Our Statement of Claim against NIWA

NIWA temp adjustments with scales of justice

1. NIWA has statutory duties to undertake climate research efficiently and effectively for the benefit of NZ, pursuing excellence and observing ethical standards, while maintaining full and accurate records.

2. The official NZ Temperature Record (NZTR), which is the historical base for most Government policy and judicial decisions relating to climate change, wholly relies upon a “Seven-station series” (7SS), adopted in 1999.

3. The twentieth-century warming trend of 1.0°C shown in the 7SS is dependent on the use of “Adjustments” taken by NIWA from a 1981 student thesis by J Salinger, a previous NIWA employee.

4. NIWA’s 1999 decision to rely on the Adjustments was a breach of duty as it did not:

• evaluate the thesis methodology or consider whether it needed updating
• discover that the supporting data and calculations had been lost
• undertake any check or peer review or require consent from the copyright holder
• maintain any record of the decision

5. NIWA’s 1999 decision was based on the mistaken assumptions that the methodology:

• was in accord with current international best practice
• had been peer reviewed and published in a scientific journal
• could be replicated by applying the thesis to publicly available data
• could be supported by production of the Salinger thesis
• reflected an NZTR increase in 1944-60 shown by another Salinger paper
• was required to compensate for changes in the altitude of thermometers

6. NIWA’s 1999 decision failed to take account of the following relevant factors:

• the National Climate Database, compiled by the Met Service, shows no material warming
• meteorologists senior to Salinger did not consider that the data should be adjusted
• the warming trend is wholly reliant on the subjective and untested Salinger thesis
• an implausible 9 out of 10 of the Adjustments favour an upward trend
• NZ was warmer in 1867, and during 1863-1919, than it is now
• the thesis showed inexplicable and unprecedented warming of 1.42°C during 1944-57
• the 7SS warming trend is much greater than the global average
• the data was lost and the Adjustments could be neither documented or replicated

7. NIWA’s 1999 decision was influenced by the expectation that major NZTR warming would encourage funding for additional climate change research.

8. NIWA failed to observe ethical standards in delegating the 1999 NZTR decision to Salinger, who was in no position to assess the matter objectively.

9. Whilst conceding that the 7SS-based NZTR requires review, NIWA has refused in 2010 to suspend it, or stop using it. It relies on an “Eleven-station series” (11SS) of unadjusted data produced in December 2009.

10. The 2010 refusal involved a breach of ethical standards in:

• delegating to Salinger the authority to select the stations and time periods of the 11SS, when it knew that he was likely to be biased in favour of corroborating the 7SS
• allowing the 1931-55 period to masquerade as part of the 11SS, whilst knowing the requisite data was missing, and the series was unreliable
• falsely claiming that Salinger’s “ship’s paper” supported the 7SS
• continuing to promote a NZTR that NIWA knew to be seriously flawed

11. The 2010 decision was unreasonable and illegal, and made without:

• assessing the arguments put forward by critics of the 7SS and the 11SS
• checking or peer reviewing or documenting the statistical methodology of the 11SS
• ensuring that the selection of inputs was free from bias
• weighing the risks and benefits to NZ of continuing to rely upon a flawed NZTR

12. The 2010 decision ignored the following relevant factors:

• the 11SS disclosed no warming from 11 stations, and the claimed warming arose only when data was unavailable from most of its stations
• the known flaws in the 7SS; and the fact that it had not been followed by other compilers of temperature databases

13. The 2010 decision was influenced by the following improper considerations:

• repudiation of the NZTR might prove politically embarrassing or reduce confidence in the integrity and objectivity of NIWA scientists
• a planned project to review the NZTR might possibly confirm the 7SS warming trend

Therefore, the NZ Climate Science Trust seeks declarations and orders to:

A. set aside NIWA’s decisions to rely upon the 7SS and 11SS, and finding the current NZTR to be invalid.

B. prevent NIWA from using the current NZTR (or information originally derived from it) for the purpose of advice to any governmental authority or to the public.

C. require NIWA to produce a full and accurate NZTR.

16 Thoughts on “Our Statement of Claim against NIWA

  1. Flipper on August 15, 2010 at 7:35 pm said:

    Excellent. Look forward to NIWAS retracting or owning up to their lies.

