Friends don't let friends work for Greenpeace. When one of my friends told me he was thinking of getting a job with them, I suggested he apply to a different circus.

He's a smart and tough guy, hard-headed and practical but with a crusading streak that probably clouded his judgment in this instance. Because if you want to make the world a better place, isn't Greenpeace the last outfit you'd hook up with?

The fiasco that saw a clutch of its members climb on top of Parliament and wave some signs around for a few hours recently can best be seen as the beginning of 2015's stunt season.

Look forward to the next few weeks seeing publicity whores and show ponies saddle up to do the sort of good works that will get the maximum number of people looking at them and have minimal effect.

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This is, of course, Greenpeace's specialty. The organisation's modus operandi has always been to gain vast amounts of attention by arranging and performing elaborate and eye-catching feats which have zero effect.

As was the case with the roof climbing. One of its participants, purportedly an adult, described himself as "an undercover ninja". A real ninja wouldn't be seen dead working with Greenpeace. In fact, a real ninja wouldn't be seen at all.

And for all their daring and clever slogans, the Greenpeace roof climbers would not have changed one individual's thinking about the problem of climate change.

Left-wing social media bunched its panties even more tightly than usual to decry the general media's response to the act. They could not understand that the news media focused their attention on the news component of the stunt, the security breach at Parliament, rather than the issue of climate change. Didn't the media understand what Greenpeace wanted them to do?

Off they went, on a frolic of their own, refusing to perform Greenpeace's bidding.

I'm not sure how much useful information about climate change was to be gleaned by looking at the ecowarriors standing on a roof practically giggling with delight at their own naughtiness. If there was some sort of metaphor about climate change, it went over my head, just like the protesters went over the heads of parliamentary security.

A presentation of literacy awards for three graduated prisoners. Photo / Duncan Brown
A presentation of literacy awards for three graduated prisoners. Photo / Duncan Brown

Dry July is with us again to raise funds for cancer and irritate the hospitality industry. And for the sixth year in a row people with profiles have spent a night sleeping in carparks to "draw attention to" the plight of the homeless and raise some money.

I'd like to draw attention to the numerous quiet ways that people in the community perform practical acts for little or no reward.

To take just one, the Howard League for Penal Reform's literacy programme in prisons, which goes on quietly improving people's lives with no one watching. It made the news briefly this week but only because Helen Clark came with the story, presenting certificates to graduates of the programme - not, you will note, to the do-gooders who run the programme.

But if you want to make a real and dramatic change to someone's life and you don't need a fuss made of you for doing so, teaching people to read, so that when they get out of prison their chances of getting a job and functioning in society are higher, is about as good as it gets.