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Posts Tagged cranks

Brill’s bills still unpaid, but Barry’s off to Vegas Gareth Renowden Jun 19

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The attempt by a small group of climate cranks to bring a legal case against the New Zealand temperature record will leave the taxpayer to pick up a bill likely to run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Radio NZ News yesterday. Efforts by the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) to recover court-ordered costs of $90,000 from the NZ Climate Science Education Trust (CSET) are virtually certain to fail according to the official liquidator, leaving the bill to be met by taxpayers. The Trust has no assets, and the prospects of any pay out are rated “unlikely”. But despite initiating the legal case and orchestrating the trust’s attempts to avoid meeting its liabilities, Barry Brill, the retired lawyer and former National Party politician who chairs the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition, is flying off to Las Vegas to speak at the latest climate crank networking event organised by far-right US lobby group the Heartland Institute.

The latest report from the official liquidator (pdf) makes it obvious that the CSET was formed with the express intention of bringing the court action and as a cover to protect the litigants from the financial consequences of failure. It also raises serious questions about the way that the case was funded. The evidence is damning:

  • The CSET’s statement of claim against NIWA was filed with the High Court on July 5th, 2010.
  • The CSET’s deed of trust is dated July 30th – more than three weeks after the case was filed in its name.
  • The CSET was not officially registered as a trust until August 10th, 2010.
  • The CSET did nothing except bring an action against NIWA.

In addition, according to the liquidator’s report, the CSET had no assets, did not receive or disburse any monies, and did not keep any financial records. But CSET trustee Bryan Leyland told the Sunday Star Times in January:

We spent a large amount of money on the court case, there were some expensive legal technicalities.” Funding had come “from a number of sources, which are confidential”.

The statements made to the liquidator tell a different story:

The trustees were questioned about how the charitable trust funded the legal proceedings against NIWA. They advised that all legal advice and representation was provided on a pro bono basis and Mr Brill paid for the court fees personally.

Leyland’s comments to the SST are clearly not compatible with the statements made to the official liquidator. If a “large amount of money” was spent on the case, but legal representation was provided pro bono, where was the money spent and why was it not channeled through the trust and properly recorded in the CSET’s accounts? Either Leyland was misleading the Sunday Star Times, or he was misleading the official liquidator.

It’s worth recalling that Brill’s original presentation of the CSET’s arguments was so bad that the trust had to call in a barrister — Terry Sissons — to lick their arguments into shape, and present the case in the High Court. Did Sissons represent the CSET pro bono? On the face of it, that seems unlikely. If he did not, was he paid by Brill, the trustees or a third party, and why was that not recorded by the Trust as expenditure on their activities?

It is clear that Brill and the trustees have serious questions to answer regarding the management and funding of their legal action, and their misuse and mismanagement of a charitable trust.

Meanwhile, Brill is off to the Heartland Institute’s 9th “conference” on climate change. Readers with long memories may recall that the last time Brill addressed the world’s assembled cranks1 he was pushing legal action against national temperature records as something that should be tried all over the world.

Brill’s travel expenses are likely to have been funded by Heartland — who have a history of funding NZ climate crank organisations. He is set to appear on a panel2 discussing “international perspectives on climate change”, along with potty peer Christopher Monckton and Sebastian Luning from Germany.

I think we can safely assume that Brill will not be describing the failure of his much vaunted legal action, or passing the hat round in order to help the New Zealand taxpayer meet the costs of his stupid, self-serving and politically-motivated legal action.

  1. In Washington in 2011, see footnote 2 here.
  2. From 4pm to 5pm on Tuesday , July 8, full schedule here.

Postcards from la la land: David Archibald and the four horsemen of the cooling apocalypse Gareth Renowden Apr 30

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A day or two ago, my interest piqued by a link that popped up in a news feed, I started to investigate the strange climate world of Australian oil man David Archibald. It was a weird journey down the rabbit hole of climate denialism, and the further down into the dark I went, the stranger the things I encountered. According to Archibald, rapid cooling caused by the sun going to sleep is going to usher in a biblical apocalypse of starvation, war and mass death. Even worse, we all have a moral duty to give up eating Chinese food. Sod climate cooling, I will bow to no man in my love for Peking Duck and hoisin sauce. This is serious stuff Archibald’s preaching.

