Final day of hearingRichard Treadgold | July 21, 2012
My apologies for my tardiness. I’ve been taking care of business, family and self. Now I can at last post a brief description of the final day of the hearing.
But first, please join me in a round of bashful giggling aimed at me. Why? I never knew that Wednesday, the day before this last day, had been scheduled as a rest day, and nobody turned up. Which renders my apology for not turning up quite redundant, I think. Well, let’s move on.
On this Thursday morning Justin Smith, counsel for the defendant, NIWA, presented their defence to the Coalition’s statement of claim. When I arrived after lunch he was presenting legal authorities concerning crown bodies, or state-owned enterprises. He spoke in a remarkably soft voice and, as I was seated behind him, that meant I failed to pick up a good three-quarters of what he said.
He must have been responding to our charge that NIWA did not perform its statutory duty. He said: “They’re not duties, they’re not called duties, they’re called operating principles.” This seemed to come from the current legislation, or recent decisions.
Our culture is steeped in the idea of duty. It occurred to me that one way to sidestep the traditional notion of duty is to redefine them in the modern language of business studies. It’s difficult to claim with detectable gravitas that someone did not perform “according to their operating principles.” One would hardly be taken seriously. Then again, if one had been brought up according to operating principles perhaps such a charge would be considered serious.
Mr Smith listed authorities describing the responsibilities of crown entities. He said the question of which methodology is right is science. Remember that both sides accept that the court will not rule on matters of science. The defendant seemed anxious to craft many things as scientific so as to sequester them from the judicial review we seek.
He submitted that NIWA had answered every allegation made by the plaintiff and repeated that the court is not situated to decide matters of climate science. In briefly considering the implications of being found in breach of their duty, he observed that no human rights were at risk. I gave a wry grin; a frequent cry against western industrialised countries is that in causing global warming they seriously breach human rights in developing nations.
There was nothing, he said, to justify a more intense standard of review and a appropriate level of review is nothing more than… did he say “common sense”? I don’t know. Probably.
Trenberth in his affidavit said there’s no one correct method of adjusting for inhomogeneities. My Smith argued that NIWA must follow the consensus by adjusting temperatures.
On Bob Dedekind’s evidence, Smith said his statistical expertise was unquestioned, but suggested his evidence was flawed by inadequate climate knowledge, meaning he failed to see the significance of a short period of comparison (K=2). They say he’s not a climate expert and there are “significant issues” with his evidence.
Terry Sissons then had the opportunity to answer some of the points raised by Smith and not specifically covered in the plaintiff’s earlier presentation.
He said they’d concentrated on whether RS93 was used. The Met Service work in 1992 cited in Salinger 1992 has never been published. The description of the modern Hokitika adjustments published on NIWA’s web site in February 2010 describes the methodology for all stations in the seven station series (7SS), although from 1992 to 2010 the 7SS was unchanged.
The answers to parliamentary questions said the Hokitika analysis was done to show the methodology and all seven were subject to a standard treatment, whatever it was. It’s unknown where the adjustments came from and no evidence of the adjustments made to the original 7SS. There’s a lack of scientific consensus for whatever method was used.
Dr Wratt’s opinion reduces to this: NIWA was entitled to use the methodology used.
There was some more discussion of contradictions in NIWA’s adjustments, such as that 90% of pre-1975 adjustments favour warming.
NEXT: a short overview of our case.