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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Weekend Unthreaded

Perth, beach, WA. Photo.

Just another day at a suburban beach in Perth at sunset. See the hordes…

Clearly Perth has too many beaches.

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‘The Illusion Of Debate’—A History of the Climate Issue: Part 2 (2009 – 2011)

Here’s the long-awaited followup to Part 1: The history of the Climate Debate from 1850 -2008, where history is tragedy reënacted as comedy, adapted for irony and syndicated as sarcasm.  By Brad Keyes from  Climate Nuremberg (whose motto is Deride And Conquer).  — Jo

Guest Post by Brad Keyes


  • Documents liberated in the so-called Climategate leaks don’t show any impropriety on The Scientists’™ part whatsoever, which is why 19 independent inquiries are held to make sure.*
  • Glaciergate happens
    • Using nothing but schoolboy logic and denier logic, voodoo scientists identify a false prediction in IPCC AR4.
    • Citing something called the scientific method, fundamentalist Feynmanites point out that if the IPCC’s prediction was wrong, its hypothesis must be wrong.
    • Jubilation worldwide as the Intergovernmental Panel decides to hold onto its apocalyptic hypothesis anyway.
  • After a lifetime questioning the claims of pea-thimbling ghost-realtors, evolution-denying WMD-existers, telekinetic psychopaths and telepathic psychokines, James Randi suddenly turns his back on everything Skepticism stands for by questioning The Science™. Skeptic authorities take the 87-year-old legend aside for a quiet chat about CAGW and, 24 hours later, Randi has freely accepted how silly he was to doubt something so rock-solid that no other Skeptic with a capital S even feels the need to examine it.

*Independent of each other, not of the Climate Research Unit in question.**

**Independent in a poetic, not a legal, procedural, or quote-unquote ‘actual,’ sense.


  • Climatologist Will Steffen simply tells PM Gillard to “Make tax hurt”—yet within hours, skeptics have somehow politicized his science.
  • With the complicity of fellow fabulists, Prof. David Karoly concocts the meme that skeptics are waging a “relentless campaign of death threats” against scientists. If journalists are gullible enough to parrot this libel, then maybe, just maybe, the public will finally see why you can’t trust skeptics.

There is “real, physical evidence” that our atmosphere is in crisis, Prof. David Karoly reassures demoralised students. And scientists would love to reveal what it is, he says—if only someone hadn’t put a rat on Ben Santer’s doorstep in 1996. The resulting climate of fear (no pun intended) has condemned a generation of honest researchers to silence, euphemism and self-censorship.

  • Motley CRU rehabilitated
    • Desperate to restore trust in British climate science, between 7 and “dozens” of official exonerations are launched into the non-consensually leaked material from the UEA: the private publicly-funded data; the private work-related emails; private conversations between anonymous peer reviewers; private admissions that Steve McIntyre “has a point”; etc., etc.
    • A “trick to hide the decline” is explained away when investigators learn that trick, to, the, decline are perfectly normal science words.
    • The consensus on a particularly infamous email, in which CRU boss Phil Jones appears to celebrate the death of a skeptical scientist, is that it was an appalling choice of medium.
    • With the single caveat that “the science was not the subject of our study,” the Science Appraisal Panel declares the science sound.
    • Even more reassuring to the public, though, is the finding that Prof. Jones may have been secretive and unhelpful, “but that was true of all the climate scientists.”
  • Journalist Donna LaFramboise is thumbing through IPCC AR4 one morning when she spots an embarrassing oversight: 5,587 non-peer-reviewed citations.
  • When AmazonGates Attack, Part 1: He Never Signed Up For This
    • Dana Nuccitelli is a successful environmentologist with the whole world at his feet, but deep down, all he ever wanted to be was a psychic book reviewer. So he can’t resist posting a one-star prefutation of Andrew Montford’s Hockey Stick Illusion, prebutting what he previsions as the “misinformation, lies, and nonsense” that presumably comprise the “work of science fiction.”
    • Like a good scientist, Nuccitelli is careful not to defame Montford in more detail than his own limited imagination can support. The last thing he expects is for other Amazon customers to use this virtue against him, teasing him mercilessly over his vague, hand-wavy hatchet-job.
    • SkSFührer John Cook chides Dana for taking it personally when skeptics demand that he “read the book, Nutticelli [sic]” or “be honest for once!” This tactic—Impossible Expectations—is just a Characteristic of Denial, explains Cook; and he ought to know, having literally written the book on rejecting reality.
  • Even in antisemitic circles, the Oreskes/Conway conspiracy yawner Merchants of Doubt has few fans until it’s ingeniously re-released as non-fiction.
Naomi Oreskes, Merchants of Doubt, climate change, science, philosophy

