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Chair challenges Science Media Centre

16 August 2010

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Climate Science Coalition chair challenges Science Media Centre

The chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, Hon Barry Brill, has taken issue with comments gathered by the Science Media Centre relating to the case being taken to the High Court seeking invalidation of NIWA temperature records.

“The Science Media Centre is a Government-sponsored blog which receives taxpayer funding of about $10,000 per week to promote its viewpoint about scientific issues. Today, the blog has assembled some reactions by Government scientists to the court proceedings seeking rectification of the New Zealand Temperature Record. Few, if any, of these sound-bites address the issues raised by the case, “ said Mr Brill.

“Professor Keith Hunter sees an implication that the Climate Science Coalition must have an alternative record. This is correct, insofar as the Coalition relies upon the NZ Met Service temperature records which are held in the National Climate Database. We say that any alterations to those data need to be justified.

“Professor Hunter becomes exercised on behalf of the two people who supervised James Salinger’s thesis 30 years, apparently unaware that neither was a climate scientist.

“Dr Glenn McGregor correctly notes that long-term temperature records sometimes need adjusting for homogeneity. But he is sadly misinformed in believing that the NIWA adjustments have been ‘subject to stringent international peer review’. They have never even been reviewed by anyone in NIWA, let alone independent scientists. Not only have they remained unpublished and untested, they have never been documented, and cannot now be found.

“Dr Andy Reisinger rails against a straw man, denouncing the Coalition’s view that there has been no warming trend. But that is not the Coalition’s position. We say there has been modest warming for 150 years since the earth emerged from the Little Ice Age, but that the warming trend in New Zealand is not the 1°C contended by NIWA. Dr Reisinger says climate scientists have no reason to believe that NIWA’s adjustments are incorrect. But neither he nor any other scientist has ever been able to replicate them, and will never be able to do so in future. The sole copy of the calculations was lost in 1983.

“Dr Dave Lowe suggests that the NIWA adjustments have been ‘scrutinised, peer reviewed and had their techniques validated by research organisations world wide’. If only that were true. He would carry more credibility if he could provide reference to a single scientific paper which approves of the Salinger 1981 techniques, or shows any of the calculations.

“Professor Ralph Sims says techniques need to be continually improved, and that they should be the subject of a scientific paper. We agree.

“Euan Mason is another to sing the praises of published papers. Is it not astonishing that New Zealand’s most important climate record has been created by an unpublished technique, used by no other country anywhere, and that the missing calculations have never been checked by NIWA?
Mr Brill concluded: “Most of the comments by these learned scientists is limited to ad hominem, rhetorical cant, providing little confidence that they are well-informed on either the New Zealand temperature record or its significance.”


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