An impressive level of scintillating repartee

Prof Keith Hunter

Prof Keith Hunter — making a name for colourful language.

BoMshell: where is the real review? Go to end

I’ve discovered an extraordinary exchange on a warmist blog in which a senior NZ scientist, supportive of the CAGW theory and now a top university administrator, is goaded beyond his endurance and discards his carefully-nurtured, hard-won scientific training, descending into gutter language.

I seldom visit this warmist blog, it being for the most part misleading vitriol. But this exchange offers unexpectedly an irresistible deliciousness.

At Hot Topic on December 22, Gareth Renowden posted “A Christmas cracker for the cranks” (he loves that word ‘crank’, pulls it out all the time, uses nothing else) which set off a bright burst of champion rhetoric on his blog.

An especially scintillating exchange occurred when Professor Keith Hunter, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Sciences) at the University of Otago, turned up to support the comments Renowden made about the press releases from the CCG and the CSC regarding NIWA’s review of the NZ temperature record, released just before Christmas.

I know little about Keith Hunter, although he was the subject of comment here after an extraordinary peroration when we decided to take NIWA to court. He is making a name for colourful language.

Prof Hunter is a vice-president of the Royal Society of New Zealand and a former national president of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry. He’s a senior scientist, an establishment heavyweight and quite probably a super person. Highlighted in green are the comments at Hot Topic:

Keith Hunter (December 22, 2010):

Dear Gareth: Well done with your analysis! There is very little that I can add to this. The comments by Treadgold and Leyland are not only contradictory, but also monumentally stupid. I have read the whole document by NIWA and I congratulate them on their thoroughness and exactidute (sic). A very thorough rebuttal of the previous comments. Well done to all involved.

You’ll notice that this is more comprehensive praise than the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), who performed the formal peer review, was prepared to give. He doesn’t mention what “previous comments” the review rebuts, but it certainly doesn’t address some of our criticisms, such as why NIWA gave us misleading citations and why they used a non-peer-reviewed methodology for adjusting the temperature readings.

The NIWA report is exactly the science report that we expected, and meets all of the standards that we in the scientific community expected.

I don’t expect that my endorsement will mean much to Dunleavy and his cohorts, But to be frank, I don’t care. There are many others in the science community of NZ who will care. And that is why I am prepared to make this endorsement.

Well, fair enough, Keith, and good on you for supporting those who agree with you. But you seem to think that simply reading NIWA’s report (even the ‘whole’ report) is sufficient to evaluate it.

But it’s not true that mere reading is enough, is it? You must take time for reflection, make some attempt at a few calculations, check cited sources and consult with your colleagues. That is the least required of a peer reviewer, as you know — you’re a scientist.

So when you say the report “meets all of the standards that we in the scientific community expected,” what standards are you referring to? You haven’t had time to perform a proper analysis, just as the BoM themselves admit they haven’t performed an entire ‘reanalysis’ of the NZ temp record.

Your expression of support for NIWA’s work sounds impressive and I’m sure it is appreciated by them, but it’s not the same as a peer review, so you’ll forgive us if we are unimpressed with your seal of approval and we reserve judgement until we’ve had a proper look. So you’re right when you say that your endorsement won’t mean a whole lot to at least some of “Dunleavy’s cohorts,” as you call them. But that’s not because we’re biased against you, it’s just simply because you haven’t done a proper peer review, you’ve only read the report. You cannot justify the judgement you have given.

I’d like to ask you about the data that NIWA presented to the BoM with the report — have you seen them? But that surfaces shortly in the comments at Hot Topic; let’s leave it for now, for a curious reader addresses what you said.


How remarkable Mr Hunter. You seem to blithely skip over the fact that the Australian BoM indicated that adjustments appeared necessary but it was unable to verify NIWA’s adjustments because NIWA failed to supply the raw data.

Niwa essentially says “the dog ate our raw temperature data but trust us to have adjusted it correctly” and you, Mr Hunter, swallow that line without a moment’s hesitation.

What joy it must be to be so gullible. Did you also write to Santa Claus this year?

What’s this? “Failed to supply the raw data?” No! Surely not! Well, yes, actually! For how else can you read this statement from the BoM:

Such a task would require full access to the raw and modified temperature data…

If they were in possession of those data, that statement would be highly misleading. Ipso facto, they don’t have the data from NIWA.

QUESTION: How does one perform a proper peer review without access to the raw data?

ANSWER: The review is restricted, perhaps severely, and many checks are not possible.

QUESTION: What can the reviewer conclude about adjustments that might or might not have been performed on those data by NIWA?

ANSWER: Nothing can be known about adjustments made or not made, except perhaps that adjustments are required.

Of course, by his remarks on gullibility and Santa, JohnM was really twisting Hunter’s tail. But what a splendid result!

The scientist speaks now. Pray, hush the room — we shall receive the wisdom from on high.

Then KH said unto them:

Read the NIWA document. The adjustment data and reasoning is all there. Your comment is bullshit.

There’s a moment of stunned silence, then pandemonium breaks out as everybody starts speaking at once.

When order is restored, the general understanding seems to be that ‘bovine excrement’ (along with its colloquial and vulgar forms) is now a scientific expression with outstanding qualities. It refutes several arguments at once (even those as yet unstated), humbles (even silences) the interlocutor, is tremendously satisfying to the speaker, displays whatever education he’s had to best advantage, enthrals bystanders and is uttered no doubt with great profit to the current debate. The new scientific expression is held generally in such high regard that henceforth it is to be permitted in classrooms and examinations.

