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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Does the lie matter? Only if you think Democracy does.

Thank you Julia Gillard. Nothing could have put the fire back into the carbon debate like promising not to tax us during an election, then barely scraping in by the thinnest of “wins”* (with hang-nail support of two men in some of the most conservative seats in the country) and then doing what you said you wouldn’t.

This is much more than just a lie. Imagine if Gillard had announced the Carbon Tax as part of her election platform. How many voters would have changed their vote? It wouldn’t take many.  The two party preferred vote in Australia was split by only 0.12%.

Would the Labor Party have won?

Back in August 2010 Julia Gillard obviously thought the Australian people would not have wanted a carbon tax, or she would have run her campaign on it. Instead she thought we’d want an ineffectual climate committee and the certainty of knowing a carbon tax would not be imposed before another election.

Seven ALP seats were won with less than a 2% margin.

In Corangamite, a mere 769 voters who didn’t want a carbon tax could have changed the leadership of the nation.

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New Poll. More skeptics than ever and yet the carbon tax is coming

The good news is that skeptics are the majority, the bad news is that we’ll all have to pay the tax anyway. The IPA commissioned a Galaxy Poll in Australia and only one third of Australians believe that man-made global warming is real. Despite the advertising, the propaganda, the Nobel Prizes, the support of major institutions, the ABC censorship of skeptical science news, and the educational indoctrination at schools, most people are unconvinced.

Despite the falling polls, today the Gillard Government committed itself to getting a “carbon price” – the nice way of saying “tax”. (Note the poll attached to that story: Do you support a carbon tax? 84% say NO.)

It’s a question of youth

From the full results it’s clear that belief is mostly a “young” naive thing, and that by the age of 30 people are waking up to the truth.  Half of the 18-24 year olds think that man is to blame, but only a quarter of the over 50′s do.  The old cats who’ve been there and done that are wiser to exaggerated scare campaigns. Half of the 25 -34 year old group answered that they are not sure.

It’s also a socio-economic thing. [...]

ABC – Agitprop for the Bureaucratic Class

The ABC is so afraid that the public might read comments from global warming skeptics that they frequently censor or delay reasonable comments, while allowing defamatory, unprofessional, and unsubstantiated ones through. (Guess which way the editors of The Drum vote?)

Marc Hendrickx describes how hard it is to get rid of a single baseless defamatory comment on the ABC taxpayer-funded-site:

The following anonymous comment was posted to [Sara] Phillips’s blog shortly afterwards:

Annie : 03 Dec 2010 7:07:53pm

The denialist clowns return again . . . climateaudit.org . . . run by Stephen McIntyre a known climate denialist and extremist right-wing provocateur . . . you are a joke as are your answers . . . laughing hysterically.

Marc Hendrix suggested it be removed as defamatory. The ABC editors protested, and here’s the weird thing, it would have taken them less time to just say “yes” — after all, it’s only a comment. But in the sum total editorial-calculation-of-the-day there was apparently some net benefit in fighting to keep an unsubstantiated insult visible among hundreds of other comments? (Go figure.) According to the ABC editors: “He [MacIntyre] could reasonably be described as ‘right wing’ as a speaking member of the [...]

Johnny Ball on how he has been vilified

Maintained by bullying and bluster, the facade grows more brittle by the day, as heretics start to come out of the woodwork — being pragmatic, concerned, but unapologetic.

From the Daily Mail in the UK –  Johnny Ball says Beware of the Global Warming Fascists. More evidence that this is a propaganda campaign, not a question of science (as if we needed that). Kudos to the Daily Mail for printing thousands of copies of this story. A hat-tip to Johnny Ball for being brave enough to face down the bullies.

In the past decade or so I’ve been mocked, vilified, besmirched — I’ve even been booed off a theatre stage — simply for expressing the view that the case for global warming and climate change, and in particular the emphasis on the damage caused by carbon dioxide, the so-called greenhouse gas that is going to do for us all, has been massively over-stated.

