a shame that it has come to high school students to find leadership.

      "This something Environment Southland should be doing. We were elected to do this and we neglected to follow it up, so this is what happens.""

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/116158479/southland-students-want-climate-state-of-emergency-declared
      At the march’s end, there were speakers speaking; I encouraged the crowd, thinking especially of there younger ones, to learn to grow and plant trees and when they had done one round of that, to do another and another. Marching’s important but when you get back home and have poured over all of the platforms reporting on the day, looking to see if you’re part of a “thing”, it’s really useful to have something actual to do; sow a seed, plant a pit, get something growing.

      • greywarshark 3.1.1

        I was wondering – if I want to plant a tree, do something to act not just think. Where do I go. I just can't plant trees in my back yard, no room, have one already and they can be too shade producing in some places and people don't want to trim, cut them down when they have negative effects on light, sun and health.

        So what do you suggest – I was wondering about speaking to local Councils, getting a designated spot, with protocols on how to do it, requiring a position two paces from the nearest one, dig and plant properly put a post up with the name on the tree, shrub in permanent marker etc. Also to make a note for oneself of where it is amongst the plantings, and go and give it water regularly while young, and in summer with about 5 litres of water to spread round it,

        It is good to get the itch to plant a tree, it is where and how so that it can grow and be part of a healthy woodland. Do you think that would be a sensible approach to take to Council?

        • Cricklewood 3.1.1.1

          Don't ask, just do. Find some wasteland, empty land, road reserve etc and start planting. Plant small and in autumn. You'll be amazed how quick a small plant will establish. Just wander around and trample down any weeds occasionally they'll act as a mulch layer.

        • solkta 3.1.1.2

          Have you joined Forest and Bird?

          • greywarshark 3.1.1.2.1

            Have you? And how would that help with what I asked about?

            And Cricklewood you aren't being intelligent. Trees popping up everywhere will be as useful as wilding pines. People won't know what they are. They may be poisonous. They may be a nuisance. And maybe the weeds are more useful, and wanted as part of establishing a better greensward like a 'ley' I think they call it. Some people when they feel justified about something, can go OTT. I think that there needs to guidance about tree planting otherwise it could be as practical as releasing rabbit calcivirus by the eager and pretty ignorant.

            • Cricklewood 3.1.1.2.1.1

              You're wrong there Grey. Any tree is a good tree, if you aren't sure what to plant go with a native or ask your local nurseryman for trees which do well in your area provide fodder for birds etc.

              Where in the country are you I can point you to a good nursery.

              Guerrilla gardening for the win. Reckon ive snuck over a 1000 trees into public spaces over the last 10 years or so… some are quite large now.

            • solkta 3.1.1.2.1.2

              Fuck. You ask for advice as to how to link in to tree planting programs. I suggest the very long established organisation that exists to do that along with other initiatives and you respond with "have you?" What is wrong with you?

              Why do you come here and ask stupid questions and then not bother to follow up when people reply?

              Forest & Bird is defending nature on land.

              Our branches are involved in practical projects to restore nature – trapping predators, removing weeds and planting trees.

              https://www.forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/land

              • greywarshark

                You dopey person. I was asking Robert how an ordinary person who wanted to work with Council would go about it.

                Forest and Bird is good. But that wasn't what I was asking. Not everyone knows about F & B. And you just said have I joined Forest and Bird. That costs money, it is a barrier in the way of someone just wanting to plant a tree as suggested. And I notice some random people here thinking that it’s okay to shove one in anywhere. Please co-operate with your local Council and get them to start plots for a successful result for your community from your good-hearted action. It is theoretical saying that any tree is a good tree, only from the planets POV but we still have to live in it. Perhaps you can find a way to help by putting in four in a square as posts in which tree huts can be built?

                Why don't you come down off your high horse. You like putting one sentence replies as if there can be no question that you know and have the perfect answer to what is raised. I don't see you always explaining why, what is in your mind. Just a didactic approach .

        • Graeme 3.1.1.3

          Down here we've got the Wakatipu Re-forestation Trust They collect local seed, raise the seedlings in their nursery and then plant them out in project areas around the district. And an army of volunteers who do an amazing amount of work

          Last weekend around 90 of us had 1100 plants in the ground by smoko.