The four horsemen of Archibald’s apocalypse are severe, solar-driven cooling, which will cause food shortages and population collapse in the Middle East (enter horseman two), energy supply changes driven by high oil prices (horseman three), and cantering in fourth place just before the denouement, Pakistan’s nuclear weapon programme going rogue. Then, with the horses out of the way, things start to get seriously weird…

Here’s an excerpt from a lecture he gave in Washington DC a few weeks ago (full text here and a video here):

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse come from the Book of Revelation, the last chapter of the Bible. The Book of Revelation also warns of another beast with these words:

And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

What has seven heads? The Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. In 2012, the number of members of that committee was reduced from nine to seven, no doubt to properly align with Biblical prophecy.

Here’s another revelation: China is going to invade Japanese territory in the next couple of years and start a shooting war, and the only way we can stop it is by boycotting China and Chinese products.

To be completely morally virtuous, you will have to make the effort required to make sure that nothing of Chinese origin ever enters your possession. If you slip in that regard, have momentary lapses in checking labels perhaps, you will contribute to the death of a Japanese, or a Filipino, or even a US serviceman.

When our souls are all weighed in the balance, those who boycotted China in 2014 will sit at the right hand of God and those who persisted in feeding the Beast will be cast into the outer darkness.

So far, so unhinged. Can it get any worse? Oh yes… At the bottom of his lecture notes, Archibald helpfully provides a link to a distinctly amateurish web site he’s created called www.boycott-china.net, wherein he writes:

…anyone who loves peace and abhors war should do their utmost to avoid buying Chinese-made goods. Beyond that, avoid giving custom to businesses that stock Chinese-made goods. Even avoid Chinese food. Make that a rule for living.

You’ll have to prise my Chinese-made iMac, iPad and iPhone out of my cold, dead fingers after I’ve gorged myself to death on Peking Duck and pork buns before that’ll happen round here. Or in the USA, I should imagine, because it’s not just Apple products that are designed in California and made in the land of the seven headed red dragon.

Luckily that will not be necessary, because the the first of the four sorry nags that Archibald builds his case around is not even a non-starter, it’s in the horse box on the way to the knackers yard. Archibald’s theories about a coming severe cooling hold no water — as Skeptical Science patiently and carefully explains here — but he appears not have noticed. He makes grandiose claims to have “founded the field of solarclimatology which uses solar cycle length to predict climate up to 25 years in advance”, and — shades of the brilliant, if as yet unrealised medical discoveries of the discount Viscount, Christopher Monckton — also claims to have invented a treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia1.

Archibald has — of course — written a book elaborating his thesis, and he’s promoting it for all he’s worth. Titled Twilight Of Abundance – Why Life In The 21st Century Will Be Nasty, Brutish And Short, it was published last month by right wing US publisher Regnery2. The cover describes Archibald as a “visiting fellow” of the Institute Of World Politics (IWP), a neocon “graduate school of national security and international affairs” in Washington DC that has strong links with right wing think tanks. Archibald even managed to get a slot on Fox News to push his cooling barrow.

In a sane world, Archibald’s absurd theories would see him dismissed out of hand as a crank, yet he’s being touted around the American right as someone worth listening to. His perverse mixture of end times imagery and dog-whistled “yellow peril” racism clearly finds some sort of audience amongst the people trying to shape Republican opinion and policy. One can only hope that no-one who takes him seriously gets anywhere near US policy-making. For my part, I’m going to be stocking up with several years supply of hoisin sauce…

  1. You might suspect he’s taking the piss, but I couldn’t possibly comment…
  2. Regnery also publishes such paragons of climate denialism as James Delingpole and Christopher Horner.

How to become a climate change denier (in 4 easy steps) Gareth Renowden Apr 24

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Cakeburgerdenial

Cartoon drawn by Joshua Cakeburger Drummond as a contribution to the High Water Project, and rooted in bitter experience, I suspect…

AAAS “What We Know” Initiative: Same Denial, Different Issue – From Ozone Depletion to Climate Change cindy Mar 20

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Dr Mario Molina  (c)  Centro Mario Molina

Dr Mario Molina
(c) Centro Mario Molina

(Cross-posted with permission from Polluterwatch.com)

It must be like Groundhog Day for Mario Molina, the scientist who has presided over the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s new report and publicity drive aimed at convincing Americans about the urgency of what’s happening on climate change.

The normally reticent AAAS has taken a highly unusual step. There’s no new science in it.  Instead, it summarises “what we know” on climate science, highlighting the 97% consensus on the issue and calling for action.