And something very similar has happened to Dr David Bellamy, who has never been shy about expressing his belief that climate change is an entirely natural phenomenon. His media career, particularly in television, has suffered as a result. [...]

Black Propaganda: US Government solicits software to generate fake personas

Part of the US Government has been caught trying to buy software that would allow it to generate 500 fake personas generally known as sockpuppets. They plan to use Facebook, Twitter, and blog comments. This particular leaked email refers to a submission from the Air Force, and apparently for use in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the details reveal that “persona management software” is a spookily mature market sector. Who knows how widespread this is already?

Astroturfing by community organizations is one thing. But Establishment anti-news, non-points, and funded fake opinions are quite something else. When the Establishment sponsors the activists and the activists post fake messages, taxpayer funds are used against the taxpayer. Is it happening? How would we know?

The story is starting to spreading through blogs.

According to an embedded MS Word document found in one of the HB Gary emails, it involves creating an army of sockpuppets, with sophisticated “persona management” software that allows a small team of only a few people to appear to be many, while keeping the personas from accidentally cross-contaminating each other. Then, to top it off, the team can actually automate some functions so one persona can appear to be an entire [...]

Floods are manmade, you say now?

Flood Marker in Rome 1598, when CO2 levels were extreme-(extremely low). Photo by Anthony M.

After twenty years of drought predictions that turned out to be not worth a rhinestone rune-stone,  the acolytes of the scare campaign were keen to find some evidence that they were still “right”. Two new papers came along showing that, golly, warming really “formally” “officially” caused floods after all, and they were just what the PR-doctor ordered. So the BBC, ABC, and the usual suspects rushed out to talk about how it was now “proven” that any flood was now officially man-made with a “robust” study and the “first scientific evidence” of a link. Richard Black even got excited that the study was based on “real world data”, which makes you wonder which studies used the fake sort?

If it’s all so definitively proven and obvious now that it’s a shame they didn’t think to join these dots, say, two years ago, so they could warn the world beforehand. It must be frustrating for them that they always seem to get the forecasts right two years too late. It’s another post hoc “prediction”.

And what are these two (TWO! shouted the believers) papers based [...]

House votes 244-179 to kill U.S. funding of UN IPCC

Breaking News, straight from Climate Depot.

Another victory for science! The House votes 244-179 to kill U.S. funding of UN IPCC!

‘[The US government] no longer wishes to have the IPCC prepare its comprehensive international climate science assessments’

Defund IPCC ‘amendment was sponsored by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Missouri), who read aloud on the floor from the 2009 U.S. Senate Report of more than 700 dissenting scientists!

(Written by Climate Depot’s Morano) — Luetkemeyer: Americans ‘should not have to continue to foot the bill for an (IPPC) organization to keep producing corrupt findings’

Note: U.S. Senate’s 700 Scientist report has been updated to more than a 1000 by Climate Depot. See: * SPECIAL REPORT: More Than 1000 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims.

This still has to get past the Senate.

The US contribution directly to the IPCC is only $2.3 million, and the loss of that would just shorten the two week annual junket by a few hours. But the turnaround in attitude is telling. This wouldn’t have happened two years ago. The Republicans are letting the nation know they are serious.

A majority of [...]

They say they believe but act like they don’t

Photo: Courier Mail

This week the Australian government tells us that we ought to pay more tax to prevent the increase in natural disasters that are dead-set bound-to-occur, yet the government itself is budgeting less for these events. Figure that. They’ve cut their expenditure projections for future natural disasters and apparently expect them to be less expensive than what the previous conservative government spent (way back in 2006), and far far less than recent bills.

LABOR has cut budget estimates to meet the cost of future natural disasters while simultaneously arguing that climate change is increasing the frequency of floods and cyclones.

Budget documents show Labor has allocated $80 million a year for the next three years — $23m less than in the last Howard budget and far less than the $524m spent last year.

