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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Climate media news coverage collapsed in the 2009 election year

After the 2009 peak of Copenhagen-fever and  ClimateGate, media coverage dropped precipitously. Then there’s been a kind of dead cat bounce as the extreme voodoo climate meme was pumped and every hot afternoon became a front page headline. But media interest has plummeted — and in a US election year. To some extent this was coming as the crowd was tired of the hottest year after the hottest year, the tipping points came and went, the apocalypse didn’t happen but the fatigue did. But there is more to that crash that just weariness. Looks like Trump just killed climate news…

See Grist: Major TV Networks spent just 50 minutes on climate change combined last year…

Media Coverage, Climate Change, 2016, Graph.

Climate broadcast coverage was already over the peak before the election year, but the crushing collapse in a “hottest ever massive El Nino year” says a lot. Trumps mockery of the topic was something the media news broadcasters couldn’t handle. It wasn’t a case of Any News Is Good News as the cliche goes, if Trump or the Deplorables had been given any real airtime the whole rent-seeking fantasy gravy train would have run off the rails.

The Boy Who Cried Warming had blamed climate change for droughts, storms, snow, lost cows, and “wrong” voters. There is nothing left. Every shade of near and far apocalypse has been done to death, and then Trump called their bluff so they ran away. They had used mockery and namecalling to silence critics for years, but when Trump owned their mockery and threw it back, they had no ammo left. They had not won the debate through reason and argument but through ridicule. He just turned their main weapon back at them.

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Climate caused Brexit sayth the Gore

Righto. It’s time to blame climate change for causing British voters to vote against German rule of Britain. Back when the climate was ideal, the Brits would’ve been fine with that.

Instead, even though the world has not warmed for 80% of the history of the EU, the EU is breaking up because of climate change.

It’s not like Al Gore to draw conclusions from a long nebulous chain of dubious reasoning, but here’s how it goes: Coal gives off CO2, which causes droughts according to models that don’t work, and that made Syrians migrate. Everyone got unhappy and voted for Brexit.

Climate change helped cause Brexit, says Al Gore

Brexit was caused in part by climate change, former US Vice-President Al Gore has said, warning that extreme weather is creating political instability “the world will find extremely difficult to deal with”.

Really, it’s all about coal, cars and plastic bags.  If the EU had only put in more wind farms, the UK would have voted to stay in.

If it weren’t for a lack of rain in the middle east, the British Isles would want to leave decisions about immigration, fishing and light bulbs to their friends in Europe. What were they thinking when they voted to save billions and make those choices for themselves?

Mr Gore, speaking at an event in which he previewed a sequel to his landmark 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, said the “principal” cause of the Syrian Civil War had been the worst drought in 900 years, which forced 1.5 million people to move from the countryside to the cities. There they met a similar number of Iraqis who had fled the conflict in their homeland, creating powder keg conditions that Syrian government officials privately feared would explode.

Let’s not forget that for the last thousand years when the weather was preindustrially perfect, the French, Germans and Spanish got along super well with the Brits. It’s not like there was ten centuries of warfare until the climate warmed and peace ripped across the land. (Climate change also causes peace in Europe. How bad can it get?).

Gore’s evidence amounts to saying that there was a bad drought in this multivariate intercontinental geopolitical mess, plus Wikileaks shows someone in Syria saying “there is going to be a social explosion” just before there was one. Well, that does it for me…

/sarc /sarc /sarc2

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Gottleibsen: Australian Energy Crisis “criminal” with 75% chance of blackout

Last days before Hazelwood shuts down.

Robert Gottleibsen in The Australian a couple of days ago has investigated our energy crisis, and discovered our old centralized grid design is quite likely to fall over next summer in an incredibly expensive way. It’s nice that he did some research and even talked to engineers:

The looming crisis is much worse than I expected. Three state governments, Victoria NSW and South Australia, have vandalised our total energy system. The Premiers of each state clearly had no idea what they were doing and did not sit down with top engineers outside the government advisers to work out the best way to achieve their objectives — whether that be an increase in renewables or gas restrictions.

He warns that it is potentially criminal:

I have been alerted that in the 1995 Federal Criminal Code under Section 137.1 in Chapter 7 there is a section entitled ‘Good administration of government’.

Me? I remain a cynic (not that I’m a lawyer). The legislation has been there since 1995, threatens 12 months in prison for “misleading information”. It can’t be this simple.

