Bum notes from the Brill building (and a question for the minister)

The new chairman of the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition, Barry Brill OBE, is certainly not shy about parading his point of view to the world at large. Brill, a lawyer and former junior minister in the 1975-81 “Think Big” Muldoon government, has attempted to argue with John Key’s science advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, and last weekend followed in the oversize footsteps of Bob Carter by popping up at denier-friendly Aussie “journal of ideas” Quadrant Online with a lengthy rant on the “Crisis in New Zealand climatology”. Crisis? What crisis? It appears he means the ACT Party beat-up of the shonky analysis by Richard Treadgold and un-named “researchers” at the Climate “Science” Coalition. Brill seems blissfully unaware of the real controversy surrounding this affair, but his article — and its appearance at places such as Watts Up With That— gives me another chance to demonstrate that this whole affair is nothing more than a politically-inspired attempt to undermine action on climate change.


Underpinning this manufactured controversy is one big lie: that the New Zealand temperature record has been important in determining government policy on climate change, and has somehow been influential on a global scale. Here’s Brill:

For nearly 15 years, the 20th-century warming trend of 0.92°C derived from the NSS [NIWA’s “seven station series”] has been at the centre of NIWA official advice to all tiers of New Zealand Government – Central, Regional and Local. It informs the NIWA climate model. It is used in sworn expert testimony in Environment Court hearings. Its dramatic graph graces the front page of NIWA’s printed brochures and its website.

Internationally, the NSS 0.92°C trend is a foundation stone for the Australia-New Zealand Chapter in the IPCC’s Third and Fourth Assessment Reports. In 1994, it was submitted to HadleyCRUT, so as to influence the vast expanses of the South Pacific in the calculation of globally-averaged temperatures.

At the centre of advice to government? A foundation stone for the IPCC? Brill is channelling Treadgold, but doing us the favour of being explicit. He wants us to think that the NZ temperature record is really, really important. The bad news for Brill? It isn’t, and never has been. The New Zealand record is interesting, certainly, but has only ever been a tiny part of the global evidence that has persuaded governments around the world to enact policies designed to address climate change. The truth is that even if the NZ record showed cooling (which it doesn’t), the case for taking action wouldn’t change one iota. However, Brill wants us to believe that warming in New Zealand isn’t real:

First, we know what New Zealand’s average temperature was in 1867. The predecessor of the Royal Society of New Zealand (The New Zealand Institute) made a formal minute in 1868 of:

“Tables, which form the most reliable data for judging of the Climate of New Zealand, are extracted from the Reports of the Inspector of Meteorological Stations, for 1867”.

The mean annual temperature was 55.6F – the equivalent of 13.1C. Now consider this extract from NIWA’s “Climate Summary for 2005”: The national average temperature of 13.1°C made 2005 the fourth warmest year nationally since reliable records commenced in the 1860s.

No change whatever in 138 years! In fact, if 2005 was warmer than most 21st century years, New Zealand has obviously experienced some cooling during the past century or so.

Oh really? Brill is here lifting “work” from none other than Bryan Leyland, which I dealt with in this post in January last year. But for the purposes of further showing Brill to be wrong, take a look at the cover of this book:


This is the cover of a 2005 book from Canterbury University Press. The top sketch was painted by Julius von Haast in 1864, and shows the Cameron Glacier in the Arrowsmith Range in Canterbury. The photograph underneath shows the same scene in 2004. The glacier has retreated more than two kilometres. A lot of ice has vanished. I wonder how that happened? Fairies, perhaps? Or oofle dust? Here’s a photograph of the Cameron taken a few months ago. Still retreating, it would seem. As Jim Salinger noted in his PhD thesis, when commenting on a paper by Jim Hessell which purported to show little warming in NZ since 1930:

However, almost universal occurrence and synchroneity of the warming at 66 out of 70 sites associated with years of profound glacial retreat cannot be explained simply by instrumental or observer error.

We can be confident that New Zealand has warmed not just because the temperature record shows that to be the case, but because the country has lost a huge amount of ice over the same period. The ice melt is confirmation that the process Jim followed when adjusting station records for moves and changes was yielding results that pointed in the right direction.

