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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Unfreded Weekend

A tribute to the Fred’s out there….

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New Science 22: Solar TSI leads Earth’s temperature with an 11 year delay

We’re launching headlong back into the New Science series with a major post

Global temperature and 11-year delayed TSI trend together
Lots of things will fall into place — as befits a potential paradigm step forward. For decades, people have been looking to see if the Sun controlled our climate but the message was perplexingly muddy. In the long run, solar activity appears linked to surface temperatures on Earth.  (Solar activity was at a record high during the second half of the 20th century when temperatures were also high.) But when we look closely, firstly the solar peaks don’t exactly coincide with the surface temperature peaks, and secondly, the extra energy supplied during the solar peaks is far too small to do much warming. So how could changes in surface temperature be due to the Sun?

A few researchers noted an esoteric correlation of long solar cycles with lower temperatures in the next solar cycle, but mostly those papers were left on the shelf, ignored. Dr David Evans’ notch-delay solar delay theory can explain this odd pattern.

To unravel the connections David took a new approach which cleared out the dead-end complexity of the current climate research. Instead of trying to predict everything from a bottom up detailed approach, he worked “top-down”, treating the Earth as a black box, as a simple Energy-In-Energy-Out type problem, and used the kind of maths that makes modern electronics work. It was an odd combination of factors that came together: David would have to be the only professional modeller on Earth who has a high level PhD in Fourier transforms, experience in electrical engineering in Silicon Valley, and a science blogger as a wife to focus him on this problem (and raise barely enough funds to pay the bills while he worked — it’s been three years full time work now).

This was an Oooh-look-at-that moment. Eleven Years?!

The light in the darkness was this extraordinary pattern that turned up in the Fourier analysis. It lit up a strange path, and following it uncovered the papers that had been largely ignored. Suddenly the disparate observations which had made no sense in conventional models fitted the new theory.

The light on the new path was finding a “notch” filter (it’s a common garden-thing for an electrical engineer, but probably unknown to climate scientists). That notch filter was published here 18 months ago. With one minor proviso, almost all that work there remains intact, and stronger. The proviso is that at the time we thought the notch guaranteed a delay, but we now know that while notch filters can work with a delay, it’s not obligatory. That difference is mostly immaterial now, because the evidence found for a delay turned out to be so strong.

The notch was “the dog that didn’t bark“, the big clue. Somehow at the peak of solar incoming energy, there was a sudden shift in the way Earth responds to incoming sunlight. The extra energy (which is very small but detectable with Fourier analysis) is reflected or not absorbed by the system. This is a screaming red flag that some important change is going on, through a mysterious unknown mechanism.

If there was a delayed action creating this notch filter pattern, further analysis showed that spookily, the delay was 11 years. Crikey, send up the fireworks — it was unmistakably the exact same length as the average solar cycle. This was an Oooh-look-at-that moment. Eleven Years?! And when I say spooky, I mean spooky. This is not just the usual type of “delay” where some effect takes 11 years to be big enough to notice, or the effect gets smoothed out — it’s like there is an 11 year memory built in to the system, a 11 year gap between two discrete events. A fall 11 year ago correlates better with the present than a rise 5 years ago. It’s just weird. Tantalizing, but odd.

The delay may just be the missing key to understanding the Sun’s effect on Earth.  Earth’s temperature seems to follow the pattern of rises and falls in solar energy, but with an 11 year average delay. Looked at this way, suddenly the correlation improves, the observations fit.  (More specifically, in each cycle the length of the delay seems to wax and wane with the length of the solar cycle).

But there were still mysteries to solve. Make no mistake, it’s not as if the energy from the Sun is arriving on Earth in eight minutes and then taking 11 years to reach thermometers. No way.  Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) is not the cause of global warming, rather it is a leading indicator. What on Earth was the mechanism? David and I (and many others before us) had looked for an accumulation effect, or a smoothing pattern — where the extra energy was stored and took a few years to show in thermometers. It didn’t make much sense. Not many things on Earth would operate on that kind of cycle. Not ocean currents, not jet streams, not ice melting , and not arctic tundra growth. And it certainly wasn’t cicadas. I like the idea of a biological process — it made sense that phytoplankton or plants would be adapted to this cycle that had run for millions of years. But still, that didn’t explain a delay — it explains a smoothing process, but not a gap of a decade.

