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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Weekend Unthreaded

Limestone beach cave, 3hrs north of Perth, WA | Click to enlarge.

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The polarisation of the climate debate has gone too far, says Matt Ridley

Are we all intelligent adults in the room –  can we discuss the weather without calling people names?

The state of the national conversation is pathetic.

Matt Ridley, best selling science writer, PhD, elected to the UK Parliament did the unthinkable and switched to become skeptical of carbon crisis a few years ago. This week he wrote about that transformation and the different behaviour of skeptics and those who disagree with them…

UPDATE: Attacking the man takes on an especially blunt meaning today. Bishop Hill reports that in comments Gary Evans, a Guardian author (aka Bluecloud) laid out his best scientific argument. Should that not be [Matt] Ridley’s severed head in the photo? Where else but that paragon of progressive ethics: The Guardian? Such is the intellectual parry of gullible believers: We would actually solve a great deal of the world’s problems by chopping off everyone’s heads. Why are you deniers so touchy? see More Greenpeace Death Threats?  Nice of him to prove Ridley’s point.

From My Life As a LukeWarmer: Matt Ridley

In the climate debate, paying obeisance to climate scaremongering is about as mandatory for a public appointment, or public funding, as being a Protestant was in 18th-century England.

Matt used to believe (like so many of us did):

I  was not always a lukewarmer. When I first started writing about the threat of global warming more than 26 years ago, as science editor ofThe Economist, I thought it was a genuinely dangerous threat. Like, for instance, Margaret Thatcher, I accepted the predictions being made at the time that we would see warming of a third or a half a degree (Centigrade) a decade, perhaps more, and that this would have devastating consequences

 When he initially switched there was a genuine conversation. People did try to engage him in long exchanges, but he gradually grew more and more skeptical, and the conversation just got more and more silly.

Then a funny thing happened a few years ago. Those who disagreed with me stopped pointing out politely where or why they disagreed and started calling me names. One by one, many of the most prominent people in the climate debate began to throw vitriolic playground abuse at me. I was “paranoid”, “specious”, “risible”, “self-defaming”, “daft”, “lying”, “irrational”, an “idiot”. Their letters to the editor or their blog responses asserted that I was “error-riddled” or had seriously misrepresented something, but then they not only failed to substantiate the charge but often roughly confirmed what I had written.

 

Keep reading  →

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Marble Bar’s hottest day? Today might reach 49.1C again like it did 110 years ago

Will it be a hottest record at one of the hottest towns in the world today? The forecast for Marble Bar, Western Australia, is 49C. The record for Marble Bar stands at 49.2C or 120.5F recorded in 1905 and 1922. I guess if we give up our cars and airconditioners the temperatures in Marble Bar will go back to these ideal conditions?

Thermometer-spotting: the temperature has varied up and down.| The BOM page for Marble Bar: 48.3C at 2.54pm but the highest was 48.9C at 2:46 (8 minutes earlier?). | At 3:30pm the current temp is 48.4C but the highest as listed as 49C at 3:12pm. |  Now at 3:50pm the temperature has fallen to 47.9C and it looks like the peak was reached just short of the old record.

Overexcited journalists get 50C into headlines already

Marble Bar record heat 1905

Sat Jan 14, 1905

At least one journalist is so excited he predicted it’s “highly likely” one of the towns in the area will hit the magic 49.5C which can be rounded up to 50C! (Seriously, Anthony Sharwood says that. Marvel at the power of odd versus even numbers and rounding conventions. It is not as though our modern media can report to one decimal place in a headline after all.) And who needs rounding, or even a measurement? That same headline today already assumes the BOM are wrong and it will hit 50C. “It’ll reach 50 degrees in parts of Western Australia today”. Hey, it might turn out to be right.(It didn’t). This article also gets the record maximum wrong saying it was 48.6C in 2008. It’s on the news.com site, but frustratingly it’s not clear which newspapers it was printed in or how many people saw it. Andrew Burrell from The Australian also gets 50C into the headline:“Pilbara miners brace for 50C scorcher “ and “Weather records set to tumble with temperatures in WA tipped to hit 50C “. How many people in Australia will already think 50C happened, even if it doesn’t.

UPDATE: 6pm — the BOM observations page shows no towns making 50C in WA. Marble Bar was the hottest.

