NIWA correspondence safe in hands of the BoM

What a secret!

See UPDATE, below.

Here’s a development that threatens to place publicly-funded weather data on the same footing as the next budget, or troop movements.

In February, Warwick Hughes lodged a Freedom Of Information request to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology to release all documents connected with their peer review for NIWA of NIWA’s review of their seven station series (7SS).

Today, Warwick posted a story about it, Australian FOI law keeps secret the construction of New Zealand seven station temperature series.

What’s so secret about temperature records?

In frustration, Warwick laments: “I am hoping that people smarter than I might see ways to carry on the battle to get these papers and files released. What can be so secret about the things publicly-funded scientists and bureaucrats do to adjust common or garden weather records into a form that suits them? We are not talking about nuclear weapons secrets here.”

I agree. Let’s hope someone with legal expertise and a desire to uncover the truth can pick up Warwick’s endeavour and move it forward.

The NZ situation

We’re waiting for the outcome of an investigation by the Ombudsman into NIWA’s refusal to release to me similar documents related to the peer review.


The BoM, in a document setting out their Reasons for Refusal, reveals that no fee was paid to them by NIWA for the peer review.

Visits: 73

32 Thoughts on “NIWA correspondence safe in hands of the BoM

  1. Glad you have picked this up Richard – I will be interested to hear what Kiwi observers think of the extensive Schedule which started at the end of August.

  2. Andy on 07/05/2011 at 5:41 pm said:

    I posted a link to Warwick’s blog post on this over at Bishop Hill, in the unthreaded section.

    (BH seems to deal with FOI quite a bit, though UK laws are different)

  3. Richard C (NZ) on 07/05/2011 at 8:08 pm said:

    You can’t be too careful with state secrets and national security in today’s environment of terrorism and anarchy…………..oh wait…………temperature records?

  4. Andy on 07/05/2011 at 8:34 pm said:

    And the Bishop has posted a thread on this here

    I get the hat tip *blush*

    • Andy on 07/05/2011 at 9:42 pm said:

      Cmon guys get in there. Leave your mark. *Everyone* reads Bishop Hill

  5. Alexander K on 08/05/2011 at 4:47 am said:

    Andy, Iv’e done my thing, made my mark and expressed my annoyance on the Bish’s excellent blog.

  6. Andy on 08/05/2011 at 10:02 am said:

    Steve McIntyre has made a comment over at Bishop Hill

    Is there a chronology of events? I followed some of the links and saw that an explanation of adjustments was originally requested. I presume that this was never provided, but it would be nice to see a summary of events
    May 7, 2011 at 7:59 PM | Steve McIntyre

    I think this is a fair comment. Outsiders find it hard to follow the story of the 7SS. A concise summary would be helpful.

  7. Anthropogenic Global Cooling on 08/05/2011 at 1:07 pm said:

    I’d say that many governments do see such things as temperature records as state secrets, especially if any scrutiny of the said records results in undesirable economic (or otherwise) results for them. When I was in Shanghai internet access to Watts Up With That was blocked, which is a good example of my point. Some countries are going to make a killing out of AGW, and I’m sure the rest are being blackmailed into it. Is NZ’s current credit rating and debt related to it’s stance on AGW, and it’s implementation of the ETS? It’s trade with the EU certainly is. Whatever the reality of it, someones got us by the short & curly’s without a doubt. Someone like Don Brash needs to spill the beans to the press.

  8. (not so) Silent on 09/05/2011 at 9:38 am said:

    “Someone like Don Brash needs to spill the beans to the press.”

    No, wrong person. He is already on the lefts “shut the heck up” list. So all him speaking out will do is give the left petrol to throw on him as they will continue to smear him. ( Racist denier..)
    The person to stop all this nonsense is…. Dr Peter Gluckman.

    • Andy on 09/05/2011 at 10:04 am said:

      Gluckman has already used to “denier” word and seems to be toeing the party line. Is there something that we don’t know?

