Asses in law

Local warmists are scathing in their condemnation of the Coalition’s action against NIWA, but their fury is fuelled by fossilised notions of what we’re trying to do. Not to mention flawed by having only a distant acquaintance with what we have actually said.

It’s a fossil fuel-filled fury.

There is everywhere a tendency to take pot shots at our suit without engaging with the substance of it. For example, Gareth Renowden says:

The law does not concern itself with trifles, and the minutiae of the techniques used to homogenise temperature records to account for site moves and instrument changes is nothing if not trifling with respect to the climatological big picture. New Zealand and the world have warmed significantly over the last 150 years, of that there is no doubt, and no amount of legal action will make warming go away and New Zealand’s glaciers recover the mass they’ve lost.

But the temperature records are an indispensable portion of the “big picture”.

How strange that he can acknowledge that we’re challenging the “minutiae” of the national temperature record but immediately claim that there’s no doubt New Zealand has warmed significantly over the last 150 years.

What is it about the doubt implicit in our challenge that he doesn’t understand? How could our challenge exist unless confidence in warming was less than universal? There most certainly is doubt.

Does he know that our statistical audit of NIWA’s reconstruction of the 7SS reduces its conclusion of warming from 0.91°C per century to 0.34°C per century — to virtual insignificance? Does he know that in that reconstruction NIWA overstated the country’s warming by 168%?

Can he accept that this means there is doubt about the national warming? Will he ever ask the sensible question: why does the Coalition doubt NIWA’s work? What is or are the rational reason or reasons behind it?

Until he does, he’ll resort only to prejudice.

Visits: 50

16 Thoughts on “Asses in law

  1. Andy on 19/07/2012 at 11:45 am said:

    I see that Dave Frame is challenging the regulars at Hot Topic with some common sense.

  2. Andy on 19/07/2012 at 3:33 pm said:

    There’s a little more from The Herald today but it doesn’t really add a lot

    • This is the only new bit I could see:

      Niwa’s lawyer Justin Smith told the court this morning that the plaintiff appeared to be manufacturing rules that suited its case.

      “They do not come from anywhere but its counsel’s inventiveness. They change at the last minute and without notice when a plausible objection is raised.”

      Is that a straw in the wind of what their basic defence will be? To paraphrase: “There are no standards. We do what we like!”

    • Richard C (NZ) on 19/07/2012 at 5:48 pm said:

      Seemed a bit limp to me too Mike.

      I thought that rather than coming “from anywhere but its counsel’s inventiveness”, the “rules” (as he puts it and what NIWA agreed to) came from all the citations in the audit and Bob D’s Affidavit.

      I don’t think Counsel Justin Smith has been paying attention.

    • Andy on 19/07/2012 at 4:46 pm said:

      Another piece

      “Lawyer: journalist no climate expert ”

      Lawyers for the National Institute for Atmospheric and Water Research say a retired journalist should not be allowed to give evidence in a case brought against them by a climate change skeptics group because he is not an expert.

      The New Zealand Climate Education Trust – a branch of the NZ Climate Science Coalition – are challenging NIWA figures which show a rise in temperatures in New Zealand of 1degC over the past 100 years.

      This figure is significantly higher than global warming figures around the world and the trust is questioning how NIWA calculated the figures and whether they are accurate.

      It believes there has either been no warming or a trivial warming of around 0.2degC.

      In submissions to the court, lawyer for NIWA, Justin Smith, has argued some of the evidence the anti-climate change group has brought before the court should be inadmissible because the man presenting, Terry Dunleavy, is a journalist not a climate scientist.

      Presumably this line of reasoning would rule out the entire case as inadmissible?

    • Richard C (NZ) on 19/07/2012 at 5:50 pm said:

      Apparently then, only murderers can present evidence in a murder case.

  3. Richard C (NZ) on 19/07/2012 at 4:24 pm said:

    “no doubt” about the last “150 years” ?

    Does Gareth have access to a 150 year NZ temperature series that not even NIWA have been able to compile?

    Or is it just a matter of faith?

    • Andy on 19/07/2012 at 4:30 pm said:

      I think Gareth looks at the glaciers receding for evidence, amongst other things.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 20/07/2012 at 9:15 am said:

      Salinger: “The excellent climate record from Wellington shows a clear warming trend over the past 150 years”

      ‘Wellington’s climate shows warming trend’

      This must be what Gareth is on about but I think Salinger’s damage control will backfire when people see the unadjusted plot and caption ‘Wellington’s climate records show a warming trend’

      I suppose if you cock your head to one side and stand on one leg you might be able to see it in the unadjusted record but how much and so what? It’s not that there’s been a bit of warming that’s in dispute, it’s method (there’s an irony there) and magnitude.

