Prat watch #13: still crazy, after all these years

by Gareth on December 2, 2013

There’s a parallel world out there — the planet inhabited by climate cranks and deniers. It’s a world where you can say whatever you like, be as wrong as you like, be shown to be wrong repeatedly, even comprehensively lose court cases, and yet you never have to say you’re sorry, or admit to your mistakes. It seems incredible to those of us who have to deal with reality, but there are people out there who will hang on your every word and take it as gospel, however outrageously wrong it may be. The latest dazzling effulgence from the pen of Richard Treadgold is a fine example of the genre. And yes, he is still banging on about NIWA and the NZ temperature record:

First, for the serially dishonest critics of our persistence on this topic, let me explain (yet again) that we have never disagreed with the occasional need for adjustments, we merely wish to know how NIWA makes them.

The serial dishonesty on display is Treadgold’s own. Here’s what he had to say when he launched this sad fiasco back in 2009:

The shocking truth is that the oldest readings have been cranked way down and later readings artificially lifted to give a false impression of warming, as documented below. There is nothing in the station histories to warrant these adjustments… [my emphasis]

I struggle to see how this statement is congruent with Treadgold’s re-imagining of history in his latest post. But he’s capable of much worse, it seems…

After all these years, after questions in the Parliament, a court case and an aborted appeal, newspaper and blog articles, radio reports and private emails, NIWA scientists have still not told us how they make the adjustments.

That’s an outright lie. NIWA published an exhaustive account of the methods they used when calculating their latest long term NZ temperature record — which turned out to be more or less identical to the old one. There are 169 pages of excruciating1 detail — as Treadgold well knows, because he links to it from his article one paragraph later! The mind boggles at the mental — er, agility — required to contradict yourself so comprehensively in the space of so few words, in a post headlined Epic fail, NIWA! Your methods are a global secret.

The rest of Treadgold’s post is a vain attempt to drum up some sort of outrage about anodyne statements made by NIWA’s chairman. Given the comprehensive failure by Treadgold, Brill et al to gain any traction with their ludicrous assertions about NZ’s temperature record, it’s perhaps not surprising that they resort to blowing smoke to cover their embarrassment.

An illustration of the Treadgold/Brill view of the world comes from this sentence in Treadgold’s post:

NIWA’s secret methodology grossly overstates the country’s warming as 0.91°C per century—using data from seven long-term weather stations, it increased every one of them—an incredible failure of chance alone.

If the New Zealand climate wasn’t warming, then that might be the case. But we know from other evidence — such as the shrinkage of NZ’s glaciers — that the climate has been warming. Seeing warming in the long term temperature record is exactly what you would expect. Physics and evidence trumps Treadgold’s naive interpretation of chance.

The Treadgold/Brill position, seen in the choice of words — the “secret methodology” that isn’t, that “grossly overstates” warming — only makes any kind of sense if you believe that NZ’s climate science community, and NIWA in particular, have somehow conspired to overstate warming in New Zealand.

That’s all the cranks have got left. There’s no science left to comfort them, no compelling evidence that doesn’t point to continuing warming, so they retreat into a fantasy world where everyone else is distorting the truth, and they are the sole guardians of some holy grail — the cup that cools.

Science is not done by fools and lawyers. It is not judged by courts or curmudgeons. It describes the uncomfortable reality in which the inhabitants of the world must live.

Meanwhile, one wonders if the trustees of the NZ Climate Science Education Trust, who brought the disastrous legal case against NIWA, have finally stumped up the costs awarded against them. If they haven’t, then the NZ taxpayer deserves to be told why not. That is a much more pressing question than any posed by Treadgold or Brill about NZ’s temperature record.

[Mr Simon, of course.]

