Monday, 30 November 2009

CLIMATEGATE: When there’s more important things to put on your front page [updated]


Climategate: With 10.6 million hits it’s the most popular search by far on Google, but only a few stories have made the world’s front pages.  In Robert Tracinski’s words “ClimateGate: The Fix is In.”

Nevertheless, here’s some of what made the news pages over the weekend on this rapidly growing story (hat tip Benny Peiser):

  • WALL STREET JOURNAL: "Cap and Trade Is Dead"
    So declares Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, taking a few minutes away from a Thanksgiving retreat with his family. "Ninety-five percent of the nails were in the coffin prior to this week. Now they are all in."
  • TIMES ONLINE (UK): Climate change data dumped
    Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based. It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.
    The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation.
  • BBC NEWS: Inquiry into stolen climate e-mails
    BBC News understands that senior individuals at UEA have acknowledged the potential damage to the university's reputation from the CRU affair and are anxious to clear the institution's name.
    But there is a risk that some people will not accept the findings of any inquiry unless it is fully independent, as demanded by the former UK Chancellor Lord Lawson earlier in the week.
    A petition is running on the 10 Downing Street website calling for CRU to be suspended from preparation of any government climate statistics until the allegations have been fully investigated.
  • HERALD SUN (Australia): Making Sweden warmer – Andrew Bolt
    We’ve already seen serious questions raised about the way a warming rise was calculated in New Zealand. Willis Eschenbach now describes how the Climategate scientists misled Sweden’s Professor Wibjorn Karlen about the temperatures over Nordic countries, too, when he asked how the IPCC had produced graphics like these for northern Europe . . .
  • WALL STREET JOURNAL: Rigging a Climate 'Consensus': About those emails and 'peer review.'
    The furor over these documents is not about tone, colloquialisms or whether climatologists are nice people. The real issue is what the messages say about the way the much-ballyhooed scientific consensus on global warming was arrived at, and how a single view of warming and its causes is being enforced. The impression left by the correspondence among Messrs. Mann and Jones and others is that the climate-tracking game has been rigged from the start.
  • SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (UK) Damage Limitation: University of East Anglia Promises to Release Hidden Data
    Leading British scientists at the University of East Anglia, who were accused of manipulating climate change data - dubbed Climategate - have agreed to publish their figures in full.
    The U-turn by the university follows a week of controversy after the emergence of hundreds of leaked emails, "stolen" by hackers and published online, triggered claims that the academics had massaged statistics.
    In a statement welcomed by climate change sceptics, the university said it would make all the data accessible as soon as possible, once its Climatic Research Unit (CRU) had negotiated its release from a range of non-publication agreements.
    The publication will be carried out in collaboration with the Met Office Hadley Centre. The full data, when disclosed, is certain to be scrutinised by both sides in the fierce debate. . .
  • SUNDAY TIMES (UK): There’s Just One Problem: CRU Dumped Climate Data
    SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based. It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.
    The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation.
    The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building.
    The admission follows the leaking of a thousand private emails sent and received by Professor Phil Jones, the CRU’s director. In them he discusses thwarting climate sceptics seeking access to such data.
    In a statement on its website, the CRU said: “We do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data.”
    The CRU is the world’s leading centre for reconstructing past climate and temperatures. Climate change sceptics have long been keen to examine exactly how its data were compiled. That is now impossible. . .
  • DAILY MAIL (UK): BBC Ignores “Leaked” Climate Row Emails
    The BBC has become tangled in the row over the alleged manipulation of scientific data on global warming.
    One of its reporters has revealed he was sent some of the leaked emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia more than a month ago – but did nothing about them.
    Despite the explosive nature of some of the messages – which revealed apparent attempts by the CRU’s head, Professor Phil Jones, to destroy global temperature data rather than give it to scientists with opposing views – Paul Hudson failed to report the story.
    This has led to suspicions that the scandal was ignored because it ran counter to what critics say is the BBC’s unquestioning acceptance in many of its programmes that man-made climate change is destroying the planet. . .
  • SUNDAY TIMES (UK): The Great Climate Change Scandal
    Leaked emails have revealed the unwillingness of climate change scientists to engage in a proper debate with the sceptics who doubt global warming.
    The storm began with just four cryptic words. “A miracle has happened,” announced a contributor to Climate Audit, a website devoted to criticising the science of climate change. “RC” said nothing more — but included a web link that took anyone who clicked on it to another site, Real Climate [a paid-up warmist blog].
    There, on the morning of November 17, they found a treasure trove: a thousand or so emails sent or received by Professor Phil Jones, director of the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. Jones is a key player in the science of climate change.
    His department’s databases on global temperature changes and its measurements have been crucial in building the case for global warming.
    What those emails suggested, however, was that Jones and some colleagues may have become so convinced of their case that they crossed the line from objective research into active campaigning. . .
  • DAILY TELEGRAPH (UK): The Worst Scientific Scandal of Our Generation – Christopher Brooker
    Our hopelessly compromised scientific establishment cannot be allowed to get away with the Climategate whitewash, says Christopher Booker. . .
    The reason why even the Guardian's George Monbiot has expressed total shock and dismay at the picture revealed by the documents is that their authors are not just any old bunch of academics. Their importance cannot be overestimated, What we are looking at here is the small group of scientists who have for years been more influential in driving the worldwide alarm over global warming than any others, not least through the role they play at the heart of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). . .
    But the question which inevitably arises from this systematic refusal to release their data is – what is it that these scientists seem so anxious to hide? The second and most shocking revelation of the leaked documents is how they show the scientists trying to manipulate data through their tortuous computer programmes, always to point in only the one desired direction – to lower past temperatures and to "adjust" recent temperatures upwards, in order to convey the impression of an accelerated warming. . .
    The former Chancellor Lord (Nigel) Lawson, last week launching his new think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, rightly called for a proper independent inquiry into the maze of skulduggery revealed by the CRU leaks. But the inquiry mooted on Friday, possibly to be chaired by Lord Rees, President of the Royal Society – itself long a shameless propagandist for the warmist cause – is far from being what Lord Lawson had in mind. Our hopelessly compromised scientific establishment cannot be allowed to get away with a whitewash of what has become the greatest scientific scandal of our age.
  • DAILY TELEGRAPH (UK): Climategate e-mails sweep America, may scuttle Barack Obama's Cap and Trade laws
  • THE NEW ECONOMIST: Why Political Orthodoxy Must Not Silence Scientific Argument
    . . . The stakes in the global-warming debate, however, could scarcely be higher. Scientific evidence that climate change is under way, is man-made, and is likely to continue happening forms the foundation for an edifice of policy which is intended to transform the world’s carbon-intensive economy into one which no longer spews greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. A lot of money, and many reputations—both academic and political—are involved.
    Sceptics claim that this burden of responsibility is crushing the spirit of scientific inquiry. Scientists, they maintain, are under pressure to bolster the majority view. The recent publication of embarrassing e-mails from the University of East Anglia, an important centre of climate science (see article), revealing doubts about data and a determination not to air such concerns publicly, has strengthened these suspicions. . .

