Royal Society of NZ rejects tenets of science over global warming


Award-winning architecture of the Royal Society of New Zealand headquarters in Wellington

The Royal Society of New Zealand refuse to give evidence that global warming is man-made.

They say the evidence is overwhelming but will not say what it is. In doing this, they fail to show that future warming will be dangerous and thus void all efforts to prevent it.

Countries don’t go to war without reason. Local bodies don’t close roads for nothing. Juries don’t convict without evidence.

Yet our premier scientific institute sends activist scientists on junkets around the country telling us our greenhouse gas emissions are the main cause of dangerous global warming and we must reduce emissions, but refuses to our face to tell us why.

With this breathtaking duplicity, the activists who have infiltrated the RSNZ undermine scientific advice to the Prime Minister, betray New Zealand citizens and besmirch the reputation of the once-noble Royal Society, whose laudable achievements in other fields are tarnished by association with this coterie of climate scientists corrupting the very name of science.

What sparked this appalling turn of events? Last November the NZ Climate Science Coalition, of which I’m a member, asked the RSNZ to substantiate its recent statements that global warming is man-made and dangerous.

First Report

Here are some of those key statements, followed by the truth. The Society’s 2017 report1 claims the climate is making us ill. They say (emphasis added):

Climate change is affecting New Zealand and the health of New Zealanders.

There is evidence that in recent decades climate change has contributed to increased levels of ill health.

However, a 2016 study published 15 months earlier comprehensively refutes this. The New Zealand Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (part of a global study) analyses “health loss and health expectancy in New Zealand from 1990 to 2013.” It finds that New Zealanders are living longer and are living longer in good health. It reports some negative trends that need more medical work but they have nothing to do with climate change.

The report directly contradicts the RSNZ claim of increased levels of ill health by showing that our health is in fact improving.

Despite the fact that the study was published over a year earlier, the RSNZ ignores it. Either our Royal Society scientists are shockingly unfamiliar with epidemiology or our premier scientific body is trying deliberately to deceive us—which would be scandalous. Which do you think it is, gentle reader?

Second Report

The previous year, a 2016 RSNZ report2 told us to reconstruct our economy, claiming:

New Zealand must contribute effectively to the global effort to avoid dangerous climate change. New Zealand is already experiencing, for example, more frequent floods, storms and droughts, scrub and forest fires causing damage to the environment and people’s livelihoods.

The good news is that there are many opportunities to limit climate change by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, the main cause of climate change or global warming as it is often called. New Zealand can also prepare for and adapt to living in a changing climate.

I found no evidence of more frequent floods, storms, droughts, and bushfires. Admittedly, I expected these things to be well recorded, when they are not, but the few records there are tend to show decreasing numbers of these calamities, as follows.


Annual claim statistics are available from the Insurance Council of New Zealand, which I have graphed below. The figures include storms, floods, cyclones, severe weather and even a few bushfires, but there was still a pronounced falling trend over 37 years. From that we deduce the numbers and severity of these events are falling, not rising, as claimed by the Royal Society. It seems unlikely that insurance claims for damage might be falling as the numbers of floods, etc., are rising. But perhaps that’s wrong, so if anyone has better data please let me know.

The ICNZ website includes this statement:

Natural hazards cost New Zealanders millions of dollars. Fortunately, New Zealand property is extremely well insured compared to other countries, which means the insurance industry bears most of the costs when disaster strikes.

The insurance companies bear the cost? Really? Do they think their clients don’t know who pays the premiums? Do they think their clients don’t realise the warnings of future disaster, climate or otherwise, are preparing the customers to accept premium hikes? They bear the cost, eh? Give me a break—they’re not charities.


A joint website of the Department of Statistics and the Ministry for the Environment provides records of strong winds from 1972 to 2016. Key findings:

Extreme wind

Between 1972 and 2016, trends in the frequency and magnitude of extreme wind decreased at some sites across New Zealand. However, missing records for some stations and unavailable data across the time period for all sites mean these results should be treated with caution.

Potentially damaging wind

The occurrence of potentially damaging wind showed a statistically significant decrease in Wellington for 39 years from 1975. Records for Auckland and Christchurch also indicate a statistically significant decrease. However, missing records mean these results should be treated with caution.

