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Uni professors are making biased claims about climate change


Disgust that two Victoria University professors, James Renwick and Tim Naish are using the names of their university and the Royal Society of New Zealand to propagate biased and unjustified claims about climate change, has been expressed by the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

The coalition’s statement was commenting on a series of presentations around New Zealand by Professors Renwick and Naish, entitled “Ten by Ten: Ten Things You Didn't Know About Climate Change”. The flyer for the event carries the logo of the Royal Society, and includes this credit: “With thanks to Victoria University of Wellington for their support of this series.”

The statement continues: “Everyone is perfectly free to express their personal views publicly on any subject including climate change. However, when speakers use the official logos of the Royal Society of New Zealand as well as Victoria University, the audiences and the wider community would assume that the views would have the endorsement of both academic bodies. They would also expect the views expressed to tell the whole story and be unbiased, fair, balanced, and based on scientific evidence. We are therefore very concerned that both Professors Renwick and Naish, endorsed and promoted by the Royal Society and Victoria University, have chosen to override that mandate and voice their own personal opinions, some of which may have some validity, but many statements are either biased, unsupported by the published scientific literature, or even untrue.

“As taxpayers, we are concerned at this misuse of public funds to propagate what can only be described as alarmist propaganda. The most glaring example was the funding of an advertisement in The Listener and other media showing water lapping at the steps of the Beehive. The professors must know that actual sea-level data collected from four major NZ ports for over 100 years shows that, at worst, the mean rise amounted to 1.92mm/year [published journal article 1.71+/- 0.1mm/year]. There is no report of any recent rapid increase in the rate of increased level. Stooping to such a low level of alarmism is reprehensible enough, but having it paid for, even if indirectly, by the public purse is something that should be a matter of immediate corrective action by the Ministers of Finance and Science.”

The coalition cites three examples, taken from slides shown in the professors’ presentation:

Point 3 says: ‘Scientists are almost 100% certain that warming is human induced’. The published literature reports that most scientists believe mankind has made some contribution to warming, but very few scientists have stated that it is virtually entirely man-made as the title implies. In fact, the authors of the papers referred to in their Slide 14 do not say that all climate change is ‘human-caused’ anyway. Some man-made greenhouse gases have contributed, and that is agreed on all sides if the climate debate. The published literature states that less than 40 ppm of all the atmospheric CO2 of 400ppm is anthropogenic. In fact, CO2 has gone up 8% over almost two decades while the average global temperature has remained almost constant. This is strongly supported even in their NASA data slide. It also shows that the ‘Global Average Temperature’ from 1880 to 1930 (50 years) was almost constant, and then from 1940 to 1970 (30 years) actually went down while CO2 went up over those entire 80 years. The correct statement should be "many scientists believe that some of the warming is human induced. However, observation data suggest that the effect of human CO2 is very minor at best.” It is therefore seriously misleading to say that most scientists agree that all the warming is human induced. Not even the IPCC claims that!

Point 5 says in part: “The ocean is acidifying.” There are no worldwide data on ocean alkalinity; only computer model estimates. The oceans are clearly alkaline with a pH ~ 8 (7 is neutral). Their slide 24 shows a range of pH values from about 8.0 to 8.2, but these values are from theoretical models only. Even if there is a slight reduction in alkalinity, this cannot ever be termed an increase in acidity. Indeed as rain ‘scrubs’ some CO2 from the atmosphere and becomes slightly acidic (dilute carbonic acid). But it soon disperses in the sea and is neutralised by the carbonaceous materials like shells. Most chemists know that an acid + base forms salt + water … and is neutralised. As long as shells, chalk and other carbonaceous material exist in the ocean, it can never, ever become acidic. The correct statement should be: “A very slight reduction in ocean alkalinity has been measured in just a few areas worldwide.”

Point 5 also says: ‘The southern ocean is warming, Antarctic is melting’. Ocean temperatures are always changing to a small extent because of upwelling, surface mixing, infrared radiation absorption, sub-sea geothermal activity and sub-ocean volcanoes (80% of all active volcanoes are below the sea), in addition to seasonal effects. The Antarctic continent is 14 million km2 solid land mass covered by ice and surrounded by floating sea ice. In contrast, most of the Arctic polar region is covered by floating sea ice. The seasonal amounts of floating sea ice changes because of seasonal changes, winds, ocean currents, and in some cases ‘geothermal hotspots’ (Thwaites Glacier west Antarctic ice sheet). The data taken over 35 years show that the sea ice extent around the Antarctic continent has not changed significantly at all and hence is not really melting to any extent. It simply cannot be directly tied to atmospheric changes only; more to other factors as mentioned. Renwick-Naish claims have no scientific foundation. Furthermore, just this week, research published in the reputable science journal Nature, led by John Turner from the British Antarctic Society reports that the Antarctic Peninsula, that juts out from the continent, has been cooling for almost 20 years.

The coalition statement concludes: "Unsubstantiated statements like these should not be endorsed by learned societies lest they be taken for a hoax.”

Note: For the bigger picture on causes of weather changes and climate patterns, link here:


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