Four go a-court, with a hey, nonny-no

Four lawyers went to court today, among a total of 13 people: the judge and a clerk, four lawyers conducting business, one sceptical witness (yours truly – Bob was busy), two senior NIWA scientists, a friendly David Wratt and slightly sullen Brett Mullan, the friendly Tim Mahood (their general counsel), and three others who appear highly prosperous and might be lawyers. Six for them and one for us (not counting working lawyers).

From time to time one or two female journalists sit to one side tapping on their laptops. Just before lunch a fellow turned up and sat beside me. I introduced myself and he said he was a sceptic (“from way back”) who heard of the court case only yesterday and couldn’t wait to come along.

Today was the second day of the Coalition’s action against NIWA. Our counsel, Terry Sissons, was still taking Mr Justice Venning through our statement of claim. It should have been NIWA’s turn by now, but Terry wasn’t finished yet.

It was necessarily detailed, as every assertion must be evidenced by a document and every document must be produced in an approved fashion. Each side has produced a surprisingly impressive pile of folders. Most of them were ready to hand (it’s under tab 83, page 597, Your Honour).

But sometimes the page required could not be found, which led to periods of silence as the Coalition’s legal team flicked through large binders before announcing the reference.

The Coalition’s second cause of action is the 11SS. This was the temperature series hurriedly cobbled together in rebuttal by Jim Salinger and James Renwick after we published “Are we feeling warmer yet” — the paper that started the controversy over the national temperature record.

It was funny, though, because we said what are the adjustments and they said of course it needs adjustments. We went: huh?

Anyway, Terry quoted from the email in which Jim Salinger informed James Renwick, at NIWA, that these 11 weather stations were “pristine sites” and therefore formed an ideal temperature series to support the 7SS, which we’d criticised.

Then he itemised its deficiencies. Only three sites began in 1931 and it wasn’t until 1955 that all 11 existed, so they don’t constitute a series. Several stations (I think about five of them) had multiple years with multiple missing months; the literature specifically says such stations don’t constitute a series. The majority of sites were far from pristine — in fact, some were unusable.

When the methodology of Rhoades & Salinger (1993)(RS93) is used correctly, the warming claimed plunges to about 0.28°C (I think!) per century.

Terry described the criticism NIWA offered of Bob Dedekind’s statistical audit of NIWA’s 7-station review. They made two points:

1. He was too strictly formulaic and too rigid in using K=2, or two years before and after in comparing stations. Terry mentioned he had set out specifically to use RS93. I think he meant it’s little surprise he therefore used it consistently.

2. He had an incorrect approach to missing data. I didn’t catch NIWA’s argument here.

NIWA had no problem with Bob’s calculations or the principle of his using RS93. Even with NIWA’s criticisms, his paper shows they make sufficiently significant mistakes in calculating the new temperature series to justify a remedy.

After finishing with the scientific matters Terry moved on to legal issues. They refer to the legal responsibilities and status of crown-owned entities.

1. Is the pursuit of excellence an enforceable duty or something less than that?
2. In research, is good quality mandatory?
3. In the pursuit of excellence, what is the effect of a breach?
4. Mistakes of fact (I’m unclear what this means).
5. The effect of unreasonableness.
6. Whether or not a recent decision concerning Mercury Energy has any effect here.

Some of these questions seem astounding. For example, why do they seem to be considering “good quality” as an optional extra in a scientific research organisation?

The matters arise between the plaintiff’s (the Coalition’s) Statement of Claim (SOC) and the Defendant’s (NIWA’s) Statement of Defence (SOD). NIWA counter-claimed they had no obligation to pursue excellence or to use best-quality scientific practices and also that the national temperature record was not only not official, but they themselves had no obligation to produce or maintain it.

Never mind that nobody else had one, or that every time NIWA needed a national temperature record, say, in official court testimony, or at a planning hearing, or to answer questions in the Parliament, they pulled out the 7SS. It still wasn’t theirs and they still have no duty towards it.

Incredible.

Anyway, lunch was taken just after this and, as I had an appointment elsewhere, I missed the afternoon’s work. At the morning tea break I paid substantial coin for an application to access the documents in the case. If approved by the judge, I get to sift through the mountain and copy those documents I wish to keep. Then you get to hear more of the authoritative detail. Something to look forward to.

It’s late, I’m up early tomorrow, so that is all.

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NickRichard C (NZ)Bob DChris GillhamMike Jowsey Recent comment authors
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Andy
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Andy

Thanks for the update Richard.

