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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More energy means more people – lots of humans are alive because of coal

Twelve thousand years of human history show that more energy leads to more people. There is also positive feedback, where more people means more energy too. Growth rates rose faster and earlier in England and Wales than Sweden (see Fig 3), where coal use became dominant about a hundred years later.

Given a constant resource supply to a population, the per capita availability of resources declines as the population grows. As resources become scarce, individuals consume less, driving down birth rates and/or raising death rates.

Although many resources may influence birth and death rates (e.g., water), energy is a uniquely universal currency because all forms of work require energy expenditure. This applies to the metabolic rates of individuals in wild populations [18] as well as to the industrial energy use of modern human populations, as energy is used to harvest food, deliver water, and provide health care [1922].

Population, Energy, Global, Sweden, England, Wales, USA

Fig 1. Relationship between energy use (W) and population size for the world, the United States, Sweden, and England and Wales through time. The relationships are highly variable, but overall, the slopes are greater than one (that is, the exponent in the power-law function relating energy use to population size overall), indicating support for a positive feedback between population size and energy use. Lines with slopes of one (ε = 1) are shown as reference. The black lines show overall fits and gray shaded regions show 95% confidence intervals on the regression lines. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130547.g002

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Spot the Vested Interest: The $1.5 Trillion Climate Change Industry

Climate Change Business Journal estimates the Climate Change Industry is a $1.5 Trillion dollar escapade, which means four billion dollars a day is spent on our quest to change the climate. That includes everything from carbon markets to carbon consulting, carbon sequestration, renewables, biofuels, green buildings and insipid cars. For comparison global retail sales online are worth around $1.5 trillion. So all the money wasted on the climate is equivalent to all the goods bought online.

The special thing about this industry is that it wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for an assumption about relative humidity that is probably wrong. As such, it’s the only major industry in the world dependent on consumer and voter ignorance. This is not just another vested interest in a political debate; it’s vested-on-steroids, a mere opinion poll away from extinction. You can almost hear the captains of climate industry bellowing: “Keep ‘em ignorant and believing, or the money goes away!”.

To state the obvious:

Policy, or the anticipation of new policy, has been one of the biggest drivers of the industry, the report shows.

 Most industries this size exist because they produce something the market wants. They worry that competitors might chip into their market share, but they don’t worry that the market might disappear overnight. Normal industries fear that a “bad” political outcome might reduce profits by ten or twenty percent, and sometimes they donate “both ways”. But the climate industry has literally a trillion on the table that depends on big-government policy and election outcomes. They are always one prime-time documentary away from disaster. What if the public saw that thermometers were next to industrial exhaust vents? What if they learned that the climate models are unskilled, broken, and non-functional, or that 28 million weather balloons show carbon reduction is fruitless pursuit? What if they knew historic records are wildly adjusted to make the current weather look warmer than it would?

So while The Guardian worries about the dark and evil influence of the fossil fuels industry they don’t seem at all concerned about the vested-monster-in-the-kitchen, the 1.5 Trillion Climate Industry. Ditto for the intrepid souls at the ABC/BBC/CBC who think they speak truth to power, but miss the most powerful lobby in the climate debate.

By the way, you can buy the 200 page Climate Change Consulting Report for $995, or not.

Climate Change Industry Growth, graph, 2004 to 2014,


Insurance Journal

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What consensus? Less than half of climate scientists agree with the IPCC “95%” certainty

No 97% consensus, man-made global warming, survey climate scientists

I used to think there was a consensus among government-funded certified climate scientists, but a better study by Verheggen Strengers, Verheegen, and Vringer shows even that is not true.[1] The “97% consensus” is now 43%.

Finally there is a decent survey on the topic, and it shows that less than half of what we would call “climate scientists” who research the topic and for the most part, publish in the peer reviewed literature, would agree with the IPCC’s main conclusions. Only 43% of climate scientists agree with the IPCC “95%” certainty.

More than 1800 international scientists studying various aspects of climate change (including climate physics, climate impacts, and mitigation) responded to the questionnaire. Some 6550 people were invited to participate in this survey, which took place in March and April 2012. Respondents were picked because they had authored articles with the key words ‘global warming’ and/or ‘global climate change’, covering the 1991–2011 period, via the Web of Science, or were included the climate scientist database assembled by Jim Prall, or just by a survey of peer reviewed climate science articles. Prall’s database includes some 200 names that have criticized mainstream science and about half had only published in “gray literature”. (But hey, the IPCC quoted rather a lot of gray literature itself. Donna LaFramboise found 5,587 non peer reviewed articles in AR4.)

