If it was “settled science” how did you improve it?

For if it had no defects, why did you study it?

But if you studied it, why did you never deny the claim that it was settled?

Climate scientists of New Zealand: you have deceived us.


The RSNZ is planning to announce progress in climate science since the AR4 in 2007.

Since 2007 and earlier, from Al Gore down, these arrogant shouts around the world have escaped challenge by the scientific establishment: “the science is settled” on climate change! The claim has been around for most of the century.

The Royal Society of New Zealand has never, to my knowledge, used the phrase “the science is settled.”

It did set up the government-funded Science Media Centre (SMC), with its Sciblogs department, which re-blogs numerous odious posts from such celebrated centres of scientific excellence as Hot Topic and Open Parachute. And those blogs and their manic commenters provide all the spittle-lipped propaganda you could ever wish for the “settled science” believers without needing contributions from the respected scientists at the RS.

So the likes of Wratt, Renwick, Mullan and other IPCC authors could deliver their careful public comments in the manner expected of senior scientists and easily deflect criticisms for those unscientific claims of settledness on the grounds that they never made them.

But the RSNZ has also never, to my knowledge, corrected anyone on those blogs or anywhere else for claiming “the science is settled.” It has been content to let those false claims be made by others, in the full confidence that in the absence of a denial by a scientific society the claims would take firm root in the public mind.

Did I mention they use taxpayer funds? The SMC is a three-year pilot project from MoRST (now MSI).

The RSNZ has certainly supported the existence of a scientific consensus on the science of climate change. But (see below) it has now moved on. Are we to believe they have made “progress”?

Will Dr Renwick disclose the evidence for a significant human contribution to global temperature rise? Will he acknowledge the lack of a recent significant global temperature rise and explain exactly why we should continue to believe that catastrophe is coming?

Here’s the notice from the Royal Society:

Alert Newsletter 720
Posted: Wed, 6 Jun 2012

13. NZCCRI Seminar Series: Progress in climate science since the 2007 IPCC Assessment Report, 28 June, Wellington

Dr James Renwick, Associate Professor, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, will summarise the current understanding of how and why the climate is changing.

He will also provide an overview of some of the recent research likely to form the basis for the next Assessment Report. The focus will be on observed and projected changes to elements of the climate system, the role of large-scale patterns of variability (e.g. the monsoons, El Niño/Southern Oscillation, Southern Annular Mode) and implications for New Zealand.

Details: 12.30–1.30pm Thursday 28 June. Venue: Rutherford House, Lecture Theatre 2.

(Aside: how long has James been an Associate Professor? In the Gisborne Herald of May 26 he described himself as “Principal Scientist, Climate Variability and Change, NIWA.” Are both descriptions true?)

So, roll up, one and all. Discover why climate scientists let us believe that climate science was all done and dusted.

h/t – GJB

20 Thoughts on “If it was “settled science” how did you improve it?

  1. Andy on June 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm said:

    Another scientist appears to be jumping ship

    CICERO director Pål Prestrud has repeatedly been involved in verbal punch-ups with those dubious to human-induced climate change but has now become a climate sceptic, according to him.

    In an interview with Stavanger Aftenblad, he does not acknowledge the doubters are right, “but I’m pointing out the obvious: the fact that our knowledge about climate change is uncertain.”


  2. Mike Jowsey on June 9, 2012 at 3:24 am said:

    His position seems to be – we’re aren’t that sure about CAGW, but we need to act now anyway.

    “Dare we take a chance on major, dangerous global warming, although it is obvious that global warming may also be entirely at the lower end of the scale regarding the probable?” he asks.

    So, although skeptical, he still thinks we should impose carbon taxes all over the industrialised world. What’s up with that?

  3. Richard C (NZ) on June 9, 2012 at 7:31 am said:

    I find this curious. First off, the expected:-

    Dr James Renwick …. will summarise the current understanding of how and why the climate is changing.

