In Hamilton

target An attendee at Nick Smith’s and Tim Groser’s public “consultation” at Hamilton last week was distinctly unimpressed.  He said so in a column given a prominent position in Tuesday’s Waikato Times. 

Rob Love expostulated that this was no consultation. Tedious introductions were followed by a long PowerPoint presentation by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith. Finally, the Associate Minister Tim Groser “shared his observations on the blindingly obvious, while promoting the notion he is engaged heroically in the hardest negotiation ever undertaken.” There was little time left for discussion.

Not once, he complained, in all the Government rhetoric did the audience hear what the science is now shouting at us. “Rather the meeting was allowed to proceed as if global temperature is something you can adjust the dial to, with an associated cost.”

He was scathing not only of the meeting, but also of the Government’s failure generally to communicate the critical importance of the forthcoming Copenhagen conference and act responsibly in preparation for it. 

In New Zealand our politicians need to aspire to leadership to take us out of the Age of Stupid. Rather than holding meetings to explain how difficult the job is, they must develop some backbone and vision and start explaining how we will get there. Certainly driving home a 40 per cent reduction by 2020 is a big ask. It is, however, what the situation demands as the minimum to give future generations a chance.

Increasingly the message to our politicians needs to be “If you have to walk to Copenhagen with this commitment just do it!”. After all you have been collectively kicking the tyre for so long it is little wonder it is now flat.

It was good to see a provincial paper giving serious space to a well-considered ticking off of a Government which is failing in leadership and determination on this most important of issues.

32 thoughts on “In Hamilton”

  1. Heartily endorse the above sentiments! Its all about how much its going to cost, and not once do we hear what the huge cost of inaction might be! That side of the debate is distinctly lacking in both the MSM and in all the rhetoric from the Fed Farmers, Business Round Table, et al -who have been given a large sounding board by Nat Radio’s Morning Report amongst others. It really is depressing!

  2. “Due to overfishing and the loss of tens of millions of vital sardines waters off the coast of southwest Africa are filled with a toxic gas that is bubbling up from the ocean floor…”

    1. I think Steve meant to say (as per this quote from his ETS submission dated 25 January 2009) that:

      “The global average temperature rise has been 0.13 oC / decade since the 1950s (IPCC 2007 summary). There is no evidence that this rate is increasing. On the contrary, there has been no net warming since 1998.”

  3. From a quick read and I will need to read it again. The study shows/concludes that the ENSO has a major impact on mean global temperature in the short term. This is of course a well known fact. It does not show that the ENSO is causing longer term changes in that mean because they are modelling the derivatives of the temperature i.e. they have de-trended temperature data.
    I also would note their use of UAH and radiosondes which show, not surprisingly as they are at altitude, the least warming trend, and exclusion of land temp data (note the implication in the paper that the UHI is significantly tainting these data sets despite the lack of evidence to support this).
    I am sure Tamino or Tim Lambert can do a much more thorough analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the study.
    The last paragraph includes a supposition that is unsupported by the data or analysis. I look forward to ClimateAudit giving this paper the same level of scrutiny as that have to Mann et al 1998, NOT.

  4. Two main comments. The authors end the article thus:

    … this study has shown that natural climate forcing associated with ENSO is a major contributor to variability and perhaps recent trends in global temperature, a relationship that is not included in current global climate models.

    ENSO contributes to variability in global temperature? That’s a trivial observation. Claiming that it “perhaps” influences “recent trends in global temperature” is hardly a strong statement, and given that ENSO makes global temps rise and fall, also trivially true on some (shorter) timescales. IIRC, most climate models exhibit ENSO-like behaviour (ie, the oceans and atmosphere in the models show periodic ENSO-like events), so the final statement looks to be untrue. Despite the modest nature of these claims (necessary to get past review at JGR, perhaps?), I have no doubt that the usual suspects will be trumpeting this as a major blow to “warmists”. Judging by the triumphal tone of the email I got from Roger Dewhurst, that process is already underway…

    Before taking this paper with anything more than a large pinch of salt, I would want to hear the opinion of someone like Tamino at Open Mind on the use of statistics, and I would want to know if their results were robust to the choice of dataset used. They select UAH troposphere temps and RATPAC radiosondes, dismissing the surface temp record with a Watts-like wave of the hand. What happens to their analysis if you use GISS or Hadley data?

    Finally, a look at the authors hardly inspires confidence… I suspect Carter and De Freitas lent their names to give the paper some weight (ie previous publications), but neither are primary researchers in this field. Carter is an expert on ocean sediments, and De Freitas has published on climate impacts on tourism. McLean is a well-known Aussie sceptic.