          • greywarshark 3.1.1.3.1

            One hour! Good organisation. What would be a modern replacement for smoko – kambucha? Or traditional hot scones and lemonade?

  4. Cinny 4

    Yesterday while walking past the protest in Motueka an old man said to me…. 'haven't they got anything better to do?'

    My response was… 'I don't know, saving the planet is kind of important'

    Old man turned away and stomped off. Lololz was pretty funny.

    What I'd like to see is a list of companies who cause the most damage being actively circulated via the media and social media. And people boycotting those companies. We all need to walk the talk to make change. Our consumerism is what is killing the earth.

    • greywarshark 4.1

      I think we should report which companies are aiming high, and what others are doing to improve and encourage them by listing them with priority to the best achievers, when looking for product and services; still be concerned about price, but be looking among the top listers. More will be prodded to make import change. The faults of the ones who show unconcern and resistance to becoming responsible should also be noted under the tick list.

    • Robert Guyton 4.2

      The Invercargill protest was smaller than those in other centres, but we had no grumpy bystanders; on the contrary, the tooting and waving from passing vehicles was surprising!

      Our policeman minder was very pleasant, stepping in to over-ride the traffic lights and giving us all friendly waves as we filed through.

      • Cinny 4.2.1

        Good stuff Robert that's wonderful to hear such fantastic support especially for Southland, awesome. 🙂

        We had a couple of hundred in Motueka, I was thrilled at the turn out, good on them. No police minder, they just marched up and down the footpath of our main st and everyone came out of their places of work to watch and show their support. It was awesome.

        The old man, was amusing because he was soooo stereotypical. Super funny.

    • weka 4.3

      I saw a reference to the list of NZ companies responsible for the most emissions. I'm curious now too who they are.

      • weka 4.3.1

        Here we go. No surprises which is the top company.

        By trawling company reports, Emissions Trading Scheme documents, and international carbon disclosure files, Stuff was able to tally the annual emissions for 10 companies which are likely to be the highest emitters in New Zealand.

        Combined, they produced an estimated 54.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, roughly two-thirds of the national total.

        https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/114431409/nzs-biggest-greenhouse-gas-emitters-and-their-struggle-to-pollute-less

        • weka 4.3.1.1

          Scratch that, the figures are probably useless,

          For example, Z Energy reported just over 13m tonnes of emissions in 2018, but when Stuff asked BP for its New Zealand emissions, it reported just 4200 tonnes. BP was only counting the emissions from powering its stores, car washes, and offices. It wasn't including any emissions from the burning of the millions of litres of petrol it sold.

          Figures reported to the Carbon Disclosure Project in 2016 by BP's global arm showed the purchase of nearly 4.5m tonnes of carbon offsets under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme, giving a stronger indication of how much of an impact the British company has in New Zealand.

  5. 'that all parties support and pass an ambitious Zero Carbon Act'..

    i noted the other day that the british labour party conference pledged 'to de-carbonise britain by 2030'..

    my takeaway from this is : 'good on them..!'..

    and meanwhile back here it makes our 'carbon-neutral by 2050'…seem somewhat paltry/nowhere near enough..

    so cd the greens have a re-think on that one..and also pledge 'to de-carbonise' nz by 2030..

    this would also be a useful tag for j.a. to frame the required political action around..?

    the size of this march/and the percentages required for change cited above – tell us (and j.a.) that the seachange-moment of enough of the general public 'getting it' and demanding change – so many have been waiting for – is here..

    and will not go away – will not be silenced by political inaction/more of 'the same'..

    and most certainly just can't be ignored..

    so j.a./grns etc must be perceptive enough to know that vague promises to do something by 2050…is no longer enough..not for the planet – not for the people marching..

    so i look forward to hearing their program – to de-caronise nz – by 2030..

    and of course..even promising this – will see this govt re-elected with an enlarged majority..with a groundswell of support from a politically energised young..

    and the tories denialism/do-nothing pledges being rejected y those of their own – with half a brain..and them turning to lab/grns for just those environomental reasons/imperatives..

    bridges/the denialists – are on a road to nowhere – destination: political-irrelevence..

