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 Skeptics Handbook II

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Ocean Acidification — a little bit less alkalinity could be a good thing

In Brief: The oceans are not acidic, and will not become acidic in the foreseeable future. Many of the fears and alarming scenarios are based on models. Many scary headlines are based on studies of extreme pH values beyond the range of anything realistic.

Incredibly, hundreds of studies show that for pH changes that we are likely to encounter in the next 100 years, there is arguably a net benefit to underwater life if the oceans became a little less alkaline.

Alarming fears about unrealistic ocean pH’s

“Some ocean pH’s studied were so extreme they are only seen on Star Trek”

Studies of how marine life copes with less alkaline conditions include many experiments with water at pH values in a range beyond anything that is likely on planet Earth — they go beyond the bounds of what’s possible. There are estimates that the pH of the ocean has shifted about 0.1 pH unit in the last 200 years, yet some studies consider the effects of water that is shifted by 2 or even 4 entire pH units. Four pH units means 10,000 fold change in the concentration of hydrogen ions). That’s a shift so [...]

Unthreaded — and the site will undergo maintenance soon…

Just so you know, at some point soon we will get the first site upgrade in three years, and … (drum roll)… nested comments!  There will be a few other improvements too, but largely things will look similar. It has been a couple of months of work, behind the scenes, to upgrade my sometimes quixotic CSS code.

But if the site goes down, or you are not able to add comments for a while in the next few days, it is probably maintenance.

Apologies for the inconvenience.


Black Day for free speech in Australia: Bolt loses case

Bolt loses and so do all whites, aboriginals, and every citizen of Australia.

News: The ABC

Andrew Bolt has been found guilty of causing “offense”.

Journalist and political commentator Andrew Bolt has been found guilty of breaching the Racial Discrimination Act over two articles he wrote in 2009.

Bolt was being sued in the Federal Court by nine Aboriginal people including former ATSIC chairman Geoff Clark, academic Professor Larissa Behrendt, activist Pat Eatock, photographer Bindi Cole, author Anita Heiss, health worker Leeanne Enoch, native title expert Graham Atkinson, academic Wayne Atkinson, and lawyer Mark McMillan.

I now know that I can’t speak freely on some topics, even if I thought what I said — uncovering unspoken truths or awkward facts — would help that minority group. Aboriginal people face many challenges. How can their lot be helped by shutting down discussion?

If drawing attention to problems, to try and find a solution “offends” some Aboriginal people, by law, now it must not be spoken. Aboriginal people who struggle are thus more likely to continue to suffer if the answer to their pain involves speaking some truth that doesn’t make 100% of them happy. What a curse to bestow upon any [...]

The submission I would have made if they had a sense of humour

Submission on the clean energy bill [...]

Deceiving the people…

Every Australian ought to read the Ergas article in The Australian. For non-Australians, it’s a case-study of just how thin and fragile all our democracies are. The government was elected NOT to do this. The Treasury are paid to provide their modeling and assumptions to the Australian people but they won’t. The Labor Party is planning to put in the crippling legislation that can’t be unwound, even if 99% of Australians wanted it to be.

No, this is not a master plan to destroy the country, it’s just filthy ambition — to rule at all costs, the nation be damned. The ALP doesn’t particularly want to sacrifice itself over the Carbon Tax, but in clawing for every tiny election advantage  (No, you can’t campaign to remove the toxic tax!) they are resorting to breaking unspoken principles of western democracies and revealing something they normally hide in their darkest recesses: their naked disdain for the citizens. It’s the end result of crumbling standards of ethics in parts of the public service, and a lack of intellectual debate within the Labor Party.

A mortally wounded, weak government, is a dangerous creature.

Where would we be without The Australian?


Lies, deception and [...]

How to get expelled from school — Ian Plimer’s new book

I am annoyed with Ian for coming up with a brilliant book title, and I can’t steal it. All the same, I am looking forward to reading it. You can order the book now for its release in November.

Actually, the serious point here is that I am getting reports from parents of students at environmental “science” courses at university level and at high schools, who are not allowed to question their masters without a payback. This is the perfect thread for those discussions of how our education system is being influenced by activists. — Jo

how to get expelled from school $29.95

A guide to climate change for pupils, parents and punters

Ian Plimer Foreword by Václav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic

RELEASED DATE: November 2011


Download an order form

Are pupils, parents and the public being fed political propaganda on climate change? Now is your chance to find out. Professor Plimer gives 101 simple questions with answers for you to ask teachers, activists, journalists and politicians. The climate industry adjusts the temperature record and withholds raw data, computer codes and [...]