Further mainstream links gratefully received.

And here’s what some of the better blogs have been saying:

  • Climategate: The Skeptical Scientist’s View
    Frank J. Tipler, professor of mathematical physics at Tulane University, on the true significance of Climategate:
  • The now non-secret data prove what many of us had only strongly suspected — that most of the evidence of global warming was simply made up. That is, not only are the global warming computer models unreliable, the experimental data upon which these models are built are also unreliable. As Lord Monckton has emphasized here at Pajamas Media, this deliberate destruction of data and the making up of data out of whole cloth is the real crime — the real story of Climategate.

    It is an act of treason against science. It is also an act of treason against humanity, since it has been used to justify an attempt to destroy the world economy.

  • Phil Jones has collected a staggering $22.6
    "So far, the most interesting file I found in the "documents" directory is pdj_grant_since1990.xls which shows that since 1990, Phil Jones has collected a staggering 13.7 million British pounds ($22.6 million) in grants.
  • Let the Great Global Warming Cover-Up Begin!
    Now that some enterprising and possibly conscience-stricken soul has served up the emails and other data of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, revealing the deliberate efforts to hide the corrupted research that justifies the “global warming” fraud, all the various journalists and alleged climate scientists who have been a party to it are trying desperately to cover up or minimize the scandal. . .
    The prevailing belief now is that the emails and data were already on a disk that a conscience-stricken CRU staffer decided to make available on the Internet for all to see and examine before it too became “lost.”
    You can be sure, however, that the global warming journalists whose careers have been based on furthering the fraud will continue to emphasize the “hacking” theory to suggest this “stolen” data lacks merit and those using it, the so-called “skeptics” and “deniers” are still not to be trusted. . .
  • More media growing skeptical, notes Climate Depot: Aussie's 'A Current Affair' features scientists mocking man-made climate fears:

  • Climategate: hide the decline – codified
    Blogger Ecotretas . . .  has made a compendium of programming code segments that show comments by the programmer that suggest places where data may be corrected, modified, adjusted, or busted. Some the  HARRY_READ_ME comments are quite revealing. For those that don’t understand computer programming, don’t fret, the comments by the programmer tell the story quite well even if the code itself makes no sense to you.
  • Exactly who was emailing who in Climategate
    This social graph of CRU emails shows how miniscule is this IPCC “power group” if you ponder how many active climatologists there must be globally [click to enlarge the pic]
  • The Deleted Portion of the Briffa Reconstruction
    "Hide the decline" refers to the decline in the Briffa MXD temperature reconstruction in the last half of the 20th century, a decline that called into question the validity of the tree ring reconstructions. . .
  • CRU quietly revising 8 months of 2009 global temperature data
    CRU have just “deleted” – removed 8 months of their CRUT3 monthly anomalies for 2009. Unannounced that I have seen. . .
  • Climategate Round-Up #3
    The leaked CRU emails exposed bad behaviour, the code exposes junk science manipulated beyond the point where even the manipulators cannot figure out if it means anything . . .
  • Climategate protester pwns CBC on live TV


  • Smoking gun?
    Hiding the decline? “From the file check what the code is doing! It's reducing the temperatures in the 1930s, and introducing a parabolic trend into the data to make the temperatures in the 1990s look more dramatic.”
  • A cartoonfrom Micky’s Muses that sums up the game:


What’s your point?

Got a point you want to make?  Something you need to say? Secrets you need to reveal?

Then now is your chance!  Have at it in the comments, here, and get it all off your chest.

Yes, it’s a general debate: your turn to be brilliant.

It’s not like there’s not plenty to talk about.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Friday morning ramble, #372

Liberty and reason are fighting back this week against the faith-based green-mongering bulldozer, as several stories from around the ‘net celebrate.
This week’s most interesting disclaimer:
_quote This paper has not been peer-reviewed by Phil Jones, Keith Briffa, Mike Mann, or any IPCC lead author!

