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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William Kininmonth: Is it Extreme Weather or Climate Change?

Following in the heatwave theme… William Kinninmonth points out that the long term data on the red hot centre of Australia shows that this January is not unusual. – Jo.

__________________________________ Letter to the Editor of The Australian

A pattern of extreme weather should not be confused with climate change.

The recent heat wave across much of Central Australia and its occasional extension east and south is a pattern of extreme weather. Climate is the recurring patterns of weather that inure us to such extremes. The climate of Alice Springs is exemplified by 1887, the previously hottest January with an average maximum of 40.7oC. The extreme, nearly 5oC above the long term January average, was made possible by a spell of 11 days over 40oC, a brief respite then another 10 days over 40oC.

Climate change, of course, is a persisting significant departure from the experienced pattern of weather. The current pattern of extreme weather is not outside the envelope of experience that describes Central Australian climate.

William Kininmonth

William Kininmonth headed Australia‘s National Climate Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology from 1986 to 1998.

PS: You may [...]

Australia – was hot and is hot. So what? This is not an unusual heatwave

The media are in overdrive, making out that “the extreme heat is the new normal” in Australia. The Great Australian Heatwave of January 2013 didn’t push the mercury above 50C at any weather station in Australia, yet it’s been 50C (122F) and hotter in many inland towns across Australia over the past century. See how many are in the late 1800′s and early to mid 1900′s. You can’t blame those high records on man made global warming.  [feel free to post some old records of your own and the source reference we can check and we will update the map]

 Did CO2 cause extreme heat in the 1820′s?

In explorer Charles Sturt’s time it was so hot that thermometers exploded. Was this Australia’s hottest day all the way back in 1828? It was 122F or 53.9C! Naturally it is not a BOM-registered-record (the BOM did not exist then). Nonetheless, Charles Sturt was engaged to explore the nation and given careful instructions to take accurate readings of the climate. Yes, inadequate thermometer shading may have exaggerated the maximum by 1C, 2C, maybe even 3C, but at 50.9C it would still have been considerably hotter than anywhere in January 2013.

Even that [...]

In Australia if you try to clear a firebreak on your land you could go to gaol

Maxwell Szulc

As Greens blame coal miners and SUV drivers for contributing to firestorms that destroy houses, ponder that one man tried to reduce the risk of fires and cleared firebreaks on his property in WA in 2011 and is currently in jail for it, serving a 15 month sentence. Most of the cleared land had been cleared before in 1970 or 1983. This was mere scrubby regrowth. He was trying to separate his property from DEC (Dept of Environment and Conservation) managed land with a 20m wide fire-break. He is due out of jail sometime around Feb 10th, though his government minders have not even fixed that date (are they having trouble calculating “15 months”?) He had previously been jailed for three months in 2010 for a similar action.

This was true civil disobedience. He knew what would happen. He felt someone had to protest and I gather he felt that at 62 and without children or a wife to support, it was his duty.

Szulc cleared his land as a protest. He was in contempt of court, he is in contempt of the DEC.

Some will say that Maxwell Szulc is technically not in jail for clearing [...]

Skeptic win: UK Met Office quietly drops prediction by 20%, hopes no one notices

Joint Post: Jo Nova and James Doogue

The UK Met Office are completely impartial about global warming, and delighted that things are not going to warm as fast as they thought. So to draw attention to the good news they waited to release it on the … quietest possible news-day of the year. Oh. But remembering that they are public servants, they had to settle for the second quietest, and release it on the day before Christmas instead.

These are the people who said the science was settled, and the deniers were wrong, except that it wasn’t and they weren’t.

Unfortunately for the Met boys, the skeptics noticed (h/t Tallbloke and Richard Smith), and now, not only do they have to handle the heat of that partial reversal , now they also have to admit the cheap PR trick backfired — they were caught in a cowardly attempt to hide the news. Busted.  See Bob Tisdale here for very nice graphs.

Graph from The Australian. (Don’t blame me for the decadel’s – sic)

This has been picked up now by Daily Mail, GWPF, Delingpole, The National Post (Canada) and this weekend, The Australian.

Daily Mail

 “To put it mildly, it [...]

Greens say deception, fraud “for the planet” is OK

PR is more important than anything else to the Greens. When Johnathon Moylan fraudulently tricked investors, costing some of them thousands of dollars, Green leaders praise him for “drawing attention” to something. It’s as if stupid punters are so dumb and Green’s brains so Omniscient, that any crime is forgiven in the quest to tell the world a green “fact”. Did Christine Milne think Australians don’t know the Greens blame coal miners for hot days? Did she think that people would hear for the first time that Greens really really don’t like the coal industry and they would suddenly awaken from their stupor and be converts to the cause? Did she think if Green chicanery raised the cost of capital formation in the coal industry, causing that industry to suffer, that everyone else would overlook Green illegality and applaud?

A delusional anti-coal mining activist, Jonathan Moylan, impersonated a bank spokesman and issued a fake media release,  falsely declaring that the bank had withdrawn a $1.2 billion loan facility from Whitehaven Coal because of ”unacceptable damage to the environment.” He created a dummy email inbox to push the deceit further to cause real damage. The story was picked up by some [...]