Still it would be good if politicians were scared into doing the right thing (keep Hazelwood running, explore for gas, talk about nuclear):

I can’t prejudge the courts but there appears to be no statute of limitation in the legislation so every statement made by any politician may be available to be examined by the courts to see if it is false or misleading. If we get damaging blackouts or gas shortages then my guess is that any politicians and advisors who are charged will face the next five to 10 years defending themselves in the courts. The government of the day will decide whether they should have legal aid.

This legislation is about promoting public service and political honesty. If Hazelwood is closed the Victorian government needs to tell the people that there is a good chance of blackouts but, (if it’s true), say that they are bringing in the best experts from around the world to lessen the chance. Maybe the Commonwealth should bring in the experts but they too must tell the people the truth.

Keep reading  →

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Watch the 12th International Conference on Climate Change Live (Thursday morning US time)

The 12th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-12) will take place on Thursday and Friday, March 23–24 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC, thanks to the Heartland Institute. Watch and hear the scientists, economists, engineers, and policy experts who persuaded President Donald Trump that man-made global warming is not a crisis, and therefore Barack Obama’s war on fossil fuels must be ended.


More information below…

Keep reading  →

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Hazelwood Countdown: 53 years old and making more electricity than Australia’s entire wind industry

Three days to go: The Hazelwood shut down begins

The situation in Australia right now:

Total wind power, NEM, Australian electricity market, graph, total fossil fuel output, March 2017

The total fossil fuel output compared to total wind power generation, NEM, Australian electricity market, 21 March 2017

One old coal plant makes more electricity than all the wind farms

Guest Post by TonyfromOZ and Jo Nova

I’ve been watching the output of all eight generators at Hazelwood closely all month and comparing it to the total wind farm generation across the National Electricity Market (NEM). The old warhorse is a remarkable engineering and economic success.

I’ve kept a total of the power output each day from midnight to midnight and a running cumulative total. So far, the running total output from Hazelwood has always stayed ahead of the total from wind farms.  So this 53 year old coal fired plant that is being shut down next week has produced more energy than the 43 wind plants on the National Energy Market. Even if we could store the energy from the wind farms, it still doesn’t add up to the same as one very ancient coal plant. The shut down starts in three days time on Friday March 24th.

Over the first 18 days of this month the old coal workhorse still made 7% more power than all the windfarms in the National Energy Market (which is everywhere bar WA and the NT). Hazelwood has delivered 561GWH over these 18 days and wind, 521GWH. The extra 40GWH of energy means an extra 2,211,111KWH per day, and if the average home consumes 17.5KW per day, then that means the extra delivered by Hazelwood is enough to supply 126,350 homes, and for the full 24 hours of those 18 days.

In the Australian NEM grid, there are 43 wind plants, and around 2400 turbines on poles, and for 14 years they’ve been building them. Despite that, they’re still not delivering enough power to replace a 53 year old tired worn out coal fired plant that can still manage to get all its generators working. See my post for all the details as I track the closure of this large piece of infrastructure: Hazelwood Power Plant Closing 31st March – Currently Delivering More Power Than Every Wind Plant In Australia.

Renewables can’t even keep a small state running

South Australia only consumes 6% of Australia’s total power consumption, the second lowest in Australia, only marginally higher than Tasmania’s 4.5%.  If they cannot make renewables work on such a tiny scale, what does that say for Victoria, Queensland and NSW, and Australia as a whole? The wind industry began around the year 2000 in Australia. So, here we are, now 17 years later, and they still don’t generate enough power to replace one ancient power plant slated for closure. You tell me how good wind power is now.

I’ve been watching the output of the old coal generators closely. Here’s a typical example — at 3:20PM today.


Bayswater – all four units running – 2494MW – 30 years old

Liddell – three of four units running – 750MW – 46 years old

Eraring – all four units running – 2340MW – 35 years old

Vales Point – both units running – 11130MW – 40 years old

In Victoria:

Loy Yang – five of six units running – 2580MW – 32 years old

Yallourn – two of two units running – 680MW – 44 years old

Wind energy output

Total in the NEM in Australia varied from 200MW up to 2000MW this month. (Total nameplate capacity: 3900MW)

Most of the wind farms operate on a 30% capacity factor, even though they are a lot newer. Hazelwood is 53 years old, and is not generating its original Nameplate of 1600MW, but it can still make 86% of that total, which is pretty astonishing after 53 years. One of the oldest wind farms runs on just a 16% capacity factor. Challicum Hills in Victoria opened in 2003 with 35 turbines and a Nameplate of 52.5MW. Even on the best of windy days, the maximum power generation is only 40MW, so that’s 10.5MW short of the maximum, or 7 turbines possibly not even working at all.

