Archive for July 16th, 2008

The earth is cooling! And it’s flat!

July 16, 2008

Last Thursday NZ’s premier scientific body, the Royal Society of New Zealand, made a very clear statement warning:

“The globe is warming because of increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Measurements show that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are well above levels seen for many thousands of years. Further global climate changes are predicted, with impacts expected to become more costly as time progresses. Reducing future impacts of climate change will require substantial reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”

We now have the response of the NZ Climate ‘Science’ Coalition. (Hat-tip: Hot Topic.)

Some of the points made by the ‘sceptics’:

  • “Six of the seven members of the expert committee carry the conflict of interest that they work for institutions that garner research funds to investigate the human influence on global warming.”

Interesting. You’d be pretty short of experts in this area if you cut out anyone who worked for a university, NIWA, a crown research institution in the area… Committee membership can be found here. It’s a bit like saying that people who know what they’re talking about should be excluded from debate. But wait…!

  • “On top of which, the committee is unrepresentative: five members are from Wellington and two from Hamilton.”

No, I am not making this up. Go see for yourself (first link above).

  • “…it is by no means certain that the globe has warmed recently at all… looked at over a longer time period, using measurements made by weather balloon radiosondes since 1958, no overall warming is apparent.”

Hot Topic deals to this nonsense. This novel assertion — that Gareth Renowden has never heard it before is telling — appears to come from some British research that shows “that stratospheric temperatures have cooled since 1958 (which we expect), and that over the last 50 years the lower troposphere (where we live) has been warming.”

And so it goes. Hot Topic’s post, including the comments where the sceptics make an appearance, is recommended reading.

All this would be quite funny if it wasn’t that some people take them seriously — and not just the kiwiblog right. Many news media organisations give this bunch of inexpert climate change ‘sceptics’ equal billing with real experts, under the misguided belief that this provides ‘balance’.

Update: It has been brought to my attention that Hot Topic blog has been personally endorsed as the, “very good Hot Topic blog”by none other than David Farrar.

Rape: put the accused on trial, not the victim

July 16, 2008

Largely overlooked on the blogosphere have been the recommendations in Law Commission’s report (large pdf) on the disclosure of previous convictions, similar offending, etc, in court.

The most interesting and important may not have been central to the original brief, which was to some extent obviated by the Court of Appeal’s view of the Evidence Act 2006. It’s about wider court processes in sexual offence trials.

The Report highlights the evidence of retired Appeal Court Justice Ted Thomas that, “the nature and impact of the trial in sexual cases on complainants is a brutalising and distressing experience in which the complainant is effectively put on trial.”

It is. The focus is all too often the complainant’s sexual history and conduct. It is all too often the victim who is rigorously cross-examined in an attempt to undermine her credibility. The victimisation of the victims in NZ’s sexual offence cases has been a weeping sore for far too long.

The Law Commission, clearly swayed by Thomas’s evidence, concludes:

“We formed the view that the government should undertake an inquiry into whether the present adversarial trial process should be modified or replaced by some alternative model, either for sex offences or for some wider class of offences.”

“The Task Force on Sexual Violence which is presently sitting should be asked to define the issues and possible options that could be considered by that inquiry.”

“We do not express any view about what the outcome of the inquiry should be but we are troubled about the manner in which these cases are currently dealt with.”

An excellent suggestion. The “alternative model” they’re talking about is the inquisitorial system. As Catriona MacLennan pointed out on Nine-to-noon today, aspects of the inquisitorial system have been introduced in areas such as employment law and small claims adjudication, so it’s not such a revolutionary idea to be looking at.

I don’t see why we’re so wedded to the adversarial system. It’s only indirectly aimed at seeing justice done, despite what many NZers think. Here’s hoping that the government takes up the Law Commission’s recommendations without delay.

[Note:The RNZ interview is worth listening to. MacLennan suggests that defendants prove consent.]

Fine-tuning National’s broadcasting policy

July 16, 2008

Got to last night’s media7 taping. The subject was National’s broadcasting policy. South Pacific Pictures’ John Barnett and Christchurch Broadcasting School head Paul Norris joined National’s broadcasting spokesman Jonathan Coleman.

It was interesting to see important National policy clarified, and what looked suspiciously like policy-making on the hoof. Russell Brown posts on the most news-worthy bits, which I’ve held off posting about as I was there as a member of the audience only.


Sanity in doctors’ salary setting… please!

July 16, 2008

Recently, Health and Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson is reported to have stated, “It is an incontrovertible fact that patient safety is jeopardized during strikes by health professionals.”*

The NZ Orthopaedic Society has now called for strikes to be replaced by compulsory arbitration. (Though various news media played it up as a “ban strikes” story, putting their usual anti-union spin on it. Hat-tip: homepaddock.)


Arts funding freeze under National?

July 16, 2008

National has promised to maintain funding for the arts, culrure and heritage in its first term. (For the “full” 250-word policy, click here.)