Fabius Maximus deserves credit for finding and analyzing the study. He notes that only 64% agreed that man-made CO2 was the main or dominant driver controlling more than half of the temperature rise. But of this group (1,222 scientists), only 797 said it was “virtually certain” or “extremely likely”. That’s just 43% of climate scientists who fully agree with the IPCC statement. This survey directly asks climate scientists, unlike the clumsy versions by John Cook, William Anderegg, or Naomi Oreskes that do keyword surveys of abstracts in papers and try to “guess”.

Fabius Maximus suggests we exclude the “I don’t knows” which brings up the number to 47%. Since these are “climate scientists” I don’t see why those responses should be excluded. An expert saying “I don’t know” on the certainty question is an emphatic disagreement with the IPCC 95% certainty.

The IPCC AR5 Statement:

“It is extremely likely {95%+ certainty} that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. ”

—  Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC’s AR5 Working Group I.

Climate scientists, survey, consensus, 97%, certainty,

Climate Scientists, consensus, survey, 97%, 43%, certainty

The researchers acknowledge that skeptics may be slightly over-represented, “it is likely that viewpoints that run counter to the prevailing consensus are somewhat (i.e. by a few percentage points) magnified in our results.” I say, given that skeptics get sacked, rarely get grants to research, and find it harder to get published, they are underrepresented in every way in the “certified” pool of publishing climate scientists. Skeptical scientists, I daresay, would be much less likely to use the keyword phrase “global warming” in the papers they do publish. I imagine it’s easier to get papers published that don’t specifically poke the mainstream buttons.

UPDATE: Curiously this new detailed study builds on a previous study by the PBL Netherlands Climate Assessment Agency, which was issued in 2014 and includes the same authors, as well as John Cook and a few others.[2] Jose Duarte responded to that first version, pointing out that many of the people surveyed worked in mitigation and impacts of climate change, (not climate “science” per se) which artificially inflated the results.[3]

Is there an alternate skeptical theory in climate science?

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SA Government won’t allow any non-leftist research — attacks Lomborg Centre

How easily it could collapse. What more proof do we need that the climate-crisis facade is maintained by hiding the counter arguments. Evidently the worst possible thing is for the public to be exposed to little pieces of paper with a message that runs against the creed.

The South Australian (SA) government is very very afraid, issuing statements yesterday, designed to intimidate Flinders University into rejecting the Lomborg Consensus Centre. They know that they can’t defend their “wind power” and “climate” policies, and the public will be up in arms when they realize how much money has been burned. (In 2012 Hamish Cumming estimated South Australian windfarms have saved 4% of their rated capacity in fossil fuels at a cost of $1,484 per ton.)

But it’s not about the environment or the economy,  it’s about prestige, popularity and status.

If the SA government fails to stop the Lomborg Centre at Flinders University, they know they will be called nasty names by their peers. They admit as much in their bizarre statements, which effectively use political pressure against a university to keep it free of “political pressure”, and admits researchers can be bought to support an agenda. Flinders Uni will look weak if they cave in now.

Are there any universities left in Australia that have academic freedom?

In a series of statements yesterday aimed at the Flinders University Council and the Coalition, the Weatherill government warned Dr Lomborg that he was not welcome in the state as it would damage South Australia’s image among the climate change fraternity.

State Labor also warned Flinders University that its academics would be bought off to peddle an anti-climate change agenda, and likened federal funding for the proposed centre to tactics used by the tobacco lobby.

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the state’s position was ­“bizarre” and a “disgraceful intervention” in Flinders’ academic ­affairs.

The SA Government oppose the Lomborg Centre on “ideological” grounds while declaring that universities should be free of er… “ideological” influence.

He [Ian Hunter, SA Climate Change Minister] said the Flinders Univer­sity Council should immediately rule out establishing the centre. “It needs to be made abundantly clear that the federal government’s funding carrot to set up the Lomborg centre comes with ideological strings attached.

So university researchers can be bought by governments to “support their agenda”. What does that say about the 97% government funded “consensus”?

“The federal Liberal government’s attitude to climate change is well known — and derided globally — and this funding is designed to buy willing researchers to support their agenda.

The former federal Labor governments attitude to climate change was “well known” too. Did Weatherill protest about the ideological strings then?

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The Emissions Trading Scheme monster idea is back – but the conversation is booby-trapped with fake words

It’s a tax that’s “not a tax” and a “free market” that isn’t free.

Joy. An emission trading scheme (ETS) is on the agenda again in Australia. Here’s why the first priority is to clean up a crooked conversation. If we can just talk straight, the stupid will sort itself out.

