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 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, [...]


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 (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 [...]

Shut down Australia and save 0.01 degrees

The key question — with all the billions spent on cutting Australia’s carbon production: the trade and income lost; the jobs cut; the pain of living near wind farms; the foreign holidays avoided and then paying more for petrol and electricity than we have to — how many degrees will our actions cool the world by?

Assuming the IPCC are right about the effects of CO2, and that Australia stopped producing CO2 entirely (if we all left the country) by 2100 the world would be 0.0123 degrees cooler, and sea levels would be 2mm lower. These are so small they are unmeasureable.

Abandon Australia and save


The statistics every Australian should know: Australia produced 1.38% of global human emissions of CO2 in 2011. (EIA, 2011a) Each year global emissions increase by twice Australia’s total annual output. (2.8%/year (EIA, 2011a). If we all emigrated and left a bare deserted continent, it puts off the warmer Armageddon by just six months. [...]

How well have the media and PR groups informed us about climate ?

Given the multimillion dollar budgets and advertising campaigns about climate change, it would be safe to assume there was a high public awareness of the most basic facts about CO2 right?  But reader Gregg has taken the initiative and gone out and done a survey of 100 people and asked them a few basics and he’s made a valuable point in a prototype survey. The results tell us something about the aim of public education campaigns.

Governments and UN Agencies have enough resources to tell us that climate change will cause droughts, floods, storms, starvation, shrinking glaciers, extinctions, sea level rise, more aids victims, more wars, water shortages, rapes, terrorism, malaria, rabid bats, and biblical plagues of jellyfish (thanks to the Hooterville Gazette for the links to all those). But despite the acres of news space devoted to all these, Gregg’s quick survey suggests not many of our public servants or journalists have done much work to give the public the basic facts or to put things into perspective.

It seems that the average Australian is under the impression that there is 1000 times more CO2 in the atmosphere than there is, and that when it comes to sources of [...]

Galvanising against Gillard

Welcome to another day in the lost democracy. The place where an elected government thinks that cheating is the answer. What was Julia Gillard thinking? This turnaround is happening so fast. She announced the Carbon Tax only last Thursday, and already former members of her own party are discussing what genre of “lie” it qualifies as, or speculating over who will take over as PM, the polls are falling, and thousands of people are getting organized behind the scenes. Even one of the star team at the launch of the Tax has had to admit he’s not completely behind it.  Worse the opposition now has a clear cause to fight for (Repeal the tax!). Rallies are being planned in most capital cities, phones are running hot, new groups have sprung into action, posters and T-Shirts are being printed. O Joy and what not, “Galvanised” is the word. People I’ve never spoken to are emailing me about their plans.

Meanwhile the Greens are falling all over themselves to help the skeptics. Please, someone – organize more mass media  interviews with Bob Brown and Christine Milne where they tell people alternately that the Greens are behind the Big New Awful Tax, and [...]