Tag Archives: Brian Rudman

Follow-Up: Professor Hunter

On May the 8th of this year, I sent an email to Professor Keith Hunter, who had made comments on the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition’s (NZCSC) court action against NIWA. His comments were not positive, and as I identified in the email, the NZCSC action forced NIWA to deny that their official New Zealand Temperature record was not official, and it was revealed that the ‘science’ behind the temperature record would not meet any reasonable description of the word science. As yet I have received no reply, so I have today sent a brief email as follows:

Dear Professor Hunter,

I sent you an email a while ago regarding your comments reported in the New Zealand Herald regarding the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

I am assuming that your lack of a response is due to a lack of time, or perhaps you would like to stand by the comments that you made in the New Zealand Herald?

If it is a lack of time, a one minute reply would suffice, perhaps to simply state that you regret your comments in light of the retraction of NIWA that the 7SS was the official temperature record? I do not think that this is an arduous request.

Assuming that you do not reply, I can only interpret your lack of response as being indicative of your being content with the comments that you made, even though the evidence is that the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition have been proven to be justified in taking their action, and showing that the New Zealand temperature record was not based upon good science.

If the latter option is correct, how do you justify this when you are a scientist? In particular, are you happy that an official temperature record was built on foundations of sand, and that policy was being built upon what, in a generous interpretation, would be dubious science?

I am sure that you would like to clarify your position, so look forward to your reply.

Kind Regards,

Mark,
NZ Climate Change.

I am somewhat surprised that, so far, I have not been sent a reply. On another occasion, I likewise contacted Brian Rudman, a columnist in the New Zealand Herald, asking whether he would like to comment on his very rude article about the NZCSC court action against NIWA, but I received no reply.

It seems a little disappointing that these individuals are happy to opine on issues, and do not seem to want to respond when events have shown their views to be wrong. I can only hope that Professor Hunter responds this time, as it seems that a scientist should be appreciative when an organisation, such as NZCSC, reveals that bad science is being used to shape government policy. Whether he disagrees with the wider arguments or position of NZCSC, it seems that a scientist should be in favour of good science, and in all cases he should therefore now express his support for the court action of NZCSC.It prompted NIWA to revisit the temperature record, as the ‘science’ could not be justified.

If not, we can only wonder at what Professor Hunter’s views on science actually are. Does he believe that poor science is acceptable provided that it concurs with the views of the authors/an organisation? Does he support poor science as a foundation for government policy? Is he willing to bend to the wind of prevailing dogma at the cost of good science? We simply do not know, and I am sure that Professor Hunter would like to set the record straight.

I look forward to his reply, and will publish it once it has been sent.

Note: Sorry for the lack of posting for a while, but other commitments have kept me away. My first goal was to update you on the response to the email sent to Professor Hunter, but there are many other subjects I would love to cover. Apologies again.

New Zealand Herald, No Integrity, Brian Rudman, No Integrity

Note: Apologies. The blog service is removing the paragraphs from this post for reasons unknown. I will try republishing later, to see if the error disappears.

It’s a funny and perhaps an old fashioned word. Integrity. This is what dictionary.com provides as a definition:

adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
The dictionary definition describes what I believe is at the heart of the New Zealand ethos. Integrity is a word which, I believe, is strongly associated with the best of New Zealand culture. It is therefore a concern that both the New Zealand Herald, and their columnist Brian Rudman appear to lack in this admirable New Zealand characteristic.
On the 13April, I wrote a post, with an open letter at the end. I pointed out that Brian Rudman had written a rude and unpleasant opinion piece about the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition (NZCSC), but that time had proved the NZCSC to be correct. I suggested that, considering the unpleasant language used in the opinion piece (e.g. calling NZCSC ‘flat earthers’), an apology was appropriate. On the day of the post, I made a comment on Brian Rudman’s latest opinion, but it was not published. I also sent a message using the Herald’s contact the news desk function, expressing my concern with Brian Rudman’s opinion piece. There was no response, and no response to a further message on on 20th April. I will inform the newspaper of this post, and will again offer to publish their response.
Why does this matter? It seems that the New Zealand Herald portrays itself as a newspaper with New Zealand values. However, in portraying itself as such, it should act with the integrity that is so closely associated with New Zealand. I do not know whether Brian Rudman has been informed of the messages were sent, but it seems unlikely that he would not be informed. I can therefore also question his integrity, and again, will publish any comment that he wishes to make. The newspaper, and Brian Rudman, were responsible for publishing an opinion piece that was rude, and also wrong. This is why the New Zealand Herald and Brian Rudman have no integrity:
  1. Adherence to moral and ethical principles; it seems that moral principles should include a desire to tell the truth. I sent a message in which I pointed out that the opinion piece mis-characterised the NZCSC. In the post I linked to, I explained how he had mis-characterised NZCSC. It seems that a moral course of action would be to retract the rude comments that were written about NZCSC, and to tell the truth that they were, indeed correct.
  2. Soundness of moral character; it seems that soundness of moral character would include admitting that you have been wrong, and seeking to rectify the wrong that you have done others once you are aware of it. They have been made aware of the wrong, but have chosen to do nothing.
  3. Honesty: honesty is a big word. It is about seeking truth, portraying the truth, acting on the truth. When Brian Rudman portrayed NZCSC as he did, he portrayed them in a way which had nothing to do with the truth. He appears equally uninterested in the truth now. The New Zealand Herald is the same. No interest in the truth.

The opinion piece itself was a pathetic ad hominem attack. If you wish to see why the piece was so wrong, see here. The opinion piece dealt with no substantive issues, but instead resorted to name calling. Why engage in serious debate, when you can opine without dealing with any issue of substance? Just call those you disagree with rude names, and label it ‘an opinion’. This is not an opinion that is deserving of any respect, but is behaviour that would be better left in the playground.

I sought to engage with both Brian Rudman and the New Zealand Herald. I sought to prompt them to act with integrity. Instead of ‘fronting up’, another good New Zealand characteristic, they chose to pretend that there was nothing at issue. However, there is something at issue, and that is the integrity of the newspaper, and the integrity of their columnist Brian Rudman.
I had heard that many in the media wer hostile to anyone, and anything, that might discomfort the thesis of anthropogenic global warming. The question I contemplated was whether, when confronted with their own error, they might ‘front up’, and actually act to rectify the error. It seems that both Brian Rudman and the New Zealand Herald are uninterested in correcting their errors. It seems that they have no interest in fairness or honesty.
I can only conclude that both the New Zealand Herald and Brian Rudman have no integrity whatsoever. The question is this; if the New Zealand Herald will not even engage with a person seeking to help them rectify an error, should you trust this newspaper? I believe that the answer should be ‘no’.

Brian Rudman Open Letter – An Update

In my last post, I discussed an opinion piece which discussed how rude Brian Rudman (A New Zealand Herald Columnist) was when discussing the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition (NZCSC). In the opinion piece, he described NZCSC as ‘flat earthers’ for using a court case to contest the NIWA 7SS climate history (for details see the original post). At the end of the post, I wrote a polite open letter for Brian Rudman asking that he apologise for his rude remarks, as the evidence has since shown that NZCSC’s action was justified.

Having published the post, I immediately left a comment on Brian Rudman’s  opinion piece that was current at the time. The comment was not published, and I guess that this might be explained on the basis that it was not on the subject of the opinion piece to which it was posted. However, as I had considered that this was a possibility, I also used the facility to contact the news desk, and sent the following message on the 13th April:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I have just posted a comment on Brian Rudman’s latest opinion, pointing out that there is an open letter for him at this blog:

https://newzealandclimatechange.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/brian-rudman-will-he-apologise-an-open-letter/

Mr. Rudman used very unpleasant language in his description of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition (NZCSC), and the letter asks that he apologises for what he said, in particular in light of events since his comment.

I am writing to you as I am sure that you would be concerned at the unpleasant tone of Mr. Rudman’s column, in particular in light of the what has since taken place (explained in the post).

The column at issue can be found here:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10666806

It appears that Mr. Rudman opined without a proper investigation of NZCSC’s side of the story. As a responsible news outlet, I would hope that you feel that an apology would be in order.

