Hot Topic floundering, no leg to stand on


One of the criticisms levelled at our joint study with the NZ Climate Science Coalition, Are we feeling warmer yet? by Hot Topic was that we lied in stating there were no reasons for large corrections to the NZ temperature record.

These are Renowden’s comments from last November (extra emphasis added where he quotes from our study):

Did you miss it? The big lie? There are no reasons for any large corrections. That’s it, there. And it’s a lie because the NZ CSC has known for at least three years why adjustments have been made to certain stations.

Renowden obviously took NIWA’s word for it (along with many others, and why not?), that they had earlier advised the Coalition of reasons to correct the temperature readings. Now that it is established that they did not so advise the Coalition, it is proved that we were not lying.

So he should apologise for his incorrect allegation, not to mention the unholy relish with which he delivered it. I won’t besmirch this site by quoting what he says about me and the Coalition; the link is above and readers may choose to verify his language for themselves. Suffice it to say it was colourful.

He was pleased to take NIWA’s side then and enjoy his roasting of us, as he no doubt imagined it to be, but he must now face his error — the evidence has emerged which kicks it into touch, as we always hoped it would. Nor must he take my word for it — he just needs to listen to NIWA’s own legal counsel.

He, Tim Mahood, has told us in writing that NIWA lost their record of the corrections to the temperatures and the reasons for those corrections. NIWA no longer complain that we already “have” those corrections and that we are being a nuisance, although they have not yet apologised for citing numerous sources for the corrections which all proved false when we checked them. Of course, NIWA knew they were false when they supplied them, for they knew the adjustments didn’t exist.

So will we discover what sort of a man is Mr Renowden? If he prefers to disagree with NIWA and to cling to the idea that there are reasons for large (or any) adjustments to the temperature readings, he should declare what those reasons are and what are those adjustments, to which stations. However, NIWA, whose cause he so vigorously defends, will be unable to assist him.

If, on the other hand, he agrees with NIWA, that no reasons for large adjustments are known, he should apologise to us, for we said just that in the paper he so vehemently disagreed with.

If, in response to this glad news, he says nothing, then that will say everything.

Have a nice day, Gareth.

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27 Thoughts on “Hot Topic floundering, no leg to stand on

  1. Hot topic is correct. Your report did claim that there was no need for adjustments.

    While there may have been a breakdown in communication within your organisations even a simple look at the data would show that your claim was incorrect. Not to mention checking the literature.

    Even Vincent Gray, who read the report before it was released, admits that was a mistake,. And that he was mistaken to have let it through.

    Given that Vincent admits the mistake, and the fact that your report has been scientifically discredited (see Peer Review for the Climate “Science” Coalition. and Peer Review for the Climate “Science” Coalition.) I don’t think it is honest for you to keep repeating the lie.

    And especially not honest to blame NIWA for your own mistakes.

    Where is your integrity?

  2. Barry Brill on 08/02/2010 at 12:14 pm said:


    I read the “discrediting”review you cite, which relies almost entirely on one adjustment to one station. This relies on the unsubstantiated assertion that Thorndon (where I once lived) has the same temperature as Rongotai and Kelburn (except for altitude). One is in the sheltered harbour, while the other two face the shrieking Southerlies across Cook Strait.

    Even accepting this unscientific assumption, the reviewer cannot replicate the adjustment in question without jumping through endless hoops. No Occam’s Razor here!

    Finally, the reviewer finds his solution : “Warming in the second half of the 20th Century was about twice as fast as earlier warming, since only the Kelburn observations include this accelerated warning fitting a line through that section separately fits the data better (though the uncertainty in our estimate of the trend is much larger since their are less data points making it up)”

    Ge that? Faced with numerous curves, the reviewer made his subjective selection in order to reflect his prior understanding of the global warming curve! A beautiful piece of circular reasoning!

    No Schedule of Adjustments (SOA) is acceptable unless it justifies the subjective reasoning and puts error bars on the result. It should show (or at least assert) that broader error bars apply to the alternative solutions.

