New Zealand’s climate change deniers’ distortions exposed.

I am pleased to see that the attempt to promote a New Zealand version of “climategate” has more or less foundered. Sure the ACT party and some more extreme opponents of the findings of climate scientists are still campaigning (see for example Auckland Public Meeting: Climategate, NIWA and the ETS). And well know local climate change denier Ian Wishart managed to get international reporting of his slanderous press release (BREAKING: NZ’s NIWA accused of CRU-style temperature faking) in several more conservative and extreme international blogs and papers (for example BREAKING: NZ’s NIWA Accused of CRU-Style Temperature Faking, Climategate Scandal Spreads to New Zealand as MSM Continues Ostrich Act, Oops! Now New Zealand NIWA Accused Of Faking Data, New Zealand’s NIWA Gets Busted “Tricking” Their Climate Data and New Zealand Climate Data Shows Clear Evidence Of Fraud). But the New Zealand media has, in general, been more balanced in its reporting. The information from climate scientists at NIWA has been getting through.

Temperature trends for raw data

For example, NIWA’s information on the temperature trends shown by raw data from 11 local  met stations (Temperature trends from raw data) has been picked up (Niwa publishes climate data to answer critics). NIWA released this because of the distorted information distributed by the NZ Climate Science Coalition, the Climate Conversation Group and Ian Wishart (Climate change deniers live in glass buildings ).

Some local bloggers picked up and reproduced this misinformation. In the process they have been slandering our local climate scientists and other bloggers who have attempted to correct the misinformation. My personal concern in this is not so much the facts of climate change, but the willingenss of some ideologically driven people to unjustly attack the integrity of honest scientists. And their willingness to distort information with this end in mind.

So it’s worth reproducing some of the latest information released by NIWA.  This uses publicly -accessible information (from the National Climate Database). The data used is from the period after 1930 when there were no significant site changes. Consequently the raw data could be used without adjustments to determine temperatures at the individual sites. (You will recall that the climate change denier’s report and press release claimed that NIWA’s adjustment of data to accommodate met station site changes was fraudulent. And that they (the deniers) went ahead to combine data without adjustments and produced a misleading graphic suggesting temperature was unchanged over time. The current data should avoid all issues of adjustments).

NIWA’s information says in part:

We have analysed raw data from these sites directly, with absolutely no adjustments to the numbers from the NIWA climate database. Taking all sites together and averaging the annual mean temperatures (difference from 1961–90 mean at each site) results in Figure 1 below.

Graph of 11-site temperature record for NZ

Figure 1: Temperature departures from the 1961–90 normal, averaged over the eleven sites listed in Table 1. For years where not all sites are available, the average is over those that do have records.

Note that not all stations have annual mean temperature values for all years in 1931–2008. It is common practice to in-fill isolated missing months, but we have deliberately not in-filled missing data here to keep this analysis as non-contentious as possible. For each year, the available station values have been averaged. In the title of the Figure, the “p-value” comes from a statistical test, and indicates the probability that the indicated trend could have arisen by chance.

If the two outlying Island records (Raoul and Campbell Islands) are left out, and the remaining nine records averaged, the result is as shown in Figure 2. In either case, the trend over the 78 year period is close to 1°C.

NZ temperature trend using raw data from 9 stations

Figure 2: Temperature departures from the 1961–90 normal, averaged over the nine sites listed in Table 1 that are located on the main islands of New Zealand (i.e., all but Raoul and Campbell Islands). For years where not all sites are available, the average is over those that do have records.

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45 responses to “New Zealand’s climate change deniers’ distortions exposed.

  1. Hopeless Perrot, absolutely hopeless. Can you personally explain the legitimate statistical justification for attributing airport temps to Thorndon?

    No, thought not. I suspect your direct knowledge of climate science could be encapsulated on the back of a postage stamp.

    In the absence of a proper study of two sites, any adjustment between the two made by NIWA was merely guesswork, and not educated guesswork.

    Yet NIWA stated this was international best practice. This statement staggered many scientists overseas, and points to a bigger problem in the surface temperature records – if climate “scientists” think that torturing data in this way is legitimate, then we are in big trouble.

