De Lange and Leyland vindicated

Renowden hatchet job fail

Gareth Renowden, of Hot Topic, has produced a shabby critique of an NBR article by Willem de Lange and Bryan Leyland. I use the word “critique” out of politeness, for it’s merely an ill-mannered hatchet job.

The NBR article, Evidence doesn’t support rapid future sea level rise, was published on June 10.

In his blog post, Gareth expects us to believe the excellent Willem de Lange is “slapdash” and that both he and our friend Bryan Leyland have “a long history of climate denial.”

However, Bryan is a respected consulting engineer with years of experience in designing and installing medium-sized power stations, including hydro, wind and solar. Willem teaches earth sciences and climate change at Waikato University and supervises PhD students. That he might somehow deny the very subject that he and his students earnestly research is outrageous.

The truth is that Willem’s publishing record of over 160 papers and articles towers over Gareth’s achievements.

Regular readers know that Hot Topic posts are echoed in the Blogs section on the SciBlogs website. I tend to see SciBlogs as the fetid swamp down behind the Royal Society bike shed, the place climate scientists can smoke what they like, eat with their mouths open and scrawl rude words on the walls.

But they overlooked this post from Hot Topic—was it just too stupid? Gareth starts with: “the piece is riddled with errors and misrepresentations.” Watch as I point out his errors.

  • GR: The “recent” paper on sea level rise de Lange and Leyland (dLL) reference in their first paragraph is from 2010! The latest Royal Society of NZ climate info was published last month, and is presumably what dLL meant to refer to.

FAIL 1. Leyland and de Lange (LdL) didn’t supply this link, the NBR inserted it during editing. Gareth couldn’t know this because, happy with his presumption, he made no inquiries. I asked about it, but what do I know — Gareth’s the journalist. Shallow job, Gareth.

  • GR: The rise in sea level around NZ over the last 100 years was 17cm, not 14cm, according to the RSNZ (page 28 here).

FAIL 2. Sorry, Gareth, wrong century. Over the 20th century (100 years) SLR was about 14 cm. From 1915 to 2015 or thereabouts (100 years) SLR was about 17 cm. Sea level varies naturally, speeding up and slowing down on decadal scales, and was a little higher earlier this century, pushing the century rate up a bit.

FAIL 3. It would be strange indeed if the IPCC predictions published in 2007 and 2013 (AR4, AR5) were not reasonably accurate only 9 and 3 years later. But after 15, 20 and 25 years, it is certainly valid to test predictions from the first three IPCC Assessment Reports (else how much longer would you wait?). They over-estimate warming by 6.0, 3.8 and 4.5 times observed warming since January 2001. They fail. Incidentally, Gareth’s link doesn’t work. When corrected, it does indeed show a graph from AR5 in 2013 and, unsurprisingly, observations are within the lower range of model runs. Gareth clearly thinks readers are stupid and will accept that climate models work just fine.

  • GR: In discussing tidal gauge measures of sea level rise they refer to a denialist web site, not the primary sources.

FAIL 4. A denialist web site, eh? They should be arrested! But  “denialist” simply means their views differ from Gareth’s, and what of that? Since they make data available from NOAA and PSMSL, the very same “primary sources” Gareth himself cites, this is a ridiculous and petulant objection.

  • GR: They reference a textbook on sea level rise, but neglect to point out that it was published 15 years ago.

FAIL 5. No, they don’t mention the publication date, but they do say it reports SLR “during the 20th century” which was 15 years ago. That’s all you need. This is no flaw.

  • GR: dLL state that the current rate of sea level rise measured by satellite is 3.2 mm per year, with “indications of recent decline in the rate”. In fact it is 3.4mm per year, and shows no signs of any recent slowdown. If anything, there are hints of an acceleration in the underlying rate.

FAIL 6. Squabbling over differences less than the margin of error is pointless and it’s petty. If Gareth’s “hints of acceleration” refer to the CU Sea Level Research Group graph on the page he cites, he obviously hasn’t noticed that there’s no hint of acceleration for the last six months. Wrong on two counts.

  • GR: dLL claim that satellite measures are “about twice the tide gauge rate”. They’re not. They’re in good agreement. From Trends and acceleration in global and regional sea levels since 1807, Jevrejeva et al, Global and Planetary Change, 2013 (pdf)
    There is an excellent agreement between the linear trends from GSL12 [latest tide gauge data] and satellite altimetry sea level since 1993, with rates of 3.1 ± 0.6 mm/yr and of 3.2 ± 0.4 mm/yr respectively.

