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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Prof Vincent Courtillot speaks with clarity

I’m traveling at the moment, in Darwin tonight. I can’t really comment on the hot-bed of climate action that Australia is right now, but instead this is something from afar that caught my eye a few days ago.

Video’s bore me usually, but I enjoyed watching Courtillot — he’s possibly the clearest, fastest, crispest speaker I’ve ever heard, and it’s all the more amazing because he speaks with an accent. Don’t misunderstand — there are no jokes, no satire, and no punch lines here, just an honest summary of the state of the current scientific play, especially with his synopsis of the cosmic ray theory. (He is a colleague of Nir Shaviv).

Usually I find speakers are too slow, but Courtillot packs the words in, without overstatement or monotony. He’s is a smart man who knows his topic well and it’s unusually obvious.

[...]

The Tyranny grinds on: Update on the Thompsons

Background: Can a Western Government wipe out an honest business with red tape? (What a naive question…)

Janet and Matt Thompson

Matt and Janet spoke out as skeptics in May 2007 and their life savings and business are now at grave risk as they fight off bankruptcy. What has undone them is not the financial crisis, or any failure of their business, but impossible clauses and conditions. Indeed they were so profitable in 2007 they were turning away business. They’ve broken no laws, are popular with their nearest neighbors, 6000 odour tests showed there was little problem in the town, and the Thompsons complied with every departmental request to manage the farm. Yet licensing changes and new conditions were so onerous, that banks won’t loan money against the license (it’s not much of a licence). Clause A1 means their licence can be whipped away again at any time if they “offend” anyone anywhere or interfere with their “health and comfort”. How do we measure that — Let the loudest complainer win. (If complaints about “comfort” can shut down a business, there go the wind farms…. Why is there one rule for one business, but not for all?) Even [...]

Lewandowsky bitten by a hoax

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky may not understand much about the climate, but he is a professor of psychology — so satire, humor, and hoaxes ought to be right up his alley, right?  He’s realized he fell for the brilliant Alene Composta (a master satirist) replying to her and even sending her fake request for advice to fellow blogger John Cook (who fell for it too).

Alene ticked all the headline stereotypical victim-leftie boxes, her interests included “christine milne”, “organic gardening” and “batik hangings” and lets face it, “Composta” is a red flag, rather. So she wrote to Lewandowsky begging for advice in dealing with monster commenters from Bolt and Blair, and notably pointed to him surviving my scorn and ridicule:

I recently began blogging, especially about climate change, and after a month my site was noticed. Noticed by the wrong people, sadly. Readers of Tim Blair and Andrew Bolt have swamped my site with genuinely abusive comments, many relating to my disability, which I find very hurtful.

So my question to you is this: How do you deal with monsters like this?

I have read and savoured every column you have published at Unleashed, and I have read the hateful comments [...]

130,000 Australians say No Carbon Tax, Greens flop, Labor issues biblical scare campaign

What a week downunder, just in case you missed it.

We’re a nation, up in arms. With three months til G-Day (when the Greens control the Senate on July 1) and the tax-based-on-a-lie likely to become legislation, the heat is on. Protests and smears are running strong. Forces are being mobilized, and people are being polarized. Yet the public is abandoning the carbon tax, and the parties who promote it.

As the mass rally movements begin the Big Scare Campaign fans responded with smears to paint the rally-goers as extreme fringe, loonies and nutters. The fringe in this case turns out to be 4 out of 5 people.  Who are the “deniers”? When asked, do you support the carbon tax? One hundred and thirty thousand people said NO.

83% of the Channel  Nine poll don’t want a carbon tax.

The Labor Party sent out biblical climate speaking notes to all it’s ministers – the floods and droughts are coming, oceans will rise up and wash away your home, there will be burning bushes, and the storms will kill your firstborn (or words to that effect). And they howl about Abbot running a fear campaign. Wait for the [...]

David Evans, Carbon Accounting Modeler, Says It’s a Scam

Dr David Evans’ address to the Anti-Carbon-Tax rally, Perth Australia, 23 March 2011.