    [Edited to add: I see Doug’s on the same page…]

    1. “Finally, a look at the authors hardly inspires confidence”
      That was my first impression too, Gareth.
      It was announced thus, as if from the Delphic Oracle, on the front page of the DomPost: “Climate Shock: Nature – not mankind – is responsible for recent climate change according to a new Australasian research paper likely to send ripples around the world.”

      Curiously the story itself is in the Business section of the paper.
      I’d post a link if I could but the story isn’t up on their website.

  5. Dear Gareth

    Using the land based temp data would not make a difference with this methodology as the detrending has the same effect. What they are doing is looking at the correlation between the variability in temp record and the variability in the ENSO.

    I do find it interesting that when they used absolute values they got a very poor correlation (.22 something). At first glance this implies that the variance of ENSO data is only explaining a small part of the variance in the temp record (in this case not de-trended). This then implies that something else is. Surprise surprise (in my best Gomer Pyle voice)

    1. It looks to me as though what they have done is explain the variance from the long-term trend, not the variance in the data set as a whole. The temp data set shows a significant positive linear trend, but there is a lot of variability around that trend. All they have shown is that the variation from the positive linear trend can be correlated with ENSO events.

      In other words, it explains why 1998 was above the long term trend, but it does not explain the long term trend itself. The temp anomaly for 1998 was around 0.55°C, when the long term trend predicted it would be about 0.4°C. The effect they are looking at explains the difference between 0.55 and 0.4, but does not explain the difference between 0.55 and 0.

      This was covered at RealClimate last year.

        1. Nope. It’s wrong, because it’s wrong. For the reasons given above, and for an elegant demolition, follow the link to Open Mind. I shall refer to that of course, but my comments will be of a more general nature…

        2. Let me guess: It agrees with your POV so it must be right?

          Actually, it sounds right up your street: flawed analysis, flawed methodology and flawed conclusions. All your hallmarks.

  6. Thanks StephenR for posting up the Mclean et al. (2009) paper – I’ve been trying to get hold of it since reading the article on Stuff. Can someone explain to me (and this is genuine question) how you can get negative coefficients of determination (R^2)? – on page 4 it says “The difference in ±1 month is slight; with a 4-month delay R2 = -0.80, and with a 6-month delay R2 = -0.78.” Is this an error or typo? I use multivariate statistics in my (non climate science) job but have never come across a negative R^2 – I have no idea how you’d make sense of the idea of ‘negative variance accounted for’ and neither do the other stats gurus here.

    1. That Tamino piece is excellent. The moral of the story seems to be that the paper shows that by removing the trend that can be attributed to anthropogenic forcing, ENSO will account for the remaining variability.

  7. I am not sure that it is flawed per se other than the throw away comment in the conclusion.

    If you read the paper it does not say what the authors and others say it is saying in the media. It show that there is a strong correlation between ENSO variations in temp around the long term trend. Nothing that we didn’t already know. It says nothing about the impact of ENSO in the long term trend or the impact on the long term trend on ENSO.

    Since the long term trend is global warming, which has been removed from the analysis, the article is NOT relevant to that discussion.

    So within those narrow confines the paper is OK, not startling, OK. What surprises me is what is it doing in a high level journal. Given the level of novelity I would have thought maybe some 2nd or third tier journal.

  8. I would have thought that having an inflammatory concluding sentence like this ..
    “Finally, this study has shown that natural climate forcing associated with ENSO is a major contributor to variability and perhaps recent trends in global temperature”
    .. counts as quite a significant flaw if it is not supported by the analysis presented in the study.

  9. Yep that is the sentence, well the bit after “and”. I am surprised that the reviewers didn’t pull them up on that. I don’t think even with the “perhaps” it is justified.

  10. Gareth, could you summarise (either in the new post or here) what the merits of the paper are? It did get published, so I don’t believe it’s necessarily a pack of tired old lies and half truths like what one expects to come out of the various climate ‘science’ coalition groups. Presumably the reviewers thought that it added to the sum of human knowledge in some way.

    1. Well, I have to say that I am surprised it got into JGR. To coin a phrase, what’s interesting in the paper isn’t original, and what’s original is wrong. The claims the authors are making (and which the Dominion Post swallowed whole) go well beyond what’s in the paper… But I’ll have more on the subject later… Worth remembering that peer-review is a necessary but not sufficient condition for good science.

  11. …peer-review is a necessary but not sufficient condition for good science.

    Indeed. Will be interesting to see the letters/articles in reply in JGR over the next few months.

  12. Can someone explain to me (and this is genuine question) how you can get negative coefficients of determination (R^2)?

    Well spotted!

    It is a typo. In context they are trying to point out that the difference between 4, 5 and six months is slight – but they quote a positive value for the 5 month figure and negative values for the other two.

    Makes you wonder who the reviewers were, though, and why they didn’t spot this.

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