The national debate is a straight faced parody — it could be a script from “Yes Minister”, except no one would believe it. Bill Shorten argues that the Labor Party can control the world’s weather with something that exactly fits the definition of a tax, yet he calls it a “free market” because apparently he has no idea what a free market really is. (What union rep would?) It’s like our opposition leader is a wannabe entrepreneur building a  Kmart that controls the clouds. Look out Batman, Billman is coming. When is a forced market a free market? When you want to be PM.

The vandals are at the gates of both English and economics, and we can’t even have a straight conversation. The Labor Party is in flat out denial of dictionary definitions — is that because they can’t read dictionaries, or because they don’t want an honest conversation? Let’s ask them.  And the idea central to modern economics — free markets — when will the Labor Party learn what one is? It’s only a free market when I’m free to buy nothing.

A carbon market is a forced market. Who wants to buy a certificate for a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions? Only 12% of the population will even spend $2 to offset their flight emissions. How many Australians would choose to spend $500? Why don’t we ask them?! Why — because Bill Shorten knows what the answer would be.

Then, on top of all that, is the hypocrisy — the Labor Party say an ETS is the most efficient way to reduce carbon, but they know it isn’t true, because they also insist we buy 50% of our electricity from renewables. Even with an ETS, no one would choose wind power or solar to reduce CO2. They are that stupid.

But a fake free market will help the Global Financial Houses. Buy a carbon credit and save a Banker!

When will Labor start to speak English?

Definition of “Tax”: noun

1.a sum of money demanded by a government for its support or for specific facilities or services, levied upon incomes, property, sales, etc.
2.a burdensome charge, obligation, duty, or demand.

So let’s call it what it is, the ETS-tax. Confront the Labor Party with their inability to speak honest English. There is deception here, written into their language. As long as they won’t speak English, how can we even discuss their policy?

Can someone tell Labor what a “free market” is?

Real free markets are remarkable tools and very efficient, but we can never have a real free market on a ubiquitous molecule used in all life on Earth. It’s an impossibility.

The Labor Party is simply stealing a good brand name. This fake market in air certificates does not meet even the basic requirements of a true free market. It’s a market with no commodity, no demand, no supply, and no verifiability of goods delivered. You and I are not “free” to choose to buy nothing. Most of the players in this market are not free to play — who pays for yeast, weathering, or ocean cycles?

As I said in The Australian:  people who like free markets don’t want a carbon market, and the people who don’t trust capitalism want emissions trading. So why are socialists fighting for a carbon market? Because this “market” is a bureaucrat’s wet dream.

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Wait ’til you see these numbers on Carbon Capture and Storage

Did you know CCS (carbon capture and storage) requires an industrial plant almost as large as the coal fired power station it is supposed to clean up? Or that it uses fully 40% of the energy of the entire output of the same station? It turns out to be such an onerous, costly pursuit it could only have been dreamed up by an enemy of coal.

The central problem is that under conditions we humans like to be in, the CO2 molecule emphatically wants to be a huge voluminous gas. To make it more compact and storable back in the small hole it came from, we either have to change it chemically, or forcibly stuff it in under some combination of extreme pressure or extreme cold. And there aren’t many cold sealed rock vaults in Earth’s thin crust, which rests on a 1000 degree C ball of magma. Any form of chemical, temperature or pressure change uses monster amounts of energy, and there is just no getting around it without fiddling with laws of chemistry. The whole idea of CCS is so insanely unfeasible that in order to stuff a beneficial fertilizer underground it appears we must spend 60% more to build every new power station and then throw away 40% of its output as well. You can’t make this stuff up. CCS is the threat that makes new coal stations unaffordable in the West, and building those costs into the plans makes cost comparisons with renewables (and nuclear) so much more “attractive”. Anton goes through some provocative numbers. — Jo

Guest Post: Anton Lang (TonyfromOz)

Here’s why CCS (Carbon Capture and Sequestration, Storage) or “Clean” Coal is impossible

The Big-PR machine makes it sound simple:

Credit to Genevieve Young (Univ of Utah) for an image that has been adapted by others.

Billions of investment dollars hinge upon it, but few will correctly explain the whole process and what it entails. If they did, the public would see it for the pie-in-the-sky fairy plan that it is.

CCS is the proverbial Sword Of Damocles, hovering over every proposal for a new large scale coal fired power plant because it might only be approved only if it includes CCS. It’s used in the costings for new plants, making them virtually unaffordable. Making coal fired power enormously expensive means wind-power appears to be “cheaper” than coal. It’s one of the ploys used to artificially raise the costs for coal fired power, so renewable proponents can point and gloat that wind especially is now cheaper than coal fired power.