At some point David realized, from the electrical analogy, that the timing was suspiciously precise. Because the delay was the length of a solar cycle, and the notches were synchronized to the Sun, the cause of the delay wasn’t on Earth — but inside the Sun. The delay was not a smeared out thing, but a literal delay — the effect due to a change in TSI only begins to act one sunspot cycle later, and quickly affects the surface temperature here on Earth.  The flickering signals from total sunlight are a clue that precedes some other change in the solar dynamo.  We’ll talk about the possible mechanisms in future posts, because there are a lot of fields, fluxes and particles coming off the Sun that could potentially affect our climate.

In this post David goes through paper after paper that we found along the path, once we knew we were looking for a delay of one solar cycle. Don’t miss this part. It’s the reason we are now sure that some other factor on the Sun is key to understanding Earth’s climate, and it occurs one solar cycle after TSI changes. Below that, he updates the notch filter which proved so useful (get into that beautiful graph in Figure 2, all you maths-heads and engineers). In future posts we’ll use the delay to predict what seems to be coming for us climate wise. This new theory can be tested soon. It’s falsifiable — unlike the carbon religion. More on that soon too.

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And to the moderators who help manage the site, and the readers who send me ideas and information — Thank you too. There are lots of ways to contribute.

PS: The first part of the New Science series (on the flaws in the architecture of conventional climate models) are summarized on the project home page. The conventional models are stuck in a rut, they don’t even include the possibility that feedbacks might allow the energy to reroute to space via water vapor. And they overestimate the sensitivity to CO2 by a factor of five to ten.  The synopsis was updated this week with several new diagrams of the atmosphere, illustrating the rerouting feedback and movements in the water vapor emissions layer.

– Jo



22. The Delay

Dr David Evans, 12 February 2015, Project home, Intro, Previous.

This post makes the case for a delay of ~11 years or one sunspot cycle between a change in smoothed TSI and the corresponding change in surface temperature. And we mean an actual delay between two discrete events, not just a corresponding gradual surface warming smeared out through time as the effect of the change in TSI builds up.

(By the way, what motivated us to look for a delay, which is a novel thing to do? Well we had initially thought that the notch filter found in post 21 implied that there must be a delay, but this was based on an incomplete analysis that indicated that a notch filter is necessarily non-causal (see the old blog posts). Such a non-causal transfer function requires an accompanying delay to make it physically realistic. But a notch filter can also be causal, as insisted upon by blog reader Bernie Hutchins, and as a complete analysis later showed.** In retrospect this was a lucky mistake to have made, because once we started looking for evidence of a delay we found rather a lot of it.)

Observational Evidence for a Delay

A delay of ~11 years from changes in smoothed TSI to corresponding changes in surface temperature has been found independently several times, though apparently mostly interpreted as delays in the propagation of heat around the Earth. Few, if any, appear to have considered the delay might be in the Sun itself.

- 10 Year Delay to Tropical Atlantic Sea Surface Temperatures

Willie Soon (2009, pp. 156-157, [1]) found a good correlation between changes in 10-year-delayed TSI to changes in the tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature from 1870 (see his Figure 4), and ascribed it to delays in heat propagation in the oceans: “The chosen delay time of 10 years is only a rough estimate for the thermal-cryospheric-salinity and mechanical wind stress effects occurring within the Arctic and northern North Atlantic basins to propagate southward. But it is clear from both empirical evidence … and careful ocean modeling … that a physical delay of some 5 to 20 years is reasonable.”

- 12.42 Year Delay to Sea Surface Temperatures Near Iceland

Moffa-Sanchez, Born, Hall, Thornalley, and Barker  (2014, [2], Supplementary, p. 5, Fig. S3) found a lag of ~12.42 years from changes in TSI to correlated changes in North Atlantic surface temperatures derived from a marine sediment core in the Iceland Basin, from 900 AD.