Why did they do it? The AAAS says it’s becoming alarmed at the American public’s views on climate change, stating in the opening paragraphs:

 “Surveys show that many Americans think climate change is still a topic of significant scientific disagreement.  Thus, it is important and increasingly urgent for the public to know there is now a high degree of agreement among climate scientists that human-caused climate change is real.”

They’re right:  the latest Gallup Poll published this month shows that climate change is low on Americans’ priority list, with 51% saying they worry about climate change very little – or not at all.   And 42% said they believe the seriousness of the issue was “generally exaggerated.”

Here’s one of their videos:

The AAAS report also stated:

“It is not the purpose of this paper to explain why this disconnect between scientific knowledge and public perception has occurred.”

That’s not their job.  But I bet they’d like to. Especially Mario Molina.

The reason for that American disconnect between scientific and public views on global warming is simple:  it’s the result of a 20-year campaign funded by the fossil fuel industry that profits from the very products causing it – oil, coal and gas.   It’s got nothing to do with science per se.

A brief history of that campaign is outlined in a report I wrote last year: “Dealing in Doubt” that catalogues the attacks on climate science, the IPCC and on the scientists themselves.

But what’s that got to do with Mario Molina?  Molina, now 70, was one of the researchers who discovered the chemistry around ozone depletion. He and two other scientists received the 1995 Nobel Prize for chemistry for their work.   20 years ago, he faced a remarkably similar campaign to what the climate scientists face today.

In 1992, Molina was at a gathering of scientists in Brazil, ahead of the Rio Earth Summit, and about to present a 30-minute talk on ozone depletion.  He was dumbfounded when the presenter before him told the assembled scientists that the ozone depletion theory was a sham. He later told the AAAS’s Science magazine(full text here):

“Given enough time I could have carefully rebutted his objections.  They sounded reasonable but they were only pseudoscientific.”

At the time, in the face of increasing scientific certainty, there was a (successful) push to strengthen the Montreal Protocol, to further regulate CFCs to stop ozone depletion.  The fight was on.

The Science article went on to outline how talk show host Rush Limbaugh was leading the charge against the ozone science, labeling the issue a “massive conspiracy” promulgated by “dunderhead alarmists and prophets of doom.”

Limbaugh claimed the only reason scientists were working on ozone depletion was because “they always want more funding, and today that means government funding.  What could be more natural than for [NASA], with the space program winding down, to say that because we have this unusual amount of chlorine in the atmosphere, we need funding.”

This is one of the main mantras of the climate science deniers today – they’re only in it for the funding.  They also get labeled “alarmists” and “doomsayers” amongst other things.  Same arguments, different subject.

Enter S Fred Singer, a serial denier who cut his teeth on tobacco science, before moving on to ozone depletion and global warming.  In a 1995 article, he said this on ozone depletion:

“The facts are that the scientific underpinnings are quite shaky: the data are suspect; the statistical analyses are faulty; and the theory has not been validated… The science simply does not support this premature and abrupt removal of widely used chemicals—at great cost to the economy.”

It’s telling that one of Singer’s early articles, “My adventures on the ozone layer,” can be found today on the Heartland Institute website.  This is the same Heartland Institute that last year employed Singer to help work on its “NIPCC” report, designed to confuse a casual observer with the similarity to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) while using debunked arguments to suggest there isn’t a problem – which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

In 1996, Singer told a House Committee there was no scientific consensus on ozone depletion. He went on to use the high-cost argument, and brought in a new theme that is very much prevalent in today’s anti climate arguments: that it would hurt the developing world.

“We are flying blind on this issue, at a huge cost to the U.S. economy and ultimately to every American household. In less developed countries, absence of low-cost refrigeration–for food preservation and vaccines–could, unfortunately, exact an even higher price in human lives.”

Two years later, Singer was even advocating putting mirrors in the sky to stop ozone depletion. That article can be found on another think tank website, theCompetitive Enterprise Institute.  The CEI set up the Cooler Heads Coalition. But its extensive ExxonMobil funding was dropped in 2007 because the company said their campaign “diverted attention” from a real conversation about how to tackle climate change.

Meanwhile, over at the Marshall Institute, Fred Seitz and Sallie Baliunas had also picked up the cause, with Baliunas arguing that it was the sun and other natural factors causing the problem:

“Scientific findings do not support an immediate ban on CFC’s. Both global and Arctic measurements point to natural factors as the main cause of recent ozone fluctuations. Ozone levels change primarily as the result of natural factors such as the ultraviolet output of the sun, oscillation of upper stratosphere winds and El Nino conditions.”