Kind Regards,

Mark, NZ CLimate Change Blogger

I have received no reply from either the NZ Herald or from Brian Rudman. No apology or comment has been issued. As a result, accepting that correspondence might go astray, I have sent another message via the ‘contact the news desk’ facility as follows:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I wrote to you on the 13th April, regarding an opinion piece by Brian Rudman. I pointed you to an open letter at the following address:

https://newzealandclimatechange.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/brian-rudman-will-he-apologise-an-open-letter/

Can you confirm that you received my last communication? If you did so, I am puzzled that you have not taken the trouble to respond. I hope the information in the link is self-explanatory in the event that this is the first time that you have been made aware of the open letter.

However, I am concerned if you have received the last communication, and have simply chosen not to reply. I would expect that you would have concern that all of your information, whether ‘straight news’ or opinion pieces were well informed. I would also hope that, if you wish to defend one of your columnists, you would have the courage of your convictions and present a defence of the columnist.

I await your reply with interest.

Mark, NZ Climate Change

I am hopeful that the lack of response or reply is due to administrative problems or errors. It seems that, when a person identifies to a new outlet that one of their columnists is taking such a strong position, and may be misrepresenting an organisation in doing so, any responsible news outlet would take the trouble to either:

  1. Defend their columnist if they believe the columnist’s position was justified
  2. Seek to correct any problems that were identified

There is also the question of Brian Rudman’s integrity. If he has been notified of the open letter, then it would be reasonable for some kind of response to defend his position. His opinion piece was extremely rude about NZCSC, but it appeared that he did not bother himself with seeking information about their work and research. The point in my open letter is that he misrepresented NZCSC, and that the facts of the matter have demonstrated NZCSC were right in their pursuit of court action against NIWA. Brian Rudman might seek to refute this, or alternatively have the courage to admit his error. For the latter, does he have the courage of his convictions, and for the former does he have the personal integrity to right a wrong?

I hope that my last communication with the NZ Herald will prompt a response, and will be happy to publish the NZ Herald’s position in full, along with any statement from Brian Rudman. However, will they respond? I hope so, as it would be heartening to know that such a high profile news outlet, and such a high profile columnist, do indeed have integrity.

Brian Rudman – Will he apologise? An Open Letter

I will start this post with a quote from Brian Rudman, a columnist on the New Zealand Herald. It dates back a while, to August 2010, and this is what he had to say:

The flat-earthers from the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition are off to the High Court to try to persuade a judge to invalidate the country’s official temperature record compiled and collected by the Government-owned National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.

As devout deniers of man-made global warming, the coalition claims the only way Niwa can claim a warming trend of 1C over the past century is by cooking the books. [emphasis added]

The same article goes on to offer scathing, sarcastic, and rather unpleasant commentary on the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.This is another example of his discourse from the same article:

The image of the flat-earthers in court making fools of themselves, trying to prove that if you travel to the horizon you’ll fall off into oblivion, is rather appealing. But court proceedings are ruinously expensive, and while the mystery money-bags funding the coalition – Act Party supporters are mentioned – may be able to afford it, taxpayers cannot.

The trouble with this commentary, aside from the ugly tone of the commentary (which is of itself inappropriate for a serious newspaper) is that, when confronted with the court case, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) backed down, and abruptly decided that their temperature was not an official temperature record after all. The New Zealand Climate Conversation Group tells the story succinctly and I will quote it at some length (note, there is a link in the text that takes you to NIWA’s statement of defence in case you doubt the back down):

For the last ten years, visitors to NIWA’s official website have been greeted by a graph of the “seven-station series” (7SS), under the bold heading “New Zealand Temperature Record”. The graph covers the period from 1853 to the present, and is adorned by a prominent trend-line sloping sharply upwards. Accompanying text informs the world that “New Zealand has experienced a warming trend of approximately 0.9°C over the past 100 years.”

The 7SS has been updated and used in every monthly issue of NIWA’s “Climate Digest” since January 1993. Its 0.9°C (sometimes 1.0°C) of warming has appeared in the Australia/NZ Chapter of the IPCC’s 2001 and 2007 Assessment Reports. It has been offered as sworn evidence in countless tribunals and judicial enquiries, and provides the historical base for all of NIWA’s reports to both Central and Local Governments on climate science issues and future projections.

NIWA has a printed promotional brochure describing its climate activities, which commences with the iconic 7SS graph. No piece of climate lore is more familiar to the public, and it is better known than NIWA’s logo.