But our curious reader is far from cowed by this stupendous broadside. Did the professor fire his best shot prematurely? JohnM pertinently points out:


It’s not the NIWA document that matters, it’s the BoM document in which about 80% is taken up with disclaimers and mention of the absence of the raw data. The remaining 20%, as I mentioned, does NOT endorse NIWA’s adjustments but merely says that adjustments appear to have been necessary.

To those disapproving of my comment I say “Diddums”.

Do you realise how utterly ridiculous it is to defend an organisation by citing what that organisation claims about the reviewer’s comments?

Prof Hunter appears stung by the reference to “utterly ridiculous” for next he tries imitating his critic in order to devastate the argument with his critic’s own technique—hoist him with his own petard.


Do you realize how utterly ridiculous it is to criticize a scientific organization for presenting Information in a manner that can be properly assessed by anyone competent to do so? Probably not, it would appear.

And your comments are still bullshit.

But it misses the mark, since he ignores what are now two problems raised by JohnM: i) the BoM specifically avoids comment on NIWA’s adjustment methodology and data (thus cannot be said to endorse it), and ii) the raw data was undeniably missing.

Some partisan bystanders can be heard applauding the rapid-fire use of the new terminology, notwithstanding the slight dilution to its effect caused by its immediate repetition. But JohnM asks what is, in the circumstances, a most reasonable question.


And how, pray tell, can NIWA’s claims be properly assessed or reviewed when it fails to produce the raw data that underpin those claims? Clairvoyance?

Prof Hunter makes no reply to that; perhaps he doesn’t know how NIWA’s claims might be assessed without a glance at the data. A little later our indomitable logician ventures two further remarks.


Mr Renowden joins the gullible Mr Hunter. “warming could be seen in unadjusted sites?” You haven’t done your homework have you! Not for you this untidy matter of UHI or stations that are relocated.

… and no doubt those who disapprove haven’t done their homework either.

What foolishness it shows to be rushing in without first establishing the facts.

But the situation for our redoubtable scientist is now clearly beyond his powers of self-control and he cannot muster even the least argument against his opposition. Because all he says is:


More bullshit

A great performance from a true Kiwi, a man of the land, salt of the earth, or an astonishing, desperate attempt to deflect criticism from a weak position?

You didn’t see the data, did you, Keith?

I’m unmoved by your abandonment of scientific courtesy and process, Keith. As a standard-bearer for science, you, of all people, have no excuse, or what will become of science?

Poor presentation

The NIWA review is not presented as a proper scientific report. It is extremely informal: the pages unnumbered, the author or authors unnamed and a most rudimentary Table of Contents. The report does not conform to the most basic standards of presentation of even non-scientific material.

One of our harshest critics, one Ken Perrott, harps on about the authorship of our November, 2009, report, Are we feeling warmer yet?, collated by yours truly. He will be upset to see that NIWA’s review is unsigned; I expect he will shortly demand to know the names of the anonymous “scientists” who wrote it and insist on knowing why they were given anonymity, because, he will claim, it is contrary to normal scientific practice. Naturally he will want to be even-handed in his treatment of both NIWA and the CCG/CSC. Won’t you, Ken?

Inconsistency in dates

There is an oddity in the report’s publication date (which is difficult to find, being absent from the cover and title page). The ramifications of this oddity indicate a potentially serious deficiency with both the report and the peer review. At the bottom of page 164 of NIWA’s report (according to the Acrobat Reader, since pages are unnumbered) one finds:

Date: Document originally created 29 October 2010, and revised 13 December 2010 following review from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

It appears the BoM took about six weeks to perform their review, with NIWA finishing a revision of their report on December 13. Note the report was revised “following review” by the BoM.

Is this the real peer-review document?

The peer-review document is the letter from the BoM dated December 14. NIWA finished their review on December 13. How could they complete the revision the day before the letter could have arrived? There’s no indication of how long NIWA took to do the revision — it may have been days, but was surely at least one day.

So the date on the BoM’s letter is wrong, because it’s impossible it was sent on December 14 — it must have been sent at least two days earlier.

The review document cannot be the simple letter dated December 14, AFTER THE REVISION WAS COMPLETED. In which case, WHY IS THE LETTER POST-DATED, and what prompted NIWA’s revision?

If, as seems likely, there is a completely separate review document from the BoM, WHY IS IT NOT PUBLISHED?

Where is the review from the BoM?

It seems that NIWA and/or the BoM has simply mistaken dates which any secretary could keep straight. Either that, or dates have been intentionally fabricated. But why? And what other basic errors or deceptions might have occurred?

69 Thoughts on “An impressive level of scintillating repartee

  1. val majkus on December 31, 2010 at 4:40 pm said:

    They’re not very courteous over there (Hot Topic) are they?
    I thought John D did okay too in the face of rapid fire and James
    Takes some courage to appear on those sites

  2. I have to agree with you, Val.

  3. But wait, there’s more!

    (my emphasis)
    Read at least some of it. If you are as smart as you claim, you’ll soon realise how moronic your previous statements sound. If not, well, then you’re just a moron

    If your paymasters really want you to sow confusion then you’d better shift over to the unquestioning mob at Muriel Newman’s because anyone who holds up Singer as anything other than a sack of shit is in for a fight at this blog. Come on. Try harder. Explain in detail why Singer is not a fraud and all who venerate him are not equally fraudulent.

