JoNova

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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Scientists reply to hypocrites: We dare you to talk science instead how you hate “fossil fuels”

Caught with their pants down.

Unskeptical-scientists, like Hansen, Trenberth, and Mann, have plastered their name on a document aiming to stop scientific research. They want less science funding. Who hates science then?

The Ethical Poseurs

Who cares about the ethics of fossil fuels funding skeptics, but doesn’t care when renewable-energy corporations sponsor pro-crisis exhibitions? Siemens was principle sponsor of the UK Science Museum’s propaganda gallery on climate science. It makes EUR 80 million profit each quarter from wind and renewables. Where is the outrage? When mercenary corporates use museums to boost their profits, that’s OK for Hansen, Trenberth and Mann. The other big sponsor was Shell, which profits from gas sales, when its cheap competitor coal gets hit thanks to “climate-panic”. Shell, of course, likes windmills, which need a gas form of back up.

Time skeptics stood up for science funding

We skeptics need to stop buying into the bullying and intimidation of those who say fossil fuels can fund unskeptical research but not skeptical (i.e. real) research. The sole reason they do this is to starve skeptics and to poison the well for audiences. It is anti-science, anti-free-speech, anti-intellectual in every way.

Most times when a skeptic says “we take no fossil fuel funding” it caves to that meme. It feeds the monster. It is as if skeptics are confirming that unskeptical activists are right to “expose” and discuss funding without even discussing the research. It is never OK to use an ad hom in place of an argument. The correct response of any scientist accused of receiving any money “linked” to fossil fuels is to say:

“We’d be grateful if we were. Please give my details to the Koch Brothers.

So you are still too scared to discuss the science? If you can find a problem with my research, we would talk about that instead, wouldn’t we?

It’s time scientists talked science instead of “vested interests”

The Unskeptical-scientists don’t want to debate this through peer review, they’re terrified. Knobbling competing scientists by attacking their funding is their best strategy; their scientific case is riddled with holes.

That’s why it is great to see a group of scientists take this head-on, and you can join them.

The Natural History Museum has written an open letter to other museums – telling them to stop taking fossil fuel money (specifically Koch funding) for vapor thin ethical reasons, and because they are nice people who really care a lot about the planet.

CO2Science has an Open Response, where they are collecting names in support. Essentially, they point out that it boils down to a well funded mob complaining that skeptics got about 1% as much money from philanthropic donors as they did:

Instead of arguments based on science and facts, the movement labels any who question their dogma as “deniers,” funded, according to the letter, by “climate-change-denying organizations spending over $67 million since 1997 to fund groups denying climate change science.” The hypocrisy is breathtaking. Orders of magnitude more funding has been given by governments and foundations to organizations and individuals charged with “scientifically” proving the alleged evils of CO2 and inventing ways to cope with it. In 2011 alone, ten large foundations donated $577 million to environmental causes, nearly ten times more than the total funding since 1997 to the so-called “deniers.” And that does not count tens of billions of dollars from the government and other foundations. Apparently the movement’s scientific case is so weak that they feel threatened by any research that does not support their doctrine.

We applaud support for informative studies of the climate, for example, ocean monitoring programs, satellite instruments, or meteorological networks with high-quality data archives. This work needs no defense from scientific challenges, regardless of the source of funding. The honest scientists responsible for much of this excellent work cannot be blamed for the excesses of the anti-fossil fuel movement. But the signers of the letter include some of the biggest feeders at the climate trough, who benefit from millions of dollars of funding every year for research empires, which, in many cases, stoke a propaganda mill instead of producing real science. In the interests of transparency and intellectual integrity, the signatories of the “To the Museums” letter should have each revealed their annual and cumulative climate funding.

Their hypocritical ethics claims,  and the obvious outcome of less funding for science mean it’s hard to see any aim in this other than to shut down any investigation that threatens their status, their funding or their religious belief. Pure scientific parasites.

How can more funding for science be bad? The answer is “when the funding is already monopolistic, biased, and one-sided and extra funding makes the balance worse.” Though the danger here is merely that the well funded team produces more irrelevant, repetitive papers. If science journalists were half smart and properly trained, that would hardly matter.

Funding should be declared, but always research stands or falls on it’s evidence and its arguments. The time for talking about funding only comes after some grievous problem is found with the research, or if the research is hard to replicate and dependent on data collected and maintained by the same team.

They ask museums  “to cut all ties with the fossil fuel industry and funders of climate science obfuscation.”

