Posts Tagged NZ

IPCC WG2 impacts report released: fire, floods and rising seas in all our futures Gareth Renowden Mar 31

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After the usual run of late nights and argument, the IPCC has released the second part of its fifth report — the Working Group 2 report on climate impacts and risks management. Commenting on the report, VUW climate scientist Professor Tim Naish said “this latest report makes it quite clear that New Zealand is under-prepared and faces a significant ‘adaptation deficit’ in the context of the projected impacts and risks from global average warming of +2 to 4°C by the end of the century.”

The IPCC identifies eight key regional risks for New Zealand and Australia:

  • significant impacts on coral reefs in Australia as oceans warm and acidify
  • loss of montane ecosystems in Australia, as climate warms and snow lines rise
  • increased frequency of and intensity of flooding in NZ and Australia
  • water resources in Southern Australia will be under increased pressure
  • more intense heatwaves will bring increased death rates and infrastructure damage
  • increasing risks of damaging wildfires in New Zealand and southern Australia
  • increased risks to coastal infrastructure and ecosystems from sea level rise
  • risk of severe drying in parts of Australia could hit agricultural production

For New Zealand, extreme weather events such as flooding and heatwaves are expected to increase in frequency and severity, and rainfall is expected to increase on the already wet west coast and decrease in the east and north east. Sea level rise of up to one metre is expected to cause significant problems for coastal communities.

VUW’s Jim Renwick points to sea level rise as a big issue:

Every 10cm of rise triples the risk of a given inundation event, and we are expecting something like a metre of rise this century. That would mean today’s 1-in-100 year event occurs at least annually at many New Zealand coastal locations. New Zealand has a great deal of valuable property and infrastructure close to the coast that will be increasingly at risk as time goes on.

The Summary for Policymakers of the WG2 report is available here (pdf), and the final draft of the full report can be downloaded from this page. The Australia and New Zealand chapter (25) is here (pdf) and the Small Islands (Ch 29) here (pdf).

A huge amount of coverage of the report’s findings has already hit the net, and there will be more to come. Check out The Guardian‘s take on the five key points in the report, The Conversation’s examination of climate health risks, Graham Readfearn’s commentary on 25 years of IPCC warnings, and Peter Griffin’s look at the prospects for agriculture. I’ll have a post about the NZ political response to the report tomorrow.

Salinger upsets cranks: Treadgold’s toys exit cot Gareth Renowden Jan 27

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Jim Salinger’s analysis of the climate crank campaign to cast doubt on New Zealand’s long term temperature record, published last week at The Conversation, has drawn an astonishing response1 from Richard Treadgold (left), the man who kicked off the whole sorry process over four years ago. In an intemperate and libellous comment at his web site, Treadgold accuses Salinger of deception, stupidity and questions his mental stability:

Painting our efforts as some kind of attack on science is stupid. Salinger is either mentally unstable or he’s trying to hide his deceptive treatment of the national temperature records. We asked for details. You’re obviously hiding something if you call that anti-science.

The truth, of course, is that Treadgold and his friends at the Climate “Science” Coalition have spent the last four years quite deliberately attacking Salinger and the science team at NIWA by alleging they acted to deliberately overstate warming in New Zealand. They’ve taken their case to the High Court, and lost. Now they’re running away from facing the legal consequences, by refusing to pay court-ordered legal costs and leaving the NZ taxpayer to foot the bill2.

This has never been about science. It has always been a political campaign, as Treadgold himself acknowledged when he admitted to the “essentially political objectives of our paper”. Having the lost the argument, he’s now behaving like a spoilt child, throwing a hissy fit at Salinger for telling an uncomfortable truth. His pettiness even extends to posting articles suggesting that Salinger’s affiliations with the Universities of Auckland and Tasmania may be false3.

The last line of his typically prolix comment is interesting.

Finally, it’s insufficient that you merely repeat Salinger’s empty allegation of ‘errors’ in our audit. If you want us to respond to the allegation, specify the errors.

The hypocrisy evident here is breathtaking. The “audit” refers to a reconstruction of the NZ temperature record produced by Treadgold’s Coalition pals4 that was submitted as evidence in their High Court case. Treadgold and the CSC know perfectly well that NIWA found significant errors in that reconstruction, because a detailed description of those errors formed an important part of NIWA’s evidence produced in court.

