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NIWA scientists have become propagandists

29 May 2008

NIWA scientists have become political propagandists

The State Services Commission should investigate whether scientists of NIWA have crossed the boundary into politics with their sudden flurry of advocacy for action on so-called global warming at a time when the Government is struggling to gain support in Parliament for its Emissions Trading Scheme Bill. This today from the chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, Rear Admiral Jack Welch.

“This flurry of advocacy has all the hallmarks of political spin, which has appalled the scientists associated with our coalition. Worse, NIWA is breaching the principles of good science by not qualifying its climate predictions with appropriate disclaimers.

“The claim by Dr Wratt that ‘the evidence of climate change continues to mount, climate models are becoming more sophisticated, and scientific knowledge of the climate is improving all the time ‘ rings hollow in the face of the disclaimer in the Third Assessment Report (Section 14.2.2.2.)of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): ‘In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.’

Admiral Welch continued: “Projections of future climate are not predictions, but speculation. They come from global climate models that have not been verified, so their output is merely conjecture.

“This is recognised across the Tasman, where the Australian CSIRO attaches a disclaimer to all its reports, such as this one on a report from the Queensland Government: ‘This report relates to climate change scenarios based on computer modelling. Models involve simplifications of the real physical processes that are not fully understood. Accordingly, no responsibility will be accepted by CSIRO or the Queensland Government for the accuracy of forecasts or predictions inferred from this report or for any person’s interpretations, deductions, conclusions or actions in reliance in this report.’

“NIWA are misleading New Zealanders on climate change issues by issuing projections of future climate without such a disclaimer,” said Admiral Welch.

“NIWA says they have taken the best models from the IPCC and has downscaled them so they can predict New Zealand's climate far into the future.
When challenged about their failure as weather forecasters they acknowledge they cannot predict the weather accurately but they can say that ‘December will be warmer than June.’ But, their large scale models all failed to predict the lack of global warming over the last ten years (which is like missing the fact that December is normally warmer than June down here.) so why should we trust these ‘downscaled’ versions of the same model. Downscaling does not correct fundamental failures of the parent model. If they cannot get the big picture right they cannot possible get the small scale right.

“If NIWA do insist they can forecast climate accurately we should get them to make firm forecasts of climate (not weather) out for 1,2,3,4,5 years into the future and check them for accuracy at the end of each year. Their future funding should then depend on the accuracy of their forecasts.

Admiral Welch said New Zealand has shown no clear sign of warming for the past 50 years, and in Christchurch it is a 100 years. "Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere appear to be having little effect globally or locally. Data is available to show this. What has suddenly changed NIWA´s
minds? Is it because the Government needs help in order to pass the Emissions Trading Bill? And is it appropriate for scientists to suddenly become involved in what is political propaganda?

"It is vital that we have some urgent clarification of these issues before the lights go out throughout New Zealand. Here we have the extraordinary situation of our country, relatively one of the richest in terms of energy resources, with at least 2000 years of coal available to generate electricity, and we are denied the advantage of this resource because of a hypothesis carbon dioxide will dangerously heat the planet. This deception has gone on long enough. It´s time for New Zealanders to demand scientific fact, not more NIWA computerised fiction," said Admiral Welch.

ENDS

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