_quoteCapitalism is moral because it enables people to act on their own judgment." 
                 - Craig Biddle: 77:01

  • Memo to Government: Outsourcing from the private sector can be good for you
  • #RaisingGoodKids: New book on raising ethical kids without religion: Parenting Beyond Belief
  • Australian warmist Tim Flannery tries a reality check: there’s been a "slight cooling" for the last ten years but "we don’t understand all factors that create earth’s climate"
  • UK warmist Monbiot is convinced #ClimateGate emails are genuine, and he's "dismayed and deeply shaken by them"
  • It's official. From fruitcake to real fruitcake: Jeanette Fitzsimplesimons has become a Truther.
  • Phil Jones, alleged scientist at centre of #Climategate emails, tells friends at the Guardian, "What, me worry."
  • “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. K and I will keep them out somehow – Phil Jones, from the CRU, manufacturing consensus for the IPCC
  • Leonard Peikoff addresses the claim that Old Testament doctrine is the basis of morality. As if it could be!
  • Victoria Postrel has the news: African leaders advise Bono on reform of U2 Now that's funny. :-)
  • Someone tell Bernard Hickey & all those other mainstream tax-bandits: Australia's Capital Gains Tax is a bust – it raises little revenue at a substantial cost to economic efficiency, and did nothing whatsoever to avert their housing bubble.
  • George Reisman: After the economic disaster, the most important single step for economic recovery is a secure currency. He explains how to get there, and why.
  • The Visible Hand has some good news for NZ:, if we're up for it.
_quoteThere is nothing as glamorous as a brilliant achievement of the human mind."
- Ayn Rand

  • Death is no barrier.150yrs after publication of On the Origin of Species, New Scientist magazine interview Charles Darwin
  • 'Workshops' are not work. -they're designed "to prevent people from carrying on their real work." – Dalrymple
  • Tapu Misa quotes #AynRand in NZ Herald. "Individual rights are not subject to a public vote . . . " Progress? I think so.
  • Obama in China. Some "too true" humor from Saturday Night Live.

We’re cutting lies and jive from our show-we're trying to do a magic show where no one leaves with distorted ideas about reality.”           
      - Penn Jillette, from conjuring duo Penn & Teller

  • Phil Jones? Resignation is inevitable, says the Not Evil Just Wrong blog.
  • This is frightening. A time lapse unemployment visualization of USA: The Geography of Recession. Watch America turn purple.
  • Milton Friedman’s declaration that "inflation is everywhere and always a monetary phenomena" needs an update.
  • Michael Mann - premiere climate scientist, inventor of hockey sticks: "These two are clowns..."
  • Brit Euro MP Daniel Hannan “reviews” Ayn Rand. With friends like these, etc. . .
  • ''The warmist conspiracy: The emails that most damn Phil Jones''
  • Michael E. Mann: "This is the sort of "dirty laundry" one doesn't want to fall into the hands..."
  • Phil Jones - keeper of world temperature records for the past 1000yrs:
    "Can you delete any emails you may have had..."
  • Whole Foods' John Mackey reckons even though Austrian economists haven’t been credited for their business cycle theory, we nonetheless have what Austrian Business Cycle Theory predicts.
  • Yaron Brook on PJTV - part 2 reckons that with the trial in New York of the “brains” of the 9/11 atrocity, The War Returns to NYC
  • Yaron Brook on PJTV: New Obama Trend: Credibility Is A Bigger Problem Than Health Care Reform
And finally, can’t get this bloody song out of my head. Damn that Chris Knox . . . ;^)

And I hate to say it, but Neil Finn’s version on Stroke ain’t half catchy either.

CLIMATEGATE: Have New Zealand warmists cooked their books as well? [update 4]

A few months back a reader here at NOT PC discovered you could now view NIWA’s raw temperature records online, and what he discovered when he did was that while NIWA was shouting about warming, the raw data said something totally different.  The raw data said there’d been no warming at all.
The NZ Climate Science Coalition saw the same thing, and their research showing what NIWA have done is now big news round the world this morning: the news that the supposedly neutral meteorological organisation has apparently been fudging its figures to say something the raw data doesn’t.
The work uncovering NIWA’s calumny was done by NZ”s Climate Science Coalition, and can be told in these two graphs. The first graph tells the story NIWA would like you to hear, a graph Jim Salinger started working on back when he was working at the now disgraced Climate Research Unit (CRU) in East Anglia showing a clear warming trend across the country:
This second graph however tells you the story told by the raw data, that is, no warming whatsoever:
new_zealand_thumb The reason for the difference?  NIWA “adjusted” the raw data because . . . well, for no very good reason at all, really.  Instead of adjusting for the Urban Heat Island effect, which should have seen modern temperatures adjusted downwards, virtually all the adjustments were made in the other direction, to manufacture a clear warming trend where there wasn’t any. See:
These figures, the adjusted figures, have been used to manufacture a scare story now used to justify sending NZ taxpayers a $100 billion Emissions Trading bill. And the people who manufactured those figures?  They’re the ones who’ve been advising minister Nick Smith that his Emissions Trading Scam is necessary. Says the Climate Science Coalition:

