Climate battle at NBR: Rodney’s rubbish versus Wiggs wisdom

New Zealand’s leading business media outfit — the National Business Review — has long dallied with climate denial, providing a platform for former ACT party leader Rodney Hide (amongst others) to push climate tosh. Last week Rodney used his regular opinion column to attack the government’s emissions policies (behind paywall) — fair enough, given that they are rubbish — but his rationale was that it was a waste of time because climate change wasn’t happening:

So what about the temperature record? Where is this being reported? Where is the headline? It’s the easiest question to ask, the best news to report and the only salient fact in an ocean of green wash and government propaganda.

And what’s that news? No global warming for nearly 20 years.

So far, so predictable… and so wrong. Here’s the latest news:


The last 12 months have been the hottest in the long term record. So was the year ending in February. With an El Niño event brewing in the Pacific, 2015 is on course to set a new record for hottest calendar year. 14 of the 15 hottest years have occurred this century. And that’s just if we look at surface temperatures. If we look where most of the heat is going — into the oceans — there’s no sign of any pause at all.

Rodney’s column attracted a comment from another NBR columnist, Lance Wiggs, a man with some real business chops and a respect for scientific evidence. That in turn sparked a battle of the columnists in this week’s NBR: Rodney’s rubbish, versus Wiggs’ wisdom.

Continue reading “Climate battle at NBR: Rodney’s rubbish versus Wiggs wisdom”

National Business Review: last bastion of climate denial in NZ pushes de Freitas tosh

The National Business Review — New Zealand’s biggest-selling business weekly — provides a happy media home for climate deniers of all stripes. Columnists like former ACT Party leader Rodney Hide and right wing spin doctor Matthew Hooton1 are given free rein to rant and rave about climate issues, but occasionally editor Nevil Gibson offers its august platform to others so that they can spout fatuous piffle. Last week’s issue featured an opinion column by Chris de Freitas, in which he waxes lyrical about his recent paper on the NZ temperature record — the shonky one that claims to find warming to be only one third of what real experts calculate.

The NBR hides most of its material behind a paywall, so I can’t link directly to the text — but the less scrupulous chaps at the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition2 are happy to host a pdf lifted from the NBR site.

As you might expect, de Freitas doesn’t restrict himself to narrow concepts of truth and factual accuracy. He mentions the cranks’ court case…

The High Court ruled against the trust and ordered it to repay court costs.

… but neglects to point out that the trust has since failed to pay those costs. It has of course been put into receivership, thus allowing the trustees to escape the $90,000-worth of financial consequences of losing their crackpot case.

de Freitas also misrepresents the membership of the trust.

Continue reading “National Business Review: last bastion of climate denial in NZ pushes de Freitas tosh”

  1. Hooton’s last column on climate matters appeared two weeks ago, and managed to be a spectacular home goal. But then he’s no stranger to those. []
  2. Let’s not forget that they are quite happy to register a charitable trust to bring a court case against NIWA, and then fold it so that the trustees can escape the financial consequences of their actions, so the fact that they are happy to disrespect the NBR’s paywall should come as no surprise. []

Taxing Rodney: Hide’s carbon hypocrisy

Untroubled as he is by the responsibilities of public office, or any apparent need to appear consistent, the former leader of the far-right ACT Party, Rodney Hide, attempts to ridicule the Green Party’s new carbon tax policy in his column at the National Business Review this week. You can’t actually read the column, because it’s behind a paywall, but the ever-helpful Cameron Slater at Whale Oil comes to the rescue by copy/pasting all the best bits. Here’s Hide, 2014 style:

We desperately need the Russel-Norman. A tax to deal to a problem bigger than World War II, the Depression and the Plague all at once.

We must go Green, save the planet and get rich. What a plan! What a vision!

Years ago an old man grumbled to me. GST. Bah. He didn’t think taxing food was right. “What’s next? The air we breathe?” Nope. Our new tax is on a trace gas that we all breathe out.