    All Otago University staff, I believe

  4. C E Kay on December 31, 2010 at 5:54 pm said:

    “Revised 13 December following review from the BOM”, conveys more than simple chronology. It obviously means that the revision was undertaken “in the light of” or “as a consequence of” the BOM review.

    And that’s what one might expect after 6 weeks of sweat and toil on the part of BOM.

    But if we turn to the letter of 14 December, we find it contains no suggestions for amendment or improvement. It does not even hint at potential re-wording. So the NIWA revision completed on 13 December didn’t spring from an earlier draft of that letter, but from something much more comprehensive.

    Not only “the raw and modified temperature data and metadata” remain undisclosed. So does the contract, or letter of engagement, from NIWA to BOM. And the (probably) comprehensive commentary prepared by BOM in response. Why aren’t all these documents in the public domain?

  5. Australis on December 31, 2010 at 5:59 pm said:

    Otago University staff? Surely, you mean undergraduate students?

  6. Clarence on December 31, 2010 at 6:10 pm said:

    Taking his cue from the Royal Society V-P, Renownden has just published a column headed “Climate B.S.of the year award”.

    He claims it was co-written by a long list of alarmists including Kevin Trenberth, Joe Romm and Gavin Schmidt.

  7. Yes, yes, yes, yes!! Kiwis need to hear about this.

  8. The comments I quoted can be attributed to Mike Palin and Doug MacKie, respectively.

    Both lecturers at Otago

  9. Intruiging. This Renowden BS award seems to be a cut and paste from the David Suzuki sponsored propaganda site Desmogblog

    Then again, who knows?

  10. val majkus on December 31, 2010 at 10:27 pm said:

    hardly scientific language! Don’t those guys moderate at all or are they just more aggro? Weird. That sort of language doesn’t happen here; at Jo Novas; at Dr Morahassys; at WUWT, at Dr Stockwells – even at the ABC a public funded but left wing site I’m not belittled like that when I venture there;
    Must be something about sceptics; we’re a well mannered lot I think

  11. val majkus on December 31, 2010 at 10:30 pm said:

    Also those comments are defammatory; we should refer those to John O’Sullivan – I think he’s in contact with Dr Singer unless someone can find a direct contact e mail for him and direct him to those comments and leave him to make up his own mind

  12. Richard C (NZ) on January 3, 2011 at 8:38 am said:

    Mike Palin’s scintillating repartee in reply to the 7SS challenge – didn’t see a thing of course
    Author: Mike Palin
    Holy cow Richard C2, that’s one helluva spreadsheet you have there. The formula: (E60) =(C60-D60)*-1 tells me that you are real whiz-bang when it comes to matters quantitative. Did ya get James to help with that? Sure makes my head ache.
    Just as well I didn’t step through the manual method.

  13. From what I can see, there is no serious attempt to engage in any serious scientific discussion at any of these so-called “science blogs” (SciBlogs seems seriously misdirected).
    The standard game seems to be one of “Whack a mole”. This unfortunately has the byproduct of encouraging troll-like behaviour, thereby reinforcing their prejudices.

    I am not sure who runs SciBlogs. Maybe we can try to get a sceptical blog in there? Fat chance!

  14. Keith hunter on January 13, 2011 at 11:07 pm said:

    Hi Richard: I have just noticed this post. Thanks for the publicity. It will help my PBRF profile.

    I have had the NIWA raw data on my PC for some time, just like you and the BoM. How else would you have generated your analysis? The same for your sock puppets at HT.

    So, I can’t resist saying that your post here is “bullshit”. After all, if you and I can get the data, why can’t the BoM?

    I didn’t like your first post about my RSNZ statement. But you did a better job this time. The writing is good, but the cognitive content leaves a lot to be desired. But keep trying. I am confident you will get there in the end.

    If you would like me to proofread your efforts I am more than happy to oblige. The debate always gets better when both sides cooperate.

    Best wishes Keith

  15. Hi Keith,

    Thanks for dropping in. “Improve your PBRF profile”? lol. You make an error in suggesting I have any sock puppets at HT (if you mean Hot Topic).

    That “raw” data you have: is it really just the raw temperature readings, straight off the weather station? I suggest it’s actually the adjusted data. The BoM, I seem to remember (although I’m guessing here), was engaged by NIWA to examine the very process by which NIWA transformed the raw readings into the adjusted data (it’s called a peer review), so they would probably require the raw data for that. To do it properly.

    As we first revealed in November, 2009, the adjustments are the only reason the readings show significant warming. We asked then what changes NIWA made and why, little anticipating the storm it would provoke. However, we continue to ask, since NIWA have NEVER answered the questions, preferring to produce a new set of adjustments.

    But tell me, Keith: If the BoM could get the raw data, please explain why they said they didn’t have it. For how else are we to understand their written statement that “a reanalysis of the New Zealand ‘seven station’ temperature record … would require full access to the raw and modified temperature data and metadata”?

    Also, even if the Bureau could “get” the raw data, why would NIWA not simply volunteer it for the peer review? After all, being scientists, they might have anticipated the BoM’s desire to glance at it, don’t you think?