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Richard Treadgold
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You’re very welcome, Andy.

Richard C (NZ)
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Richard C (NZ)

First, thank you for taking time and expense to report this RT.

I’m a little confused as to the status of the citations e.g. R&S especially. They’re not listed as evidence but the court is obviously admitting them and addressing them as you report:-

“NIWA had no problem with Bob’s calculations or the principle of his using RS93”

The paper seems to be accepted as evidence by virtue of citation. Odd then, that NIWA accept the principle of using R&S (as they promised to do as I understand) but didn’t do so themselves.

Rosie
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Rosie

Many thanks to all of you at CSC for pursuit of the truth.

We are following this court case with interest and pleased to be able to read your updates online.

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

You make a contradiction RT. You say:-

“NIWA had no problem with Bob’s calculations or the principle of his using RS93″

But NIWA says:-

“1. He was too strictly formulaic and too rigid in using K=2, or two years before and after in comparing stations”

NIWA do have a problem with Bob’s use of R&S – he adhered to it too well for their liking.

And three professional statisticians back him up.

Bob D
Guest
Bob D

Yes, their main criticism of RS93’s ±1 or ±2 year approach is that it excludes adjustments they’d really like to make, as they often increase the trend to an amount consistent with their confirmation bias. But the main issue, as RT has outlined above, is that NIWA appears to be heading down the track of: “We admit it’s a dog’s breakfast. Some of us say it’s based on a student’s thesis of 1981 (see answers in Parliament), others of us think we used RS93 (see Wratt’s affidavit), but we don’t know for sure ‘cos we lost the data and the programs we apparently used (then again maybe we never even had them) but we don’t hold ourselves to very high scientific standards, and so if anyone believes what we say it’s hardly our fault.” Now this approach may work in court in a legal sense, but I’m not sure most New Zealanders will warm to them (pardon the pun) as a result of it. The missing month issue is really a very minor one. In most cases in CliFlo, the month is labelled “missing” when even one day’s temperature is missing. This is… Read more »

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

Can’t find access to David Wratt’s Affidavit Bob.

SOD http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/statement_of_defence.pdf

Just says:-

10 (c) The 7SS is an appropriate and reliable series of temperature data and is based on widely accepted scientific methods and practices.

What are those? Some citations would be good NIWA and the extent to which they were implemented. If that can’t be answered how can the 7SS be “appropriate and reliable”?

And

12 (d) The adjustments methodology for the 7SS is internationally accepted standard practice;

That’s the problem. “internationally accepted standard practice” has fallen to disgraceful levels.

For example:-

How USHCN Hides The Decline In US Temperatures

http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/how-ushcn-hides-the-decline-in-us-temperatures/

New paper finds global warming over past century was only about half of IPCC claims

http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.co.nz/2012/07/new-paper-finds-global-warming-over.html

GIStemp a slice of Pisa

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/08/30/gistemp-a-slice-of-pisa/

BOMs new data set, ACORN, so bad it should be withdrawn (954 min temps larger than the max!)

http://joannenova.com.au/2012/07/boms-new-data-set-acorn-so-bad-it-should-be-withdrawn-954-min-temps-larger-than-the-max/

To use an almost climatic phrase – Tip-of-the-iceberg.

Mike Jowsey
Guest
Mike Jowsey

…or… “It’s worse than we thought!”

Andy
Guest
Andy

I’m just trying to imagine (as someone who has to work with technical data as a job) stating on my CV or website that “quality is not important to my business”.

Bob D
Guest
Bob D

>Can’t find access to David Wratt’s Affidavit Bob.
It’s been presented in court, but we’ll have to wait for Richard T to provide it here for us.

Mike Jowsey
Guest
Mike Jowsey

Once you’ve passed the political requirements for the post, quality is a side issue. Just remember the bureaucratic oath – “Masters come and masters go, ’tis one’s butt one must ne’er show”.

Sorry, it’s been a long day in the orchard pruning – my cynicism is showing! I’m not on a government salary – just working towards the future possibility of having an income around Christmas. Maybe. After expenses and taxes. But I do love my cherries.

Anyhoo, Richard T, may I echo those comments of gratitude to all your hard work to bring this out into the public arena. It is most appreciated. Tomorrow NIWA begins their defense – how exciting! Richard C’s points above foremost in my thoughts.

Richard Treadgold
Guest

“I would just note in closing that to date NIWA have produced no decent RS93 analysis of their own, so to criticize ours seems somewhat premature.”