The letter has no chance of actually working because fossil fuel empire funds more pro-panic exhibits than it has ever funded skeptical ones. The UK science museum is very happy to take money from Shell and BP. Likewise British Museum, Tate, and others, ahem, are ethically quite OK with BP money, oil spills and all. Though the letter has already achieved what it probably wanted, which is mass PR as most in the gullible media sucked it up.

TO ADD YOUR NAME

We welcome additional signers, both US and non-US citizens, who are informed about CO2 and climate.
If you would like to add your name, please send a note to climatesigners@gmail.com.

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Weekend Unthreaded

Been away for a few days again… north this time. Cute small fishing towns are overlooked.

Hope you are having fun too.

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Bjorn Lomborg gets funding for a new centre at UWA, howls and protests begin

Bjorn Lomborg writes in The Australian reasonably often, so he is fairly well known amongst the thinking set in Australia.

The Consensus Centre is coming to UWA, my old alma mater, and former home of Steven Lewandowsky, and PhD candidate John Cook. Strange company indeed. It is promising that something rational will probably come forth from UWA for a change. It’s also promising that the Abbott government seems to recognise the need to break the monopoly in funding by a small amount. The choice of UWA might not be as outlandish as people think. It is as politically as pathetically correct as any university, but it doesn’t have a major climate gravy train. Their climate science courses page says it all — they only have a generic enviro-science major, and a bland “thesis” for postgrads. Their Climate Science page is (as wiki would say) a “stub article” in need of content. It  links to the UnskepticalScience blog, Lewandowskys nearly dead blog, and one respectable twitter account. In other words, $4m would make a huge difference in UWA-climate-land, which is a vacuum. I don’t think there was any chance of Lomborg getting help from say, Uni NSW instead (where Sherwood, England, Pitman,  “Deltoid” and the-man-who-got-stuck-in-Antarctic-ice, work.)

Punish the “contrarian” — even if he agrees with nearly everything

The news of this started doing the rounds a few weeks ago. Curiously, apart from tiny news stories, there was not much interest until The Guardian decided to expose the Abbott government “funding contrarians”, as if a government should only ever fund one opinion, and as if that crude descriptor fits Bjorn Lomborg, who agrees with the IPCC about the science, but not about how to solve the “crisis”. But just as with Roger Pielke Jnr, even borderline apostates must be punished. Such is the fear from the climate religion that their unscientific facade will crumble, they have to protest every grant outside the tribe. So Lenore Taylor, the author at The Guardian, didn’t miss the chance to discuss the potential, vague, undescribed “links” between the Consensus Centre and alleged fossil fuel funding. The Consensus Centre replied that it doesn’t accept any, and indeed, recommends “the elimination of subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and increasing investment in RD&D for green energy technologies.” So why are we even talking about imagined possible “links” with fossil fuels? Because most well trained green-journalists can’t write an article without mentioning the “fossil fuel” ad hom. It’s reflexive.

And so the howling begins

UPDATE: The Climate Council hates the idea of an economist trying to make the environmental dollar effective “it’s an insult to Australia’s scientific community”. So we know the Consensus Centre must be useful. ;-)

The Education Union calls for Pyne’s resignation, because apparently an elected government can’t just fund things, especially not foreigners:

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) slammed the decision and called on Pyne to resign.

NTEU national president Jeannie Rea said: “These [Australian] researchers will understandably be furious that the Minister for Education has found a spare $4 million to establish a research centre that has not been required to go through any competitive process and seems to have arisen from discussions between UWA, the government and departmental officials.

There is already a petition at Change.org saying “Lomborg’s views are dangerous.”

It’s not about finding solutions about the climate, or making enviro-dollars useful, it’s about toeing the tribal line. Poor Clodagh Guildea, the petition founder, studied science at post-modern UWA, and thinks Lomborg is “entirely out of step with scientific consensus” which shows (1) how bad she is at research, because he buys the consensus all the way, and (2) how little she knows about science. Perhaps one day UWA will teach the scientific method again, instead of training parrots to mimic authority? For UWA’s sake Clodagh, pack away your unscientific petition and stop advertising how weak the science faculty is these days.

Lomborg, half believer, half skeptic

I like Lomborg when he writes about economics. I’m not enthused about his science views. In 2010 he was using the namecalling term “denier”  and appeared to know nothing much about skeptic positions apart from what he’d been taught by Al Gore. I suspect he must have improved since then — he would have met some real skeptics — because he doesn’t seem to recite that litany with the same careless habit he did then.

