The court at least got ONE thing right...
They said: "High Court is not competent to rule on questions of science.".
I wish other courts would follow this edict, but alas I don't think so!
A group of climate skeptics that includes Australian Dr Bob Carter has failed in its bid to have New Zealand’s High Court hear its complaint against that country’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). Dr Carter lined up with retired journalist Terry Dunleavy and computer modeler Bob Dedekind under the …
If there's one thing that makes me blow hot and cold it's spelling. Only Americans spell Disc with a "k", and "sceptics" definitely doesn't possess one.
As to whether the weather is altering . . of course it is. The earth is a dynamic device. Maybe in a million years from now whatever passes for intelligent life will be predicting the dire consequences of global cooling.
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I like the judge's comment "This Court should not seek to determine or resolve scientific questions demanding the evaluation of contentious expert opinion. Very sensible, I think.
I'm not so sure about the ruling that Dedekind's "general expertise in basic statistical techniques does not extend to any particular specialised experience or qualifications in the specific field of applying statistical techniques in the field of climate science. The field of application of the techniques has nothing to do with an objective assessment of whether or not the techniques have been properly applied, and it matters little that climate science is specialised.
You can see Dedekind's affidavit here: http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/dedekind2.pdf
Like Dedekind, I make no claim to "particular aptitude in advanced statistical theory" but I can read his words. His conclusion is that "methodological errors account for most of the warming trend...". Not for all of it. He agrees that it's getting warmer, despite disagreeing with some details of the methodology. (In round numbers, we're talking about 0.3 degC/century vs 0.8 degC/century, see the 4SS average at the top of page 8 of the affidavit.)
So even if the judge had been willing to let this in, it confirms global warming.
Agreed that Dedekind confirmed the warming trend.
The reality of warming is not the issue to me - at least as far as the judge's words are concerned.
The thing that bothers me is that if Dedekind's statement that "methodological errors account for most of the warming trend..." is valid, then it should be judged on its own merit and should be considered as an objective comment (and a significant one, at that).
If the judge had dismissed Dedekind as 'not independent enough' or 'not expert enough in modelling and statistical techniques', then fair enough. That isn't how it came out, though. It seemed that Dedekind was dismissed because he wasn't a climate scientist.
That error of judgement, by the way, benefits no side of the argument in my opinion. And perhaps that's what the judge wanted - a court is really not the place to argue science and scientific method.
I think this just illustrates the difference in the understanding of the word 'expert' in a court of law and a scientific discussion. Dedekind's general competence in statistics clearly qualifies him to make statements in a scientific discussion about the use and abuse of statistics. It doesn't (at least according to this judge) qualify him as an expert witness on the specific subject in a court of law.
I've acted as an expert witness in a court of law on the basis that my academic qualifications were in an area directly related to the specific circumstances of the case. But the actual question I had to answer could have been explained by anybody with a degree in mathematics. Or even a bright 'A' level student. A court of law is content with an argument from authority.
The principles of statistics do not change to suit particular disciplines.
The leading New Zealand paper on climate data adjustment is Rhoades & Salinger (1993). David Rhoades is a statistician with no "particular specialised experience or qualifications in the specific field of applying statistical techniques in the field of climate science".
The Judge did not discuss the issue whether climate qualifications were necessary. He just assumed that a statistical expertise was not relevant on its own.
A case in point is the "hockey stick" where it took a statistician to show that a climate scientist was out of his depth. Unfortunately, climate scientists (whatever that expression may mean) receive very rudimentary training in statistics, despite the fact that it is often the major component in climatology issues.
...just because climate sceptics have a setback, or even, ultimately, are shown to be completely wrong, do not for one minute be misled into thinking that means there is no global scientific conspiracy to promote the theory of man-made climate change. That would be a big mistake…
Irrespective of the merits of either side of the debate, a court of law is categorically not the place to continue a scientific discussion. I think the best way to read the judge's verdict is as a sharp kick up the arse for the people who thought it was a good idea to attempt to involve the law in something it cannot and should not decide.
The approach of Carter et all is barely a skinny step above that of the chiropracticizers who sued Simon Singh. It smacks of desperation.
Justice Venning noted “This Court should not seek to determine or
resolve scientific questions demanding the evaluation of contentious
One might well ask what the hell was he doing there then? He could have
said that right at the outset and much time and money would have been saved.
Elsewhere it has been suggested that judges hearing cases such as this should have scientific knowledge.
To that I would suggest that one might as well insist on bulls having tits.
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