The Australian

So it appears that the Australian Labor Party can warn us that natural disasters are on the rise (due to man-made emissions) but they estimate the costs of dealing with those disasters are going to be quite a lot less at least for a while. So either (a) they don’t really think disasters are coming, but they are happy [...]

Announcing a formal request for the Auditor General to audit the Australian BOM

A team of skeptical scientists, citizens, and an Australian Senator have lodged a formal request with the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) to have the BOM and CSIRO audited.

The BOM claim their adjustments are “neutral” yet Ken Stewart showed that the trend in the raw figures for our whole continent has been adjusted up by 40%. The stakes are high. Australians could have to pay something in the order of $870 million dollars thanks to the Kyoto protocol, and the first four years of the Emissions Trading Scheme was expected to cost Australian industry (and hence Australian shareholders and consumers) nearly $50 billion dollars.

Given the stakes, the Australian people deserve to know they are getting transparent, high quality data from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). The small cost of the audit is nothing in comparison with the money at stake for all Australians. We need the full explanations of why individual stations have been adjusted repeatedly and non-randomly, and why adjustments were made decades after the measurements were taken. We need an audit of surface stations. (Are Australian stations as badly manipulated and poorly sited as the US stations? Who knows?)

Time for a new rigorous Association of Scientists

Below is the O so apt resignation of  Steven J. Welcenbach from the American Chemical Society (ACS). In it he describes how the largest scientific society in the world has become a non-scientific activist group bowing to political pressure and ignoring its members objections. Such is his ire and dismay, he is not only pulling his membership but vows to do all he can to make sure ACS does not receive public money. He suggests that many former members will form a new society that rigorously follows the scientific method (hear hear).

It’s time to start talking about that new society. What would we call this international coalition of scientists who demand the highest standards of reasoning, who expect that the society would be there to serve its members, not just serve the aspirations of the committee members, or grant-seeking-associates? What would be written into its constitution? Any large entity is a target for people seeking power or seeking to use science for their own purposes. How do we stop that decay?

Where is this science association that would never dream of uttering an ad hom, or argument from authority, and would never declare that the “debate is over” and [...]

There are signs the wheel is turning.

In the US there are significant moves at the highest levels to limit the carbon related power-grab.  (Thanks to SPPI for the heads-up.)

Perhaps this is the point where the 2010 election results start to spoil the grandiose plans that once looked inevitable? Maybe democracy can save the day?

House republicans are trying to stop funding for the EPA “climate control” at the same time as they try to limit the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases.

House GOP spending bill prohibits funding for EPA climate regs

Source: The Hill

By Andrew Restuccia – 02/11/11 07:33 PM ET A government spending bill unveiled Friday night by House Republicans would prohibit funding for Environmental Protection Agency climate regulations through September of this year.

..

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Garnaut: spend billions! Why? So they don’t say nasty things about us.

Photo: ABC

Gillard condemns us to the carbon tax plan (commencing 1 July 2012), and the future emissions trading plans (2015), setting Australia up to be the last dumb-patsy-standing as the rest of the world heads the other way and bails out of the carbon facade.

Australia must immediately pour billions into government coffers, and the man who can justify it all is Ross Garnaut.

For all the expense, the effort, and the pain, what reason did Garnaut put forward?

a/ It will reduce world temperatures. (No.)

b/ 20th century temperatures were perfect. (Says who?)

c/ Australia won’t be so “popular”. Correct answer!

That’s right, the prof of economics has studied it all, crunched the numbers, been paid a stack, and it boils down to “tut-tut-tut, nobody will like you if you don’t do what I say”. (Well, actually it is just foreign “intellectuals”that won’t like you — shucks!)

Garnaut the schoolyard prefect is telling us off. From The Australian:

“ Australia risks a backlash from the international community if it fails to make “proportionate” efforts to cut its carbon emissions.”

But wait, it gets worse, we might confuse them [...]