    NIWA’s press release in its defence was a bigger scandal than the initial climate science coalition document. That’s why the world reacted to it.

    And here’s something else for you to explain: NIWA is on the official record as saying NZ will experience a smaller temp rise because the large ocean expanse cools us more effectively. So how on earth has NIWA come up with a 0.92C warming trend that is 50% higher than that found by the UNIPCC?

    Hadn’t considered that one either, had you.


  2. This statement staggered many scientists overseas, and points to a bigger problem in the surface temperature records.

    Bat guano.
    Get your facts straight.
    The scientific community fully supports the efforts of NIWA.
    You have nothing.

    If the deniers have anything to say they should grow a pair and enter the scientific arena.
    Deniers hardly ever do any actual work.
    They are lazy and intellectually dishonest.
    They just sit around and fart on their no-name blogs while real scientists do the heavy lifting.


    “There’s been a whole lot of work behind this in terms of things like having overlaps between particular stations when they’ve moved. There’s a whole methodology, internationally accepted, where you actually work out how to correct for these sorts of site changes and so on.”

    “But you’ll be providing all that shortly?”

    “Well, we’re not going to run around in circles just because somebody has put out a press release. We will continue to put out what is reasonable to provide.”

    “Wouldn’t it be important –“


    “…for people to see the comparison studies between both sites?”

    “Look, we’re talking about scientific studies here. I’ve told you we’ll put out information about Wellington. Basically it’s not up to us to justify ourselves to a whole lot of people that come out with truly unfounded allegations. We work through the scientific process, we publish stuff through the literature, that’s the way that we deal with this stuff and I can’t have my staff running around in circles over something which is not a justified allegation. The fact that the Climate Science Coalition are making allegations about my staff who have the utmost integrity really really pisses me off.

    “That’s all I’ve got to say to you now – [click]”

    Dr David Wratt sounds like he doesn’t suffer fools gladly.


  3. Calm down Ian. You didn’t read this post, did you. It’s referring to raw data without combination of data from separate stations. No adjustment factors.

    So your argument is even more irrelevant here than I’m your comments on the fraudulent combination of seperate stations in your press release.


  4. Pingback: Brad Heap » Blog » Climategate. Yeah Right.

  5. Pingback: New Zealand’s climate change deniers’ distortions exposed. | Open Parachute

  6. The only bat guano around here is what passes for Ken’s posts, and your analysis Cedric.

    Ken, if you were bright enough to understand my point you wouldn’t have made your statement above. The raw data is irrelevant to the point I was making: NIWA got caught making dodgy adjustments to the Kelburn/Thorndon mix.

    I am extremely interested in the logic and methodology behind the adjustments they DO make, more so in fact than I am in the size of the warming trend they claim.

    If the process is correct, we can trust the data and the people behind the data. If the process is invalid, as it was in the NIWA Wellington release, and that invalidity is repeated elsewhere because of bad methodology, the story becomes bigger again.

    As for NIWA’s Kelburn trend, UHI would appear to be a culprit based on the photos of the Kelburn site.

    Incidentally, you failed to answer my challenge as I knew you would. Didn’t have the right postage stamp immediately to hand?


  7. Ian what challenge are you talking about? What have stamps got to do with anything?

    I think you are confused, mixing me up with someone else, perhaps.

    Anyway, if there is a genuine challenge what about repeating it here.

    By the way, the only sloppy work I see at the moment is the denier report you have been promoting. They either didn’t do the stat analysis to test for station site effects (which would be very sloppy science), or they did and didn’t report it because it would have shown an effect and therefore a requirement for site adjustments. If the last is the case they are dishonest because they claim no site effects.

    And you have been peddling this lie, and now claim you do accept there have been temperature increases.

    You can’t have it both ways, Ian.

    Looks like this latest scam is backfiring on you.

    Sent from my iPod


  8. Ian, you have nothing.
    A no-name blog and empty bluster.
    Global warming Denierism is from the same box of stupid as the Intelligent Design crowd.

