Prophecy not science

Once again, Rodney Hide strips away useless decoration to reveal the essence that lies beneath. This time, his target is Sir Peter Gluckman and his report on how climate change might be expected to affect New Zealand. Not now, later on. In 77 years. Here is Rodney’s article in the NBR last Saturday, Prophecy fails the scientific test (paywalled).

The Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman, has done us all a favour and provided a textbook illustration of the difference between science and non-science.

His recent report, New Zealand’s Changing Climate and Oceans (pdf, 634 KB), boldly predicts an average temperature increase of 2.1° Celsius by 2090. That prediction is the key give-away. It’s not science, it’s prophecy.

Science makes bold and surprising predictions but about the here and now, not a hundred years hence. The difference is that scientific predictions are testable whereas prophecies aren’t.  

We won’t know for a hundred years whether Sir Peter’s prediction stacks up and the historical experience with prophecies is that there are always excuses when their time is up.

But that’s not all. The Gluckman Report tiresomely declares there’s scientific consensus for the theory of human-induced catastrophic global warming. But so what? Consensus is the cachet of politics, not science. Consensus was precisely what Galileo was up against.

It’s not what people think or say that matters in science but what objective reality does.

Facts decide science

Galileo observed through his telescope all the phases of Venus. The phases don’t occur in the Ptolemaic system that centres the earth and has Venus moving in its own epicycle between the earth and the sun. What the authorities have to say, what the church declares and what people think, say and vote has no effect on what Venus actually does.  

Consensus doesn’t decide science. The facts do.

The Gluckman Report also cites the weight of evidence. That’s for legal argument, not science. Ptolemy claimed to be relying on 800 years of astronomical observation. By the time of Galileo another 1400 years of evidence had been added. But that weight of evidence didn’t matter a jot against the single, decisive observation of Venus showing all the phases from new to full.

There’s another feature of non-science: all contrary facts are explained away. The Gluckman Report is classic in immunising the global warming scare from awkward facts.   

Sir Peter reports that the “relative ‘pause’ or hiatus in the rate of rise in the global mean surface temperature over the last decade or so … is consistent with model simulations, in which decades of no change, or even cooling, can be expected despite the long-term trend of increasing global temperatures.”

Everything fits this theory

So we could have decades of no change in temperature – and even decades of temperatures cooling – and still the theory of catastrophic global warming would be true.

In the Gluckman Report no possible fact can disprove the theory of man-induced catastrophic global warming. Every possible climatic event is consistent with the theory – and no climatic event is inconsistent; at least, not for a hundred years.

That’s not science.

Einstein was bold and clear: his theory would be wrong if the sun didn’t deflect light exactly as General Relativity predicts. Science isn’t about theories that fit every conceivable fact. It’s about theories that rule out vast arrays of facts, many of which would otherwise be expected. The more a theory rules out, the more it tells us.  

The theory of man-induced catastrophic global warming rules out next-to-nothing and tells us next-to-nothing.

None of this should be of any surprise. The global warming scare is more akin to a modern-day religion than science. And the very idea of a prime ministerial adviser to pontificate on science is the opposite of the scientific method.  

Science doesn’t argue from authority, elected position or status. It’s the objective world that decides science, not governments.

Views: 213

32 Thoughts on “Prophecy not science

  1. stan stendera on 21/08/2013 at 1:30 am said:

    I raise a glass of Brancott sauvignon blanc to salute your return to blogging. You taught me to spell sauvignon blanc. Thank you. It is 8:oo AM here in Marietta, GA and I have been up all night catching up on my political and climate blogs I was about to shut the computer down and wobble off to bed when I remembered I had not checked Climate Conversations as I have every day since your hiatus. So I clicked in and here I am.

    It is perhaps unseemly of me to comment on your recent loss, but I know how difficult it is. We Stenderas are long lived (my paternal grandmother lived to 102). Somehow the passing of one of those craggy survivors who have been there your whole life, surviving flood, storm. drought, recession, war and pestilence hurts worse. From experience I know that the silliest little things will bring tears of remembrance to your eyes. In a way I hope I haven’t triggered one of those episodes; in a way I hope I have. Those tears are part of the healing process. Now I’m going to go get another glass of sauvignon blanc and toast your great aunt (?) Rita.