FAIL 7. This is an appalling attempt to pull the wool over our eyes. The rates that are apparently “in good agreement” obtained only between 1993 and 2009—just 16 years. The long-term tide gauge rates are similar to other studies: 1.9 ± 0.4 mm/yr during the 20th century and 1.8 ± 0.5 mm/yr since 1970. About half the rate of the altimeters. There’s no error.

  • GR: The latest RSNZ projections are not “much more than anybody else” – they’re based on the IPCC’s AR5 and draw on the current literature. Larger projected future rises are widely used in planning overseas.

FAIL 8. LdL didn’t say “much more than anybody else”, just “more than anybody else.” Well, more than most. LdL describe NASA’s 2011 prediction and the MfE-NIWA effort, merely saying the RS predicts a greater rise than them, which is perfectly correct. There’s no mistake here.

  • GR: dLL state: “All the observational evidence indicates that the sea level is likely to rise 0.1 to 0.2 m by 2100.” This appears to be nothing more than wishful thinking. The current SLR rate gives 30cm plus by end of the century as a minimum.

FAIL 9. Read #7. There’s no evidence that the current rate of rise (1.8 ± 0.5 mm/yr) will drastically increase. Well, unverified climate models predict it, but they are not any kind of evidence. In the absence of verified models, engineers have always applied historical averages to climate phenomena, from rainfall to temperature. With business as usual, SLR to 2100 will be about 15 cm. If Gareth disagrees, let him tell us when it will begin to accelerate.

  • GR: There’s strong evidence of increased and increasing ice sheet mass loss in Greenland and Antarctica, which will add significantly to the amount of sea level rise by the end of the century. If we’re lucky, that might only be a metre. If we’re unlucky, it might be a great deal more.

FAIL 10. There’s no evidence of a big problem. There has been increased ice loss, perhaps, but recent amounts of ice loss have been infinitesimal and cause no concern. At recent rates of loss, Greenland’s ice will last many thousands of years. Gareth kindly cited a page that confirms this.

“The surface mass balance for September 2014 through September 2015 … was the third least negative since the beginning of the record in 1990; not since … 1991-1992 … and 1995-1996 … has so little ice been lost.” (emphasis added)

Mr Renowden fails to address the other points made by Willem and Bryan but ramps up the hyperbole against Willem. He asks: “Do Christchurch ratepayers really want to pay for advice from an “expert” who can’t get his facts right, and who is apparently happy to put his name to rubbish?”

As I’ve shown, Gareth himself makes numerous errors in this attempted character assassination. His slapdash efforts mean he has earned no right to malign an honest scientist.

Willem and Bryan have shown that the Royal Society’s claim that SLR could be up to a metre by 2100 does not stand up under investigation. First, there’s no sign of an increase in the long-term rate of rise. Second, the Royal Society’s forecast is based on unverified climate models that show no long-term skill. Third, there has been little significant temperature rise for about 20 years. These are facts.

Why has the Royal Society ignored the fact that around New Zealand the land is rising or falling at different rates? Why have they assigned a single value of sea level rise to the whole country? Why do they collude with scientist activists in tacking satellite data on to the end of tide gauge data to show sea level acceleration? They must know it’s like comparing apples with bananas.

It marks a serious time in the history of science, to discover public servants ignoring the processes of solid science. There’s only one thing that might require the abandonment of good science: the desire to obtain an unscientific result.

Let us not banish honest, reliable scientists like Willem de Lange only to later regret that we failed to heed his calm counsel and, instead, we listened to a mischief-maker like Gareth Renowden.


134 Thoughts on “De Lange and Leyland vindicated

  1. Richard C (NZ) on June 24, 2016 at 11:47 am said:

    >”Eh? Greenhouse effect causes Earth to retain energy.”

    Well, that’s the theory anyway. The IPCC’s observational data proves otherwise. CCG post on this soon.

  2. Richard C (NZ) on June 24, 2016 at 11:52 am said:

    ‘Meteorologist Bastardi: S. Hemisphere Surface Temps “Really Tanking” As Globe Cools’

    By P Gosselin on 15. June 2016

    NCEP graph from post:

    NCEP CFSR / CFSv2 Global 2-meter Temperature Anomaly

    Looks like CO2 has given up the fight.

  3. Richard C (NZ) on June 24, 2016 at 12:03 pm said:

    ‘The Return Of The Global Warming Pause?’

    by Dr. Benny Peiser, The GWPF on June 23, 2016.

