Bill English’s weasel words on weather, climate and drought

Oh Boy,

Another somewhat uninformed post from our friend at Hot Topic.

Gareth, You really have to learn that a single weather event or even a series of weather events are not proof that the climate is changing and most certainly cannot be blamed on or in any way validate the yet to be proven Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory.

Just try looking at the data over a minimum of 15 years if you want to assert that the planet is actually warming, and then try and find some empirical reason why we should blame that on CO2 instead of just natural climate fluctuations.

Here’s how to do it.  Of course Gareth it does assume that you know what the “Least Squares Regression” method is and you understand the meaning of “uncertainty” in the statistical sense. If you enroll and study statistics in a first year University course, you will find the subject covered admirably.

Step 1. Get the monthly mean global surface temperature anomalies since January 1997 from the Hadley Centre/CRU. The data, freely available online, are the U.N.’s preferred way to measure how much global warming has happened. Or you could use the more reliable satellite data from the University of Alabama at Huntsville or from Remote Sensing Systems Inc.

Step 2. Put the data into Microsoft Excel and use its routine that calculates the least-squares linear-regression trend on the data. Linear regression determines the underlying trend in a dataset over a given period as the slope of the unique straight line through the data that minimizes the sum of the squares of the absolute differences or “residuals” between the points corresponding to each time interval in the data and on the trend-line. Phew! If that is too much like doing real work (though Excel will do it for you at the touch of a button), find a friendly, honest statistician.

Step 3. Look up the measurement uncertainty in the dataset. Since measuring global temperature reliably is quite difficult, properly-collated temperature data are presented as central estimates flanked by upper and lower estimates known as the “error bars”.

Step 4. Check whether the warming (which is the difference between the first and last value on the trend-line) is greater or smaller than the measurement uncertainty. If it is smaller, falling within the error-bars, the trend is statistically indistinguishable from zero. There has been no warming – or, to be mathematically nerdy, there has been no statistically-significant warming.

Step 5.  If there is warming greater than the measurement uncertainty in you results from above, then you should look for some empirical evidence to show that the warming you found with your calculations above is different from say the Medieval Warm Period or the Roman Warm Period or even the Holocene Maximum. Basically, the only anthropogenic CO2 in those days was from itinerant sword sharpening.  So good luck on that one.

Bill English for all his faults knows that, but Russel Norman and Kennedy Graham seem to have forgotten.  Maybe they should re read their PhD’s, that is if they didn’t buy their degrees off some web site somewhere.

Gareth,  all that you are saying so far is demonstrably absolute nonsense and we haven’t even got on to Lord Christopher Monckton yet!

How about you start putting some facts into your posts instead of your one sided opinion.  All you are doing at the moment is scaring little old ladies and the very gullible.

Dear Russell,

Did you know that the esteemed chairman of the IPCC admitted that there had been no global warming for the last 17 years? Also the British Met Office agrees with this, in fact they are not expecting any warming until until 2017!–Cycle-25-need-worry-NASA-scientists-right-Thames-freezing-again.html

So you plonkers at the AGreen Party, you better straighten up your act in a BIG way. If there is no Global warming then its very dumb to claim that Hurricane Sandy and the drought in NZ on a non existant event! 


Here is Gareth’s post in its entirety.

You are all welcome to comment below as it appears that Gareth chooses his commenters very carefully on his site;  just no obsenities please.

Bill English’s weasel words on weather, climate and drought

by Gareth on March 14, 2013

Occasionally — but only occasionally — the political pantomime that is parliamentary question time throws up something interesting. Yesterday, NZ’s deputy prime minister Bill English managed to dig himself into a drought-ridden hole, only to emerge looking like a climate denier. Green Party co-leader Russel Norman tried to get English to expand on his earlier comments that the government would not be able to help farmers hit by increased incidence of droughts, which led to this astonishing little exchange [Hansard transcript here]:

Dr Russel Norman: Does he agree with the Government’s own research body the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) when it states: “Droughts are projected to become more frequent and more intense under climate change.”?

Hon Bill English: I would not want to question the scientific effort that has gone into that, although there is always uncertainty about these predictions. I recall similar predictions made by similar scientific bodies in Australia just 4 or 5 years ago and it has not stopped raining since.

Astonishing stuff. English gets the uncertainty issue completely wrong1, and then manages to insult Australians who have been suffering through their hottest summer ever. Here’s a little chart from the Aussie Climate Commission that he might find helpful.