    • Douglas on 28/05/2011 at 6:39 pm said:

      Gluckman has made his position clear see here’


    • Richard C (NZ) on 28/05/2011 at 10:31 pm said:

      Apparently there is a

      “current warming trend”,


      “the science is solid”.

      Article posted on Thursday, August, 13th, 2009 at 10:04 am, but even at that date the article was wrong on both counts.

      Definitely time to update the article given the science that has been published since 2009 that removes any solidity and the continued lack of warming since the turn of the century.

      Business holds itself accountable using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) but the Climate Change Office doesn’t seem to see the need for similar review and rigour – an incorrect 21 month old report does just fine when it comes to government policy.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 28/05/2011 at 10:34 pm said:

      PMSAC and Climate Change Office that should be.

    • Andy on 28/05/2011 at 11:35 pm said:

      This paper was written by Professor Gluckman following briefings with climate scientists

      Translation: This paper is a piece of regurgitated propaganda as written by climate “scientists” who, apparently, have developed this concept known as “collective wisdom”, also known as groupthink or collective stupidity.

    • Douglas on 29/05/2011 at 9:15 am said:

      None the less this is his published view. If you are seeking a change in Key’s attitude you have to get past Gluckman.

    • Andy on 29/05/2011 at 1:05 pm said:

      This sentence in Gluckman’s statement goes by without qualification or further comment

      Warming of the atmosphere also leads to an increase in water vapour content which further amplifies the warming, since water vapour is itself a strong greenhouse gas.

      As we know, the absence of evidence for this hypothesis is where the CAGW theory breaks down.

      Yet, Gluckman is prepared to support this viewpoint, without further clarification of the uncertainties and the underlying assumptions.

    • Douglas on 29/05/2011 at 2:03 pm said:

      (not so) Silent says:
      May 9, 2011 at 9:38 am
      [—- Don Brash —is already on the lefts “shut the heck up” list. So all him speaking out will do is give the left petrol to throw on him as they will continue to smear him. ( Racist denier..)
      The person to stop all this nonsense is…. Dr Peter Gluckman.
      I am really responding to this statement. Imho Gluckman has seemingly ‘thrown his hat’ into the ‘warmist’ ring with his press release of August, 2009. Act seems to be the party that will confront the AGW issue and the problems that will arise from the ETS legislation but in the end it is the Nats who have to deal with it for the foreseeable future. Key reasonably listens to the scientific advice provided by Gluckman. But he must surely be aware of the folly in pursuing it from an economical viewpoint. I really think that they (the Nats) will not do anything about it other than a bit of ‘window dressing’.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 29/05/2011 at 4:17 pm said:

      Douglas, re “you have to get past Gluckman”.

      I’m beginning to think that it is a waste of time contacting Sir Peter Gluckman with anything contrary to the above PMSAC position statement. My experience seems to indicate that he is a gatekeeper for the “consensus” and will not be moved by facts, science, empirical observation etc if it does not conform to the “consensus” view.

      Recently I have sent 2 briefs to Sir Peter via the PMSAC as per (not so) Silent (Cc’d to the Office of Climate Change) and although both have been acknowledged and passed on to Sir Peter “for his information”, I have not had any other response (not even acknowledgment from the CC Office). The first was regarding the lack of an AGW prescribed water vapour level rise in the atmosphere (TPW) and the second was the set of key climate metrics (observations vs AGW prescription) along with a bunch of climate driver science papers and articles.

      I’ll give them the benefit of a little more time and some time soon will send a 3rd brief re recent science regarding 2 external natural forcings that the IPCC have not taken into account but will have to now in light of the conclusions (ocean oscillations and cosmic ray flux).

      My strategy then if there is still no response will be to repeat the process but to address the communication to PM John Key with Cc to CC Minister Nick Smith, PMSAC and the CC Office. My approach will be along the lines:-

      “I’ve contacted the relevant offices but have had no response. What do I have to do to get a response if those with a responsibility to do so will not do the work that they are paid by the taxpayer (their employer) to do?”

