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Calls for curbs on NIWA “scaremongering”

Former Science Minister calls for curbs on NIWA “scaremongering”

The Minister of Research Science & Technology, Hon Wayne Mapp, has been asked by a former science minister to direct NIWA (the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) that its remit does not extend to “scaremongering about climate change”.

The latest NIWA press release concerning an increase in atmospheric methane has been described as “highly politicised” by Barry Brill, Minister of Science in a former National Government, now a spokesperson on political affairs for the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

He noted that the president of Federated Farmers, Don Nicolson has called on NIWA to retract associated incorrect statements that livestock are responsible for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions.

“NIWA’s announcement is hardly breaking news, as the global methane figures for 2007-08 were placed on the website of the NOAA (US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) on 21 April 2009,” said Mr Brill. “NIWA's measurements are forwarded to NOAA, where they are combined with inputs from 59 other worldwide sites to provide a meaningful annual statistic on global methane concentrations.

“NOAA’s report says that global methane levels rose in 2007-08 after a 10-year lull, but notes that increases during 2008 are slightly less than those measured in 2007, and fall well within the range of yearly fluctuations from natural changes.

“Why is NIWA now talking about Baring Head when it has not for some years reported on results from that station? Why is it now putting out media releases on 12-month old samples? And why is it calling an 18-month period ‘the beginning of a trend’ when it habitually asserts that climatic trends are meaningless unless they persist for 10 years or more?” enquired Mr Brill

“The timing of the media release appears to be an attempt by NIWA climate scientists to assert their continued relevance, following the disappointment of the Copenhagen conference a few days earlier. The release coincided with Q&A on NIWA’s website and had all the polish of a well-honed PR exercise.

“Although ostensibly about a science news item, the media release serves solely as a vehicle for NIWA’s Dr Lassey to rehearse arguments about human-induced global warming in support of the lobby for policy action. This ‘news’ even extends to allegations regarding methane quantities during such obscure eras as an 800,000-year period up to 1699.

“NIWA is a taxpayer-funded agency that has an uncontested monopoly on climate advice to the government. New Zealanders have a right to expect that NIWA will consistently remain objective and balanced, observing the highest standards of empirical science. Unfortunately, in this methane example, as in other aspects of climate science, NIWA has taken to itself an advocacy role”, Mr Brill concluded.

ENDS

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