  16. Keith Hunter on January 14, 2011 at 12:12 am said:

    Hi Richard:

    The raw data I have is the same unadjusted raw data that you used to make your infamous “Are we warming yet” critique. It is freely available as you well know. I also have the adjustments, as you do. Please don’t deny it.

    All I can add is that the rest of your post is “bullshit”.

    You can continue to rant that a senior scientist like me should not use such a word. It won’t work. I know bullshit when I see it. I will continue to make the same call. I was not born yesterday.

    Let me say that it does not make the slightest difference whether the land temperature record shows NZ is warming, cooling or not changing. The issue is global climate change. I am quite sure you know that. for example, the sea level continues to rise. More importantly, equatorial salinity is going up (more evaporation) and subtropical salinity is decreasing (more precipitation). These changes are impossible to explain any other way other than a warming ocean. Please try. I would be interested in your alternative views.

    These are fundamental changes that are difficult to refute. I could go on but I won’t.

    Look forward to more debate, Keith

    PS The PBRF profile remark was just a joke. But I am not convinced about the sock puppets yet.

  17. Keith,

    Sock puppets? So basically you mean people who act for me — I put words into their mouths, right? But that’s laughable.

    If members of the CC Group comment at HT (which I cannot always tell, since they change their online names), they are their own agents. I don’t control anyone — I wouldn’t know how to, and who would want to be controlled by me?

    I didn’t deny having the raw data.

    You hold out the tantalising prospect of debating global climate change; I nearly take the bait and dive in. But I’m not confident we can have a genuine debate, since you have not completed the first few steps towards one. You’ve ignored what I said.

    Especially, you disregard this essential fact: I don’t claim that the BoM didn’t get the raw data — they do! When you deny it, you disagree with them, not with me.

    If you move past that without addressing it I must suspect that you’re unable to, and yet it’s a very important point, raising the strongest possible criticism of both NIWA’s Review Report AND the peer review.

    Also ignored in my previous comment: if the old 7SS was perfectly sound, as NIWA insisted for many months, why did they prefer to spend at least $70,000 on reproducing it instead of merely answering our questions about it?

    Looking forward to a debate on the wider issues if we can get past these ones!


  18. Richard C (NZ) on January 14, 2011 at 9:52 am said:

    “the sea level continues to rise”

    This is to be expected due to the natural recovery from the LIA. What is at odds with the CO2 forced warming hypothesis is that the rate of sea level rise is decelerating .

    1992-2001 34 mm/decade

    2001-2010 25 mm/decade

    But from IPCC AR4

    Anthropogenic forcing is also expected to produce an accelerating rate of sea level rise (Woodworth et al., 2004).

    Your statement:-

    These changes are impossible to explain any other way other than a warming ocean.

    is consistent with the AR4 expectation but inconsistent with the observed condition. How exactly, is the decelerating sea level rise being caused by a warming ocean?

    Please explain.

  19. These changes are impossible to explain any other way other than a warming ocean. Please try. I would be interested in your alternative views.

    OK, here’s a start:

    Recent energy balance of Earth
    R. S. Knox and D. H. Douglass
    Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627-0171 USA

    Using only 2003–2008 data from Argo floats, we find by four different algorithms that the recent trend ranges from –0.010 to –0.160 W/m2 with a typical error bar of ±0.2 W/m2.

    In other words, since 2003, when the accurate ARGO network was deployed to measure ocean heat content, there has been no warming of the oceans.

    This is consistent with the falling rate of sea level rise. Naturally, there will still be some eustatic component to sea level rise for a while, but I suggest ARGO shows the steric component has reached statis.

  20. Richard C makes a good point about the lack of acceleration. Also, note that the sea level rise has been going on for a long time before mankind could have had anything to do with it.

    Here’s a graphical display of sea level, adapted from Holgate (2007):
    Sea level rise over the 20th century

  21. Keith Hunter on January 15, 2011 at 6:56 pm said:

    Richard: I have tried twice to post a reply here and both times it has crashed. Any advice?


  22. Keith, I think Richard’s away for the weekend. Your post has come through, so it may be crashing due to the content – for example too long, difficult links, etc.

  23. Keith Hunter on January 15, 2011 at 7:11 pm said:

    Hi Bob D It has happened again

  24. Is it just text, or does it contain graphics, links, etc.?

  25. Keith Hunter on January 15, 2011 at 7:43 pm said:

    Hi Bob: No just text. I suspect it is an issue with the IPad that I do not yet understand. It is a recent acquisition. Next time I will use a PC and prepare the post offline. This time I tried to past in some comments Richard and made above. That seemed to cause the problem.

    Anyway, watch this space.

  26. Sweet.

  27. Keith Hunter on January 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm said:

    Thanks Bob: please also tell Richard that since making my post here my daughter has produced her 2nd child (my 2nd grandchild) and I have issues that are more important to deal with as a result (happily).

    Best wishes, Keith Hunter

  28. Ah, many congratulations to mother, father and grandfather!

  29. Keith Hunter on January 15, 2011 at 9:37 pm said:

    Thank you Andy! I am pleased to get such a good reception here. I hope this continues.

  30. You are most welcome Keith. We welcome your comments


  31. Congratulations to all involved.

  32. Hi everyone, I’m back! You have all been busy, haven’t you? It’s going to take me hours to catch up with everything, so please be patient with me. Also, I’m going back to work for a large client tomorrow, which will account for most mornings. Back to the grind!

    Hi Keith,

    I’m delighted to hear about your new grandchild, thanks for telling us!