The Angry Summer Map480

This is what NIWA has to say (pdf):

The most likely scenario sees farmers in most North Island regions, as well as those in eastern regions of the South Island — especially Canterbury and eastern Southland – spending 5-10 per cent more of the year in drought by the middle of this century. This means that if you spend an average of 10 per cent of your time in drought at the moment, by 2040, you might expect to spend as much as 20 per cent — although this figure will naturally vary from year to year.

Throughout the exchange with Norman, the deputy PM seemed extremely loath to use the words “climate change”, and instead made extensive references to cycles and weather patterns. In a later supplementary question, Norman asked him if he accepted that “human-induced climate change is real?”

Hon Bill English: It may well be, but I am not sure what that has got to do with this particular question.

Weasel words, at best. English wants to ignore the clear advice the government is receiving from the Crown Research Institute tasked with studying the issue, and can’t bring himself to directly accept the reality of anthropogenic climate change. You’d think it would be a simple matter for a senior politician to take reality at face value and act accordingly, but that seems be something that English and his cabinet colleagues find difficult in lots of areas…

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4 Responses to “Bill English’s weasel words on weather, climate and drought”

  1. Pete Ridley Says:

    Hi again “Roger”,

    I have looked into my archive and found the comments in March 2011 (how time flies when you are enjoying yourself) that I posted to Gareth’s article “THE CLIMATE SHOW #8: KEVIN TRENBERTH AND OUR SHAKY FUTURE” (

    Gareth’s CACC propaganda is (was?) broadcast on his radio channel “The Climate Show” and that item was trying to place the blame for the Christchurch earthquake on our use of fossil fuels. He doesn’t seem to be aware that New Zealand sits right on the boundary between to tectonic plates (

    I’d be surprised many of your readers have not heard of John O’Sulllvan, “CEO and Legal Consultant” of blogging group Principia Scientific International which developed from the authors of the cobbled-together collection of blog articles published as “Slaying the Sky Dragon; death of the greenhouse theory”. Contrary to the claims made about the book It’s impact on scientific understanding of the greenhouse effect has been virtually zero.

    Those who know of PSI may be interested to know that the blogging group has recently been “take-over” by a new company PSI Acumen Ltd. ( with its two directors, John O’Sullivan (who I have been aware of since early 2010) and one Walter James O’Brien (someone of whom I knew nothing at all until 15th March 2013).

    Yesterday I E-mailed one of the PSI founding members (who runs a materials research company in the USA) about his reaction to the “take-over”. His response didn’t surprise me in the least “I was not aware of this until just now”.

    PSI “Chairman” Dr. Tim Ball was included in the exchanges so I wonder whether or not he had been aware of that “take over” but I doubt if I’ll hear from him on the subject. I’ll be E-mailing the other PSI founding members about their reaction to the news.

    More on PSI and its relationship with PSI Acumen Ltd. can be fond at in Section 7.6.

    Best regards, Pete Ridley

  2. Pete Ridley Says:

    Hi “Roger”,

    It’s worth the trouble. He participates in a “broadcasting station” which spouts his nonsense. I recall a couple of years ago he had Trenberth on along with the Skeptical Science blog owner.

    Must rush but will be back.

    Have also some vey interesting developments about Principia Scientific International to tell you. Meanwhile see Section 7.6

    Best regards, pete

  3. rogerthesurf Says:

    Hi Pete,

    Long time no see.

    Just discovered this guy Gareth and am not generally impressed with his wild journalism. (If journalism is an appropriate description)

    He can’t back up his own assertions either.

    I can see that he has visited this site a number of times to read my comments but hasnt been brave enough to leave a comment yet.

    No great loss though, when I review a someone elses blog like this I usually get an influx of blog followers visiting as well, but not many from Gareth’s lot.

    I wonder if he has followers at all?

    Gareth might be interested to know that I haven’t even got going with him yet.

    So much misrepresentation on his site I will have a field day if I think its worth the trouble.

    Take care.



  4. Pete Ridley Says:

    Hi Roger,

    It’s over a year since we last spoke – how are you these days?

    Nice article about Gareth the fruit farmer but he doesn’t always get things so completely back-to-front.

    I remember that quite recently – Dec. 2012 – he did write an interesting article “LEYLAND JOINS THE ÜBER CRANKS: SIGNS UP WITH SERIAL LIAR O’SULLIVAN’S VANITY “SCIENCE” GROUP” ( In that article he also linked to another of his that told an even more interesting story “SO MANY LIES – AND THE LIAR WHO TELLS THEM” (

    For more relating to those articles try “Spotlight On Principia Scientific International” ( which has recently been updated about claims regarding the change of Principia Scientific International’s status.


    Best regards, Pete Ridley

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