Brill moves on to thank his supporters:

Piecing together the provenance of the New Zealand historical temperature record has been no easy task. Much of the detail is set out in the Climate Conversation blog. It has involved a myriad of investigative methods but the most productive has been the placement of nearly 50 Parliamentary Questions for Written Answer, for which credit must go to John Boscawen MP. The New Zealand mainstream media, all highly partisan on climate change matters, have evinced little interest in the scandal to date.

Fifty questions to Parliament, about a shonky analysis being given a politically-inspired beat-up? That sounds like an outrageous waste of tax payer funds to me. I wonder which MP will have the nous to ask Wayne Mapp, the minister responsible for NIWA, how much time and money the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research has had to expend on answering those 50 questions. Because that’s the legacy of Treadgold, Brill and the ineducable Boscawen — a spectacular waste of time and money.

There’s the real scandal. NIWA and its scientists have been subjected to baseless attacks and smears, and the organisation’s limited resources have been diverted to feed nothing more than the monstrous egos of New Zealand’s climate cranks, who are happily slinging mud as part of an extreme right wing political campaign to persuade the government to drop the ETS. Brill’s fact-challenged rant only demonstrates that he’s the latest in a long line of people prepared to spout nonsense in pursuit of inaction.

[The Animals, doing an appropriate Brill Building song (Mann/Weil)]

NZ temps: more stations, no adjustments, still warming

NIWA has released details of a newly calculated long term temperature series for New Zealand, based on 11 stations that have had no major site moves or significant adjustments made to their raw data. Running from 1930 to present, the series shows that significant warming has taken place, confirming that the national temperature series recently attacked in a shonky analysis published by the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition and Climate Conversation Group is not only pointing in the right direction, but actually warming a little more slowly than the new series.

Here’s a graph of the new compilation:

The stations used in the analysis are Raoul Island, Tauranga Airport, Ruakura (Hamilton), Gisborne Airport, Chateau Tongariro, Palmerston North DSIR/AgResearch, Westport Airport, Molesworth, Queenstown, Invercargill Airport and Campbell Island. All were identified by Jim Salinger as offering consistent long term records requiring little or no adjustment for site moves or other influences. Salinger’s calculations were confirmed separately by NIWA’s chief climate scientist Jim Renwick, and the results were identical. Over the period, warming of 1ºC is seen.

Bottom line? Unless there’s a significant “urban heat island” at places like Molesworth Station, warming over New Zealand and in the wider NZ region is undeniable.

Continue reading “NZ temps: more stations, no adjustments, still warming”

NZ temps: warming real, record robust, sceptics wrong

The National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), accused last week of fiddling the long term New Zealand temperature record to create spurious warming, has released information showing that the attack mounted by the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition and Climate Conversation Group has no merit.

The NIWA announcement shows that the warming trend in the long term record is also found when weather stations with long term records that require no corrections are used. From the release:

Dr Jim Salinger has identified from the NIWA climate archive a set of 11 stations with long records where there have been no significant site changes. When the annual temperatures from all of these sites are averaged to form a temperature series for New Zealand, the best-fit linear trend is a warming of 1°C from 1931 to 2008. We will be placing more information about this on the web later this week.

I’ll have more detail on that series when it’s made available. So the warming in the record is robust, found in sites all round New Zealand, and doesn’t depend on mysterious adjustments. But the Treadgold/CSC report also made claims about data being hidden:

Requests for this information from Dr Salinger himself over the years, by different scientists, have long gone unanswered, but now we might discover the truth.

That’s an outright lie, as the NIWA release shows.

For more than two years, New Zealand Climate Science Coalition members have known of the need to adjust the “seven station” data. They have had access to:

  • the raw data
  • the adjusted data (anomalies)
  • information needed to identify the adjustments made by Dr Salinger
  • information needed to develop their own adjustments.

The NIWA release cites emails to CSC members Vincent Grey and Warwick Hughes in July 2006, which provided all the references required to calculate the necessary adjustments themselves. In particular, all the information about the station site changes has been publicly available since 1992 and details of the methodology since 1993!

So where does this leave Treadgold and the CSC? They have published a report, issued press releases and made blog posts that misrepresent the facts, and have shown themselves incapable of conducting good science. They have proven themselves morally and ethically bankrupt, and should — if they had any decency — withdraw and apologise. But I won’t be holding my breath.