- 12 Year Delay to Northern Hemispheric Ground Temperatures

Usoskin, Schuessler, Solanki, and Mursula (2004, [3], p. 21) found that the correlation coefficient between the northern hemisphere ground temperature from Mann and Jones (2003) and sunspot numbers reconstructed from Be-10, from 850 AD, was greatest when the temperature lagged the sunspot numbers by ~12 years (see their Fig. 3).

- Delay of One Sunspot Cycle to Northern Hemispheric Ground Temperatures

The correlation between temperature and the length of the previous sunspot cycle (“solar cycle”) is one of the strongest correlations in climate science, unexplained to date and largely disregarded, but the notch-delay hypothesis offers support and explanation.

Friis-Christensen and Lassen (1991, [4]) found that the length of a sunspot cycle correlates well with the northern hemispheric surface temperature on land during the following sunspot cycle — the longer a sunspot cycle, the cooler the Earth during the following sunspot cycle — from 1861. (The correlation is strong to 1970 in their data then there is a dispute. Damon and Laut (2004, [5]) claim they mishandled their data and that the correlation from 1970 instead predicted level temperatures while in fact they went up strongly, thereby breaking the correlation and supporting the CO2 theory. However this is strongly disputed by Friis-Christensen and Svensmark (2004).)

Butler and Johnston (1994, [6]) found the correlation applied to temperatures at the Armagh observatory in Northern Ireland from 1795.

Archibald (2010) showed the correlation applied to the 350 year Central England temperature record, the De Bilt data from Holland, and temperature records at a number of places in the northeastern USA: “in the latter, the relationship is that each 1-year increase in solar cycle length corresponds to a 0.7°C decline of atmospheric temperature during the following cycle”. David Archibald also proposed using the correlation as a predictive tool. He has been championing this correlation in recent years.

The duration of the ascending part of a sunspot cycle (roughly its first half) is anti-correlated with the peak sunspot number of the cycle, which is known as the Waldmeier effect. However the strength of this negative correlation depends strongly on the measure of the rise time and which index of sunspot numbers is used (Dikpati, Gilman, and de Toma, 2008, [7]). Higher sunspot numbers correlate with a higher peak of TSI, so from the Waldmeier effect we deduce that a longer sunspot cycle correlates with lower levels of TSI during the cycle, which correlates with lower surface temperatures during the following sunspot cycle.

Thus lower TSI during one sunspot cycle correlates with lower surface temperatures during the next sunspot cycle. The delay implied by this correlation is roughly one sunspot cycle, or ~11 years.

Note also that the existence of the correlation supports the notion that the Sun has a major influence on temperatures.

- Delay of 10–12 Years to Surface Temperatures in Norway and the North Atlantic

Solheim, Stordahl, and Humlum (2012, [8]) found that a lag of 10–12 years gives the maximum correlation between sunspot cycle length (SCL) and surface temperatures in Norway and the North Atlantic, from 1880: “This points to the Atlantic currents as reinforcing a solar signal.”; “it is reasonable to expect a time lag for the locations investigated, since heat from the Sun, amplified by various mechanisms, is stored in the ocean mainly near the Equator, and transported into the North Atlantic by the Gulf Stream to the coasts of Northern Europe”; “They also found that temperatures shifted 11years back in time, correlated better with SCL measured between minima than between maxima.”

Recent History Suggests a Delay

Lockwood and Froehlich (2007, [9]) found that four measures of solar activity — sunspots, TSI, coronal source flux, and neutron count due to high energy cosmic rays — all peaked around 1986 and 1987 after rising since at least 1970, once the usual fluctuations of the sunspot cycle were removed by a smoothing process. Global surface temperature rose until peaking in 1998 (or maybe 1997 if the effect of the 1998 El Nino is smoothed out), before leveling off.

This suggests a delay of ~11 years from changes in TSI to corresponding changes in surface temperatures. Indeed, without a delay it is difficult to see how TSI could be signaling the major influence on the surface temperature. (The Lockwood and Froehlich paper is often held by the establishment as evidence for the lack of solar influence on global temperature.)

