Friday, September 07, 2012

Climate change: The cranks lose

Earlier in the year, New Zealand's climate cranks - in the form of the newly created "New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust" - hit on a new tactic: using the courts to challenge the evidence on climate change. They were very clearly hoping for their very own Scopes Monkey Trial, or at least some comment from the court critical of NIWA's practices they could use to smear them in the media. What they got was a resounding defeat, with their "expert" witnesses rejected as quacks, a ruling upholding NIWA's decision, and an award of costs against them.

But its not all good news. The court also found that scientific decisions by CRI scientists were judicially reviewable, albeit with a very wide degree of deference to those experts. So, the courts are now officially open for business for the harassment of publicly-employed scientists. And given that science is a major PR battleground for both big business (e.g. the pharmaceutical and tobacco industries) and quacks (homoeopaths, and indeed climate cranks), that's not good news for science in this country.

The full decision is here [PDF].