When Hazelwood was new it ran at around a 90% Capacity Factor, and even now, after 53 years that has only dropped to around 60%, so effectively over its whole life it has managed (typical for large scale coal fired power) a capacity factor of around 70% lifetime. So, after 53 years, Hazelwood has generated 520.4 TWH of power, and I only expressed it that way because in MWH it’s a very long number: 520,349,760MWH

It has been delivering that power for around $30/MWH give or take, that’s 3c per KWhr and those prices are in today’s dollars.

So, from the sale of electricity alone, that comes in at  $15.6 billion  worth of electricity which is around $295 Million a year.

Here’s a graph comparing wind power across the entire NEM with the 1360MW provided by Hazelwood alone. Most of the time Hazelwood is outdoing all 43 wind farms. Only during peaks (yellow) does production climb above the total of this old power station.

Wind farm outout, March 2017, graph, National Electricity Market, NEM, Australia.

Wind farm outout, March 2017, graph, National Electricity Market, NEM, Australia.

This is what old coal reliability looks like:

Hazelwood Coal fired Generator, output, graph.

The output of the eight generating turbines at Hazelwood today March 21, 2017.

Are the engineers at Hazelwood defiantly showing off?

There appears to be some defiance going on from the people who work there, wanting to thumb their noses at the people who clamor for its closure. They’ve fixed one turbine this month and brought it back to speed when they didn’t need too.

One of the Units (Unit 8) was taken off line eight days back now. As I have explained, there are a lot of processes in the chain of power generation, and any one of them could be at fault. However, if the plant is scheduled to close at the end of the month, then there’s no real need to fix the problem. Just concentrate on the other units. However, yesterday at around 8AM, Unit 8 started to come back on line. It took 4 hours to reach full power delivery, but now it’s just humming along, just like the other seven units.

Keep reading  →

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All Australians “are detrimental”. Climate Scientist worries that her baby will cause floods, droughts, and warm globe

After years of struggle to conceive, plus tortured introspection about the effect her baby might have on future storms, Sophie Lewis, climate scientist, announces conception in the most convoluted way:

And then, just as senselessly as our grief began, it ended. For no particular reason, the expected bad baby news never arrived and now the complexity of having an imagined child will become a concrete ethical entanglement.

Exactly. And many a climate model operates with all the same clarity and insight.

But sincere congratulations to Sophie Lewis. We hope her good news brings her  years of joy.

We also pray she escapes the climate bubble soon. Because by golly, she’s in deep.

Lewis reveals the paroxysms of irreconcilable guilt — where the evolutionary drive conflicts with the climate religion:

Older climate scientists speak widely about their worries for their grandchildren and the world they have provided them. While such concerns must weigh on older minds, younger climate scientists’ future concerns require active deliberation. Should we have children? And if we do, how do we raise them in a world of change and inequity? Can I reconcile my care and concern for the future with such an active and deliberate pursuit of a child?

Put simply, I can’t. Nowadays, the pitter-patter of tiny feet is inevitably the pitter-patter of giant carbon footprints. Reusable nappies, a bike trailer and secondhand jumpsuits might make me feel like I’m taking individual action but they will achieve little. A child born today is inevitably a consumer and, most significantly, is a consumer of greenhouse gases.

Warning. Pure climate-princess material coming — The climate battle is like World War II:

Living in and starting a family in volatile and uncertain times are not unique experiences. My grandmother fled Europe in the early 1950s for a better life in Australia. A German Jew, her family had been scattered, with herself interned in Britain, her sister lost in Auschwitz and her family’s desperate flight rebuffed by an indifferent world. Years of horror, combined with strict rations and economic uncertainty drove her to strike out bravely for a new life in Australia with her young babies.