  2. Huub Bakker on August 16, 2010 at 7:21 am said:

    Sadly, in view of the recent inquiries over Climategate, it seems that only by action through the courts can an objective assessment be made of issues such as these; our scientific, academic and political organisations have so far failed in their duty to do so.

  3. Follow up from link above:

    Climate science author and Meteorological Society committee member Gareth Renowden said it was sickening that New Zealand’s tiny band of climate sceptics were trying to demonise Niwa scientists when the impacts of climate change were obvious in occurrences such as the Russian heatwave and floods.

    Meanwhile, in the Daily Telegraph, Bob Ward writes (via Bishop Hill)

    SIR – The recent extreme weather in Pakistan, Russia and China is not “proof of climate change” (report, August 11).

    While increases in the intensity and frequency of heatwaves, droughts and heavy rainfall in some parts of the world are consistent with the expected impacts of the rise in average temperature, it is long-term trends in extreme weather that provide evidence for a changing climate.

    Researchers must be careful about presenting the evidence for global warming. Every warm or wet event cited as proof may legitimise the erroneous portrayal of outbreaks of cold weather, such as those in northern Europe and eastern North America last winter, as evidence that global warming has stopped or does not exist. Such apparent contradictions increase public confusion.

    The event in Russia and Pakistan have no bearing on the quality issues surrounding the NIWA temperature record whatsoever, and clearly any high court judge will see this

  4. Yes, finally. It’s good, isn’t it? More people will hear of the existence of a contrary view. Of course, we must remember that this action is about the NZ temperature record (NZTR) and not anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

    Still, it’s a step forward, it will give support to climate realists everywhere and we can move on to AGW itself when this little matter is settled. We can hardly discuss the facts of global warming if warming itself is not accurately established.

  5. Mr Renowden is saying some really silly things and I will have more to add on that topic later.

    Thanks for linking to Bishop Hill, that’s a good site. I don’t quote much here from even the good overseas sites, because I try to keep a local flavour and my blogging time is short. But I like it when readers contribute those things. The MSM are doing us no favours, are they?

  6. Flipper on August 16, 2010 at 7:59 pm said:

    It is patently obvious that Mr Renowden has not read the recent report of the Royal Commission on the Victorian bushfires or he would not parrot the risible assertions made by his ilk in other nations, notably a fellow from the lamentable UK Met Service and one from the Jones Campus in East Anglia.

    As for the number of recognised scientists and the quality of their work, Mr Renowden, loses heavily on both counts. But if he is talking about those New Zealanders sucking on the public tit (bureaucrats and a few similarly funded academics) he may may be getting close in respect only of numbers.

    Now let us return to the excellent High Court Statement of Claim lodged by the NZCSC Trust. Mr Renowden may wish to ponder the UK High Court judgment restraining their Ministry of Education from attempting to indoctrinate UK school children with Gore’s rubbish in texts distributed to schools.

    To sum up, it is common for Mr Renowden and his IPCC mentors, just like NIWA, to make claims that are unsupported by verfiable data. So, Mr Renowden, to quote a delightful line from the recent Oxford Union debate (in which your UK followers were soundly thrashed):
    “And your references are? Where are your references?”

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  8. this is excellent… may the truth be found and upheld! good luck with the case

  9. Mike Jowsey on August 19, 2010 at 10:54 am said:

    Pedantic grammatical correction:

    “the data was lost and the Adjustments could be neither documented or replicated”

    should be “the data was lost and the Adjustments could be neither documented nor replicated”

  10. Quite so, Mike. I’ll pass it on, thanks.

    Oops, I mean, it’s too late now! The documents have been served.

  11. Thanks. Watch this space and you’ll be the first to know what happens. NIWA have 28 days from service of the documents to respond. They respond to us, not to the judge, then we start to negotiate or ask for a hearing date. Depends what they say. I guess they will dispute everything we say, but we must wait and see.

    The documents were served on Tuesday, August 10, in Auckland. So NIWA must respond by Tuesday, September 7.

    UPDATE 31 AUGUST: Apparently I’m wrong; they have until Tuesday 14 September.

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