Sunspots is one of the main denialist arguments used against global warming today, notably by Baliunas’s colleague, Willie Soon.  A later Marshall Institute report about global warming, ozone depletion and tobacco science was picked up and pushed by Phillip Morris.

No consensus, science unsettled, the sun, El Nino, in it for the funding, doomsayers, solutions will hurt the poor, natural variations:  all these arguments are run today around global warming science by, amongst others, the Heartland Institute, the CEI, the Marshall Institute, S Fred Singer, Baliunas, Limbaugh and others.

The late Steve Schneider described the problem as being “caught between the exaggerations of the advocates, the exploitations of political interests, the media’s penchant to turn everything into a boxing match and your own colleagues saying we should be above this dirty business and stick to the bench.”

The AAAS appears to have gotten off of that bench, not least because they’re worried about Americans sleepwalking into climate chaos, cheered on by industry.

But the bottom line, as the AAAS has stated in no uncertain terms, is this:  “human-caused climate change is happening, we face risks of abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes, and responding now will lower the risk and cost of taking action.”

Perhaps our elected leaders might also like to spend some time reading it.

Is misinformation about the climate criminally negligent? Gareth Renowden Mar 14

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This powerful article by Lawrence Torcello, assistant professor of philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology, first appeared at The Conversation here. It examines the potential legal liabilities that should attach to deliberate misinformation campaigns to delay action on climate change.

The importance of clearly communicating science to the public should not be underestimated. Accurately understanding our natural environment and sharing that information can be a matter of life or death. When it comes to global warming, much of the public remains in denial about a set of facts that the majority of scientists clearly agree on. With such high stakes, an organised campaign funding misinformation ought to be considered criminally negligent.

The earthquake that rocked L’Aquila Italy in 2009 provides an interesting case study of botched communication. This natural disaster left more than 300 people dead and nearly 66,000 people homeless. In a strange turn of events six Italian scientists and a local defence minister were subsequently sentenced to six years in prison.

The ruling is popularly thought to have convicted scientists for failing to predict an earthquake. On the contrary, as risk assessment expert David Ropeik pointed out, the trial was actually about the failure of scientists to clearly communicate risks to the public. The convicted parties were accused of providing “inexact, incomplete and contradictory information”. As one citizen stated:

We all know that the earthquake could not be predicted, and that evacuation was not an option. All we wanted was clearer information on risks in order to make our choices.

Crucially, the scientists, when consulted about ongoing tremors in the region, did not conclude that a devastating earthquake was impossible in L’Aquila. But, when the Defence Minister held a press conference saying there was no danger, they made no attempt to correct him. I don’t believe poor scientific communication should be criminalised because doing so will likely discourage scientists from engaging with the public at all.

But the tragedy in L’Aquila reminds us how important clear scientific communication is and how much is at stake regarding the public’s understanding of science. I have argued elsewhere that scientists have an ethical obligation to communicate their findings as clearly as possible to the public when such findings are relevant to public policy. Likewise, I believe that scientists have the corollary obligation to correct public misinformation as visibly and unequivocally as possible.

Many scientists recognize these civic and moral obligations. Climatologist Michael Mann is a good example; Mann has recently made the case for public engagement in a powerful New York Times opinion piece: If You See Something Say Something.

Misinformation and criminal negligence

Still, critics of the case in L’Aquila are mistaken if they conclude that criminal negligence should never be linked to science misinformation. Consider cases in which science communication is intentionally undermined for political and financial gain. Imagine if in L’Aquila, scientists themselves had made every effort to communicate the risks of living in an earthquake zone. Imagine that they even advocated for a scientifically informed but costly earthquake readiness plan.

If those with a financial or political interest in inaction had funded an organised campaign to discredit the consensus findings of seismology, and for that reason no preparations were made, then many of us would agree that the financiers of the denialist campaign were criminally responsible for the consequences of that campaign. I submit that this is just what is happening with the current, well documented funding of global warming denialism.

More deaths can already be attributed to climate change than the L’Aquila earthquake and we can be certain that deaths from climate change will continue to rise with global warming. Nonetheless, climate denial remains a serious deterrent against meaningful political action in the very countries most responsible for the crisis.

Climate denial funding

We have good reason to consider the funding of climate denial to be criminally and morally negligent. The charge of criminal and moral negligence ought to extend to all activities of the climate deniers who receive funding as part of a sustained campaign to undermine the public’s understanding of scientific consensus.

