A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Great Barrier Reef bleaching 5% bleached, not 93% says new report “discrepancy phenomenal”

In a nutshell: a government funded group finds some bleached coral on the Great Barrier Reef, and repackages the stats to come up with the apocalyptic statistic that only 7% of the reef is not bleached!  The SMH reported that “93% of the corals” are damaged. The reef is 2,000 kilometers long. Did anyone really think about these headlines?

Then in a development that “no one” could see coming, local tourism is damaged, potentially costing a lot of jobs.

“And the loss of these tourists could cost our tourism industry a whopping $1 billion a year, a report out today by The Australia Institute warned.”

This inspires local dive operators (who possibly know what the reef looks like) to pay for a two week expedition to survey 28 sites. They find about 5% damage and describe the difference as phenomenal. Indeed, they say the reef is pretty much just like it was 20 years ago when they last did a survey.

We know that both sides have an interest finding a healthy or unhealthy reef. The problem starts with self-serving taxpayer funded scientists who are paid to find a crisis. But they would not get away with it if the media didn’t let them. Blame sloppy gullible journalists like Tom Arup (SMH), and Stephanie Smail (ABC) who should have asked some hard questions, and protested at the surreal headlines. Will the job-destroying ABC report the new survey?


 Great Barrier Reef only 5% bleached, Cairns Post

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Psychoanalysis shows Nuclear Power stops countries meeting climate targets

Only higher education could produce something this silly.

The University of Sussex gets the credit for a paper that argues that countries that are committed to nuclear energy are progressing slower towards the holy grail of meeting “climate targets”. This discovery  coincidentally comes exactly as the UK Hinkley Point “hangs in the balance”. What were the odds?

The Newspeak starts in the headline — what’s a “climate target”. My personal climate target is to move into the tropics each winter, but the EU climate target is not about reducing temperatures over Spain, but about “more windmills”. The climate target of the EU has apparently got nothing much to do with the climate:

…the EU’s 2020 Strategy — to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, increase the share of renewable energy to at least 20% of consumption, and achieve energy savings of 20% or more by 2020…

 They cluster countries in to 3 groups and discover that the countries that plan to maintain or expand nuclear energy (eg Bulgaria, Hungary and the UK) are not cutting emissions as fast as countries that have no nukes (Denmark, Ireland, and Norway).

Could it be, I wonder, because countries that have nukes have already cut their emissions (they only start counting the reductions from 2005). I scoff, I must be missing something. That’s too obvious.

But then the paper proves me wrong and does national psychoanalysis:

The team say that the gigantic investments of time, money and expertise in nuclear power plants, such as the proposed Hinckley Point C in the UK, can create dependency and ‘lock-in’ — a sense of ‘no turning back’ in the nation’s psyche.

I turn to the actual paper, thinking this must be a marketing mistake. Not so.

You may have thought energy production was about joules per megawatt hour, but it’s really  a conditioning system of governance.

 Whereas nuclear is nowadays often regarded simply as one type of sociotechnical regime among many, several decades ago theorists recognized that the way they operate is quintessential of the deeply political self-reinforcing dynamics in infrastructures and institutions – and even more widely, in economies, cultures, and political discourse – that are better understood as conditioning systems of governance themselves.

Nuclear power creates totalitarian states?

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The million year prehistory of Cricket — the fast bowlers got fed

The researchers don’t say it, but this is obviously the beginnings of cricket. (David says “baseball”).

Archaeologists found lots of round rocks like this that are around 70,000 – 1.8 million years old in a cave in South Africa. They thought they might be tools, but now reckon that they were used as a weapon for hunting. With models (yeah, yeah) these are apparently the ideal size and weight to score maximum high speed damage at 20-30m distance given the mechanics of a human arm. So before spears, people probably throw rocks overhand to hunt. We are the only animals that can do this –  which might explain why a million years later people are still so enthused about cricket (and baseball).

Maybe the South Africans have an unfair advantage playing the game so much longer than everyone else. (David doesn’t think much of my theory, but cricket suddenly makes a lot more sense to me now).

