Monday, September 17, 2012

Denialists denied by judge in New Zealand lawsuit

Via John Mashey, there's a blog post by Gareth on yet another attempt by climate denialists to muddy the record on climate change, this time by suing New Zealand's National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research for publishing a temperature record that shows New Zealand warming up over the last century.

Definitely check out Gareth's post, or if you have time, the ruling itself.  Skimming it, seems like the denialists didn't have very good lawyers at first (or none at all) and then found someone more reasonable to help them.  A lawyer can't make magic out of bad material though, so in the end they got shut down completely (to be a fly on the wall and hear what their new lawyer told them about their prospects, or to see what document the lawyer required them to sign acknowledging those prospects).  Kind of fun to see my old friend Bob Carter get the skeptical treatment he's earned for himself.

And also these results:
[172] In summary on this point, the Trust [denialist group -ed.] alleges generally that NIWA failed to properly deal with the UHI/shelter issue which had the effect of other stations acquiring derivative warming from the inclusion of the Albert Park (Auckland) and Kelburn (Wellington) sites. Dr Wratt disagrees. He says that the excess temperature trend identified by the Trust for the Auckland series is incorrect. Further, even if it was correct, the effect it would have on the other sites would be negligible. Dr Wratt is of the view that Dr Carter has misinterpreted the scientific literature in making the claims he does.
[178] NIWA refers to eight lines of evidence that indicate New Zealand has warmed significantly over the period 1909 to 2009: 
  • the consistent results of the recalculated 7SS following the review, which was consistent with the results recorded in the original 7SS series based on the Salinger 1992 work, plus subsequent annual updates; 
  • peer review for the pre-2010 versions of 7SS, including by the editors of International Journal of Climatology; 
  • the analysis and calculation of the trends using the Salinger post-1992 7SS by a separate set of scientists within NIWA; 
  • trends from the independent 11SS, which disclosed that with no homogenisation the warming trend was 1.0 degrees Centigrade for 1931 to 2008; 
  • results from the 21+3 station series; trends from ship measurements and surrounding oceans;52 retreat of New Zealand glaciers; 
  • observed global climate changes. The IPCC 2007 assessment concludes warming of the climate system is unequivocal. It reports the 100 year linear trend (1906 to 2005) and global surface temperature is +.74 degrees Centigrade ±0.18.
Someone is judicially unimpressed with the ubiquitous urban heat island argument, and with the other arguments ignoring the mountain of evidence showing us that we're warming.

Should be interesting to see whether the agency will get its costs covered as the judge ordered.  Like Gareth, I wonder if the non-profit trust created to bring the lawsuit, instead of the denialist Climate Science Coalition, will be found to be a mysteriously asset-free husk capable of paying its own lawyer in advance, but otherwise broke.

One final note:  while Americans are legitimately criticized as litigious, this type of ridiculous lawsuit can't be done here.  It was just a scientific report - if you don't like it, then go do your own scientific report and argue it out.  You can only sue here over an action taken on the basis of a report, not to suppress the report itself (on the federal level at least, I can't vouch for Red states).  We did just barely dodge this bullet - industry groups snuck a two-paragraph rider into a budget bill in 2000 called the Information Quality Act or Data Quality Act as a means of gumming up the works and preventing exposure of their misdeeds.  Chris Mooney included it in his Republican War on Science book, but courts have generally told industry groups to go away when they tried to sue with it as a tool.  So that's one thing we've done right, at least.