Observations are Suggestive of a Delay

We constructed a composite TSI record and a composite temperature record by splicing together the data mentioned in post 21 on the notch. Fig. 2 below shows global temperature versus 11-year-delayed TSI, back to 1800, where the TSI is 11-year smoothed to remove most of the effect of the sunspot cycle (the smoother simply averages the values in a centered 11-year window; if the sunspot cycle was exactly 11 years such a smoother would remove all cyclic behavior). With the obvious exception of the 1950s through early 1980s, which we discuss in a later post, the temperature and 11-year-delayed TSI trend up and down mainly in unison — which is suggestive of an ~11-year delay. Be aware that the data is from proxies before 1850 for temperatures and before 1979 for TSI.

Global temperature and 11-year delayed TSI trend together

Figure 1: Global temperature and 11-year delayed TSI, both 11-year smoothed, have mainly trended together.


Implications of the Delay for Climate Influences

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The outrage! One third of US teachers bring climate denial to the classroom

They warn that the results may floor you. Strap yourself in. The National Centre for Science Education (NCSE) surveyed 1500 teachers across the US, and were shocked that a third bring dangerous climate material in to the class.

“At least one in three teachers bring climate change denial into the classroom, claiming that many scientists believe climate change is not caused by humans” says NCSE programs and policy director Josh Rosenau.

Frankly I am amazed. After twenty years of repeating the consensus message how is it that so many teachers are still unable to recite the permitted phrasing?  (And especially in a survey where everyone knows what the right answer is!).

Put on your helmet. As many as half of US teachers actually allow students to discuss the controversy. Unthinkable!

Worse, half of the surveyed teachers have allowed students to discuss the supposed ‘controversy’ over climate change without guiding students to the scientifically supported conclusion.” Scarier still: three out of five teachers were unaware of, or actively misinformed about, the near total scientific consensus on climate change.

Sorry, did I say controversy? I meant “controversy” (any resemblance this debate may have to a real debate is purely coincidental).

Students are obviously too immature to be allowed to make decisions on something so complex. Indeed, after years at teacher’s college and nightly reminders from NBC even 60% of teachers are not old enough either. (Get ye a double degree. Send them back to university!)

Scarier still: three out of five teachers were unaware of, or actively misinformed about, the near total scientific consensus on climate change.

The consensus is total. Scientists who think differently to most other scientists are not scientists, of course, but bloggers, shills or Republicans.

If half the teachers are allowing children to talk about issues, things really are grim. The indoctrination program is not succeeding. Free speech still exists somehow in the USA.

Luckily, at least there is no independent thought left at the National Centre for Science Education.

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Phytoplankton suck CO2 out of sky, dump to ocean floor

Phytoplankton, Carbon, sequestration, sink.

A new nature paper shows how little we know about the oceans and the whole carbon cycle. A paper (with 64 names!) suggests that phytoplankton might be sucking out extra CO2 from the sky and dumping it in Davy Jones’ Locker at the bottom of the deep blue sea.

Who needs a global carbon  market? Apparently plankton are doing it for free.  And all those windmills just got a bit more pointless.

Lots of living things absorb carbon, but phytoplankton seem to be more important than the others. The best predictors of sinking carbon were viruses of certain cyanobacteria. Few of the “thousands of phytoplankton species have been studied in this way”.


PS: This fits with Tom Quirks paper on the 9Gt massive carbon bubble of 1990 and previous research that shows plankton sucks up twice as much carbon as we thought it did. We’re going to be hearing more about phytoplankton.

The ocean’s power to rein in carbon and protect the environment is vast but not well-understood.

But now, an international team of scientists has begun to illuminate how the ocean plucks carbon from the atmosphere, where it contributes to global warming, and shuttles it to the bottom of the sea.

The new study establishes the important role of plankton networks in removing carbon from the atmosphere and depositing it deep in the ocean. And it opens up opportunities for caring for the ocean in ways that encourage it to absorb more carbon.

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Climate causes Heated Cats, native extinction. Wait… your light globes?

And so it flows. Climate causes bored dogs, but warmer winters cause, er, heated cats. The randy felines make more kittens, which means more strays, more ferals, and less marsupial mice.

Track the logic. We took long showers which made more CO2, the Earth warmed and so more cats have kittens out of season. The answer then is to take cold showers to change the weather and save the Black-tailed Antechinus. Then again, we could give the cats the cold showers instead…

  When Kristina Vesk started working at the Cat Protection Society of NSW in 2006, she rarely saw kittens in winter. Now warmer weather means cats are breeding all year round, increasing the numbers of unwanted kittens and the threat to native wildlife from strays and feral cats.