    Ken, did you raise the question of integrity?

    • Hi Barry,

      I wrote that “peer review” piece and I don’t think you understand it.

      Even accepting this unscientific assumption, the reviewer cannot replicate the adjustment in question without jumping through endless hoops. No Occam’s Razor here!

      I didn’t try and replicate the adjustments, I just tried to show how horrendously wrong you’d be if you (as the original press release suggested) tried to use unadjusted temperatures to make decisions about warming in NZ.

      Linear regression and ANCOVA are hardly big hoops to jump through! And remember Occam’s razor states that we should not replicated entities unnecessarily – I used AIC values to choose models and that method specifically deals with the fact you can add more parameters to a model and get better results.

      Faced with numerous curves, the reviewer made his subjective selection in order to reflect his prior understanding of the global warming curve!

      Well, not really. Both the models that included some offset for the site effect where significantly better than the unadjusted data. The the ‘two trends’ model is slightly better than the one trend, two sites model but that second model has massive temporal pseudoreplication. We might be able to deal with that with a GLMM but that’s a bit too much work for a blog post instead we have to assess the new evidence in light of our piror knowledge (cf Bayes theorem…). Do you think it more likely that Kelburn has it’s own climate regime or that it has followed the same pattern as the rest of the world. I don’t care which you choose (though I think you are nuts if you Kelburn is apart from the world…) and no matter which one you pick the one the C”S”C suggested is terrible.


    • Oh,

      And if I was a shill for great global warming conspiracy I should have picked that ‘two trends” model that I rejected based on our prior knowledge of global warming since that the point estimate for warming in that one is much greater in than the model I did pick!

  3. Hi Ken,

    Thanks for dropping in. Yes, Hot Topic were correct in stating we said there were no reasons for large adjustments. We could find none, because there were none, and are still none, on NIWA’s web site to accompany their temperature data.

    Do you defend Gareth’s statement: “it’s a lie because the NZ CSC has known for at least three years why adjustments have been made to certain stations”?

    The existence of “literature” makes no difference to what we said in our paper. It’s so simple that I think you’re overlooking it. It’s nothing to do with the graphs, either, or any statistical work you or Gareth have done on them.

    Vincent, with his extensive training, finds it difficult to accept the purpose of our paper.

    We want the schedule of adjustments. Why shouldn’t we have them? Where are they? Do NIWA, or do they not, have them? Why did they lie to us? Why do you accept their lies? Have you even tried to research their false citations?

    We don’t blame NIWA for our mistakes. We have made no mistake.


    • Richard – simple observation of the data, let alone a simple statistical analysis, shows that there were site effects. That is clear and is brought out in both those articles. This discredits your report because of your insistence that there were no site effects – when you admit you didn’t even check for them!

      You have made a clear and obvious mistake and it does you no good to claim otherwise. The facts are out there and obvious. Even Vincent acknowledges that it was a mistake. I challenged him to show some integrity and get the report withdrawn. He ignored my challenge and my opinion of him has plummeted.

      If there was any integrity left you guys would acknowledge this and move on.

      It is hardly honest to invent a term “schedule of adjustments” for a simple procedure well documented. In 40 years of research I have never seen such a term used so disingenuously in science. (Maybe Law but not science) Effectively you are asking for scraps of filter paper and backs of envelopes. If you were really interested in the science you would look at the data, determine what site effects could be present, develop you own procedures for adjustment (from the data) and do so. Compare the outcomes.

      But first of all you would have to understand the data well enough to recognise the obvious site effects that are there. The fact that you claim not to have and still went ahead to publish and disseminate such a faulty report really does discredit you.

      As for Hot Topic’s comment. I think you guys more or less confirmed this with your excuses of the organisation just forming, that there had been emails but they were to individuals not organisations. Talk about not facing up to reality – whining.

      But of course, it doesn’t matter. Any half way scientifically competent person could have recognised the existence of site effects and therefore the need for adjustments. I find it hard to believe you guys didn’t. So it does raise a question of motives and agendas, doesn’t it?