The instructions on the graph to “hover” and “click” apply to the original web page.

Note: These sites have missing data for some years. Gusts above gale force – above 33 knots, approximately 60 km/h.

A roughly declining trend (to the eye) suggests no significant increase in storms.


Droughts 1972 – 2015

A joint website of the Department of Statistics and the Ministry for the Environment provides records of soil moisture from 1972 to 2016. Key findings:

Potential evapotranspiration deficit (PED) from the growing seasons of 1972/3 through to 2015/6 increased at 7 of 30 sites and decreased at one.

At 77% of recording sites there was either no trend or a decrease. There’s no evidence that droughts have increased since 1972.


Weather in New Zealand is not considered a cause of bushfires. Granted, hot dry weather can make them more likely, but the cause is likely to be accident or arson, not the weather. Therefore climate, being merely a change in weather, is not connected with bushfire frequency. I mention it only because the Royal Society, in its wisdom, included it in “effects of climate change.”

In Fire Management in Commercial Plantations: A New Zealand Perspective, 2007 (pdf, 273.99 KB), page 3, annual plantation fire loss is shown as a percentage of planted area and the area burned as a proportion of the total planted area from 1936 to 2005 (70 years). In that time, the area planted increased from about 350,000 ha to about 1,802,000 ha, a 415% increase.

From 1936 to 1987, the area lost to fire climbed from about 0.05% of the planted estate to about 0.47%. The area lost grew from about 370 ha to about 900 ha, an increase of 140%. Then came a major change in fire management with the creation of Rural Fire Authorities, and by 2005 annual losses had plummeted to just 0.02% of the planted estate, with the actual area burned averaging just 370 hectares per year. It’s remarkable that, thanks to modern methods, we lose the same area to fire as we did 70 years earlier, yet we’re cropping an area more than four times larger. The caption for the original Figure 1 is given below.

Figure 1. New Zealand plantation fires losses, expressed as area burned (ha) and percentage of the planted estate (000’s ha). Losses during the NZ Forest Service era (pre-1987) are contrasted with the post-1987 period where fire protection is provided by Rural Fire Authorities (RFAs) (after Cameron and others 2007). – click to enlarge

So from 1936 to 2005 there has been no increase in bushfires on plantations, but what about native bush? The report explains:

Little is known on the risk to New Zealand’s native forests as historic fire statistics do not distinguish between exotic and indigenous forest losses, and this continues to be the case in modern fire reporting systems. However, native beech and podocarp forests are generally less flammable than exotic forest species.

This is strong evidence of a decline in bushfires for 70 years from 1936, not an increase, as misleadingly claimed by the Royal Society of New Zealand.


I have presented evidence that significant statements by the Royal Society of NZ in the two reports cited above are in error. They mislead the public of New Zealand in stating that climate change effects are worsening, when in fact they are improving. These faulty reports should not contribute to any review of public policy. They should be withdrawn and republished only after they are corrected to reflect reality.

Climate denial at the top

So, the Royal Society gives a considered denial that there is evidence of a human cause of harmful global warming, yet in at least two reports and numerous public statements they earnestly declare that evidence not only exists, but it’s “overwhelming”—that we’re responsible for “dangerous climate change.”

Their words betray the Royal Society as climate deniers and anti-science. No evidence—it’s incredible.

The RSNZ are a powerful establishment, with its own Act of Parliament and an internal, self-governing system of handling complaints. They are effectively a law unto themselves, and breaches of the Code of Ethics are the only grounds for complaint short of an expensive application for review to the High Court. So our next avenue of influence was to lodge a complaint. We alleged that the Chief Executive and the several authors of the two reports had failed to substantiate their statements (as shown above) and to acknowledge major scientific uncertainties in the hypothesis of dangerous man-made global warming.

Barefaced lies

The RSNZ convened a panel to examine our complaint, which they might have defeated simply by giving evidence. It would have been easy and we would have been silenced. Instead, oddly, they refused to give evidence, ruled insincerely that the matter was “insufficiently grave to warrant further pursuit,” and said that members “should not be inhibited in their communications with the public by threats of discipline under the Code.”