Criminal negligence is normally understood to result from failures to avoid reasonably foreseeable harms, or the threat of harms to public safety, consequent of certain activities. Those funding climate denial campaigns can reasonably predict the public’s diminished ability to respond to climate change as a result of their behaviour. Indeed, public uncertainty regarding climate science, and the resulting failure to respond to climate change, is the intentional aim of politically and financially motivated denialists.

My argument probably raises an understandable, if misguided, concern regarding free speech. We must make the critical distinction between the protected voicing of one’s unpopular beliefs, and the funding of a strategically organised campaign to undermine the public’s ability to develop and voice informed opinions. Protecting the latter as a form of free speech stretches the definition of free speech to a degree that undermines the very concept.

What are we to make of those behind the well documented corporate funding of global warming denial? Those who purposefully strive to make sure “inexact, incomplete and contradictory information” is given to the public? I believe we understand them correctly when we know them to be not only corrupt and deceitful, but criminally negligent in their willful disregard for human life. It is time for modern societies to interpret and update their legal systems accordingly.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Conversation

TDB Today: through the looking glass into the world of climate denial Gareth Renowden Feb 26

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In my post this week at The Daily BlogInvestigating climate change deniers and their spin against global warming — I take a look at the PR campaign being run against action on climate change and one of their most important tactics, creating a smokescreen to hide the reality of climate change:

The resulting exchanges provide an object lesson in life through the looking-glass, that alternative world where warming isn’t happening, climate scientists are colluding in a giant hoax, and the poor old free market is being threatened by gangs of rampant watermelons — great wagon loads of fruit against freedom, leeks against liberty, and carrots against capitalism.

As seen on blogs everywhere, all the time, produced by the willing foot soldiers of climate denial.

Climateballs: O’Sullivan strikes again Gareth Renowden Feb 23

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John O’Sullivan — the pseudosceptic who is serially and persistently wrong about almost everything he chooses to write about, and who has made a career out of misrepresenting his own abilities and qualifications — is at it again. In a “review” of a new book by Canadian denier Tim Ball (left), O’Sullivan1 writes:

The courage and forthrightness Tim Ball has shown with this book, and in the British Columbia Supreme Court defending himself against the now failed libel suit of Michael Mann, is about to be vindicated by the judiciary. As the scientific community awaits Ball’s impeding legal triumph, we may edify ourselves not just with the black and white evidence presented in this extraordinary publication, but in the certain knowledge that Mann and his co-conspirators have spectacularly failed in their bid to silence dissent against their fraudulent science.

Mann’s abortive attempt to sue Ball in the British Columbia Supreme Court ultimately back-fired because Mann refused to show his metadata, his calculations for his junk science, in open court. Now Mann faces possible bankruptcy on top of professional suicide, as the price for his misdeeds.

What purple prose! What hyperbole! What utter crap.

Mann’s lawyer, Roger McConchie writes:

Their assertion that Dr. Mann faces possible bankruptcy is nonsense. Dr. Mann’s lawsuit against Dr. Ball and other defendants is proceeding through the normal stages prescribed by the BC Supreme Court Civil Rules and Dr. Mann looks forward to judicial vindication at the conclusion of this process.

In other words: O’Sullivan’s wrong again. The court case is very much on, and Tim Ball is in deep trouble. Ball’s book, teasingly titled The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science is another matter. A cursory glance at the sample available via Amazon suggests that it’s yet another in a long line of conspiracist nonsense about the climate issue — eerily reminiscent of Ian Wishart’s Air Con in its suggestions of cabals at the UN, environmentalism as a religion, and Maurice Strong and Prince Philip as some sort of evil overlords. Mr McConchie is undoubtedly looking over the text with considerable interest…

  1. With co-author Hans Schreuder.

Risible Rodney rides again Gareth Renowden Feb 17

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Rodney Hide’s regular opinion slot in the Herald on Sunday has often provided the former ACT Party leader with a platform to spout his trademark climate denialist nonsense, but yesterday’s has to take some kind of biscuit1 for purveying unsubstantiated, completely made up nonsense. He starts by riffing on new research that suggests that an increase in Pacific winds has acted to slow down global temperature increases, and then goes completely off his trolley:

Scientists predict that when the Pacific trade winds slow global warming will take off with a bang. Armageddon remains on.

