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The War Rages On

The great global climate change war rages on. It doesn’t seem to matter to the opponents of the idea of climate change that the science gets more certain every year. It doesn’t seem to matter to them that the scientific consensus gets stronger every year. And it doesn’t seem to matter that the physical evidence: extreme weather, sea temperature increases, ice mass reduction, becomes clearer all the time. They are still determined to deny what seems obvious to most of us.

The latest battle in this war here in New Zealand involves a group who claim to be climate change “skeptics” called the Climate Science Coalition. There are a couple of problems with the preceding claim: first, these people aren’t skeptics, they are deniers; and second, their group should not have “science” in it’s name because very little of what they do has anything to do with science.

The CSC wants the courts to rule that the climate data produced by NIWA (New Zealand’s National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research) is invalid and that they should be forced into revealing exactly how their figures showing significant warming are calculated.

The data has been collected since 1853 and has had adjustments applied to correct for instrument changes, new locations, and other factors. Obviously the CSC – which is funded by private donations and has an association with New Zealand’s main libertarian party, Act, and some business groups – must deny the validity of this data because it contradicts their ideologically held beliefs.

The CSC now admits the adjustments are necessary but they claim that the urban heat island effect has not been compensated for. They also demand that the adjustments should be properly documented and made available to everyone. Those aren’t unreasonable requirements actually. I also think that all effects should be adjusted for and I think that the data should be easily available.

The problem for the CSC is that it already is. All the raw data is already available: it can be downloaded from NIWA’s web site. And all the adjustments and methodology are documented in the scientific literature. If the CSC is genuinely a scientific organization (as their name implies) then why don’t they know this?

I know exactly why: because they are a political organisation, not a scientific one, and they desperately want their point of view to prevail whether it’s supported by the facts or not. Why would anyone want to deliberately lead the world to potential disaster? Because libertarians and right wingers are so tied up with their dogma that they have unreasonable faith in it despite evidence to the contrary.

Libertarians in particular are very dangerous because their ideology appeals to so many people when considered superficially and this disguises the fact that underneath many of them are deluded nutters. The nuttiness of the far right is obvious to anyone but the libertarians are far more clever at disguising it!

The CSC have shown a classic denialist agenda. Originally they said adjustments weren’t necessary and dismissed the data because of that, then when they were shown adjustments were necessary they wanted the list of how they were done, then when they were given that list they looked for other problems. It’s obvious they just want to cherry pick the evidence looking for anomalies and throw enough mud until some sticks. It’s really a deeply dishonest and cynical strategy.

So the court case is clearly a politically inspired ploy. The court will probably decide in favor of NIWA but there is no guarantee of that because the law is not the best way to decide the merit of scientific issues. That’s what the scientific journals, peer review, and debate amongst experts are for. But that doesn’t return the right result for the denialists so they seem to have to resort to whatever tactics they think will get the result they want.

Have you ever heard the denialists’ motto? It’s this: “the truth, while interesting, is irrelevant to the topic under discussion.”

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