At least, the BOM, WA Today, The Australian and the ABC have printed the old record correctly as 49.2C.

Historic hot days in Marble Bar

Here are historic newspaper stories of the day the 120F records were set:

Keep reading  →

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A rare sighting of endangered scientific graph in newsprint

We skeptics get excited about unusual things. The Australian published Michael Asten today in the Op-Ed pages, and took the extremely rare step of publishing a scientific graph (!) with a few error bars and everything. Newspapers publish economic graphs all the time, so it’s nice to see the scientific debate getting a bit more sophisticated than just the usual “deniers are evil, government climate scientists speak the word of God” type of stuff. (In the Enlightenment, data was a greater source of authority than any human; how we pine for those days.) The only thing the story should have added was a note that reminds us that the not only was the “hottest” record not beyond the error bars but that it did not occur in satellite measurements. I’m sure a lot of people mistakenly think that NASA might use satellites, but they prefer highly adjusted ground thermometers next to airport tarmac instead.

The headline on that graph could have been “Climate scientists don’t know what caused most of the big moves on this graph”. Some mystery effect caused the warming from 1910-1940. In ClimateScienceTM it is OK to call that “natural variability” and pretend to be 95% sure whatever it was has now stopped.

  The Australian

‘Angry summer’ alarmists all choked up without reading fine print

Blame me for the red scribble and arrows (which didn’t appear in the paper).

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Red words and arrows added by me. Click to see the original.

 

Michael Asten juxtaposes a quote or two. The silliness speaks for itself when placed next to this graph:

John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute, greeted the 2014 result with the comment “This data shows not only a series of alarming years but decades of warming to make an undisputable trend”

What does “indisputable” mean anymore? We’re not allowed to dispute it?

Asten reminds us that back in 2007 when Bob Carter mentioned the earliest warnings that the warming trends were not matching the predictions, he was scolded:

Keep reading  →

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BOM admits they got it wrong on “worst Queensland drought”

How much does the BOM care about misleading Australians? Not much apparently, unless they are caught doing it. Everyone makes mistakes, but what matters is what they do to correct it.

The BOM claimed (and the ABC broadcast) that this Queensland drought is the worst in 80 years, but Ken Stewart showed with their own graphs that it was only the worst for 9 years.  Stewart politely informed both groups  two weeks ago. The ABC excused themselves immediately because they always believe the BOM no matter what it says and never ask any hard questions (it’s not like they are paid to make sure Australians get the right information is it? what do you expect for $1bn?). The BOM took five days to fob the error off even though the “mistake” was obvious against the BOM’s own graphs.

But yesterday Maurice Newman mentioned the mythical 80 year drought in The Australian, lo, suddenly the BOM feel the urge to send another email to Ken and the ABC.

Dear Ken,
Further to our correspondence we can confirm that media statements made to the ABC by a Bureau employee on 6 January 2014 did not accurately reflect the relative severity of the current Queensland rainfall deficiencies. Unfortunately the Bureau spokesperson misinterpreted some of the information. We have advised the ABC of the inaccuracy and asked them for an opportunity to update the story, if possible.
 
Regards,
Climate Analysis Section

Ken Stewart spent today doing their job and contacting other media outlets that the BOM should have.

The message ladies and gentlemen is that we ought send as many letters as we can bear to editors and journalists of all the major daily newspapers and commercial radio stations pointing out BOM mistakes. CC your letters to the BOM.

The next question then is whether the ABC takes the quietest road possible or issues a new story of equal prominence — in ABC Radio Country Hour, ABC TV 7.00 p.m. News, and the Queensland Country Life — pointing out the BOM spokesman gave the wrong message, that droughts have been worse in the past, and despite helpful people pointing this out to the BOM, they still took an extraordinary two weeks to correct it.

We await reports from Queensland.

If we surveyed the punters in two weeks time, how many ABC viewers would say “the hottest year” and “the worst drought”?

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New small study: Wind farms show health effects – why wasn’t this done before?

This is the tiniest of most preliminary studies on the health effects of wind turbines, but it made it to the front page of a major newspaper.  It is really just laying the groundwork for setting up a proper study.  But at the end of 2012, according to the Global Wind Energy Council, there were 225,000 wind turbines operating around the world. So the real question is why has it taken so long to do an eight week study on six people in three houses looking at the effects of very low frequency ultrasound?