Labor censors Dr Dennis Jensen — denies peer reviewed science

The Labor Party claim they think science is important:

”We can’t let this debate be waylaid by people who don’t accept the science,” Ms Gillard said in May.

Yet, when Dr Dennis Jensen  wanted to table peer reviewed papers on the Parliamentary record this week, Kate Ellis refused to allow it. Jensen is the only PhD scientist in the Australian Parliament and the papers are directly relevant to the policy under discussion.

The ALP will accept  an unaudited foreign committee report, whole, without question, but not scientific evidence from an elected Australian representative.  Who are the climate science deniers? Is it the same team that calls people mindless denigrating names?

Ms Gillard said in Parliament in March that Mr Abbott should admit he was ”a climate change denier”

The Labor Party denies the science

From Dennis Jensen’s press release about the censorship:

“I approached Minister Ellis, about tabling some of the scientific evidence I was about to use in my speech”, Dr Jensen said. “The Minister refused without reason my simple request for honest and evidence based parliamentary debate.”

“It seems the Labor Party is unwilling to [...]

Dr David Evans: Four fatal pieces of evidence

Dr David Evans lays out four crucial pieces of evidence, and calls for a debate with Prof Andrew Pitman. But the evidence is so unarguably strong for skeptics, we know that the name-calling-team-who-want-our-money will do anything to avoid a public debate. If the evidence is “overwhelming” why are they so unwilling to explain it?  — Jo


Submission to the Inquiry into Carbon Tax Pricing Mechanisms

Dr David Evans

20 September 2011

Dr David Evans consulted full-time for the Australian Greenhouse Office from 1999 to 2005, and part-time to the Department of Climate Change from 2008 to 2010, modeling Australia’s carbon in plants, debris, mulch, soils, and forestry and agricultural products. Evans is a mathematician and engineer, with six university degrees including a PhD from Stanford University.

Global warming has become a scam. Let me explain how it works.

It has superficial plausibility. Yes, global warming is occurring. Yes, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and levels are rising. And yes, every molecule of carbon dioxide we emit causes some global warming.

Many non-scientists think that proves the case, but it doesn’t. In particular, it doesn’t rule out the possibility that carbon dioxide is merely [...]

The Carbon Tax is so bad, people are asking if this is treason

Emails are flying, submissions are flooding in. It’s a nation in uproar. The implications of what Henry Ergas wrote are setting off a wave of fear and anger. People are using words like “sickening”, “shocking” and describing Gillard’s actions as “vindictive” and a “treacherous spoiler”, and using the word treason. There’s a plea: “God help us!”

Here’s a few samples of what has been CC’d to me.

UPDATE: I should have added that I put the first email up to show just how deep the sense of betrayal runs.  I don’t think Gillards actions represent a grand well thought out plot. This is scrabbling desperation to notch up a “success” (the country be damned). Even she advised Rudd to give up the ETS. A weak government is the most dangerous kind.


Dear John,

Please drop everything and listen to this:

Professor Henry Ergas reveals the hidden deadly dangers in the Carbon Tax legislation to Alan Jones.

The vindictive implications for Australia are worse than horrendous.

Listen here and be shocked to the core.

The shameful and treacherous group (loosely described as the [...]

Wind-farms: Let’s copy the UK, pay money for nothing, and lots of it.

by Color CS

You know, the one comforting thing about the insanity going on in the UK is that Australia doesn’t seem quite so basket-case, suicidally silly. Actually that’s not really true, both countries are barking mad, but thanks to David Cameron its a little less lonely at the loony farm. Democractic dementia has company.

Exhibit A:

In 2008 Ministers were aiming to generate 20 per cent of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2020. Professor MacKay explained back then, that to reach that, they would have to put wind farms over the entirety of Wales. How did the governing class respond? By 2011, the UK Coalition took that crazy renewable target and doubled it.

Exhibit B:

– Two thirds of Britain’s turbines are fully or partly owned by foreign businesses.

– Total subsidies paid to these non-UK owned farms is £523 million.