As for The Consensus Centre — it’s not a good name, but Lomborg’s skill is to pick a position very close to his opponents — he presents a small target, and the choice of name reflects that. Strategically, there is a certain wisdom to it, and it appears to be his genuine position too, since he does not stray far from the path. That said, I wouldn’t use it in a science debate. But they appear to have used this name since 2004.

I wish him all the best.  I imagine he will hit the UWA cultural scene like a hot potato. But closet skeptics will feel more inclined to speak up. Hopefully, the climate-crisis-tribe will overplay their hand with outrage as per usual. The more the better. Sensible people can see how ridiculous it is. Good luck to him.

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Fewer heatwaves for 9 million Australians in Sydney, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne –”thank CO2″!

Let’s play the Heatwaves PR game. If CO2 had an effect we’d see a significant increase in the rate of global warming over the decades since WWII, the models would work, and climate scientists would be able to predict our climate. Since none of that is true, those with a political agenda have to clutch at noisy but marketable extremes instead. Apparently even a half-true, noisy, non-causal link is good enough for post-modern scientists.

Heatwaves are perfect for generating scientific sounding fear, but not so useful for generating actual scientific knowledge. There are an infinity of ways to measure them. They can last 3 days – 160 days, and be cut off at any number from 35  – 40C, or at some percentile outlier. They can be measured one town at a time, or on a regional or state-wide level. The permutations are rich with headline scoring possibilities. And in the end, on a long warming trend that started 300 years ago, it is obvious, inevitable, and predictable that we should score more now. What’s surprising is how often we don’t.

On ABC radio before Easter, Dr Vertessy, Director and CEO of the Bureau of Meteorology, claimed that we are seeing “of the order of five times the number of very serious heatwaves” as in the middle of last century [listen at 11 mins]. Ken Stewart wrote to Vertussy and asked what metrics he used to define heatwaves. Nearly two weeks later, Vertussy has not replied, so Ken analyzed the records himself using a 40C cut off, and also looking for the top 5% of summer maximums.

The end result is that it can be said that there happens to be more heatwaves in Adelaide, but there are less heatwaves in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, or Darwin. When will the BOM issue headlines declaring that for nearly nine million Australians in Hobart, Melbourne, Darwin and Sydney there are less heatwaves now than there used to be. Aren’t CO2 emissions useful?

It goes without saying (nearly) that there is older Stevenson screen data for most of these locations which isn’t included, though I “can’t think why” this important historic data would be ignored.

Melbourne — top 5% “hot scoring” days (Click to enlarge)

 

Melbourne — days over 40C

 

Sydney –days over 40C

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The German electricity crisis – twice the price, but everyone’s going broke

When the Germans mess something up, they do it properly

Germany — is aiming for a 40% cut in carbon by 2020, and have “led the way” with solar and wind power. Electricity bills are now twice the price of those in North America, and some 800,000 poor people had their power cut off because they can’t pay their bills.  Despite the high prices, gas power has become uneconomic, even though it is one the best methods for dealing with the erratic energy delivered from wind and solar. Nuclear can’t save them, they will have none after 2022 when the last reactor turns off.

The pain is pointless. For all the money spent, they aren’t saving much CO2, and aren’t changing the weather.  They end up importing many of the goods which need energy, so the emissions occur in other countries without emissions controls. The German manufacturing sector can’t compete and struggles by on subsidies. Consumers pay more for goods or pay more through tax for the subsidies. Meanwhile, in the EU politicians seem to have realized that biofuels won’t work, but they don’t have the courage to kill them off and face the backlash — instead they fund it just enough to keep it in a zombie state.

Benny Peiser, GWPF

Germany’s renewable energy levy, which subsidizes green energy production, rose from 14 billion euros to 20 billion euros in just one year as a result of the fierce expansion of wind and solar power projects. Since the introduction of the levy in 2000, the electricity bill of the typical German consumer has doubled.

As wealthy homeowners and business owners install wind turbines on their land and solar panels on their homes and commercial buildings, low-income families all over Europe have had to foot the skyrocketing electric bills. Many can no longer afford to pay, so the utilities are cutting off their power. The German Association of Energy Consumers estimates that up to 800,000 Germans have had their power cut off because they were unable to pay the country’s rising electricity bills.

Gas is uneconomic, plants are closing, 20% are unprofitable, facing shutdown:

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The simple trick to solve the impasse in the climate debate — have one (Tell the Australian govt).

