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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Government advertising by any other name

Poor writing can throw up a fog to hide dubious claims.

Prasad Menon

The Extravaganza of the Deakin Lectures is taking place at the moment in Melbourne, and Des Moore on Quadrant Online accused them of being a one-sided propaganda machine paid for by government money (though not in those exact words).

In response, the Wheeler Centre defended themselves on their blog*, and claimed that Quadrant’s missed the point: They don’t need to do the debating thing because bloggers do that (and they link to moi).

So the Wheeler unit, which is supported by the Victorian Government, EPA Victoria, Carbon Innovators Network, The Age, and the ABC et al defends a policy position taken by Government Departments, and minor clubs like, y’know, the UN,  and yet it’s OK, there’s no fear of government funds being used to propagate a one-sided message, because JoNova is discussing the science (with no government funding, no industry sponsorship, and no university support). So that’s what they call balance.

The rest of us call it government advertising. It’s just a different form. A government-funded unit gets to use taxpayer dollars to prop up a government policy and help large investment funds and a [...]

Hate those deniers — Super tax their backers?

Our PM’s rapid descent is described as due to the failure of the carbon trading scheme tonight on the 7.30 Report. To make it so much more pointed, on top of that, there’s the suggestion that Rudd is driven by anger, and that his latest attack on the Mining Industry (with the massive new tax scheme) is about beating the same forces that succeeded over him on the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Author and journalist David Marr spoke with the 7.30 Report‘s Kerry O’Brien about the psychological make-up of the Prime Minister and his collapse in public approval.

Apparently it all boils down to the carbon trading scheme that failed.

The point he started to unravel was not the Global Financial Crisis, an ongoing war, or the weak outcome of his feted hospital plan, it was about the carbon scheme:


Helicopter Ben at work

Not many people realize just how utterly unprecedented the Global Financial Crisis was.

To see just how singularly anomalous those months were, let’s revisit an article I wrote for 321 Gold in November 2008.

The graphs below are extraordinary, jaw-dropping plots. At the time I was watching them grow week by week, and was amazed that they were not “everywhere”. I still remember the chill I got in mid October when I first saw the ballistic spike. We’re talking about the money supply of the worlds largest economy. The rescue package blew away the scale  — the second graph below covers 90 years. It’s not often you see any graph which is a true hockey stick. This was originally published at 321Gold on Nov 25th 2008. Remember this money (your money if you hold US dollars) was “injected” as a temporary fix (in theory), the plan was to neutralize it, or sterilize it, or insert-your-favourite-euphemism-here-for-getting-it-back-to-normal.

So where does the Money Base graph stand now? It’s not back down to $900 billion (where it was in August 2008), it’s not even stable at $1500  billion, it’s $2000 billion. Our markets run on ever increasing injections of new money. The people [...]

Two dismal sciences (climate and money)

Maybe you are already au fait with the deep flaws in our financial system, or maybe you are like I was ten years ago, too bored to read “economics”–knowing it was all human vagaries and surrounded with jargon. If your eyes glaze at the thought of bonds, yields, debt and GOFO’s–bear with me, I understand. But history books will be written about this year. No one can afford to be not interested in the science of money.

Economics is known as The Dismal Science, and the reason it’s dismal is the same reason that official climate science is — too many dollars at stake. (If we can treat psychology scientifically, why not economics too?)

Those who want to falsely alarm us benefit from confounding issues, confusing statements, argument from authority and bureaucratese

But the unscientific nature of some subjects is no accident. Clear thinking, transparency, and rigorous logic benefit the majority, just as jargon, elitism, gatekeepers and censorship do not.  Those who want to falsely alarm us benefit from confounding issues, confusing statements, argument from authority and bureaucratese, and so too do the people who control our money — central bankers, the banking aristocracy, and some politicians. (Though instead of [...]

The wounded are dangerous

Kevin Rudd, 7.30 report May 10, 2010

Kevin Rudd let slip yesterday that he has a vision for bigger-more-malignant ETS than the one he dropped.

“We need to make sure that the Senate becomes, shall I say, positioned in a manner which is able to deliver that change to Australia’s domestic laws,” Mr Rudd said at a news conference with the Maldives president.”