But those of us with functioning memories will recall that back when Rodney was ACT leader and a minister in a National-led government — only six years ago — he was advocating that the Emissions Trading Scheme be dropped and replaced by — wait for it — a carbon tax. Here’s Rodney in 2010, talking to Guyon Espiner on TV1:

We don’t think we should be doing anything, but what we’ve said is, if you were going to do something, it would be far cheaper and far easier just to put a low tax across fossil fuels. That would achieve the same result, you could also subsidise forestry, and we’ve offered that up to the National Party as an alternative that would be easier. Why would it be easier? It would administratively much less costly, because you’d just put a tax across rather than try and operate a trading mechanism…

I think I sort of understand what’s going on in Rodney’s head. When he was trying to be an electable politician, he at least made an effort to make sense. Now that he’s just another libertarian ideologue with a soapbox he can say whatever he wants, and the green-hating rabid right so ably fed and watered at Slater’s blog will lap it up. Meanwhile, out in the real world, perhaps a carbon tax’s time has come…

Risible Rodney rides again

Rodney Hide’s regular opinion slot in the Herald on Sunday has often provided the former ACT Party leader with a platform to spout his trademark climate denialist nonsense, but yesterday’s has to take some kind of biscuit1 for purveying unsubstantiated, completely made up nonsense. He starts by riffing on new research that suggests that an increase in Pacific winds has acted to slow down global temperature increases, and then goes completely off his trolley:

Scientists predict that when the Pacific trade winds slow global warming will take off with a bang. Armageddon remains on.

Climate scientists say the best policy is still one that bombs us back to feudal times.

Not to put too fine appoint on it, that is distasteful nonsense; a misrepresentation at best, a lie at worst — but either way the opinion editor of the Herald On Sunday should be ashamed for permitting it to appear in the paper.

Hide’s statement is wrong on many levels. Climate scientists seldom directly advocate for policy (beyond the need for urgent cuts in carbon emissions). And nobody outside of a looney right-wing think tank has ever suggested that cutting carbon will “bomb” anyone back to the middle ages. It’s cheap and easy rhetoric from a man with a column to fill, and no fact checker on duty at his newspaper.

To get a better perspective on the research Rodney is attempting to spin to his cause, check out this commentary by Mike Mann, or Dana Nuccitelli’s excellent explanation at The Guardian. It’s fascinating stuff, and deserves better than a once-over lightly from an ideologue with an agenda.

Hide then hops onto another pseudo sceptic hobbyhorse: the climate models:

One hundred years is a long time to have to wait to see if the models are correct.

The poor results so far don’t prove anything. And none of us will be alive to see if the models are actually correct.

He’s wrong about that, too. For an example of just how good the models can be, check out this blog post by professor of computer science Steve Easterbrook which compares the EUMETSAT year of weather video noted at Hot Topic recently with a visualisation of a year’s weather patterns from the atmospheric component of NCAR’s CCSM climate model. Run the the two animations side-by-side.

That’s how good our general circulation models are, and that’s how wrong Rodney Hide is. Again2.

  1. Girl Guide, perhaps, or Garibaldi? []
  2. Construction adopted to please @davidslack []

When climate cranks lose at law: Salinger on the failed attempt to sue the NZ temperature record

If you do nothing else today, take the time to read Jim Salinger’s account at The Conversation of the attempt by New Zealand’s little coterie of climate deniers to cast doubt on the country’s temperature record. It’s a useful summary of the cranks’ ludicrous effort, but Jim points out that it is just a small part of a much larger global PR campaign — drawing heavily on the strategies and tactics first used by the tobacco lobby — to undermine action to reduce emissions:

Earlier this month, the news broke that major tobacco companies will finally admit they “deliberately deceived the American public”, in “corrective statements” that would run on prime-time TV, in newspapers and even on cigarette packs.

It’s taken a 15-year court battle with the US government to reach this point, and it shows that evidence can trump doubt-mongering in the long run.

A similar day may come for those who actively work to cast doubt on climate science.

Frankly, that day can’t come soon enough.

Meanwhile, the latest news on the attempt by the men behind the trust used to bring the legal action — the NZ Climate Science Education Trust, fronted by Bryan Leyland, Terry Dunleavy and Doug Edmeades — to dump the costs of their failed case on the New Zealand taxpayer is that the official liquidator rates the “prospect of dividend” – that is, a payout by the trust — as “unlikely”. In the latest report (pdf) posted at the Companies Office1, the liquidator comments that he has only be able to contact one of the NZCSET trustees and that “he has thus far been co-operative with the liquidation”. If the other two trustees are not helpful, the liquidator warns that “they will be summonsed to attend a meeting to provide the necessary information”.

It may be that Christmas and summer holidays is slowing down the process, but if the NZCSET trustees are being deliberately unhelpful, I hope the Insolvency Service uses all of its powers to make them comply with the law. These men have wasted large amounts of taxpayer money pursuing their idiotic political agenda, and must be made to pay for their folly.

  1. Go to the Societies and Trusts Online section, click search register, then use the NZCSET registration number – 2539286 – to find the documents. []