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen.

The debate about global warming has reached ridiculous proportions and is full of micro thin half-truths and misunderstandings. I am a scientist who was on the carbon gravy train, understands the evidence,  was once an alarmist, but am now a skeptic. Watching this issue unfold has been amusing but, lately, worrying. This issue is tearing society apart, making fools and liars out of our politicians.

Let’s set a few things straight.

The whole idea that carbon dioxide is the main cause of the recent global warming is based on a guess that was proved false by empirical evidence during the 1990s. But the gravy train was too big, with too many jobs, industries, trading profits, political careers, and the possibility of world government and total control riding on the outcome. So rather than admit they were wrong, the governments, and their tame climate scientists, now cheat and lie outrageously to maintain the fiction that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant.

Let’s be perfectly clear. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and other things being equal, the more carbon dioxide in [...]

We are being deceived

Perth Protest Anti Carbon Tax Rally

My speech at the Anti-tax Carbon rally, Wednesday March 23rd.

I used to be a Green. I used to think Carbon dioxide mattered. I still worry about falling fish stocks, old growth forest and erosion, but wind farms won’t help the fish, and solar cells won’t keep the top soil from blowing away. Real environmental  problems are being sidelined by fake ones.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I thought I was well informed, but I was shocked when I found out how what was going on behind the scenes. Everything you may have heard about carbon dioxide can be turned inside out.

How many excuses does it take?

CO2 feeds plants. It’s the only” pollution” pumped onto farms to grow food. Did you know plant life goes dormant if CO2 falls too low? Farmers don’t just pump in an extra 5 or 10% either, they ramp up the concentration 4 or 5 fold in greenhouses. Did the government scientists forget to mention that? Australia is the largest exporter of coal in the world. But did they say that China digs up nearly 10 times more coal than we do? The famous ice core graphs of [...]

Thousands of angry ordinary Australians turn up and alarmist smears begin

In Canberra today over 3,000 people went out of their way, coming in on 30 buses from more than 1000 km away, to let Julia Gillard know that Australians do not want her Carbon Tax. The news made every major broadcast for several minutes. Protesters were referred to as “climate skeptics” (mostly).

Other rallies around Australia got hundreds of people even though they were organized in a hurry, with no advertising, and with no pre-formed coalition of networked groups. There was a very good crowd at the Perth rally on a hot day during business hours, and one heckler (John Brookes). The mood was striking.

This is random shoe-string grassroots action at the last minute and look what it can achieve. It’s just beginning.

The photo gallery at the Australian makes it clear how decidedly normal most people were and what their main messages are.

This is mainstream Australia rising up, yet already the Big-Green-PR machine is at work, doing all it can to deny the undeniable. As I drove home in Perth after our rally, ABC news-radio didn’t mention that 3,000 people had gathered, nor that protests had happened all over the country, they may have said that earlier, [...]

Was 2010 the hottest ever?

Was 2010 “the hottest year ever” as the PR machine repeats ad nauseum? Yes — but only if you ignore three of the four main global datasets and those awkward questions about why nobody thought to put thermometers in better places.

Run your eyes down this page to see how the GISS temperatures pan out compared to all the other compilations. This is James Hansen’s group, and GISS stands for the Goddard Institute of Space Studies — and in the topsy-turvey world of climate change, that’s apt — the space centre and hot bed of rocketry calculates world temperatures by ignoring  … satellites. For GISS, measuring the world temperature, calls for irregularly spaced, unique, non-standardized temperature stations (sometimes near air-conditioning vents and concrete). And no sir, not the satellites that scan the Earth 24 hours a day, over land and sea, and which are usually not too close to exhaust vents, or buildings, or (thank goodness) fermenting vats of sewage either.

So, indeed, the only sane answer to the cherry picking crowd who crow triumphantly about their outlying most favorite result, is that “No” 2010 was not hotter than 1998, not according to the satellites. And even if it had [...]