Or even naive…

Richard Treadgold
Guest

“It’s been presented in court, but we’ll have to wait for Richard T to provide it here for us.”

I have no decision yet, so I have no material yet, so yet I wait…

Richard Treadgold
Guest

Thanks, Mike.

“Tomorrow NIWA begins their defense – how exciting!”

What makes you say they begin tomorrow?

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Gary
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Gary

A big thank you to the team that has taken on a not so honest government organisation.

Mike Jowsey
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Mike Jowsey

It’s in the Harold so it must be true!!!

The defence is due to begin its evidence on Thursday.

at bottom of article here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10820276

Chris Gillham
Guest

I can’t help but feel it’s relevant noting that one in four temperatures recorded in the NIWA series was a rounded Fahrenheit temperature, creating an unknown bias that was probably down. I’ve no idea why this wouldn’t be relevant to a court challenge against the accuracy of recorded historic temperatures … http://www.waclimate.net/round/new-zealand-temperatures.html

Richard Treadgold
Guest

That’s interesting work, Chris, thanks for the link. The quality of the readings is certainly important, but we’re not making a big deal out of it, as our case is more about NIWA’s duties as a state organ and how they performed those duties. Though it concerns the science, the case won’t determine the science. It’s used just to show what NIWA said and what they did; they were often different things.

Nick
Guest
Nick

Just curious why you are challenging the temperature record in court rather than through peer reviewed papers?

Bob D
Guest
Bob D

Nick, can you point us to the peer-reviewed paper that contains the temperature record, so we can challenge it?

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

They ARE “:challenging the temperature record ……..through peer reviewed papers” Nick.

Just read the Audit and Manfred Dedekind’s Affidavit and you will find citation of those papers and the rationale that incorporates them,

Statistical Audit of the NIWA 7-Station Review

https://www.climateconversation.org.nz/docs/Statistical%20Audit%20of%20the%20NIWA%207-Station%20Review%20Aug%202011.pdf

Dedekind Affidavit

http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/dedekind%20affidavit%20scan.pdf

Then read the SOC and evidence exhibits to see how NIWA agreed to use of said papers (R&S93) then went back on their word. Start here:-

http://nzclimatescience.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=14&Itemid=47

Or remain ignorant – your call.

Nick
Guest
Nick

I don’t think it needs to be in a peer-reviewed paper for you to challenge it in peer reviewed literature yourself.

Then at least you would have something in the formal scientific arena that would be on a par with or supersede NIWA’s work. I suspect NIWA would find it harder to ignore a peer reviewed paper that’s result was contrary to theirs and other organisations are more likely to take your work seriously and reference it next to NIWA’s work.

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

BTW Nick, note that in Dedekind’s Affidavit the audit was vetted by THREE independent professional statisticians.

I think you will have some difficulty finding similar in NIWA’s defense documents.

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

Follow the thread Nick and you will find that there IS “something in the formal scientific arena”. Go back here and read down:-

https://www.climateconversation.org.nz/2012/07/four-go-a-court-with-a-hey-nonny-no/#comment-106224

Not only is that document (the Audit) in the scientific arena, it’s now in the legal arena – that’s what it’s all about Nick.

Nick
Guest
Nick

So was your paper published in peer reviewed literature or just on this web site?

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

Or to spell it out for you as usual, it’s about NIWA’s lack of statistical rigour and integrity, professionalism and quality that they espouse in public relations but neglect in practice (wrt the 7SS).

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

It’s a statistical review (read it) that’s itself reviewed by 3 independent statisticians. As I’ve stated before, the peer-reviewed papers cited in it, support it. That is no different than any IPCC Assessment Report.

The court if it so desires was free to call those statisticians for examination (it didn’t) . It seems that everyone (NIWA, NIWA’s Counsel, the Judge etc) were satisfied with their professional expertise.

That’s what it’s about Nick, the statistical method employed – not climate science.

Nick
Guest
Nick

So why didn’t you get it published? you had done all the hard work by the look of things but no ones going to take it seriously unless you publish. Have any peer review papers cited it?

Bob D
Guest
Bob D

So why didn’t you get it published?

That may still happen. Or not. It’s up to us.

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

Nick, here’s the NIWA equivalent to the NZCSET statistical audit (i.e. what the audit was auditing).

Report on the Review of NIWA’s ‘Seven-Station’ Temperature Series
December 2010

http://www.niwa.co.nz/sites/default/files/import/attachments/Report-on-the-Review-of-NIWAas-Seven-Station-Temperature-Series_v3.pdf

Note that it was NOT published in peer-reviewed literature but it was in the scientific and public domain.