    If you want to enter the scientific arena, you will have to do some work for a change.
    Get off your ignorant, lazy ass and do some research.


  9. Been smoking the bat guano have we Cedders? Was there a substantive point to your little rant or are you just annoyed with me?


  10. Ken, do try and keep up. I intimated in my first post on this thread that what you actually really know about climate change could be written on the back of a postage stamp. It would pay to read messages before responding.

    Secondly, and I don’t know if anyone else has had the heart to tell you but I do notice you keep on referring to Gareth Renowden as “Garth” in your various postings.

    Accuracy. It’s something to aspire to.

    If you had actually read Air Con, the book you requested some months ago but which plaintive email had fallen between the cracks, you would know I have never “denied” a warming trend. Indeed, my entire book is built on the premise of a warming trend, which kind of makes your ridiculous “denier” epithet “backfire”, as you quaintly put it.

    Accuracy, again, is something to aspire to. None of us are perfect and I’m not holding you to perfection, but it would be nice if I didn’t have to keep pulling you up on your errors both here and your occasional comments at

    The “challenge” you feign to have missed was in the first comment in this thread, which I think we have now established beyond reasonable doubt that you did not read properly.

    At the risk of repeating myself, give me a watertight justification in statistical terms for using Airport temps as a proxy for Thorndon.

    And perhaps you can explain how a couple of islands surrounded by cool ocean can display a greater warming trend than the global average, when it is well documented that the heavier populated and more landlocked Northern Hemisphere enjoys greater warming than the Southern.

    David Wratt has not explained this yet, but I’m sure you can.


  11. Yes, I have your nook, Ian. Doing an interesting structual analysis on it at moment. My review will be posted in due course.

    You ignore my point about the sloppy analysis in thevdenirtvreport you promoted.

    It’s about time these people fronted up with statistical analyses or lack thereof. The pressure should be turned on them.

    Currently they have no credibility and your promotion of their shonkey work identifies it as a scam


  12. Ian, if you want to be taken seriously in the scientific world then be prepared to do some work.
    It’s that simple.
    Remember Intellligent Design?
    That died a miserable death because it was all puff and no substance.
    Get a life.
    Do some work.


  13. Ian,

    Could I offer some thoughts from an independent source?

    As a (former) journalist you should surely know that potshots at other people do not make yourself the better or more knowledgeable person. In my opinion what you’ve written here reads like a spoilt, potty-mouthed kid. It’s revealingly low stuff from someone who, as far as I know, claims to be a serious representative of the media. (I’m not saying I think you are a serious representative of the media—that’s not my opinion—but what you consider yourself to be.)

    Your “first comment” in this thread didn’t reply to Ken’s post, a point he has tried several times to get across to you.

    Ken’s post was just pointing out that if people want to say or imply that the “adjustments” are to cook the books to show evidence of warming, they’re wrong, as the warming is observed anyway if you take records from sites with continuous records where the raw data can be used as it stands.

    Your first and subsequent comments are focused on the “corrections” needed at particular sites, which isn’t what Ken wrote about.

    Personally I prefer to hear evidence not taunts or bullying. If you’ve got none to offer, there you are.

    Loose thought: the UNIPCC’s rise wouldn’t by chance include all the ocean surfaces would it?

    Likewise are these surface figures, not for, say, the troposphere? (Compare like with like, etc.)

    But all these are things you need to clarify on your claims, not for others to put right for you.


  14. Pingback: Three Questions for NIWA | MandM

  15. Pingback: Three Questions for NIWA « Theology Geek NZ

  16. Grant, I’ve been enduring pot shots from Ken & Open Parachute for a long time in silence. I am merely returning a few favours.

    Ken’s writings often skitter around inconveniences. He sets up a strawman and then expects applause. In this case, his post singled me out for attention and I have tried to make him focus on the real issue.

    To no avail.


  17. Ian – I disagree.

    The most disparaging things I have said of you (from memory) is that you are a conspiracy theorist and a climate change denier. While both terms could be amplified (for example, I think you are a denier of human inputs to global warming) I don’t think there is any doubt about those descriptions from reading your book.