_quote There have been strident claims that New Zealand is warming. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), among other organisations and scientists, allege that, along with the rest of the world, we have been heating up for over 100 years. But now, a simple check of publicly-available information proves these claims wrong. In fact, New Zealand’s temperature has been remarkably stable for a century and a half. So what’s going on?"  Researchers find records adjusted to represent 'warming' when raw data show temperatures have been stable.”
This sort of review of NIWA’s science is only possible now NIWA’s raw figures have been made available on the ‘net, since as the NZ Climate Science Coalition note in their summary of what they’ve uncovered, “Requests for this information from Dr Salinger himself over the years, by different scientists, have long gone unanswered . . . ” You can only wonder why.
This is how climate science has been done here, folks – the science that’s being used to make us all poorer -- and while reviews of that science like this one are still themselves in their infancy, what’s already being uncovered in the CRU emails and data like this is not pretty.
This is undoubtedly the biggest story around this morning, and coming on the back of the hacked emails from that other organisation for which Jim Salinger used to work, it should call into question with every honest person the basis on which the warmist mantra has been intoned.
Read about the story here at Andrew Bolt’s who’s got a great summary too of subsequent developments in his updates:
Climategate: Making New Zealand warmer.
The Climate Science Coalition has an eight-page PDF summarising the scam:
Are we feeling warmer yet?.
It’s a story that’s gone around the world:
And from New Zealand, the mainstream media catches up by issuing the denial before the news itself: Climate scientists attack criticism.
And NIWA belatedly explain the arguments for their adjustments at one site, Kelburn, after repeated refusals by Salinger to either release the raw data for all of them or explain the reasons for all the one-way adjustments: Combining Temperature Data from Multiple Sites in Wellington.
I’d like to see that replied to today, and I’ll be checking back at the Climate Science Coalition site regularly to see if it has.
Oh, and by the way, since we’re “thinking local” here, satellite data for the Southern Hemisphere over the last thirty years shows "a warming trend" for the Southern Hemisphere during those last 30 years of 0.00 °C per decade.. . .
UPDATE: In the absence of a swift response from the Climate Science Coalition, Ian Wishart critically examines NIWA’s response re their adjustments to the Wellington data (that’s one station out of seven for which they’ve adjusted temperatures “to hide the decline,” presumably the easiest to explain, they think), pointing out quite correctly that all such adjustments “need to be fully explained so other scientists can test the reasonableness of the adjustment”; wondering if “applying a temperature example from 15km away in a different climate zone [is] a valid way of rearranging historical data”; and reminding NIWA that “we'd all like to see the methodology and reasoning behind adjustments on all the other sites as well.”
UPDATE 2: Zen Tiger hacks satirically into NIWA’s emails to discover the real reasons for their drastic upward adjustments of raw data: The NIWA Emails

UPDATE 3:  Interested readers might like to know that Steve McIntyre discovered serious problems with NIWA's manipulation of the Wellington temperaeture records back in 2007,including it's fiddling around with that of Kelburn.
It all began when NASA lost Wellington altogther, you see, and then discovered it once again . . .

UPDATE 4Anthony Watts takes NIWA to task for its response, and for the frankly hopeless state of some if its temperature collection stations [pdf]. He posts a picture of the Auckland station (incorrectly labelled Kelburn), from whence Auckland's official temperature record is kept - right on the NIWA rooftop in Khyber Pass (all that lovely warm concrete), right under the motorway (all those lovely cars) and right next to the air conditioners. So no problem at all with its accuracy then.

And Terry Hurlbut at The UK Examiner comments.

UPDATE 5: By the way, you can see pictures of all NIWA's surface stations caputured on film so far at Watts' Surface Stations Gallery.  Compare them with some of the other horror stations uncovered so far around the world, while remembering that it is from stations such as these combined with "adjustments" by the likes of David Wratt and Jim Salinger that "the" temperature record is made.

'In the Crystal Depths' - NC Wyeth (1902)

In a preface to the 1920 American edition of Robinson Crusoe, artist-illustrator NC Wyeth (1182-1945) describes his interest in celebrating both nature and "a lone man's conquest over what seems to be inexorable Fate."

This dramatically composed vignette from his 1907 Wyeth Portfolio, The Indian in his Solitude captures that aim.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Know Vodafone, no Vodafone

Have any other iHug customers noticed that since Vodafone took over iHug, the service has gone sideways, the connection to the internet is unreliable, and as an internet service provider they're frankly not. Not at all.

I'm typing this post from an internet cafe because Vodafone has now failed completely -- misunderstanding a simple order for a change of accounts on the 30th of this month, they've instead accidentally disconnected my internet connection altogether (and that of my network sharing it) as of today and can do nothing at all, they say, to fix their blunder.

You could say I'm not happy.  Not happy at all.

Orcon, here we come.

Who are you giving thanks to this Thanksgiving?

thanksgiving-turkey Thanksgiving may look like like a holiday for consumption, but it’s really a holiday for producers. It’s true.  As Americans sit down to enjoy their Thanksgiving they will, hopefully, be giving thanks to all those who made their consumption possible. Themselves.

And they might reflect that America might never have even got off the ground if those early pilgrims hadn’t thrown off the system of communal property that almost starved them out of the new colony. But three years after the Mayflower arrived and overcome by a colony in starvation, Governor William Bradford reversed course and privatised Plymouth’s property – and saved the lives and fortunes of the colonists.

He was inspired by a passage from

   _quote Jean Bodin’s Six Books of a Commonweale, a work that criticized the utopianism of Plato’s Republic. In Plato’s ideal realm, private property would be abolished or curtailed and most inhabitants reduced to slavery, supervised by high-minded, ascetic guardians. Bodin said that communal property was ‘the mother of contention and discord’ and that a commonwealth based on it would perish because ‘nothing can be public where nothing is private.’
              “Bradford felt that, in retrospect, his real-life experience of building a new society at Plymouth had confirmed Bodin’s judgment.”

Read the almost unknown early history of those early Pilgrims -- of how private property saved their lives and their colony, so making today’s Thanksgiving celebrations possible:

 How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims, by Tom Bethell.

