Science v. Politics? - Our convenor’s report May 2024

Twenty years ago, American climate activist Bill McKibben wrote an essay titled Worried? Us? Hardly anyone, he lamented, “has fear in their guts.”

Back then CO2 was measured at 380 parts per million. (Remember, the pre-industrial count was 275ppm.) Compared with now when levels are 428.60, why would anyone have been dead scared then?

So why aren’t we now? Perhaps you are. Especially when you think of your children.

McKibben put it bluntly:

“The success of the scientific method underlines the failure of the political method.”

What better example of this than the last election when we (oh, not you or me) elected a science-denying three-headed taniwha!

This brings me to Our Climate Declaration. The constitution, drawn up seven years ago, has as the purposes of the society:

  • To encourage hundreds of thousands of people and organisations to sign a climate declaration
  • To inspire, empower and motivate people…
  • To provide information and support….
  • To take a positive, bottom-up and action-oriented approach…

“We believe,” the last sentence reads “that when enough people become active in implementing this declaration it will give governments the courage to act too.”

We updated the Declaration itself a couple of years ago and I would change nothing. But do we admit defeat on this last point? Or are we yet to reach that critical threshold where science holds politics to ransom?

Leaving you with these questions, here’s my Convenor’s report.

We do, through our webinar programme, fulfill one of the original purposes - of providing information and support. In the last 12 months we’ve actually run 13 webinars, a couple of which we’ve co-hosted with other organisations such as Dunedin-based Wise Response and the Nelson Tasman Climate Forum.

A couple have become historical, e.g. the presentation by Rod Oram who died in March and that of international climate scientist Will Steffen, who died in January 2023, on planetary boundaries. These, and all our webinars from the last three years are accessible on our website.

The programme is in good strength for the rest of this year. On June 12 Professor Sir Peter Gluckman will present a science-based view of what he believes the future holds for us.

In July, Tim Jones will draw on his experience of climate writing and activism to tell us how he sees the near future – and the far future.

Our August webinar will be by Nandita Bajaj, from the international organization Population Balance.

In September we hope two local transport specialists will present their plan for how we move around our long narrow country.

I don’t believe OCD has abandoned its original purpose. I think we’re going about it differently.

Our founder, Jeanette Fitzsimons, gave a talk to the Whitianga Greens not many months before she died. It was titled “Why Climate Change is not the real problem.”

The real problem, she believed and we believe, is ecological overshoot. We need to change the system and that means changing a million minds.

We have a lot of work to do and we need help to do it. If you have a small amount of time and feel incensed by this government’s policies, please help us to carry out the commitment stated on our website – to monitor policies and hold government to account. Our fortnightly team meetings on zoom are friendly and relaxed.

I, the current convenor, have demands on my time from family ill-health. I enjoy my interactions with you on [email protected] but I need to hand this pleasure over.

Thank you to those who support our need for funds.

Our AGM is Friday May 24 at 4pm.


  • Confirmation of minutes of last AGM
  • Treasurer’s report
  • Election of officers
  • General business
  • Convenor’s report

Here’s the link:

We look forward to your company:
Pat Baskett, Joanna Santa Barbara, Jack Santa Barbara, Paul Bruce, Torfrida Wainwright, Robin Treadwell, Molly Melhuish, Gareth Jones.

PS Our financial statement for 2023-24 is now available to read on our website.

Your donation will help us to continue our work for a world that is safe for humanity.

Donate to Our Climate Declaration general fund:
Kiwibank # 38 9018 0711725 00

Donate to the Jeanette Fitzsimons Climate Action Grants fund:
Kiwibank # 38 9018 0711725 01

Our number as a registered charity is: CC60027

Please let us know when you make a donation - Contact us or email [email protected]

Thank you. Your donation will be wisely spent.