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Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Fails Test

Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Fails the Test

The Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman has been accused by the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition (NZCSC) of forsaking science for advocacy in supporting the Key Government’s fight back against opposition to the emissions trading scheme (ETS) due to come into force on 1 July.

Professor Gluckman has announced that his address to the Institute of Policy Studies in Wellington tonight will deal with climate change, and what he terms “denialism” that rejects “the very high level of consensus…as to the nature of climate science and its anthropogenic underpinnings.”

The coalition notes that, in creating the position of Chief Science Advisor in May 2009, the Prime Minister commented that “this role is one of vital importance that demands not only a high level of science expertise, but also the utmost integrity to fairly represent the state of science knowledge” and that “Professor Gluckman will provide me with a direct line to advice when I need it. He will be an independent voice that will complement existing channels of advice such as government departments and the Royal Society.”

The coalition today released documents (internet links at end) showing that Professor Gluckman, has been, on the matter of climate change, neither independent nor scientific in his approach.

Spokesman for the coalition, Dr Doug Edmeades, said that “Professor Gluckman has stooped to becoming an advocate of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and the government’s climate change policy. In defending the status quo he has denigrated all those who are sceptical of the dangerous human-induced global warming theory by describing them as ‘deniers’.”

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Earlier this year, Dr Edmeades for the NZCSC wrote to Professor Gluckman documenting ten major errors of fact in the advisor’s official position paper on Climate Change, published on his website. The advisor declined an invitation to meet with members of the Coalition to discuss these matters, and in a letter in response, failed to address any of the technical matters raised. “Such an aversion to listening to, and considering, other well-documented viewpoints is the antithesis of providing an independent voice,” said Dr Edmeades.

“Given these circumstances,” Dr Edmeades said, “it is ironic that the Chief Science Advisor now describes the sceptics pejoratively as ‘deniers’.

“In defending the climate alarmist position, Professor Gluckman makes much use of the concept of consensus. As is now becoming achingly clear, there is no so-called consensus – the science is far from being ‘settled’. Consider the recent revelations: the Pacific Islands are not drowning, the Himalayan glaciers are not shrinking, the Arctic ice sheet is back to normal and polar bear numbers are increasing!”

“In any case,” says Dr Edmeades, “science does not progress based on consensus. If this were true, Galileo, Newton, Einstein and so many other leading scientists would have been ignored. Science advances based on the evidence and not on the social and political concept of consensus.

“Professor Gluckman’s advocacy for dangerous global warming also goes close to pseudo-science in which issues are complicated by dressing them up with words and concepts which sound scientific in the hope that a confused audience will become agreeable and pliable. This approach reduces science issues to a choice of politics, religion or personality. The professor seems to have embraced the cult of ‘post-normal science’ (PNS) one of whose inventors in1991 was a Marxist philosopher called Jerome R. Ravetz. Under this seductive and dangerous new concept, no longer was it considered essential that scientists strive after objectivity. Their new duty, Ravetz held, was not to `truth' but to what he called `quality'. And by 'quality' he meant rhetoric in which evidence is manipulated and presented to achieve a political end.

“Climate science is an emerging field of exploration and covers many scientific disciplines from basic physics and chemistry through to meteorology. It is so broad that it is unlikely that any one person can grasp all the detail. It is exactly in this situation where sound, robust, rational science is needed. And all good science begins with formulating a precise question. In the case of climate change the hypothesis that the world is wrestling with is: do humans, by their use of fossil fuels and other activities, dangerously increase global temperatures? Based on the lack of evidence, the members of the NZCSC, like thousands of others worldwide, reject this hypothesis.

“Given that science can't provide evidence-based answers to prove the dangerous made-made global warming hypothesis, Professor Gluckman suggests scientists apply their personal value judgments. The populace is then invited to believe that these opinions are ‘the science’. But they are opinions only, certainly not evidence, and form no basis for the financial penalties on our people, business and farmers which the ETS will impose,” Dr Edmeades concluded.

Dr Doug Edmeades, principal of Agknowledge, a Hamilton-based consultancy offering scientific advice on fertiliser and soil nutrient management ( is spokesman on agriculture for the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. Dr Edmeades authored a paper “Science Under Threat”:


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