As the joke goes, if the early Pilgrims had shot a donkey instead of a turkey everyone today would be served up a piece of ass .  Which is about what Americans would have got today if they hadn’t first short down their early communism and rescued themselves by the introduction of private property.

Thank William Bradford and Jean Bodin for that.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Here come the ‘New Deniers’

_quote Confronted with crisis, most of the environmentalists I know have gone into denial. . . Pretending the climate email leak isn't a crisis won't make it go away. . . There is no helping it; Phil Jones has to go, and the longer he leaves it, the worse it will get.”
                       - George Monbiot, the UK’s leading, and certainly the noisiest enviro-waster –
                          at least he was until the hacking of Phil Jones’s emails – writing in today’s
                          Yes, Virginia, The Guardian.

How to argue like a ‘Progressive’ – or to spot one

Always eager to help, Jeff Perren posts 16 Top Tips on How to Argue Like A Progressive - or to recognise when somebody is.

It’s a useful list to help you spot one in the wild.

His first tip: "Lie. All the time. "

The designer you treat like shit . . .

There’s a hilarious email exchange doing the rounds between a graphic designer and a client who wants him to work for free.

Read it here: "Please design a logo for me. With pie charts. For free."

I’d like to think it were all true.

[Hat tip CJ Lambert]

Pero v Air New Zealand [updated]

I’m surprised and confused.  I woke to discover that the leading news this morning is the story of Air New Zealand’s bleating about Mike Pero chartering a plane to take families of Air New Zealand’s Erebus victims to the scene of the disaster on its 30th anniversary.  Air New Zealand call his charter flight for family members to fly over the site where 257 people died “deeply disrespectful” and “commercial opportunism of the worst kind.” Story here.

I’m surprised first of all that Air New Zealand would want to mark this particular anniversary by bitching in the press.

This is no ordinary anniversary marking no ordinary series of cock-ups. With what we now know about what Air New Zealand got up to on, after and before that flight – the error programmed into the navigational computer that put them on a flight path straight into a mountain; the damning of the dead pilots; the litany of lies orchestrated by Air New Zealand under Morrie Davis to cover up their responsibility for the tragedy; the use of the Prime Minister to protect the government department that was (and still is) Air New Zealand) by damning Justice Mahon and his subsequent report – we now know that the disaster itself and the incompetence, dishonesty, bullying and frankly scurrilous behaviour on show mark one of the blackest and most disgusting stories in New Zealand history.  257 deaths and a disgracefully cynical attempt at a cover up.

You’d think that instead of shooting their mouths off in the press Air New Zealand would want instead to mark the occasion by keeping them tight shut, and by doing something special for all the families.
But they can’t do either.  Instead they’re shooting their mouths off to condemn somebody who is.  So that’s not just surprising, is it. The chutzpah of it is astonishing.

And I’m deeply confused, too.  Air New Zealand is taking only six family members to the ice thirty years after 257 people died there, leaving an unfilled demand from hundreds more that Mike Pero is stepping in to supply at his own risk. That looks to me like commercial opportunism of the best kind – offering a service to families wanting to go to where their loved ones died that the carrier responsible for killing them can’t even be bothered meeting.  A service that families appear to be eager to take up, or Mr Pero wouldn’t be making the offer.  A service which is entirely their business if they want to take it up, not Air New Zealand’s.

So that’s confusing, isn’t it? Sure, Air New Zealand has been a government department for most of its life, and it was responsible for one of the worst chapters in New Zealand commercial history, but today it likes to at least pretend that it’s a real business (which I’ll start to believe when it starts to refunds taxpayers what it owes them), so you’d like to think it might now have discovered some idea of what honesty, decency and commercial reality looks like.

Or has it?

UPDATE: For those who need reminding of the history, or who weren't alive here at the time, this fairly even-handed Dominion report on the Erebus Crash: Myths & Reality is worth catching up on.

‘Nature Unveiling Herself Before Science’ – Louis-Ernest Barrias


Here’s a sculpture for all the scientists at CERN’s Hadron Collider, who are about to further undress nature’s body very, very shortly.

Louis Barrias’ sculpture, described and illustrated at the Shaving Leviathan blog, has the thrilling erotic charge that the pursuit of truth should have, and that few human beings get to fully experience.

If you don’t get a charge from what they’re doing in that 27km tunnel, in which they’re accelerating heavy atomic particles to very near the speed of light in order to break them apart for the first time in history just to see what happens – just to lift the veil on nature’s modesty -- then you might as well be dead.


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

LEAKY HOMES, Part 3: Thought-provoking responses

Yes, I know I promised to have Part 3 in this series posted here some time last week, but as the bishop said to the actress “Something came up.”

It’s been gratifying to see that Part One and Part Two of this series – on the myth of building deregulation and what’s going on inside your walls respectively – were picked up so widely, and received such an intelligent response.  Here then are excerpts from some of the better and more colourful comments and responses from around the traps which have given me much to ponder – and hopefully you too – and say more of what needs to be said and understood.  (Although, to be fair, it’s hard to take comments seriously from people with handles like “Hurlz1”)

Comments on Part One: The Myth of Building Deregulation (links will take you to the full comments):

Owen McShane: _quoteThe use of untreated timber begins in Waitakere with the promotion of "sustainable" building without the use of nasty chemicals. Waitakere's "sustainable building code" still promotes the use of kiln dried timber to reduce toxicity on the environment.
End result has been real fungi that really are toxic.”