But now, para 7(a) of NIWA’s Statement of Defence states that “there is no ‘official’ or formal New Zealand Temperature Record”.

In para 8(b) it says the NZTR is not a public record for the purposes of the Public Records Act, using the exemption of “special collections” defined (in para 4(b)) as non-public records used for “research purposes”.

In para 4, NIWA denies it has any obligation to use the best available data or best scientific techniques, while conceding that it has statutory duties to pursue excellence and to perform its functions efficiently and effectively.

It turns out that the 7SS had seen temperature adjustments, which were identified by the so called ‘flat earthers’ and ‘fools’ and the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition (NZCSC), and NZCSC fought a long and protracted battle to find out exactly why the adjustments were made. The nature of the battle to discover the nature of the adjustments is a particular concern, as it seems reasonable that any adjustments to the temperature record should have been fully documented and justified.

However, the reason for the obstruction of NZCSC from finding the source and justification of the temperature record becomes apparent when the source and nature of the adjustments were revealed. This from Quadrant Online:

Referring to the NIWA web page, one finds that this major warming trend is the product of a single study involving only 7 temperature stations – out of the 238 stations which currently report to NIWA. In response to a request under the Official information Act, NIWA has disclosed that this study was undertaken as part of a student’s thesis some 30 years ago.

NIWA has no record of how the NSS came to be in their computers. The only reasonable inference is that the student himself, one Jim Salinger, must have added it when he became NIWA’s Principal Scientist many years later.

As it is, the thesis is unobtainable, and the calculations that were made to create the adjustments are lost (the dog ate my homework?). The original thesis did not result in a peer reviewed article, so has not been subjected to the scrutiny of the academic journal system (such as it is). In short, a temperature record was given credence by NIWA, despite the fact that there was no justification that could be provided in support of the adjustments that were made. It is therefore no surprise that they were reluctant to explain the source and justification for the adjustments, as there was no justification that they could provide. This is not good science, it is just assertion.

So it is that I return to the start of this post, which is the use of terms like ‘flat earther’ by Brian Rudman when describing NZCSC. It seems that, at the very least, NZCSC have done science a great service. A temperature record entirely lacking in any justification, used as a basis for policy, and described as an ‘official temperature record’ by Brian Rudman himself, has been abandoned. It was abandoned because there was no scientific justification for the record. As such, I am posting this open letter to Brian Rudman:

Open Letter to Brian Rudman

Dear Brian,

As a columnist for the New Zealand Herald, one of New Zealand’s leading media and news outlets, you have influence on the views of your readers. If this was not the case, then why have columnists at all?

The point is that, with such a position, there is surely a responsibility, and that responsibility is to provide views that inform readers. I have copied above some of the statements you made about the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition (NZCSC) in an August 2010 opinion piece. When you describe an organisation as ‘flat earthers’ you are implying that they are in denial of science. However, the 7SS that was the subject of the NZCSC critique and court action has been found to have had no scientific merit by any reasonable standards. It can not be verified, can not be explained, can not be subject to replication, can not be used in any part of normal scientific enquiry.

Perhaps you were unaware of the problems underlying the 7SS at the time of your commentary? This may explain some of the rather insulting terms that you used. However, had you taken the trouble to visit the NZCSC website, read their publication on their concerns about the 7SS, you could have found that they had substantive reasons for their concerns, and these reasons were firmly rooted in legitimate concerns about the science behind the 7SS. Your failure to attend to this basic fact checking is a matter of concern. As I have said, you publish in an influential national media outlet. You are not, as I am, a humble blogger, but an influential national figure.

As such, in this open letter, I would ask that you provide an apology to the NZCSC. It seems that your characterisation of them as ‘flat earthers’ and ‘fools’ was entirely lacking in justification. I am sure that you are a reasonable person, and will see the merit in an apology, and that you will be more open minded about the work of NZCSC in the future.

For the record, I am not a part of NZCSC, or connected in any way, and I am not funded by any party or organisation for writing this blog. I am just a concerned private individual who blogs on a subject that interests me.

I look forward to your reply, and will be pleased to reproduce any reply in full on the blog, but would also hope that you will have the decency to publish your apology in your next column.

Kind Regards,

Mark, blogger at New Zealand Climate Change