NIWA v cranks: costs are in, losers start whinging

Having successfully defended the High Court challenge to its New Zealand temperature reconstructions brought by NZ’s climate cranks and being awarded costs by the judge, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research (NIWA) is said to be seeking costs of $118,000 from the plaintiffs. Richard Treadgold, the instigator of the whole sorry affair, has posted the figure being sought at his blog and added this interesting snippet to a lengthy (and extremely tedious and tendentious) post on the subject:

It [NIWA] actually names two individuals who, it claims, should personally pay the $118,000 – and they weren’t even parties to the court case. Terry Dunleavy is the honorary secretary of the NZ Climate Science Coalition and Barry Brill is the chairman of the Coalition, and a lawyer, who helped bring the court case.

It’s a scandal, because the parties, of course, were the NZCSET and NIWA. No individuals were involved on either side.

Treadgold conveniently ignores the obvious “scandal”: that Dunleavy formed the NZ CSET specifically to bring the case1. Until the case came to court and a Queens Counsel was retained to argue on their behalf, the legal case was being run by Barry Brill2. Dunleavy queered his pitch even further by presenting himself to the court as an “expert witness” giving impartial evidence, despite being the founder of the trust bringing the case. In his judgement, Justice Venning was scathing about Dunleavy’s soi-disant expertise:

Section 25 could only apply if Mr Dunleavy was an expert in the particular area of the science of meteorology and/or climate. He is not. He has no applicable qualifications. His interest in the area does not sufficiently qualify him as an expert. […] substantial passages of Mr Dunleavy’s evidence are inadmissible.

NIWA’s decision to pursue Dunleavy and Brill suggests that they and their advisers have little confidence in the NZ CSET’s ability or willingness to meet the costs awarded. As I have noted more than once, if a trust can be formed solely to avoid personal liability in a failed High Court case, then there is a big risk of abuse of process by plaintiffs who pursue cases they have no hope of winning, purely to make political points.

Treadgold attempts to run a “public interest” defence in his blog post, claiming that if the CSET had won, the taxpayer would have been saved billions of dollars by the removal of the need for action on climate change. As examples of self-delusion go, that takes more than a mere biscuit, it purloins an entire warehouse full of chocolate hobnobs3.

The New Zealand temperature record, whatever it may say about how warm or cold NZ has been in the past, has never underpinned NZ government decision making on climate matters. Nor would a decision in favour of the CSET have changed the laws of physics.

Treadgold — and by extension all of the cranks involved in bringing this futile legal action — are so disconnected from physical and political reality that they are obviously finding it hard to cope when cold facts intrude on their little epistemic bubble. I do hope they have pockets deep enough to face up to facts, and to live with the folly of their actions. The New Zealand taxpayer deserves nothing less.

  1. Details here: Dunleavy was the founder of the the Trust (with Bryan Leyland and Doug Edmeades) and trust deed was not filed until several weeks after the court documents, and not granted until six weeks after the case began. []
  2. The trust’s legal case was so ineptly run that the judge awarded costs on a higher scale than usual — because it had changed arguments at the last minute. []
  3. Rik Mayall takes the Treadgold role, obviously. []

23 thoughts on “NIWA v cranks: costs are in, losers start whinging”

  1. I just wish that more deniers like, for example Monckton, would go to court. They threaten it, but know that they would end up looking ridiculous. Obviously Threadgold et al aren’t quite as smart. Bless ’em!

      1. Be careful what you wish for, Andy, as this case has the potential to do for Watts et al what the NZCSET debacle has done for climate change denial in NZ.

        I, too, look forward to publication of Prof. Mann’s “censored data”, as I’m sure he does too. Popcorn time!

        1. Sounds to me like Mark Steyn is firing on all guns and can’t wait for Mann to file against him.

          After all, this might lead to the release of certain correspondence that Penn State seem reluctant to share

            1. Penn State did not want to release the documents as it would set a dangerous precedent for academic freedom. Also the request had nothing to do with the validity of multi-proxy work as despite the deniers’ echo chamber the data is available and the methods known. It clearly was personal as anyone with the training can go and use the data to make their own reconstructions using Mann’s methods, or their own, and then have them published.

              I am not sure about the disclosure rules are in the U.S. but here in NZ their must be a relevance to the case. So given that this is about the claim that Mann was fraudulent in his science the document discovery should be restricted to the science and not any personal information. I would wonder as to the relevance of any admin stuff.

          1. A little tip for deniers — instead of trying to sniff Dr. Mann’s underwear (that’s basically what the FOI business is all about), why don’t you guys simply do the following?

            1) There’s this really cool search engine called Google.
            You might have heard of it. Here’s how to use it to find all
            the tree-ring data that those sneaky scientists have been
            trying to hide from you.

            Go to and search for the keywords
            “tree ring data”.