– The subsidies paid to local folk are handy for  Dukes and whatnot, and those who have large estates (especially ones they don’t live on) who can pick up the £20,000 a year in subsidies — milked from people who don’t have large estates and are [...]

Unthreaded (Commenters do the news… part II)

Try  the absurd Methane Madness if you haven’t already! Discuss how the big Gore event came and went with barely a trace, and marks the fall of the man who set alight much of the Greenhouse Extravaganza. Or there’s the coolest UK summer in 20 years… wiping out masses of blue butterflies. (Where is the Green angst: “Stop the cooling trend — Save the Butterfly — Donate a sunspot?”).

More importantly, the US CO2 regulation on hold indefinitely.

Or discuss something else

The Perth Election Now Rally! Sunday 2pm *this weekend*

If the current egregious insanity makes you angry, join us on Sunday at Langley Park. If you have No Confidence in the current Australian Government. Let them know! It doesn’t have to be this way.


LANGLEY PARK on the PERTH FORESHORE (Terrace Rd near Hill St)


David Evans and I will be there. Hope you can come too and bring all your friends..  – Jo

Read more for the details….

Are armed bombs hidden in the carbon “tax”? We need to go through this carefully!

Too frightening for words. Henry Ergas has a bone-chilling warning.

It takes time to get a feel for how spectacularly insidious the Australian carbon tax could be.

Firstly there’s the anti-democratic nature of it: apparently Gillard is doing things that are considered utterly beyond the pale in other nations. Ergas suggests that by granting “property rights” she is threatening to make the cost of removing her legislation all but insurmountable. (For all the world, it appears she’s determined to stop the opposition offering the people the choice to remove the carbon tax. Could it be, that for the sake of an advantage in the next election campaign she’s tossing the country down the nearest black hole?)

Secondly, the Australian Carbon Tax is a freakishly large sacrificial offering: Australians will be hit for  $391 for every man, woman and child, and that’s just the first year (according to the government estimates). Compare this to the EU. There in the land-of-exploding-economies,  each good citizen has had to fork out  the vast grand sum of (wait for it)  … one dollar fifty cents each (yes, $1.50). And, it gets worse, (how do you satirize this?)  — that’s the cumulative total since the EU [...]

Lucky you’re not a climate “scientist” eh? Worse, you could be a skeptic.

On The Conversation Matthew Bailes, Pro Vice Chancellor at Swinburne University of Technology, is feeling sympathetic towards those poor climate scientists who have to deal with daily criticism, but he doesn’t seem to know much about how climate science works. I’d like to help him out, but don’t think the Conversation team would let me add my comments into his article, so I’ve done that here, responding to Bailes:

“Imagine for a minute that, instead of discovering a diamond planet, we’d made a breakthrough in global temperature projections. Let’s say we studied computer models of the influence of excessive greenhouse gases, verified them through observations, then had them peer-reviewed and published in Science.”

Verified?”#$%^!!  Sorry, what’s that? No one in the official world of climate science has mentioned “verification” since the mid 1990′s. Shhh. In climate science they verify the observations first: when they fit the models, then they know the equipment worked.

“Instead of sitting back and basking in the glory, I suspect we’d find a lot of commentators, many with no scientific qualifications, pouring scorn on our findings.”

No qualifications?  Psst, Ivar has a Nobel Prize (and … in Physics). I know Nobels [...]

Major Drop in Solar Activity Predicted: Little Ice Age, part II?

Ominously, the embryonic markers of solar cycle 25 are three years late and are nowhere to be seen. Scientists are asking if this could be the start of another  Maunder-type Minimum. (The bummer with that, being that during those 70 quiet years the world slipped into the Little Ice Age; animals froze in barns, people starved, disease raged… see The brutal cold of the Maunder Minimum and the Great Irish Frost for some light entertainment.)

If it were going to happen, we ought to start preparing now, right? You know, take precautions, “buy insurance”, figure out if CO2 actually does any useful warming (and if so, pump more of it into our atmosphere). You know it makes sense…

Seriously, if the cold is coming, we really ought to pay attention. — Jo


From the press release today (June 14):

Major Drop in Solar Activity Predicted

“This is highly unusual and unexpected,” Dr. Frank Hill, associate director of the NSO’s Solar Synoptic Network, said of the results. “But the fact that three completely different views of the Sun point in the same direction is a powerful indicator that the sunspot cycle may be going into hibernation.”

Normally cycles [...]