  1. Sorry, Brett and the team! []

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob Painting December 2, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Yup, utterly bonkers. Bigfoot hunters, alien abduction believers, climate science contrarians – all cut from the same cloth.

nigelj December 3, 2013 at 10:45 am

I agree its totally bonkers. I looked at your link it has 160 pages of detail on data adjustments and how they are done. I dont know what Treadgold is looking at. He is imagining conspiracy theories that dont exist.

Richard Christie December 3, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Comedy gold.

The squeals grow ever louder as the time to write the cheques draws ever nearer.

Rob Painting December 3, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Yeah, show us the money!

Thomas December 3, 2013 at 10:54 pm

If anybody had any doubts that Treadgold’s stuff is just plain nutty, this surely would be the nail in the coffin for even the most foolish disciple of his. Then again, real zombies don’t worry about nails in coffin lids, nor 6 feet of dirt…. and where there is a box in the park, some crazy criers will always stand addressing their imaginary crowds…
Shrug shoulders and move on. But yes, show us the money fist!

Richard Christie December 3, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Envy the fly on the wall as CSET trustees discuss who gets to write the cheque or what share each member is liable for. The desperate discussions and possibly communication with the Heartland Institute etc soliciting contribution. Imagine the rising panic/horror as close allies declare that they are not obliged to or are unable to help.

Murray December 4, 2013 at 8:07 am

From what I can gather the dispute is around NIWAs methodology being internationally recognised. Can you provide a citation to support the fact it is?

SimonP December 4, 2013 at 9:54 am

The 7SS was independently reviewed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The covering letter is in the document provided.

nigelj December 4, 2013 at 10:20 am

Murray click on the link titled 169 pages. This includes a copy of the peer review by the Australians. They say the methodology is sound in their opinion, and make no statements that it is unusual.

John Mashey December 4, 2013 at 9:48 am

Well, NZ may have its crazies, but trust me, there are more heights to climb, as seen recently in UK.

1) People might recall Murry Salby, American atmospheric physiciststhen at Macquarie U in Sydney who suddenly started proclaiming that CO2 rise was the result of temperature increases, not a cause. and thsu humans had nothing to do with it. This delighted some,but Did not end well.

2) Then there is PSI, or the “slayers” who reject ct the existence of the Greenhouse Effect, to the point that even Anthony Watts has banned their ideas. They sponsored a Salby tour of the UK. to which a visit to Scotland was added by “Scottish Sceptic” Mike Haseler, whose “about” page says:
‘This is the blog of Mike Haseler and what you may wish to know about me is that I am a Climate Scientist as I am more of a scientist than most who work on climate.’

3) And then there is a Viscount who needs no introduction.

One of the PSI folks reports on a meeting that combined Salby, Haseler and Monckton, the latter having essentially crashed (Haseler’s) meeting and then whisked Salby off to dinner.

nigelj December 4, 2013 at 10:34 am

John Mashey agreed you have some strange characters there with some very untenable beliefs. Arguments like item 1 that CO2 is somehow coming from the oceans are just so ridiculous in light of the evidence that its impossible to believe them.

Why would a physicist believe such things? What mindset is behind such flat earth thinking?

Thats not to say all scepticism is bad, as not every element of climate change is fully understood, but arguments like your ones in your list are just so flakey and they misslead people and waste a lot of time and energy.

John Mashey December 4, 2013 at 11:35 am

Well, a cage match between Slayers and Monckton is just too good to miss.
Salby of coruse is neitehr a carbon-cycle guy nor an ice-core guy, but a once well-respected atmospheric physicist, i..e., especially fluid dynamics theory, planetary waves, osillations, etc. Some atmospheric physicists (say like Andrew Dessler) are pretty good all-around climate scientists, whereas Salby denigrates anybody outside his specialty. The Preface of his 2012 book::
‘‘Historically, students of the atmosphere and climate have had proficiency in one of the physical disciplines that underpin the topic, but not in the others. Under the fashionable umbrella of climate science, many today do not have proficiency in even one. What is today labeled climate science includes everything from archaeology of the Earth to superficial statistics and a spate of social issues. Yet, many who embrace the label have little more than a veneer of insight into the physical processes that actually control the Earth-atmosphere system, let alone what is necessary to simulate its evolution reliably. Without such insight and its application to resolve major uncertainties, genuine progress is unlikely.’