      Amusing too that both Kelburn and the Airport have plummeted since 1998 – excellent.

    • Bob D on 20/07/2012 at 9:44 am said:

      Salinger: “The excellent climate record from Wellington…”
      Wellington has a far from excellent climate record. It’s made up of many sites, at different altitudes, some of which only have a decade or two of data. On top of that, the main site (Kelburn) is specifically mentioned in the peer-reviewed literature (Hessell, 1980) supported by Fouhy (1992) as being unfit for climate studies, due to sheltering and other issues, as evidenced by the wind run data and shelter adjustments.

      McAneney, Salinger et al. (1990) showed that sheltering can cause a daily maximum temperature increase of 1°C from establishment to 10m height over a 6 year period.


      Climatological differences accompanying changing land use from traditional pastoral farming to fruit orchards were measured over a 6-year period. During this time evergreen shelter belts, which subdivide orchards into 0.5-ha blocks, grew from establishment to an average final height of nearly 10 m. The main result was a progressive reduction in the relative wind run at 6 m which was linearly related to shelter height with a slope of −6% m−1. In this humid coastal region, shelter did not appear to influence minimum air temperatures. On the other hand, significant increases in 09.00 h soil and maximum screen air temperatures amounting to around 1°C for 10-m-high shelter were measured. These modest temperature increases were also linearly related to shelter height.

      Hessell found that although the foliage was cleared fairly regularly (Fouhy showed three cut-backs ten years apart [1949, 59, and 69]) from the immediate site, the site was affected by general growth in the Gardens surrounding it. There’s also the issue of the asphalt/concrete area in close proximity.

      It was classified in the “A” category, which is the sites with known contamination problems. The “B” category were sites without known problems.

    • Andy on 20/07/2012 at 10:33 am said:

      I’m not entirely sure it is appropriate for Salinger to be publishing these opinions on the day the case closes, when he has such a major role in the background to the case. But hey…

  4. rob taylor on 20/07/2012 at 12:45 pm said:

    Here’s a question for such great climatologists as Treadgold and Bob D.: what climate forcings have led to NZ losing 60% of its ice mass over the last 150 years (Hoelzle et al, 2007)?

    [ad hominems deleted] you might read this:

    • Richard C (NZ) on 20/07/2012 at 12:54 pm said:

      This is way off topic isn’t it Rob? Not even NIWA’s SOD presents that defense.

      May I refer you to the relevant category of this blog for you to present your comment and for us to address it?

      Polar regions, glaciers and ice

    • rob taylor,

      You say: “what climate forcings have led to NZ losing 60% of its ice mass over the last 150 years (Hoelzle et al, 2007)?”

      Some of it would have been rising temperature, some perhaps precipitation, insolation or topographical variations. Glacial advance and retreat is governed by mass, and therefore more strongly by precipitation and the rest than by air temperature, which itself is determined more by the temperature of the surface beneath it, whether water, land or ice, rather than by the trace gas CO2. If you meant to say so. Perhaps you weren’t considering CO2.

      I guess you want me to defend the unspoken suggestion that rising temperature was caused by human activity. I don’t think I can. First, we need to isolate any anthro contribution from the natural warming associated with the inter-glacial and the LIA. I don’t know if that’s been done. But simply showing a rising temperature doesn’t imply an anthropogenic cause.

      Your Wikipedia reference sounds less than authoritative about the causes of glacier retreat. It talks about glacier “health” although there’s no such thing. If a glacier disappears, who cares? It might expose the earth to some good use, otherwise it’s of no consequence.

      Oops. RC’s right – this is way OT.

    • Bob D on 20/07/2012 at 2:59 pm said:

      rob taylor,

      You say:

      what climate forcings have led to NZ losing 60% of its ice mass over the last 150 years (Hoelzle et al, 2007)?

      I presume by “Hoelzle et al, 2007” you mean this paper:
      “The application of glacier inventory data for estimating past climate change effects on mountain glaciers: A comparison between the European Alps and the Southern Alps of New Zealand.”
      If so, then you have slightly mis-quoted the paper. The period was 1850 to the mid-1970s, a period when, according to Hansen (2005) there was little increase in climate forcing from GHGs.

      Therefore, we can state with confidence that the climate forcing that led to NZ losing 60% of its ice mass was not greenhouse gases.

      So what happened post-1970, in the era of increased GHGs? According to the same paper:

      “In contrast [to the European Alps], all glaciers in New Zealand have overall experienced a positive mass balance and some have advanced strongly during the 1990s.”

  5. Bob beat me to it with “all glaciers in New Zealand have overall experienced a positive mass balance and some have advanced strongly during the 1990s.”

    That was a period of strongly increasing GHG, so there seems little correlation between them.

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