      Barry – no you didn’t read the two scientific articles I quoted. If you had you would be discussing them.

    • No site effects; a simple statistical analysis; clear and obvious mistake. You’re not going to like this, but I must repeat it: we want the adjustments.

      I don’t care whether we call it a Schedule of Adjustments or a list or the worksheets or whatever. We want to know the adjustments. That’s all.

      If any science student observed raw data then altered it in some way before presentation, his teacher would want to know the reasons for the alterations. Or are you saying that anyone can just alter data as they please? Why should a public body be different?

      Hear it again: we want the adjustments. You say we should provide them, but not NIWA. But that’s just stupid, Ken.

      You see, as I explained in the previous post, the adjustments required are subjective, so there’s no way we can recreate NIWA’s (Salinger’s) adjustments. We can do our own, but we want the official ones. Why shouldn’t we ask for them?

      That’s now my question to you, Ken: why shouldn’t we ask for the adjustments? I don’t understand.

    • Sorry, I wanted to make this cast-iron connection. You say: “So it does raise a question of motives and agendas, doesn’t it?”

      Yes, it does. This is our motive: We want the adjustments.

      Now (although I’m sure I’ll regret this question), what about that don’t you understand?

    • Richard – I ask again. You claim that NIWA admitted to having a “Schedule of adjustments”. Please could you provide a link to this?

      I have searched the NIWA site and can’t find any use of such a term – att least in their science sections.

      As I said, in 40 years of research I have never come across the use of this term on scientific issues.

      Please clarify.

    • Please see the answer I gave where you first asked the question.

  4. So, Richard, you have confirmed that this “:schedule of adjustments” is just an invention of yours.

    You confirm that you had said “there were no reasons for large adjustments. We could find none, because there were none,”

    Yet in an email to me you also said that you did not look into the possibility of site effects. That in fact no scientists were involved in preparing the report (or, as you said later, the scientists wish to remain anonymous).

    I find this really incredible. A half-way scientific competent person would have seen site effects through a careful look at the raw data. (Vincent Gray acknowledged that he should have picked up the mistake – indicating he didn’t do a competent job in his review). This would have thrown up a warming signal. Check the data for site effects. Eyeballing suffices but David did an actual analysis and showed them. It’s not rocket science.

    So – your statement is discredited., There are clear site effects.

    So why do you persist in promoting your graphs which are clearly wrong?

    Why do you not withdraw that report and apologise for the misinformation?

  5. Barry Brill on 10/02/2010 at 2:01 pm said:

    Ken – all this squabbling about who said what to whom and why, is not only trivial, but also tiresome.

    There are large issues at stake here. NIWA has produced a national temperature series which is being relied upon by policymakers who are shaping New Zealand laws and entering into multi-billion-dollar transactions internationally. As a consequence of NIWA advice, our country is now the global leader in ETS costs and restrictions. Every New Zealander will face higher energy bills, and suffer other consequences.

    What if the NIWA advice was wrong? Science requires that the methods and data be placed in the public domain so that other scientists can attempt to replicate what was done. The law requires that NIWA maintain “full and accurate records”. Yet the reasoning and calculations have never been released and, in response to an Official Information Act request, NIWA says it has NO computer record of the data processing.

    Now, there are many indications that the temp record IS wrong. Hessell said the raw data was too uncertain for a series. An unrealistically high proportion of the adjustments serve to create an upwards trend. Minister Nick Smith says New Zealand will warm more slowly than the global average, while the NIWA record shows warming at twice the global average.

    Ken, if you know the scientists in NIWA, could you please ask them nicely to publish whatever they DO know about their series?

  6. Barry – all this “squabbling” would stop if the Coalition and Richard would face up to the fact that they got it wrong. That there definitely are site effect. they were wrong to claim none. They were wrong to deny adjustments are required.

    If they acknowledge their mistake they would be in a moral position to discuss different ways of carrying out the adjustments.

    Until they do that there is no ethics in their continual hassle of NIWA scient6ists in a “when are you going to stop beating your wife” approach.

