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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The Climate Spectator joins the gravy train

Here we go again. I like Alan Kohler, the economic reporter on the nightly ABC news. He likes numbers, graphs and hard data. Yet here he is, setting up a new project which looks like it ‘s another climate clone site analyzing everything carbon-related in the harsh light of day except the assumption about climate “feedbacks” that the whole error cascade is based on. (This is the same assumption that the empirical evidence has shown was too high by a factor of six.) [See here for my latest demolition and  here where a Dr of Paleoclimate comes unstuck.]

The Business Spectator wrote so sagely and incisively about the Super Profits Tax, I’d love to think they would apply the same sharp brainpower to the issue of climate. But Kohler writes:

“We were initially despondent when the CPRS was kicked into the long grass by Kevin Rudd,…”

Despondent? Imagine them saying “Interest rates were raised and we were despondent?”

But Kohler and the other economic commentators have been caught watching the money instead of the reasoning (they’re watching the wrong money too, here’s the money that speaks volumes). If upper tropospheric water vapor doesn’t increase as the world warms, the reason [...]

Smell that evidence

Cows and complaints don’t correlate. See the graph of the empirical evidence on the Thompsons case; the complaints, the cows, the recorded smells. Compare the Thompsons feedlot with others in the US which are 4 – 8 times larger and closer to towns. [...]

Friday night reading: the eloquent take-downs

Today, while I work on something else, I thought I’d just share a few of the more entertaining pieces of writing I’ve come across lately.

How many mistakes can you pack in one phrase?

Remember how all defenders of the Man-Made-Catastrophe were trained to say that skeptics are funded by big oil, and Big Oil had that insidious agreement… that internal memo that said they were aiming to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact” (which has all the meaning of “repositioning McDonalds as a fast food chain”, it being tritely obvious and all). Well, Russell Cook points out that this popular bumper-sticker line that’s quoted ad lib across the ether, is full of mistakes, misattributions and misinformation. It seems it’s not only not a smoking gun, but it’s not a weapon, and wasn’t fired by the prize winner shooter they attributed it too, and the guy that didn’t fire the dud shot, didn’t win a prize either.

With fanfare according to Gore it was “discovered by the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ross Gelbspan”, but the Pulitzer site doesn’t know about Gelbspans “prize”, and you can read all the sordid details at the Climate Gate Country Club, or a [...]

Tyranny: How to destroy a business with environmental red tape

Updated with Janet’s comments below.

Matt and Janet Thompson are at the end of the rope

Did you know in Australia it’s possible to ruin a business if you don’t like the way it smells? This is a heartbreaking story — that a government could effectively ruin a family by slowly strangling them in red tape, and that they would have apparently no protection from the courts or the ombudsman. It eats away at our sense of justice. Can we speak freely? Are we all treated equally under the law, or are some laws only enforced according to a capricious whim?

This is the price we pay for vague laws where business people can run ventures, do everything to the letter of the law, with best-practice procedures, winning customers and contracts, yet go broke despite all that because of onerous, impossible-to-meet conditions, that are unmeasurable, and change suddenly, with the added bonus of inordinately long delays. At the moment, Janet and Matts farm, Narrogin Beef Producers, lies empty, unstocked, while debts accrue by the minute.

This is also a story of sovereign risk. Investors in Australian industry beware.

Unused equipment that cost hundred of thousands of dollars lies [...]

The Unskeptical Guide to the Skeptics Handbook

It’s taken 21 months, four professors, and three associate/assistant professors, and THIS is the best they could come up with? The printed version listed no author (the pdf has been updated with John Cooks name*) yet wears the logo of the University of Western Australia (UWA), which will embarrass that university as word spreads of the intellectual weakness of their “Guide“.

Did UWA commission this piece of rather inept, qualitative “feel-good” science and clumsy reasoning? Stephan Lewandowsky invited John Cook to speak at UWA and “offer assistance“.

The booklet uses a mislabeled graph with a deceptive scale, won’t show the damning graphs it supposedly debunks,  assumes positive feedback occurs despite the weight of empirical evidence against it (Douglass, Spencer, Lindzen), and repeats irrelevant information even though The Skeptics Handbook describes why rising sea levels and glaciers and ice sheets can’t possibly tell us what causes the warming. It misleadingly discusses a different fingerprint — one that isn’t the key point and isn’t disputed by skeptics. Cause and effect are mixed up, and naturally there are strawmen arguments to unnecessarily destroy for the spectacle of being seen to do something. To top it off, Cook still thinks a measurement is [...]

Sherwood 2008: Where you can find a hot spot at zero degrees

The line blurs between peer-reviewed-science and peer-reviewed-public-relations.

The Big-Scare-Campaign needed an answer to the missing hot-spot question. They needed to find the “hot spot”, or failing that, at the very least provide a “hot spot” type graph that would answer the critics; something that passed for a scientific answer that might fool journalists and bloggers. The failure to find the projected hot spot is so damning, and so obviously not what the models predicted, that there is a veritable industry of people working hard to find a reason why the weather balloon results must be wrong.  Steven Sherwood creatively even resorted to throwing out the thermometer readings entirely and using wind shear instead.  (If only we’d known! All those years and we didn’t need the thermometers?)

In Robust Tropospheric Warming Revealed by Iteratively Homogenized Radiosonde Data (March 2008) Sherwood et al combine both windshear and temperature data to reconsider the radiosondes yet again. The Scientific Guide to The Skeptics Handbook and others use the graph from the top left corner of this paper (Fig 1 here) to suggest that the hot spot is not missing, or that the “fingerprint” was found. Sure enough, it’s a cute graph. Looks “hot”, right?

[...]

The Great Leap Forward. Professors et al realize they need to talk about evidence instead of insults.

Plenty of copies

"Scientific Guide" To The Skeptics Handbook

I’m elated. Last night outside the Watts Up lecture at UWA here in Perth there were people handing out a so-called “Scientific Guide” to the Skeptics Handbook. Let’s put this in perspective, I wrote the Handbook two years ago, and it’s taken this long for those-who-want-to-scare-us to put together a specific printed response. I’m an unbacked, solo pro bono writer, and they needed no less than 5 professors, 2 associate professors, and 21 months, and THIS is the best they can do?

I’m also chuffed. The infamous Professorial fellow Stephan Lewandowsky spoke the night before in the same room as we spoke in (about the dangers of consensus) but maybe he’s finally read my multiple responses to the stone age reasoning he was using and the light bulb has gone off. Maybe he’s realized that the masses of engineers, geologists, lawyers, medical experts and people with just plain common sense out there are never going to be fooled by his old witchdoctor routine about the Gods of Science at the IPCC. I was informed by people who saw the presentation that for the first time he spoke without resorting [...]