    I’d like to say that you had a good reception here because you’re welcome, as everybody is. I dare say you’ll remain welcome, because why shouldn’t you?

    So, when your family duties allow (and you must take all the time that’s needed), we’ll be pleased to see what else you have to say about our topic.

    Your comments failed, I suspect, at your end. I say that because I just looked and there was no comment from you in the spam bucket, nor waiting for moderation. I want you to know that, after someone has had one comment approved, subsequent comments get posted automatically, so there’s no delay. Comments which contain lots of links can still get held up in the spam queue, but not on this occasion.

    Good luck next time. Let me know if you have trouble.

    Grandkids are great! I apparently have six but I’m not sure.


  33. Keith Hunter on January 17, 2011 at 7:48 pm said:

    Hi Richard As I posted earlier, the problem is probably my new IPad which for a PC user takes some getting used to. I will be back, but I can’t guarantee when given family and work commitments.


  34. Keith Hunter on January 24, 2011 at 9:45 pm said:

    Hello Richard: Before continuing this debate, I decided to examine your web site and the comments of your “supporters”. As a result I have decided that there is no future in continuing our conversation because of irreconcilable differences. I apologize for intruding on your time, but that is how I feel.

    Yours sincerely, Keith Hunter

  35. Interesting. Most of the comments on this site seem to be of a technical nature.
    I don’t see much in the way of hostility. I am sorry that you feel it this way; we were hoping for a constructive dialogue.

  36. Clarence on January 25, 2011 at 4:18 am said:

    When I have differences with somebody on any issue of debate, I like to see whether those differences can be reconciled. To the extent that they cannot, I have the opportunity to consider anew the arguments in favour of a proposition I have earlier found unconvincing. This time through, I might find merit in the opposing case.

    But the gilt on the gingerbread is that I also have the opportunity to present anew the arguments in favour of a proposition my counterpart has previously found wanting.

    In this way, the issues are narrowed. Eventually some areas of agreement may emerge.

    Keith Hunter sees it differently. If there are irreconcilable differences, then the conversation must cease. If you are still around Keith, you might share with us why you see initial opinion differences as a bar to dialogue.

  37. Richard C (NZ) on January 25, 2011 at 8:10 am said:

    Your term “supporters” is misdirected. What you have actually encountered is people who are sceptical of the AGW hypothesis to varying degrees and have access to, and are knowledgeable in, the science involved . Your discomfort is probably due to this new experience.

    Disagreement is the antithesis of consensus science but if you are unwilling to present and defend the AGW hypothesis then you are shutting yourself off from a vast field of climate science that you will only be exposed to by the cut and thrust of proponent vs sceptic debate.

    Your reticence to defend the hypothesis is unfounded because to date it is undocumented i.e. there is no falsifiable hypothesis for sceptics to address. This provides you with the option of making it up as you go along as so many AGW proponents are doing – hotcold creates droughtflood.

    It is disappointing that you are unwilling to engage because you are unable to reconcile opinions (scientifically supported) that are at odds with your own. A pity because I was looking forward to seeing the scientific basis of your position and the rebuttals to dissent but if you wish to retreat to a more comfortable echo chamber then that is your prerogative.

  38. (not so) Silent on January 25, 2011 at 8:21 am said:

    Well, thats a shame.
    I was interested in his views, especially on feedbacks and forcings.

  39. Interesting. Here was Keith’s chance to engage with skeptics and present a scientifically robust defence of AGW, in a polite and supportive environment.

    However, he has decided to withdraw, after only one rather basic shot was fired across his bows – the lack of an acceleration in sea level rise.

    I suspect he went and checked the data (maybe for the first time ever), and found we are correct.

    I don’t blame him, of course. If I was told to stand and defend AGW I’d run too.

  40. Richard C (NZ) on January 25, 2011 at 10:03 am said:

    Dr Martin Hertzberg defines the difference between propagandists and scientists..

    The Legend of the Sky Dragon and Its Mythmakers

    There is a simple way to tell the difference between propagandists and scientists. If scientists have a theory they search diligently for data that might actually contradict the theory so that they can fully test its validity or refine it. Propagandists, on the other hand, carefully select only the data that might agree with their theory and dutifully ignore any data that disagrees with it.

    This quote was lifted from Dr Hertzberg’s “Commentary- Hansen Draft Paper: Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change”

    Major casualties of the commentary are James Hansen, Al Gore and AGW.

    I am left wondering if Keith Hunter has realized his disadvantage in scientific debate and is retreating to the easier playing field of propaganda.

  41. This is a relevant link:

    Lisbon Workshop on Reconciliation in the Climate Change Debate

    The Workshop was conceptualized by Jerome Ravetz,Silvio Funtowicz, James Risbey, and Jeroen van der Sluijs.

    Funtowicz and Ravetz are well know for their concept of Post Normal Science which has received a lot of attention and criticism recently.

    Some of the attendees will be familiar to readers in the climate blogosphere.

    * Judith Curry
    * Steve Goddard
    * Steve McIntyre
    * Ross McKitrick
    * Steve Mosher
    * Fred Pearce
    * Nick Stokes
    * Hans von Storch
    * Peter Webster

    Should be fascination. I expect we’ll get a lot of blog posts on this one.

