On the bridge (C) GRENPEACE / Sharomov
A key part of our ship tour are the open days, when anyone can come on board, have a free tour, talk to the campaigners and meet the crew.
During these tours, someone from the Greenpeace NZ campaign team is responsible for giving 10-minute talks to groups about why we're getting on a ship for six weeks and going around the country (in other words, what's that got to do with climate change?) And so it was, I found myself, with a little slip of paper scarred with hastily-jotted notes and sunblock, in front of groups of about 15 people (predominantly tourists and young children I must say) talking about the campaign.
To their credit, most people looked very interested (bar the infants), and even asked some quite tough questions. Several asked "but isn't it too late?" "Definitely not," I said, "but the time to act is now. Civilisation as a whole has this one chance to make the right decisions and the necessary changes. And if we all mobilise, and we do make those changes, I don't think it's just the climate that will benefit; I think the whole global ethos will be better off." At which point, a man next to e said to me, "there is rust on the main deck rails".
Blue boy (C) GREENPEACE / Sharomov
I have to say I felt a little like a traitor informing foreigners that New Zealand isn't the clean green paradise they may have thought it was and that in fact we're very naughty when it comes to the climate (the Americans seemed almost relieved to hear of New Zealand's obscene car ownership rates (one car for every person over 15 years old!!!)
The other issue we're really tackling on the tour is agriculture. Well renowned as "the backbone of our economy", agriculture is nonetheless responsible for almost half of all New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions. Most of this comes from the dairy sector, which is expanding rapidly. But there is currently no legislation or regulation in place to hold the sector to account for its contribution to climate change. And the government has exempted it from the Emissions Trading Scheme for another five years. Agriculture will form a large part of our work over the next few weeks, and the Auckland open days were our first chance to raise the subject with the public. I think it went down well. Some people weren't aware of how big a part cows played in the problem. Lots of questions were asked ("but what can the sector actually do to reduce its emissions?" "how can you stop cows burping?" etc etc). As long as we got people thinking, I'm happy.
Quote of the day went to a young boy who'd come on the tour with his Dad. Greenpeace Executive Director Bunny McDiarmid said to him "you could be a sailor." To which he said "Don't be silly, no I can't, I'm a kid."
Oh, and I went to the letterbox this morning to retrieve the Sunday Star Times, and there we all were! Our soiree onboard the ship on Wednesday had made the social pages. Can someone tell me if this is a good thing?