CCS artificially raises the costs of coal fired power in two ways

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Shortens “aspirational” world 2030

There is only one good reason to buy The Age: cartoonist John Spooner

John Spooner, The Age, Cartoon, Turn back the boats, windmills, windfarms

For foreign readers, there are two big headlines in Australia this week that Spooner is teasing us with.

One is about Shorten’s fantasy that Australia can go 50% renewable by 2030. This is an “aspirational ambition”, which, according to opposition leader Shorten, doesn’t need any kind of feasibility or budgeting before being announced as a policy. He plans to wave his magic wand and make aspirations happen, regardless of stuff like “money”, “Watts” and thousands of dead bats.

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Climate Death Squads funded by Big Oil strike people with lightning! How’s that for an ideated conspiracy?

Big Oil knows no bounds. Not only can it derail governments, and thwart the  UN, World Bank, and IMF but now it may be sending out climate death squads to assassinate Arctic Ice Experts. These expert hit squads apparently push people down stairs, run them off the road, and strike them down with lightning. Lightning! (That is one mother of aTesla Coil.) James Bond could learn something. Q, where are you?

Prof Wadhams at Cambridge has been the go-to man for Arctic scare stories across the UK (h/t Delingpole). In 2012, Wadhams predicted Arctic Sea Ice was set to collapse in just four years. Last year, after years of a relentlessly surviving Arctic, even some alarmists threw Wadham under the bus, (so to speak) as being too “extremist”. But now he’s topped that.

You see, in January 2013  there were four leading Arctic experts in the UK, now there is one, and he is very very worried.

No, seriously, you can’t make this up. Let’s try to imagine how much more profitable Big Oil would be if every single  Arctic climate expert in the World was dead. (Count the zeros…)

The utter futility of it all escapes Wadhams. After a high-risk pogrom against arctic scientists, it would be exactly five minutes before the BBC and Guardian would be reporting their 22-year-old underlings apocalyptic predictions instead. Wadhams has no idea how irrelevant he is, or how little Big-oil cares. If I were advising Big Oil — I’d tell Royal Dutch Shell to hold off with the hit-squad — and just get their PR department to stop the press releases where they beg for more Carbon Trading in the EU. Next on the list: has Shell stopped sponsoring WWF? If Shell want to stop the climate scare campaign, that has to go.

The truth is that Big-Oil want the climate scare — it’s good for business. In the end, everyone wants oil, no one goes to work in a solar car. And Big-oil get bonus government subsidies for biomass and carbon sequestration too. Money for jam. Plus Big Oil also get an excuse to fight their real enemy, Big-Coal.

With such a hot-to-trot conspiracy on the cards, where is Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook and Mike Marriott? I bet they can’t wait to study conspiracy ideation among actual climate experts, it would be so much more exciting than analysing 10 anonymous internet responses, or getting no responses from “78,000 skeptics” (who didn’t see the survey that was never hosted at John Cook’s site). Imagine a real study subject, an actual person, instead of internet readers who say they are 32,000 years old. The thrill!

The Telegraph

Three scientists investigating melting Arctic ice may have been assassinated, professor claims

Cambridge Professor Peter Wadhams suspects the deaths of the three scientists were more than just an ‘extraordinary’ coincidence

A Cambridge Professor has made the astonishing claim that three scientists investigating the melting of Arctic ice may have been assassinated within the space of a few months.

Professor Peter Wadhams said he feared being labelled a “looney” over his suspicion that the deaths of the scientists were more than just an ‘extraordinary’ coincidence.

But he insisted the trio could have been murdered and hinted that the oil industry or else sinister government forces might be implicated.

The three scientists he identified – Seymour Laxon and Katherine Giles, both climate change scientists at University College London, and Tim Boyd of the Scottish Association for marine Science – all died within the space of a few months in early 2013.

Professor Laxon fell down a flight of stairs at a New year’s Eve party at a house in Essex while Dr Giles died when she was in collision with a lorry when cycling to work in London. Dr Boyd is thought to have been struck by lightning while walking in Scotland.

His suspicions drew outrage on Saturday from Prof Laxon’s partner, who was also a close friend of Dr Giles. When told what Prof Wadhams had said, Fiona Strawbridge, head of e-Learning at UCL, replied: “Good god. All of this is completely outrageous and very distressing.”

Alarmist propaganda has been ranting relentlessly for twenty years about the power of Big Oil. But brainwashing bites, and this is one of those moments. Poor Prof Wadhams is reaping what that bizarre culture has sowed.

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