If Treadgold and the CSC are so sure that their “audit” is faultless, why do they not submit it for peer review at an academic journal? I’m sure that Chris de Freitas, never averse to lending his academic weight to the climate crank cause, would be willing to act as lead author and help to usher it past peer review, as he has done for so many papers over the years. I hear that Pattern Recognition in Physics could have a new publisher who might be interested. In the meantime, if Treadgold has any sense of decency he will apologise to Salinger for so maligning an honest man. Past history would suggest that I should not hold my breath.

  1. Web cited so that he can’t “disappear” the evidence.
  2. I will have a great deal more to say on this issue, unless and until Barry Brill, Terry Dunleavy, Bryan Leyland and Doug Edmeades pay the costs awarded against their shonky trust
  3. They aren’t.
  4. Statistical Audit of the NIWA 7-Station Review, NZCSC, July 2011, available here.

Must watch: Keeping it pure documentary on NZ climate change Gareth Renowden Jan 24

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This weekend’s episode of the new Keeping It Pure documentary series on Prime TV looks at how we’re addressing climate change issues in NZ. It screens at 8-30pm on Sunday and looks like required viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in the subject. Last weekend’s programme is being repeated on Saturday evening at 8-30 if you need to catch up, but set the recorder for future episodes — they won’t be getting repeats.

It’s hot down here: 2013 was the New Zealand region’s 2nd warmest year Gareth Renowden Jan 06

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NZ temperature expert Jim Salinger has been crunching last year’s data, and this morning confirmed that 2013 was a hot year in the New Zealand region — the second warmest in the long term record, beaten only by 1998. Based on 22 land stations and the three offshore islands, the annual average temperature was 0.84ºC above the 1961–1990 long term average of 12.17°C (1998 was +0.89ºC).

Winter 2013 was the warmest ever recorded, and Masterton, Omarama, Timaru, Invercargill and the Chatham Islands set new annual temperature records. In the last ten years only two years (2004 and 2009) have been cooler than average, and the ten year mean temperature was 0.26ºC above average, the highest on record.

Source: Jim Salinger

During 2013 the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) was in a neutral phase, and the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) was negative. According to Salinger, this favours more easterlies and north easterlies when temperatures are above average. Sea surface temperatures were also well above average, especially around the South Island and to the east of the country. Jim is also expecting 2014 to be warm:

ENSO neutral conditions are expected to persist at least until winter 2014, and negative IPO conditions are very likely to persist for the remainder of 2014. These conditions are expected to bring temperatures of +0.2 to +0.6°C above average for the New Zealand region.

Across the Tasman, Australia has just recorded its warmest year since records began — with a remarkable number of heat records being set. Final figures for the annual global average temperature on main terrestrial datasets has yet to be released, but the World Meteorological Organisation expects 2013 to be 6th warmest. A few days ago the University of Alabama in Huntsville revealed that its satellite temperature dataset provisionally put 2013 in 4th place since 1979.

NZ government climate policy: look, a squirrel! Gareth Renowden Dec 16

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Two major new government reports on New Zealand’s emissions projections and the expected impacts of four degrees of warming on NZ agriculture were released without fanfare last Friday — the timing clearly designed to minimise media fallout from reports that highlight the paucity and ineffectiveness of current climate policy settings.

Climate change minister Tim Groser dutifully issued a press release welcoming the release of New Zealand’s Sixth National Communication under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol, the first such report since 2009. Groser praised government policies, but failed to draw attention to the fact that his own report shows NZ emissions failing to meet the government’s targeted cuts, or that current policy settings will do little to reduce them — let alone achieve reductions by comparison with 1990 levels. This graph1 of actual and projected net emissions out to 2030 tells the story of the Key government’s abject policy failure:

The blue line is actual emissions up to 2008, “with measures” — that is, as affected by policies to reduce emissions. The red line is emissions projected out to 2030 assuming no action to reduce emissions, the green line the emissions that will result after current policy settings are taken into account. Both green and red lines rise substantially up to 2030, and end up at the virtually the same point2 — more than double NZ’s net emissions in 1990.