    (and can i just note that ‘de-carbonise’ is much more powerful/palpable that the (effete) ‘carbon-neutral..esp as the latter allows pollutors to buy ‘credits’ to keep polluting..
    that ain’t good enough – any more..

  6. Stuart Munro. 7

    Learning to change the world when they are young will create a politically powerful generation; the age of flatulent old fools like Gerry Brownlee is drawing to a close, and we might actually get some things done for a change.

  7. if 'the march' – as we can now call it – has a spotify playlist..

    this would be on it..?

    you'd think..?

    (elton and ringo are also good on this..)

    • Duncan 8.1

      My favourite song of all time. Some similarity in the facial appearance of Marc Bolan and Greta.

      Personally I have never seen a reason to get excited about humanities direction until Greta announced a purpose and anger that to me is refreshing.

      I just hope the left pick up on it, unite, get angry, and force change.

      There is no time left for petty arguments or platitudes.

  8. Tiger Mountain 9

    The young people yesterday learnt some important things, such as–how to take direct action and defy authority–whether that be Principals, BOTs, parents, peers not into it, media lines, or grumpy old blokes in denial.

    It was an awesome, creative, feel good day of people acting together. Not National’s version of “ordinary New Zealanders”, but the real thing!

    More militant action including particularly non students, will now be required to get Government and corporates to act.

    • weka 9.1

      More non-violent, sustained and persistent action I think.

      • phillip ure 9.1.1

        @ weka..

        'more non-violent, sustained and persistent action'

        yes..but it must be remembered that if these polite protests are just ignored by our political leaders..

        this will escalate into more disruptive actions..that could well spill over..

        so best we just live up to our reputation for commonsense and leading..

        and do just that…

        • weka 9.1.1.1

          My position at the moment is we should do all the things that are needed. Polite ain't it. The strikes are good and necessary, but we also need Extinction Rebellion and other actions that are willing to disrupt the status quo. We also need solid work within the culture that give people pathways to action of building resilient and sustainable communities.

          I'm ok with disruption, because I believe we will have far, far worse disruption if we don't act now, and the need is urgent. I think that intentional disruption needs to be well thought out and implemented. ER used Chenoweth's work in developing their strategies and kaupapa.

          • Adam Ash 9.1.1.1.1

            Agree with you there Weka.
            The government needs to revisit its zero carbon policies and strengthen them substantially to get change happening.

            The tax-the-bad actions and give-the-tax-to-the-good actions has very little net cost to the state, but can cause significant change.

            Government needs to strongly promote uptake of EVs (including getting a basic Everyman's-EV manufactured under license here to replace fossil clunkers for the commute, children to school and shopping trips), and also require installation of heat pumps in every home to replace log and multi-fuel burners for most home heating (leaving the burners installed for emergency use). These two actions would be hugely useful to reduce household emissions.

            Usefully, both obtaining an EV and installing a heat pump can see a reduction in household expenditure for travel and heating, while helping the climate, and providing safer and warmer lives.

            So when the children come home from school, they can ask their parents; "Where is the EV? Where is the heat pump?"

      • Duncan 9.1.2

        weka,

        I remember you three or four years ago saying we should not over emphasise the threats of climate change because it would scare people and turn them off wanting to change.

        And nothing happened in the interim.

        People need to get organised, coherent, face the facts and do something about it.

        And Greta has provided the impetus.

        And her anger gives me hope, and I believe we need to channel that and do something rather than sit around accepting incremental change.

        There is no better opportunity offered than what has just been gifted to the left.

        Make the most of it.

        • weka 9.1.2.1

          "I remember you three or four years ago saying we should not over emphasise the threats of climate change because it would scare people and turn them off wanting to change."

          I think you are mistaken. More likely I was saying that we should be careful about not focusing on messages that provoke fear responses that then turn people off. Nothing wrong with being afraid of CC when looking it in the face, but there are problems with the fearmongering approach of say Macpherson or telling people we are all going to die. People need to know the truth (which isn't Macpherson) but they also need pathways to action.