Snippets from the press release:

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We should protect our kids from climate change by not having them

National Public Radio (USA): ‘Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change?’

h/t to Climate Depot

Daily Caller Andrew Follett reports on a set of stories about population control “for the climate”:

‘We should protect our kids from climate change by not having them’ says Travis Rieder of NPR.

I reckon it seems fairer to have the kids first, then ask them.

Humans have put out 50% of all our emissions of CO2 since 1988, so everyone under 30 may have wished they hadn’t been born during the Anthropocene apocalypse. (All those hot summers, those boring lectures at school). Lets do that  survey. How many 28 year olds think their parents made the wrong call in 1987?

Raising offspring is hard work. “Saving the world” might just be the excuse you’re looking for if you are not inclined to do nappies.

NPR Travis Rieder, a philosopher at Johns Hopkins University, told NPR. “The situation is bleak, it’s just dark … Population engineering, maybe it’s an extreme move. But it gives us a chance.”

Rieder said America produces a lot of carbon dioxide (CO2) per person, and the world’s poorest nations will be most affected by global warming. He suggests rich nations should stop having children to remedy this. Reducing the current birth rate to 0.5 kids per woman could be the “thing that saves us,” he said.

I can see his point. Having less babies might cool the world. There are no babies in Antarctica, and there’s no warming there either.

How many non-babies does it take to stop a flood in Bangladesh? Perhaps the IPCC has an App for that.

The Sierra Club thinks the government should issue licenses for parents:

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McKibben: It’s The Climate World War. Hitler, Nazi’s, panic!

When you can’t persuade people to fight your imaginary enemy, declare a war.

New Republic
We’re under attack from climate change—and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII.

BY BILL MCKIBBEN     August 15, 2016

Translated: Expect 200 million imminent deaths (equivalent to WWII).  Give us your firstborn, and lots of your money.

Not quite a dispassionate scientist at work:

In the North this summer, a devastating offensive is underway. Enemy forces have seized huge swaths of territory; with each passing week, another 22,000 square miles of Arctic ice disappears. Experts dispatched to the battlefield in July saw little cause for hope, especially since this siege is one of the oldest fronts in the war. “In 30 years, the area has shrunk approximately by half,” said a scientist who examined the onslaught. “There doesn’t seem anything able to stop this.”

Panic now? In late 2015, Antarctic sea ice shrank by 13 million square kilometers, and nothing seemed to be able to stop it.

Then autumn came. Sea ice is projected to recover by September (like it does every year). Nature is full of cycles. Nothing about the current batch of climate shifts is unprecedented. Not in the last half million years of temperature, not in the sea level rises, and not in severity of storms. Droughts have not changed, the rate of temperature increase is the same as in 1880 and 1920. Whatever warming CO2 does is not enough to change a single marker in a detectable way. No fingerprint. Yet there are thousands of years of counter examples — where CO2 makes no difference.

For the last hundred thousand years someone somewhere has been making money, sticks or cowrie shells out of each change. If the Vostok ice cores over the Holocene tell us anything, it is that life on Earth is a continuous opportunity for witchdoctors to get rich scaring people about a climate they can’t predict.

This is 12,000 years of perfect non-man-made weather at Vostok Antarctica:

Antarctic ice core, Vostok, Holocene. Temperatures. Climate change.

And here is the South Polar Region during the last 38 years of “unprecedented man-made climate change” — graphed from recent satellite data from UAH. Humans have put out 60% of all man-made CO2 emissions since satellites started recording in 1978. Spot the effect?

Pause july 16 SP

Thanks to Kenskingdom for the UAH Southern Polar Graph.

Now, Antarctica is only Antarctica. Vostok does not represent the world. But there are graphs from all over the globe with similar stories of continuous change and no acceleration, not even a good correlation following CO2 levels. The climate changed and no climate scientist can explain the small movements in the Vostok graph — the spikes that lasted 250 years. If we were in one of those natural “spikes” now, they wouldn’t know.