    • May your goodness destroy your enemies. May the blessings you hope for turn up and transform you. May unexpected blessings overwhelm your fears.

  2. Andy on 21/08/2013 at 4:23 pm said:

    Specifically, The Gluckman Report states this

    The midrange of projections is an average temperature increase of 0.9°C by 2040, 2.1°C by 2090

    Does it state what baseline these increases are from? 1990, today, pre-industrial?

    Section 2.1 on climate sensitivity claims that the central estimate (which it doesn’t state) hasn’t changed since the IPCC first assessment report. It glibly makes claims about recent studies that give low estimates for sensitivity, doesn’t mention them by name, yet claims that these recent studies (based on empirical data, mostly) are not relevant

    • Australis on 21/08/2013 at 9:53 pm said:

      NIWA’s website makes clear that the projected temp increases date from “before the industrial revolution” ie pre European settlement.

      This is not surprising because the New Zealand projections are simply the data from the IPCC suite of models (in 2007) reshaped to NIWA’s theory regarding the future relativity of NZ/global temperatures. They think NZ will be about one-third less than the world average.

      There is no provision whatever for the temp standstill of the last 15 years, or the possibility that sensitivity might be much lower than expected 2007.

      According to NIWA’s 7SS, the country has already experienced about 1.1°C warming during 1853-1999. So there is less than 1°C still to come during the 21st century! This is all good news!

    • Andy on 21/08/2013 at 9:58 pm said:

      Well, I would agree, but it is not clear from the report I would say, which is presumably meant to be a standalone body of work.

      On the whole, I feel that this is of quite a low quality of work for what is supposed to be the defiining issue of our time, according to those in the know.

      To this terminally cynical like yours truly , this doc appears to be a sales pitch for more research funds.

  3. Simon on 21/08/2013 at 9:25 pm said:

    In 1896, Svante Arrhenius developed a theory to calculate how changes in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could alter the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect. Subsequent observation and paleo-climatic records have shown his theory to be sound.
    Posit theory, look for proof; that’s how science works.

    • Andy on 21/08/2013 at 9:39 pm said:

      So what you are saying is that since 1896, and a 100 billion dollars of research later, there has been no advancement in the science whatsoever.

      It’s also worth pointing out since this memorable date when climate science was set in stone, we have had General and Soecial Relativity, Quantim Mechanics, the entire history of computing, space travel, modern medicine, nuclear energy, the internal combustion engine, to name a few

    • Mike Jowsey on 22/08/2013 at 8:32 am said:

      And what was Arrhenius’ attribution of CO2 to climate sensitivity? All those natural climatic changes prior to 1896 suddenly disappeared in favour of the CO2 ogre.

      The trouble with your ‘science’ Simon is that it has been entirely hijacked by political interests. Government-funded scientists will find the results that their sponsors wish of them.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 22/08/2013 at 1:40 pm said:

      >”All those natural climatic changes prior to 1896 suddenly disappeared in favour of the CO2 ogre”

      Make that prior to 1950 and after 1998 Mike.

      [Reuters] “Drafts seen by Reuters of the study by the U.N. panel of experts, due to be published next month, say it is at least 95 percent likely that human activities – chiefly the burning of fossil fuels – are the main cause of warming since the 1950s.”

      “The panel will try to explain why global temperatures, while still increasing, have risen more slowly since about 1998 even though greenhouse gas concentrations have hit repeated record highs in that time,”

      [Watts] ‘When somebody hits you with that new ‘IPCC is 95% certain’ talking point on global warming, show them this’

      “This” being this:

      If the IPCC “scientists” (I use the term loosely here) were betting their own money (not ours) on the cause of recent warming they might like to think about the trading adage “cut your losses short” about now. If after 25 years of investigation they’re still not 100% certain (still in “try to explain” mode), then they better have an exit strategy given no school age children have actually experienced global warming at this time.

    • Andy on 22/08/2013 at 1:52 pm said:

      That really is a great pair of graphs.
      However, many of the followers of the “consensus” seem unwilling to concede that the pre-1950s warming is generally acknowledged to be of natural origin.

