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Why trust took NIWA to High Court

Bryan Leyland, of the New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust, has explained why the Trust felt it had no option other than to take its case v NIWA to the High Court.

“Scientist and statistician members of our Coalition were sufficiently suspicious of NIWA’s claim that New Zealand had warmed by 0.9oC according to averages taken from seven weather stations throughout the country (7SS) that they undertook their own audit, starting from raw temperature data, discarding the adjustments which had been made by then NIWA employee Dr Jim Salinger. Our people substituted adjustments using the very method claimed by NIWA to be orthodox, and calculated warming of only 0.34oC/century. Our audit was peer reviewed and approved by three external statisticians

“We asked NIWA about the difference and ran into a series of obfuscating non-replies. Even a series of Parliamentary Questions for Written Answer put by then ACT MP John Boscawen, yielded little more than an expanded 11 station series, and an undertaking by the Minister, Hon Wayne Mapp, that NIWA’s work would be peer-reviewed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). We understand that that review was carried out, but it has never been revealed, either by NIWA here or by BoM in response to FOI requests from within Australia.

"In February 2010, Mr Boscawen asked the Minister of Research Science and Technology: who is undertaking the 'full review of each of the seven reference sites', what peer review process, if any, is being undertaken, why is a 'full review' necessary, will the data record be provided with statistical confidence intervals, and if not, why not?

"Dr Wayne Mapp (Minister of Research Science and Technology) replied: NIWA's review of the 'seven-station' series will be supervised by Principal Climate Scientist Dr Brett Mullan. It will be peer reviewed internally by NIWA Chief Climate Scientist Dr David Wratt and Principal Climate Scientist Dr James Renwick; and externally by two respected non-NIWA climate scientists, who have yet to be appointed. In addition NIWA’s intent, during the 2010/11 financial year, is to submit the work described above as a paper to a scientific journal, where it would be subject to the normal independent peer review process. This work has been incorporated into NIWA’s science planning for 2010/11. NIWA considered it appropriate to review the earlier analysis and publish the results in one coherent document since the information regarding the series is spread over several documents; and there is currently much public and scientific interest in the issue. NIWA expects the work to include calculation of the temperature trend and attaching statistical confidence intervals for the resulting 'seven-station series'.

“Subsequently, Mr Mapp advised that BoM had agreed to do the peer review. The Minister obviously recognised that some accountability by NIWA was essential. He offered a combination of three solutions:
• external peer review (by BoM);
• publication in a scientific journal, with consequent independent peer reviews;
• disclosure of statistical confidence levels (i.e. margins of error) for the whole revised series;
“None of these protections was ever delivered, during the 20 months which have since elapsed.

“Further, during the High Court hearing, NIWA advised that it would not rely upon the BoM review in any way as it believed it to be too confidential to produce. NIWA’s dismissal of that review on which its former Minister Mapp laid so much prior emphasis, raises the obvious suspicion that it did not support NIWA’s position – a suspicion that can now only be put to rest by its publication.

“In the end, we were so frustrated by the lack of informative response from this taxpayer-funded public agency, we felt that we had no option but to seek a High Court ruling invalidating NIWA’s temperature record.

“New Zealanders interested in this can find the judgement of Mr Justice Venning, and copies of our affidavits on the New Zealand Climate Science website here:

or here:

“Comments on the case and its outcome can be found on the website of Climate Conversation Group here:
where there is a statement by Coalition chairman, Hon Barry Brill, under the heading “Quo Vadis” followed by a number interesting comments, both for and against.”


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