This article explains how NZ tax payers will likely have to foot the bill for the antics of doubt mongers.
via ars technica
An epic saga of secretly funded climate denial and harassment of scientists.
A recent headline—”Failed doubters trust leaves taxpayers six-figure loss“—marked the end of a four-year epic saga of secretly funded climate denial, the harassment of scientists, and a tying-up of valuable government resources in New Zealand.
It’s likely to be a familiar story to my scientist colleagues in Australia, the UK, the US, and elsewhere around the world.
But if you’re not a scientist and are genuinely trying to work out who to believe when it comes to climate change, then it’s a story you need to hear, too. Because while the New Zealand fight over climate data appears to finally be over, it’s part of a much larger, ongoing war against evidence-based science.
From number crunching to controversy
In 1981, as part of my PhD work, I produced a seven-station New Zealand temperature series known as 7SS to monitor historic temperature trends and variations from Auckland to as far south as Dunedin in southern New Zealand.
A decade later, while at the NZ Meteorological Service in 1991-92, I revised the 7SS using a new homogenization approach to make New Zealand’s temperature records more accurate, such as adjusting for when temperature gauges were moved to new sites. For example, in 1928, Wellington’s temperature gauge was relocated from an inner suburb near sea level up into the hills at Kelburn, where—due to its higher, cooler location—it recorded much cooler temperatures for the city than before.
With statistical analysis, we could work out how much Wellington’s temperature has really gone up or down since the city’s temperature records began back in 1862 and how much of that change was simply due to the gauge being moved uphill. (You can read more about re-examining NZ temperatures here.)
So far, so uncontroversial.
But in 2008, while I was working for a NZ government-owned research organization—the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)—we updated the 7SS. And we found that at those seven stations across the country, from Auckland down to Dunedin, there was a warming trend of 0.91ºC (1.63ºF) between 1909 and 2008.
Soon after that, things started to get heated.
Rather than ever contacting me to ask for an explanation of the science, as I’ve tried to briefly cover above, the Coalition appeared determined to find a conspiracy.
NIWA’s raw data for their official temperature graph shows no warming. But NIWA shifted the bulk of the temperature record pre-1950 downwards and the bulk of the data post-1950 upwards to produce a sharply rising trend… NIWA’s entire argument for warming was a result of adjustments to data which can’t be justified or checked. It’s shonky.
Hide’s attack continued for 18 months, with more than 80 parliamentary questions being put to NIWA between February 2010 and July 2011, all of which required NIWA input for the answers.
The science minister asked NIWA to reexamine the temperature records, which required several months of science time. In December 2010, the results were in. After the methodology was reviewed and endorsed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, it was found that at the seven stations from Auckland to Dunedin, there was a warming trend of 0.91°C between 1909 and 2008.
That is, the same result as before.
But before NIWA even had time to produce that report, a new line of attack had been launched.