Life expectancy improvements

This shows how much life expectancy (at birth) has improved around the world over the last two centuries.

While they have improved a lot quite a few countries still lag behind developed countries by quite aa margin.

Highest recorded level of CO2 in May

According to Climate Central carbon dioxide peaked at 409.65 ppm in May, the highest recorded and higher than research indicates there has been in human history.

However the current estimate Earth’s CO2 Home Page is 408.84, still very high, and an increase on last year (406.81).


NASA:  The relentless rise of carbon dioxide


If fossil-fuel burning continues at a business-as-usual rate, such that humanity exhausts the reserves over the next few centuries, CO2 will continue to rise to levels of order of 1500 ppm. The atmosphere would then not return to pre-industrial levels even tens of thousands of years into the future. This graph not only conveys the scientific measurements, but it also underscores the fact that humans have a great capacity to change the climate and planet.

NASA: Evidence

The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives.

The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia.


Party donations for 2015

The Electoral Commission has released the 2015 Party Donations and Loans returns, with National well on top and Labour lagging the Greens.

Total donations disclosed:

  • National $1,400,895. 85
  • Green Party $407,978.48
  • Labour $279,134.18
  • ACT Party $162,066.85
  • NZ First $79,620.50
  • Conservatives $39,460.00
  • Maori Party $28.050.00
  • ALCP (Cannabis Party) $1,492.00
  • Internet Party $676.65

Mana, United Future, Ban 1080, NZ Independent Coalition and Democrats for Social Credit had nil returns.

The Internet Party has quickly gone from riches (when Kim Dotocm was piling money in) to rags.

This indicates that Labour are struggling to get donations, getting significantly less than the Greens and nothing from large donations.

Total donations over $15,000:

  • National $214,152.68
  • Greens $237,010.47
  • ACT Party $74,378.25

Details and links to each party’s returns: 2015 PARTY DONATIONS AND LOANS RETURNS

NZ ‘slide down anti-corruption ranking’?

Yesterday Hamish Rutherford at Stuff reported NZ’s anti-corruption record slipping: watchdog.

New Zealand is slipping down the ranks of the least corrupt countries, with watchdog Transparency International accusing the Government of “astonishing” complacency.

After topping the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for seven years in a row until 2013, the 2015 survey ranked New Zealand behind Denmark, Finland and Sweden. In 2014 New Zealand was ranked second, behind Denmark.

The survey draws scores from a range of other surveys to give an overall rating of the perceptions about corruption for 167 countries. In 2015 New Zealand scored 88, a marked fall from the 91 it scored in 2014.

Care should be taken reading too much in to minor changes in ratings and rankings on what are a collation of “perceptions of public sector corruption” with margins of error in the data analysis.

There was also an Opinion piece by Rutherford: Slide down anti-corruption ranking should be a wake up call.

While being ranked fourth out of 167 nations in the annual corruption perceptions index might sound impressive in isolation, it is hardly the gold standard, or what it used to be. New Zealand was ranked top of the index year after year until 2013.

Being among the least corrupt nations does not quite have the same ring to it. Nearly as good as the best. There, or thereabouts.

Those who have seen first hand the abuse of the law protecting our right to information might take some cold satisfaction from the slow slide in the rankings, or at least will not be surprised by it.

And Labour leader Andrew Little has picked up on this. NZ loses squeaky clean corruption-free reputation:

A second consecutive drop in a global transparency index busts the notion that New Zealand would remain corruption-free, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

“It is an indictment on the Government that we are now lagging behind several other countries.”

“New Zealand’s highly-regarded international reputation for fair dealing has been eroded. It is shameful that the standards of transparency under John Key’s leadership have slipped so far,” Andrew Little says.

So how big has the ‘slide’ been? From first to second and now to fourth out of 167 countries, and from a rating of 91 to 88.

But this is a ‘perception of corruption’ and Graeme Edgeler points out that the drop could be due to:

Have looked at the methodology and data underpinning the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index to see why New Zealand fell.

It is because the “global business executives” who respond to surveys for the IMD World Competitiveness Center answered the question:

“Bribing and corruption: Exist or do not exist”

on a scale of 1-6 ever so slightly different last year than in 2014.

