An Insider’s Story Of The Global Attack On Climate Science

The Denial of Saint Peter

The Denial of Saint Peter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)(PD)

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.

The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, linked to a global climate change denial group, the International Climate Science Coalition, began to question the adjustments I had made to the 7SS.

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.

“Shonky” claims

The attack on the science was led by then MP for the free market ACT New Zealand party, Rodney Hide, who claimed in the NZ Parliament in February 2010:

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.


  • alizardx

    the insider story I want to hear is from PR shills working for climate denial funded by corporations. While this is interesting… “dog bites man” usual, want to see “man bites dog”

  • BuzzCoastin

    “Climate Science”
    aka Theater of the Absurd
    everybody talks about the climate
    butt, butt, butt

    ya know who’s a climate denier
    every car owner

    • godozo

      Also those of us
      who make a living from cars.

      (“Pot, meet Kettle”
      I said to the mirror
      back when I walked to work
      and used mass transit to get around
      while driving at the cab company,
      just so you know…)

      • BuzzCoastin

        I’ll put my carbon footprint
        where my mouth is

  • BuzzCoastin

    if the next big climate science meeting isn’t online
    and they fly in from all around the whirled
    to discuss climate change science
    then they’re all full of shit
    and this is a media shit storm to nowhere

  • Lookinfor Buford

    I agree with Hide. When you tweak already sketchy data to meet your desired result, you’re fudgin’. Forget about the fact that the best meteorologists in the world can only predict the weather with any significant accuracy for a period of about 10 days, due to the inherent limitations of Regression Analysis to predict things like weather, finance, and population over long periods (meaning 10 years at best). Forget about the butterfly effect. Forget about ‘natural’ patterns of planetary cooling and warming. Just listen to the guy that invented the Internet, people.
    — climate denier (I’m so ashamed – sob).


    Let me start by saying that I think we need to transition away from fossil fuels and internal combustion engines ASAP. The system is dirty and inefficient, and we shouldn’t continue this “experiment” to see how much we can muck up the atmosphere before it chokes us to death.

    The first problem I have with the anthropogenic global warming theory is that we have been keeping accurate temperature records for only about 150 years, which is a microsecond in geological time. The “denier” scientists point out that we have been colder and warmer over the eons, and this planet has been mostly ice-free for 80 percent of it’s existence. We are currently in an ice age, in an interglacial period. 150 years of accurate record-keeping is a nice start, but we need a few more millennia to see the real trends. Nature does not maintain a steady state for very long (evolution, for example) and the greatest driver of climate change is the sun. In 1.5 billion years it will be too hot for liquid water to exist on earth’s surface.

    The main problem I have with promoters of the anthropogenic climate change theory is this: It’s all about carbon taxes. Look up “The Carbon Tax Revenue Menu” on the carbon tax dot org website. This blog entry describes how carbon taxes are going to add up to hundreds of billions of dollars. You’d think that, as serious as this crisis is made out to be, that they’d want to spend 100 percent of the potential revenue on solving the alleged problem. But no. Only the first proposal suggests spending only 25 percent of the revenue on actually transitioning away from fossil fuels. The rest of the proposals are entirely unrelated, such as tax cuts, rebates, and so forth. If the problem were to actually be solved, because we already have the technology to do so, and all we need is to fund the transition, the carbon tax revenue stream would eventually dry up, and a new crisis would have to be invented to be taxed accordingly. The fossil-fuel producers and the carbon-taxers will forever feed off each other as this “crisis” is perpetuated, with people like Al Gore and the oil companies laughing at us all the way to the bank.

    • Sergio Poalsky

      We only have direct physical measurements of temperature for the last 150 years but there are other methods to measure temperatures beyond that using tree rings (If you deny this a genuine experimental method of measuring temperature I would like to know why). Using this other data we can measure the temperature back 1000’s of years and it does appear that there has been a sharp climb in temperature recently corresponding to increases of CO2 in the atmosphere from burning carbon-based fuels. Greenhouse gases (CO2) are gases which absorb infrared (thermal) radiation. The absorption of the light from the sun translates it into kinetic energy, increasing the temperature of the gas. So if we pump more and more CO2 into the atmosphere it doesn’t a genius to wonder, huh maybe this will heat up the atmosphere? There is a reason why there is a 98% scientific consensus supporting with the anthropogenic explanation of climate change. To say that climate change is a sort of conspiracy purported to get money from carbon taxes would have to involve a sort of coverup involving almost every climate scientist on the planet. The world IS heating up and burning fossil fuels IS most likely the cause. We need to stop fast, the only solution I see as being feasible right now is nuclear power.

  • Andrew

    Carbon tax? Yawn.