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

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The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper



Biofuels benefit billionaires

Follow the money. As usual the Green trail ends at a Greenback (so-to-speak). In this case it’s the euro-colored kind. The EU is focusing on “first generation” biofuels — corn, soy, sugar and palm oil — which pushes up prices of food, and cuts down forests.  (In a recent study, sugar cane ethanol was shown to produce 10 times the pollution of gasoline and diesel.)  In contrast “second generation” biofuels are waste products. If the EU were interested in the environment, they would favour the second type. Instead, the policy hurts the poor and enriches the rich and does little to help the environment.

In 2010, Indur Goklany calculated the additional mortality burden of biofuels policies and found that nearly 200,000 people died in that year alone because of efforts to use biofuels to reduce CO2 emissions.

Where are the Greens protests?


The press release:

Biofuels benefit billionaires [...]

Antarctic consensus “flips”. Warmer water means *more* sea ice!

In a move of Olympian audacity, Seth Borenstein keeps a straight face and shamelessly shifts to pretending that more Antarctic sea-ice fits their climate change theory. Yet again climate models fail to predict things in advance, they only do the post modern type of prediction — the bury-my-bewilderment type, after the fact. Once more, nothing can disprove the theory of man-made climate catastrophe.

The oceans are warming, but that now means less sea ice in the Arctic, and more sea-ice in the Antarctic. Of course!

Shifts in wind patterns and the giant ozone hole over the Antarctic this time of year — both related to human activity — are probably behind the increase in ice, experts say. This subtle growth in winter sea ice since scientists began measuring it in 1979 was initially surprising, they say, but makes sense the more it is studied.

The only point of science is to predict things. But when alarmist predictions turn out to be wrong, Borenstein and co don’t adjust the theory, they pretend post hoc that the new results “fitted” all along, and radiate collective amnesia about the hundreds of times they “experts” predicted the opposite.

Antarctic sea ice hit record highs [...]

Electric cars are worse for the environment

When everything else about being Green turns out to be a pox on the environment, it’s no surprise that electric cars are too.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology study found greenhouse gas emissions [of electric cars] rose dramatically if coal was used to produce the electricity.

Electric car factories also emitted more toxic waste than conventional car factories, their report in the Journal of Industrial Ecology said.

So electric cars are only bad if they are powered by coal fired electricity, or made in a factory. Oh.

Presumably the aspiring Green needs a hand-made hydroelectric car, right? That, or the kind of car that has 18 gears, a chain and two wheels.

The kicker with electric vehicles, or EVs, is that awful secret that batteries don’t grow on trees, don’t recharge spontaneously either, and need replacing every five years or so. There is no getting around the fact that electric vehicles need electricity. They may not emit any evil CO2 themselves, but they have to get those electrons from somewhere, and in most places that’s from coal.

And it wasn’t just the coal, it was other stages of the “life-cycle” too. The production of EVs produced about twice [...]

Has the time of the Rational Environmentalist arrived? AEF Conference Oct 20-21

At the end of next week, the Australian Environment Foundation is hosting its annual conference. I had such a  good time at the last one I attended (in 2009) that I’m going again, this time, not as a speaker, but just to be there. Bob Carter is attending too. This is one of the rare events this year to spend time with passionate rational people in Australia  — people who are interested in the outcomes, not just the intentions. Find out the latest developments in protecting the environment with a pragmatic, science-based approach. And it’s not just about the speeches, the conference also includes a Tall Ships Cruise, a Gala Dinner, informal drinks, and an open forum.

The conference covers the science of fisheries, wind farms, water resources, temperature records, indigenous land-management and the economics (from a former reserve bank board member) of the carbon tax.

Costs between $85 – $250 (depending on membership and the events chosen). Details: Word, pdf or  PayPal

Conference programme

Little Green Lies, by Jeff Bennett Professor of Environmental Management in the Crawford School of Economics and Government, ANU

Saturday October 20th

The annual conference will be addressed by the following speakers:


Lewandowsky part VIII: Formal moves for a Governance Review of the STW blog.

Some skeptics wonder why I bother pursing and documenting the problems with Lewandowsky et al 2012 and with the blog ShapingTomorrowsWorld. They figure that all skeptics now know the papers dismal failings, and it’s clear that Lewandowsky is unlikely to be grateful for the help.