Taken from Chapter 4, this long-overdue correction to millennia of Western epistemology is one of several gems in Merchants of Doubt. Everyone from Aristotle onwards has made the mistake of thinking knowledge meant justified true belief. Simply by dropping the ‘truth’ requirement, Oreskes and Conway usher in a golden age of human ‘knowledge’ about climate change.


  • The Müller’s Tale
    • The press is calling Prof Richard Müller a converted skeptic, after he asks the press to “call me a converted skeptic.” It’s the ultimate Man Bites Dog data point! For reasons not yet understood, scientists who are born believing inevitably become more skeptical the more they examine the evidence. Yet Prof. Müller seems to have gone the other way, overturning a law of nature. It would be unethical for science journalists to waste time fact-checking such an historic scoop.
  • It’s worse than anyone thought logically possible!
    • Professor Will Steffen uses Australian television to break the news that’s too terrifying for the peer-reviewed literature: far from pausing, announces the popular Klimakommissar, the effects of climate change are actually happening faster than anyone dared dream, in just about every metric except temperature.
    • The implications are disturbing: if this is what global warming is capable of now, what horrors would it produce if the globe was actually warming?

    With a PhD in chemical engineering, Prof. Steffen [left] is obviously one of our top climate scientists—second only in climato-credibility to former Australian Gillard Government Climate Commission Chief Commissioner Distinguished Panasonic Sustainability Chair Professor Timothy J. Flannery, PhD, the zoologist who’s forgotten more about ancient wombat stride lengths than most people will ever know [right]. (Glamor shots courtesy of ScaredScientists, the website so scared, it’s too scared to exist anymore.)

  • Cheering news, in an odd way, with the unveiling of Climategate 2.0. The cyberterrorists known only as FOIA have been busy, carefully selecting the one or two thousand emails that look bad when seen out of context.

    Keep reading  →

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How much do we have to pay people to NOT use electricity – up to 30 times more?

To understand the real value of electricity, consider the price at which people will give it up. “Demand Response” is the nice euphemism for a voluntary blackout. At what point do people volunteer to go without? For most of the market, apparently, it’s more than $7500/MWh.

If I read this graph correctly, look how fast the prices rise, and how small the response is. For example, in South Australia there is only about 10MW available at less than $300/MWh? (From this AEMO report). For reference the total SA demand is around 1500MW. So 10MW is less than 1%.

AMEC report, 2017, Demand Response in the NEM, Electricity, costs, graph, Australia.

(See below for the

Consider how few people are willing to turn the electricity off:

AEMO expects there to be approximately 50 MW of demand response in NSW when the price reaches $1,000/MWh.

The total size of the NSW state market is about 10,000MW. Retail electricity sells for $250 — $470MWh (and only $100/MWh in the US). Hence when the price hits two to four times the normal retail cost of electricity, only about 5% of the market say they will willingly stop using it. When the price hits $7500MWh another 2% will give it up. We can’t take this reasoning too far, but the message is clear that the pain of giving up electricity costs a lot more than generating it. Demand is “inelastic”.

Electricity generation creates wealth. People value the product far above the cost of production.

We could raise prices but business locations are “elastic”….

Keep reading  →

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Surprise, IPCC draft report leaked, on cue, ready to be milked for another round of press

Six months to go and why waste a perfectly good press opportunity?

