Nonsense from NIWA, hyperbole from Hot Topic

This jurist no scientist

When you can’t make a proper rebuttal the only recourse is distortion.

Two months ago, in Epic fail, NIWA! Your methods are a global secret, I described how I asked John Morgan, CEO of NIWA, in the name of the Official Information Act what authority he had to say that NIWA scientists, when reconstructing the national temperature record, used methods which were “in accordance with internationally recognised methodology.”

His reply: “The judge said so.” A foolish answer, because the judge didn’t validate NIWA’s methods — he’s incompetent to do so. He freely admitted his inability to rule on the science:

[44] “…the Court is not in a position to definitively adjudicate on scientific opinions.”

Mr Morgan must have missed it. Justice Venning emphasised it several times in different ways (see my previous post linked above) — he did not and never would rule on scientific matters. When he stated “the methodology applied by NIWA was in accordance with internationally recognised and credible scientific methodology [para 182],” he could not have been commending NIWA’s methods because he had heard no evidence of “international recognition.” The only “evidence” consisted of NIWA scientists themselves asserting that their methods were internationally recognised and credible.

No international recognition so far

Is that evidence? No.

The only possible conclusion is that Justice Venning was merely parroting what NIWA had told him. That’s far from a scientific recommendation of NIWA’s methods and it’s shameful to cite it. John Morgan is treating the people of New Zealand with open contempt.

We can test this. We’ll ask his scientists whether the judge determined any scientific questions — and if he had, would they have accepted it? I think they will laugh. These are the people who told the judge they hold no obligation to strive for excellence and that the national temperature record they now administer is not an “official” record. They will laugh at the notion of being told by a jurist what the science is.

Keeping a kindly eye on sceptics

Anyway: Enter stage right: Gareth Renowden to defend the NIWA CEO. Ta-da!

At Hot Topic Gareth Renowden writes an episodic opinion piece keeping a kindly, avuncular eye on climate sceptics. Gareth is a confirmed climate alarmist, claims the world is about to end (we say it’s not about to end, which apparently shows we’re lunatics) and he wrote a book to prove it.

I know all of us here at CCG appreciate the endless, elegant charm of “Prat Watch” and eagerly look for the next instalment. But in his latest post, the facts are badly twisted.

Gareth notes that I said: “we have never disagreed with the occasional need for adjustments, we merely wish to know how NIWA makes them,” but he calls it a lie. To justify that, he pulls a trick on us. Oh, he’s a trickster, that one!

He quotes from our paper describing our disagreement with the corrections. But we don’t say that corrections should never be made. He gives no reference to it; it’s a distortion, since by now poor Gareth so dislikes me and this site and all the people in our conversations that of course he’s looking to insult and demean us whenever he can.

His whole intent is not to find fault, but to ridicule. He doesn’t refer to John Morgan’s failure to provide a citation. He doesn’t even abuse me for asking, he abuses me on other grounds entirely.

We didn’t say “no adjustments, ever” — we asked “what are the adjustments and how did you make them?” The wording is on page 3 of our paper for anyone to verify. We said:

“Have the readings in the official NIWA graph been adjusted? It is relatively easy to find out. We compared raw data for each station (from NIWA’s web site [as it then was – RT]) with the adjusted official data … What did we find? First, the station histories are unremarkable. There are no reasons for any large corrections. But we were astonished to find that strong adjustments have indeed been made.”

So we asked what the adjustments were and why they were made.

It took months, but NIWA eventually told us everything (justifying our questions), added missing information to the metadata (justifying some of the adjustments) and even reconstructed the whole national temperature record, providing far better documentation of calculations (though we still have criticisms of its accuracy). Nobody else has persuaded NIWA to do as much, though Gareth doesn’t mention that — he just grizzles that we somehow “forced” them into it without reason. As though he accepts that NIWA might on occasion act without reason. Oh, the irony!

But there’s more

Gareth says: “NIWA published an exhaustive account of the methods they used when calculating their latest long term NZ temperature record — which turned out to be more or less identical to the old one.” So they did, and interminable indeed was the detail. He accuses me of “an outright lie” but he’s not paying attention.

Because NIWA did indeed fail to reveal what method was used. We’re asking for it, because our audit found they made mistakes and overstated the warming. Did they mention Rhoades and Salinger (1993) (RS93)? Did they mention the Salinger student thesis of 1981? What about Salinger et al. (1992)?

Well, they mentioned all three! But did they declare which one they used in their 2010 review of the 7SS (seven-station series — the modern version of Salinger’s student work and the accepted national temperature record)?