But Lewandowsky exposes people higher up to awkward questions. Why do they fund work so unscientific? Why do they allow such hypocrisy and bias on a government funded publication? Are standards at the University of Western Australia (UWA) so low that they can’t find a Professor who understands the scientific method, and can reason without name-calling? Aren’t other statisticians at UWA concerned at what Lewandowsky is doing to the reputation of “UWA Statistics”? Finally, aren’t the scientists who missed out on ARC funding angry that our taxpayer funds are given instead to someone who apparently uses the funds to promote his personal political views, instead of in the pursuit of knowledge? (See: Lewandowsky gets $1.7m of taxpayer funds to denigrate people who disagree with him)

The abject incompetence is a gift to us. Rarely is a study so outrageously bad that people with no scientific background [...]

One vulnerable coral type adapts to ocean acidification in just 6 months

Credit: S. Ross et al., UNCW

We already know that pH varies naturally across the oceans of the world. In some sites, it varies more in a single day than global oceans are likely to face in a century.

But cold water corals live in deep water, are slow growing, and hard to study.

Six years ago, experts in cold water corals were telling us how they would be likely to fall victim to ocean acidification first, and that they believed this for good reasons but with little experimental data. But about a year ago data came out (by one of those same experts) showing that rather than being the badly affected, cold water corals adapted to effectively very high levels of CO2 and possibly even increased their calcification rates. Eight days after the pH was changed suddenly, the corals did worse. But when the experiment was continued for six months, the results turned right around. The researchers pointed out how useful longer studies are: “This is the first evidence of successful acclimation in a coral species to ocean acidification, emphasizing the general need for long-term incubations”. The paper is called “Acclimation to ocean acidification during long-term CO2 exposure in [...]

Australian Filmmaker knocks back Al Gore’s request for firestorm footage

Good on you Chris Tangey.

Chris Tangey captured moving images of a dust storm picking up a bushfire.

He’s turned down some income to stand on his principles.

Al Gore wanted to use the awesome shots of a dust devil picking up a bushfire, which happened on Sept 11, 360km southwest of Alice Springs at Curtin Springs Station. When Al Gores office asked for rights to use the footage, Tangey knocked him back. He felt its use in a climate change setting would be “deliberately deceptive” and that it was “difficult for me to imagine a fire event less relevant”.

“I am aware that you may have missed the reporting on the very localised nature of this firestorm,” Tangey wrote. “However, in any case, I am confused as to why you would offer to buy a licence to use it at all unless you had conducted even elementary research which might indicate that this Mt Conner event had direct linkage to global warming/climate change.”


Man Made Global Warming Disproved

 Joanne Nova and Anthony Cox

The theory that failed

It takes only one experiment to disprove a theory. The climate models are predicting a global disaster, but the empirical evidence disagrees. The theory of catastrophic man-made global warming has been tested from many independent angles.

The heat is missing from oceans; it’s missing from the upper troposphere. The clouds are not behaving as predicted. The models can’t predict the short term, the regional, or the long term. They don’t predict the past. How could they predict the future?

The models didn’t correctly predict changes in outgoing radiation, or the humidity and temperature trends of the upper troposphere.  The single most important fact, dominating everything else, is that the ocean heat content has barely increased since 2003 (and quite possibly decreased) counter to the simulations. In a best case scenario, any increase reported is not enough. Models can’t predict local and regional patterns or seasonal effects, yet modelers add up all the erroneous micro-estimates and claim to produce an accurate macro global forecast. Most of the warming happened in a step change in 1977, yet CO2 has been rising annually.

Observations from every angle point to a similar conclusion [...]


Report your site and email troubles here (if you can). I gather some people are getting patchy access, and having trouble emailing me.

We moved the site again last night, and the changes propagate throughout the global network some people appear to be losing access temporarily. As it happens my access is faster than ever — so hopefully yours will be too, soon. (Thank Andrew for that).

Perhaps clear those caches… (yes, that’s a message for all the people who can’t read this ).

Somehow I have about ten articles in draft and none of them quite ready. There is a lot on the boil…