  42. Keith Hunter on January 26, 2011 at 10:43 pm said:

    Mainly for Clarence: I was not happy with the ad nominem attacks I found against me and my colleagues like Peter Gluckman on this site. Also some of the stupid scientific arguments. In judging this, I am going back several years. My conclusion was that this is not a site I want to comment on. I am an active scientist and I have not got the time to deal with the cognitive dissonance needed to comment further here. That might sound arrogant but it is what most active scientists actually feel. I think it is most unlikely that you would get a different opinion from other people like me.

  43. (not so) Silent on January 27, 2011 at 7:31 am said:

    Yet on Hot Topic , you and your staff have engaged in the very thing you now complain of…..

  44. Hmm, speaking of stupid scientific arguments and cognitive dissonance, how likely is it that the RSNZ has got its sea level projections right, Keith, based on what’s actually happening in the oceans?

    Of course, we could suddenly get a massive burst of global warming that will accelerate the sea level rise dramatically, but by my calculations, the rate would have to jump to a fairly impressive 5.2mm/yr (and be maintained there for the next 90 years) to make even the lower bound of the RSNZ projection.

    Let me quote from your document:
    “However, our uncertainty is mostly one-sided, with more possible effects that might hasten sea level rise than might slow it.”

    Does it worry you even a little then, Keith, that the rate has been dropping over the last ten years, and over 2010 was in fact negative (-1.5mm/yr)?

  45. Richard C (NZ) on January 27, 2011 at 2:35 pm said:

    Bob, these are valuable links (now saved and bookmarked). I see that the RSNZ summed up the present sea level trend with:-

    “The rise over the past fifteen years has been 3.3 mm/yr (± 0.4 mm/yr).”

    Studiously avoiding the actual present trend as you point out. Perhaps it took a few months to go to print by Sept 2010 and they will issue an update soon.

    Someone on the list of Contributors and Reviewers might be on to it right now.

    Dr John Beavan,
    Dr Rob Bell,
    Dr Robert Bindschadler,
    Dr John Church,
    Prof John Hannah,
    Prof Keith Hunter,
    Assoc Prof Paul Kench,
    Dr Andrew Mackintosh,
    Prof Martin Manning,
    Prof Tim Naish,
    Doug Ramsay,
    Richard Reinen-Hamill,
    Dr Andy Reisinger,
    Dr James Renwick,
    Zach Rissel,
    Prof Caroline Saunders,
    Dr David Wratt,
    Dr Dan Zwartz

    It is an accelerating rise that is predicted but the prospects of “a massive burst of global warming” are looking bleak, I think Bob – and might explain why Keith has beat a hasty retreat.

    Going by the 2100 projections vs current rate plot, the RSNZ are already out-of-the-money and it’s only Jan 2011.

    BTW, nice plot, yours? A credit to the author, what software package?

  46. I think some understanding of the RSNZ paper can be summarised from a quote on page 2 of the pdf Bob linked to above:

    Over the past four years, researchers have made progress in understanding polar ice sheet processes, informed largely by rapidly improving satellite observations. As yet, these processes are not included in mechanistic models of ice sheet behaviour. In the absence of such robust models, researchers have relied upon simple semi-empirical approaches – extrapolating from past temperature and sea level records. There is a wide range in these projections because of current limits of understanding. A key research goal is to develop models that properly simulate the important physical processes and supersede the semi-empirical approaches

    So, you see Bob, you are using the “old school” empirical approach. It’s the models that count. 😉

  47. It’s an impressive list of contributors. Pity not one of them seems to have given the projections a quick “sanity check”.

    Notice also that the RSNZ document does a cute little sleight of hand, borrowed from AR4. It says

    Tidal records from many sites around the globe provide clear evidence that sea levels have risen over the last century by an average of 1.7 mm/yr (± 0.5 mm/yr). Over the period of satellite observation, altimetry and tidal records confirm that the rate has increased, as shown in Figure 1. The rise over the past fifteen years has been 3.3 mm/yr (± 0.4 mm/yr).”

    What they don’t mention is that during the overlap period since 1993, the tidal gauges still showed 1.7mm/yr rise (Woodworth (2008) – a 1.7mm/yr rise over the last 55 years, slight deceleration at end of 20th century), even though the satellite showed almost double that. This discrepency remains. In other words, the “acceleration” was purely due to a change in measurement technique.

    This is confirmed in NZ by Hannah (2004) “An updated analysis of long-term sea level change in New Zealand”:

    There continues to be no evidence of any acceleration in relative sea levels over the record period.

    and that this result of 1.6mm/yr

    has a high level of coherency with other regional and global sea level rise determinations.

    In other words, NZ, like the rest of the world, shows no acceleration.

    As an aside, Wu (2010) “Simultaneous estimation of global present-day water transport and glacial isostatic adjustment” showed that the GIA adjustment made to the GRACE geoids may have been incorrect. When applied properly, it reduced by half the ice loss from Greenland. Could the same error be producing too-high sea level data, which apparently uses the same geoids? Just a thought, I don’t know the answer. From Wu:

    We conclude that a significant revision of the present estimates of glacial isostatic adjustments and land–ocean water exchange is required.

    Back to sea level rise. The lack of acceleration is admitted in AR4 Ch5 – see page 413:

    Interannual or longer variability is a major reason why no long-term acceleration of sea level has been identified using 20th-century data alone (Woodworth, 1990; Douglas, 1992). Another possibility is that the sparse tide gauge network may have been inadequate to detect it if present (Gregory et al., 2001).