What utter tosh. That’s the very purpose of a Code of Ethics: to constrain speech and behaviour within professional bounds and, as a matter of fact, the code does oblige scientists both to substantiate what they say and to declare the existence of contrary views and uncertainties on contentious issues such as climate change. And inhibition? Evidence and dispute are daily bread for scientists: there can be no inhibition in an honourable man being asked to tell the truth and to hold to his professional responsibilities.

This finding was a barefaced lie. Our allegations were deeply grave and RSNZ members should always be required, under pain of discipline, to (as the Code states) “comply with this Code.” Let me prove that.

The Code says:

  • A member of the Royal Society of New Zealand must comply with this Code.
  • A member must endeavour to obtain and present facts and interpretations in an objective and open manner.
  • Honesty – A member must conduct themselves honestly and with integrity at all times. This applies to dealings with clients, colleagues and the public as well as to ensuring personal integrity in the recording of data, the drawing of conclusions and in other professional actions.
  • Consistent with [the rule on Honesty], a member must fairly and fully represent their results without falsification or bias.

By any interpretation, these rules require a member to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and asking a member to justify his scientific conclusions merely asks that member to be honest. For a properly convened ethics panel to declare that a member’s failure to be honest is “too minor to pursue” is an egregious violation of these rules, sending to every member the clear, official message that the rules are too minor to obey—telling us all the same thing.

The Royal Society is out of reason and out of control. If their claim is supported by evidence, why do they refuse to disclose the evidence? If their claim is not supported by evidence, why do they make the claim? By any measure, their claim that dangerous climate change is our doing is, without evidence, entirely fictitious: a barefaced lie on a national stage—the worst kind of climate denial.

They heedlessly disregarded their own Code of Ethics, ruled against us and our further correspondence was ignored. But they don’t realise it’s actually not possible to break the rule on telling the truth—never mind calling it minor, never mind a Code of Ethics—there will always be consequences for not telling the truth.

Give art a miss and try evidence

It is indeed telling that the RSNZ produced no evidence to support the president’s statements, even under pressure of our formal complaint. Instead, it stated rather feebly that the president’s statements were consistent with the “consensus views” of some scientists.

But the Royal Society of NZ ignores fundamental scientific principles by supporting the hypothesis of dangerous anthropogenic global warming in an absence of evidence—and if they don’t like hearing this all they have to do is produce evidence.

In addition, the RSNZ refuses to support debate on what they are pleased to call “the global challenge of climate change.” So why does debate scare them? They’re keen to persuade the public to take action on climate change: their scientists, led by James Renwick and others, regularly tour the country talking to small gatherings about government climate change policy (regrettably, I had to miss the one in Tauranga recently on using artists to “get the message across”).

Arrogance, brazen denial, irrationality

The RSNZ need not be too concerned about the formal ethics complaints against their principal officers, for few will care about them. But the absence of rationality in their dealings with us, their brazen denial that not providing evidence even matters and their arrogance in publicly admitting they have no evidence for the greatest challenge of the age are a different matter entirely. Kiwis will care about that.

The Royal Society don’t seem to realise the source of genuine persuasive power: I warmly encourage them to give art a miss, act like real scientists and give evidence.

They must tell the country the truth about the disputatious areas of climate science. They know, but will not admit publicly, that there is a great deal of controversy behind the scenes. The warming potential and atmospheric lifetime of methane, the effect of the sun’s fluctuating energy output, the influence of intergalactic cosmic rays on cloud formation, the overwhelming influence of water vapour, whether clouds produce net warming or cooling, how to predict the great oceanic cycles, even the precise warming produced by CO2, and much more, are vigorously debated.

It may come as a shock to members of the public to hear that the science is far from settled. But you wouldn’t learn that from the learned members of our Royal Society.

The RSNZ demonstrate a truly shocking denial of the scientific principle of reasoning from observation that threatens the very heart of the global battle against climate change. I will personally make sure the Prime Minister learns of this astounding turn of events that threatens to render “our generation’s proud nuclear-free moment” nothing but empty words.


