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Lessons for NZ in reports of climate change

Lessons for NZ in reports of climate change

There are urgent and important lessons for New Zealand in a report released in Washington yesterday discrediting the Mann “hockey stick” graph which has under-pinned most of the claims of anthropogenic (man-made) global warming (AGW), according to Rear Admiral Jack Welch, chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. The report is the work of an ad hoc committee of three American statistics professors commissioned by the Energy and Commerce Committee of the US House of representatives to investigate the validity of the information used to construct a graph that shows a rise in the very late 20th century making a graph similar to an ice hockey stick. This follows hard on the heels of a National Academy of Sciences report that also cast doubt on claims that recent years were the warmest in the last 100 years.

“More relevant to New Zealand, as well as the rest of the world, is reference in the report to the fact that too much of the claimed peer review has been done by closely connected colleagues of Dr Mann bringing into the question the independence claimed for them,” said Admiral Welch. “Regrettably, there are indications of the same social-network syndrome at work in New Zealand among the taxpayer funded scientists on whom the Government relies for advice, and whose opinions have been accepted without challenge by our news media, and therefore many of the lay public.

“This is the dubious advice on which our Government made a commitment to the Kyoto, at what currently looks like a half billion dollar cost to the nation, and on which policies relating to energy and transport that will increase costs and complicate the lives of New Zealanders are under active consideration.

“Like the late David Lange a few years ago, we think it’s time to pause for a cuppa, and re-think the whole issue of changes in the climate. That’s why in an open letter to all MP’s our Coalition will be requesting their support for our call to the Government to appoint an independent Royal Commission on the science and economics of climate issues as they relate to New Zealand,” said Admiral Welch.

“There is a lesson for New Zealand also in this recommendation of the US ad hoc committee: ‘Especially when massive amounts of public monies and human lives are at stake, academic work should have a more intense level of scrutiny and review.’

Admiral Welch explained: “Climate science in New Zealand has become a closed shop. It is impossible to have an that intense and impartial level of scrutiny and review, when the contrary opinions of qualified people such as the experts in our coalition are not merely ignored, but actively and often vehemently rubbished, even at Ministerial level. Scientific validity is not determined by a show of hands, but by experiment, analysis, challenge and debate.”

The Mann “hockey stick” graph was based on two reports by Dr Michael Mann and colleagues using reconstructions of the past several millennia from tree rings, and other data. From a complex analysis of this data they produced a graph showing an upswing in the final decade of the 20th century giving it the appearance of a ice hockey stick from which it got its popular nickname. The graph and its reasoning was featured prominently in the 3rd Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001, and more recently in Al Gore’s controversial film, “An Inconvenient Truth”.

Because of challenges by climate scientists around the world, but particularly in US and Canada, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce commissioned an ad hoc committee of three eminent American statistics professors, Edward J Wegman, David W Scott and Yasmin H Said to review the two Mann reports from which the hockey stick graph was constructed.

The ad hoc committee’s report, released in Washington DC yesterday concluded: “Overall, our committee believes that Mann‘s assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade and that 1998 was the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis.”

The finding is expected to send shockwaves around the world among those who have relied on Mann to support their claims of AGW.

Admiral Welch said that New Zealanders should pay special attention to what the ad hoc committee said about the social network behind the Mann reports:

“In our further exploration of the social network of authorships in temperature reconstruction, we found that at least 43 authors have direct ties to Dr Mann by virtue of co-authored papers with him. Our findings from this analysis suggest that authors in the area of paleoclimate studies are closely connected and thus ‘independent studies’ may not be as independent as they might appear on the surface. This committee does not believe that weblogs are an appropriate forum for the scientific debates on this issue.”

“It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community; even though they rely heavily on statistical methods they do not seem to be interacting with the statistical community. Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done.”

Admiral Welch said that this appears to mirror the situation in New Zealand where Government funded scientists refuse to listen to counter arguments from eminently qualified climate, paleoclimate, paleogeological, meteorological and statistical experts. They formed the Climate Science Coalition in order to bring their concerns to the public.

“Regrettably, even the Royal Society, supposedly the defender of the right to scientific independent, even skeptical scientific expression seems to have become infected with this social-network laager mentality. Earlier this year, the Society was involved in organising a climate symposium at Victoria University at which only those who subscribed to acceptance of anthropogenic AGW were welcome or given speaking rights In spite of public criticism of the Victoria conference, the same society is doing the same thing with a workshop to be held in Auckland on 26 August at which all the listed speakers are known proponents of AGW.

“For the sake of scientific integrity as well as the future economy and social fabric of New Zealand, it’s time for everyone involved in or affected by climate issues to accept that “the science is not settled”, and that further investigation will almost certainly show that the world is not warming catastrophically, that so-called greenhouse gases have no more than a miniscule effect on climate (as clearly distinct from the benefits from cleaner air), that such climate effects as we are witnessing are natural, seasonal and cyclical, as South Islanders have learned recently to their discomfort.”

Admiral Welch said the misinformation and confusion about climate issues now is similar in scale to that relating to genetic modification in the late 1990’s, which were settled to the satisfaction of everyone except the most driven of diehards by a Royal Commission.


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