NIWA squirms, but agrees to release adjustmentsRichard Treadgold | December 10, 2009
A momentous meeting took place last night (Wednesday, 9 December) at Parliament House in Wellington. This exclusive account comes courtesy of the Hon Rodney Hide, who was present.
The meeting was called two weeks back by Nick Smith so that MPs could be briefed by Dr David Wratt, Chief Climate Scientist, on the official NZ temperature graph published by NIWA on their web site, which Rodney Hide had posed questions about in the Parliament.
Knowing NIWA climate scientists would be there, Rodney invited Dr Vincent Gray, leading climate scientist, to accompany him as an advisor.
But before the meeting could begin, the Hon Dr Nick Smith had a surprise for them. He ordered Rodney not to bring Vincent into the meeting. Nick said roughly: “It’s a private meeting of MPs and we do not wish to have outsiders.” But, showing a distinct favouritism, he allowed the outsiders from NIWA to remain. So why did he exclude Rodney’s adviser? Was it because Vincent has known the details of the New Zealand temperature records for more than fifty years? Was NIWA afraid of what he knows? If not, why did Nick Smith refuse to admit Dr Vincent Gray?
It was, of course, a gross discourtesy for Nick Smith to brusquely issue orders to a coalition partner in front of other MPs. But that’s just my opinion.
So Vincent Gray took his leave and subsequently Dr Wratt began his address. They sat through about 25 minutes of a description of the IPCC process, its committees, scientific writers and review procedures. David talked about the climate modelling that underpins the alarming climate predictions and it was quite unnecessary and very boring.
Finally there was a moment for a question. Rodney said: “I’d just like to take you back to the graph on your web site, the one with seven stations. Can I ask about that?”
There were sudden signs of disorder as David Wratt, with the other scientist (Rodney didn’t catch his name) interrupting from time to time, seemed immediately to become angry with the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. He ranted on about their press release and they didn’t want to know this or that.
When he became quiet for a moment Rodney said: “In your press release you described some adjustments to Kelburn, but there were presumably other adjustments made there, right?” There was more huffing and puffing, talking about this and that, references to “the graph with 11 stations” but Rodney said, “No, I’m only interested in the graph with seven stations.”
Quiet persistence rewarded
At last David admitted: “Yes, there were other adjustments made there,” so Rodney said, “When you plot the unadjusted figures, the trend is about 0.2°C — basically flat, right?”
They finally admitted, “Yes, it’s basically flat.”
“So, that’s interesting,” said Rodney. “And of course, the graph on your web site has a trend of 0.92°C, which is strong warming. So why not just explain the adjustments?”
Well, David was visibly rattled and his colleague kept butting in with his view.
They described the adjustments to Hokitika. Rodney said, “That’s the sort of thing I want to see for every site.” Wratt admitted there were other adjustments at Hokitika. Rodney said, “Well, just explain those, then do the same for the other five sites.”
Success — “we’ll post it all”
They said: “We’ll post it all up on our web site,” though they did not say when, so we’ll see what happens. Then Dr Wratt said: “You need to write a paper, get it published in a reputable journal.” He wanted Rodney to write a paper describing the adjustments he was after.
Rodney said: “I don’t need to write a paper! You just need to explain the adjustments.” They said Jim Salinger’s PhD paper “explains the adjustments.” I start to get the feeling they don’t understand the adjustments, that perhaps Jim Salinger is the only person in the world who does. If not, then why did NIWA bring him back to explain the adjustments, after our paper came out challenging them? Why did they need him?
This is a man with whom a few days earlier they had been locked in a bitter employment dispute, and suddenly they’re all friends again — to fight a common enemy, perhaps? Or does Salinger still have all the original data and refuses to hand them over to his former employer? That would be interesting — New Zealand echoes of the CRU disgrace, where Prof Phil Jones, of the University of East Anglia, against long scientific practise, claims some data is personal property and refuses to share it with other scientists. The NZ situation dates all the way back to Salinger’s PhD thesis, when he had been studying at the University of East Anglia.
The Coalition’s scientists are already aware that Salinger’s PhD thesis is the earliest reference they have found which mentions adjustments to the New Zealand temperature record. They will examine his thesis more closely now. Is that where it all started?
NIWA’s public image in tatters
Rodney Hide walked out of the meeting about then, since he’d had enough of the lack of cooperation and the blatant obfuscation. But he’s a hero, patiently, politely asking simple questions that in the end could no longer be denied because they are reasonable.
Nick Smith had banned any recording of the session and allowed no notes of it. This account was taken from Rodney within about half an hour of him leaving the meeting.
We have reason to be very glad that NIWA have agreed to post details of all the adjustments we’ve asked for. We sincerely thank them for that decision, because finally, independent scientists can give the adjustments a public scrutiny they have never had.
So the quest to examine the New Zealand temperature record moves to the next stage.
But Dr Wratt and the Hon Dr Nick Smith have done themselves, their precious NIWA (which belongs to us all) and their devotion to global warming no favours at all with their undignified exclusion of a statesmanlike elderly scientist from what might prove to have been the most significant climate meeting held in New Zealand this century.
Their public image lies all in tatters.