 Hold that thought — there is another theory. Conflict coming:

Vanessa Barrs, a Professor of Feline Medicine at the University of Sydney, said … breeding can be influenced by photoperiod, the number of available daylight hours, and “cats artificially exposed to 12 hours of light indoors … can be induced to breed all year round”, she said.

So that would be all the CFL and LED blue light bulbs that light up our homes, cause insomnia, are keeping Spots up too?

What has changed more since 2006 — the temperatures in NSW or the type of light globes we are allowed to put in our homes?

What to Do? We can blame coal miners and set up a global carbon market,  or blame the Greens/ Malcolm Turnbull and bring back incandescents. Let’s think…

h/t to Tim Blair





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The amazing, brilliant, one of a kind, Mark Steyn Tours Australia

Mark Steyn, Australia, 2016
The Mark Steyn 2016 Tour of Australia kicks off this weekend.

For me it’s unmissable. Mark Steyn is top of my gifted-writers-list, and is the most fearless pundit in the West today. One of the things I most admire is his classy ability to cut down dumb ideas without also cutting down the humans behind them. Steyn genuinely seems to like humanity for all its outrageous flaws. His writing is elegant, cutting — he’s an artisan experimenting  with words, punctuation and ideas. His ability to transfer an abstract concept from one brain to thousands is a gift.

Contemplate the impossible challenge of communication — one soul has a pattern of neuronal activity and we want to trigger  a similar synaptic pattern to other distant brains. Our only tools are a series of vibrational pulses in air molecules, or a coded spectral pattern in light. It’s a hell of an engineering task. Steyn is a master.

The standouts like Mark Steyn who deal with the front line flak may always seem cool and collected, but it’s a lonely battle on the front line, and they can’t do it without the support of fellow footsoldiers. Be it money, research, or just a kind word, never underestimate how much a little support from you can help. Steyn is in the trenches on several fronts.

Good memes, ideas and people need to be fostered, championed and carried. If you like something, feed it and it will grow.

The Steyn Tour

You do need to book, only pre-registered people can come. Tickets are available online for Cloncurry and Sydney. For other cities get in touch with Rachel at The IPA, even though the event may be listed as booked out. There are waiting lists and Rachel is very helpful. She was suggesting they may offer spots for people willing to stand at the back and sides, and I said I’m sure there would be plenty willing to do that. Unfortunately tickets are especially hard to get for Brisbane, Melbourne, and Canberra.

If you have booked and can’t make it, please let the IPA know, so they can offer a spot to others. Due to security, you can’t send someone in your place. Tickets are non-transferrable. Such is the way…

They will be filming the tour and putting that up online afterwards.

What would we do without the IPA? There is no other group like them in Australia.

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CSIRO scientist on climate: “We don’t know what the heck is waiting for us”

The hysteria continues. Some public servants might get sacked. It’s unthinkable. But after the fuss, there will still be 5200 odd staff at CSIRO. The big evil here, apparently, is that we are choosing between two different sorts of scientists.

The lame arguments flow (especially in The Guardian). Prof Neville Nicolls says we need $90m-dollars-worth-of-climate-scientists to stop us being minnows at the “big table”.  Maybe baby-climate-scientists have aspired to eat with the science guru’s, but I don’t think the average Australian has the same dream.

Tony Haymet was the Policy Director at CSIRO — and he thinks it’s like shutting down Australian cricket team (not one for exaggeration eh?). David Karoly — Shane Warne, what’s the difference? He also said, it’s a “kick in the guts” to farmers, fishermen and the navy, which it would be if only the climate models could predict things like rain, currents, and sea ice. Haymet barrells on — “We’ve only seen the beginning of climate change. We don’t know what the heck is waiting for us”.

Try to rationalise the statements  “97% of scientists agree” with “we don’t know what the heck…”

If a certain Labor government hadn’t vaporised those scientist’s future salaries on windmills, pink batts, and $800,000-tin-sheds for schools, perhaps we could employ those same scientists now. Did any of these CSIRO geniuses protest at government waste?  Did a single one point out that windmills won’t save the Spotted Quoll, or hold back the tide?