    “Even though global average tropospheric temperatures are rapidly falling now as La Nina approaches, it is usually the second calendar year of an El Nino event that is the warmest, especially in the satellite record of tropospheric temperatures. This is because it takes a couple of months for all of the unusually warm Pacific surface water to transfer its extra heat to the atmosphere, pushing peak atmospheric temperatures into the second calendar year of an El Nino event. While 2015 was only the 3rd warmest year in the satellite record (since 1979), 2016 might well beat out 1998 as the record warmest. And, of course, if we go into prolonged La Nina conditions for the next 2-3 years, we might well be debating the meaning and significance of a 20-year pause in global warming in another year or two.” —Roy Spencer, 22 June 2016

    See graph:

    Temperature response to 1997/98 and 2015/16 El Ninos

    # # #

    Not looking good for Schmidt, Rahmstorf, Sherwood, Foster, Mann, and the UK Met Office.

  4. Richard Treadgold on June 24, 2016 at 12:45 pm said:


    Doesn’t alter the fact Earth is retaining more energy.

    More than what, and what of it?

  5. Richard Treadgold on June 24, 2016 at 12:53 pm said:


    IPCC Ignores IPCC Climate Change Criteria

    Sounds juicy.

    Acronyms: it’s not necessary to avoid their use, but to make sure each one that might be unknown to the reader is spelled out at the first use.

  6. Richard C (NZ) on June 24, 2016 at 12:55 pm said:

    >”Not looking good for Schmidt, Rahmstorf, Sherwood, Foster, Mann, and the UK Met Office.”

    CO2-centric climate scientists should bail out now, the big money is in ozone research:

    ‘EPA stacked ozone science panel with $192 million worth of paid cronies’

    The best “science” money can buy.

    The EPA’s most recent regulations for ground-level ozone are reputed to be the most expensive EPA regulations ever, costing trillions of dollars.

    The EPA’s rules were endorsed by a panel of scientists required by law to review them — called the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). Both the Clean Air Act and the Federal Advisory Committee Act required that CASAC panels be independent and unbiased.

    So was the panel independent and/or unbiased?

    Below are listed the panel members at the amount of money they received in EPA grants, according to documents obtained from the EPA:

    Dr. H. Christopher Frey, North Carolina State University — $3,136,162
    Mr. George A. Allen, North east States for Coordinated Air Use Management — $3,907,111
    Mt., Ed Avol, University of Southern California — $67,163,221
    Dr. Michelle Bell, Yale University — $27,216,035
    Dr. Joseph Brain, Harvard university — $15,641,225
    Dr. David Chock, Independent Consultant — $0
    Dr. Ana Diez-Roux, Drexel University — $33,575,181
    Dr. David A Grantz, University of California, Riverside — $0
    Dr. Jack Harkema, Michigan State University — $26,918,114
    Dr. Daniel Jacob, Harvard University — $14,135,578
    Dr. Steven Kleeberger, National Institutes of Health — $22,456,958
    Dr. Frederick J. Miller, Independent Consultant — $0
    Dr. Howard Neufeld, Appalachain State University — $0
    Dr. Armistead (Ted) Russell, Georgia Institute of Technology — $22,310,139
    Dr. Helen Suh, Northeastern University — $16,680,251
    Dr. James Ultman, Pennsylvania State University — $18,750,000
    Dr. Sverre Vedal, University of Washington — $8,000,000
    Dr. Kathleen Weathers, Cary Institute — $0
    Dr. Peter Woodbury, Cornell University — $308,120
    Dr. Ron Wyzga, Electric Power Research Institute — $0

    So of the 20 CASAC Ozone Panel members, 14 (70%) received grant money from the EPA.

    The total amount of unique grants involved (some panel members shared grants) is $192,342,943, an average of $13,738,781.64 per grantee.

    The EPA’s CASAC panels work on a consensus basis. So with 70% of panel members on the receiving end of $192 million in grants, a “consensus” supporting the EPA was not difficult to achieve.

    We have sued EPA over the composition of agency’s current CASAC panel for particulate matter.

    And no, ozone doesn’t trigger asthma; it triggers lying.

    [See update] – So 17 of the 20 CASAC Ozone Panel members have current/former, direct/indirect EPA financial ties.

  7. Richard C (NZ) on June 24, 2016 at 1:32 pm said:

    RT >”Acronyms: it’s not necessary to avoid their use, but to make sure each one that might be unknown to the reader is spelled out at the first use.”