    But what else is there?

    I have not, for instance, called you a“buffoon,” asserted that what you know “about climate change could be written on the back of a postage stamp,” said that “only bat guano around here is what passes for [Ian’s] posts” said “if you were bright enough to understand my point,” criticised your spelling, referred to any of your emails as “plaintive,” etc.

    That name calling and abusive language actually doesn’t bother me. I seem to get it a lot from local theologian types who are frustrated that they can’t really handle proper evidence. It’s always a sign of weakness. And I really try not to sink to that level.

    But, Ian you are quite welcome to comment here. It would help if you could control your anger/emotion though, as there are some reals scientific issues here we could discuss. For example.

    If you insist that you accept the fact of increasing temperatures why did you promote that flawed report from the conversation group and coalition? That was fiddling with the data to suggest that there were no temperature increases.

    Why did you not check the scientific credibility of this report. I have and will be pointing out the problems in a future post. But you, as a journalist, should have done some elementary checking.

    Your credibility is not helped by your willingness to attach yourself to such obvious skulduggery. Nor is it helped by your willingness to sink to a level of discourse which involves abuse and misrepresentation – all to avoid the real issues.


  18. My, my. This sure is getting personal.

    Is there any science on this blog?


  19. Scott – you have been here long enough to know that certain theistically minded people like Matt, Glenn, Bnonn and now Ian do get very emotion and personal. (Is it something about this particularly brand of fundamental apologetics?) I try to be level headed about things and really there personal attacks don’t really have any effect.

    And yes, there is science here. There would be even more if you discussed the science of the NIWA issue.


  20. OK, Ken. I guess I’ve avoided NIWA long enough. I’ll take your challenge. Be back after I learn something and have something to say.


  21. Ken, I can’t see anywhere that I have stereotyped atheists as believers in global warming. It would be a stupid statement, which is why I find it bizarre that you continue to try and smear critics as religious fundamentalists. What possible relevance does any belief (atheist or Christian) have to the science behind climate change?

    People will take you far more seriously if you learn to engage instead of evading and smearing.

    You think the NIWA release solves things. Good for you. I think the NIWA release was an embarrassing own goal, because it exposed bad statistical analysis that may be systemic.

    Comment on the precise point?


  22. True, Ian. religious belief has nothing to do with it. In my comment I was referring to the general behavior of a number of some specific commenters here – on a whole range of issues from morality, to Galileo, to Richard Dawkins, to climate change and to NIWA. Currently I can only conclude that their hostility, anger and emotion has more to do with their demonisation of my beliefs, than the issues being discussed.

    The precise point, Ian, is the deniers report you promoted. I have confirmed what I always suspected about this from the horses mouth. It is a shoddy piece of work, the conclusions and assertions are wrong. And you still promoted it.

    Do you still stand by that report and its promotion?

    Or do you now want to dissociate yourself from it? Especially as you don’t support their claim of no warming?


  23. Ian,

    I point out that you didn’t respond to Ken’s points and you give a non-reply by not responding to mine either.

    Asking that Ken focus on the “real” issue is a bit rich, if you don’t do that yourself.

    You’ll note that I asked you to clarify some of you own statements too.


  24. Ken, I’ve posted some initial stuff on NIWA on my blog. I’d appreciate corrective feedback.

    I’m curious about your interchange with Ian, above, however. I’ve been calling your global warming position one of “belief,” not “knowledge,” since you’re openly stating that your position is based on your confidence in the scientific system, not in your own appraisal of the arguments and data. As I see it, you’re acting like a “good Catholic” who trusts the Magisterium to figure out complicated stuff like theology. No offense intended–just trying to see if that’s REALLY the stand you want to take.


  25. I don’t like the word “belief.” I don’t “believe” in evolution, chemistry or global warming. However, I accept the science in these areas.

    In contrast to belief, I can always adjust my acceptance as new data comes in. It’s much easier to change knowledge based on acceptance of evidence than when its based on belief. I have often had to do that in my life.

    Yes, in this area I have done some appraisal of arguments and data – obviously. But I do have to rely on the expertise of others. I am not so arrogant as to think that I know better than the experts when it comes to the details.