    • Douglas on 29/05/2011 at 6:02 pm said:

      Richard C (NZ) says: May 29, 2011 at 4:17 pm

      Well Richard, you have decided that you have to go over him rather than past him at the gate which I suppose if o.k. if you are dealing with (as you seem to be) a scientific argument. It also seems though, that there is a perception held by politicians that the science as promoted is no longer a reliable basis for the decisions that have to be taken that affect our economy – hence the procrastination now being seen in implementing anything that might be disadvantageous to the economy. We seem to be building in caveats that allow us plenty of time for delaying any action. The politicians are very good at making meaningless statements to placate groups but to take hard decisions that could cripple (say) the dairy industry would be political suicide. I can’t see Key being caught in this way. Gluckman’s paper of August 2009 seemed to support the ‘consensus’ as you say but it was also constructed to leave him ample ‘wriggle room’.

    • Andy on 29/05/2011 at 8:32 pm said:

      There is a parallel situation in the UK with Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, another medical/biologist type who has adopted the warmist mantle on behalf of his fellows.

      It’s difficult to know how to deal with this systemic political corruption.

      They have the big gongs, “Sir” this and “Nobel Prize that”. I have a mere PhD to muddle along with.

    • Douglas on 30/05/2011 at 9:09 am said:

      @Andy May 29, 2011 at 8:32 pm
      [There is a parallel situation in the UK with Sir Paul Nurse—It’s difficult to know how to deal with this systemic political corruption.—They have the big gongs, “Sir” this and “Nobel Prize that”. I have a mere PhD to muddle along with.]

      They respond to this sort of pressure –
      Saturday, 28 May 2011 16:58 Agence France-Presse
      DEAUVILLE, France: Russia, Japan and Canada told the G8 they would not join a second round of carbon cuts under the Kyoto Protocol at United Nations talks this year and the US reiterated it would remain outside the treaty, European diplomats have said.

      The UK Aust and NZ are now ‘out of step with some big and respected players -especially in Nth America. China and India have already dumped any recognition in practical terms. What do you think Mr Key will do now and how much of the ‘wriggle room’ will be used by his scientific adviser? Interesting times now.


    • Andy on 30/05/2011 at 10:15 am said:

      Yes, I just saw that story on Kyoto on WUWT. If Australia dumps its carbon tax then we will be alone in the world with that doomed entity the EU.

    • Douglas on 30/05/2011 at 12:30 pm said:

      Yes Andy I read this too.

      Be interesting to see what Key does now. He is not stupid. He will make room to exit – like exit right?

    • Ron on 30/05/2011 at 11:07 am said:

      Great. Good background at Judy Curry’s – her conclusion (supported by R Pielke sen. in comments):

      “Message to climate scientists (especially in the U.S.): now that the UNFCCC treaties do not seem to be desired by even the most progressive U.S. administration in recent (and likely future) decade, please rethink your allegiance to the UNFCCC/IPCC ideology. Let’s get back to doing climate science as it should be done: challenging every aspect of the climate science to broaden and deepen our understanding of the climate system and the full range of possible future climate scenarios associated with both natural climate variability and anthropogenically forced climate change. And supporting policy makers in developing and assessing a broad range of robust, no/low regrets policy options.

      This should give some support to the sceptic side of the debate in NZ.

    • Andy on 30/05/2011 at 12:47 pm said:

      Maybe we need some journalists to grow a pair.

      This video from Andrew Bolt (featuring Bob Carter) provides some entertainment

  9. Doug Proctor on 09/05/2011 at 10:21 am said:

    The refusal of the BOM to release the details and techniques of evaluating the New Zealand temperature record is understandable: the BOM doesn’t want to release how the BOM reviews its own data.

    Australia, like New Zealand and the USA, has a lot at stake in supporting the CAGW position of the IPCC. To make its methodology clear is to invite dispute, as much of the adjustments must be subjective as they deal with historical data not suitable for review by replication. All subjective decisions spring from a philosophical and/or intellectual understanding of what is going on. Adjustments will not be random: when in doubt the decision will be driven by a premise. It will not be sometimes up, sometimes down and sometimes just left alone.