    Yes, understood. I’ve avoided them completely except for IPCC and AR5, the latter I’ve expanded in the first instance as you say. But the AR5 chapters are full of acronyms unfortunately so there’s a few in the chapter quotes but really just duplicates. Wont be a problem I don’t think but that’s just me, it’s really just a difference in numeric values at issue. But you can assess when you see it.

    AR5 glossary is useless for this. For example a quote has “ERF” in it but you have to know that means “effective radiative forcing” to look it up in the glossary. You will have had to go back up the chapter to the first instance of “ERF” (a real mission – megabytes) to find out that it means “effective radiative forcing” before looking it up in the glossary. [Yes, I remember having to do that. – RT]

    ERF is about the only one (I think) that needs expanding so I’ll do that in my commentary. Problem is: the IPCC (and the likes of James Renwick) don’t tell anyone that anthro ERF values are theory – not fact. The article will clear that up. [You’re doing important work here! – RT]

  8. Maggy Wassilieff on June 24, 2016 at 2:06 pm said:

    @Richard C&T
    I’ll be very interested in reading this forthcoming commentary.
    I have struggled with the jargon employed by Climate scientists.
    I asked my hubby to explain some aspect of Co2 forcing and he replied that he had no idea what I was referring to. Now this was illuminating… The hubby has a PhD in experimental physics… He didn’t recognize the term ‘forcing’. I must admit to feeling duped when I realized that a forcing is nothing more than an external variable/factor. [Wow! How dare they invent an unnecessary technical term! – RT]

  9. Richard C (NZ) on June 24, 2016 at 4:54 pm said:

    Maggy. Saw your comment. Working on it.

    Not surprised at your hubby’s reply either. IPCC science is a whole new world. Seems to be known as “Warmer World” from what I can gather.

  10. Mack on June 24, 2016 at 7:04 pm said:

    Actually Dennis, it’s more like the 97% of the gullible wackos who have been taken in by a “greenhouse effect” ,or some similar hypothesis, who consider the sun shines out of their ass.

  11. Mack on June 24, 2016 at 7:36 pm said:

    Maggy, your honest, intelligent and insightful husband is dead right about the “forcing”. He’s also right about the “sensitivity”. It’s only science nomenclature to explain an extrinsic scientific “effect”. Here’s what I think of CO2 “sensitivity” and “forcing”….

  12. Chic Bowdrie on June 26, 2016 at 2:18 am said:

    If it’s not to late to add my two cents (do you have that expression in NZ?), I think the sea level rise issue is important for coastal residents to pay attention to. However, it is secondary to the question of what causes it and why. If natural factors alone affect global temperatures, human emission reductions will make no difference and plans for adapting to catastrophic consequences would be premature.

    This conversation exemplifies the difficulty of debating climate change. At least 97% of scientists, if not all, know that an atmosphere causes the average global temperature to be warmer than it would be without an atmosphere. This unfortunately has been termed a greenhouse effect, because our atmosphere does not behave as a greenhouse. The analogy starts any discussion off on the wrong foot unless the problems with the analogy are initially addressed.

    A real greenhouse with or without any IR active gases would still be as warm due to the lack of cooling that convection and wind provide in the atmosphere. Climate change debates should be concentrated on how much CO2 affects global temperature and how much humans have to do with the measured increases in atmospheric CO2. There is no definitive evidence of how much CO2 affects temperature, only computer models. There is some evidence that natural sources of CO2 overwhelm the human contribution.

  13. Richard C (NZ) on June 27, 2016 at 12:08 pm said:

    >”In the “warmest ever”February temperature spike, which was NH-only, latitudinal breakdown of GISTEMP showed that latitudes south of 55S were at or below the 1951 – 1980 climatology i.e. no warming whatsoever.”

    May anomaly by latitude is totally different:

    GISTEMP LOTI May 2016 Anomaly vs 1951 – 1980 by latitude


    NASA: May 2016 Was The Warmest May On Record

    No warming at 60S, minimal warming at 45N, but spikes at 75N and 75S. Tropics around the +0.93oC global mean.

    There’s obviously nothing “global” about the global mean anomaly. Atmospheric temperature is simply heat-in-transit from ocean to space.

  14. Richard C (NZ) on July 9, 2016 at 9:38 am said:

    Check out UAH Southern Hemisphere Extratropics profile and zero trend:


    The Pause Update: June 2016

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