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Dr Muriel Newman

A matter of trust

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To those of you who have experienced difficulties with our New Zealand Centre for Political Research website at www.nzcpr.com over the last few weeks, our apologies for any inconvenience caused. The technical problems with the server that hosts our NZCPR website have now been resolved by our ISP, and the full functionality of the website has been restored. However, the difficulties we experienced have highlighted the fact that the NZCPR website has outgrown our current technology platform – and the server.

Since the New Zealand Centre for Political Research was launched in 2005, we have grown from strength to strength. Our NZCPR Weekly electronic newsletter is now one of the biggest in Australasia, and our NZCPR.com website holds close to 1,000 published articles, has received over 2 million visitors, and has had almost 100 million hits since the operation began. In addition, we host the busy Coastal Coalition website at www.CoastalCoalition.co.nz, which is central to the running of the Citizens Initiated Referendum to restore Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed.

The NZCPR General Debate Forum, one of the most popular parts of our website, features over 60,000 subscriber contributions, with some topics, like “P” and the NZ Community being viewed well over 100,000 times. Our website petitions have received almost 30,000 signatures, our Breaking Views blog has had hundreds of thousands of visits, and our Facebook page remains a hive of activity.

Public policy research is the cornerstone of the NZCPR’s activities but increasingly these ideas need to be disseminated not only electronically through our newsletters, but through a new generation of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as well. These are all part of a successful communication program these days for any credible think tank. With NZCPR supporters connected electronically, but spread throughout the country and increasingly around the world, investing in on-line initiatives that reach across the barriers of geography are a priority.

If you are a satisfied NZCPR Weekly reader, who values the contribution that our newsletters make on public policy issues, then I am asking for your assistance. I cannot do this upgrade without significant funding. And we cannot carry on as we are in the long term. Please consider supporting our efforts by sending in a donation.

As I write this newsletter, like you, my sympathies go out to the people of Christchurch who have endured a year of dreadful tragedy and disruption caused by the earthquakes. We can only wish them well as they struggle to rebuild their lives.

But as we watch the replays of the earthquakes, we are again reminded of the power of nature and mankind’s insignificance by comparison. It also raises questions about the legitimacy of environmental extremists who claim that mankind can change the fundamentals of nature – like the climate!

In fact, when you look at how the whole catastrophic man-made global warming scaremongering campaign has unfolded, it is bizarre that extremists have succeeded in persuading politicians to adopt their radical measures. It’s even more bizarre that the government of one of the least carbon emitting countries on earth has thrown hundreds of millions of dollars at an emissions trading scheme that is based on fraud and deceit. In doing so they will make our country poorer, simply because they either believe the alarmists, or they find it more politically convenient to give in than promote a counter view.

What is even more inconceivable is the blatant way that scientists attempted to re-write history as they set about making their case for a man-made global warming crisis by eliminating two well-documented phases in the earth’s geological record: the Medieval Warm Period where the earth’s climate was so warm that grapes were able to grow as far North as Greenland, and the Little Ice Age, where the planet was so cold that waterways like the River Thames in England froze over. With their fancy computer models and dubious assumptions these global warming activists tried to fabricate the evidence so modern-day climate trends appeared to be verging on catastrophic warming. They further claimed that as a result the ice caps would melt and low-lying parts of the world would be flooded.

Unfortunately for the alarmists, nature itself is not persuaded by political propaganda – it leaves that failing to humans! Sea levels are not rising calamitously, but in some cases are actually falling. In addition, the sunspot activity, which is believed to have caused some of the recent warming of the Earth – in line with that experienced by other planets in our solar system – is now in decline. As a result, many scientists now fear that the Earth is moving into a cooling cycle. Certainly, the Southern hemisphere experienced its coldest winter in 50 years and Europe has gone through two very cold winters in a row. Here in New Zealand the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research has just reported that as a result of last month’s sub-Antarctic air flows temperatures were well below average with numerous low-temperatures records being broken. So far this month, temperatures remain below normal…

The point is that policy responses by governments to climate related issues – if any are needed at all – should be based on the evidence of what’s actually going on, not on questionable computer models being pushed by ideological extremists at the United Nations.