UPDATE 3:40 PM NZST 20 Sep 2018

Links to relevant CCG articles on global warming and the Royal Society going back to 2015:

Royal Society of NZ refuses to reveal evidence of man-made climate change

Did the Royal Society prove that we cause dangerous global warming?

Kiwi Royal Society fails to produce climate evidence

Did humans cause 2017’s extreme weather events?

Royal Society whitewashes climate complaint

Royal Society will save our climate

Prof Michael Kelly censures Royal Society


Award-winning architecture of the Royal Society of New Zealand headquarters in Wellington.

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Terry Dunleavy

Spot on Richard! Well researched, well argued, well presented! When will some Opposition numpty in Parliament call these pseudo-scientific poseurs to account?

Thanks, Terry. I’ll be sending it to a few people shortly.

Bryan Leyland

Richard, a thorough, and well researched debunking of the nonsense that, regrettably, comes from the Royal Society of New Zealand.

They have switched from “take no man’s word for it to “take my word for it”. The Royal Society of the UK resolved that it would never take a position on any scientific matter. The New Zealand society shoves its opinions down our throats and strangles open debate.

You could have mentioned that insurance companies have an interest in jacking up the risk of “climate change” because that gives them an excuse to jack up their premiums and profits.

Thanks, Bryan. You’re absolutely right, and I did mention the insurance companies. The NZ Insurance Council said, “Fortunately, New Zealand property is extremely well insured compared to other countries, which means the insurance industry bears most of the costs when disaster strikes.”

So I got sarcastic: “Insurance companies bear the cost? Really? Do they think their clients don’t realise the warnings of future disaster are preparing them to accept premium hikes? Give me a break—they’re not charities.”

Couldn’t resist the temptation!

Maggy Wassilieff

This Guest Post by Professor Geoff Duffy addresses some of the problems with a Methane emissions report released by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

We really are being fed a load of poor science and tonnes of wonky advocacy by our science bureaucrats.

Yeah, well put, Maggy, I’m with you all the way! I do my level best to fill in some of the gaps. Just between you and me, I was pleased to give Geoff a hand putting that post together. I’ll post it here in a wee while, but it’s attracting a good crowd and good comments at Kiwiblog.

Alexander K

Once again, Richard, you have hit another very big nail on the head. Very lucid and readable too, which is essential for the numpties in Parliament.

Thanks, Alexander.

Brett Keane

Re: Architecture of RSNZ – not sure copying the Kabbala sends the scientific message we need. Certainly reflects the mindset at the top….. Another mausoleum for Maurice Strong and Co..

Gary Kerkin

Well researched and put, Richard.

In a similar vein, David Middleton has just published another of his “guest ridicules” on WUWT pulling apart yet another blog article, by a Carolyn Fortuna, countering every one of her claims, just as you have done above.

As an aside he comments in his first paragraph that, yes, he does know that entropy is part of the second law of thermodynamics. When confronted with the laws of thermodynamics I am always remind of something from many years ago: the first law says that you can’t win; the second law says you can’t win, no matter how hard you try.

Sounds a bit like trying to fight the arcane forces of the RSNZ, does it not? Do you think we should offer it as a plot to J.K. Rowling?


You have graphed the average insurance damage claim per storm while ignoring the fact that the number of storm events and the cumulative total of claims has increased. Are you are being deliberately disingenuous or is this simply naivety?
NZ has a low risk of bush-fire and better suppression techniques have reduced that risk. These events tend to be heavily weighted by one-off events such as the 1946 Taupo fire.
Evapotranspiration has increased as has rainfall intensities, consistent with the observed warming.
There has been evidence of decreased westerly windflows over NZ with an increase in the Southern ocean, presumably due to changes in temperature differential between the oceans and Antarctica.
NZ is fortunate in that it will be less affected by AGW than other countries by virtue of location. That does not mean that we can ignore the problem. The RSNZ has merely summarised the existing science and all of it is well referenced. It is not the fault of the Royal Society if you are unwilling or unable to read the scientific literature.