Climate scientists say the best policy is still one that bombs us back to feudal times.

Not to put too fine appoint on it, that is distasteful nonsense; a misrepresentation at best, a lie at worst — but either way the opinion editor of the Herald On Sunday should be ashamed for permitting it to appear in the paper.

Hide’s statement is wrong on many levels. Climate scientists seldom directly advocate for policy (beyond the need for urgent cuts in carbon emissions). And nobody outside of a looney right-wing think tank has ever suggested that cutting carbon will “bomb” anyone back to the middle ages. It’s cheap and easy rhetoric from a man with a column to fill, and no fact checker on duty at his newspaper.

To get a better perspective on the research Rodney is attempting to spin to his cause, check out this commentary by Mike Mann, or Dana Nuccitelli’s excellent explanation at The Guardian. It’s fascinating stuff, and deserves better than a once-over lightly from an ideologue with an agenda.

Hide then hops onto another pseudo sceptic hobbyhorse: the climate models:

One hundred years is a long time to have to wait to see if the models are correct.

The poor results so far don’t prove anything. And none of us will be alive to see if the models are actually correct.

He’s wrong about that, too. For an example of just how good the models can be, check out this blog post by professor of computer science Steve Easterbrook which compares the EUMETSAT year of weather video noted at Hot Topic recently with a visualisation of a year’s weather patterns from the atmospheric component of NCAR’s CCSM climate model. Run the the two animations side-by-side.

That’s how good our general circulation models are, and that’s how wrong Rodney Hide is. Again2.

  1. Girl Guide, perhaps, or Garibaldi?
  2. Construction adopted to please @davidslack

Memo to Brill and his NZ climate cranks: pay up or shut up Gareth Renowden Feb 04

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I suppose it had to happen. Jim Salinger’s excellent summary of the strange case of the climate cranks and their attempt to sue the New Zealand temperature record has attracted a response from deep inside La La Land. Barry Brill, chairman of the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition and litigant in chief, has posted a piece of piss-poor propaganda trying to make their actions seem reasonable. He fails spectacularly, as you might expect — but he also fails to mention the most salient fact of all.

Brill is the ex-lawyer who put the losing court case together. He, together with the trustees of the NZ Climate Science Education Trust — Terry Dunleavy, Bryan Leyland and Doug Edmeades — are in default of the costs awarded against them by the judge. It’s a cool $89,000, and if Brill et al don’t pay up, the NZ taxpayer will have to foot their bill. As one of those taxpayers, I object strenuously to funding their absurd political posturing.

Brill, Leyland, Dunleavy et al would do well to remember that in the “court of public opinion” people who welch on their debts and try to avoid the consequences of their actions are regarded as mountebanks and charlatans. They should shut up until they’ve paid up.

Saturday snark: a textbook for Vincent Gareth Renowden Feb 01

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As Stoat points out, the IPCC has released the reviewers comments on the Working Group One second order draft report. And as you might expect, the IPCC’s favourite inexpert commenter, the New Zealand Climate “Science” Coalition’s very own Vincent Gray was busy reviewing their work. Here’s comment 1-549 from Chapter One (pdf) by Gray:

The records shown are not “observations” and they are not “temperatures”. They are also not “globally averaged. They are a set of multiple averages, subtracted from an overall average, compiled from a vaying non-standardised set of maximum an minimum temperature measurements at varying weather sations and ship measurements. They were previously treated as “Mean Global Temperature anomaly” The uncertainties attached to each figure are very great, individual temperature measurements are rarely accurate to better than one degree, so a claimed “trend” over 100 years of less than one degree has a very low level of statistical significance. [Vincent Gray, New Zealand] (all spelling from IPCC doc)

The response from the editors is a minor classic of its kind:

Rejected – The comment does not reflect the scientific understanding. The errors in individual observations are not additive; we are also doing relative analysis that eliminates many of the concerns about individual errors. The reviewer obviously has a limited understanding of the associated error evaluation for analysis of large datasets. See Chapter 2 for more on the evaluation of these datasets. Or maybe even read a basic textbook. (my emphasis)

For more on accuracy versus precision, and the statistical power of large numbers, this classic post by Tamino is well worth a read.

There are other minor gems to be found as the reviewers deal with Monckton (in the “general” section) and John McLean (seemingly everywhere). In fact McLean’s ubiquity suggests that he may have acceded to Gray’s throne as the man with most comments on a single IPCC report. But don’t expect me to add them all up, I do have a life…

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