The Holocene optimum was warmer than now, CO2 didn’t do it:

“…nearly every proxy that’s ever been proxied suggests there were a lot of warmer times in the period 5,000 – 8,000 years ago. Ice cores say it was hotter in Greenland, barnacles, corals, sea worms, and “swash” tell us sea levels were something like 2 meters higher in stable West Australia* and nearly 1m higher in Hawaii and Polynesia, oceans were 2 degrees warmer around in Indonesia, and 6,000 boreholes sunk in the oceans all over the world show it was a global deal. Australian Aboriginals apparently struggled through a 1,500 year mega drought about 6,000 year ago (see McGowan). CO2 Science lists references from South-East Asia  to the Sahara, from Antarctica to America. I am barely skimming the surface.

On any timescale you care to pick, it’s the same pattern of radical change: See 65 million years of temperature swings and the, and See tree rings in Tibet, and Lui et al 2011. Whatever.

The horror! The enemy is turning 5,000 year old corals to bone-yards visible from space!

Some Great Barrier Hyperventilation:

“In the Pacific this spring, the enemy staged a daring breakout across thousands of miles of ocean, waging a full-scale assault on the region’s coral reefs. In a matter of months, long stretches of formations like the Great Barrier Reef—dating back past the start of human civilization and visible from space—were reduced to white bone-yards.

McKibben seems to think corals had thousands of years of perfect temperatures until it all fell apart in the 2016 El Nino. Nice fantasy. But at the start of human civilization the world was hotter and seas were higher, and 8,000 years before that the Climate-Enemy caused sea levels to rise 125m over whatever poor sucker coral reef was off Queensland at the time. That’s climate change. Bleaching is common, corals are adapted to it, they swap symbionts when the water warms, and thanks to climate change, corals have been spreading towards the polesconquering territory as it were. Not shrinking. At the same time green plants have been aggressively invading the deserts too. With bumper crops this war is feeding the hungry.

It’s war, I tell you, and corals and plants are winning!

“…this is no metaphor. By most of the ways we measure wars, climate change is the real deal: Carbon and methane are seizing physical territory, sowing havoc and panic, racking up casualties, and even destabilizing governments.

Is it a real war? Some people measure wars by the dead. Others see new borders on maps. Lets ask some eighty year olds in London, Berlin and Pearl Harbour what they think. War or not-war?

I have to hand it to Bill, strawman hype doesn’t get bigger than this.

I think we’ve seen this conversation tactic before –  deny the debate and conflate, conflate, conflate:

“The question is not, are we in a world war? The question is, will we fight back? And if we do, can we actually defeat an enemy as powerful and inexorable as the laws of physics?

 It’s a spot-reductio to a world in one dimension — a nonsense singularity: the enemy suddenly is as powerful as the laws of physics. Such equivalence! If our knowledge of gravity was like the global climate there would be 23 global gravity models, none of which would work for all the planets. Apollo 11 would have missed the moon and 50 years later they’d still be adjusting the orbit retrospectively to figure out where they went in 1969. Homogenize that signal…

Gravitational models today don’t have gaping holes on magnetic, spectral or solar winds, and they don’t make mistakes with partial derivatives, or forget major feedbacks.

See also McKibben: Time For LITERAL War On Global Warming!

h/t Scott!


‘Liu Y, Cai Q F, Song H M, et al. Amplitudes, rates, periodicities and causes of temperature variations in the past 2485 years and future trends over the central-eastern Tibetan Plateau. Chinese Sci Bull, 2011, 56: 29862994, doi: 10.1007/s11434-011-4713-7 [ Climate Change over the Past Millennium in China.] …

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Brian Cox thinks 17,000 employees at NASA always produce perfect graphs. NASA employees disagree. Who to believe?

The key moment making headlines from the Q&A “Science Weak” episode — Brian Cox shows a temperature graph. Malcolm Roberts said the GISS temperature data has been “manipulated”. The Particle Physics Genius’ reply was argument from incredulity:  gushing, gratuitous astonishment spread over six attempts to form a complete sentence:

By who?    NASA?   The people the…  Hang on a minute.   No, no, see this is quite serious.    But can I just – just one thing. NASA, NASA…     The people that landed men on the moon?

