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Climate Report

"There has been a big shift in climate during the past 20 years, scientists say," according to reports in the Evening Post and Dominion.

These trends, outlined in a National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research study of climate records and weather features in New Zealand and the South Pacific between 1930-97 are supported by strong evidence of changes to flora and fauna patterns, it claims.

How certain are these results? I am tired of reading food and drug and health statistics "significant at 95 per cent level". Are these results as certain as the source of stain on Monica Lewinsky's dress?

Is it an overnight step shift, a trend per year, or acceleration? Does it imply human deaths per year?

What does it mean "10 % drier?" Humidity and rainfall both refer to moisture. E.g. if dryness was 20 units every year from 1930-1980 and increased to 22 units from 1981-97, then this could be convincing evidence of a 10% overnight step increase. On the other hand, a trend would possibly be +.01 dryness units per annum from 1980-97. And then there probably is variance, i.e. the figures are not exact.

Reporter Alan Samson submitted a 50-cm article and 15 centimetres was printed. Mr Samson said to me "nobody knows if this research is true". What is true, urban folklore or statistical proof?

Don McDonald, Wellington