Shock revelation: top NZ climate scientist admits global conspiracy to warm planet

WORLD EXCLUSIVE!: Hot Topic can reveal that the days of the great climate science conspiracy are finally over. In an unprecedented display of public candour Dr Jim Salinger, New Zealand’s leading climate scientist, admitted in a letter to the NZ Herald this week that he’s been part of a conspiracy to mislead the public about global warming. Responding to a perceptive column by investigative reporter Jim Hopkins, he wrote (and this is the unedited version which names names — I had to hack into his email system to get it):

I was very upset to see that the doyen of climate science investigators, Jim Hopkins, has finally got to the truth of NZ’s con of the century. Yes – he has uncovered it – the Great Aotearoa Climate Conspiracy (GACC) of the 20th century! My fellow schemers over the years include E Kidson, Ben Garnier, Blair Fitzharris, Trevor Chinn, Kevin Trenberth, John Kidson, James Renwick, Brett Mullan, and Rob Muldoon. GACC operatives have secreted heaters and concentrated sunlight on the permanent snow and ice that once clothed Aotearoa. The Mackenzie hydro scheme generates power for the heaters under Mt Cook. We have been so successful that the ice volume has dripped from 100 cubic kilometres in the 1900s to 45 cubic kilometres by 2008. Thus we have convinced the good peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand that the climate is indeed warming.

And indeed, to demonstrate that we have been in control, we were planning to turn the Land of the Long White Cloud into a lot of hot air. But we have been exposed by the mighty pen of Hopkins! Wait until The Guardian’s George Monbiot learns of this. I will have to consider a career change – perhaps to becoming a columnist so that I can write whatever I want without worrying about the facts. Long live the truth!

It’s unclear how the GACC operation fits into the wider global conspiracy revealed in my earlier post about the hijacking of Monckton’s emails, but my research indicates that Salinger commands a senior position in the hierarchy: he has taken to signing his emails as “Climate operative 007″. Meanwhile, sources close to Lucy Lawless, who has been a close companion of Salinger in recent months, tell me she is now refusing to let him anywhere near her shower.

[Disclosure: the author is GACC operative 287(b): (b) denotes blogger. We all have badges to wear at meetings, there’s a secret handshake, and members of the NZ GACC are also obliged to wear smocks made from Emperor penguin hides. Details of the Aussie branch regalia are sketchy, but seem to involve doing strange things with Tasmanian marsupials.]

[Update: For an alternative view on the merits of Hopkins’ reporting, see this post at Editing the Herald.]

NZ sceptics lie about temp records, try to smear top scientist

homer.jpgThe cranks in the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition have sunk to new lows in a desperate attempt to cash in on the far-right driven furore about the Hadley CRU data theft. Here’s an extract from a press release which was doing the rounds of NZ’s newsrooms this morning:

New Zealand may have its own “Climategate”, including manipulation of temperature readings, according to a combined research project undertaken by members of the Climate Conversation Group and the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. The researchers claim that temperature readings from seven weather stations throughout New Zealand have been adjusted to show a higher degree of warming than is justified by a study of the original raw data.

The author of the press release and the “research project” into NZ’s long term temperature record is blogger Richard Treadgold, not unknown to readers of Hot Topic. Unfortunately for him, and for the credibility of any of the members of the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition, Treadgold’s approach to the issue is ignorant, his results meaningless, and he can have no excuse for not knowing he was wrong. Worse, Treadgold, Dunleavy and the rest of the NZ CSC seem determined to smear NZ’s best-known and most respected climatologist, Jim Salinger (who did much of the early work on NZ’s temperature record), based on little more than straightforward lies. Their press release continues:

“NIWA’s official graph (done originally by Dr Jim Salinger, who features also in the emails leaked from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia) shows considerable warming, which they give as 0.92°C per century, saying this is consistent with global warming over the 20th century. But the actual temperature readings taken from the thermometers show an almost flat trend for 150 years.

These figures all come from NIWA. So, why are they so different from each other? Because NIWA has adjusted the earliest temperature readings downwards by up to 1.3°C, which has the effect of introducing a false warming as the graph then “climbs” to the present day. It’s a disgrace. So far, neither Dr Salinger nor NIWA has revealed why they did this,” said Mr Treadgold.

The real disgrace is that this analysis has been conducted by a team seemingly hell bent on ignoring the facts, preferring instead to make up their own.

Continue reading “NZ sceptics lie about temp records, try to smear top scientist”