But there was icing on the cake of the abject horror then — No such luck now:

Climate change is a critically different problem. In my grandmother’s time of abject horror, good people were empowered – to varying degrees – to do good. After the war ended, the actions of just a few were recognised as having salvaged the honour of all our humanity. Nowadays, the very act of living in Australia, regardless of concern for our climate future, is detrimental.

Now there are no heroes, just climate prophets (who can’t seem to predict anything useful) and whose bodily existence, like everyone else, including babies “is detrimental”

Indeed, to paraphase her baby announcement:

And then, just as senselessly as our grief began, it ended. For no particular reason, the expected bad climate news never arrived and now the complexity of having an imagined climate has become a concrete ethical entanglement.

I’m worried having a baby will make climate change worse — Sydney Morning Herald. Where else?

Those warmists who fear that a child,
Could leave our green planet defiled,
Or that one baby primate,
Could change Earth’s whole climate,
Are by climate-change hot air beguiled.


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Weekend Unthreaded

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Climate-Dollar bragging is over: funding goes underground to avoid “climate-axe”.

Once upon a time governments bragged about how much they spent on “climate change”. Every Climate Quiz or tin-pot-program to insulate a chicken-run was wrapped under the Climate Action banner so that politicians could claim they were saving the world. Nowadays voters have voted for the guy who called it a hoax,  and the funding’s gone underground because he was going to boast about how much climate funding he’d cut.

When I wrote Climate Money in 2009, a lot of the spending was already documented, under the Climate Change Science Program or by the GAO. How times have changed.

To Protect Climate Money, Obama Stashed It Where It’s Hard to Find

 President Donald Trump will find the job of reining in spending on climate initiatives made harder by an Obama-era policy of dispersing billions of dollars in programs across dozens of agencies — in part so they couldn’t easily be cut.

Climate change is so important that no one even estimates what the government spends on it:

The last time the Congressional Research Service estimated total federal spending on climate was in 2013. It concluded 18 agencies had climate-related activities, and calculated $77 billion in spending from fiscal 2008 through 2013 alone. But that figure could well be too low. The Obama administration didn’t always include “climate” in program names, said Alice Hill, director for resilience policy on Obama’s National Security Council.

What was $79 billion in climate funding from 1989-2009 doubled in the next 5 years. The US government has spent far more than $150 billion.

“The Trump Administration needs to defund the entire apparatus of the climate change federal funding gravy train,” said Marc Morano, a former Republican staffer for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “In order to dismantle the climate establishment, agencies and programs throughout the federal government need to be targeted.”

“The climate funding has spread to almost every aspect of the federal government with sometimes wacky results,” said Morano, who doubts global warming and runs the website He cited one example of a Department of Transportation query about the link between climate change and fatal car crashes.

Marc is right.

h/t Climatedepot

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Energy crisis in Australia: Feds versus State

Turnbull announces beefing up the Snowy Mountains Hydro. Weatherill gets grumpy. Insults exchanged.

Things are so serious that suddenly the Feds are unveiling a new solution to fix the blackouts and “load shedding”.

As Bob FJ writes: see Canberra Times and note the eye-contact avoidance etcetera twixt Weatherill and Frydenberg.

h/t To Bob FJ

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Infamous Milgram experiments repeated: Only a few will stand up against authority

Millgram experiment

The Milgram Experiment. Image Wikimedia.

The chilling Milgram experiments have been replicated, and yet again, 9 out of 10 are willing to inflict electric shocks and pain on another person. In these infamous experiments the power of a white lab coat was enough to get more than half the participants (26 out of 40) to deliver a fatal shock (the participants didn’t realize the shock was faked, and the victim an actor).

This willingness to obey authority is both a great strength of humanity when authority is worthy and yet leads to the darkest abyss when it is not.

By nature, we are largely empathetic creatures: most people really don’t want to cause pain, they get quite upset themselves in the process. Yet many people will override this inbuilt ethical wiring if a person in a position of authority insist they do. It’s time we talked about ways to train people to resist. There is hope as outlined below in a different study from last year.

Conducting the Milgram experiment in Poland, psychologists show people still obey

Press Release: The title is direct, “Would you deliver an electric shock in 2015?” and the answer, according to the results of this replication study, is yes. Social psychologists from SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Poland replicated a modern version of the Milgram experiment and found results similar to studies conducted 50 years earlier.The research appears in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

“Our objective was to examine how high a level of obedience we would encounter among residents of Poland,” write the authors. “It should be emphasized that tests in the Milgram paradigm have never been conducted in Central Europe. The unique history of the countries in the region made the issue of obedience towards authority seem exceptionally interesting to us.”