They appear to. On page 17 of the report of that review they say: “These adjustments to the multiple sites comprising the ‘seven-station’ series were calculated by Salinger et al. (1992), using the methodology of Rhoades and Salinger (1993), which extended the early work on New Zealand temperatures by Salinger (1981).” That was in February 2010.

So again they mention all three, this time with an apparent emphasis on RS93. But that’s for the 7SS as it was. Did the review use RS93? They claimed in court that they did.

It’s not correct to say they have declared their methodology. Where do they say this? It’s not in the review report.

Now we have the spectacle of John Morgan asserting that their methodology was validated by Mr Justice Venning, who has stated explicitly and repeatedly that he cannot make scientific decisions.

How more nonsensical can this stupid affair become?

The review cites extensively from all three sources, however, I haven’t found a statement confirming the methodology it uses for its own calculations. If such a statement existed, Mr Morgan would surely have cited it; but he didn’t, so it cannot exist.

A simple matter

Now, this is very simple. My recent inquiry of John Morgan in the name of the OIA was sparked by his recent comments in the Herald. He claimed that “the methodology applied by NIWA [in its 2010 review of the seven-station temperature series] was in accordance with internationally recognised … methodology.”

NIWA has never cited a reference for this. Now it cites the judge himself, which is nonsense.

How hard can it be to name a scientific source, if one exists? Beating around the bush can only be interpreted as obfuscation. So please, Mr Morgan, tell us the truth.

How strange, to see the leader of scientists answering a request for scientific authority by citing a jurist and self-declared non-scientist.

Last bit of nonsense from Hot Topic

Gareth has frequently ridiculed us for the case we brought against NIWA, saying it’s no job for the courts to rule on global warming science (though it was a straw man argument — our court action was never about that). So he’s a hypocrite now to offer no criticism of Mr Morgan’s crystal-clear assertion that the judge has done just that.

He imagined we hoped for an impossible ruling on the science and abused us for it; he could be at least logically consistent and now criticise NIWA for actually relying on an impossible ruling.

Gareth again quotes my previous post: “NIWA’s secret methodology grossly overstates the country’s warming as 0.91°C per century—using data from seven long-term weather stations, it increased every one of them—an incredible failure of chance alone.” But he misreads it terribly, because he says:

If the New Zealand climate wasn’t warming, then that might be the case. But we know from other evidence — such as the shrinkage of NZ’s glaciers — that the climate has been warming. Seeing warming in the long term temperature record is exactly what you would expect. Physics and evidence trumps Treadgold’s naive interpretation of chance.

But I was talking about the difference between the raw temperature readings and NIWA’s adjustments, not the climate itself. As the Statistical Audit of the NIWA 7-Station Review by the CSC in July 2011 declares on page 8: “the NIWA method overstates the New Zealand trend by 0.57/0.34 = 168%.”

The audit clearly shows NIWA overstates NZ warming as 0.91°C per century, while RS93 (correctly used) puts it at 0.34°C per century — unremarkable against global warming of about 0.6°C per century.

My reference to chance was nothing to do with climate, rather the impossibility of NIWA’s review matching the previous adjustments in both sign and magnitude. But strangely those hundreds of separate, random temperature movements and adjustments did match the previous ones — which could not have been due to chance alone, but indicates a bias or intent. Used correctly, RS93 calculates a warming of only 0.34°C over 100 years — an amount glaciers sneer at.

So Gareth’s forlorn attempt to show strong warming when the thermometers don’t is simply risible. Glacial advance and retreat depend far more on precipitation and topography than on temperature.

We await an honest appraisal from him of NIWA’s performance and motives. Instead of claiming unspecified “anodyne comments” he might start by actually addressing my specific criticisms of Mr Morgan’s claim that the judge somehow (accidentally?) “adjudicated” on the science while declaring that he did not.

Gareth usually insists on peer-reviewed science — peer-review this!

129 Thoughts on “Nonsense from NIWA, hyperbole from Hot Topic

  1. Richard C (NZ) on January 31, 2014 at 9:16 am said:

    ‘Is the Climate SELL Signal Imminent?’

    by Eric Worrall

    One of the simplest statistical tools used by investors is a moving average plot. If you plot the average share price of a company, or other investment product, with different smoothing periods, on the same graph, a crossover between the different plots can provide early warning of an imminent change in trend – a buy or sell signal.

    From Wikipedia:-

    “A moving average, as a line by itself, is often overlaid in price charts to indicate price trends. A crossover occurs when a faster moving average (i.e., a shorter period moving average) crosses a slower moving average (i.e. a longer period moving average). In other words, this is when the shorter period moving average line crosses a longer period moving average line. In stock investing, this meeting point is used either to enter (buy or sell) or exit (sell or buy) the market.”