      It scuppers their “bigger picture” argument

    • Richard C (NZ) on 22/08/2013 at 3:51 pm said:

      Curry: ‘One of my colleagues was thinking about publishing a paper that challenges the IPCC interpretation of the previous pause during the 1940s to 1970′s. My colleague sent a .ppt presentation on this topic to three colleagues, each of whom is a very respected senior scientist and none of whom have been particularly vocal advocates on the subject of climate change (names are withheld to protect the guilty/innocent). Each of these scientists strongly encouraged my colleague NOT to publish this paper, since it would only provide fodder for the skeptics’

    • Andy on 22/08/2013 at 4:01 pm said:

      “The previous pause” was actually a period of cooling

    • Andy on 22/08/2013 at 9:10 am said:

      I am also interested to know what figure Arrhenius put on climate sensitivity

      My understanding is that the first IPCC central estimate of three degrees was based on averaging the results of two papers. One at 1.5 and one at 4.5, giving three.

      Every report since then has come up with this same number, despite several recent papers based on empirical observations that give a result less than 2 degrees.

      This is the nature of “settled science”. You decide on the result you want and then find observations that fit the result, ignoring anything that doesn’t

    • Australis on 23/08/2013 at 8:36 pm said:

      Andy – According to

      “A committee on anthropogenic global warming convened in 1979 by the National Academy of Sciences and chaired by Jule Charney[9] estimated climate sensitivity to be 3 °C, plus or minus 1.5 °C. Only two sets of models were available; one, due to Syukuro Manabe, exhibited a climate sensitivity of 2 °C, the other, due to James E. Hansen, exhibited a climate sensitivity of 4 °C. “According to Manabe, Charney chose 0.5 °C as a not-unreasonable margin of error, subtracted it from Manabe’s number, and added it to Hansen’s. Thus was born the 1.5 °C-to-4.5 °C range of likely climate sensitivity that has appeared in every greenhouse assessment since…”[13]

      The shocking part of this report is that ECS was increased by a whole degree on the say-so of Jim Hansen, who is a self-confessed activist rather than an objective observer. It has taken 33 years for climate scientists (eg Otto, Ring, etc) to reverse the mischief created by one driven man!

    • Magoo on 22/08/2013 at 11:28 am said:

      Yes Simon, but Arrhenius didn’t say that this warming from CO2 would be tripled by feedbacks, most of which is supposed to be from atmospheric water vapour did he? As there is no tropospheric hot spot as evidence of positive feedback from atmospheric water vapour Arrhenius’ theory remains true, but the doomsday predictions of the IPCC & the computer models they rely on are proven incorrect by the empirical evidence.

      Without the positive feedback from water vapour the effects of CO2 alone are pathetically small – around 1.2C per doubling of total atmospheric CO2 to be precise.

    • Mike Jowsey on 23/08/2013 at 10:10 am said:

      Magoo – you might be intered in Willis’ latest essay on the missing hotspot:

    • Mike Jowsey on 23/08/2013 at 10:29 am said:

      …And this comment by Richard S Courtney on that post:

    • Andy on 23/08/2013 at 11:33 am said:

      That’s quite an interesting comment from Richard Courtney and a useful chapter in the IPCC report that he references

    • Magoo on 23/08/2013 at 1:17 pm said:

      Thanks Mike, an interesting read regarding the heat reflecting back into space. I think Richard Courtney’s comment is on the money about Trenberth trying to muddy the waters so as to make explaining the missing hot spot difficult – either that or Trenberth’s a complete imbecile.

      I saw this quote today:

      “Temperature measurements show that the [climate model-predicted mid-troposphere] hot zone is non-existent. This is more than sufficient to invalidate global climate models and projections made with them!”
      – UN IPCC Scientist Dr. Steven M. Japar, a PhD atmospheric chemist who was part of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Second (1995) and Third (2001) Assessment Reports, and has authored 83 peer-reviewed publications and in the areas of climate change, atmospheric chemistry, air pollutions and vehicle emissions.


    • Richard C (NZ) on 22/08/2013 at 1:53 pm said:

      Hey Simon, I never thought anyone would be silly enough to project a polynomial more than just a very few years for prediction purposes. But I see by your NZT7 2010 – 2500 (490 years) projection at Hot Topic that I was wrong.

      My “model” (and certainly not the only one either) was of 1910 – 2010, it certainly wasn’t of 2010 – 2500. Anything after about 2013 is entirely your own contrivance Simon, and demonstrates amazing ignorance of data signals (intrinsic and extrinsic) and physical drivers I might add.