Limiting freedom of information? Search warrants on journalists? Environmental governance? That made no difference whatsoever.

Instead, it was that one question, where probably one or two NZ CEOs changed a 6 to a 5 this year, because who knows why.

Now Rutherford and Little may have raised valid points about concerns about corruption in New Zealand, but this survey hardly signifies a ‘slide’. It is more like a minor tweak.

Edgeler also tweeted:

Last year we had a better rating than in 2012. It’s just others had improved more.

More importantly, however, it’s not a corruption rating, but a perception of corruption rating. If the government was to crack down on corruption, the perception of it would increase and we’d do worse.


I’m not saying it’s a good thing, it’s just one of many stupid things about coverage of the index and the index itself.

My point is that these indexes are generally stupid, and nobody should read anything into changes in them.

Fair point. The survey may be of minor curiosity value but an attempt at measuring perceptions and opinions with a very small sample related to New Zealand there must be a significant margin of error.

Edgeler continued on Twitter:

I started a post. Lost it, and probably can’t be bothered starting over, so I’ll do a short tweet summary instead.

TI doesn’t do it’s own research for this any more. They use data from questions around corruption in other’s surveys. Ten surveys overall, but not all cover all countries (eg the African Development Bank Governance Survey).

Data from seven of the surveys is relevant to New Zealand. In three of those surveys, our result is unchanged. In three of those surveys, our scores increase.

Only in one of those surveys does New Zealand drop.

I tweeted the single relevant question from that survey earlier. 6100 self-selected executives around the world responded to that survey.

If New Zealand had it’s fair share of executives in that 6100, that’s about five people. One of them choosing a 5 on a scale of 1 to 6 on one question is the sole reason we’ve dropped in TI’s ranking.

Sorry, that’s drops in two indexes 🙂

3 unchanged + 3 increases + 2 drops <> 7 surveys so not sure what other number changes.

Bryce Edwards:

The score of 88 is the average of the seven independent assessments figures of 92, 93, 81, 83, 98, 88, 83.

Averaging 7 assessments assumes they have equal weighting. I presume they are not of equal input.


Now compare them to the numbers from the previous year.

These numbers are all in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2015.

Their press release is brief, doesn’t mention New Zealand and lacks details. It just says “the Corruption Perceptions Index is based on expert opinions of public sector corruption”.

Their “Short Methodology”:


In Frequently Asked Questions they say:




So the CPI is an ‘indicator of perceptions of public sector corruption’ and ‘not a verdict on the levels of corruption of entire nations or societies’.

From Technical Methodology:

Each Country’s CPI score is calculated as a simple average of the available rescaled scores.

The CPI score will be reported alongside a standard error and 90% confidence interval which reflects the variance in the value of the source  data that comprises the CPI score.


The seven sources for each of the top five countries were the same.

With tight results plus Standard Deviation and Standard Error on perceptions of public service corruption I think you need to be cautious about reading too much into slight changes in ranking.



2015 warmest year on record

NASA and NOAA have announced that 2015 was the warmest year on record, clearly ahead of the previous record year, 2014.

NASA illustration showing 2015 was the warmest year since modern record-keeping began in 1880.

It can be seen from the graphic that the most warming is in the northern hemisphere, especially in the Arctic.

Radio NZ: Last year was hottest on record globally – NASA

Data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed that in 2015, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 0.90°C above the 20th century average, surpassing 2014’s previous record by 0.16 degrees.

During the final month, the December combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was the highest on record for any month in the 136-year record.

This was the fourth time a global temperature record had been set this century, the agencies said in a summary of their annual report.

“2015 was remarkable even in the context of the larger, long-term warming trend,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The sharp increase in 2015 was driven in part by El Nino, a natural weather cycle in the Pacific that warms the ocean surface every two to seven years. But scientists say human activities – notably burning fossil fuels – were the main driver behind the rise.

“We would not have seen the record warming without the long-term trend,” said Mr Schmidt.

