Gluckman: knows nothing about climateRichard Treadgold | September 11, 2010
That incomparable writer, Miss Michele Hewitson, of the NZ Herald, has interviewed our Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, and the report appears in today’s edition.
Now, Michele often specialises in the human side of your famous person, not perhaps delving too far into the deeds and sayings for which he might be famous, but humorously describing the ebb and flow of the interview or the sometimes awkward situations that develop as our intrepid prober of public persons boldly goes where few reporters dare.
Michele can be genuinely funny and wondrously insightful by turns. That is how today’s example has turned out, as Miss Hewitson gets her subject to converse on everybody’s favourite topic — themselves. Which she accomplishes by various superficial means, such as asking why he has a beard.
Of all the fascinating and significant aspects of Gluckman’s life and intelligent toil, his beard must be the least important.
But my interest in her report centres on a remarkable comment he makes in passing. Hewitson asks about his role as science adviser. Gluckman agrees that he is a kind of translator, his role to understand the scientific process and help the public understand it, making public statements about, for example, climate change.
For some reason she asks about climate change.
Peter Gluckman replies, “I don’t know anything about climate.”
That is not surprising, I hasten to say, for everybody knows he’s a famous medical doctor, not a climate scientist. His position as scientific advisor necessarily has him making public statements on subjects outside his expertise. That’s the way things are.
But this public acknowledgement by Prof. Gluckman of his ignorance of climate matters highlights how useless it is to take issue with him on climate change. I must confess that I had forgotten, when discussing Peter Gluckman here and here, that he is not responsible for his utterances on global warming and that if we take issue with what he says, then we would achieve more to raise the points with those who advise him, those who put the words into his mouth. Who are they?
NIWA and RS in cahoots
They are NIWA and the New Zealand Climate Expert Panel of the Royal Society of New Zealand. There are 11 members on the RS committee; five are from NIWA, two from the International Global Change Institute, University of Waikato, one from the Victoria University of Wellington and three apparently independent scientists.
There’s more to be said about these members of an important advisory committee, their commercial links to climate change activism and questions to be asked about their objectivity towards a subject from which they earn their living, but for now I simply emphasise the strong links between NIWA and this committee.
Don’t argue with the wrong man
Who could argue that, with 45% of the voting power, NIWA and the RS are, at least on climate change, the same? What NIWA believes, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman will, at some point, speak.
What Sir Peter says about global warming, NIWA believes.
Now we know it for certain, why should we trouble good ol’ Gluckman again? We might as well ignore him and keep on at Wratt, Renwick, Mullan et al. For in talking to them, we’re talking to NIWA, the Royal Society and Dr Gluckman all at the same time.
A final thought: Just imagine that those five NIWA members of the RS were climate activists. They have contrived complete control over Royal Society pronouncements and advice to the Government on climate change. Would they not be clever little activists? If anyone suggested new members to replace them on the RS panel, who would be the first to object?