In other words, Tim Groser and his cabinet colleagues have created a suite of policies designed to increase New Zealand’s emissions at a time when they are supposed to be being reduced, and which will miserably fail to meet the government’s own target of a 5% reduction in emissions (using the 1990 baseline) by 2020.

The second report released last week is much the more interesting of the two, and makes grim reading for anyone trying to play down the seriousness of the likely changes that confront NZ and its farmers and growers. Four Degrees of Global Warming: Effects on the New Zealand Primary Sector (full report and summary available here) was placed on the Ministry of Primary Industries web site last Friday, but was spotted by TV3 News today.

The report is the first study to consider the likely impacts of warming at the upper end of global expectations, and projects climate impacts across the country and on pasture and forest productivity based on two different climate model projections. The pattern of changes is much as described in previous studies — warming spreading down from the north, wetter in the west and drier in the east, greater rainfall intensities, bigger floods and longer droughts — but with much sharper increases in these parameters.

Under the four degrees of warming scenario:

  • frosts are expected to disappear from all but the highest parts of the North Island and much of the coastal South Island
  • the amount of rain falling in extreme events is expected to increase by 32%
  • river flows will experience seasonal changes as snowfall declines
  • periods of maximum irrigation demand are likely to coincide with extended periods of low flows in major catchments
  • a massive increase in the growing degree days experienced in all regions, with Canterbury almost as warm as Northland
  • fruit crops requiring winter chilling (apricots, kiwi) will have to move south
  • wine growing regions will move and different grape varietals will be required
  • significant increase in heat stress on dairy cattle

The report finds that the most positive impact will be on forestry, where a combination of warming and CO2 fertilisation is expected to increase yields in both Pinus radiata and eucalyptus plantations.

This is more than a little ironic, given that the Emissions Trading Scheme policy settings and low carbon price have reduced the attractiveness of forestry planting as a carbon sink. The one thing that might do well in a warmer NZ is the one thing the government seems unable to incentivise with a handout. Perhaps James Cameron could make a film about it?

  1. From p126 of the report
  2. 88 Gg CO2e without measures, 84 Gg with.

Prat watch #13: still crazy, after all these years Gareth Renowden Dec 02

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There’s a parallel world out there — the planet inhabited by climate cranks and deniers. It’s a world where you can say whatever you like, be as wrong as you like, be shown to be wrong repeatedly, even comprehensively lose court cases, and yet you never have to say you’re sorry, or admit to your mistakes. It seems incredible to those of us who have to deal with reality, but there are people out there who will hang on your every word and take it as gospel, however outrageously wrong it may be. The latest dazzling effulgence from the pen of Richard Treadgold is a fine example of the genre. And yes, he is still banging on about NIWA and the NZ temperature record:

First, for the serially dishonest critics of our persistence on this topic, let me explain (yet again) that we have never disagreed with the occasional need for adjustments, we merely wish to know how NIWA makes them.

The serial dishonesty on display is Treadgold’s own. Here’s what he had to say when he launched this sad fiasco back in 2009:

The shocking truth is that the oldest readings have been cranked way down and later readings artificially lifted to give a false impression of warming, as documented below. There is nothing in the station histories to warrant these adjustments… [my emphasis]

I struggle to see how this statement is congruent with Treadgold’s re-imagining of history in his latest post. But he’s capable of much worse, it seems…

After all these years, after questions in the Parliament, a court case and an aborted appeal, newspaper and blog articles, radio reports and private emails, NIWA scientists have still not told us how they make the adjustments.

That’s an outright lie. NIWA published an exhaustive account of the methods they used when calculating their latest long term NZ temperature record — which turned out to be more or less identical to the old one. There are 169 pages of excruciating1 detail — as Treadgold well knows, because he links to it from his article one paragraph later! The mind boggles at the mental — er, agility — required to contradict yourself so comprehensively in the space of so few words, in a post headlined Epic fail, NIWA! Your methods are a global secret.

The rest of Treadgold’s post is a vain attempt to drum up some sort of outrage about anodyne statements made by NIWA’s chairman. Given the comprehensive failure by Treadgold, Brill et al to gain any traction with their ludicrous assertions about NZ’s temperature record, it’s perhaps not surprising that they resort to blowing smoke to cover their embarrassment.

An illustration of the Treadgold/Brill view of the world comes from this sentence in Treadgold’s post:

NIWA’s secret methodology grossly overstates the country’s warming as 0.91°C per century—using data from seven long-term weather stations, it increased every one of them—an incredible failure of chance alone.

If the New Zealand climate wasn’t warming, then that might be the case. But we know from other evidence — such as the shrinkage of NZ’s glaciers — that the climate has been warming. Seeing warming in the long term temperature record is exactly what you would expect. Physics and evidence trumps Treadgold’s naive interpretation of chance.

The Treadgold/Brill position, seen in the choice of words — the “secret methodology” that isn’t, that “grossly overstates” warming — only makes any kind of sense if you believe that NZ’s climate science community, and NIWA in particular, have somehow conspired to overstate warming in New Zealand.

That’s all the cranks have got left. There’s no science left to comfort them, no compelling evidence that doesn’t point to continuing warming, so they retreat into a fantasy world where everyone else is distorting the truth, and they are the sole guardians of some holy grail — the cup that cools.

Science is not done by fools and lawyers. It is not judged by courts or curmudgeons. It describes the uncomfortable reality in which the inhabitants of the world must live.

Meanwhile, one wonders if the trustees of the NZ Climate Science Education Trust, who brought the disastrous legal case against NIWA, have finally stumped up the costs awarded against them. If they haven’t, then the NZ taxpayer deserves to be told why not. That is a much more pressing question than any posed by Treadgold or Brill about NZ’s temperature record.

[Mr Simon, of course.]

  1. Sorry, Brett and the team!

Westward Ho: Who’s in Charge Here? Gareth Renowden Nov 22

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We’ve had lots of opportunities to observe operations on the drillship — often better at night when it’s all lit up. The difficulty is in interpreting what we are seeing. Support ships come in and out. Cranes transfer people in cages from one to the other. Other cages and pipes inside the derrick go up and down. Inflatables zoom around. Divers drop over the side of the NBD. I should have done oil drilling procedures 101 before coming out here. We understand they can’t while we’re so close but don’t know for sure. However, it is clear they are not drilling yet, despite saying they planned to start yesterday. Great statement yesterday from Labour leader David Cunliffe, about the huge risks of drilling — until you realise he hasn’t committed himself to anything. There is no policy to stop deep sea drilling. We need to keep working on Labour especially on the climate aspect.

Meanwhile the government is totally missing in action. Having rushed through draconian legislation to stop deep sea oil protests, they are taking no action to enforce it. We have heard nothing from the authorities. Anadarko has been hung out to die. Other oil companies interested in coming here will take note. They are missing in action on environmental protection. Simon Bridges says they are “putting the oil drilling industry through the wringer” yet their new EPA approved the emergency oil spill response plan without seeing it, let alone evaluating it. They are missing in action in their accountability to the public.

Having told the public deep sea drilling is no more dangerous than shallow drilling, though the consequences would be “significant”, Amy Adams has been caught out hiding a report showing it as seven times more dangerous and the consequences would “catastrophic”. It leaves one asking “who is in charge here?” Obviously, the US oil industry.

Westward Ho: Singing Jellyfish and Other Trivia Gareth Renowden Nov 22

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Day nine at sea, day seven on site, day four marking the ship. It would be mindlessly boring, day and night zigzagging alongside the ship, were it not for the excitement of updates from the campaign on land, the good company, and the occasional hilarious moment.

Last night, off the stern of the Noble Bob Douglas, Niamh yelled “Jellyfish, jellyfish!”

“That’s not a jellyfish, its rubbish.”

“No, it’s a bluebottle, Grab it with the boathook!”

So Bunny did. And as she hauled onboard a bubble some half metre across it started singing operatically to the tune of Handels Hallelujah chorus, complete with orchestra. “Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday!” Every time you poked it, the music began again. It seems they do birthday parties on the ship, and chuck their rubbish overboard.

Noble Bob Douglas looks like a cross between a battleship (massive grey hull, radars, bits and bobs) and one of my grandson’s intricate Lego projects (blue cranes, crates, derricks; yellow railings, drills stairways; white helicopter pad). The support boats look like giant malevolent tadpoles with fat squarish heads, and long wiggly tails.

We are also encouraged to hear of the mass mobilisation on so many oil free beaches tomorrow. The campaign is moving to land in a huge way. Watch out for simultaneous haka!

To find a beach near you, go to the oil free flotilla site or the Greenpeace Aotearoa site. This is enough for my patient scribe on the other boat. More serious stuff about the political situation later today.

Love you all,


Westward Ho: Days 6 & 7 – in the zone Gareth Renowden Nov 21

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Blog post from Jeanette on Vega received at 08:30am thursday morning.
Apology for the blog free days.When Bunny and I reached our final destination and joined the Vega as co-skippers, we lost access to computer and e-mail. This is being transferred via radio to s/v Baltazar where Ros is kindly typing it up.

Since the drill ship Noble Bob Douglas arrived Tuesday morning with supply ship Hart Tide, we have been driving in small circles between them, within the 500 metre zone.

The other boats are watching from outside the zone. We can not visit them again without risking implicating them in our actions, and we haven’t rigged the sail to stabilise the rolling. There have been hours of extreme boredom and moments of exhilaration, especially learning most of the Arctic 30 have been bailed, and that Anadarko’s operation here is illegal, because the Environmental Protection Authority signed off their consent without sighting their emergency spill response plan which they are supposed to approve.

There has been great loss of dignity as the wind rose to 20 knots and our tight circles sent us barrelling from one wall to the other, and many bruises on heads, shins and shoulders. Last night, anger: as the second supply ship the Bailey Tide got sick of waiting 500m away all day and decided to dock with the drill ship, with us in between. Neither ship responded to our communications and requests for their intentions, and little wooden Vega was nearly squished between two giant steel hulls, closing in our narrow strip of water and squeezing us out like toothpaste. There is a lot of lawbreaking out here, and it mostly isn’t us.

I suggest you check the Oil Free Seas Flotilla and Greenpeace NZ websites for photo and video blogs. I may be able to send one more when we head back and rendezvous with the rest of the flotilla.

Over and out.


Westward Ho: Day 5 – we chased them off Gareth Renowden Nov 18

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News today that the drill ship is 50 miles off New Plymouth, having passed wide of us in the night and headed south. Seems likely they had planned to rendezvous with the supply ship we saw yesterday morning and do customs clearance out here, but thought better of it when they saw us. All we know is that the supply ship turned around and went back to the site where the Ignoble Bob now is and they are apparently doing customs clearance there.

We’ve just had word that they expect to arrive at first light tomorrow. Whatever, we’ll be here.

Our boats are currently in a tight circle with the videographer up the mast of Tiama and surfing fanatic Barclay is doing a haka on his board in the middle of the circle. It’s a haka composed specially for the action off East Cape and performed there on the beach two years ago when Petrobras, the Brazilian company was also hoping to get into the oil business off our coast. Takes a bit more balance to do it in on the water on a paddle board but Barclay isn’t even wobbling.
Now one person from each boat is standing on their bow with a piece of limestone given to the flotilla by the people of Kaikoura who welcomed Tiama as it sailed from Bluff to Wellington in preparation for the flotilla. One by one they cast their stone into the water with a few words of dedication.

from the east coast to the west

from the south island to the north

from Kaikoura to Aotearoa to the world

from the depths of our hearts to the depths of this ocean;

With these stones we claim this spot For Aotearoa, for the whales, the dolphins, the sharks, the seabirds all around us

and for the future of our children’s children.

I’m gradually meeting all the other crews and visiting all the other boats at our morning gatherings over coffee. This morning we gathered on Friendship, a lovely wooden boat built by Anna Horne and her partner the late Johnny Simpson. Beautiful polished woodwork and a cool wheelhouse deck to hang out on. Anna was the co-ordinator of the flotilla this year — hi Anna, impressive boat.

Typical interview with Sean Plunkett this morning — he thinks the investors should decide where they want to put their money and have an absolute right to decide for us whether they drill for oil – it’s about where you can make the most money. Some people will never understand there are things money can’t buy and in the end they are the things that really matter.

Off for a nap now — sleep tonight could be broken, and I don’t mean just by my 12-2 am watch.