Lawrence Solomon: New Zealand’s Climategate –Act II

Lawrence Solomon
Financial Post
October 9, 2010

Last November, I reported on accusations from New Zealand that a government agency called NIWA — New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research – had cooked the books on global warming.  According to global warming skeptics at the Climate Conversation Group and the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, the country’s temperatures had not climbed over the last century, as graphs produced by the agency claimed.  Based on the actual raw data for the last century, New Zealand’s temperature has been steady over that same period.

The skeptics took the agency to court to demonstrate that it had cooked the books. Their Statement of Claim, filed on behalf of the New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust, asked the High Court to determine that the New Zealand Temperature Record was invalid and to stop NIWA from providing this invalid data to any governmental authority that might use it to set policy. In this way, the plaintiffs hoped to prevent New Zealand from setting a global warming policy on the basis of flawed science.

Last month, NIWA filed its own Statement of Defence, and it was startling. Yes, NIWA declared, it did publish temperature data called the New Zealand Temperature Record, or NZTR as it was widely known, but it was not required to do so by law.

“There is no ‘official’ or formal New Zealand Temperature Record;” the Statement of Defence went on, the temperature record merely being “an informal description for a collection of different streams of climate information.”

Next question: Should the New Zealand government base its official climate change policy on an informal, unofficial data set?

Act III to come.

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