Herald wrong in so many ways

The Herald has today editorialised its rancour against climate sceptics and repeated oft-heard unfounded criticisms (h/t – Andy). They make a couple of good points but so many blunders I’ve time for only a brief tour of them. Herald statements in green (emphasis added).

A year ago, James Hansen, one of the world’s top climate scientists, conceded that climate sceptics were winning the argument with the public over global warming. This, he said, was occurring even as climate science itself was showing ever more clearly that the Earth was in increasing danger from rising temperatures.

Just as Hansen didn’t justify his statement then, the leader writer doesn’t justify it now, but what precisely is meant by “showing ever more clearly” and “in increasing danger from rising temperatures”?

It could hardly have failed more comprehensively.

Well, I should mention that the judge said he didn’t adjudicate on any of the science – if that’s important. We think that leaves the most interesting bits for another session – somewhere.

The coalition alleged that the method used to collect national temperature records, which show a national warming trend of almost one degree Celsius in the past century, almost 50 per cent above the global average, had been unscientific. That had created an unrealistic and unreliable indication of climate warming, it said.

If the coalition had managed to discredit Niwa’s methods, it would also have discredited the evidence for climate change, and the part played by human activities.

It would have “discredited the evidence for climate change” – and that would have been news indeed; certainly news to us. The Herald has no reason to say this; the case never touched on the causes of global climate change. As well, the NZ temperature record makes only a small contribution to the global picture – although it may not be exactly trivial, as it might be applied to quite a large area of the Pacific.

But Justice Venning said Niwa had applied “internationally recognised and credible scientific methodology…”

Yes, he did. But the Herald has not observed that NIWA itself cited no authority for its methodology. After advising the Ombudsman that it would not release details of the BoM “peer review”, it abandoned (at the last possible moment) any reliance on it in court yet cited no publication that carried their methodology or international usage of it – nothing but a student’s PhD thesis. So, with no evidence of international recognition, it remains a mystery why the judge found that the methodology was internationally recognised.

… and, as such, did not breach any obligation it may have had to pursue excellence.

Yes, he said this, and how odd it is! For why did NIWA claim that it has no obligation to pursue excellence, and why does the judge concur that our premier climate watchdog has no need to pursue excellence? Although I suppose it’s not as if climate studies are very important or anything. There’s not much riding on them.

The coalition was also effectively branded as amateurish. The evidence of one coalition member was dismissed in large part by Justice Venning because “he has no applicable qualifications. His interest in the area does not sufficiently qualify him as an expert.”

Although not meeting the court’s high standards, Mr Dunleavy is nevertheless far better informed about climate science than the judge is.

This represented a refreshing approach from Justice Venning. Too often, the claims of unqualified people have been able to cast doubt on the view of the majority of active climate scientists who are certain human industry is contributing to global warming.

Claims are one thing, but questions are quite another. Anyone who looks at one of the global temperature records can see there’s been no warming this century. Why not ask about that – what qualifications does one need?

When NIWA’s data don’t produce NIWA’s graph, we ask them about it – anyone would. Why did they make such a production about giving an answer?

As has happened before, climate sceptics have reacted by seeking to shift the goalposts.

What? Unjustified assertions like these carry no more weight than common gossip.

In an Opinion article in this newspaper, Auckland University associate professor Chris de Freitas played down the importance of any court ruling, saying it was no substitute for the insufficient number of attempts globally “to reassess quantitatively the nature and reliability of homogeneity adjustments to complete national sets”.

That oddly overlooked the fact that the coalition had chosen the High Court as a battleground, thereby attaching its own importance to it.

The Herald is either not paying attention or it’s ignoring bits it doesn’t like. The Coalition did not “choose” to fight this out in the High Court. There is nowhere else. NIWA gave us the runaround for several years. Where else can you go to force a public body to give answers?

It also ignored the scathing nature of the judgment.

Well, of course it did. It’s hardly reasonable to criticise Chris de Freitas for not sharing the Herald’s opinion of the judgement. Scathing? Hardly.

So severe was this that it rendered the case outlandish and raised questions about how it could have occupied so much of the court’s time. Justice Venning’s judgment was a strong riposte to the climate sceptics’ ongoing claims of a conspiracy by scientists.

Many inquiries by British and American government agencies and independent panels have previously upheld the integrity and honesty of the scientists. This ruling reinforced that and represented a damning of the climate sceptics’ case.

We never claimed a conspiracy, and the judge’s decision didn’t mention one, so I can’t see how the decision constitutes any kind of riposte.

Several incompetent, tepid inquiries conducted by parties with vested interests didn’t even test the “integrity and honesty” of a few overseas scientists, so they could hardly have “upheld” them. This hearing didn’t consider those overseas inquiries, or even similar matters, and thus did not reinforce them.

The Herald is speaking from an entrenched position that prevents acknowledgement of a sceptical view of dangerous anthropogenic global warming. It does however allow in its pages a categorisation of climate sceptics as cranks and deniers.

Their interpretation of the court decision therefore comes as little surprise, but I’m grateful that at least they haven’t sullied their leading article with those despicable terms.

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16 Thoughts on “Herald wrong in so many ways

  1. Clarence on 18/09/2012 at 12:02 am said:

    “”If the coalition had managed to discredit Niwa’s methods, it would also have discredited the evidence for climate change, and the part played by human activities”.

    Hmm…. so, if the Trust successfully appeals, the Herald will trumpet the fact that human-caused climate change is discredited?