Yes, it IS about the science

Behind-the-scenes I’ve heard the line this “isn’t about the science”. I said that myself back in 2007: it’s not about the science, it’s about power and money. But it’s a dangerous meme. In the long run, it IS about the science.

While people think a carbon tax is bad, but believe that “carbon is pollution”, we have won a battle but lost the war.

Many new folk are appearing on the anti-carbon tax team, and here’s the weird thing for we seasoned skeptics, some of these oppose the tax, yet “believe” the science (?!) “It’s too hard” they say. They seem to think if we just beat the tax, we can ignore the reason the tax is supposedly there in the first place.

The science is the whole official reason for the tax, and if we don’t force the crowds to notice the corruption, the cheating, and the way science is exploited, then we are asking to be bludgeoned with it again. We are letting the most outrageous scam-meisters leave the room with their reputations intact and asking to be victims of the next invented crisis.

Some anti-carbon-taxers say, “Don’t confuse the punters”, just stick to the economics. And don’t [...]

Way back when climate scientists were scientists: Chapter 8, FAR, circa 1990

You’ll find this hard to believe but I get excited about the 1990 First Assessment Report (FAR). It’s very different from wading through the later ones, because it’s remarkably honest, and things are not hidden in double-speak (well, not so much). Scientists behave like scientists and talk of null hypothesis, and even of validating models. Indeed they had a whole chapter back then called “validation”. How times have changed.

This is the short summary of Chapter 8 “Attribution”

Thanks to Alan for sending me this link today (Chapter 8, IPCC FAR).

The “Attribution” Chapter is the part where they try to figure out what “caused” the warming. Chapter 8 says, essentially, “we don’t know, we might never know, our models don’t work, and we can conclude it might all be natural, but then again, it might not.” Got it?

This is in the same era that Al Gore was saying “the science is settled” and “there is no debate”.

What’s clear in 1990 from the FAR was that it was widely admitted that the models were bodgy, and that figuring out exactly what caused the recent warming was very difficult, indeed impossible at the time. There were too many variables, [...]

Australian Anti-Carbon Tax Protests

We all have better things to do, but when the people who represent us call the greatest plant nutrient “pollution”, and label the volunteers “stooges” while calling their paid hacks “independent”; when they look at a color chart and say yellow is really red (and they call us “deniers”); we know things are running off the rails.

When they ask us to pay billions to change the weather, then we know the quicksand has come. And when even they admit if we succeed beyond our wildest dreams that the results will be too small to measure (how many thousandth of a degree will that be, Julia?) sometimes we just have to do something don’t we?

We can act now or pay the cost for years to come. Each time we let them get away with an untruth they grow stronger. Each time we ignore the Orwellian perversion of our language (Is it carbon (sic) pollution (sic)?), we feed the parasites who want our freedom and our money, and that hurts us, our children and the environment.

The big protests around the country start on Wednesday next week. We want an election first. The tax affects every transaction in the [...]

A warning from Europe: The green-tape jobs we don’t want

When Björn Lomborg wrote that Green jobs were overhyped, a visiting European friend agreed and sent me examples of the spreading inanity of the green-tape-jobs-market that has taken over Europe.

Stefan points out that most Green jobs created by building windmills or solar power are short lived. The permanent “green” jobs are, insidiously, the expanding green bureaucracy and police. In Europe, the green-police fine people for putting plastic in a glass recycling bin. They force people to write lists of what’s in their rubbish bags; to use electricity when it suits the wind-generators, and not the people.

The Green-police are self propagating. They unwittingly create problems that then need even more auditing, advising and checking. Green-police closed off the natural drafts in houses, then when people got sick from the fungus, they sent around officials to create artificial airflow to stop “sick building” syndrome. When green bureaucrats demanded everyone use less water (whether they needed to or not) stagnant ponds were created in places that had water to spare, and that then led to the creation of a new army of green-water-specialists to sort out the putrid ponds. In an exponential pattern, [...]

