Climate change deniers swamped in NIWA court challenge

BUSINESSDESK: A lobby group set up to challenge claims that humans are causing climate change has lost a High Court challenge to National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research data showing rising temperatures in New Zealand between 1909 and 2009.

RAW DATA: NZ Climate Science vs NIWA - The judgment of Justice Venning (PDF)

Judge Geoffrey Venning threw out claims by the NZ Climate Science Education Trust that the Crown Research Institute known as NIWA breached its statutory duties, were mistaken in fact, failed to consider mandatory considerations and acted unreasonably in publishing its work.

NIWA will be entitled to costs, which are yet to be set, as a result of the case, Justice Venning's judgment says.

"The plaintiff does not succeed on any of its challenges to the three decisions of NIWA in issue. The application for judicial review is dismissed and judgment entered for the defendant."

Some evidence in the case was ruled inadmissible, including that of Terry Dunleavy, a former journalist who is a founding member of the trust and secretary of the associated NZ Climate Science Coalition.

Justice Venning says Dunleavy "has no applicable qualifications" and "his interest in the area does not sufficiently qualify him as an expert".

He also questioned the credentials of Bob Dedekind, a computer modelling and statistical analyst whose "general expertise in basic statistical techniques does not extend to any particular specialised experience of qualifications in the specific field of applying statistical techniques in the field of climate science".

The trust's case stems back to the publication in 1999 by NIWA of a statistical trend series of nationally averaged annual mean surface temperature trends in New Zealand since 1853, known as the Seven Station Temperature Series, or 7SS, which indicates a warming trend of about 0.9 degrees Centigrade from 1909 to 2009.

The work relied on research compiled by climate scientist Jim Salinger.

The coalition criticised the accuracy of 7SS and in response NIWA published an 11 Station Temperature Series, or 11SS, in late 2009. A year later, NIWA published a review of 7SS. All the work supported the conclusion that New Zealand's climate warmed in the 100 years to 2009.

It was this body of work that the trust challenged in seeking a judicial review in proceedings started in July 2010.

"I am satisfied that the methodology applied by NIWA was in accordance with internationally recognised and credible scientific methodology," Justice Venning says.

According to the coalition's nzclimatescience.net website, the group's aim is to "represent accurately, and without prejudice, facts regarding climate change; to provide considered opinion on matters related to both natural and human-caused climate effects; and to comment on the economic and socio-political consequences of climate change".

It includes links to articles such as Why The 'Warmists' Are Wrong About Climate Change.

A wikipedia entry on the coalition cites an article published on the hot-topic.co.nz global warming blog that says the Heartland Institute, a US body "that plays a key role in organised climate denial", made a $US25,000 grant to the NZ Climate Science Coalition.

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