Gary Kerkin

Simon I’m not sure who is being disingenuous—you or Richard. Do you have evidence that the number of “storm events” has increased. I think we would like to see it enumerated. You cannot use the size of the claims as a guide to severity. Claims, as you know, depend on the value of property destroyed. Thus the Canterbury earthquakes resulted in relatively greater value claims than in, say, the Caribbean at the same time, merely because the property values were greater in Christchurch than in Puerto Rico. We will see the same imbalance between claims for damage by Hurricane Florence, than we will for Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines. We will get an even clearer look at the imbalance by comparing claims in the Philippines and in Hong Kong resulting from the same storm. Tropical cyclone Tracy (category 2) demolished Darwin at immense cost. TC Trixie almost exactly 2 months later hit the NW coast of Australia at category 5. Trixie managed a relatively small amount of damage compared to Tracy, but only because it hit a relatively uninhabited, low valued part of Australia.


Brillant … This is a similar piece done by Bob Brockie having a crack at the Royal Society .
Implying it has been taken over by the Arts & Humanities departments. Where the ambiguity and the supernatural are the norm at the Royal Society .I guess the real reason why they haven’t fronted with any evidence is that they are still having Huis consulting IWI on the correct response.


Plot a regression of the cumulative annual sum of inflation adjusted cost due to storm events and the number of events per year. You will discover an increasing trend in both cases. The cumulative cost does not appear to be statistically significant but the number of events is (p-value ≤ 0.05).
You can’t go around accusing people of fraud when you are clearly outside the area of your expertise. You have to at least entertain the possibility that you are suffering from a Dunning-Kruger cognitive bias.

Maggy Wassilieff

Here’s Bob Brockie’s piece from Dominion Post 25 July 2016


Treaty issues will be taken care of by the appointment of Donna Awatere Huata as “Maori Climate Commissioner”


Flooding is not new in New Zealand. In later years we have seen very reduced death tolls compared with the earlier periods. However, insurance claims have increased, for obvious reasons.

NZ’s highest ever recorded wind speeds were during Cyclone Giselle in 1968, but the 1936 storm is considered the worst in the 20th century. In 1988 Cyclone Bola was also pretty severe.
See here:

There is no evidence that serious flooding/cyclone events are getting more common or more severe.

Insurance figures are unreliable as they track claim costs by definition, so don’t account for floods in unpopulated regions (therefore the older the records, the fewer the number of claims) and also don’t account for many other factors such as uninsured populations, more expensive farming machinery, developed area density, etc.

Barry Brill

Richard – you should link this posting to earlier articles that have appeared on this site regarding the RSNZ (and The Royal Society). They make up quite a dossier of evasion and fudging on a range of issues relating to the science of global warming. One example is: which cites numerous authorities showing no increase in extreme weather events worldwide during the past 30 years – despite the massive increase in CO2 emissions through that period. The statutory functions of the RSNZ are set out in section 6 of the Royal Society of New Zealand Act 1997. The most relevant seems to be: “For the purpose of the advancement and promotion in New Zealand of science, technology, and the humanities, the functions of the Society are— (d) to provide expert advice on important public issues to the Government and the community.” As the word “expert” is not specially defined in the legislation, it bears its normal dictionary meaning of “having or involving a great deal of knowledge or skill in a particular area”. The Act clearly contemplates that the Government (and all of us) can safely rely upon the extraordinary specialist skill… Read more »


If you want to talk about evasion and fudging then we should discuss whether it is legally or morally valid to dissolve a ‘charitable’ Trust to avoid paying damages for frivolous law suits.
I hope you are not contemplating something similar against the Royal Society. It commissions policy advice from acknowledged experts. If you have problems with that, then you have to find experts that agree with your position. You might be able to find a retired professor or two but they are probably discussing topics outside of their acknowledged areas of expertise.