“Climate committee” is a government advertising scheme by any other name.

The Government says it wants a “climate expert” to sell the message to the public, and who do they pick? A small mammal expert whose predictions on the climate are so wrong any normal person would slink off in shame. But not Flannery, the Teflon prophet, reality doesn’t stick to him.  How can it be that the outrageously wrong get away with it with reputations intact (and get rewarded too)? Blame the mainstream media. Blame also a government that thinks it’s a good use of public money to promote known failures.

Flannery will be paid $180,000 a year to be part-time chairman of the Gillard Government’s Climate Commission, to convince us to agree to her plans to “put a price on carbon”. In other words, he’s not an expert in climate science but in science-PR. Bolt describes how Flannery changes his PR tune to suit his employers. The man has no scruples.

He claims the “committee is independent”. But we all know that they will come to no other conclusion that to support a tax, call carbon “pollution”, and rave about all the evidence (that they can’t name specifically). That $5.6 million dollar committee is just a thinly disguised $5.6 [...]

The Urban Heat Island effect: Could Africa be more affected than the US?

The mystery: We know when we drive through a city that temperatures warm from the fringe to the middle. We know UHI is real, but how much does it affect the official records? Is a 2010 city 0.3 K hotter than a 1960 city? How would we know?

Frank Lansner has come up with a way that might approximate the UHI effect — very roughly. It’s well known that UHI gets bigger as cities grow, but the devil is in the detail. Frank argues that it’s not just the size of the city that matters, but it’s growth rate.

The USA is full of large cities, but there is not much difference between the trend in satellites and ground stations there. Frank’s approach could explain this — most of the growth in human population has come in regions like Africa, not the USA.

He figured that if we compare satellite records to ground stations and see if there is a divergence, we might be able to see an indicator of UHI. The info coming out of satellites ought not be affected as populations expand, but the ground stations are often near population centres and they gradually get surrounded with [...]

Questions real journalists ought to be asking about Yasi

When “experts” say that cyclones and extreme storms will be more common in a warmer world, and are “linked”, “connected”, “expected”, or “definitely” due to man-made CO2 emissions, journalists could try asking some real questions.

1. If storms are getting worse thanks to man-made CO2 emissions, why has there been no increase globally as man-made CO2 emissions rose over the last 40 years?

Last 4-decades of Global Tropical Storm and Hurricane frequency — 12-month running sums. The top time series is the number of TCs that reach at least tropical storm strength (maximum lifetime wind speed exceeds 34-knots). The bottom time series is the number of hurricane strength (64-knots+) TCs..

Source: Global Tropical Cyclone Activity Dr. Ryan N. Maue

2. So if you admit the global trend doesn’t change, but suggest that the local or regional trends will change, which parts of the world will get fewer cyclones?

If global averages are still “average”, things have to get better somewhere else right?

3. So if climate simulations project that Queensland will experience more cyclones, and be [...]

The SOI still rules

Who would have thought that if you knew the air pressure in Darwin and Tahiti in June, you could figure out that the start of 2011 might be a Stalingrad Winter up North and a cooler wetter summer down south (Not that people in Sydney feel all that cool right now). But the air pressure ratios are reported as the SOI (Southern Oscillation Index) and it’s the handiest thing if you like predicting global temperatures 7 months ahead. Look at that correlation.

Since June last year Bryan Leyland has been using the simple connection described by Carter, De Freitas, and  McLean in 2009 to predict up and coming temperatures.

So far, for what it’s worth, he’s right on track.

Such is the power of the stored pool of cold that is the bottom three-quarters of the Pacific Ocean. And when you look at how vast the Southern Pacific ocean is, is it any wonder it has such an influence? All that heat capacity…

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The money is leaving the room

There is still billions invested in research, billions circling in carbon markets, and billions tossed as government subsidies. But there are a few less billion available now than there was before Christmas. Reality bites and Green Energy is left to face the music.

