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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Another test of the BOM vs Corbyn

Piers Corbyn of WeatherAction appears to be getting noticed (finally). Recently, the Telegraph reported on The man who beats the Met Office. But, some people (especially outside the UK) don’t seem to realize Corbyn has been doing this for a long time. He started placing bets on his predictions way back in 1990, and set up his his long range forecasting business in 1995. His accuracy during a 6-month period of 2008 at predicting extreme weather events in  narrow time windows was audited at 85%. WeatherAction sells forecasts that are 30, 45, and 60 day advance notices. Could you imagine our BOM giving us warnings now about a storm or flood on, say, February 23 – 25th 2011? Try to picture the weather girl suggesting anything like that in the local Channel Nine Weather Update.

The BOM in the UK have said they don’t do seasonal forecasts (“BBQ-summer” and “mild-winters” no more). Yet, here is Piers, still putting his name to forecasts, not just of a seasonal nature across an entire country, but for particular dates and particular regions.

If the CSIRO or BOM were really interested in predicting the climate, they could, say, pay to fly in a consultant [...]

Merry Christmas

The immovable wall met the inflexible mind this week. The bitterly cold weather brought out some spectacular cases of cognitive dissonance. The Greg Graven’s who were overcome with passion, and the Monboit’s who were overcome with the complete “suspension of disbelief” whilst hunting for ways to rationalize their faith in a theory. Too warm? Too cold? It doesn’t matter, what ever it is, it matches a model somewhere, somehow, post hoc, ad hoc, hoc post, whatever…

Craven tried to explain himself on Judith Curry’s site and it only got worse.

I’m betting we’ll see more of those implosions in 2011.

Thanks to all of those who helped me this year — with advice, information, tips, and chocolate. Thanks to the unsung moderators too.

Apologies for all the times I forgot to say thanks to the right person for tips – a few weeks ago my intray seriously did reach 21,000 messages and the magic 4G mark, whereupon my email functionality collapsed, the computer crashed, and then I learnt the importance of something called “compacting”. I would like to thank people more often, and am conscious that I didn’t always get it right.

I’ll be taking a few [...]

An insight into Hacker-land

UPDATED: Posted the full Pointman article instead of the much abbreviated edit version. Thanks to Pointman.

Hacked or leaked?

Pointman argues the case for the emails being leaked from inside. Part I of his thesis is that an expert hack takes a lot of money, patience and a rare personality. (And after reading his article I believe him.) In Part II Pointman suggests that there is not a lot of money or inclination to pay such an expert. Call me  unconvinced on this second clause. Even though I’ve seen no evidence of big dollars at work in the skeptic case* I can imagine in any market worth 130 odd billion per annum that there would be players with handy shorts-ready-to-place who might like to pull some strings.

That said, the fact that the police investigation into the leak or hack has failed to find any answers combined with the obvious motivation for any half honest civil servant with a modicum of altruistic honor to act as a whistle-blower, means I find the whistle-blowing theory much more believable.

The ilk of the money-driven  sociopathic derivative trader who makes money from shorting markets, [...]

Could the Australian BOM get it more wrong?

Warwick Hughes has spotted a neat trifecta: whether it be rain, maximums or minimums, the  BOM gets it wrong.

For this spring the Australian BOM predicted it would be dry and warm, instead we got very wet and quite cold.  The models are so bad on a regional basis, it’s uncannily like they are almost useful… if they call things “dry”, expect “wet”.

On August 24 the Australian BOM had pretty much no idea that any unusual wetness was headed their way. Toss a coin, 50:50, yes or no. Spring 2010 was going to be “average”, except in SW Western Australia where they claimed “a wetter than normal spring is favoured.” What follows were 100 year floods, or at least above average rain to nearly every part of the nation bar the part that was supposed to be getting more rainfall. In the chart below, all shades of “blue” got above average rainfall. The dark blue? That’s the highest rainfall on record.

The rainfall deciles chart original is here.

On August 24 the BOM predicted that spring would be “hot across the north”. Instead it was cold everywhere except in the west [...]

Glikson: descends to pseudo-psychology and projection?

Dr Andrew Glikson

Remember the Great Debate between myself and Dr Andrew Glikson?  He’s back – in Climate change denial: The misrepresentation of climate science he calls names, resorts to inventing a mental illness, creates strawmen whom he beats down mercilessly, all the while misrepresenting thousands of scientists who disagree with him, and making statements that can be proven false with a few seconds of Googling.

12.30 pm 14 December 2010. Hedley Bull Lecture Theatre 1 Australian National University

We are most fortunate that Brice Bosnich managed to pop in and report on what Glikson had to say (below). I wish I could have been there to hear Brice ask those questions….

Glikson knows the main Skeptic arguments, so why did he ignore them?