Carbon Tax Australia? Welcome to Futility Island

Assume the IPCC is right. Assume that Australia would have kept emitting the same proportion of global emissions of CO2 for the next four decades — despite the rapid catch up in emissions-per-capita as the developing world gets cars, frozen foods, and holidays-in-Bali. Then assume somehow, theoretically, we might be able to completely stop emissions of CO2 suddenly (by Tuesday). What’s the most generous possibility of success we could get from massive Australian sacrifice and green action now? Answer: Tops, absolutely as high as it gets, exceeding beyond our wildest expectations — if Australia stopped emitting CO2 tomorrow, we could save … 15 thousandths of one degree of warming (0.0154 °C) by 2050. Spiffy eh?

David has done the number crunching that we’re “sure” the ALP has done many many times as they redirect billions of Australian dollars in search of a world that’s immeasurably (and un-measurably) cooler. — JN

CARBON TAX AND TEMPERATURE

Dr. David Evans, 14 March 2011

BY HOW MUCH WILL A CARBON DIOXIDE TAX REDUCE AUSTRALIA’S TEMPERATURE?

Suppose Australia reduced its emissions over what they would otherwise be. The effect, according [...]

(Un)Skeptical Science uses unmeasureable fudge factors

A comment from Tel late last year was so surgically cutting, it’s worthy of it’s own post.  Un-Skeptical Science was trying to explain why climate sensitivity is high. The post includes formula’s and fancy graphs, and looks authoritative — yet underlying everything are errors of reasoning that nullify all the points that rest upon them. Things like assumptions about linearity (which means more or less, they make the mistake of assuming that all forcings and feedbacks operate at similar ratios and strengths when the planet is an iceball as they do when Earth hits a rare warm phase). An unmeasureable variable is the telltale signature of a fudge-factor. It is what you make of it. Fits better in a course analyzing postmodernistic intertexuality of Swahili neo-linguists.

Guest Post by Tel

This “Skeptical Science” post is an excellent choice to show how little credibility there is in the whole feedback house of cards:

It’s important to note that the surface temperature change is proportional to the sensitivity and radiative forcing (in W m-2), regardless of the source of the energy imbalance. The climate sensitivity to different radiative forcings differs depending on the efficacy of the forcing, but the climate is not [...]

New Here? The “ten second” guide to the world of skeptics

… Almost everything you thought you knew about man made global warming might be a worthless half-truth.

…………….. The evidence shows temperature controls carbon dioxide (you read that correctly). Temperatures rise first, and CO2 follows. Global warming is real, but it started a century (or two) before our emissions. The world is warmer than in 1850, but cooler than 1,000 years ago, 8,000 years ago, 130,000 years ago, and cooler than most of the history of life on Earth. CO2 is called “pollution” but it feeds all plant-life on Earth. Big-Oil paid some skeptics, but Big-Government outspent it 3,500 to 1, and even Big-Oil spent far more on renewables than on “deniers”. Big Greens used to fight big corporates, but now they are big-corporates. The real grassroots movement are the skeptics who take on the lot. ………………

Lastly, Big Bankers want us to trade carbon. Think about that.

The Skeptics Handbook sums up the science (with cartoons)

I used to believe in man-made global warming. Then I found out that there was another side to the story, and I was shocked. The good name of science is [...]

The ABC notices the anti-carbon tax rage

Lateline reports on the rising anger among Australians on the carbon tax issue. Though as usual, it does’t actually spend a lot of time talking to the people who understand what drives this movement. Instead the reporter, John Stewart,  tries to link it to the Tea Party (but only because presumably he thinks that’s a bad thing, and bear in mind, many people downunder don’t know anything about the Tea Party either). The editor makes sure to throw in Tea party file footage of heated anti-communist remarks  — rather than any of the tea party’s carefully considered party platforms. We wouldn’t want to accidentally offer some insight there now would we?

Lateline then tries to suggest the new anti carbon tax movement could be a Liberal Party* front – but that ends up looking rather half hearted when they run out of any substantial connection.

Then they manage to allow someone to throw in the biggest ad hom they can find — wait for it — these protesters are linked (how vague is that) to … skeptical bloggers. And yours truly got a nanosecond of fame with a blog header on the screen (the ABC noticed us:-)). These devious nasty [...]

