PM's Science Adviser Challenged on “Misleading” Climate Report

The Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman has been challenged by a group of scientists and engineers who have expressed their concern about the nature of his report “New Zealand’s Changing Climate and Oceans: The Impact of Human Activity and Implications For the Future” submitted in July 2013. The twelve signatories, all members of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, in an open letter to Sir Peter have expressed concern at three aspects:

Firstly, the timing and purpose of the report, with the next Summary for Policy Makers from the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) due later in September asking Sir Peter why he would try to pre-empt it with information and hypotheses based on an IPCC report now seven years old.

“We are perplexed by a report which purports to be independent but draws only on information related to one hypothesis, that of the anthropogenic nature of the source of climate change. For the last two years, two issues have preoccupied climate science––many published papers have devoted consideration to both the pause in the trend in global average temperature, and to climate sensitivity. Both issues are essential: that the global average temperature has not increased in the last 17 years means that hypothesis that increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere increases global average temperatures is incorrect or the climate sensitivity to CO2 is grossly over-estimated. The report pays little attention to these issues,” the group says.

Secondly, they question the language of the report, in particular the use of phrasing they say will mislead and will direct many to an alarming conclusion they claim is not justified by clear and direct evidence. “Statements and conclusions of a political nature have no place in a report that purports to be a submission of scientific evidence.”

Thirdly, the group says that sources of information used for the report represent only one viewpoint in the debate about climate change. “We are concerned that there appears to have been no endeavour to source information from those who do not accept such a viewpoint and who can offer credible evidence to the contrary. We believe this to be a bias unbecoming of what should be an impartial report.”

In detail, the group confines its comments to four areas of concern: the New Zealand temperature record; sea level; ocean acidification; and extreme weather events.

“We agree that the climate is changing. This has never a point of dispute or even debate between those who believe that present change is due entirely to human influences and those who believe that the climate changes naturally.”

The group contests the use by Sir Peter of terms like “agreement” and “consensus” which they say do not constitute evidence. “It is merely opinion and the history of science shows clearly that consensus has no part in deciding on the correctness or otherwise of a theory. It is misleading to use these terms in sentences implying that they constitute hard evidence.”

The open letter says that it is misleading for Sir Peter to imply that the influence of natural factors in climate science is uncertain whereas the influence of human factors is certain. “This is not true. There is plenty of evidence from geological records of the change of climate during the Holocene––whereas the evidence of human influence has not progressed beyond a theory which is not supported by evidence but by “projections” derived from climate models which were reported by the IPCC in 2007 to poorly model many natural climate factors.”

The group says it is misleading to refer to the present global temperature trend as an “apparent hiatus”. “There is nothing ‘apparent’ about it. There has been no increasing trend since 1996-7 and some sources suggest that a downward trend can be detected in the last 4-5 years. The word ‘hiatus’ implies that this is abnormal and that in the near future the upward trend will resume. There is no hard evidence to suggest this to be the case. It relies solely on the outcomes of climate models programmed to produce warming in response to an increase in carbon dioxide and which have never been validated against actual temperatures. It is also well known that they are not accurate models of the climate. If they were, they would be able to predict El Niño episodes.”

The open letter concludes by posing five questions to Sir Peter:

1. Why was information for the report sourced only from those known to be proponents of anthropogenic global warming and no information sought from reputable sources which offer alternative evidence?

2. Why does the report place such great weight on the projections from climate models which are demonstrably inaccurate and have never been validated against real data?

3. Why is the evidence that the world has not warmed over the last 17 years largely ignored? It provides extremely strong evidence that substantial increases in CO2 do not produce dangerous global warming.

4. Why does the report include alarmist and misleading statements on the topics of sea level, ocean acidification and the number of extreme weather events that are not supported by the evidence?

5. Why is a report that purports to be advice of scientific evidence couched in blatant and misleading political terms?

The signatories are:

Dr Jock Allison, ONZM (Fellow NZ Institute of Primary Industry Management, former Regional Director Agriculture Research, Southern South Island, Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries.)

Dr Robert M. Carter (Hon. Fellow, Royal Society of New Zealand; Chief Scientific Advisor, International Climate Science Coalition (Ottawa); Author of: Climate: the Counter Consensus and Taxing Air .

Dr Willem de Lange (Senior Lecturer in Earth and Ocean Sciences, The University of Waikato)

Roger Dewhurst (Consulting Geologist ).

Dr Geoff Duffy (Professor Emeritus Chemical Engineering, University of Auckland, Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand; Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers UK; Fellow of the Institute of Professional Engineers of New Zealand [retired],)

Dr Douglas Edmeades ONZM (former National Science Leader Soils and Fertilisers, AgResearch)

Dr Vincent Gray (Fellow, Mew Zealand Institute of Chemistry; Author “The Greenhouse Delusion”,Confessions of a Climate Sceptic”.

Dr David Kear, CMG (Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, former Director-General, Department of Scientific & Industrial Research)

Gary N Kerkin. (Retired chemical engineer)

Bryan Leyland (Fellow of the Institute of Electrical Engineers [retired], Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, Fellow of the Institute of Professional Engineers of New Zealand, international consultant on power systems, owner of small NZ hydro generation station and author of Small Hydro-electric Engineering Practice).

Dr John Maunder (former President of the Commission for Climatology of the World Meteological Organization from 1989-1996; Assistant Director of the New Zealand Meteorological  Service from 1982-1989. University staff member at Otago, Victoria (Canada), Missouri, Delaware, Dublin; Staff member at the Bureau of Meteorology of Australia, and the Atmospheric Environment Service of Canada)

Dr Gerrit van der Lingen. (Geologist and paleoclimatologist. 1961-1965, geologist with the Geological and Mining Survey, Suriname, Sth America; 1965-1992, sedimentologist with the NZ Geological Survey; 1992-2002, director Geoscience Research And Investigations New Zealand.

The full text of the letter can be accessed at:




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