In the Great Debate of May 2010, Andrew Glikson and I exchanged replies in a five part series that took six weeks and amounted to over 17,000 words, 26 graphs, and dozens of references. It’s the only long serious climate debate in writing that I’m aware of. He was unable to provide convincing empirical evidence to back up his claims of impending catastrophe. He asked if he could respond [...]

Global Warming takes a holiday

Here in the sunburnt country, floods are running rife, temperatures are so low some people might have a White Christmas, indeed many people are wearing clothes that are from the wrong season, and all of this of course is just weather.

Luckily we aren’t getting as much weather as the UK and Europe.

This is not a real post, that comes tomorrow, but I thought it gives you some idea of the transformation going on downunder thanks to the PDO switch. If only our policy makers had seen it coming. They might not have thrown so much money at desalination plants to boost water supplies in Dams that on the Eastern Seaboard are all now suddenly full.

Bear in mind all this rain recorded above was before the current December floods


A journalist who confuses journalism with propaganda

Great news: This commentary appears in The Weekend Australian today (in a slightly different edited version). Below was what I submitted, before the edits, with the links intact. Comments are open at The Australian. I’ll be posting less often over the Southern Summer, possibly quite irregularly, so if you want to get an email from me and find out when the more important posts go up, please add your email to my list (top right, see “register”).

In the print edition the headline is “Journalists who think Newspapers should lead the country”*

David McKnight’s criticism of The Australian (Sceptical writers skipped inconvenient truths) makes a good case study of the intellectual collapse of Australian universities.

Here’s a UNSW “Senior Research Fellow” in journalism who contradicts himself, fails by his own reasoning, does little research, breaks at least three laws of logic, and rests his entire argument on an assumption that he provides no evidence for. Most disturbingly — like a crack through the façade of Western intellectual vigour — he actually asserts that the role of a national newspaper is to “give leadership”. Bask for a moment in the inanity of this declaration that newspapers “are our leaders”. Last [...]

Could we make that flood worse?

Many landholders along the Tumut River have not returned to their homes because of increased outflow from the Blowering Dam. (AAP: Wolter Peeters). From the ABC site.

It’s not like we need another case study in just how creatively dumb bureaucracy can be, but Jennifer Marohasy has been relentless in pursuing the extraordinary case of a government contracting a corporation to pour nearly 7000 Mega litres into a area facing life threatening floods. That’s more than 2000 Olympic pools worth of water dumped into a flood zone just last Wednesday.

Remember, this legislation was made with good intentions, and it was supposed to help the environment…

The Whole Truth: Water Deliberately Dumped into Flooded Area

SNOWY Hydro chief executive, Terry Charlton, recently confirmed that water was dumped into the already flooded Murray-Darling Basin, but said the authority had little choice (The Australian, December 15, 2010, page 7).   A real time operational diagram, however, tells a very different story.

Last Wednesday, Snowy Hydro could have sent water into Eucumbene dam.  At only 20 percent it had a storage capacity of a whopping 4 cubic kilometres of water.

Instead, the water managers set the trans-mountain tunnels so water was flowing away from [...]

Global Warming — it’s just another joke

UPDATE BELOW:See also  the Shut Up Choir’s new song — self satire at work

Armstrong and Miller mock the Global Warming thought police as they tell us to ignore our lying eyes, and give us glossy printed pamphlets telling us what we are allowed to think.

The formerly fashionable theory of man-made catastrophe is becoming the regular butt of jokes. Bear in mind that half of the comedic team of Miller and Armstrong is known as an eco-activist (that would be Ben), and the skit isn’t necessarily poking fun at the science but at the militant marketing, and over-the-top dogma. Possibly even funnier (in a tragic kind of way) are the comments from pro-man-made global warming fans. They think it’s funny too.


Inflation: the creeping hand of corruption

UPDATE May 27, 2011: While the inflation information here is correct, be aware news has just come out that the NIA (who made the video) is a pump and dump group, doing potentially fraudulent work. So enjoy their videos but beware of their stock recommendations. We wondered who was behind this video — at least it finally makes sense.


Background Joanne occasionally writes about the science and corruption of monetary systems. She summed up the connection between the two dismal sciences (climate and economics). If you are new to this theme see the explanation and links at the bottom of the article.

You might think inflation and climate science are only linked metaphorically. But the corruption in science is fed by the corruption in our currencies.

The monetary system that allows a privileged few to print money from nothing is the same system that allows massively misdirected spending. When there are so few controls on the growth of money, there is less negative feedback, fewer brakes, and virtually no limits. If the system is swimming with easy money, people can “afford” to build wildly extravagant and unproductive things — like wind-farms, carpets of solar panels, or symbolic rivers [...]