For the last twenty years, the IPCC and co. have spared no expense in inundating us with full gloss, swanky adverts and catchy bumper stickers. The Rudd government spent $13.9 million on one advertising campaign “Think Climate, Think Change”. Yet the number of skeptics is growing — fully 53% of Australians are skeptical. The debate is more polarised than ever, and the “deniers” are often blamed for slowing action. So resolving the impasse, the stalemate, ought be the highest priority for the planet, right? But more advertising won’t change the trend, the issue has been marketed to death. What hasn’t been tried is the old fashioned, hard but honest way to resolve an issue — real public debate.

Tony Abbott could be the most forward-thinking scientifically-advanced world leader. He could be the first to take the bull by the horns and really tackle the climate stalemate. He might break the impasse. For the planet’s sake, we can’t afford to wait. Right?

The Australian Federal Government is seeking public consultation 

What should the Greenhouse Gas Target be? The Federal Government is seeking your input for the UNFCCC meeting in Paris, COP 21 (see ABC news). The government also wants to know what other policies will assist the “Direct Action” approach. Submissions close Friday week. They will be published on the government website.

Let’s make it easy for the Coalition government to do the right thing by the environment and the economy, and follow the evidence. The scientific debate comes first. We need a free market in science before we get a free market in “carbon”. In order for the nation as a whole to achieve low-carbon targets, we must resolve the growing impasse.

For the sake of the environment, and the debate, we also need to replicate the BoM dataset.

  • If it can’t be replicated — it isn’t science.
  • In medicine and the economy, independent audit and replication is standard.
  • It’s more funding for climate research. (How can the Greens argue with that? ;-) )

The replication must be independent (not hand-picked, private forums by the BOM). Another whitewash will harden views rather than resolve them. Replication is a mere technical exercise, it works or it doesn’t; so why not get skeptics to do the replication? Then there will be no doubts about whether the independent auditors were really independent.

We also need better study of our historic records from the late 1800s. Stevenson screens were introduced across Australia during the twenty years before the BoM was formed. Why aren’t these records used in all the cities and sites that they can be? Surely we need to understand long term Australian climate variability to be able to predict and plan for the future.

Let’s move the debate forwards — hang out the dirty washing and let the sun shine in

Australia can lead the way. If the believers want to convince skeptics, the only way is to have the full public debate, and with a level field. Both teams need enough resources to make their case. Instead of silencing the doubters, a serious government provides enough funds and a platform for them to voice their questions and get real answers.

What are the BoM and climate scientists afraid of?

If the evidence is overwhelming and the research is world’s best practice, surely they will win, and this debate can be finally had and settled. Get the facts and opposing teams out, let the public watch, and may the best team win. There are no shortcuts. This public debate is not going to happen in one hour on Channel 2. It will take months of repeat rounds and be played out in many venues. As it should. The climate is too important for anything less, right? A change to government policy in education, health, defense, or interest rates gets that sort of treatment, so should the “future of the planet”. Before we spend another $2.5 billion on Direct Action, let’s spend $20 million getting the science right, understanding the uncertainties, replicating the key research, and bringing the public along. Australia will lead the way.

No one audits the IPCC, nor the BoM — yet billions depends on their reports

If the IPCC’s claims abut the climate are correct, money spent auditing would not be wasted — because it is necessary to bring the public on board. Compare this to the 2,000 public companies on the Australian Stock Exchange, many so tiny you’ve never heard of them. Twice a year every one of them pays to have their finances audited by an outside auditor, so that everyone can have confidence in what they say.

A trial without a defence is a sham.

Business without competition is a monopoly.

Science without debate is propaganda.

As long as our national climate records are managed, studied and checked and turned into press releases by the same team, the skeptical public is right to ask questions. When that team won’t answer those questions, and can’t explain why their mystery black box produces results that are different from satellites, historic records, and simple repeated statistical analysis, the skeptical public will only grow in size. Calling the skeptics names will only make the polarization worse.

Make your submission count. Read the guidelines.

1. We need real debate.

2. We need to replicate the BOM climate data.

3. We need a better understanding of our long term climate trends so we can predict and understand the impact of climate change on Australia.

 

h/t Eric Worrall

How to make a submission

The Australian Government values the views of the Australian community in setting Australia’s post-2020 emissions reduction target.

You are invited to submit your views on Australia’s post-2020 target, including:

  • What should Australia’s post-2020 target be and how should it be expressed? In responding to this question you could consider the base year (e.g. 1990/2000/2005), the end year (e.g. 2025/2030), the type of target and why the suggested target is preferred.
  • What would the impact of that target be on Australia? In responding to this question you could, for example, consider the impact on our economy, jobs, business and on the environment.
  • Which further policies complementary to the Australian Government’s direct action approach should be considered to achieve Australia’s post-2020 target and why?