      BTW, how’s your linear NZT7 trend working out these days? And going to be a bit tricky for Gluckman to get that 0.9 C by 2040 huh?

  4. Andy on 22/08/2013 at 11:42 am said:

    Some interesting snippets arise from the Wikipedia entry for Svante Arrhenius

    Arrhenius clearly believed that a warmer world would be a positive change. His ideas remained in circulation, but until about 1960 most scientists doubted that global warming would occur (believing the oceans would absorb CO2 faster than humanity emitted the gas)


    Arrhenius estimated that halving of CO2 would decrease temperatures by 4–5 °C (Celsius) and a doubling of CO2 would cause a temperature rise of 5–6 °C.[9] In his 1906 publication, Arrhenius adjusted the value downwards to 1.6 °C (including water vapor feedback: 2.1 °C)

    and the kicker

    Svante Arrhenius was one of several leading Swedish scientists actively engaged in the process leading to the creation in 1922 of The State Institute for Racial Biology in Uppsala, Sweden, which had originally been proposed as a Nobel Institute. Arrhenius was a member of the institute’s board, as he had been in The Swedish Society for Racial Hygiene (Eugenics), founded in 1909

    • Bob D on 26/08/2013 at 11:29 am said:

      Some interesting snippets arise from the Wikipedia entry for Svante Arrhenius

      Quite right, for a while a few years back the infamous Stoat (William Connolley) tried to keep Arrhenius’s reworked calculations out of the Wiki page. It’s significant that the IPCC in AR4 references the 1896 result, but not the later, more accurate 1906 result, simply because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

      Here it is (translated from the German):

      “I calculate in a similar way, that a decrease in the concentration of carbonic acid [CO2] by half or a doubling would be equivalent to changes of temperature of -1.5 C or +1.6 C respectively.” (Svante Arrhenius, 1906, Die vermutliche Ursache der Klimaschwankungen, Meddelanden frn K. Vetenskapsakademiens Nobelinstitut, Vol 1 No 2, pages 110)

  5. Richard C (NZ) on 22/08/2013 at 2:16 pm said:

    ‘Is Climate Change Causing Climate Models to Fail?’

    STUDY: Climate change causing climate models to become less reliable

    • Andy on 22/08/2013 at 2:52 pm said:

      Noted climate modeler Dr. Hans Jameson of the National Model Rocket Association commented


  6. Richard C (NZ) on 23/08/2013 at 2:42 pm said:

    >”…immunising the global warming scare from awkward facts”

    ‘The New York Times’ Global Warming Hysteria Ignores 17 Years Of Flat Global Temperatures’

    by Larry Bell

    The New York Times feverishly reported on August 10 that the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is about to issue another scary climate report. Dismissing the recent 17 years or so of flat global temperatures, the IPCC will assert that: “It is extremely likely that human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”

    The draft report also says “There is high confidence that this has warmed the ocean, melted snow and ice, raised global mean sea level and changed some climate extremes in the second half of the 20th century.” And whereas the IPCC’s previous report modestly claimed a 90% chance that human activities were the cause, they’re now ratcheting up their confidence level to 95%.

    Obviously then, they must have some very strong evidence to back this amplified bluster. Right? Well, then again, maybe not so much after all.


    From page 2:

    IPCC’s 1996 report used selective data, a doctored graph, and featured changes in text that were made after the reviewing scientists approved it and before it was printed. The many irregularities provoked Dr. Frederick Seitz, a world-famous physicist and former president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Physical Society, and Rockefeller University, to write ( in August 1996) in the Wall Street Journal: “I have never witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer review process than events that led to this IPCC report.”

    # # #

    Now the IPCC has PR firm Havas on the job:

    Crisis Management

    Havas PR supports our clients not only in good times but also when everything seems like it’s falling apart.

    No matter where the fault lies, any real crisis inspires mass emotion; the crucial issue is how the company responds—will it amplify or reduce the emotional morass? The consultants on our crisis team all have extensive experience in influence communications and are uniquely qualified to help companies understand how such mass emotion works and how to manage it.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/08/2013 at 3:33 pm said:

      The ‘95% certainty’ is that the IPCC can’t be trusted

      by John McLean

      “Consider that claim of “95% certainty”, which is no more than an opinion expressed by a few IPCC authors and approved by a few others. It has no basis in mathematics or statistics and might just as well have been have been plucked from thin air, which may indeed have been the case.”