Hold on to your hat: This draft is almost the same as every other draft ever was.

A draft United Nations climate science report contains dire news about the warming of the planet, suggesting it will likely cross the key marker of 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, of temperature rise in the 2040s, and that this will be exceedingly difficult to avoid.

Blah. Blah. Must act urgently. Blah. The two messages we will never hear is that we are doing enough or spending too much.

The leak is so predictable, and such a standard marketing tool, that the IPCC even has an excuse at-the-ready:

The document’s leak has become a standard affair for major United Nations climate science reports, because they are seen by so many reviewers.

This is supposed to be a transparent process to solve a global problem. How can that be “leaked?”

A slight change in flavour is that while we were always aiming for two arbitrary degrees of warming, now we are now also aiming for an arbitrary 1.5C as well. The lower target is unachievable, apparently, allowing script writers to simultaneously say we “are past the point of no return”, going to overshoot” and “not on track” and also say “we can keep warming under the target” (just, barely, etc) depending on which target you want to refer to. This scores double points in keyword bingo. Something for everyone.

Since such rapid and severe cuts aren’t likely, the report notes that it’s virtually unavoidable that the planet will “overshoot” 1.5 degrees Celsius. To cool the Earth down afterward and avoid staying at dangerously high temperatures for long, it would then be necessary to remove carbon dioxide from the air at a massive scale — but that, too, is highly problematic.



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Tim Ball wins — Andrew Weaver case dismissed after 7 years

Great news (though how low is our bar, that it’s “great” that after seven long expensive years Tim Ball can speak freely?). As reported on WUWT: Tim Ball’s free-speech victory over Andrew Weaver – all charges dismissed!

Anthony Watts: I got word tonight from David Ball, son of Dr. Tim Ball via Facebook messenger:

This morning the judge dismissed all charges in the lawsuit brought against Tim by BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver. It is a great victory for free speech.

Andrew Weaver launched the suit in 2011.

In 2014 Ezra Levant’s wrote: “Silencing Critics instead of debating them”

Weaver sued climatologist Dr. Tim Ball for, amongst other things, saying Weaver was “lacking a basic understanding of climate science,” according to a glowing New York Times article, cheering on his SLAPP suit.

Seriously? Suing someone, in a court of law, for saying you don’t understand global warming? This from a scholar, an academic, a teacher? And now a politician – an opposition politician, no less. Weaver is now a Green Party MLA in British Columbia, someone who hurls insults as part of his job description.

That’s not what true academics do. That’s not what politicians do – especially opposition politicians. Andrew Weaver is acting like a thug, not a scholar or a public servant. He is trying to censor and punish his enemies, not debate his opponents.

And from DeSmog in 2011 — all the prescience we’ve come to expect:

The suit arises from an article that Ball penned for the right-wingy Canada Free Press website, which has since apologized to Weaver for its numerous inaccuracies and stripped from its publicly available pages pretty much everything that Ball has ever written.

Ball, famously slow to notice the obvious, apparently didn’t realize that he was overmatched.

Richard Littlemore, Feb 4th, 2011 at DeSmog Blog:

Congratulations to Tim Ball today, but most of all, a big thank you. Thanks for taking the harder road. We, all of us who value free speech, are sorry you had to do it, but so grateful you did.

See also Tim Balls Blog (though there is no announcement there yet).


*Headline edited. Weaver didn’t drop the charges. The judge dismissed the case. If only it had been done 6 years sooner.

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More afraid of Climate Change Yeti than going to jail

Valve Turners protest illegally. Photo.

“Valve Turners” in action. The Hi-vis vest will help a lot if that gas leaks.

The Five “Valve Turners” broke in and turned off valves on the Keystone Pipeline and four other cross-border pipelines — in Washington, Montana and Minnesota. They are in their fifties and sixties and brave enough to risk jail, but not apparently brave enough to read skeptical material that might show that the actions they think are noble are really misguided, illegal, narcissistic, risky stunts as well as being pointless and inconvenient to thousands.