Barry Brill

The main weakness in climate science is that models have been predicting apocalyptic events for decades but none of this doom-casting has ever come true, anywhere. Now, right here in New Zealand, we have Government-funded experts prepared to depose that our country is “already experiencing” increased storms, floods, droughts and fires as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. If true, this is a major global breakthrough. If untrue, it is a major scandal. RT has pointed out that all available official records seem to contradict the Society’s “expert advice” that weather extremes are increasing. But it gets worse … even if we did have more rain, drought, etc than ever before, it could not possibly be the result of greenhouse warming. That is because New Zealand has been COOLING for the past 30-40 years. Just last year, the prestigious journal “Nature” published a climatological research paper, Mackintosh et al (2017), which documented an anomalous New Zealand-wide cooling trend during the 1980-2010 period. This authoritative study noted that, in 2005, New Zealand hosted more than half the advancing glaciers in the entire world. Of the six authors who participated in this research, four… Read more »

Clarrie Kay

RT: Bob Brockie’s article is here:

He objects to the RSNZ Council’s new view that scientific opinions need to be tempered by “inequity and diversity issues in a holistic manner”.


Jordan Peterson refers to the “Unholy Trinity” of Diversity, Inclusivity & Equity.

We see these buzzwords all the time. There are from the poisoned chalice of post-modernist Marxist thinking

This video is a good presentation from Peterson on this subject:

Maggy Wassilieff


Clarrie has put up another Bob Brockie piece… detailing the role of Te Tiriti in NZ Science.. and how the RSNZ has become complicit in loading NZ science with the cultural baggage of the Tangata Whenua.


Sounds like a good time to disband the RSNZ

If umpires can boycott Serena Williams, real scientists can walk away from this institution

Barry Brill

The UN IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) is the only climate science authority that is universally accepted by all sectors of the New Zealand Government (along with virtually all other Governments around the world). Working Group I deals with “the Physical Science”, and Chapter 2 presents the worldwide scientific consensus regarding extreme weather events.

The findings are unequivocal – there is “little evidence” and “low confidence” in any global increase in the number/intensity of storms, floods, droughts, tornadoes or other weather extremes since the mid-20th century. As Professor Pielke puts it: “Climate campaigners would do their movement a favor by getting themselves on the right side of the evidence.”

James Renwick and other expert advisers to RSNZ had a hand in writing the AR5 report. Why have they now reversed their positions? The New Zealand Ministry for the Environment formally signed off on AR5 at the inter-governmental meeting held in Stockholm in September 2013. So why are these consensus findings missing from the RSNZ website and all the RSNZ published “advice”?


You claim inconsistency and yet many of the authors are the same. Glacial advance over that period was due to regional cooling caused by an increase in southerlies. Low confidence does not mean something is not happening but that there is insufficient data to determine a trend.
Terry Dunleavy wrote a misogynous letter to the editor yesterday. You guys really do give the impression of being a group of old men reluctant to accept that the world is changing.


Simon, you forgot to add “white” into the “old man” schtick


“A rather vacuous defence” is putting it mildly. Visser’s article was largely content-free

Are there any specific examples she can cite?

I would add that scientific reason doesn’t have all the answers to life. Philosophers have grappled with this for a long time. To suggest that it is something new is disingenuous


Vissers writes: Dr Brockie couldn’t be more wrong. Where to start? Firstly: as a research scientist, I reject the notion that we (Western Science) have all the answers. Our current model of the scientific method, used worldwide, is strongly based in the philosophy of science, developed across millennia and on many continents by men and women in the Sciences and Arts. This seems like a remarkable piece of historical revisionism. Philosophy of Science could be argued to start with Aristotle and Plato, then influenced by Arab polymath Ibn al-Haytham, and then the enlightenment thinkers of the west. Sadly, I can’t think of any women that directly had a role in forming the Philosophy of Science (though there are many very talented women in science and mathematics in the modern world of course), nor can I think of anyone in the “Arts” that had an influence EDIT – I should also add that Karl Popper, one of the most well known of the modern Philosophers of Science (“Conjectures and Refutations”) had a sabbatical at the University of Canterbury during WW2, where he wrote his book “The Open Society and its Enemies”. Both should… Read more »

Brett Keane

RSNZ including the Arts was a form of suicidal insanity, but it follows Alinsky’s Handbook for marxist takeovers. As with that Aussie Vet changing my own Massey U to a Te Tiriti-led but Content-free waste of the taxpayers’ dollar. We’ll see how long that (and she) lasts….. Brett

The report directly contradicts the RSNZ claim of increased levels of ill health by showing that our health is in fact improving.

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