John Mashey December 4, 2013 at 3:11 pm

One of the reasons this is especially fun is its illustration of an effect seen otherwise:
a) Both Moncton and Slayers absolutely agree than mainstream climate science is all wrong.
b) But they have completely opposite reasons for that.

nigelj December 4, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Doesnt matter if sceptics have different arguments that are incompatible. With climate sceptics its not about the truth, its about beating the other team or defending the realm against socialism or whatever imaginary monster they see.

Thomas December 4, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Precisely. A lot of these hard core deniers are in it because they simply live with a totally inflated idea of themselves, never accepting the word of others over their own ideas in anything that is not in agreement with their political home turf agenda.

Murray December 4, 2013 at 8:59 pm

‘In general, the evidence provided by NIWA supports the homogeneity corrections’

Is this our indisputable support of NIWA methods? It hardly sounds convincing, no wonder those deniers think they have a case. The peer reviewers do not state their own position on the methods used, only say NIWA has justified them.

Am I missing something here? The peer review can’t be that weak, surely.

Rob Painting December 4, 2013 at 9:22 pm

The fruitloops had their day in court. Now it’s time to stump up the cash.

Thomas December 4, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Am I missing something here?

Yes Murray, you are missing a lot: Here is the full citation of the conclusion paragraph of BOM that you quoted from:

In general, the evidence provided by NIWA supports the homogeneity corrections that have been applied to the temperature record to create the ‘seven station’ series. The scientific papers clearly report on major issues which have been identified in the metadata and past scientific literature. It is also clear that a number of significant adjustments (as identified by NIWA in the reports) are clearly required for the raw/composite station series owing to inhomogeneities which would otherwise artificially bias results.

Further Murray, what you are really missing a sound high school science education to understand all this as it seems plus the ethics to cite faithfully and not leave out the main bit and your vane attempt to confuse the reader. With that (an education) in hand you could handily have followed NIWA’s 160 something detailed paper yourself. And you could with rather simple calculations convinced yourself within a reasonable accuracy that the application of the NIWA adjustments is required (in fact it would be ridiculous not to apply these).
You could also, if at this stage you still had doubt about all this, read the scientific papers that NIWA cites in their references.

But instead and with absolutely no backup from anybody bar the jokers at the NZ Climate Science Education Trust you still rant on as if there was some hidden agenda or some fault in the science.

So I challenge you: show me a fault in NIWA’s science, cite the page and the paragraph where you think they made a mistake that would invalidate their results. Lets see what you come up with.

nigelj December 4, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Murray, the Australian peer review is a good support of NIWAS work. You wont ever get a stronger support as their lawyers would have said just keep it general, dont give a 100% approval. This is is how things work in all organisations, sadly.

Murray December 4, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Thomas, insulting my education is pointless, for I know my business success speaks for itself. True education is the university of life, you and your smug PHD waving friends will never understand the value of this so will likely always remain dependent on government wages. Not my idea of smart.

Education aside, you are too dim to understand nobody was contesting the need for adjustments. People just want to know the specific methods used by NIWA are recognised internationally. You have provided no evidence to support this, neither has the peer review.

Gareth December 4, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Murray: read the comment policy again. Simply parroting other people’s lies – in this case those retailed by Treadgold – is against HT’s comment policy. Last warning. Any more, and you will be on moderation: that is, I will only publish your comments if they are on-topic, contribute to the discussion, and do not contravene the comment policy.

Thomas December 4, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Murray, ‘despite’ my science degree, I can assure you, that I have spend the past 27 years of my career running the private businesses I created and not on government wages!