The Big Scare Campaign looks set to claim another political victim

It made my day. The front page of The Australian: Record Labor low on Carbon Fury. Julia Gillards message is finally getting though and the voters are sitting up and paying attention. Where previously, they said “I like the idea of being good global citizens”, the question has changed:  now no one is asking your opinion, they’re telling you they want your money and they will take it from you starting on July 1 2012, on every car, tank-full, and trucked banana, on cold days, hot days, rainy days and at night time.

How bad is the news for Labor:

According to the latest Newspoll survey, taken exclusively for The Australian last weekend, Labor’s primary vote crashed six percentage points to just 30 per cent, the lowest primary vote in Newspoll survey history.

How intricately tied to the Carbon Tax plan, announced a little over a week ago, is the bad news?

In just two weeks, Ms Gillard’s personal support has gone from its best since she became Prime Minister in June last year to her worst. It is now the same as Mr Rudd’s failing personal support when he began campaigning for the mining tax in May last year.

[...]

The Silent Giant Coal Monster

Greg Combet (our Minister for keeping-the-weather-the-same) can keep a straight face when he tells coal miners that their jobs are protected with him. You might think that’s insane, (especially if you are Green) but he has a point. Even if carbon mattered, our coal exports do not. (Not that Combet seems to explain this point very well, he seems to think people won’t notice the contradiction about supposedly “making the big polluters pay”, even though he’s taxing mom-and-dad and partly-exempting Big-Coal).

Australia is the worlds largest exporter of coal, you’d think our production mattered. But Combet knows that it makes no difference at all to the environment if we dig masses of coal up and send it to the Chinese to burn. Australia might have lots of coal, but it earned the ‘biggest exporter” title only because lots of the other contenders forfeited. Basically, we only win because there are not many people living here.  Other places dig up a lot more coal, but coal is so handy, vital, and irreplaceable that they keep every last sodding bit, burn it all themselves and have none left over to sell.

Australia sold about $55 billion dollars worth of coal in 08/09, [...]

Unthreaded

I’ll be away for a week with the family resting on warm beaches, near wandering rivers and spectacular gorges. I’ll be thinking of you. (Actually, I won’t be completely gone, though I may be beyond mobile range, and in uncharted non-NBN territory, there will still be some guest posts thanks to the o-so-talented pool of skeptics around here.)

If you have especially brilliant ideas, hot tips, or your comment goes lost, please email the dedicated select set of moderators at support AT joannenova.com.au. (Please don’t wear out the email address though. There are real people with real lives who have other commitments).

In the meantime, this thread is for commenters… there is so much to discuss. Like for example: the satellite that could have settled this: blown up I hear, and for the second time, how careless? Then there’s the Greenie-navel-gazing as they try to figure out what went wrong. “The long death of environmentalism“.[See here for some commentary.]

Australian Skeptics – put Weds 23rd March in your Diary. We’ll be protesting the Carbon Tax in capital cities. I will be speaking in Perth.

Australian politics churning

Things are hotting up in politics downunder. The immovable force meets the polls. Twenty years of PR catches up on the PM who didn’t do her homework. As Tim Blair says:  It’s a meltdown, Labor is seething. Bring Your PopCorn.

“There is evidence the public’s general confidence is being shaken by sudden policy shifts and uncertainty about a minority government; there is growing disquiet, even dismay, among business leaders that dealing with the government on the basis of compromise with a commercially viable outcome is being overtaken by ideological demands.” The Australian

Everything had the semblance of order until Julia Gillard announced the Carbon Tax. Sure the order was only superficial, and we knew dark forces of chaos ran underneath. The policies were based on corrupted science, self-interest ran amok, and the hung coalition was cobbled together with seats that would never have voted green. The government was running the knife edge.

It took 17 days deliberation to arrange the “deal” to form government, and it was said at the time that a hung parliament might be a poisoned chalice. If Julia Gillard promised the independents or greens that she would break her promise to the voters of “No Carbon [...]