    He will also provide an overview of some of the recent research likely to form the basis for the next Assessment Report.

    Ok, but then,

    The focus will be on observed and projected changes to elements of the climate system, the role of large-scale patterns of variability (e.g. the monsoons, El Niño/Southern Oscillation, Southern Annular Mode) and implications for New Zealand.

    This is what NZ agri/horticulture growers marketers and other climate critical sectors should be factoring in to medium/long-term plans etc and all very normal.

    But where is mention of anthropogenic attribution, signature, influence or whatever? There seems to be a disconnect between the raison d’etre of the Assessment Report and Renwick’ s focus. If anthro attribution (or lack of) ISN’T the focus wrt climate change then why everything else in that forum?

    It’s really just a long-term weather prediction and review otherwise unless he actually comes up with something anthropogenically substantial.

  4. Andy on June 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm said:

    For those following the saga over the Gergis et al paper (the southern hemisphere “hockey stick” reconstruction), there have been some interesting developments. The paper has been withdrawn (for “corrections”, presumably).

    David Karoly wrote this to Steve McIntyre:

    Dear Stephen,

    I am contacting you on behalf of all the authors of the Gergis et al (2012) study ‘Evidence of unusual late 20th century warming from an Australasian temperature reconstruction spanning the last millennium’

    An issue has been identified in the processing of the data used in the study, which may affect the results. While the paper states that “both proxy climate and instrumental data were linearly detrended over the 1921–1990 period”, we discovered on Tuesday 5 June that the records used in the final analysis were not detrended for proxy selection, making this statement incorrect. Although this is an unfortunate data processing issue, it is likely to have implications for the results reported in the study. The journal has been contacted and the publication of the study has been put on hold.

    This is a normal part of science. The testing of scientific studies through independent analysis of data and methods strengthens the conclusions. In this study, an issue has been identified and the results are being re-checked.

    We would be grateful if you would post the notice below on your ClimateAudit web site.

    We would like to thank you and the participants at the ClimateAudit blog for your scrutiny of our study, which also identified this data processing issue.

    Thanks, David Karoly


  5. Richard C (NZ) on June 9, 2012 at 5:05 pm said:

    Credit due to Jean S in the first place for keeping them honest (must have been a hard letter for Karoly to write).


  6. Richard C (NZ) on June 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm said:

    Will Dr Renwick address cooling scenarios advanced from outside of climate science?

    Useful in terms of snowfall, frost days etc especially when you have to hire helicopters for frost prevention at great expense.

    I’m willing to bet he doesn’t.

  7. Richard C (NZ) on June 12, 2012 at 10:12 am said:

    They’re still trying to pin ocean warming on humans but without an actual physical mechanism – just an arbitrary attribution:-

    Human-Induced Global Ocean Warming on Multi-Decadal Time Scales

    P.J. Gleckler, B.D. Santer, C.M. Domingues, D.W. Pierce, T.P. Barnett, J.A. Church, K.E. Taylor, K.M. AchutaRao, T.P. Boyer, M. Ishii, & P.M. Caldwell


    And Pielke Snr highlights modeled uncertainty of ocean heat content changes.

    The Overstatement Of Certainty In The Levitus Et Al 2012 Paper


    I guess it will all be resolved in AR5…..

  8. Richard C (NZ) on June 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm said:

    This is OT but for want of a better place to get this topical I’ll kick it off here.

    I’ve drawn attention in the BOM AU temperature series thread at JoNova to the incredible adjustments BOM have made to Alice Springs as compared to those NIWA made to the NZT7 and posted Bob D’s before and after NZT7 plot with 3rd order polynomial trend as a comparison to Jo & Ken’s Alice Springs before and after comparator.