George: _quoteStrangely enough the rendered plaster art deco homes with no eaves, parapet walls and internal roofs are still largely sound, seventy years after construction and a lot of them were on totara piles, the only weakness. Old time builders were up to their trade unlike the BIA who are a bunch of muppets. Fletchers and Carter Holt found them pushovers to inveigle their self serving practices into legality.
The whole shower have been protected. They should be flogged. . . ” 

Mawm: _quoteThe real issue is 'why do I have to pay for others failing to do due diligence when purchasing a house'? Every house I bought I paid a competent inspector to ensure that it was sound.
Caveat Emptor.”

Den MT: _quote. . . as someone who also studied under Bill Porteous I think you are being particularly uncharitable about his construction knowledge. Regardless of your opinion of his links with regulation . . . he was a great and an expert in his field. . . The greatest problem I have with your War On Regulation is that you propose no feasible alternative . . . ”

Anonymous: _quoteAs what you would call an extremist leftie, I was absolutely disgusted when the courts absolved BRANZ of any responsibility . . .  This is the extent to which government should pick up the tab, I feel; for the costs of BRANZ failing to properly test and certify materials. . . .
    “The rest of the cost should mostly fall on Fletchers, Carter Holt Harvey, and James Hardie. And they should be bankrupted, not bailed out, as the Labour capitalist [sic] govt of Oz just did. In fact, the case is very strong here for limited liability to be revoked for such egregious criminal actions. That way, they can't dodge their responsibilities. . . ”

Tomahawk Kid: _quoteYou are charged good money by inspectors to tell you what they require for your house to comply with their requirements.
You pay them good money to inspect that these requirements have been carried out before they take your money and tick the box.
II blame them! by taking your money They are taking responsibility for this to be carried out to the standards they set.”

Barry: _quoteGovernment inspectors do not provide anyone with guarantees of building quality. They simply check that things are done to a certain standard. That crucially is not an insurance contract.”

LGM: _quoteIn NZ govt. regulations control how a building is constructed. That includes specific details such as what materials are used, how they are installed and so forth. The regulations also demand that buildings be inspected and approved by specific government appointed bureaucrats empowered to halt a construction project and even order it dismantled. That is critical.
    “This sort of interference has consequences including what insurances are available, what the specific terms of the master policy will state, what premiums will be struck, what variations can be negotiated (if any), the form of building contracts that are able to be negotiated and executed, what indemnities and guarantees will be made available to any of the parties, the nature and extent of the responsibilities that practitioners and professionals will assume and so on. The relationships between the parties involved in the project, every contractual aspect between them, the modes of doing business, all is affected to the point of grotesque distortion by the presence of government interferences. Can't you understand that?
There is the saying, ‘You can't contract out of the law.’ Think on what that means.”

Anonymous: _quote. . . house buyers are not really in a free market. The regulations imposed centrally distort the market, so any participant with in that market cannot be decreed to be a free and willing participant.
    “People with no knowledge in an area enter into an agreement with someone who purports to have that knowledge, and thus reward them for their efforts/ skills/ knowledge therein. A problem of that central regulation is the distortion of knowledge taken as bona fide with that which has not been properly tested. The systems agreed upon which were sold to the central regulator (BRANZ) as being of a standard to last in excess of 50years, however the systems/products have failed dismally. Who else should be held accountable for the very failure of the promise of the product (to keep water out), but the manufacturers/ inventors of the failed system?”

John Richards: _quoteCouldn't agree more about bringing the manufacturers to task for their part in the leaky building mess. Your argument misses one major point though. It is that "big business" helped write the legislation and therefore shares a significant portion of the blame.”

Comments on Part Two: What’s Going On Inside Your Walls:

Bez: _quoteOne issue you may want to also raise is building physics, heat transfer and condensation, explaining that any and all airborne moisture created in the nicely warm insulated interior will eventually condensate on the coldest non-permeable surface, i.e. the building paper where it meets the studs, this providing a nice continues layer of moisture throughout the winter months. . .  By the way, many moons ago a heard a talk by a joker who used to work in a research institute for the wood and timber industry, who practically swore an oath that he had attempted in vain to discourage his bosses from certifying and promoting to stop boric treatment, precisely for the reason that he KNEW that rot would occur. I heard this in a forum, the organizers of which you would be very interested to know.”

Mort: _quoteYou have put into writing what many people who are on the end of litigation directives are now coming around to accepting how you succinctly describe events and decisions as the path which lead to them being shafted. . .
    “James Hardie are crooked as they come. The Australian Govt had to bail them out, because they stupidly let the buggers re-incorporate in the Netherlands, while disestablishing their Australian Head Division. Thus there is no real entity with which they can actually prosecute, because it has written off its historic obligations.
    “Fletcher industries have probably managed to distance themselves from any comeback by hiving off the various divisions and lumping any liability with the now non trading Fletcher Forests. CHH has had its assets divested and is no longer the company it was when this saga began.
    Ultimately it was BRANZ/ BIA that bought the bollocks hook line and sinker from those 3 companies and legitimized the inherently broken systems, despite evidence in 1996 from the Canadian Building authorities that similar systems would lead to this type of abject failure. . .
    “. . . there will come a time in the future when people will look at the period when a house was built (essentially the period you ascribe as that which correlates with the existence of BRANZ until 2010), and they just won't buy it. The entire era is tainted. It will be up to the owners of non-affected houses to prove that their pride and joy is not a wet-house.”

Anonymous: _quoteClark and her dishonest partners in crime at parliament have a lot to answer for in this debacle. Worse still is Williamson's offer the other day for the Govt to pay 10%. What a joke. They are offering 10% and taking back 12.5% in GST so they make 2.5% on their shabby transaction and then of course there is things like PAYE, tax on company profits and so on.”