In a blink of reductio ad absurbum, Cox sweeps aside a potentially useful discussion about thermometers near car-parks, airports, skyscrapers, and mysterious 1,200 km homogenized smoothing. In its place he gives cheap theatrical tricks. Follow his thought to its logical conclusion — everything that NASA does (or presumably will ever do) must be 100% correct. NASA becomes an apostle of the holy order. He treats the brand name as untouchable, but NASA is not just Neil Armstrong and a Big Step, it’s an agency with 17,000 employees. But hey, none of them have ever produced a manipulated graph.

Since experts matter (so Cox tells us) let’s ask the experts — like say, Buzz Aldrin, Charles Duke and Harrison Schmitt — three guys who actually walked on the moon, or another 47 scientists and astronauts that helped them get there.  They’re all skeptical. They wrote to NASA to protest at the lax standards of GISS:

“We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.”

Walter Cunningham circled the moon on Apollo 7,  and as one of the men who helped earn NASA it’s brand name, he now says trust in NASA and science has been abused.

Then there are a guys like Roy Spencer and John Christie who didn’t just work at NASA, they won prizes there — and in climate research. To this day, in an enduring mystery GISS (the Goddard Institute of Space Studies) doesn’t use satellites to measure temperatures, but Spencer and Christie do. Using Cox logic, these guys outrank him, he ought be rushing to copy their views… but they are skeptics. In the last 20 years the UAH graph looks quite different to the GISS graph — though it’s more true to say that even the GISS graphs look different to the GISS graphs, as they transform year after year. Amazing how the thermometer readings are still changing 30 years later. (BTW, even the pause is there in the UAH graph. Thanks Ken. Not that it matters whether it still is — the models were already proven wrong).

Things got so far from a science discussion Cox even asked Malcolm Roberts if he believed that “men landed on the moon”. Cox was either fishing for irrelevant ad hominem attack points or it suggests that Cox has read  more on climate psychology than on the climate. Being a particle physics guy perhaps he was fooled by studies with only ten anonymous internet responses. Psychology is a bit outside his expertise.

See him flash The Graph at 4:30 on this video.

Cox takes on the role of conversation vandal (with Lily-the-future-PhD-in-eco-something as the backup “the debate is over”). He dumps logical fallacies in, trades on his own media gloss and does his best to stop an open-minded, rational discussion. The ABC fosters this sort of interaction, like a twitter conversation with cameras. Linda Burnley’s “proof” was that people shouldn’t go swimming at Maroubra in August. Like that’s meaningful. (Poms have been coming to Perth and swimming here in July since forever…) Neither Cox, Jones, Hunt or Lily scoff or laugh at that comment. They could’ve done the full Scoff-Scorn and Riotous-Laughs, but …meh… wrong target.

One day Cox will understand cause and effect:

Here’s the most important point in the whole last twenty years of debate — credit to Malcolm Roberts for hammering it home. We need empirical evidence, and we need “cause and effect” links.  So here is Cox finally pressed to give his Big Empirical Evidence declaring that climate models are useful:

“Let me just – all right, I’ll just give you one snapshot. So, I took a snapshot of the different bits of evidence for 2015. So global ocean heat content highest on record in 2015; global sea level highest on record in 2015, 70 millimetres higher than that observed in 1993; global surface temperature highest on record, El Nino something like 10 to 40% contribution to that; tropical cyclones well above average overall, as you said and even the anecdotal data. …

…. So the point is you go evidence, evidence, evidence, arctic continue warm, sea ice extent low, artic land surface temperature in 2015, 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit above 1981’s 210 average.

 All of that would happen no matter what caused the warming. Cox hasn’t even thought this one through at a baby basic level. If the solar wind changed clouds and warmed the world, the seas also rise, the ice also melts, blah blah blah. Same for magnetic fields changing cloud nucleation. Same for UV solar cycle changes shifting jet streams and altering cloud formation.

O’but it’s hot says Cox. It’s hot!  Yet correlation is not causation. It’s fallacy after fallacy.

And some people call this man a “renown” scientist. Embarrassing.

See Eric Worrall at Watts up too: .Climate Clash: Aussie Senator Malcolm Roberts Owns TV Physicist Brian Cox

Anthony Cox at the ClimateSceptics: Malcolm Roberts and the ABC

The Q and A episode.

