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Complaint Against Two Victoria University Professors


Complaint Accepted Against Two Victoria University Professors for Breach of Royal Society’s Code of Ethics

The Royal Society of New Zealand has confirmed the commencement in accordance with its rules of a process to consider a complaint by several of its members that two Victoria University academics, Professors James Renwick and Tim Naish, have breached the society’s Code of Ethics in their public programme of lectures throughout the country entitled “Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Climate Change”.

In support of their complaint, the complainants forwarded a paper by a distinguished expatriate New Zealand scientist, Professor Michael J Kelly, of Cambridge University.Professor Kelly had written: “This paper was prepared as a direct result of the 'Ten things you didn't know about climate change...' initiative of the Royal Society of New Zealand and Victoria University, in order to provide some analysis of the real world data as opposed to climate projections.” Professor Kelly, FRS, FREng, a physicist, who has been since 2002 the Prince Philip Professor of Technology at CambridgeUniversity, sent the paper to the Ministry of the Environment on the understanding that the next steps were in their hands, and he shared it with the complainants as a matter of common concern to engineers.

Referring to the advertisement by Victoria University about the 10-point programme, showing a flooded Lambton Quay in Wellington, Professor Kelly wrote “The recent pictures of waters lapping at Parliament Building are meretricious and arguably actionable if not explicitly accompanied by a reality statement of qualification. To the extent that people think that urgent actions now will prevent such a future (which in itself is very highly unlikely), and commit resources that could be better used elsewhere to improve the lot of mankind, let alone New Zealanders, that is being disloyal to New Zealand. Any consequent harm from such actions could form the basis of a claim of treason: ‘In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's nation or sovereign’”.

The New Zealand members’ complaint points out that, under the code, members of the Royal Society of New Zealand are obliged to present facts and interpretations in an objective and open manner and to be scrupulously honest in the application of findings from research. The complainants say: “The presentation that Renwick and Naish have made gives only one side of the debate on man-made global warming and ignores large amounts of evidence – some of it from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – that indicate that there are major uncertainties underlying the predictions. We have chosen to quote from the recent paper by Dr Kelly because it reinforces our complaint about misleading and selective quotation by Renwick and Naish of well known and well-established research on the causes of climate change.

“It is hoped that the Royal Society will treat the complaint seriously and have it adjudicated by a panel made up of people with expertise in ethical matters.”

Link here to:
Complaint and Professor Kelly’s paper:


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