    I asked for a table of adjustments to determine what BOM had done because the Alice Springs series has not retained the original shape as the NZT7 and its constituent locations do due to the cumulative step adjustments. BOM does not seem to have made cumulative step adjustments (they may have done but hard to see if they have), instead there are zillions of individual datapoint adjustments as Ken Stewart explains in his latest comment in the thread:-

    All adjustments are DAILY- there are thousands. Every single minimum reading from 1/1/1910 to 31/12/2004 was adjusted by a varying amount. That’s 34,698 separate adjustments, less a few missed readings. Try making sense of that

    That’s why I did a 365 day running mean. For maxima, they start adjusting from 9/1/1910 and go to 31/12/1931, then adjust again for February 1944, then no more adjustments at all.


    I’ve replied to Ken saying I’m astounded at the individual adjustments and that they are far more radical and make a much greater difference to the series than do individual datapoint adjustments in any of the NZT7 locations. I’ve then asked Ken if BOM have made cumulative step adjustments and can they be listed in an update along with the 34,698 individual adjustments. That comment is cross-linked to this comment.

    These BOM adjustments to the Alice Springs example (good case study) make the NIWA adjustment to any of the NZT7 look benign by comparison.

    Unfortunately comments are full of OT garbage (the post should have been strictly moderated as per CA due to the nature of it) but the sub thread above should be OK to follow.

  9. Richard C (NZ) on June 20, 2012 at 10:14 am said:

    Gotta love this from Joe Postma:-

    Skeptical Science: “Postma then goes on to describe fictitious “boundary conditions.” In particular, he seems to have serious objections to the averaging of the solar radiative flux over the Earth. In essence, he would prefer we had one sun delivering 1370 W/m2 of energy to the planet, with a day side and a night side, noon and twilight, etc. instead of the simple model where we average 1370/4=342.5 W/m2 over the planet (so that the whole Earth is receiving the appropriate “average” solar radiation).”

    So here they are objecting to the reality I presented that there is “one sun delivering 1370 W/m2 of energy to the planet, with a day side and a night side, noon and twilight”. Why would they object to something like that? They literally admit to prefer to think of the Earth as flat and without night and day such that they’re criticizing my position that the Earth is round and the Sun is hot. An amazing further irony.


    Skeptical Science objects to reality, prefers flat earth……and 24hr sunlight.

  10. Richard C (NZ) on June 20, 2012 at 10:36 am said:

    Ha! Postma’s tied SkS in knots:-

    Skeptical Science: “Postma runs into this mistake again when he claims that the low water vapor in hot deserts is a problem for greenhouse theory, but this is largely due to the lack of evaporation cooling, which is just one component of the surface energy budget, and nearly absent in a desert. This is one scenario where a detailed consideration of the surface budget is critical, as well as in other weakly coupled regimes.”

    But it couldn’t be clearer: In the desert there is very little water vapour, and water vapour is the strongest heat-amplifying so-called greenhouse gas, especially considering it’s overwhelming radiative properties as compared to CO2. Yet in the desert, much higher temperatures are reached than are achieved at similar latitudes in areas where there is an abundance of water vapour. If the greenhouse effect was really in operation, regions with more water vapour in the air should get much hotter than regions without, yet the reverse is seen to be the case. It doesn’t get any simpler and clear cut than this: where there should be a stronger greenhouse effect, the opposite is what is actually found.

    In fact, recent scientific findings by independent researcher Carl Brehmer has shown that water vapour, the strongest “greenhouse gas” according to climate theory, actually behaves as an ANTI-greenhouse gas because of its strong negative-feedback effects upon temperature increases. This is therefore a double-whammy to alarmist climate irrationality, because in addition to requiring water vapour to act like a heat-amplifying greenhouse gas, it also requires water vapour to act as a positive feedback factor! The data clearly shows that water and water vapour is a strong negative feedback factor in the climate, and that its presence reduces temperature, not increases it.

  11. Vincent Gray has been pointing out this flat earth model for a while now.

  12. Richard C (NZ) on June 20, 2012 at 11:36 am said:

    In the Newsletters Andy? I don’t get around to reading those so haven’t seen Gray’s articles. Do you have a link to any on that subject?