          A huge amount has happened in the interim. Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion, a change in government in NZ with the Green Party in positions of power (not enough, but it's still a huge change from 3 or 4 years ago). Various MSM deciding to tell the truth about CC, and to limit deniers. A number if IPCC reports that are no longer tiptoeing around the crisis. All of that is momentum, and I agree there is great opportunity here.

          Maybe you are agreeing with me that we are at a tipping point? I've never argued for incremental change as the solution to CC. I've argued that the people who are doing incremental change like the Greens need to be supported and they need us outside of parliament to force the agenda. I've also argued that we have choices about where we intervene in the big societal changes and which way the tipping point goes.

    • Matiri 9.2

      Yes. Students used to be militant, the Student Union when I was at college was a hotbed of thoughtful and lively talk, and dissent. And the music to match! Student debt and tuition fees killed all that.

      And the problem with Greta.
      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/27/the-greta-thunberg-problem-so-many-men-freaking-out-about-the-tiny-swedish-climate-demon

    • Sacha 9.3

      More militant action including particularly non students, will now be required to get Government and corporates to act.

      Nope. From the original post above:

      Looking at hundreds of campaigns over the last century, Chenoweth found that nonviolent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns.

  9. greywarshark 10

    I've just been listening to some lively Celtic music on a Womad series I think. It seems to me that humans are too wonderful and creative and imaginative and clever and silly to pass away. I think it is a bit like the Hobbits – we are on a journey to achieve an important outcome, and have to go through dangerous ventures and badlands and find fraternal brothers and sisters to mix and mingle with.

    We all need to have a trusting relationship with each other, sticking roughly to good guidelines to follow. And throw away capitalism – keep it's combining ethos and for the rest concentrate on having a wee home, work, food, good cheer, kindness, music and theatre, a look around the rohe, reciprocal hospitality and help, some physical games, a card game where someone always cheats, and regular socialising with less alcohol and drugs. And reducing all the negatives and high expectations, go for simplicity and colour and a laugh in the eyes of good people as we craic or crack on, as the ex-Brits say. Nau mai. Haere mai.

  10. mosa 11

    Nothing will change until neo liberal policy and approach is dismantled.

    Climate protests are great but are not addressing the real blockwall of allowing any of these demands too be seriously addressed.

    If only the protest was targeting the devil in the room.

  11. greywarshark 12

    Here is how to make a better world, it is not impossible. Barbara Sher

    (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2rG4Dg6xyI
    Isolation is the dream-killer, not your attitude

    Wish/Obstacle – we are problem-solving animals.

  12. cleangreen 13

    I saw very little of the marches around NZ for climate action, as we walked among the almost 1000 in Napier Friday sadly, – as the media coverage was scant.

    The media has a short attention span like a young child. The media is less able to even comprehend good from bad as even young children can.

    This says a lot about the 'hollow mafia media'scam bubble today.

  13. aom 14

    Top marks to Miriama Kamo and the Sunday team with their 'climate catastrophe' segment. There are few things more inspiring than to see young people respond to being treated as the adults in the room. The strike leaders certainly made the dead-headed politicians with their pathetic soundbites look trite and inconsequential. Hopefully the Air NZ representative is as genuine as she appeared, and that the airline is true to her words. The next generation to inherit the world are without doubt more wise, informed and committed that too many of their resource exploitative seniors.

  14. velcro 15

    Lenin’s ‘useful idiots’. Misinformed, manipulated hence misguided

  15. Adam Ash 16

    The funny thing is Velcro, that these misinformed, manipulated misguided people are only asking that the world becomes a place where humans have far less impact on the environment that we do currently. They want us to move away from the dark satanic mills of the past and present into a future where we are all gainfully employed and living in a better place, and doing that in a way which ensures economic stability and environmental and social harmony.

    Surely you would accept that a) these are worthwhile objectives for any social movement, and b) if we continue as we are the present unhappy state of the environment and associated miserable social situations will only continue to get worse and the widening gap between haves and have not will see increased tension and violence?

    Where, then, is the downside of following the lead of these 'misguided' souls? Our present 'system' has got us into a mess and cannot get us out of it. Should we not embrace a global effort to make things better, even if you disagree with their climate views?

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