And make sure your ‘university of life’ education has equipped you with the wisdom to consult the real experts in matters best left to them. You won’t want to have brain surgery undertaken by your barber or make policy on matters such as climate change based on self appointed grand-standers and their confabulations……


Ian Forrester December 5, 2013 at 4:52 am

Thomas said:

You won’t want to have brain surgery undertaken by your barber

Maybe he did, that would explain a lot.

Thomas December 5, 2013 at 6:51 am

:-) .. or he could give it a go now, not much to loose….

Murray December 4, 2013 at 10:39 pm

What lies?

I have taken the time to hear the opposing view and have put forward their concerns as I understand them. Maybe you can explain where in the peer review the validation of NIWAs methods is hiding? I’m not saying it’s not there, I just haven’t seen it yet. We all agree adjustments had to be made. Was the way NIWA adjusted the data international best practice? Or even backed by the review?

Gareth December 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Read the post, read the background posts here – they stretch back four years, so that might take you some time – then read NIWA’s report. The methods NIWA used in putting together the long term NZ record are not remotely controversial – except amongst a tiny band of fools and contrarians who think the world is conspiring against them.

You are now on moderation. Your comments will only be published if I think they contribute to the discussion (see above).

SimonP December 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Andy Murray,
Every station adjustment is detailed in the report. These require historical knowledge (meta-data), e.g. “sheep ate through the temperature probe cable” or “air bubble was present in the minimum thermometer”. This should be uncontroversial.
There are mutiple way to determine cross-correlations and I’m not sure that there is an “international best practise”. The BoM review didn’t seem to find any issues with the approach used.
The bizarre thing about all of this is the belief that the 7 Station Series somehow influences Government policy and that hard-working taxpayers are paying for it. It doesn’t and taxation of CO2 is trivial, emitters are paying one half of $5 per tonne CO2. That is unnoticable when wrapped up in energy costs and is insufficient to change behaviour, which was the whole point of having an ETS.

nigelj December 5, 2013 at 9:25 am

Murray the peer review letter states we have reviewd the NIWA submission including “whether the methods had scientific error” (read the link). Nowehere in their peer review letter did they list errors with the methods. The meaning of the peer review letter is clear to me.

nigelj December 6, 2013 at 2:01 pm

For sceptics its not enough for them that the peer review didnt find any errors, they want it to say “international best practice” was used. If it had said that, they would probably say “define” best practice etc,etc.

On and on like slippery eels constantly shifting the goal posts, and doubting everything.

bill December 6, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Of they’d complain that the review had only been done by members of ‘the team’. Or ‘Marxists’, a convenient pejorative and virtual synonym for ‘people I choose to disbelieve’ in topsy-turvy world, and consequently a word that has lost all meaning thanks to their efforts.

The only way these people could be pleased is to change the conclusions to match their preferences. That they’d credit!

greybeard December 6, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Murray’s comments also display a lack of any experience with peer review. I’ve got a reasonable publication record, and have yet to see the phrase “conforms to international best practice” in any of my reviews. Conversely, when a paper has been rejected (OK, I admit to some of these as well), the review has been 100% clear about what is wrong with it. Message to flat-earthers: put in the hard work, get a few papers published, then put the experience to good use.

nigelj December 6, 2013 at 7:15 pm

You wont get the sceptics publishing anything. That would expose them to serious scrutiny. They secretely know their various sceptical fantasies dont have legs.

Rob Taylor December 10, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Speaking of publishing, the AGU has a new free online journal, “Earth’s Future”, with papers from the likes of Kevin Trenberth, here:

“Understanding and managing our new and future relation with the Earth requires research and knowledge spanning diverse fields. Earth’s Future will explore and foster interactions among the Earth and environmental sciences, ecology, economics, the health and social sciences, and more. Its mission is to focus on the Earth as an interactive, evolving system to help researchers, policy makers, and the public navigate the science.”

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