Foster, who is 53, was charged with criminal trespass and criminal mischief, conspiracy to commit criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. At his bond hearing in Cavalier, N.D., he learned that he faced a maximum sentence of more than 26 years.

The NY Times gives them hero treatment. Scott of the Antarctic could not get a write up this nice:

What Foster didn’t expect was that once he’d broken through the chain-link fence, he would be briefly overwhelmed by the magnitude of what he was about to do. He faced away from the biting wind, and allowed himself to cry. He then put a gloved hand on the steel wheel, which was almost three feet across and mounted vertically as if on the helm of a ship, and began to turn it. For long minutes it spun easily, but then both the wheel and the ground below his feet began to shake. Foster had been told to expect this, but still he hesitated. When he resumed turning, he had to throw his body into the task, at times dangling from the wheel to coax it downward. Finally, he could wrestle it no farther, and the shaking stopped. He felt a profound sense of relief. He replaced the lock on the wheel with a new padlock, sat down and, breathing heavily, began to record himself on his phone. “Hey, I’ve never shot video for grandkids that I don’t have yet,” he told the camera, “but I want any grandkids, or grandnephews and nieces or whatever, anybody in any family tree of mine, to know that once upon a time people burned oil, and they put it in these underground pipes, and they burned enough, fast enough, to almost cook you guys out of existence, and we had to stop it — any way we could think of.”

Not necessarily a harmless protest:

Lonny Johnson, the TransCanada employee who visited the site after Foster turned the valve, testified that the valve wasn’t designed to be closed against pressure as Foster had done, but that he’d found no cracks or leaks when he inspected it. The prosecutors, however, argued that a leak could have caused a fire or explosion or polluted the nearby Pembina River.

One trial ended in a hung jury, and that Valve Turner got 2 days jail, plus 30 days community service. He should have been been given 30 days boot camp with skeptics as therapy for his delusions and a lesson to read both sides of the story so he is not an easy victim for rent-seeking, self-serving industries and bankers.

Foster however got a real one year sentence:

Judge Fontaine … rejected the necessity defense because, in her view, there were still legal means to address climate change. “If you can’t convince the government, then you convince the people,” she said, “and it seems to me the way you convince the people in this world is by 60-second sound bites, by commercials.”

Commercials cost thousands and are unattainable for many. Someone should tell the judge about blogs, radio interviews and cartoons. Then again, perhaps she did say that.

…“Everything about you, and everything you’ve said to me, is this was the right thing to do, this is what I’m called to do, this is what I have to do. So nothing about that tells me you wouldn’t do the same thing next month, next year, next week.”

Judge Fontaine sentenced Foster to three years in prison, with two of those years to be suspended and served on supervised probation. Jessup was given a suspended sentence of two years.

Michael Foster and Emily Johnston set up

Foster, a family therapist, longtime environmentalist and father of two….

Check the irony. He’s a former family therapist, now divorced and estranged from his own kids. I can’t throw in a wry line. This is just sad:

When Foster committed himself to the climate movement, he also recruited his children, then 8 and 10, to march and speak alongside him. His older child, now a cleareyed 16-year-old, says that both siblings were initially happy to participate — in part because it gave them a chance to spend time with their father, whom they saw less and less of as his activism increased. But before long, they felt pressured. “When we would try to refuse, when we would say, ‘Hey, I’m tired,’ or ‘Hey, I have homework,’ or ‘Hey, I have school today,’ it would be: ‘Don’t you care about the planet? Don’t you care about the future?’ ” the older child explains. “That felt awful, because of course we cared, of course we wanted to do our part. But it felt like he was using our voices to spread his message.”

He couldn’t let his family off the hook either, and resentments deepened. “When people asked me how things were going, how I was doing, I’d say, ‘He’s doing important stuff, and it matters,’ ” says his ex-wife, Malinda, who asked that her last name and her children’s names not be used to protect her family’s privacy. “I’d also say, ‘I really respect Gandhi, but I wouldn’t want to be married to him.’