    • Richard C (NZ) on 23/08/2013 at 3:41 pm said:

      IPCC Chooses Option No. 3

      By Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger and Patrick J. Michaels

      In a Cato@Liberty article last month, we pointed out that the IPCC had three options as to how to proceed. Quoting ourselves:

      The IPCC has three options:

      1. Round-file the entire AR5 as it now stands and start again.

      2. Release the current AR5 with a statement that indicates that all the climate change and impacts described within are likely overestimated by around 50%, or

      3. Do nothing and mislead policymakers and the rest of the world.

      We’re betting on door number 3.

      In its article earlier this week reporting on its own acquired leaked information from the IPCC AR5 report, the New York Times basically proved us right.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 24/08/2013 at 12:04 pm said:

      >……the IPCC will assert that: “It is extremely likely that human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”

      2010 was an El Nino year of abnormally high temperature, also the only way Phil Jones could derive any statistical significance from the recent HadCRUT trend was to truncate the series back to 2010.

      I wait with interest to see how the IPCC explains – by human influence – the observed decrease in global average surface temperature from 2010 to 2013 given 2010 is their preferred benchmark.

  7. Richard C (NZ) on 23/08/2013 at 3:24 pm said:

    Evil climate change spirits in the LA Times (H/t Tom Nelson):

  8. Alexander K on 25/08/2013 at 5:35 pm said:

    Our government’s Science Advisor has a profile very similar to that of Sir Paul Nurse (without the Nobel). His understanding of disciplines other than his own specialisation seems alarmingly shallow and his climate paper would be failed by any competent academic marker .
    All a bit sad, really.

  9. Richard C (NZ) on 14/09/2013 at 10:44 am said:

    ‘Climate change scandal: experts rely on ‘years out of date’ science’

    by iwishart

    PM’s Chief Science Adviser Challenged on “Misleading” Climate Report

    The Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman has been challenged by a group of scientists and engineers who have expressed their concern about the nature of his report “New Zealand’s Changing Climate and Oceans: The Impact of Human Activity and Implications For the Future” submitted in July 2013. The twelve signatories, all members of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, in an open letter to Sir Peter have expressed concern at three aspects:

    Firstly, the timing and purpose of the report, with the next Summary for Policy Makers from the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) due later in September asking Sir Peter why he would try to pre-empt it with information and hypotheses based on an IPCC report now seven years old.

    “We are perplexed by a report which purports to be independent but draws only on information related to one hypothesis, that of the anthropogenic nature of the source of climate change. For the last two years, two issues have preoccupied climate science––many published papers have devoted consideration to both the pause in the trend in global average temperature, and to climate sensitivity. Both issues are essential: that the global average temperature has not increased in the last 17 years means that hypothesis that increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere increases global average temperatures is incorrect or the climate sensitivity to CO2 is grossly over-estimated. The report pays little attention to these issues,” the group says.

    Secondly, they question the language of the report, in particular the use of phrasing they say will mislead and will direct many to an alarming conclusion they claim is not justified by clear and direct evidence. “Statements and conclusions of a political nature have no place in a report that purports to be a submission of scientific evidence.”

    Thirdly, the group says that sources of information used for the report represent only one viewpoint in the debate about climate change. “We are concerned that there appears to have been no endeavour to source information from those who do not accept such a viewpoint and who can offer credible evidence to the contrary. We believe this to be a bias unbecoming of what should be an impartial report.”

    In detail, the group confines its comments to four areas of concern: the New Zealand temperature record; sea level; ocean acidification; and extreme weather events.

    More >>>>>>

    The full text of the letter can be accessed at:

  10. Fred on 07/07/2017 at 11:06 am said:

    Anyone who heard Sir Peter Gluckman’s brief discourse with Leighton Smith on Friday 7th July 2017 will discern a certain supercilious approach to anyone who is open to true science. This should be no surprise to those who have followed medical science, in which anyone who “breaks ranks” with the “accepted” view is treated like an ignorant idiot who somehow made it through medical school. Typically, it takes twenty years for the medical fraternity to admit their errors, so I would question the appropriateness of having a paediatrician in this role, especially where one can quickly observe he is really only a cloned voice of NIWA.

Leave a Reply

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

Post Navigation