Despite the earth’s possible cooling temperature trends, the man-made global warming juggernaut is alive and well. At the end of November some 30,000 to 40,000 delegates are expected to converge on Durban for the 17th national climate change talkfest. New Zealand delegates will of course be there for yet another massive climate change junket at taxpayers’ expense – all well watered and fed, while millions around the world live in poverty or die from diseases that would be preventable, if only they received the same attention and resources now being consumed by global warming.

According to the European Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, who will be visiting New Zealand this week for the Pacific Island Forum, no binding agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol will be agreed at Durban. That means that the Kyoto Protocol – the excuse used by our government to impose the emissions trading scheme – will expire in 2012. After that, any country with such a scheme to reduce man-made greenhouse gas emissions will no longer be compelled to continue it.

But if taxpayers think that relief from the rising costs associated with the ETS is in sight, they might want to think again. There is now an enormous bureaucracy behind the ETS and many New Zealanders are making a lot of money from green businesses. This includes the well-funded Pure Advantage network of high profile business people who have seen an opportunity and are pushing the mantra “green growth for greater wealth”. The fact that research indicates that for every ‘green’ job created in an economy, between 2 and 4 ordinary jobs are lost – because of the huge government subsidies associated with ‘green’ initiatives – does not appear to enter the equation. The reality is that when it comes to climate change, millions of people around the world have bought into this lucrative money-making machine and they will not give their income stream up willingly.

This includes scientists as well. The Climategate scandal in 2009 revealed that many associated with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have been ‘cooking the books’ to justify their positions and their funding by producing computer models that find catastrophic global warming where there is none. The scandal is that our government relied heavily on the findings of the IPCC to justify the introduction of the ETS.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator is the Chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition Barry Brill, a former National Cabinet Minister. Barry laments the tragic state of climate science whereby scientists, who once ranked amongst the world’s most trusted professions, are now increasingly regarded by the public as being devious and dishonest.

In his article Confidence in climate scientists plummets, he describes a survey carried out in the US last month that shows 69 percent of the public believe it likely that some scientists have falsified research data in order to support their own theories and beliefs on global warming. This is up 10 points from a survey taken 18 months ago. Only 6 percent say that falsifying the data is not likely.

As Barry says, “This is a shocking result. Not long ago, scientists consistently polled as the most trusted profession of all. Now they are dismissed as cheats”.

A big part of the problem has been a lack of good investigative journalism when it comes to climate change. Instead of parroting man-made global warming propaganda, the media should be looking for balance and checking whether the dire claims are based on real-life measurements or on contrived computer modelling.

Barry explains, “Political correctness has robbed the reportage of all nuance and depth. Pick up a three-year-old newspaper and you’ll read exactly the same head-banging as was served up last week. And now two out of three Americans think climate scientists are ‘cooking the books.’ Gallup polled people in 111 countries and found that most of the world did not ‘believe in’ human-caused climate change. All sides of the debate know that public opinion polls are important. In the final analysis, they will influence the politicians more than any scientific refinements (short of a paradigm shift). But the polls everywhere have been uni-directional for two years in a row. The well-funded campaign based on ‘we know best’ paternalism has been exposed as a bankrupt failure.”

The public are not stupid. Most New Zealanders are sceptical of claims that catastrophic global warming is just around the corner. Especially when the reports issued by NIWA that New Zealand experienced a record long-term temperature rise of almost 1 degree Celsius over the 20th century, has been challenged by the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. They found no warming trend in the raw data and are questioning the legitimacy the so-called ‘adjustments’ used by NIWA to get the warming trend.

If it turns out that NIWA did doctor the data to provide the evidence of localised global warming that was used by the government to justify introducing an emissions trading scheme, then that would be a major scandal indeed. But we will have to wait until next year, when the case will be heard in the High Court, to see the truth of the matter.

I would like to end with a final appeal. The future of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research really does depend on whether we receive sufficient support to upgrade our website and technology platform. If you value these newsletters and the wider contribution that we make to public affairs, then I am urging you to support us in this endeavour so that our work can continue.