    The interesting thing about moving averages is they can provide useful, actionable information, without requiring any knowledge of the nature of the underlying commodity.
    So what happens if we create a moving average plot of global temperature (in this case Hadcrut4)?

    See plot

    What is immediately apparent is we may be in the early stages of a significant inflection point – it is too early to tell for sure, but the beginning of an inflection which appears to centre on the early 2000s seems very similar to the inflection which occurred in the 1940s, heralding decades of cooling temperatures.

    If the numbers I was plotting was the value of an investment, I would interpret the chart as a strong “sell” signal – a warning that a substantial drop could be imminent.

  2. Richard C (NZ) on January 31, 2014 at 9:57 am said:

    >”….the IPCC’s downgraded AR5 prediction by “expert opinion” (a guess) is 0.23 C/decade”

    I would point out too that the MfE/NIWA projection for NZ is “All-scenario average 0.9“ by 2040, 2.1°C by 2090 (**)” from 1990. The 2040 figure works out at 0.18“ C/decade, considerably below the IPCC’s global projection.

    But even NIWA’s lower projection wasn’t on track even when it was made in 2008, and it still isn’t. For that discussion go here:

  3. Richard C (NZ) on January 31, 2014 at 12:36 pm said:

    >”-0.008 ±0.200 °C/decade (2σ) last 17 years”

    Should be:

    -0.007 ±0.202 °C/decade (2σ), 17 years Nov 1996 – Nov 2013
    -0.008 ±0.200 °C/decade (2σ), 17.083 years Nov 1996 – Dec 2013.

    So instead of the trend being nudged UP with the addition of an ENSO-neutral month as expected assuming AGW valid, the trend has been nudged DOWN and the statistical significance of the negative trend has increased.

  4. Richard C (NZ) on January 31, 2014 at 1:08 pm said:

    RSS was set up by Carl Mears and Frank Wentz to “correct” UAH. On Mears’ bio page we see Mears and Wentz were co-authors of the Santer paper where the 17 yr criteria was established:

    Santer, B. D., C. A. Mears, C. Doutriaux, P. M. Caldwell, P. J. Gleckler, T. M. L. Wigley, S. Solomon, N. Gillett, D. P. Ivanova, T. R. Karl, J. R. Lanzante, G. A. Meehl, P. A. Stott, K. E. Taylor, P. W. Thorne, M. F. Wehner and F. J. Wentz, (2011) Separating Signal and Noise in Atmospheric Temperature Changes: The Importance of Timescale, J. Geophys. Res., 116, D22105, doi:10.1029/2011JD016263.

    The supreme irony being that the 17 year flat trend turned up in RSS just over 8 years earlier than UAH turned flat.

  5. Richard C (NZ) on February 1, 2014 at 8:19 am said:

    At bat for the Climate Science Team – Bette Midler.

    ‘If you live in The South and still believe Climate Change doesn’t exist, wake up. And buy a snow shovel’

  6. Richard C (NZ) on February 1, 2014 at 8:32 am said:

    And, also on the basis of Atlanta snow:

    Godly Denialists Won’t Be Raptured from Climate Hell | OpEdNews:

    “Just as certain biblically oriented minds perceive in Sherman’s March God’s horrifying punishment for slavery’s inhuman sin, I hope they’ll come to see in potentially cataclysmic weather God’s equally frightful punishment for the arrogant, heedless sin of climate-change denial. For in global warming, the prophecy of the world ending by fire may strangely be fulfilled. But on the way to humanity-ending climate Armageddon, the suffering and death toll from chaotic, unanticipated extreme weather (as previewed in miniature in Atlanta) will prove almost unthinkable. And who among climate-change deniers–or among any of us–is so righteous as to arrogantly presume we’ll be raptured away from the rapidly approaching armies of climate Apocalypse? Now marching our roads in double-time. ”

  7. Richard C (NZ) on February 1, 2014 at 9:56 am said:

    2 1/2 inches of snow in Atlanta on January 27/28, 2014 means we’re on the way to climate Apocalypse.

    9 inches of snow in Atlanta on January 19, 1893 means nothing at all.

  8. Richard C (NZ) on February 2, 2014 at 8:53 am said:

    At bat for the Climate Science Team – Prince Charles.

    “It is baffling, I must say, that in our modern world we have such blind trust in science and technology that we all accept what science tells us about everything – until, that is, it comes to climate science.”

    “All of a sudden, and with a barrage of sheer intimidation, we are told by powerful groups of deniers that the scientists are wrong and we must abandon all our faith in so much overwhelming scientific evidence. ”

    “So, thank goodness for our young entrepreneurs here this evening, who have the far-sightedness and confidence in what they know is happening to ignore the headless chicken brigade and do something practical to help.”

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