The Greens and Labor Party are supposed to be concerned about the effect of industry on people and cuddly animals, so where was their angst? If wind turbines ran on uranium, or the turbines were erected in inner-city areas, would the Greens have been so quiet?

Pacific Hydro deserves credit for funding and cooperating with the study which took place at Cape Bridgewater in Victoria.

Turbines may well blow ill wind

Graham Lloyd, The Australian

PEOPLE living near wind farms face a greater risk of suffering health complaints caused by the low-frequency noise generated by turbines, a groundbreaking study has found.

The study by acoustics expert Steven Cooper is the first in the world in which a wind turbine ­operator had fully co-operated and turned wind turbines off completely during the testing.

Keep reading  →

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Maurice Newman: conservatives outsmarted — they apologise where they should demand apologies

A wake up call from Maurice Newman. The gravy train of bigger and bigger government is grinding to its inevitable halt, and Greece is the destination the Western Express is headed for. Those who promised that big-government could solve everything have bought votes, while using schools and universities to train a generation to hate free market competition. Young people were raised to blame the system and demand the handout, rather than take responsibility. The soft-west has gone too far left. The weak right has rolled over and tries to be a mini-left, settling for being the team B of “progressivism”. Newman’s best line is that the conservatives apologize where they should demand apologies. So true.

To illustrate dismal standards in science and the media, Newman cites joannenova.com.au (thanks Maurice), and thousands more Australians find out a small part of the scandalous failure of academia (specifically, Lewandowsky at UWA) and the ABC. The stories he refers too are: “Lewandowsky peer reviewed study includes someone 32,757 years old” and the “ABC got it wrong, BOM not concerned with Australian public being misinformed“. Ken Stewart at Kenskingdom deserves credit for catching out the ABC and BOM. Readers, when you want to throw your shoe at the ABC (or BBC or CBC), find the quote, and send it in (likewise for Fairfax and CNN etc). It is worth writing to these organizations and journalists, if only to expose how pathetic their answers are. Have confidence, we are getting to them. They still believe they are pro-science and real journalists. It pains them every time we expose their anti-science philosophy and catch them pandering to false-god “experts”.

Would-be journalists don’t want to wear the Useful Idiot badge — a real journalist would hate to think they were mere puppets of corrupt officialdom and crony capitalism. It hurts for them to hear the truth. We need to focus not on the answers they get in interviews, but more so — the questions they didn’t ask. And we need to remind them — at every step — that the opposite of skeptical is gullible.

The Australian  “The Left’s gravy train derailing “

Maurice Newman

IN the battle for ideas it is now clear the Left controls the commanding heights. In everything from the economy to sport, the prevailing direction is left. After decades of stereotyping, indoctrination and the clever use of language, Western voters have been conditioned to accept the beneficence of the state.

Politically this has set the stage for governments to see “market failure” in everything. It has become an excuse for an avalanche of regulations and regulators and allowed leftist intellectuals to incessantly bash the very essence of “capitalism”.

They have successfully implanted the notion that free market capitalism is synonymous with profiteering, greed, unequal wealth distribution and, the entrenchment of privilege which must be restrained.

Yet there is no competition commissioner to control the predatory actions of the state, or regulator to rein in reckless central bankers.

Voter acquiescence has been bought by both sides of politics, but conservatives everywhere have been politically outsmarted. They are apologetic when they should demand apologies.

Rather than be true to their values, they have too easily rolled over and allowed the Left to set the agenda on economics and social issues, incapable of arguing an internally consistent position. Quite often conservative policies are indistinguishable from their progressive counterparts.

Keep reading  →

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Will Steffen in denial of entire Holocene?

Either Will Steffen thinks humans didn’t exist five thousand years ago, or he hasn’t heard of the Holocene. The Herald Sun tells us  the extraordinary news that:

“Humans are living in the hottest temperatures they have ever lived and I can guarantee this will only get worse.”

Will Steffen also says the climate is “complex”, and “impossible to entirely predict”. I guess that means his guarantee that it will get worse comes direct from God, since it’s not possible through science. I don’t know why Matthew Dunn, technology editor of the Herald Sun, didn’t ask more about that — obviously that would be big news.

