Climate porkies from TV One

What appeared to be a startling development in the important topic of global warming started with Dr James Renwick on Sunday 17 March, 2013, in an interview aired on TV1 at about 11:17 am. Susan Wood introduces it by describing the current severe drought.

TVNZ issued a press release a few hours later, stating: “Dr Renwick told the programme that global warming was the only explanation for the drought,” even though that was not a faithful reflection of the interview.

The NBR followed up the same day with an article in which they make an identical statement: “Dr Renwick told the programme that global warming was the only explanation for the drought,” which suggests that the NBR obtained the statement from TVNZ.

Rodney Hide picked up the story (which is how I discovered it) a week ago with an article in the NBR criticising Renwick for blaming global warming for the drought.

My initial post supported Rodney’s article in the NBR and I defended him when he was lambasted by Gareth Renowden.

It was a startling story, since reputable scientists say that you cannot blame this or that specific weather event on global warming. Although warming might increase the frequency or ferocity of an event, warming alone cannot create one. But the statement was corroborated by the very broadcaster which interviewed Renwick. They should know. So it appeared to be true.

This is just not so

Because the statement was outrageous, I was sceptical, but after reading the transcript and studying the video, I thought that taking that meaning from it was plausible and I wrote a post carefully explaining my reasoning.

There was a clamour of dissent until Andy suggested someone contact James Renwick. Good idea, I thought, and I emailed him.

Within half an hour, James politely confirmed that he never blamed the drought on global warming: “This is just not so.” It’s good to hear him say that, actually, but we must deal with the fallout.

So, I apologise to Dr Renwick for misquoting him so badly — that is, over a statement so disastrously incorrect. And I am asking TVNZ for an explanation.

Our public broadcaster has told a very naughty porky.