    None of the CAGW nonsense would be going on without the internet allowing reasonably educated and technically competent people from connecting with both data and each other. Governments do not work well when flip-flopping on major issues, which should be a reason not to jump on bandwagons. But politicians lives exist within the spaces on a page; it is anticipation of the next word they get their power, their social due. Instant global communication gives them the power to promote themselves well or shoot themselves in the foot in full view of the voting public.

    In the older days foolish ideas came up slowly and drifted away slowly despite at times crippling results while they hung around. Public humiliation waited until the next generation. Now the fool reveals himself by the next round of elections. This is not acceptable as long as power still lies in their hands. The integrity of government is conflated with the integrity of its members: at least by its members, justifying lying, stonewalling and obscufaction.

    Here, just as for the New Zealand situation, we need the recently retired Australian BOM climatologists to come forward. But perhaps both groups have “security” letters on file, forbidding them from discussing …. anything.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if we never get the info from BOM or NIWA. But that the CAGW issue just drifts away in “an ongoing analysis of additional data collected through the good offices of the IPCC and world governments”.

  10. Andy on 09/05/2011 at 11:31 am said:

    Steve McIntyre is still requesting a timeline for requests for adjustments on the thread at Bishop Hill.

    Does anyone have any info that they send him?

  11. clarence on 09/05/2011 at 8:08 pm said:

    I love this reasoning for keeping secret what the NIWA bloke wrote to his BoM opposite number:

    “Section 33(a)(iii) of the FOI Act provides that a document is exempt under the FOI Act if disclosure would or could reasonably be expected to cause damage to the international relations of the Commonwealth.”

    Guess what? The Commissioner said this exemption would apply if NIWA was pissed off about the correspondence being released. So he asked, and reports upon the answer:

    “NIWA has advised that disclosure of confidential documents will damage the relationship between NIWA and the Bureau as NIWA will no longer be able to trust that the Bureau will, or can, maintain the confidentiality of NIWA’s documents and other documents generated during a confidential peer review process.”

    Now how about that for a circular argument? NIWA knew an FOI Act was in force in Australia, so knew that the Bureau would have to divulge. But they apparently trusted BoM to fight tooth and nail and just breach the damn FOI if necessary. That’s what NIWA does at home – never discloses anything. So if BoM was to actually comply with the Act, NIWA would never trust them again.

    And NIWA’s loss of trust in BoM as a FOI fighter would damage the external relations of the Commonwealth of Australia.

  12. clarence on 09/05/2011 at 8:16 pm said:

    BUT …. if the Commissioner were to order BoM to produce the dox, they would have no choice.

    So NIWA could hardly accuse BoM of abusing its trust, knowing that BoM did everything possible WITHIN THE LAW to keep the secrets.

    And if NIWA can’t really complain, then no damage could possibly be done to Australia’s international relations.

    • Nice! That removes any reason for the BoM to complain about disclosure, while destroying any harm that might result from disclosure. Everybody wins.

      Makes one wonder why the commissioner took the BoM’s part.

  13. Australis on 09/05/2011 at 8:32 pm said:

    What about this justification in the Commissioner’s Report?

    “There is a public interest in ensuring free and frank reviews of scientific research by fellow scientists continue to occur so that scientific research can undergo a thorough scrutiny of ideas, methods and scientific theory;”

    The clear implication is that scientists will not speak frankly to counterpart scientists if they think there is some risk of any other scientist reading what he wrote. But why should that be? Non-disclosure may be understandable enough in the case of delicate diplomatic or business negotiations, but it cuts across the very method which is supposed to make science work. “Secretive science” is bad science. People with ideas put them out there for commentary by other people. “Secretive science” is bad science.

    In this case we have two tax-funded organisations employing Government scientists to figure out the best way to calculate some figures for a public archive. It’s just not believable that such folk would clam up or lie if their deliberations were likely to be made public. On the contrary, the knowledge that their exchanges were to be published would surely improve the quality of the discourse.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation