Prat Watch #12: warmest winter makes Ring writhe (and other tales)

By Gareth Renowden 02/09/2013


It’s time for another update on the antics of our favourite climate cranks — and this week’s star is New Zealand’s very own über crank, weather astrologer Ken Ring. He’s been reinventing NZ’s warmest-ever winter to make it fit with his forecasts. Here’s Ken, back in April, in a piece headlined “Severe winter ahead” [WebCite1]:

The closer the moon is to the earth, the more extreme is the weather, and this year’s closest perigee occurs in late June, which will set us up for a very cold July. […] Very cold temperatures may break records at or near both mid July and mid August.

Unfortunately for Ring, none of that happened. Instead, we got record warmth, and a marked absence in July and August of the frigid southerlies from polar oceans that bring NZ its coldest weather. He is so desperate to make this winter appear cold and to justify his forecast that he’s just published a barely coherent article titled White lies in winter [WebCite]. He thrashes around at a number of targets, but his aim is clear: we have to believe that this was not a record-breaking warm winter. Under a list of links to newspaper articles that don’t support his cold contention, he appeals to his reader’s innate weather measuring equipment:

Does the above sound like the warmest winter ever to anyone? […] I am sure we have all felt the winter cold; now we have a cool September and a cold October to get through before a shift to warmer December weather.

Unfortunately, the nation’s real temperature recording devices don’t agree with Ring. The final numbers confirm that this was New Zealand’s warmest winter since data started being collected in the 1860s. But that’s not enough.The moon man isn’t about to give up. He’s noticed there’s a lot of snow around the nation’s ski fields:

Happily this winter has been fantastic for ski operators because all ski fields are lush with snow. That alone should demonstrate that the season has not been too over-warm. The smallest child will know that snow comes in colder weather and thaws when temperatures rise. Winters can have both warm and cold spells but a good snow-base would not be capable of hanging around throughout any “warmest season ever”.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Ring is talking complete bollocks. A “good snow base” can easily linger right through spring and into high summer. This winter, my two local ski fields had a huge dump of snow in late June, and with one or two small top-ups, have been providing wonderful skiing right through the warm winter. There’s so much snow at Mt Hutt, for instance, that they’ve already decided to extend their season by two weeks — and when they do close, it will be because of a lack of custom, not lack of snow.

One other notable point about Ring’s article: he accuses the Prime Minister’s science advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, of being a liar.

When even the Chief Science Advisor also goes public with falsehoods about climate, a person the public trusts as much as the Ombudsman, this generates serious distrust in science.

What really sows distrust in science is the nonsense spouted by Ken Ring — a man who wouldn’t know real science if it leaped up and bit him on the bum. I wish it would…

Meanwhile, the head honcho at NZ’s official climate crank convocation, Barry Brill, has been busy penning words that he hopes will pass for wisdom at µWatts. That’s not a very high standard to achieve, but Brill still manages to fall at the first hurdle. He’s taking aim at the forthcoming IPCC launch of the summary for policymakers of the Working Group one report on the science of climate change. Here’s a part of his intro:

The timetable for the global treaty was deferred at the Durban COP because developing countries (particularly China and India) felt that the 2013 SPM was an indispensable input to the negotiations. Governments need an authoritative up-to-date assessment of both the extent and the causes of the climate change threat, present and future.

As is usual in Brill’s commentary on climate issues, he’s simply making stuff up. Agreement wasn’t deferred because of any desire to see more scientific evidence. It was put off because it was impossible to get everyone to agree on a way forward in the time available.

The rest of Brill’s piece is nothing more than a lawyer trying to make a case: that climate sensitivity is overestimated, that the lack of any new global temperature record means that warming has somehow stopped, and that the IPCC is therefore in trouble. In that, he’s about as successful as he was in bringing a suit against the NZ temperature record: prolix and unpersuasive to all but the µWatts faithful.

The science is what the science is, and the people who know it best are the people doing it. They are part of the IPCC process, and their views will be the ones given weight in the WG1 summary for policymakers, due out at the end of the month. Barry Brill is a propagandist — and not a very good one, at that. Perhaps he should take up astrological weather forecasting. He might, at a pinch, be able to do better than Ken Ring.

  1. Because Ken has a history of altering stuff after the fact to make himself look better.