However, BOTH were reviewed. NIWA’s review (not report) was reviewed by BOM (but not statistically and it wasn’t a technical review) but NZCSET’s was reviewed by three independent professional statisticians.

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

“…..no ones going to take it seriously unless you publish”

They will if the judge rules in favour of it.

Andy
Guest
Andy

Presumably if Nick is so keen on peer reviewed literature, he will also be dismissing the Stern report and the 30% of other non peer reviewed literature that gets referenced in the IPCC reviews

Nick
Guest
Nick

Hi Richard, I don’t think being published on a blog counts as the scientific arena.

If no one has cited the paper then it has had very little impact on the state of the science, which is a pity because obviously a lot of effort has gone into it.

Nick
Guest
Nick

So that is my question, why put yourself at the mercy of the judges decision and some obscure legal point rather than let the work stand on it’s own merits in a peer reviewed publication?

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

Nick, you say:-

“I don’t think being published on a blog counts as the scientific arena”

NIWA’s equivalent (as I pointed out) was “published on a blog” (NIWA’s website) i.e. the public and therefore scientific arena.

As a result, both have ended up in the legal arena.

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

Yes Andy that has been put in front of Nick previously but I think we know Nick well enough now to guess his predilections.

BTW I’ve been going over the recent US EPA decision to get a handle on judgment decisions re NZCSET v NIWA. In respect to IPCC reports and peer review the three judges say on page 26/27:-

As an initial matter, State and Industry Petitioners question EPA’s reliance on “major assessments” addressing greenhouse gases and climate change issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.S. Global Climate Research Program (USGCRP), and the National Research Council (NRC). Endangerment Finding, 74 Fed. Reg. at 66,510–11. These peerreviewed assessments synthesized thousands of individual studies on various aspects of greenhouse gases and climate change and drew “overarching conclusions” about the state of the science in this field.

http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/52AC9DC9471D374685257A290052ACF6/$file/09-1322-1380690.pdf

One would hope that Justice Venning has a better grasp than SENTELLE, Chief Judge; ROGERS and TATEL Circuit Judges in that case.

Suggest a mild sedative before reading the Opinion for the Court filed.

Nick
Guest
Nick

So can I take it that from your responses the reason why you did not try to publish your pdf in a peer reviewed journal is because you believe that having it hosted here gives it equal weight? Please correct me if I’m wrong because this seems a little naive.

Can I also ask why there are no authors listed on the pdf?

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

Are you hoping that what you think will influence the judges decision Nick?

They’re essentially the same series (neither are “published” in the literature) but the “weight” is in the respective applications of R&S93 (peer-reviewed literature I think Nick). That’s what the judge will have to decide upon.

That and the rest of NIWA’s conduct as per SOC.

Nick
Guest
Nick

Hi Richard, no I’m not hoping that what I think will influence the judge. I’m just wondering why no one bothered to submit the paper to formal peer review and why nobody has seen fit to put their name on the paper.

Richard Treadgold
Guest

Nick, it may yet be published. As Bob mentioned earlier, it’s not yet decided. Comment on the paper by all means, but please stop asking why it’s not published and why nobody has put their name to it. In his affidavit to the High Court, Bob Dedekind asserted that he was one of the contributors to the Audit and took responsibility for the statistical calculations in it.

Nick
Guest
Nick

Hi Richard, I’m pretty sure describing NIWA’s web site as a blog is a bit fallacious. Anyway, just because the NIWA paper is on their web site doesn’t stop you from publishing in a peer reviewed journal.

Nick
Guest
Nick

So why isn’t Bob’s name on the pdf? I’m not trying to be difficult but your pdf is a long way from the normal scientific standard so I’m trying to figure out why you didn’t follow more conventional procedures for publishing. I don’t even know how I should formally cite the pdf should I want to.

Richard Treadgold
Guest

I’m not trying to be difficult

That’s hard to believe when I’ve just told you it might yet be published and there is a named author. We don’t have a comprehensive plan, we’re not a university, we’re just responding to events. You’re not helping.

Nick
Guest
Nick

I’m surprised you would raise a case in court without a plan. It seems like an expensive and time consuming thing to do and I would have thought you would have done everything you could to strengthen your case before you started.

I had expected that there were some reasons you had discussed prior to beginning the case for deferring publication in a peer reviewed journal but if you are just making it up as you go along then that seems plausible.

Sorry for wasting your time and I look forward to the judges decision.