    So – you have misunderstood or misinterpreted my position. I believe it is the normal, rational, scientific position.


  26. How about “trust”?


  27. I said rely, Scott. Not trust. However, the great thing about the scientific process, the fact that ideas and conclusions are checked against reality, the fact that conclusions get reviewed by colleagues and competitors, means that we can place a lot of reliance on scientific findings. There is an ethos of honesty that is just not present in other areas. That’s why the public dis prepared to place so much reliance on science.

    One would not place the same reliance on a policeman, a pastor, a priest, etc.

    Sure, occasionally we find frauds – and treat them appropriately. We guard the high regard the public has for science carefully.

    In this dispute, Scott, I think you have been prepared to “trust” the word of extremist media, motivated deniers, and anti-science people before you accept the science. You don’t give us the same, let alone the deserved higher, level of “trust.”

    For instance, in the writeup on NIWA you are casting unwarranted suspicion on our scientists yet you seem to have adopted hook line and sinker the deniers claims. Claims which are easily discredited by the evidence.

    I find that strange. That’s why I said motivated.


  28. Ken, in the absence of doing your own empirical studies, you choose to “believe” that others who have done studies have done so correctly, and you choose to “believe” the conclusions they have reached.

    This much is true logically, and ultimately it still comes down to a belief for you personally.

    Sure, there’s a degree of assurance there in as much as you know these scientists exist, you know that what they claim is not beyond the laws of nature, but it still comes down to belief.

    There are others of course, who believe the actions of scientists who have been proven to have acted corruptly have damaged the degree of faith we should all have in their research.

    This too, is a belief.

    Appealing to science as some mysterious omniscient force that always acts for truth and justice sounds suspiciously like, well, a quasi-theistic appeal. You’ve swapped one icon dressed in white robes for another.

    As long as scientists are human, they will all be subject to the same human failings as the rest of us.

    This much is fact.


  29. Ian, I don’t appeal to “to science as some mysterious omniscient force”. (I don’t accept such “forces.”)

    But from long experience I know the value of evidence, and checking against reality.

    I believe any scientist caught acting corruptly should be treated harshly.

    And yes, scientists are human – I know that very well haven’t worked for my whole career as a research scientist.

    However, I don’t have the automatic knee-jerk reaction to the word “science” that leads me to always consider scientific discoveries wrong – as some people do.

    Now, getting back to the real issue – the deniers report you promoted. (Why do you keep avoiding it?)

    I can tell very clearly that their claims are wrong. I have checked with the authors. They didn’t do an analysis of variance on the data, or even plot a few stations to check if it was appropriate to combine the data without correction.

    They just went ahead – because it gave them the answer they wanted (on you should say you disagree with).

    They did nothing to get expert review of their report.

    And they then have the cheek to question the integrity of our scientists. They are the people we should be directing our attention at – it’s a scandal.

    Perhaps you should dissociate yourself from that report before it blows up in your face.


  30. “Perhaps you should dissociate yourself from that report before it blows up in your face.”

    Laughed out loud at that one, Ian’s had so many of his pet beliefs blow up in his face he doesn’t even notice when it happens now.


  31. George Monbiot has a very helpful article out today.

    He notes three points:

    (1) Pro-warming-theory people minimize the significance of the CRU emails.

    (2) Anti-warming-theory people maximize their significance.

    (3) There’s a huge contrast between the small evidence of corruption and fraud in the emails and the 20 year track record of fraud funded by big oil, etc.


  32. These people are just like Holocaust deniers, or flat-earthers, or people who think the Earth is 6000 years old. You can’t argue with them, they just don’t understand science, or aren’t interested in thinking rationally and looking at the evidence.

    At some point we will need to remember that there are limits on free speech:


  33. If you like Monboit, then you might like some of his interviews.


  34. I saw a clown called Doug Edmeades on TV1’s breakfast program this morning, amongst other lies he was describing the Hockey Stick graph as a “fraud” – despite the fact the shape of the graph has never been refuted. It got me thinking about how many denialist papers there are that have been published that have been found to have far far worse defects in them, why aren’t they all also labeled as fraudulent? Has it become the established belief that AGW advocates are dishonest, whilst AGW denialists are just stoopid?