    I suppose I could look on the NZCSC website myself but if you can direct me to what you are referring to, that would be helpful.

  13. Andy on June 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm said:

    He sent it to me by email so here it is in Dropbox


    It’s on the NZ climate website somewhere too

  14. Richard C (NZ) on June 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm said:

    Thanks for digging this out Andy, it’s a great presentation except for a few extraneous words and an easy, plain English, one coffee, read. I hope I’m as lucid and productive as Vincent when I’m his age (if I even make it that far).

    I see what you were pointing out, he says:-

    “A major error is the claim that it is possible to average day and night. The climate by
    day is a quite different problem from the climate at night. By day the earth has a
    constant supply of energy, so it resembles a perpetual motion machine. By night,
    without the sun, it would tend to themodynamic equilibrium. Many of the figures
    would have very different values in the daytime than at night, yet they are quoted as
    averages, as if the sun shines all the time.”

    He has scant regard for Gerlich and Tscheuscher though
    As a system which has a permanent supply of external energy from the Sun, it could
    never be considered to be in equilibrium. It is perfectly capable of using its energy to
    violate the laws of thermodynamics, similarly to a refrigerator which uses external
    energy to transfer heat from a cold place (the refrigerator) to a warm place (the heat

    Several people51-54 who have failed to understand this, have claimed that the system
    presented is wrong as it involves heat being transferred from a cool atmosphere back
    to the earth (‘back radiation”) which violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
    Gerlich and Tscheuscher53,54 try to argue that the climate cannot be regarded as
    equivalent to a heat pump because the external energy to a heat pump is work
    instead of solar radiation. They give as references for the view that external energy
    has to be work two publications by Clausius55.56 The English translation56 at least,
    does not support the view that since the climate is not fuelled by “external work”
    therefore it cannot violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This view is,
    however, supported by some textbooks (e.g. Smith and Cooper 196457). It cannot be
    right because it would involve violation of the Stefan Boltzmann and Planck’s laws of
    For what little my opinion is worth in such company, I have to disagree with Vincent on this. He neglects to describe the “turning” between the various spectral ranges e.g. UVA/B, IR-A/B/C and the earth material that the radiation is encountering for radiative energy (not “heat”) to be absorbed and subsequently heat manifest in the material. It’s been shown ad nauseum (broken record in my case) that in the case of the ocean surface, that “tuning” does not exist for IR-C (the GHG spectra). and what little IR-C energy that is transferred is used up in evaporation (Hl) thereby the effect is cooling of the surface, not warming. Hence the “cool-skin” layer at the surface of the ocean in conjunction with conductive (Hs) and radiative (Rnl) energy loss from the surface.

    I think Vincent’s comment on G&T is incorrect because he fails to correctly distinguish between the forms of energy (heat and radiation) as G&T do and mixes up the terminology (substituting “heat” for “radiation”) in his interpretation of what he thinks G&T are on about in terms of the Second Law of Thermodynamics which is specifically “heat” transfer http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/thermo/seclaw.html not “radiative energy” transfer.

  15. Andy on June 20, 2012 at 6:50 pm said:

    Richard C

    I thought you might be interested in this post on Tallbloke


    The MGDNN commenter has been pretty vocal at pushing his point of view on Bishop Hill recently

    I find these theories interesting, but hard to follow without a good grasp of thermodynamics that I don’t have

    If and when climate science becomes a real science again, we can enjoy these discussions because they are genuinely interesting and show to me how little we know

  16. Richard C (NZ) on June 20, 2012 at 8:53 pm said:

    Yes very interesting, basically the point MDGNN makes (as I see it) is that CO2 is an energy “tranferrer” not a “trapper”.

    Interesting too is the difference cloudiness levels make and that DLR will have been emitted from cloud under surfaces when they are present in addition to that emitted from GHGs. You don’t hear a lot of that (none that I can recall) from AGW guys and is the reason why I always say DLR is from GHGs(+clouds) to get the correct context otherwise the impression is always that DLR is from GHGs-only.