            One of the top hits will be: /treering.html

            2) Follow the link (i.e. click on it with your mouse).
            You will be taken to the official NOAA Tree Ring data page.
            That’s where those sneaky NOAA scientists have very
            cleverly hidden all the tree-ring data — those scientists
            knew that you deniers would never dream of performing
            a web-search on the words “tree ring data”, so they very
            cleverly hid all the data at the web-site most likely to
            be returned first from a search on “tree ring data”.
            Sneaky blighters, aren’t they?

            3) Click on the link called “Tree Ring Search Engine”.
            You will be able to select tree-ring data by Investigator,
            location, tree-ring data type, species type, etc…
            Thousands of tree-ring chronologies are available for you
            to download and analyze, for free!

            4) Knock yourselves out!
            The mathematical techniques used to compute
            global-average temperature reconstructions are
            well documented, both on the web and in the
            scientific literature.

            All the software needed to implement those
            techniques is free for the downloading.

            So deniers, stop sniffing Dr. Mann’s underwear
            and get to work!

        2. doug:

          What Penn State documents? Is there something else?

          The FOIAs/CIDs/suits have been against U VA by VA~ AG Cuccinelli or ATI’s David Schnare, several of the George Mason University Law` School grads who hassle climate scientists or help. Schnare even teaches the tactics to students at GMU, see A.6.2 in See No evil, Speak Little Truth,… A dandy fellow, but hit may turn out` he was doing this without permission while working for the EPA.

          Appendix A.7 talks about academic misconduct proceedings, including those at Penn State.

  2. That data-censoring thing was *very* sinister. Mann ran a bunch of sensitivity tests on his algorithm by “censoring” random sets of data in order to verify that his results didn’t depend too much on any single tree-ring chronology.

    That’s standard procedure for evaluating the robustness of your results — re-run the processing a bunch of times, each time throwing out a random subset of your data to ensure that your results don’t blow up when you throw out bits of data.

    I’ll tell ya — them gummint-funded scientists are a sneaky bunch indeed….

    Speaking of which, many moons ago, I got to code up a “censored mean-level detector”, where we very sneakily threw out certain frequencies containing strong narrowband signals in order to get better estimates of broadband acoustic noise levels. Quite a nefarious bunch we were, censoring data and all!!

    1. Ah, yes, they’re just like the brave little souls battling Big Tobacco – i.e. Big NIWA – despite their own direct links to the Tobacco Lobby (i.e. Heartland)

      They don’t do irony in the epistemic bubble…

      1. Well, I expect those Evil deniers will get bailed out by Big Oil, Big Tobbaco, or any of the other Evil Billionaires that are bankrolling the NZCSC from their secret underground lairs

        Or maybe not

        1. What a truly imbecilic icon you’ve just adopted, by the way. You guys can’t even come up with your own campaign imagery; you have to plagiarise.

          Since you’re an advocate of nukes – and mining the moon, economic whizz-kid that you are – did you stop to consider you’re sending a message that wind is as bad and scary as nuclear?

          Or is this some kind of leaden, dorkish attempt at ‘irony’? Snort.

          You’re only highlighting the contradictions of the absurd world you inhabit; inflaming nimby reactions to wind-turbines that you cast as a magically dangerous menace, while complacently expecting that the self-same suburban narcisso-nihilists you’ve just stirred-up are going to accept your nuclear plants!

          The whole gives a very good picture of your campaign skills and tactical nous. Still, this is hardly surprising given that you are merely boorish wreckers.

          1. Yes I thought you’d enjoy my new avatar. It comes from one of the many anti-wind groups scattered around the world. This one is a favorite of mine which comes from Germany, a country that is particularly blighted by these monstrosities.

            I watched a particularly entertaining video yesterday showing turbines right next to houses, making the owners lives unbearable.
            You may find this amusing.

            Of course the delicious irony is that it is the same country that gave us the AtomKraft nein Danke stickers that all the bien pensant types used to stick on their 2CVs back in the day

            Speaking of plagiarism, did you hand paint your own avatar in watercolours Bill? It is very nice.

    1. Ah, life in the bubble. I note that ether crank and granter of T-Shirts to Judith Curry Tallbloke’s in there, too.

      Love this denier assumptive ‘reasoning’ –

      To try to help our friends in NZ, I’ve been emailing John Christy today, and hopefully he’s now onboard to assist…

      I rather look forward to John Christy’s turning up as an ‘expert’ on the NZ temperature record, though I suspect that for some unaccountable reason he, uh, won’t…

    2. Also, given the response to the last verdict, including extraordinary accusations made concerning the Justice on Treadgold’s own blog and by the more feral spectrum of deniers elsewhere, and the equally extraordinary attitude to the idea of somehow actually being responsible for costs if it turns out you were wasting everyone’s time all along, one might anticipate a certain level of scepticism in judicial circles regarding certain parties’ proposed Appeals…

Leave a Reply