H/t to Helen D for the transcript and the “Science Weak” line.

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Malcolm Roberts on Q & A : 1 skeptic against 6 who believe the consensus

On the Eastern side of the country the new skeptical Senator, Malcolm Roberts is on Q & A.

Monday, 15 August 2016

As usual it is 6 against 1 the skeptical views that 54% of Australians share. Glaciers will form in hell before the ratio on the ABC would run 1:6 the other way. For Groupthinkers it’s very important that the group discussing a “controversial” topic agrees with each other. This neutralizes any damaging effects of hearing a lone voice put forward counter arguments.

John Cook has sent in a Question about empirical evidence.

Cook points at “less heat escaping to space” – Jo says –this doesn’t mean anything. We assume he means less heat escapes at certain frequencies (which he should have said). Sections of the outgoing spectrum are missing (e.g. Harries et al), which shows that CO2 is stopping some outgoing radiation and is a greenhouse gas (and we knew that already), but it doesn’t show that overall extra heat is staying in the system. The heat absorbed by CO2 is probably just rerouting out from other wavelengths (say, for example through emissions from the dominant greenhouse gas — water vapor). Indeed 28 million radiosondes suggest this is happening. The water vapor emissions layer is falling (not rising as the models predicted with the “hot spot”). We live on The Water Planet — the climate is driven by clouds, humidity, and our oceans — changes in these swamp the tiny effect of a trace gas. [This paragraph was edited for clarity, see notes below*]

The rate of warming in the 1980s peaked at the same rate that the globe warmed at in the 1920s and the 1880s (0.16C per decade). Ask Phil Jones. All that CO2 did not make any difference to the peak rate of global warming per decade. After World War II temperatures fell as CO2 rose. In the ice cores there are many examples of warmer temperatures causing CO2 to rise, and no clear examples of the opposite.

Since the year 2000 humans have put out 30% of all their CO2 and there is nothing to show for it.

I predict Brian Cox and Lily Serna will smile knowingly and talk about a “consensus”. Brian Cox may say the phrase “basic physics”.

As an honours student Lily Serna modeled pesticides feeding into the Great Barrier Reef.

“Using the existing CSIRO model the aim of my project is to develop an understanding of how pesticides move through the Fitzroy Estuary system in order to mitigate impacts on the Great Barrier Reef in light of predictions about climate change. The model also aims to describe the impact of increased or decreased pesticide usage on this fragile environment.

According to Wikipedia “Serna intends to complete a Ph.D. in environmental science”


For other viewers, theoretically, if you can find it, the show should appear on iview (sorry for overseas readers, I don’t know if that plays for you. Though  hear the “Modify Headers” App for Firefox may work for Ex-pats if they use their Australian IP).  Last weeks episode includes PJ O Rourke.

Twitter Feed Q& A

UPDATE There are video’s with these tweets but you’ll need to use the Twitter link.

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In 2009: Warming would stop 2020 Olympics. Now disaster moved to 2084

In 2009: The 2016 Rio Games predicted be the last

Global warming could make 2016 Games ‘the last Olympics in the history of mankind’, says Tokyo governor.

“Global warming is getting worse. We have to come up with measures without which Olympic Games could not last long.

“Scientists have said we have passed the point of no return,” said Ishihara.

August 2016: The 2080 Games predicted to be the last

Move that disaster by 60 years:

“A sobering new study shows that by the 2084 Olympics, rising temperatures will make it practically impossible for most cities to host the summer games.

How will the Olympics cope with a 1.5C rise?

Answer, easily. Assuming the world warms, the IOC could shift games a whole 400km from Rio, where the average max is 28C in August to  Sao Paulo where it’s 3 degrees cooler. Or they could shift the timing by all of eight weeks. If Moscow held the Olympics in September instead of July the event could survive an apocalyptic nine degree future rise. (Moscow in July has a 24C average max temperature, by September that has fallen to 15C average.)

The government funded 97%-groupthink scientists are allowed to get away with this (they might deny they predicted the death of the Olympics, but did any of them speak out against the frivolous scare?).

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