Anonymous: _quoteNice post again - good to see the issues put out there. Especially the big question - investigation into who knew about rot in dryframe timber & behind monolithic claddings (esp. Harditex)?”

Monsieur: _quoteI'm not sure about your "Bootleggers and Baptists" part where you say "chemophobes who claimed the boric salts were toxic and were poisoning the occupants joined forces with the big timber companies who wanted to charge more for selling less timber."
The "Greenwash" was more likely to have originated from the building material companies themselves. The Green Party has never been against Borax timber treatments. Boric acid is fairly harmless. The only side-effect in mammals is testicular atrophy (smaller balls). I can't see the Greenies being too fussed about that.”

Hurlz1: _quoteDryframe is like blotting paper, a drop of water soaks in and the next drop soaks in and soon you have a problem.
No matter how you looked at dryframe being used in exterior walls it was always going to be a problem and the govt needs to stand up and shoulder the blame for the past actions of Labour and the Greens.
The architects that specified dryframe should also have known better.
The building regulations are now so over the top they are ridiculous.”

Comment by Stuart Munro at NZ Pundit:

        _quoteI was building my own house in the early nineties when the regs changed. We went from a simple $20 orange book to $500 or more of folders all about different materials. I'd be very surprised if many people were ever fully conversant with all the folders. It pushed up permit costs too.
        “The legal take is interesting - courts ultimately found that issuing WOFs to vehicles made the MOT liable, it would astonishing if the same arguments did not apply to building certification.”

Bob Dey comments:

_quoteIt’s a long time since the Government absolved itself of blame and, since then, the water has become very muddy.”

A few good comments from the Greens’s FrogBlog when a few commenters called Russel Norman on his mindless recycling of the  “deregulation done it” myth:

Wat Dabney: _quoteThe leaky houses debacle was caused . . . by the state getting involved in the house guarantee business; something that should be a purely private business.”

BJ Chip: _quoteWat is correct. Local government has no business being in the business of building guarantees. This is not a necessary government function unless government is building the houses or government is buying the houses.
    “Government can inspect them for safety and whether they meet standards for connecting to the sewers, electrical grid, gas, water… whatever is appropriate, but the responsibility for the construction quality has to be held by the builder and the purchaser and the bank that holds the mortgage. The notion that local councils hold this responsibility, which was apparently inherited from some prehistoric era, is flawed.”

Owen McShane: _quote. . . the Privy Council back in 1995 warned us that our whole approach to building regulation was balmy and left too much liability on councils. In every other modern jurisdiction council’s liability expires after say seven years or the first sale. . .
    “In the UK and elsewhere council liability expires after a certain time or the first on sale. At that point building surveyors can be used (just as we use marine surveyors for buying boats and the AA for buying cars) who will inspect a building and report on it for a fee. The fee is negotiable and is determined by how much comfort you seek and the perceived risk.
An important part of the report is the report on the guarantees and the insurance. These reports help set the price. No guarantees and no insurance reduces the price dramatically. The fees are far far less than we now have to pay for building permits and certainly take less time.
    “We have set up a system which is a cash cow to be milked by consultants and council staff and as we now know offers no comfort to anyone.
    “Our balance between state regulation and market disciplines is totally out of whack. . .      
    “You cannot regulate perfection unless you are prepared to see permit and construction costs go through the roof. Oops, they already have!
    “ . . . Makes you worry about the leaky boat syndrome doesn’t it. And the leaky car syndrome.”

BJ Chip: _quoteThe ‘buyer beware’ thing is very real and it works very well in fact. I know because it is the nature of the market in the US to employ this system and I have experienced it.
    “. . . In the USA the ‘housing inspector’ is a separate independent entity. His/Her reports are the basis on which the house is able to be marketed. . . An inspection typically costs a few hundred $. It provides the insurance company a basis for issuing a home warranty, and a bank a basis for being confident of its lending against something that is in fact re-sellable if there is a default. Both entities have an interest in the result… and of course the prospective home buyer does as well.
    “. . . The difference between this system and letting the council take the responsibility is obvious. The council doesn’t have skin in the game.. at least it didn’t think so until the leaky-homes litigators wound up looking to councils to provide the damages.
    “The agency already existed. It WAS the council’s responsibility. They blew it. . .
    “The point I’m making is that the people who have skin in the game are the most likely to pay attention. With the system here, the council is taking the responsibility off the home buyer. This can only work while the council is actually shouldering the real responsibility and it has no natural reason to do so.
    “If the bank is taking a risk and an insurer is taking a risk, they’re going to be real careful that the house is built right and the inspections get DONE, not gundecked. If the homeowner is aware of the actual risk, he’s going to be looking for that same assurance. Trust me, it DOES work.”

Comments from Bernard Hickey’s blog:

Greg Out West: _quote. . . if the current figures are $11.5b then it’s an absolute scandal that some of the names mentioned there (ie Porteous and Hardies) aren’t nationally known and reviled. It seems tragic and wrong that homeowners are being fingered for the bill. Poor buggers.
I know it’s idealistic but i feel like the country owes it to them to not let this issue be swept under the carpet. I wonder what kind of dent in sales it would make if those suppliers were outed as the source of these rubbish houses?”