Cancun in a nutshell: nothing achieved but it’s a Big PR Success


After the awful post-Climategate-and-Copenhagen year, more than anything else, the Big Scare Campaign needed a PR win. And in that sense Cancun was a major victory. Nobody agreed to anything legally binding, Kyoto was not extended, and all they achieved amounted to nothing more than an extension of the yearly junkets, and the promise that the gravy train is not dead yet. But the headlines will warm the hearts of all on Team-Scare-Us. The most important thing for the side that’s losing friends, faith and face, was to regain momentum. They’re trying to stop the death spiral.

The Australian ABC is only too happy to help be a part of the cheer-squad:

Cancun climate talks reach ‘historic’ deal

BBC lends as much momentum to this as it can swing in a headline:

UN climate change talks in Cancun agree a deal

Andy Revkin, NY Times, talks about “pivotal moments” in reverential tones. It’s a bit like the second coming:

Consensus Emerges On Common Climate Path

No one has actually agreed to anything enforceable, but you’d have to read the subtext to know that.

Richard Black, BBC Environment Correspondent sums it up unusually well:

“The dog is resuscitated [...]

Waiting for news of Cancun… $100 billion at stake (by 2020)

What happened through the last long night of the Cancun talks?

The most recent news I can find suggests the Greens are partly happy, which means more money must be going to flow from the people to the bureaucratic machinery, though nothing appears to be confirmed. Ponder the power of 100 billion dollar pledges. It buys a lot of PR advertising and school propaganda, and creates millions of active patrons as jobs and industries are established that are wholly dependent on keeping the big-scare-campaign going. The ambit claim of “1.5% of GDP” appears to have been dropped.

The saving grace of this fixed monetary commitment ($100b vs 1.5%) , if it is confirmed (and if you can call it a “grace” of any sorts), is that by 2020, $100 billion may not buy much, thanks to rampant inflation on the way. Feel the relief?

See UPDATE 2 (at the bottom): It appears nothing has been signed, and the future promises are just more “talks”. But, $100 billion has been pledged each year …? If so, that’s a win for the climate industrial complex and the bureaucrats, but will be painted as a quiet partial step forward. It’s not as big [...]

BREAKING NEWS! The abdication of the West — the sting at Cancun

It did seem too quiet at Cancun.

The power hungry tyrants learnt from Copenhagen. They realized that they have a far better chance of success by underselling the expectations and sliding in long impenetrable documents in front of underling bureaucrats. Due to the importance of this I have reproduced Christopher Monckton’s words in full as reported at SPPI (see below).

The UN wants nothing less than 1.5% of our GDP.

That’s $212 billion from the USA every year ($2700 per family of 4).

That’s $32 billion from the UK every year ($2000 per family of 4).

That’s $13 billion from Australia every year ($2400 per family of 4).

Figures calculated from the CIA world Factbook


The Secretariat will have the power not merely to invite nation states to perform their obligations under the climate-change Convention, but to compel them to do so. Nation states are to be ordered to collect, compile and submit vast quantities of information, in a manner and form to be specified by the secretariat and its growing army of subsidiary bodies.

Please [...]

Where is the evidence for the dangerous positive feedback in the Vostok Ice Cores?

It appears the warming of the 20th Century has been done before.  It’s just business as usual for the planet.

Frank Lansner has been hard at work again, and we’ve been discussing the Vostok ice cores. This time Lansner was looking to see if the current warming trend was unusual, and if there was evidence to support the high climate sensitivities the models suggest. As it happens, most of those high climate sensitivities that the models “estimate” come not from carbon dioxide directly, but from the feedbacks (the way the planet responds to any small change in temperature).

The models assume the net feedbacks are positive. These same feedbacks ought to have been working 100,000 years ago, and if so, there should be some hint of it in the ice cores. Lansner has been hunting for large swings in temperature during the periods when Earth was at a similar temperature to present day conditions — but what he finds is that the current claimed rise of 0.7 degrees C over the last century, even if it were true (and not exaggerated by thermometer siting, the UHI, inexplicable adjustments, or selective use of records) [...]

Newspoll fails basic test of English: produces nonsense survey

The latest Newspoll test on climate gives out almost no useful information on what Australians think about carbon emissions, but definitively shows that Newspoll survey designers didn’t think too hard about the questions. Indeed the survey is so meaningless that sometimes sceptics and unskeptics would have to both tick the same boxes. Could this be a survey-bot at work?


Isn’t the aim of polling to get answers that are not ambiguous?

Does “Climate Change” mean: a/ that the climate changes, or b/ that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are affecting the atmosphere?

I would have to tick YES for this question. Yes, I do think that ice-ages occur and warm periods do too, and that there is no static perfect temperature for the Earth, and that currently there is no reason to believe that the forces that have changed our climate for 4.5 billion years have suddenly, for the first time, reached a fixed unchanging stasis.

Presumably the 22% of people who ticked : “Not believe” were using definition ‘b’ above, and not the literal definition ‘a’. Instead of information [...]