Austerity pulling plug on Europe’s green subsidies

by ERIC REGULY , Globe and Mail

The Spanish and Germans are doing it. So are the French. The British might have to do it. Austerity-whacked Europe is rolling back subsidies for renewable energy as economic sanity makes a tentative comeback. Green energy is becoming unaffordable and may cost as many jobs as it creates. But the real victims are the investors who bought into the dream of endless, clean energy financed by the taxpayer. They forgot that governments often change their minds.

When the Spanish economy went into the toilet in 2008 and 2009, austerity measures were put into place. At first, it appeared the solar industry would be spared the worst of the cutbacks. That changed a bit, but only a bit, in November, when a royal decree reduced tariffs by up to 45 per cent on new PV plants; existing plants would remain untouched. Then – whammo! – [...]

Climate sceptics and scientists attempt peace deal? As if.

Photo: Guardian

Fred Pearce from New Scientist thinks that there was a real meeting between climate skeptics and “scientists” last week in Lisbon, but therein lies the problem right from the start. The climate skeptics are the scientists, and in the end, hardly anyone else turned up. The unskeptical “scientists” who lose data, hide results, and break laws of reason, not surprisingly, ran a mile from a face to face meeting with the likes of  Steve McIntyre, Ross McKitrick,  Steve Mosher,  Georgia Tech’s Judy Curry and Peter Webster. Gavin Schmidt is not stupid, he knows he can’t win, and that there is no middle ground. He has little to gain from attending a meeting like the one held in Lisbon Portugal last week.

The meeting was the brainchild of University of Oxford science philosopher Jerry Ravetz, an 81-year-old Greenpeace member who fears Al Gore may have done as much damage to environmentalism as Joseph Stalin did to socialism. Post-Climategate, he found climate science characterised by “a poisoned atmosphere” in which “each side accuses the other of being corrupt”. Mainstream researchers were labelled “ideologues on the gravy train”, while sceptics were denigrated as “prostitutes and cranks”.

As I keep [...]

Yasi was a monster — but not an unusual one

Yasi — the super cyclone that isn’t so unusual

Random shot of some coral bits on a beach.

For all the other Christine Milne’s out there, who think coal mining causes cyclones, the empirical evidence inconveniently declares that super-cyclones have been hitting Queensland regularly for the last 5000 years.

As usual, it’s the name-callers who cling to 100 year time-frames and deny the long term evidence, while we “cherry-picking denialists” gravitate towards long term studies based on real observations. (The evidence lies in an obscure industry newsletter called Nature.) The way researcher, Jon Nott, describes it, things have been unusually quiet in our high CO2 world for the last few decades, but cyclones used to be a lot worse, and “worse” is coming back.

Thanks to The Australian for putting together a very timely piece about the historical pattern of cyclone activity.

[Johnathon] Nott is an expert on the incidence of super cyclones. By analysing ridges of broken coral pushed ashore by storm surges, he has catalogued the incidence of super-cyclones over the past 5000 years.

In a paper published in the scientific journal, Nature in 2001 his research shows the frequency of super-cyclones is an order of magnitude [...]

Yasi 2011 — Cyclonic force of nature

File this under shock and awe. Send best wishes to North Queensland.

Cyclone Yasi is now Category 4 Category 5, with windspeeds of 270 295 km per hour (185 miles/hr).

UPDATE #2: Yes, thousands are evacuating, or moving to higher ground. Extra flights and trains are taking people out. Hospital patients are being moved. People are boarding and taping up windows. Whole suburbs in danger of inundation are being evacuated. It’s about 12 hours to go.

Infra red imaging of North Queensland and Yasi

I do a double take each time I see just how far Yasi reaches.

It reminds us of our relative power.  It’s 3000 km (1620 nautical miles) from Melbourne to Cape York (roughly the most southerly point on continental Australia to the most northerly) . The full spread of the cloud formations connected to Yasi is a similar scale.

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