    Well, at least this is progress. According to the NZCSC website, the plaintiff argued that future predictions are (indirectly) based on past records. Therefore, if NIWA’s adjustments to the 7SS are wrong, their forecast of 2°C warming by 2100 will also be wrong.

    Of course, the whole case for AGW rests on the argument that the warming last century was so rapid that the IPCC can think of no reason other than GHGs. But, if the records are wrong … it’s back to the drawing board/laboratory.

    • I have to agree with you, Clarence.

      But the Herald seems not to have considered even the remote possibility there could be grounds to appeal. Won’t they be surprised?

  2. Stanley on 18/09/2012 at 12:10 am said:

    I had a look at “scathing” in the Thesaurus:
    “belittling, biting, brutal, burning, caustic, cruel, cutting, harsh, mordacious, mordant, salty, sarcastic, scorching, scornful, searing, severe, sulphurous, trenchant, withering”

    I can’t see anything in the judgment which would justify that choice of words. The High Court is usually above brutal, cruel, scornful and sarcastic adjudications. Those adjectives surely would be indicative of bias.

    Granny might be running close to contempt of Court.

  3. Richard C (NZ) on 18/09/2012 at 8:14 am said:

    A garbage article from the Editor and I’ve stated so in comments:-

    Nonentity (Mt Maunganui)
    02:47 PM Monday, 17 Sep

    “Justice Venning said Niwa had applied “internationally recognised and credible scientific methodology”.

    But he didn’t say what that methodology was and niwa didn’t cite it either. Nzcset did cite their methodology on the other hand (R&S93) and had three professional statisticians review it. The Judge ignored that fact completely of course.

    The nzcset’s ‘Statistical Audit’ could still be published in a journal, the most appropriate being a statistical journal. Then the public-at-large including niwa would have no option but to address the published document on the same basis as professional statisticians.

    There’s too much other garbage in this article to waste time analyzing but suffice to say that we don’t know what the appeal situation is at this juncture so any pronouncements are premature.

    • Andy on 18/09/2012 at 8:26 am said:

      The comment that gets most “likes” is a bit depressing (depressing that so many people liked it, that is).

  4. Richard C (NZ) on 18/09/2012 at 8:39 am said:

    ‘Today, the world is in the grip of the madness of climatism’ – Obama.

    NZ Herald too apparently.

    • Rob Taylor on 19/09/2012 at 6:09 am said:

      ‘Today, the world is in the grip of the madness of climatism’ – Obama.

      RC, it is hardly surprising we call you cranks, when you crank out manufactured quotes such as the above. Obama did not say that, it was denier-for-hire Marc Morano:

      In President Obama’s remarks to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, he stated, “… My plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet — because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future. And in this election you can do something about it.”

      The president’s remarks support the ideology of climatism — the belief that manmade greenhouse gases are destroying Earth’s climate.

      Today, the world is in the grip of the madness of climatism.

      So, RC, will you have the decency to withdraw and apologise?


    • Richard C (NZ) on 19/09/2012 at 7:32 am said:


      “Today, the world is in the grip of the madness of climatism” – Morano commentary on Obama’s stance.

      Applicable to the NZ Herald stance too.

  5. Flipper on 18/09/2012 at 9:37 am said:

    It seems that the “NZ Horrid” has reached its editorial nadir.
    When I was the real Herald’s Chief Political Correspondent, the leader writer would have had the opinion spiked – or given a DCM (by The Editor) if he objected.
    But in 2012, why allow facts to obscure editorial bias (BBC at its worst-like)?
    And when Venning’s judgment is appealed (and overturned), what will the Horrid do?


  6. Richard C (NZ) on 18/09/2012 at 12:04 pm said:

    Mike Palin September 17, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    ” I would not glory it (sic) that editorial. The NZH has it all wrong. First, the contrarians aren’t using a “professional communications approach” ”

    From Hot Topic: ‘NZ Herald’s turn to offer propaganda as opinion’

    As Andy points out in the Key post quoting the Herald Editorial:-

    “Part of the reason for this outcome is the professional communications approach employed by the climate sceptics. Scientists have not been able to compete with this”

    This is pure, unadulterated drivel. NIWA had Network PR working for them (at the taxpayers expense). Which PR company was working for the NZCSC?

    Furthermore, the PR/propaganda for the “consensus” is huge. Sceptics are largely self-funded.

    The Herald is either delusional or deliberately lying to its readership.

  7. Richard C (NZ) on 18/09/2012 at 12:09 pm said:

    Seen at Hot Topic ‘NZ Herald’s turn’-

    cindy September 17, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    “I’ve heard from a number of sources inside the paper”

    So Greenpeace Cindy has “sources inside the paper” – Who are they? In what capacity? And how many? I wonder.

  8. Alexander K on 18/09/2012 at 1:44 pm said:

    Oh dear! Auntie Herald has disgraced herself again by spinning. The silly old thing will get dizzy and fall over if she keeps this up – looking at the new version of the herald, Auntie’s uncontrolled fall into oblivion has begun. I have just purchased a Herald for the first time in ages, as I wanted to really ‘get the feel’ of the new-type Herald and it’s quite hard to tell, quality-wise, between the Herald and the local free bi-weekly newspaper. The writing in the ‘freebie’ is generally correct as to grammar and syntax and is relevant to the local community. I also suspect that those who write for the ‘freebies’ take great care that they fact-check their own product, unlike ‘churnalists’ who work in the mainstream media.

  9. Pingback: Lord Monckton In New Zealand For Month Of April 2013 | NORTHLAND NEW ZEALAND CHEMTRAILS WATCH

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