    As MDGNN puts it:-

    “Thus cloud under surfaces will emit specular IR light in the atmospheric window back to the Earth whose energy will have originally been partly CO2 specific”

    And interesting too that MDGNN makes recourse to Mech/Chem engineering for the empirical experimental stuff re furnace design. My example of water surface spectroscopy is the result of experimental work by medical laser physics labs but climate science rarely looks over the fence at other disciplines preferring to remain aloof in their own blinkered we-know-best cloister.

    And yes, the more I discover is known collectively the less and less I discover I know myself. It’s a one step forward two steps back process so that by the time I lose my marbles, I’ll have accumulated enough knowledge to know nothing at all.

  17. Andy on June 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm said:

    Richard C – you are correct in your statement about “looking over the fence”.
    There are so many areas of specialised knowledge these days that can benefit from cross-disciplinary wisdom. There is too much specialisation and too much groupthink.

    Don’t worry about the “knowing nothing at all”. It is the true path to enlightenment grasshopper!

  18. Richard C (NZ) on June 21, 2012 at 9:01 am said:

    Someone’s article recently (can’t remember whose) was of the opinion that climate science was a generalist area and it was outside specialists that were finding the errors. Statistician’s Jean Sibelius and Steve McIntyre at CA are a good example of that.

    The point being made was that the climate science generalists covered several different specialist areas badly e.g. statistics, physics including astro and geo, thermodynamics, mathematics etc so that the groupthink occurs when generalists don’t bring in specialists because their ego gets in the way.

    NZCSET had to bring in a specialist statistician to check NIWA’s adjustments but the obstacle was finding the funding rather than resistance to the introduction of specialist skills from what I can gather.

    I worked for a Marketing Mgr for a while who had a disconcerting variation on the “path to enlightenment”. After any intense grilling on some project he would announce “life’s a learning experience……..and then you die”.

  19. Richard C (NZ) on June 21, 2012 at 6:48 pm said:

    Ken, Part 1 of 2

    I’ve been reading CAWCR Technical Report No. 049 by Blair Trewin (Trewin049) http://cawcr.gov.au/publications/technicalreports/CTR_049.pdf almost word-for-word and have revised my first impression re possible effects on trend by the daily adjustments. On reflection, my previous comment on this was a load of rubbish and I now do not think the daily adjustments have any effect beyond negligible because they seem to be (for Alice Springs) equally up and down on what must be a data series that has already been adjusted for step changes (aka “breakpoints”). My suspicions were correct however wrt daily adjustments, BOM has implemented a methodology that has not been carried out anywhere else. From Trewin049 page 52 pdf:-


    […] The detection of inhomogeneities in a temperature record is a well-developed field of research (see section 7.2) and the methods used in the construction of the ACORN-SAT data set are closely based on those used previously for national-scale networks. However, adjustment of data to remove inhomogeneities at the daily timescale is a much less developed field, with the techniques used in ACORN-SAT not having been used outside Australia for a national-level data set.

    That explains the 34,698 separate daily adjustments but see Part 2 in regard to the sequence of adjustments i.e. step changes then daily?

    Now to the 660 step changes (breakpoints). You have previously answered “No” you did not think BOM carried out cumulative step changes. I should have asked “accumulated” step changes because there is a plot in Trewin049 on page 96 pdf Fig. 29. Accumulated annual mean adjustments (°C) for minimum temperature at Alice Springs, relative to 2009 (more in Part 2). There are definitely 660 step change adjustments in Table 6 page 72 Summary of adjustments (more in Part 2). From Trewin049 reference to these step adjustments:-

    Page 20 pdf

    3.1 What is meant by homogenisation and composite sites?

    […] Throughout this report, compositing of sites refers to the process of merging nearby sites to create a “single” location series, taking into account differences between the raw data at the sites that are due to the absolute differences in the climate between them, e.g. one site/location might be inherently warmer than another by a few tenths of a degree.

