Foot/mouth interface issues at NZ climate crank central
I don’t wander over to the dark side very often – NZ’s climate cranks are an unedifying bunch at the best of times – but I was somewhat surprised to find myself featuring in their current top story — National Geographic ignores the need for evidence. Not that they know it’s me – the level of scholarship on display is even worse than that in their sole contribution to the scientific literature.
The author, blog owner Richard Treadgold, allows himself a little rant about a paragraph he says comes from a recent National Geographic newsletter, illustrated with a picture he claims comes from NIWA. The words he rails against seemed strangely familiar to me, and also rather dated. Then the penny dropped: it was a paragraph I had written a decade ago, in a feature for the New Zealand Geographic magazine. You can read the whole thing here, and you’ll note that the header photograph is the one Treadgold claims comes from the National Institute for Weather & Atmospheric Research (NIWA).
Let me sum this up. Treadgold’s little homily on the need for evidence is not just complete twaddle, it’s shoddy scholarship at its worst: citing the wrong magazine, an article from the wrong decade, and blaming NIWA for something they didn’t do. Sadly, it’s par for the course.
I shall leave the last word to one of the little band of scientifically literate commenters who bravely point out the errors inherent in almost everything Treadgold publishes. Underneath a press release from the climate cranks, complaining that the Royal Society of NZ had failed to provide evidence of the reality of climate change, Simon wrote:
Your complaint appears to be that the Royal Society provided you with lots of information which you couldn’t understand. That is not the fault of the Royal Society.
Twas ever thus, Simon.
At last: the curtain falls on the final act in the case of NIWA versus the NZ climate cranks. de Freitas et al (2015) – which purported to show warming in NZ was much lower than previously calculated – is shown to be comprehensively wrong in a new paper by NZ’s top temp experts.
Way back in the spring of 2014, NZ’s little band of climate cranks somehow managed to get a paper published based on their recalculation of New Zealand’s long term temperature record. The effort – based on calculations done to support their infamous court case against the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), which they emphatically lost – purported to show that New Zealand’s long term warming rate was only a third of the amount previously calculated. As I pointed out at the time, it was riddled with errors and bad scholarship, but it appeared in the peer-reviewed literature, and so required a peer-reviewed rebuttal.
It’s taken a while, but in the last few days Comment on “A Reanalysis of Long-Term Surface Air Temperature Trends in New Zealand” has been published in Environmental Modelling and Assessment. Led by NIWA principal climate scientist Brett Mullan, the authors are Jim Salinger, who first established the NZ long term temperature record, Professor Jim Renwick from VUW, and David Wratt, now Emeritus Scientist (Climate), at NIWA, and an Adjunct Professor in the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute at VUW. You could fairly describe them as experts – and their “comment” might better be called a demolition.
Here’s their conclusion:
In this paper, we identify what we consider to be several methodological flaws in the [de Freitas et al] paper. We conclude that, as a consequence, the temperature trend of an increase of 0.28 °C per century for the period 1909–2009 for New Zealand land surface temperatures derived in the dFDB paper is substantially too low, and that no need has been established for significant downward revision of the trend of around 0.9 °C per century found in previous studies.
They then provide a handy summary of the main flaws – which I’ve paraphrased below:
- dFDB claimed their paper was the first to properly use a methodology developed by Jim Salinger and Rhoades, first published in 1993. It wasn’t – in two senses. It wasn’t the first, and they didn’t use it properly.
- dFDB claimed NIWA’s long term temp record was based on calculations from Jim Salinger’s PhD thesis. It wasn’t.
- dFDB’s interpretation of the Rhoades and Salinger technique was mistaken and flawed, using station overlaps that were too short and ignoring changes in maximum and minimum temperatures. The result was that they failed to make many adjustments that were required, and therefore underestimated the actual warming.
- dFDB made a few arithmetical errors, dealt with missing data incorrectly, and mishandled trends in the Auckland and Wellington series.
- dFDB ignored other lines of evidence that support warming of 0.7-1.0°C per century, such as temperature series derived by the Berkeley Earth project, the decline in NZ’s glaciers, and analyses of sea surface temperatures around NZ.
The full paper is well worth a read if you followed the arguments at the time of dFDB’s original publication. It’s an elegant and polite deconstruction of a shoddy, politically motivated piece of work that should never have passed peer review first time round. It should make uncomfortable reading for the remaining authors of dFDB (2015) and their promoters, if they were real scientists rather than propagandists. But they’re not.
Courtesy of those fine satirists at The Onion, a climate researcher explains the reality of the global climate conspiracy. Meanwhile, in denialdom, Irma threatens worldviews, The Onion reports:
Taking all necessary measures to reinforce his cherished beliefs ahead of the impending storm, local climate change denier Michael Dunn reportedly spent Friday battening down his worldview to help weather Hurricane Irma. “This could be the big one that completely destroys my position that climate change is a government conspiracy.”
If you want to follow events in Florida and the Caribbean, I strongly recommend the Weather Underground’s Jeff Masters and Bob Henson’s coverage at Category 6. At this stage we can only hope that the destruction and loss of life will be minimal. Kia kaha, Florida…
Not that hiatus. That never happened in the first place. No, the hiatus in posts here at Hot Topic.
It’s three months since Jim Renwick’s demolition of Guy McPherson’s enthusiastic doom-mongering, and I have been remiss in not following up with more topical observations. It’s not as though there’s any shortage of stuff to write about. I shall have more to say soon — not least because the end of April will mark the 10th anniversary of this little climate blog — but in the meantime, please talk amongst yourselves…
Is climate change going to wipe out humanity over the next 10 years? Prof Jim Renwick doesn’t think so…
Ecologist Guy McPherson has been touring New Zealand for the past couple of weeks, explaining why humanity has only 10 years to live (a kind-of Ziggy message that has immediate appeal to me). After his appearance on the Paul Henry breakfast show, I was called by TV3/Newshub for comment. Based on my understanding of climate change science I said that though the situation is very serious — dire even — extinction in 10 years is not going to happen. When I gave my remarks to Newshub, I knew little about McPherson but I understood that he is a very knowledgeable biologist who should not be dismissed lightly.
So, what’s the story? Is McPherson right? Is the IPCC woefully conservative and keeping the truth from us all? I had the opportunity to hear Prof McPherson speak in Paraparaumu on Saturday (Dec 10th) to get more insight into what his views really are. It was a very interesting presentation, and a very interesting discussion with the audience of 50-odd Kāpiti coasters who showed up to hear him. As the old saying goes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What we heard was extraordinary for sure, but was not too convincing in terms of evidence.
Continue reading “Guy McPherson and the end of humanity (not)”