    You ask “what if NIWA was wrong?” Well all the data is there – do the analysis and see if they are.

    Meanwhile a simple glance at the data shows that Richard and the coalition was wrong. If they can’t acknowledge that they have no right to demand anything from others.

    In fact, Richard continues with the claim that site adjustments are necessary, that there were no site effects and demands that NIWA remove site effects.

    He has no ethical leg to stand on while he maintain a mistake and blames others for it.

    It’s not a matter of who saiud what to who. its a matter of record. And that record has spread slanderous information around the world.

  7. Barry Brill on 11/02/2010 at 12:20 am said:

    You ask “what if NIWA was wrong?” Well all the data is there….

    It obviously wasn’t. NIWA has just put some data on its website re Hokitika station – which was not previously disclosed.

  8. Barry – and you comments on the Coalition report?

    Was the coalition mistaken to claim no site effects?

    Pretty fundamental question – scientifically and politically – and their position has been discredited.

    Yet no-one here seems to want to face up to this, acknowledge the mistake and apologise.

    You guys continue to ignore this “mistake” – but it isn’t going away, no matter how much you try to divert attention.

  9. Barry Brill on 13/02/2010 at 12:53 am said:

    Ken – you have devoted endless column-feet to some alleged “claim” by the CSC paper that there were no site effects in any of the seven stations.

    I have re-read “Are We Feeling Warmer Yet?” and can find no statement remotely resembling your interpretation. Perhaps you could provide a precise reference?

  10. Barry – I quote from a seperate thread here in reply to Richard who also seemed to have “forgotten”:

    From the discredited report:

    “the station histories are unremarkable. There are no reasons for any large corrections.”

    Or the claim that scientists “created a warming effect where none existed.” That “the shocking truth is that the oldest readings were cranked way down and later readings artificially lifted to give a false impression of warming.” And “we have discovered that the warming in New Zealand over the past 156 years was indeed man-made, but it had nothing to do with emission of CO2 – it was created by man-made adjustments of the temperature. It’s a disgrace.”

    There is a clear message here, and in a lot of your propaganda that the adjustments were an artificial attempt by a conspiracy to artificially produce a warming trend. And continuous repetition of this graph also promotes that. Some incredible claims have been made in blogs, conservative newspapers and forums overseas on the basis of this report. Our scientists have been unjustly slandered.

    So Barry:

    Do you accept there are site effects in the raw data?
    Do you accept that, therefore, adjustments are required to compensate for site effects?

    My “endless column-feet” are an attempt to get some sort of commitment from you guys. Al and Richard have now agreed with me here. Ian Wishart has also, reluctantly, conceded the need for adjustments.

    What about you?

    • Ken,

      You are right that the report says: “the station histories are unremarkable. There are no reasons for any large corrections.”

      But everyone else understands, from what’s called the “context”, that we are describing NIWA’s information on their web site, which mentions no reasons for any large corrections. We are not presenting a conclusion of ours, merely observing that the reasons are missing. We are not saying there are no site effects, but that they are not described there by NIWA. The data are present, but the reasons for the adjustments applied to them are not present.

      The other statements are opinions designed to stir others to some kind of action. We have made no mistakes. What unknown writers here and overseas might or might not have made of our study is not our responsibility.

      When you claim that I have “now agreed with you here”, what exactly are you referring to? You make it sound as though I have conceded the need for adjustments, but I have not. I always said adjustments are needed. I have not altered my opinion on that.

      You know that we have been asking NIWA for the figures and reasons for the adjustments to the national temperature record. Do you think we would demand that, while believing they should not exist? What kind of twisted logic is that?

  11. Richard, yoiu sound more like the creationists I have been dealing with every day. This is silly. Tou are playing with words.

    A man would face up to their mistake and say sorry, not try to blame it on NIWA. NIWA has never said there are no reasons for adjustments.. Come off it. Quite the opposite.

    God, politically/ideologically motivated people are annoying. Just won’t deal with reality.

    • Ken,

      I’m no more playing with words than you are listening.