Chris J: _quote. . .  James Hardie should be held responsible for the leaky homes problem.
”Their products even if installed perfectly in accordance with manufacturers recommendations would never have done the job they were supposed to do.
”Even with today’s timber batten cavity system and H3.2 framing, I wouldn’t touch a Hardies monolithic cladding systems with a bargepole.
Even Linea and their other fibre-cement board panel systems offer dubious durability for the future. Why? Ever left some Hardies soaking in water? (It begins to crumble in your hands when it’s wet enough). Off course the manufacture will say it needs to be kept painted however in 20, 30 or 100 years time how many homes being built today of these products are going to be have the paint worn away and the fibre cement exposed and crumbling?”

The Dunedin-based 'Eye of the Fish’ blog records:

_quoteThe whole issue of ‘Leaky Buildings seems to be a far more important topic up in Auckland than it is in Wellington, but there’s no reason to be smug. Outside the Auckland cities, Wellington is high on the list [from the govt’s Weathertight Homes Resolution Service website]:
    Auckland City Council………….2021
    North Shore City Council………..445
    Waitakere City Council…………..352
    Manukau City Council……………125
    [Rodney District Council……..92]
    Wellington City Council………….361
    Christchurch City Council……….229
    [Tauranga City Council…..……..156]
    Dunedin City Council………………..2
“Obviously there’s just quality building and architecture in Dunedin! The question over who has to pay is important for the whole country - you can see why perhaps people in Dunedin can well think that the issue should be paid for by Councils rather than by the Government . . . ”

In commenting on the Governments offer to pay 10% of a claim,  a poster from the “Solving NZ’s leaky home disaster” thread on forums (quoted by David Leggott) posted the following thought…..

_quoteIf the government pay out 10% of the total then they will get back 12.5% GST on all the extra activity created by the re-clads - so in effect they make 2.5% on the way through. Good one John Key!

Comment by Ken at NOT PC:

_quoteIdeas to assist home owners now.

“1/ Allow unpermitted targeted repairs up to $10,000, with only a requirement that a description of work done and a photo record be placed on the council’s record. [This is to protect property value].
2/ Change legislation to allow a targeted repair, to be permitted, without having to upgrade the entire property to current specification. Something may be required to protect councils from greater liability.
3/ Allow permitted staged repairs, where urgent work could be done, with less urgent, but long term necessary, work delayed, even some years.
4/  Rescind legislation placing rental limitations on properties which failed to complete a Code Compliance Certificate prior to compliance changes. These properties should have the same status as pre-CCC properties, if they comply with the permit they had.
5/ Stop councils from adding costs that serve only to protect themselves. e.g., requiring that home-owners register home maintenance requirement on their title, at a cost of $2000 in legal costs.
6/  Govt has underwritten bank deposits, The least it can do is underwrite bank loans acquired to repair houses. This would give some way out for those who can utilize their own resources of time, family etc, even if it just achieved a sale, and the retrieval of some equity.
7/ Accept that an ineffective regulatory regime was the worst of both worlds. It drowned development of a market in risk, and failed to identify risk itself.

“Central Govt, or at least the taxpayers that elected them, need to do better than 10%.

“More ideas please.”

An email comment on John Gray from the Home Owners & Buyers Association of NZ (HOBANZ), about whom I talked in my first post:

_quoteI'm sure home-owners appreciate having John on their side, and he seems as honest as the day is long, but seems to me he understands the effects but not the causes.”

An email commentary on risk in the building process,and what govt could do to unravel the confusion present confusion about who exactly takes responsibility for what – a confusion resulting from govt injecting itself into the chain of responsibility:

_quote1/ Acknowledge that this problem has resulted from the failure of regulatory bodies, charged with managing risk, in overseeing building product performance and building practice.
2/ Acknowledge that govt directed bureaucrats should be held liable for their actions and omissions, and as long as the majority wishes govt to be involved in risk management, the voting public, or at least the tax payers among them, should bear some responsibility.
3/ Acknowledge that any risk is best accessed by those with something to lose.
4/ Acknowledge that risk is difficult to eliminate, but can be priced.

“The industry that prices risk is the insurance industry. Risk pricing is the only effective method of regulating the construction industry, as it allows information on known risks to be reflected in price. Enhanced risk = higher price of insurance.
I can insure a property for fire risk very easily. This is because nobody believes all fire risk can be eliminated by regulation. There is a market in fire risk. Indeed building elements are a factor in fire risk pricing, and excess can be negotiated against premium cost.
Who drives a new car of the sales lot without calling their broker?
Why aren’t product insurance policies, demanded by house buyers, and offered by builders and developers?
Banks require fire insurance to advance mortgages, Why not comprehensive product insurance?
10 – 15yrs would cover the product risk period, with premiums diminishing over time. Product failure would not prevent insurance companies recovering from liable parties.
Could it be that insurance companies see to much risk in a regulated market?
Could it be that the house buyer sees their Code Compliance Certificate as an insurance policy?
It would seem that councils (and their ratepayers) have been made the government’s proxy insurance company.

“Unlike real insurance, which prices risk, the government attempts to manage risk by regulation and bureaucracy.
Which best informs the buyer of the assessed risk?
Which allows choice and innovation in design?
Which allows not just an approve/decline decision when assessing a new product, but detailed risk analysis, that can be priced?
Which is likely to take risk assessment more seriously, and be better at it?
Which offers the consumer more choice, in paying for the level of cover?
Who would you prefer to deal with, should a problem occur?
Can you see builders and developers offering pre-paid insurance, with reputable insurers, who have been involved [or their agents] in assessing the properties construction?
Right now, it would be a great marketing tool [for vendors], and the cost, well reflected in the price.
Anyone know of such a product?”

Add your own comments below . . .