    And page 27 pdf

    3.4 The role of site composites and comparisons

    […] The merging of sites to form a composite record requires one to account for systematic differences in temperature data or recording. The ideal situation is that a change substantial enough to warrant a change of site number is carried out with a substantial overlap between the two sites, sufficient to enable a good comparison between the two sites and appropriate adjustments to be determined.

    And page 53 pdf


    As discussed in section 3, most major site moves in
    the last 15 years at ACORN-SAT locations have at least some parallel comparison data available, although those data are not always useful in determining an appropriate adjustment

    These “appropriate adjustments” are specific to step changes and are ill-defined but alluded to later in Trewin048 (see Part 2). It is also the early step adjustments that can change a linear trend radically and are disputed in the NZT7 by the NZCSET (before a Judge right now).

    Part 2 follows.

    Cross posted JoNova ‘ANAO Audit’, kenskingdom ‘Acorn-Sat’ and Climate Conversations Group ‘If it was settled science’ posts

  20. Richard C (NZ) on June 21, 2012 at 6:55 pm said:

    Ken, Part 2 of 2

    From Trewin049 page 54 pdf

    7.2 The detection of inhomogeneities

    […] A comprehensive search of metadata, both hard-copy and electronic (see section 5), was undertaken to identify changes at a site that could indicate potential inhomogeneities, with a particular emphasis on site moves and significant developments in the vicinity of the observation site. This procedure includes the merging of records from two site numbers (something which was almost always associated with a site move) whether there was an overlap period or not. All such changes were viewed as potential inhomogeneities at this point. (In practice, some of these changes did not have any significant effect on temperature observations; such non-significant ‘inhomogeneities’ were filtered out of analyses during the adjustment process, as described in section 7.7.)

    7.2 goes on in considerable detail.

    And page 57 pdf

    7.3 Adjustment of data to remove inhomogeneities – an overview

    […] Once potential inhomogeneities have been identified, the next step is to adjust the data to remove the effects of the inhomogeneity (normally by adjusting data prior to the inhomogeneity to make it homogeneous with the most recent data, although the reverse is also possible) and make the data set homogeneous. The practice of homogenising to the most recent data has clear advantages for ongoing monitoring as it allows new data to be simply appended to the location time series (until such time as the next inhomogeneity occurs). Most adjustment techniques that have been used in large-scale climate data sets have used either a uniform annual adjustment (e.g., Della-Marta et al., 2004), or adjustments calculated for each of the 12 calendar months (e.g., Jones et al, 1986). These adjustments have typically been calculated by comparing location means, or their difference with a reference series, before and after an inhomogeneity.

    This gets us approx half way through Trewin049 and is a good place to stop for now. I’ve skimmed the rest of the report and cannot find a reference or link to a tabulation of the step change adjustments. It is imperative that they are found. 10. CASE STUDIES OF SOME SPECIFIC INHOMOGENEITIES on page 87 does however provide a plot of Accumulated annual mean adjustments (°C) for minimum temperature at Alice Springs, relative to 2009 as mentioned above.

    Trewin049 goes on with the following wrt step adjustment methodology:-

    7.4 The percentile-matching (PM) algorithm
    7.4.1 The overlap case
    7.4.2 The non-overlap case
    7.5 Monthly adjustment method
    7.6 Evaluation of different adjustment methods

    Then the most important on page 70 pdf:-

    7.7 Implementation of data adjustment in the ACORN-SAT

    Note that on page 71 pdf Trewin049 says:-

    After the first round of homogenisation, the homogenised data sets were evaluated, using the following tools:

    So step step change adjustments were made in the “first round” of adjustments. I suspect that daily adjustments were made subsequently but haven’t found any confirmation yet.

    More at a later date.

    Cross posted JoNova ‘ANAO Audit’, kenskingdom ‘Acorn-Sat’ and Climate Conversations Group ‘If it was settled science’ posts

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