Cartoon, John Spooner, CSIRO climate scientist.

Thanks to John Spooner |   The Age

To quell the fuss, CSIRO released a statement on the job cuts. Total CSIRO staff levels are 5200 and staying that way. There are 420 staff in Oceans and Atmosphere work, and after the shift there will still be 355.

False Flag at Cape Grimm

One of the pet projects held up as a sacred cow to be sacrificed is the CO2 monitoring station at Cape Grimm. That was the worst thing this apparently anonymous scientist could warn us about in The Guardian:

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Untreaded Weekend

Wherever you wander.

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Bored dogs, ripped furniture — blame climate change

Things are really getting serious now. There is not only extinction and endless droughts, but there are depressed dogs.  Unprecedented depressed dogs. The chain of effect goes like this: electric heaters cause climate change which makes winters wetter in England and owners don’t like mud, so ipso, ergo, garbo, dogs get stuck indoors, go stir crazy and rip furniture.

I presume the answer to this is to sell the car, cancel the heating, and wait for the world to warm cool for your dog to get happy?

Leading pet behaviourists told The Independent that the number of depressed and unsettled dogs they have seen in recent months is unprecedented.

Carolyn Menteith, a dog behaviourist who was named Britain’s Instructor of the Year in 2015, says Global Warming might be causing pets to become depressed:

“I’ve never seen our dogs or horses this bored before in 20 years.

Yes, this is the worst in recorded history, or 20 years, whichever comes first.

Horses that have lived happily outside before are saying ‘I actually can’t cope with this mud and wet anymore’…”.

For me, the unprecedented thing here is the talking horse.

Is that climate change too?

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CSIRO wipes out climate division — 350 scientists to go — since it’s “beyond debate” who needs em?

BREAKING BUN FEST: Hysterical. The contradictions in the propaganda are biting back viciously. Isn’t karma a bitch?

If climate change is solved and beyond debate, who needs climate scientists?

CSIRO has announced it will axe 300  to 350 climate jobs, which will “wipe out” the climate division. The head of the CSIRO wants to focus on climate adaption and mitigation instead. Suddenly a lot of Profs who told us the debate was over are squealing that it needs more research. Climate science was “beyond debate” and in need of action, but now we “need to know more about the basic operation of the climate”. Oh the dilemma!

The head of the CSIRO is doing what the Greens say they want — moving beyond the debate and putting more money into adaption and mitigation. Where’s the Greens statement applauding him…?

With up to 350 scientist jobs under fire at maybe $250k per year (including super, admin, and other on-costs), that means there is around $90m at stake.

This is a CSIRO management decision:

“Climate will be all gone, basically,” one senior scientist said before the announcement.

In the email sent out to staff on Thursday morning, CSIRO’s chief executive Larry Marshall indicated that, since climate change had been established, further work in the area would be a reduced priority. — SMH

The CSIRO are just doing the obvious thing after Paris. There is no science debate, they are moving on to “adaption”, and “mitigation”:

CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall said the changes would see the organisation move away from measuring and monitoring climate change, to instead focus on how to adapt to it.

“It’s inevitable that people who are gifted at measuring and modelling climate may not be the same people who are gifted at figuring out what to do about it how to mitigate it,” he said.

“Some of the climate scientists will be able to make that transition and some won’t.” — ABC

Scientists are tying themselves in knots to explain why it’s appalling that there is a loss of safe, low turnover jobs to study something that is “proven”. Gee, just as well they aren’t coal miners.

Professor Penny Sackett –a  former Australian Chief Scientist who now works for the Climate Change Institute at ANU.

“I am stunned by reports that CSIRO management no longer thinks measuring and understanding climate change is important, innovative or impactful. Paris did not determine whether or not climate change is happening, scientists who generate and study big data did. The big question now, which underlies all climate adaptation work, is ‘How is the climate changing?’”

So we don’t know how the climate is changing? So Penny, when did you mention that all the predictions of floods and droughts and terrible storms were uncertain?

Prof Will Steffen suddenly admits “we” don’t know the basic operation of the climate system:

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