  • During 2015, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.62°F (0.90°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest among all 136 years in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set last year by 0.29°F (0.16°C) and marking the fourth time a global temperature record has been set this century. This is also the largest margin by which the annual global temperature record has been broken. Ten months had record high temperatures for their respective months during the year. The five highest monthly departures from average for any month on record all occurred during 2015.

All the warmest years since1880 have been since 1998.

A summary of the NOAA climate data here.

Sixteen Warmest Years (1880–2015)

The following table lists the global combined land and ocean annually-averaged temperature rank and anomaly for each of the 16 (two tied at #15) warmest years on record.

1 2015 0.90 1.62
2 2014 0.74 1.33
3 2010 0.70 1.26
4 2013 0.66 1.19
5 2005 0.65 1.17
6 (tie) 1998 0.63 1.13
6 (tie) 2009 0.63 1.13
8 2012 0.62 1.12
9 (tie) 2003 0.61 1.10
9 (tie) 2006 0.61 1.10
9 (tie) 2007 0.61 1.10
12 2002 0.60 1.08
13 (tie) 2004 0.57 1.03
13 (tie) 2011 0.57 1.03
15 (tie) 2001 0.54 0.97
15 (tie) 2008 0.54 0.97

Much of the record warmth for the globe can be attributed to record warmth in the global oceans.

Global Analysis – Annual 2015


Happy New Year

How ever you see out 2015 and see in the new year have a great one tonight.

And I wish you all well for 2016.


A tumultuous year in NZ politics?

One News reviews the political year claiming it was tumultuous. Was it? There was a lot of journalist and political social media interest in certain issues but very few of them affected the running of the country.

A tumultuous year in NZ politics: Take a look back at 2015

Prime Minister John Key went from no response on the Syrian refugee crisis, to an extra 600 places.

He rejected a social media campaign on the Red Peak flag before passing an urgent law change allowing it on the flag referendum ballot.

Then the previous rejection of a captial gains tax became a budget announcement of a new tax on property gains.

Meanwhile Labour leader Andrew Little withdrew his party’s long-held opposition to 90-day work trials and quickly dumped its policy to raise the pension age.

He also apologised for calling Parliament’s Speaker David Carter biased.

The year started with plenty of drama with National MP Mike Sabin’s resignation sparking the Northland by-election which National lost to New Zealand First.

Sam Lotu-Iiga lost his Corrections portfolio in the fall-out over Serco’s Mt Eden Prison mismanagement and Serco lost their contract to run the prison.

But 2015 also had its share of winners with Judith Collins getting back her place in cabinet, taking over the police and corrections portfolios.
And Winston Peters won the Northland by-election.

The year rounded off with New Zealand signing up to a groundbreaking pact to reduce global warming.

Most of that will have little to no effect on ordinary New Zealanders.

There’s a video clip link and that features Judith Collins:


Collins had very influence on the political year. She was appointed back into Cabinet just recently and has had no time to make any impact.

What media and journalists thinks might portray as tumultuous is irrelevant to most of us.

Trying to make the mundane look dramatic is counter-productive. When there is something that should be of genuine interest it is likely to be just shrugged off or ignored or never noticed.

Media cry wolf far too often.

What happened in politics this year that you think significantly impacted on your life?

The year in perspective

Claire Trevett has a look back at the political year in PM’s jokes no slippery soap in funny old year.

She puts some perspective on how big the issues were in New Zealand, comparatively.

So ends a year in which New Zealand can feel quite smug about itself. We had our moments. We won the Rugby World Cup, almost won the Cricket World Cup, a multitude of sporting greats retired.

There were some other great sporting achievements too, especially Lydia Ko’s rise to the top in women’s golf (and Danny Lee performed very creditably in men’s golf as well).

There were deportees, the implosion of the Conservative Party, the TPP, the reincarnation of Judith Collins.

And a lot more as well, but how memorable are they? An MP being appointed back into Cabinet at a rank of 13 is big news – amongst a small number of people who are interested.

But it was international events that dominated. Islamic State, Syrian refugees, the terrorist attacks in Paris. All of them touched us…

And a lot more crappy things happening that affected many millions of people.

