I began my part time, unwaged, career in activism, in the late 1970’s in my teens. Growing up in a working class Irish republican family, in the undeniable beauty and grandeur but complex melting pot of a post-colonial Aotearoa New Zealand. I was exposed, through my wonderful parents to gardening, having a social responsibility and socialism itself, anti-imperialism, anti-racism, trade unionism and civil rights. I remember once having a conversation with my dad when I was about 10, discussing racism and him saying “Remember son, us Irish, we’re the blacks of Britain!!!”
Dad had an uncanny knack of making his 8 children question everything. It drove Ma nuts in a loving way when we questioned just about everything! I remember eavesdropping on a conversation between them when Ma said to Da’ “Why do you encourage them to haggle with us” and Dad replied, “Life is about haggling for what you want, what better place to learn than at home”?
I participated in Hikoi in solidarity with the indigenous people of Aotearoa and remember vividly once being called a “Nigger Lover” on an anti-apartheid demonstration with my wonderful comrades in HART.
I played a minor role in the anti-nuclear campaign that culminated in New Zealand being declared “Nuclear Free” and then the Green Peace flag ship “Rainbow Warrior” was bombed by the French secret service DGSE, murdering our comrade Fernando Pereira in the first state sponsored and conducted act of terrorism in the country.
I have the honour of having once been arrested and charged with “Obstructing a Nuclear Ship in the course of it’s passage”. That charge has seen me joking with immigration staff around the world even though ‘I Beat the Rap’. Ma bailed me out of Auckland Central Police Station and when the cops brought me apprehensively out of the cells, she greeted me with “I am so proud of you son!!” You can imagine the wry looks on the faces of the cops!!!! and my relief!
Like many “Kiwi’s” I set out on what is euphemistically referred to as my O.E. and began back-packing around the planet. By chance, I was in Istanbul on the 26th of April 1986, the day that the world changed with the first large scale nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl (Three Mile Island notwithstanding). We were walking around in the spring sunshine and occasional rain in what we in NZ call ‘Jandals’ and the Australians call ‘Flip Flops’, cheap open rubber footwear,singlets and shorts. Everyone in Turkey was reassured (almost instantly) that there was no radiation in Turkey and to carry on with “Business as Usual”, BAU. Years later, with the arrival of the internet, it came to my attention that large parts of Europe were irradiated as was Turkey. It was around then that I decided not to have children.
On the 11th of March 2011, my and every last anti-nuclear activist on the planets’ worst nightmare came to fruition with the earthquake, tsunami and triple melt down at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan. This avoidable catastrophe is the single worst industrial disaster of all time by an order of magnitude. Worse that Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, the Deep Water Horizon blowout and Bhopal combined.
The three coriums at Daiichi have melted their way through primary and almost certainly secondary containment and are now doing what we were assured could never happen, the “China Syndrome” where the cores are somewhere below the 3 plants or spread to the winds and ocean by the subsequent explosions.
TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the same criminals that ensured the failure of the plants by saving money building the sea wall smaller than their own research told them it should be, tell us that two or three hundred tonnes of irradiated water is flowing from the plant into the Pacific every day. My instinct tells me they will almost certainly be lying and the water component of the disaster will be much worse than they admit. There is little or no discussion of the ionising radiation escaping into the atmosphere above the 3 damaged plants.
As a result of a work accident in May 2011 that seriously damaged my hands, I was effectively ‘grounded’ from gallivanting around the world delivering small (sub-70ft) sailing yachts and had the time on my hands to research what was obviously an unfolding climate change catastrophe.
In Aotearoa NZ we have a brilliant blogger named Robin Westenra who chronicles the unraveling of the bio-sphere and the re-rise of fascism at his blog Seemorerocks
Robin unwittingly changed my life by introducing me to two revolutionary thinkers Michael C Ruppert and Professor Guy McPherson
I started following ex-C.I.A. whistle blower Mike Ruppert and most of what he said about peak oil, C.I.A. drug running, US Imperialism, Fukushima Daiichi et al made all the sense in the world but my connection with the good professor was much more fraught.
I heard what Professor McPherson had to say via his blog, his Facebook presence and radio show Nature Bats Last on PRN.FM but my initial response was “It can’t be that bad”. I then proceeded to do as much research as I could to prove McPherson wrong. Sadly I have failed, for what will soon become clear to all, in that we have irretrievably lost the energy balance of this planet, we have kicked it out of the Goldilocks zone of habit-ability and we are now descending into the abyss. I believe the collapse of Industrial civilisation and as a result of the attendant temperature spike from the loss of Global Dimming ,habit-ability on this planet could be lost in months or just a few years if we have one cataclysmic environmental disaster like the 50 gigatonne methane discharge hypothesised by Dr Natalia Shakova et al from the University of Fairbanks Alaska.
Very soon after coming to the conclusion that Professor McPherson was right and that we face Near Term Human Extinction and I began discussing the predicament we face with my family and friends, I developed what I am now referring to as Social Leprosy.
My family have stayed loyal to me as have many of my friends,even though the majority of them assume ( Hope) I am exaggerating. I can’t imagine what my nieces and nephews think when they see me at family gatherings knowing that I believe the human movie is drawing to a hideous and untimely end and very, very soon.
Some of my friends, acquaintances, colleagues and some now enemies in the environmental movements have accused me and the NTHE ‘community’ of ‘Giving Up’ by accepting that we have crossed the point of no return. One of the weak ‘straw man arguments’ is that we are dis-empowering people and that if people accept our prognosis they will also “give up”. The reality is quite the opposite, especially if you are a real activist and are driven to do what you think is right without being too attached to the outcome .
The excellent U.S. journalist Chris Hedges is renowned for his quote “I don’t fight fascism because I think I will win, I fight fascism because it is fascism”.
I never expected Nelson Mandela to ever get out of jail and become President of South Africa. I never expected NZ to be declared “Nuclear free”. I never expected to become a Leper for pointing at the elephant in the room which is our impending extinction, dripping in the blood of all the other complex life on the planet that we take down with us.(Over 200 species / day currently and accelerating fast).
Interestingly much of the opprobrium I have experienced from within the activist community is from what are now professional activists, ie; people who are paid to work within organisations like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, 350.org, Aavaz etc. For in-depth analysis of how these NGO’s have been co-opted by the dominant culture and are now gatekeepers for their multi million dollar empires and their highly rewarded leaders like Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben check out the amazing work of Wrong Kind of Green (I’ve embedded the link to Wrong Kind of Green on Facebook as the website seems to be down interestingly). All of these organisations and their employees are busy telling us that we need to transition the industrial economy to renewables. That’s not a solution, it’s a marketing strategy. Industrial civilisation is incompatible with a functioning biosphere, plain and simple. I note that I have never heard Klein or McKibben question U.S. Imperialism!
Yeah ok, I’m a Leper but I certainly haven’t given up. I’d like to thank Michael C Ruppert, Robin Westenra and his wife Pam , Professor Guy McPherson, Paul Marcotte, Dahr Jamail and many others for setting me free and waking me up. I continue to pay homage to GAIA, to tread as gently on her as I can but I no longer am burdened with the expectation and responsibility to ‘Save the world’. The world will be ok, it’s just complex life-forms that are going away.
The leprosy doesn’t come from any of the people in our ‘community’, it comes from the cunning dominant culture as it continues with B.A.U. and grinding the living planet into dust and seeks to discredit anyone who speaks of extinction with the time honoured technique of divide and rule. The recent excellent article in the New York Magazine which Rob Seimetz and I discussed in our recent podcast at Moving Forward a case in point.