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

“….describing NIWA’s web site as a blog is a bit fallacious” I wasn’t. The NZCSET Audit was not posted “here” at this blog as you think. It was posted at the NZCSC website (a public interface same as NIWA’s) which was why I made the correction to your comment but you being you cannot grasp the details of this case so I don’t expect you to grasp that either. The fact that it was subsequently linked to at this blog is immaterial, the “Statistical Audit of the NIWA 7-Station Review” is catalogued by Google “About 36” times on the Web so it’s readily accessible. “Report on the Review of NIWA’s ‘Seven-Station’ Temperature Series” is catalogued “About 238” times on the Web so it’s readily accessible too. But neither can be accessed by Google scholar because neither is published in a Journal or suchlike. However, ‘Report on the Review’ has 3 citations therefore ‘Statistical Audit’ may also be cited too. Note that NSCSC did not have to post or publish the Audit at all, anywhere, in order for it to be submitted as evidence in a court of law. Now Nick, why are you… Read more »

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

Here’s the immediate plan Nick:-

From the NZCSET SOC, they seek:-

WHEREFORE the plaintiff seeks:

A. A declaration that the New Zealand Temperature Record is not a full and accurate record of changes in the average surface temperatures recorded in New Zealand since 1900;

B. An order setting aside NIWA’s decision to base the New Zealand Temperature Record on the Seven-Station Temperature Series;

C. An order preventing NIWA from using the NZTR (or information originally derived from the NZTR) for the purposes of advice to any governmental authority or to the public until it has been scientifically re-determined and independently peer reviewed.

D. An order requiring NIWA to publish a full and accurate climate record of changes in the average surface temperatures recorded in New Zealand since 1908.

E. Such further order as may be just.

F. Costs.

http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/amended%20soc.pdf

Until that’s decided, a plan beyond that is a bit preemptive don’t you think?

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

“..your pdf is a long way from the normal scientific standard”

As prescribed by whom for what purpose? The ‘Statistical Audit’ is essentially the same as NIWA’s ‘Report on the Review’ and a response to it and in turn reviewed by professional statisticians. For further deflation of your nonsensical reasoning see here:-

https://www.climateconversation.org.nz/2012/07/four-go-a-court-with-a-hey-nonny-no/#comment-106634

“….so I’m trying to figure out why you didn’t follow more conventional procedures for publishing”

You haven’t got a clue have you Nick? Have you any idea what “fit for purpose” means? NZCSC followed the exact same “conventional procedures for publishing” as NIWA did except for the authoring but that’s no big deal. Here’s guidance from The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) in the standard writing guide (wrt citations) for psychology and other disciplines in the social sciences when the report has no author:-

If a work has no author, use the title for the intext citation.

http://www.glendale.edu/library/research/APAelec.pdf

That is, cite the title because everyone will know what is being referred to and the fact that there’s no author named on the report or in the citation of it is of no consequence.

Richard C (NZ)
Guest
Richard C (NZ)

Here’s an interesting case study on report publication by ISBN (not journal), peer-review/non-peer-review, disclaimers, moral rights (careful with that), copyright and naming of reviewers:- Climate Change Adaptation in New Zealand ———————————————– Future scenarios and some sectoral perspectives New Zealand Climate Change Centre 2010. Edited by ————————————– Richard A. C. Nottage, David S. Wratt, Janet F. Bornman and Keith Jones February 2010 ————————————– Referencing this report: Climate change adaptation in New Zealand: Future scenarios and some sectoral perspectives. Nottage, R.A.C., Wratt, D.S., Bornman, J.F., Jones, K. (eds), Wellington, 136 p. Published in February 2010 by: New Zealand Climate Change Centre c/- National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) Private Bag 14901, Kilbirnie Wellington 6241, New Zealand ISBN: 978-0-473-16366-2 (print) 978-0-473-16367-9 (online) Design and layout by Mike Sleyer, Moxie Design Ltd, Wellington Copyedited by Mike Beardsell, NIWA, Wellington http://www.nzclimatechangecentre.org/sites/nzclimatechangecentre.org/files/images/research/Climate%20change%20adaptation%20in%20New%20Zealand%20%28NZCCC%29%20%28A4%20low%29.pdf It’s in the manner of IPCC Assessment Reports (non-peer-viewed narrative combined with peer-review) so although the individual papers within the report are peer reviewed, statements like this in the Foreward are not:- Increasingly sophisticated projections point to a wide range of future impacts with the potential to become more disruptive, expensive, and challenging to address,… Read more »

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