Otherwise, nearly every proxy that’s ever been proxied suggests there were a lot of warmer times in the period 5,000 – 8,000 years ago. Ice cores say it was hotter in Greenland, barnacles, corals, sea worms, and “swash” tell us sea levels were something like 2 meters higher in stable West Australia* and nearly 1m higher in Hawaii and Polynesia, oceans were 2 degrees warmer around in Indonesia, and 6,000 boreholes sunk in the oceans all over the world show it was a global deal. Australian Aboriginals apparently struggled through a 1,500 year mega drought about 6,000 year ago (see McGowan). CO2 Science lists references from South-East Asia  to the Sahara, from Antarctica to America. I am barely skimming the surface.

It was even warmer 120,000 years ago when Antarctica was over 2 degrees hotter, and seas were 3 -5 m higher and even more in some places. I’m pretty sure that homo sapiens was around then, and somehow they survived the heat without electricity, cars, hospitals or four-bedroom houses.

Here’s a few graphs of the scores I could use. Greenland has been warmer many times over the last 10,000 years*. The Roman warming of the European region was also fairly significant. Those Romans didn’t get by with togas for nothing.

In Western Australia — one of the oldest, most stable pieces of land in the world — sea levels have been falling for 7,000 years.

Keep reading  →

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Gavin Schmidt now admits NASA are only 38% sure 2014 was the hottest year

I said the vaguest scientists in the world lie by omission, and it’s what they don’t say that gives them away. The “hottest ever” press release didn’t tell us how much hotter the hottest year supposedly was, nor how big the error bars were. David Rose of the Daily Mail pinned down Gavin Schmidt of NASA GISS to ask a few questions that bloggers and voters want answered but almost no other journalist seems to want to ask.

Finally…

Nasa climate scientists: We said 2014 was the warmest year on record… but we’re only 38% sure we were right

Nasa admits this means it is far from certain that 2014 set a record at all 

Does that mean 97% of climate experts are 62% sure they are wrong?*

The thing with half-truths is that they generate a glorious fog, but it has no substance. Ask the spin-cloud of a couple of sensible questions and the narrative collapses. This is the kind of analysis that would have stopped the rot 25 years ago if most news outlets had investigative reporters instead of science communicators trained to “raise awareness”. (The media IS the problem). If there was a David-Rose-type in most major dailies, man-made global warming would never have got off the ground.

The claim made headlines around the world, but yesterday it emerged that GISS’s analysis – based on readings from more than 3,000 measuring stations worldwide – is subject to a margin of error. Nasa admits this means it is far from certain that 2014 set a record at all.

Yet the Nasa press release failed to mention this, as well as the fact that the alleged ‘record’ amounted to an increase over 2010, the previous ‘warmest year’, of just two-hundredths of a degree – or 0.02C.

The margin of error is about a tenth of a degree, so those error bars are 500% larger than the amount pushed in headlines all over the world. Gavin Schmidt of course, is horrified that millions of people may have been mislead:

GISS’s director Gavin Schmidt has now admitted Nasa thinks the likelihood that 2014 was the warmest year since 1880 is just 38 per cent. However, when asked by this newspaper whether he regretted that the news release did not mention this, he did not respond.

I’m sure he’s too busy contacting newspapers and MSNBC to make sure stories from NASA GISS are accurate and scientifically correct.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

In the mood for sport? Turn the torch back on the journalists who were too gullible to ask a sensible question. Let’s start asking the ABC and BBC journalists why they didn’t ask “how much hotter was it” and “how big are those error bars”.

H/t to Colin, Gardy.

*And since we’re asking — what’s with the 38% — what are the error bars on that? ;-)

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Weekend Unthreaded

……..

More beach holidays. Apologies to Northern Hemisphere readers. We’ve had three beach holidays in two weeks with various friends and relatives. January in Australia is tough. ;-)

I love the colors of the Western Australian coast. The sky really is that intense blue, and the water is that clear. We fed stingrays at Hamelin Bay at sunset too. This is a seven year old boy hand-feeding a tame eagle ray which must have weighed twice as much as him. That one had no tail, but others did. Remarkable. Click to enlarge shots.

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