…but let us be thankful the only phenomenon that vaguely resembles Trump in New Zealand was Dunne’s quiff, the closest we came to a terrorist attack was the ringbarking of a kauri tree, and our other worries were so few people had the time to get riled up about the propriety of the PM’s jokes.

We get up in arms (up in fingers online) about some fairly trivial stuff, comparatively.

For me the biggest issue still in New Zealand is the widespread and insidious effects of violence, which is often closely related to the use of alcohol and other drugs.

Violence impacts on relationships, on families, on children (leaving lifelong impressions that often repeat the cycle), on education, on ‘poverty’, on crime, on imprisonment rates, on health – the tentacles of violence reach far and wide, and destructively.

What can we do to care about this enough to find serious ways of limiting it?

Dan Carter named BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year

Dan Carter has been named by the BBC as Overseas Sports Personality of the Year, beating beat Novak Djokovic, Katie Ledecky, Usain Bolt, Jordan Spieth and Serena Williams by public vote.


Carter’s profile will have been helped by having the Rugby World Cup in the UK this year.

It’s interesting to see Carter rated ahead of his All Black captain Richie McCaw, who had a higher public profile than Carter and arguably has been more influential in ll Black successes.

However it’s good to see Carter getting this recognition. The only other New Zealander to get this award was Jonah Lomu in 1995.

Sports Personality of the Year: Dan Carter wins 2015 Overseas award

The highest ever points scorer in Test rugby, he won the World Player of the Year award for a third time in 2015.

The Sports Personality of the Year ceremony will take place at The SSE Arena in Belfast on Sunday, 20 December, and will be live on BBC One between 18:50-21:00 GMT.

The awards will be hosted by Gary Lineker, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan in front of a 7,500-strong audience in Northern Ireland, the first time the event has been hosted in the country.

Fly-half Carter, who joined French side Racing 92 after the World Cup, missed the All Blacks’ win in the 2011 final through injury but fought back to regain the number 10 shirt for the 2015 edition.

He went into the tournament, which took place in England in September and October, acknowledged as one of the greats of the game but with some doubts over his form and whether his body could still withstand the rigours of international rugby.

However, the longer the World Cup went on the better he played and, after landing a vital drop-goal in the edgy win over South Africa in the last four, a sublime performance in the final against the Wallabies saw him win the man of the match award.

In total he kicked 19 points, made 11 tackles and was an unruffled decision-making presence as New Zealand became the first team to defend the World Cup.

Carter, who retired from international rugby after the World Cup final, won 112 caps for the All Blacks in a Test career that started with victory over Wales in 2003.

He was born and raised in the town of Leeston, 30 miles south west of Christchurch in New Zealand’s South Island.

The fly-half made his debut for the Christchurch-based Crusaders Super Rugby team in 2003 and, bar a brief injury-hit spell with Catalan side Perpignan, remained with them until his move to Parisians Racing 92, for whom he made his debut in the 33-3 European Champions Cup win over Northampton earlier this month.


In New Zealand Carter is known as a first five eight rather than a fly-half.

Carter is far from being an out there attention seeking extrovert.

His quiet spoken humbleness who let’s his deeds do most of the talking  is a very good Kiwi attribute.

Carter has been one of the most influential and successful players ever in one of the most influential and successful international sports teams ever.


Poll: vote switching analysis

Colmar Brunton have published poll results that analyse vote switching in 2015.

This indicates that a significant number of voters change their party preference, even in a non-election year.

Note that the percentages are of eligible voters so don’t equate to party preference poll results which only include those say they will vote.


The 8.3% gained by Labour will probably reflect a recovery from their very low 2014 election result.

Apart from that movement the gains and losses of around 5% for the two major parties shows that voter sentiment is volatile in a significant portion of votes, and is more than enough to swing elections.

Note that this doesn’t measure the number of people who might switch their party support. Over the years analysed, 2014 and 2015, I didn’t switch my preference but I am always a floating voter and have no idea which party I will vote for in 2017. I usually don’t make a final decision until election day.

There are also details of Colmar Brunton’s 2014 vote switching analysis here.