    In other words, there’s no acceleration, so there must be a problem with the tide gauges! Say what?! So we’re happy to use tide gauges to measure the steady 1.7mm/yr trend up to 1993, and use that to compare with satellite data trend post-1993, but suddeny from 1993 onwards, they aren’t good enough to determine accelerating sea level rise!

    Regarding the graph, it’s easy to produce, you just download the Topex/Jason satellite data from the U of C and add in the projections. I used Excel (2010).

  48. That’s right Andy. When the models contradict our instincts, or the measured data, then the models take precedence. Silly me.

    Just for interest, I headed up a scientific modelling group for ten years, and as a result I’m less than impressed by modelling as a tool. It’s useful in some cases, but it’s way too easy to get things wrong, and you never, ever just believe the results.

  49. In other words, the “acceleration” was purely due to a change in measurement technique

    Mike’s nature trick?

  50. If this is true, then is it willful deception or a genuine mistake?

  51. Richard C (NZ) on January 27, 2011 at 5:31 pm said:

    “When applied properly, it reduced by half the ice loss from Greenland”

    So one big plank of the accelerating sea level rise contention is in major doubt. What does the other (thermal expansion) say?

    From Knox Douglass 2010:-

    “Using only 2003-2008 data, we find cooling, not warming”

    Both Sources on RSNZ “SEA LEVEL RISE Emerging Issues” Table 1: A summary of explanations of current global sea level rise, were “Well known, increasing with warming” in “Relationship with global warming”

    So in the space of a few months “Well known, increasing” for both planks has changed to “In doubt, don’t know at the moment” for Other land-based ice and “In doubt, decreasing” for Thermal expansion, but I’m sure the NZRS will issue an update soon.

    KD10 was in press November and Wu10 was published online: August 2010, so both would have been news to the RSNZ (bad?) after their September report. All up, 2010 was not a good year for the accelerating sea level rise proponents – unless they ignore contrary science of course, in which case it’s 3.3 mm/yr and accelerating wildly.

  52. Richard C (NZ) on January 27, 2011 at 5:54 pm said:

    Just occurred to me that the NZRS Table 1 has not been updated since the 2007 data but Figure 2: Recent polar ice loss, Estimates of loss from ice sheets, from measurements by the GRACE satellites., has been updated to the first part of 2009.

    “Emerging Issues” is a very appropriate title for the report it seems.

  53. Clarence on January 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm said:

    This argument addresses the question whether the tiny rise in the notional average eugenic sea level, experienced for the last two centuries at least, is now accelerating.

    While this may be an interesting scientific debate, I don’t see its relevance to NZ coastal planning, which is also mentioned in the RSNZ paper.

    Is there some known relationship between the average eugenic sea level and the high water mark at any part of the New Zealand coastline?

  54. Richard C (NZ) on January 27, 2011 at 7:20 pm said:

    “Is there some known relationship between the average eugenic sea level and the high water mark at any part of the New Zealand coastline?”

    Bell, Goring and de Lange 2000 couldn’t see the global rise in the NZ data because it was masked by ENSO, El NIno, storm surges etc so hard to see how there could be a relationship.

    The Port of Tauranga surveyors aren’t concerned because they’re looking at tides. I’ve lived on the coast for 20 years and I’m not concerned but White Island on the other hand is another consideration entirely – 4-5 minutes to get to higher ground. I’ve also been kicked off the beach in a tsunami alert. These events are more likely to be eugenic than a eustatic rise (sorry, couldn’t resist).

  55. Richard C (NZ) on January 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm said:

    Timely post at WUWT:-

    “Hotter summers may not be as catastrophic for the Greenland ice sheet”

    Even more for the NZRS to ignore.

  56. Just for interest, here’s a plot of the satellite global mean sea level data.

  57. Richard C (NZ) on January 27, 2011 at 8:25 pm said:

    I did an EMD plot of this data and the trend was similar from 1995 – 2006 but 93 -95 was flat at around -21mm and from 2006 it flattened off markedly from about 22mm 2006 to 25mm 2007 to 29mm 2010.7.

    This is another case of a linear (straight line) trend being misleading because we see a decelerating curve that is sure to become more pronounced as new data comes in.

    I submitted a post on recent trends in GMSL and OHC to Richard T but it either didn’t meet quality standards or it’s on the cutting room floor (or both).

  58. Keith Hunter on February 1, 2011 at 11:54 pm said:

    Yes (not so) Silent: I freely admit responsibility for the posts I have made anywhere, including on HT. But, although I am the head of the Science Division at Otago University, I do not control any of “my staff”. They all have academic freedom to say what they want, even if I disagree with their opinions. I would hope that would be true of any academics posting here, or anywhere else.

    What that means, however, is that you can’t ascribe any responsibility to me for what they post, nor can you safely assume that I agree with their posts.

    Nor should you assume that just because I do not respond to the gratuitous swipes that have been posted here that I am not able to. The suggestion that I prefer to take refuge in “propaganda” is simply ridiculous, especially since it comes from people who deem it necessary to take refuge in the comfort of anonymity.

    My opinion is that anyone who posts anonymously is automatically unable to complain about “ad hominem” remarks. “Ad hominem” remarks are only valid when directed at real people by real people.

    All the rest are cowards.

  59. If I in my job went around publically calling people morons, or calling distinguished 87-year-old scientists “sacks of shit” and “frauds”, I can assure you my boss would have something to say about it. Let’s look at that “sack of shit’s” record shall we?