Answering some or all of these questions will help the Government understand your views.

To assist you in formulating a submission, the Issues Paper outlines the context of the Government’s emissions reduction targets. You can also find a fact sheet on UNFCCC preparations for a new global climate agreement.

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Monckton willing to bet $500,000 on icesheets

The  Age in Melbourne published a letter from a “Maurie” declaring that the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets would “melt away in the next decade.” Monckton found it hard to believe The Age would print this drivel, and was amazed to find Maurie, apparently, is one of Australia’s foremost chemists”, — Maurice Trewhella, who seems to have won a green award at the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. (Not that I have heard of him).

So Monckton explains why the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets won’t be gone in 2024 then offers Maurie, and four others, the chance to win $100,000 each if this wild prediction comes even ten percent close. To show he is serious he offers to donate the first $10,000 to charity (so will other bet contenders). Will the “mean area of the combined Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets” in 2024 be less than 90 percent of what it was in 2014″?

Christopher Monckton:

Some 4,000 years ago, the temperature on the summit of the Greenland plateau was 2.5 Celsius degrees warmer than the present. Yet the ice did not melt. And it didn’t melt in the last interglacial period, 110,000 years ago, when again the temperature was 2.5 C degrees warmer than today’s.

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Support Willie Soon and science: This mudball gets return-to-sender

When personal, ad hominem attacks are launched against a scientist there is no upside for science. People who care about science discuss the science, not the scientist’s-biography. Instead there are five potentially ugly outcomes that the mudslingers are presumably aiming for:

  1. The target scientist may be effectively silenced: spectators tune out. Weaker journalists feel less inclined to cite them for fear of the push-back against themselves.
  2. Another day where the scientific national conversation wallows in the gutter instead of discussing science.
  3. The target scientist feels dissuaded.  Who needs this hassle?
  4. The message to thousands of silent skeptical scientists is unmistakable –  “don’t speak” or you’re next.
  5. Philanthropists, and corporate donors feel the heat too, and may (if they are not made of strong stuff) figure that their funding does more harm than good. This starves independent science of essential support.

These attacks don’t raise a single scientific argument. Their aim is not “better science”.  Let’s turn the pain back on the mudslinger and those who aid and abet. It won’t be so much fun for them if each attack makes us stronger, crystallizes support, and exposes their anti-science intent.

This mud-ball is begging to be turned

We don’t want to play in the stupid-theater of mud, but they picked the fight, and the sooner we win, the sooner they stop. Why wait? With every email to the target and in support of the target, we win. The Smithsonian and its senior management need to hear from the good smart people of this world.  Christopher Monckton, David Legates, and Matt Briggs have written a scathing report and letter inviting the Smithsonian to investigate, apologize to Willie Soon, and repair the damage.  All you need to do is add your name.

For the sake of the science-donors, the other university deans, the journalists, fence-sitting politicians, and the thousands of silent onlookers, let’s stand up and stand together. Let’s let them know there are thousands of people who will not let them get away with their anti-science pogrom.

To support Willie Soon, this letter and good science, send an email with your full name and your academic qualifications to monckton[-at-]mail.com.

Christopher Monckton, David Legates, and Matt Briggs:

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Weekend Unthreaded

Margaret River | Photo Jo Nova on Friday (Click to enlarge) Trees are Karri and Marri.

Yes, I’ve been away again. Hence not so many posts and comments.
This holiday thanks to reader Alex and his lovely family.

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Hypothesis contradicted? Fatter people get *less* dementia

Researchers were sure fatter people would get more dementia, so they studied two million middle-aged people for nearly a decade but were “baffled to find the exact opposite. Their sample included 45,000 cases of dementia and the obese were 30 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with it.

This contradicts previous studies and was not at all what the researchers expected, so they analyzed the data every which way they could think of but can’t explain the results. Need I say “experts” and “consensuses”?

Scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said they were baffled by the results as previous studies have shown that being overweight raises the risk. –Telegraph

Risk factors such as alcohol and smoking made little difference to the results, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.  — Mirror

Dr Qizilbash said the findings held despite attempts to adjust for other causes of dementia and the tendency of obese people to die earlier. “We did a lot of analysis to see if we could explain it but just seems to persist. We couldn’t get rid of it so we’re left with this apparent protective effect,” he said. — The Australian

It’s in the Lancet (and press everywhere– like the BBC, live science, The Australian). I’m posting it for the curiosity, discussion factor, and the sheer thrill of watching the scientific method at work. (Did your government want to add food labels to tell you what to eat?)

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