We missed the bullet in December. As a nation we came within a butterfly-wing-flap of sacrificing ourselves to the carbon-Goldman-Sachs-socialist-nightmare. But it could still happen, and it could be worse. The national orbit has swung again slightly, like a pendulum with an elliptical chaotic path. With Rudd destabilized, so are we all collectively far from center.

Australia could be headed for an election where climate change is still a central issue, or worse, it won’t be, and the nasty surprise will spring afterwards.


Infantile professor pronounces debate “infantile”

The Age — formerly a decent newspaper — never fails to take an opportunity to parrot PR for Team AGW.

Last week they gave a free shot to Will Steffen, Executive Director, ANU Climate Change Institute.

Climate debate ‘almost infantile’

(The Age, ADAM MORTON,  May 25, 2010)

A SCIENCE adviser to the federal government has described the debate in the media over the basics of climate change science as ”almost infantile”, equating it to an argument about the existence of gravity.

It takes a tax-payer funded Pro-fessor to equate AGW to gravity. It must have taken years of education to be able to issue pronouncements like this eh? If Australian taxpayers were hoping to get a bit more than just bluster and name-calling from certain public servants, they’re bound to be asking for their money back soon.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the existence of gravity is proven each day you don’t get flung off the planet when you get out of bed. We can measure gravity to twelve significant digits*, but our value for climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide varies from 0 to 10. Pick a number. We can’t even get one [...]

High Praise – I’m “insulted” in Parliament

Mr OAKESHOTT, Federal Independent Member for Lyne,  talked about the failure of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in the Australian Parliament, and wanted to name and shame those responsible:

“I take this opportunity to raise the issue of the smoking guns that I have seen over the last six months. I smelt a rat in the shift that I saw and what looked to be—to their credit—a very well organised and very well-funded campaign from the likes of JoNova and Viv Forbes.”

– Hansard record of Parliament, 27 May 2010

Golly — I’m a smoking gun, a smelly rat, and a paid mercenary of undisclosed groups, and Viv Forbes of Carbon Sense is too!

I’m bowled over by the compliment. Is he really giving me and Viv the joint credit for the sweeping poll changes? (As if). I’ll just ask my PR department (me) to arrange with my cartoonist (me too) to throw together a parody of parliament, which the web-editor (me) can code into a page. All of us are delighted to be described as well organized. (It’s true we communicate like we are all in one head.) **


Why scientists get it wrong

David Archibalds new book

by David Archibald

David will be speaking with the Anthony Watts Tour in Australia. I’ll be buying a copy of his book.

June 1, 2010

This is a shorter version of the Quadrant Online extract.

Edited extract: “Why did so many scientists get it wrong?” from David Archibald’s book – The Past and Future of Climate:

If the data and forecasts in this book are correct, then the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, the Royal Society in the United Kingdom, the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO in Australia are all wrong. How can this be? Firstly, there aren’t that many scientists involved in the IPCC deliberations. The inner core is possibly twenty souls. Secondly, they were untroubled by the necessity to concoct fraudulent data to get their desired results. The only unknown question regarding the IPCC scientists is “Did they actually believe in the global warming that they were promoting?”

It turns out that they did, and possibly still do. That is shown by the Climategate emails released on 20th November, 2009. The Climategate emails are a selection of emails amongst members of [...]

Round Five: Ignore the main point, repeat the irrelevant

The debate with Paleoclimatologist Dr Andrew Glikson about the evidence for Climate change has reached a telling point.  There is a gaping hole.

Through four rounds of to and fro, I’ve been asking for evidence that the predicted (critical) “hot spot” was there above the equator, and we were drilling down to this point. It’s the weak link in the chain of evidence, and if the climate models are wrong on this element, you can kiss goodbye to the catastrophe. Everything else might be right, but there’s no major warming if there’s no strong amplifying (positive) feedback, and and there is no amplifying feedback from water vapor if there is no hot spot. Indeed, I quoted evidence from three peer reviewed studies that show that we’re headed for a half a measly degree of warming rather than a baking 3 – 6 degrees.

In Round 2 Glikson didn’t mention Lindzen, Spencer or Douglass (the three independent papers which suggest that predicted feedbacks are missing or negative). Instead he suggested “Sherwood 2008” found the hot-spot. I pointed out that Sherwood used wind-gauges instead of thermometers. To believe he is right we need to throw out thousands of thermometer readings and [...]