    Fred Singer, Ph.D. in atmospheric physics from Princeton University. He established the National Weather Bureau’s Satellite Service Center, and was the founding dean of the University of Miami School of Environmental and Planetary Sciences. He was director of the Center for Atmospheric and Space Physics.

    He received a White House Special Commendation from President Eisenhower in 1954 for inventing a new way to launch space vehicles.

    He was deputy assistant administrator for the EPA, and chief scientist for the Department of Transportation. He held a professorship with the University of Virginia and George Mason University. He invented the backscatter photometer ozone-monitoring instrument for satellites.

    I presume Doug Mackie has higher qualifications than these. In all honesty, I can’t imagine my old lecturers saying things like this. But then again, they had class.

    Suffice it to say that Otaga University’s Science Department has sunk somewhat in my estimation, and I won’t be sending my kids there.

  60. As a last point, and then I’m over this point, I agree entirely with James’ last comment at HT:

    “Doug – What I wrote could hardly be described as slagging off Mike Palin, except perhaps to someone with no objectivity. Also, what I wrote about Singer would hardly be described as veneration – I am just suggesting some balance. If we went back into any scientists history to discover if they were ever wrong and then dismissed anything they ever had to say in the future if they were, you would have ZERO scientists you could rely on, including those you idolise. Grow up!

    I think I will leave you to your comfortable, back slapping, none investigative little blog site, there is nothing for the open minded here. You can thank the likes of Doug for creating such an isolationist site.”

    Well said James! HT (backed up by Otaga University) is a perfect example of why so many people are turning away from AGW.

  61. (not so) Silent on February 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm said:

    Hi Keith,
    Thanks for the response. Nice to see your tolerence towards your staff about speaking out. I note many many organisations require their staff to behave in a professional manner and doubt they would permit such public outbursts your staff behave in.
    I guess NIWA is amongst those as they certainly sacked poor old Jim Salinger for speaking out! There are other examples amongst many Govt departments as well.

    As for being anonymous, maybe I have to protect my job too…I dont see the guy who leaked the Climategate files coming forward. And yes, it was a leak not a hack.

    As for being a coward, I think the mother whose 9yo son I saved last Summer at Piha doesnt think I’m a coward….

  62. I just found this 2007 article by our learned gentlemen.

    Climate Change Mythconceptions: Some Incorrect, Irrelevant and Misleading Arguments Made by Climate Change Denialists

    Doug S. Mackie and Keith A. Hunter

    Chemistry in New Zealand October 2007

  63. Keith Hunter on February 4, 2011 at 7:53 am said:

    Bob D: I agree completely with respect to the example you cite. Academic freedom does not extend to gross personal insults and I would have words with any of my staff who behaved in that way (and indeed have on several occasions) but I would not do it on a public blog. In any case, the example you cite is not relevant in this context since Doug Mackie has not worked for the University of Otago since 2009 and I now have no more ability to censure his remarks than you do.

    I am sorry to hear that you base the reputation of our Science Division on such a misunderstanding. I can assure you that your kids would get a quality experience.

  64. Keith Hunter on February 4, 2011 at 7:59 am said:

    I realize on reflection I was not clear enough. Sorry for that. There is nothing wrong with posting anonymously and I understand your reasons why. What is cowardly is making insulting personal remarks and hiding behind anonymity. I have had plenty of rude and insulting comments directed at me by such cowards.

  65. “Doug Mackie has not worked for the University of Otago since 2009 and I now have no more ability to censure his remarks than you do.”
    My apologies, I take back what I said. I should have checked first that he still worked there.

  66. Pingback: Climate Conversation Group » Will Keith Hunter destroy us?

  67. Mike Palin on August 1, 2011 at 9:16 am said:

    I just caught up with this gem of a comment. Would you not agree that the spreadsheet equation was, hmm, a bit more complex than need be? This from a person who at the time was professing mathematical expertise. By their fruits, you shall know them.

    BTW, it turned out James’s moronic comments were because he had never read the NIWA report in detail, not because he was a moron.

  68. Richard C (NZ) on August 1, 2011 at 7:54 pm said:

    Never did get any takers on that challenge. Was the prospect of viewing a recent trend that doesn’t fit the “warming” narrative just too unsettling to face?

    I’m the first to concede that my algebra and spread-sheeting leaves a lot to be desired but so what? The objective was for people to plot the NZT7 data for themselves and do a bit of analysis. If you don’t the linear approach (neither do I on that data), why not apply a 3rd order polynomial?

    Result: New Zealand is in a cooling phase and has been all this century.

  69. Clarence on December 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm said:

    “The report was revised “following review” by the BoM.”

    The published support letter dated 14 December does not suggest any revisions, corrections, adjustments, re-wording, editing, polishing, omissions or clarifications. It assumes the existing wording is superb and cannot think of anything that would effect any improvement.

    So what caused NIWA to revise its report. It had been sitting fallow since 29 October, and then something big must have arrived from BoM to require the whole report to be revised on 13 December. It certainly wasn’t an early copy of the support letter. It must have been a report on the outcome of BoM’s peer review. An important document, we can assume.

    So why is this document locked in a well-guarded safe in the bowels of the NIWA building? What mischief would be caused if it was allowed to escape into the wild? What reputations depend on it being forever shielded from the rude gaze of the public who paid for it?

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