      NIWA has never said there are no reasons for adjustments

      Correct. I have never said they said that. But I am saying that NIWA have never GIVEN reasons for THESE adjustments, or specified their SIZE.

  12. Richard, stand back and look argus objectively. It is really quite silly from a scientific viewpont.

    You might not like NIWA’s graph but there is nothing remarkable about it. It shoeis warming – and it would very stance if it didn’t. Everbody who has measured temperature over a reasonable time finds warming.

    The raw data for sites with a reasonable contiuous record show warming. The amalgamated data just gives a more precise measure of the rate if warming.

    So there is no reason to cast doubt on the figure, ad you guys have. No scientific reason.
    But you are a political organisation, as you admit, and you clearly have political motives to raise doubt.

    The only way you can do this is ignore the actual picture of multiple lines of evidence and invent a conspiracy involving not only all NIWA scientists, but all climate scientists around the world.

    That to me is mad. I have no reason to mistrust our scientists, let alone accept a ridicuous conspiracy. But then again Ii don’t have a political motive- just scientific integrity.

    I suggest you put aside all your worry about adjustments and discuss why you should doubt the figure seeing it is completely consistent with other measurements where adjustments are not involved because they are not necessary.

    • Ken,

      There are so many typos in this it’s unintelligible. You mis-characterise our motives and actions wildly yet you refuse to read my answers.

      We don’t care that NIWA’s graph shows warming. We just asked them to show us how true it is.

  13. Barry Brill on 14/02/2010 at 10:14 am said:

    Ken – please don’t read the word “unremarkable” to mean “zero”.

    NIWA has produced an 11-station graph, and say those stations require no adjustments. They have produced a 7-station graph and say it requires extensive adjustments, all in the direction of creating a trend.

    NIWA has justified none of this. I personally believe many of the adjustments may have been subjective – and driven by a belief (sub-conscious or otherwise) that the series should show a warming trend.

    You seem passionately committed to the view that the adjustments are correct. You say you have been able to replicate all the NIWA adjustments, but have never produced your paper. Why don’t you just settle down until NIWA discloses its “recreations”.When they have been fully analysed and replicated, we’ll see who is right.

  14. I think we all agree that adustmemts see necessary when combinig data from differet stations. As I said – no point relitigating that issue. Especially as this is no linger a scientifc argument.

    Barry, don’t invent claims for me. I have no “paper”. I sent Richard a spreadsheet where I had used the NIWA data to reproduce their graph and show that essentially the same result was produced by using a different base period. This was to show that No Mimister was wrong to claim their result was due simply to the choice of base period.

    Richard undertook to send me his spreadsheet – it has not arrived yet. But I suspect there may have been a mistake made similar to No Minister’s. However, the fundamental mistake was to combine the data without taking site effects into account.

    But I guess that is where the politics come in.

  15. Richard – sorry about the errors – bloody ipods.

    All I am suggesting is that we have exhausted the adjustments issue. We agree adjustments are necessary.

    My questions were why do you think NIWA’s graph is surprising? It is consistent with their graphs for individual stations and for stations where adjustments were not required. All it provides is a longer time period and more precision. The conclusions are the same. There is no reason to concentrate these sort of questions on that particular graph.

    And it is in accord with the IPCC summary. The only thing there were completely unequivocal about is that global temperature have increased, especially in the 2nd half of the 20th century.

    While NZ could have been an exception, obviously we weren’t.

    • Ken, you say:

      My questions were why do you think NIWA’s graph is surprising?

      We saw that no alterations to the raw data were signalled by NIWA. We expressed surprise in order to communicate to the public mind that something needed to be done. So that NIWA knew, when we asked for the adjustments, that the public would be behind us.

      It was nothing to do with the IPCC.

  16. The 7 station graph is similar to the 11 station graph is similar to most of the individual stations with long term records. Also similar to the IPCC fidnigns from reviewi9ng the interantional literature.

    I repeat – why think it is surprising?

    If no trend had been shown – now that would be surprising and would warrant further investigation as a possible hoax.

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