For those unfamiliar with the Milgram experiment, it tested people’s willingness to deliverer electric shocks to another person when encouraged by an experimenter. While no shocks were actually delivered in any of the experiments, the participants believed them to be real. The Milgram experiments demonstrated that under certain conditions of pressure from authority, people are willing to carry out commands even when it may harm someone else.

“Upon learning about Milgram’s experiments, a vast majority of people claim that ‘I would never behave in such a manner,’ says Tomasz Grzyb, a social psychologist involved in the research. “Our study has, yet again, illustrated the tremendous power of the situation the subjects are confronted with and how easily they can agree to things which they find unpleasant.”

While ethical considerations prevented a full replication of the experiments, researchers created a similar set-up with lower “shock” levels to test the level of obedience of participants.

The researchers recruited 80 participants (40 men and 40 women), with an age range from 18 to 69, for the study. Participants had up to 10 buttons to press, each a higher “shock” level. The results show that the level of participants’ obedience towards instructions is similarly high to that of the original Milgram studies.

They found that 90% of the people were willing to go to the highest level in the experiment. In terms of differences between peoples willingness to deliver shock to a man versus a woman, “It is worth remarking,” write the authors, “that although the number of people refusing to carry out the commands of the experimenter was three times greater when the student [the person receiving the "shock"] was a woman, the small sample size does not allow us to draw strong conclusions.”

In terms of how society has changed, Grzyb notes, “half a century after Milgram’s original research into obedience to authority, a striking majority of subjects are still willing to electrocute a helpless individual.”

The good news from a study last year: Matthew Hollander listened to all the Millgram recordings again, and there were about 800 in the full set. He found that even among obedient people there were signs of resistance as the experiment got more painful. They had ways of slowing the experiment, tried to talk their way out of it, and talk to the victim too. The difference was that the disobedient people were more aggressive about slowing things down, they started to resist earlier, and had more options to resist. It would seem likely that if we train people better, a lot more people will stand up to authority.

“Before examining these recordings, I [Hollander] was imagining some really aggressive ways of stopping the experiment — trying to open the door where the ‘learner’ is locked in, yelling at the experimenter, trying to leave,” Hollander says. “What I found was there are many ways to try to stop the experiment, but they’re less aggressive.”

Most often, stop tries involved some variation on, “I can’t do this anymore,” or “I won’t do this anymore,” and were employed by 98 percent of the disobedient Milgram subjects studied by Hollander. That’s compared to fewer than 20 percent of the obedient subjects.

Interestingly, all six of the resistive actions were put to use by obedient and disobedient participants.

“What this shows is that even those who were ultimately compliant or obedient had practices for resisting the invocation of the experimenter’s authority,” says Douglas Maynard, a UW-Madison sociology professor who leads the Garfinkel Laboratory for Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis. “It wasn’t like they automatically caved in. They really worked to counter what was coming at them. It wasn’t a blind kind of obedience.”

If people could be trained to tap practices for resistance like those outlined in Hollander’s analysis, they may be better equipped to stand up to an illegal, unethical or inappropriate order from a superior. And not just in extreme situations, according to Maynard.

– See Infamous study of humanity’s ‘dark side’ may actually show how to keep it at bay

Though the numbers do still look depressing. There are critics of the Millgram experiments, who say that it was an artificial setting, unethical, and people wouldn’t react that way, but this second round of research has replicated at least some of those findings.

There is a kind of Millgram experiment going on in climate science. The experimenters keep pushing more ridiculous buttons…


  1. Dariusz Doliński, Tomasz Grzyb, Michał Folwarczny, Patrycja Grzybała, Karolina Krzyszycha, Karolina Martynowska, Jakub Trojanowski. Would You Deliver an Electric Shock in 2015? Obedience in the Experimental Paradigm Developed by Stanley Milgram in the 50 Years Following the Original StudiesSocial Psychological and Personality Science, 2017; 194855061769306 DOI: 10.1177/1948550617693060
  1. Matthew M. Hollander. The repertoire of resistance: Non-compliance with directives in Milgram’s ‘obedience’ experimentsBritish Journal of Social Psychology, 2015; DOI: 10.1111/bjso.12099
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