Both Malinda and her older child say they felt constantly judged, and frustrated, by Foster’s inflexibility. In 2014, Malinda filed for divorce, and his children said they no longer wanted to be part of his activism — or part of his life.

The media, spineless politicians, and university academics who fail to do their jobs take advantage of weak-minded, obsessive types. That doesn’t excuse reckless action and personal responsibility. But taxpayer funded operatives shouldn’t be feeding that element with a personality flaw either.

 h/t to Howard “Cork” Hayden: author of many skeptical books including NEW! Energy: A Textbook, at There are free resources at the site too.

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Third blackout in Victoria — blame the possums

Australia has a gold plated network, which is why our electricity is so expensive.

However we also have gold plated possums:

Distributor blames possums for third power outage

More than 20,000 homes in Melbourne’s southeast had another night without electricity on Sunday, the third major power outage for Victoria in three weeks.

An Ausnet spokeswoman confirmed 23,915 customers were left without power for about 90 minutes from 11.42pm in suburbs including Bayswater, Boronia, Ferntree Gully, Heathmont, Knoxfield, Scoresby and Wan­tirna. She said the power cut was the result of a fault at the Boronia substation, which could have been triggered by leaves or branches or other plant debris flying into overhead power lines, or animals, birds or possums on the line.

Incredibly bad luck.

Or not. They don’t really know why this blackout occurred yet.

Workers are still investigating the cause of the fault…

The Victorian government blames the privately owned retailers, and has ordered them to pay compensation. This is the funny asymmetry with electricity pricing – it costs less to generate it, than to not generate it. A 3 – 20 hour blackout might “earn” $80 in compensation.

Keep reading  →

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EIA estimates for USA in 2050: The Future is Fossil Fuels and Cheap Electricity

What energy transformation?

The EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2018 is out. The hard heads at the US Dept of Energy crunched the numbers, assumed technology will improve, and modeled the outcomes. According  to their best estimates (and even their “worst” estimates) thirty years from now, the main energy source for the US is natural gas and fossil fuels. Renewables grows from 5% to 14%, but coal, nukes, hydro stays about the same. When the Australian Greens say “we don’t want to be left behind”, the answer is “Exactly! So explore for gas! Use Nukes!”

The World’s largest economy will still be nearly 80% fossil fueled in 2050.

On the road, most people are still using gasoline cars, and here’s the kicker — electricity prices are still at about 11 cents per kilowatt hour. Weep all ye Australians, Brits, Germans and other who would be grateful if electricity only rose 10% a year, not 10% over 30 years.

How much does an interconnector cost from Townsville to Texas?  ;-)

h/t Paul Homewood who has quoted Mark Perry from AEI:

Despite all of the hype, hope, cheerleading, fuel standards, portfolio standards, and taxpayer subsidies for renewable energies like wind and solar, America’s energy future will still rely primarily on fossil fuels to power our vehicles, heat and light our homes, and fuel the US economy.

EIA, 2018, Graph, Total energy use projections.

EIA, 2018, Graph, Total energy use projections.

Electricity prices are dirt cheap and will stay that way:

EIA, 2018, Graph, Total energy use projections.

EIA, 2018, Graph, Electricity Prices, projections.


Of the renewables, only  solar PV is forecast to increase. Wind stays the same; Hydro stays the same; Geothermal is still tiny.

Big-solar does not even rate a mention.

EIA, 2018, Graph, Renewables use projections.

Which renewables are growing?

The Big Picture

Renewables, a small non-essential part that isn’t going to change much.

EIA, 2018, Graph, Industrial energy use projections.

Industrial energy use will be … about the same mix.

Electric Vehicles? Spot the green sliver:

Not the car transition some are expecting.

EIA, 2018, Graph, transportation, projections.

EIA, 2018, Graph, Total energy use projections.

h/t to Manalive and Pat


The EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2018, US Dept of Energy.

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Weekend Unthreaded

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