  35. Thanks for the note Andrew. Doug is an old colleague of mine, so I am somewhat surprised. I wonder what he is playing at – perhaps sees it as a way of promoting his business and appealing to his farming clients. I will have to try and track down the interview.

    Maybe he just got the denier story about the hockey stick and didn’t dig deeper.


  36. Had a look at the interview, Andrew. I strongly suspect he is at least saying what his farming clients want to hear, if not actually being captured by the denier lobby. I don’t think he has looked at the issue properly because he doesn’t speak confidently on it and I can tell he is repeating myths he hasn’t investigated.

    I am away till next week but I might email him then and try to drag him into conversations here.


  37. He seemed to be putting himself forward as some sort of expert on climate science.


  38. He’s an agriculturals scietnist with his own consultancy firm.

    Something he is hot on is they way science has been captured in NZ by the funding system and is suscepotible to commercial presssures. Our group suffered nbadlky from thgis when we were prevented from publishing our findings because of a firm threatening legal action.

    However, his is wrong to make any special example of climate science here. it is a completely separate issue. He is trying to fit reality into his model.

    Which in this case is irresponsible because it plays right into the hand of anti-science hysteria.


  39. The NZ CSC touted Edmeades “coming out” as a sceptic at their site here. The page itself isn’t dated, but I think it was about a year ago, judging by the material before and after it at their site. I remember reading it and doing a little background research on Edmeades. He has strong views on science funding in NZ – and his point of view is by no means unreasonable…


  40. Thanks for the link, Gareth.

    Yes. I am basically in agreement with Doug’s criticism of science funding. But he has a tendency to the dogmatic. I am surprised he is, for instance, falling for the current cooling argument. He is well aware of how easy it is to distort the data like this having confronted it often in soil nutrient trends, etc.

    I can’t hep feeling it is largely a business decision on his part. Would love to get into a friendly discussion with him.


  41. Thanks Gareth, disappointingly Edmeades list of those who influenced him on his AGW views consists exclusively of committed denialists, Carter, Monckton, Pat Michaels etc. I’m left wondering if he just looked for those advocating a position he’d already decided on.

    And when Edmeades refers to CO2 following temperature trends over the last thousand years or so I take it he means over the last 800,000 or so years through the glacial-interglacial cycles?


  42. Some aspects of this discussion have been interesting. I also do not think that “trust” is the appropriate word here when it comes to assessments of the relevant science. Perhaps “credibility” is better.

    In particular, Ian, do you really think that you have any credibility when it comes to data analysis of temperature records? Further to this, do you think you have more credibility than the NIWA scientists on this topic?

    @Scott. Yep that article from George Monboit in todays guardian was interesting. In particular, I found this bit relevant:

    The first case study I’ve posted reveals how a coalition of US coal companies sought to persuade people that the science is uncertain. It listed the two social groups it was trying to reach – “Target 1: Older, less educated males”; “Target 2: Younger, lower income women” – and the methods by which it would reach them. One of its findings was that “members of the public feel more confident expressing opinions on others’ motivations and tactics than they do expressing opinions on scientific issues”.

    I think that there are many complicated factors at work here, but I think that there seems to be a bit of a divide when it comes to “gut feelings”. It seems that there are a lot of people who are criticising the science/scientists because they have a gut feeling about global warming. It seems also that some energy company spin doctors know how to create these kinds of “gut feelings”. This is such a shame really (and more than a little ironic), as science is one of the few areas of human endeavour that has explicit mechanisms built in to try and avoid bias brought about by “gut feelings”. This also speaks to credibility.


  43. Oops, cocked up the italics tag again. The last paragraph of my last post are my words. The previous comes from the George Monboit post.

    Fixed, Nick


  44. Pingback: Lynch mob mentality « Open Parachute

  45. Caring for our environment should be tackled with an open mind. It should not be taken for granted and lest be debated heatedly.


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