American Geophysical Union – cheat, deceive, steal, “It’s OK”.

The American Geophysical Union – can it be saved?

Seriously: the 2012 Convention included Mann, Gleick, Lewandowsky, Oreskes and Cook.

If you are one of the 58,000 members, you could ask yourself if you want to be aligned to an organization that thinks “science” means sometimes you need to impersonate someone else, steal their documents, and hide your own data. Is it AGU science if you use algorithms so badly that you could replace your data with a phone book and produce the same result? What if your data is used upside down? The AGU thinks you should speak twice.

Is it the AGU’s idea of “rigorous” if you make headlines out of irreproducible results that use flawed samples, fake data, and issue a press release months before your paper is even ready to be published? Is a sample size of ten in a self-selecting internet poll enough to publish a paper? Do you find out the opinions of one group by interviewing the people who hate them, but then present the results as if you surveyed the first group? Is it OK to call people who disagree with you insulting names? John Cook does, and he was invited [...]

Donna Laframboise – Secret Santa leak of AR5 Working Group II material

BREAKING:All the files from Working Group II of AR5 are now available just as “ahem” the open-and-transparent-IPCC would want them. There are 661 files amongst 1 gigabyte of material. This includes their meeting in Japan, in Jan 2011 and a year later in San Francisco, and then Buenos Aires, 10 weeks ago.

Leaked — Working Group II drafts

Behind the scenes Donna Laframboise finds that there is a layer of aggressive activists who are privvy to the IPCC drafts process, and actively lobbying. WWF are pushing the IPCC to cite the WWF. They helped create Himalaya-gate where the IPCC ridiculously predicted the end of the massive Himalayan glaciers by 2035, and got caught embarrassingly. Donna’s book showed that “two thirds of the chapters in the 2007 IPCC report included among their personnel, at least one individual linked to the WWF. One third of the chapters were led by an WWF-affiliated author.” Apparently nothing much has changed.

Donna Laframboise writes:

My 2011 book, The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert, documents the IPCC’s numerous credibility problems. Among these is the disturbing influence of green activists on what is supposed to be a rigorous [...]

Gone Bezerkers. Climate change will turn humans into hobbits

Pay up, or we’ll turn you into a Hobbit! This is what our public science establishment has reduced itself to?

Science fiction writers have infiltrated universities. They’re running amok, and while it’s all very entertaining (thanks for the laughs) some poor sods (like The Express) might think this is actually science.

Mass extinction forecast with 6C temperature rise

HUMANS will have to become like Hobbits to survive the rapid climate change facing the world, a report claims today.

It says that in the past species have coped with a warming climate by turning to dwarfism.This is because food is less nutritious in a warmer world which means that species have to eat more – and by becoming smaller they can cope with food scarcity.The report published by the Climate News Network  also warns that the speed of climate change could lead to mass extinctions partly because many species, form plants to animals, will not have time to adapt.It is based on the work of an international group of 30 scientists looking at the vast fossil deposits in rock strata in Wyoming in the United States, charting the period 55 million years ago when the earth temperature rose suddenly.

One of [...]

ABC uses taxpayer money to hide how it uses taxpayer money

Assume for a moment that the ABC was a dedicated team working to serve the public, getting fair rates of pay. Then imagine Australians asked the ABC what salaries they paid their “celebrities”. The ABC team would be happy to provide that list, and surely it could be done in one working day.

Instead the national broadcaster has been hiding those details for two years and has just lost the second appeal. (How much money has it cost to hide the money ABC presenters get?) The ABC gets $1 billion a year from the people of Australia, and it has refused to disclose the details of its $25 million dollar “contractors and consultants” bill, and the salaries of top staff of shows like Media Watch, Four corners, and Mornings with John Faine.

A Freedom of Information request was lodged more than two years ago by the Herald and Weekly Times, seeking access to documents “dealing with salaries, or any payments” paid to program makers working on 13 programs, including those listed above, for the financial year ending 2010.

The BBC was caught paying presenters through personal service companies which allowed those presenters to pay less tax. (Are these the same [...]

To keep politics out of science, scientists need to be more scientific, not more political

Since when was science “political?” Answer: It’s not, but the institutions and bureaucrats who pretend to be scientists are. In the past, partisan scientists would at least try to hide that and keep up the dispassionate persona that marks a seeker of the truth. Now some scientists wear their bias like a badge.

How do we stop the politicisation of science? Not this way. Daniel Sarewitz argues (weakly) in Nature that we need scientists of both political sides in “expert” panels:

The US scientific community must decide if it wants to be a Democratic interest group or if it wants to reassert its value as an independent national asset. If scientists want to claim that their recommendations are independent of their political beliefs, they ought to be able to show that those recommendations have the support of scientists with conflicting beliefs. Expert panels advising the government on politically divisive issues could strengthen their authority by demonstrating political diversity. The National Academies, as well as many government agencies, already try to balance representation from the academic, non-governmental and private sectors on many science advisory panels; it would be only a small step to be equally explicit about ideological or political diversity. [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Al Gore gives Big-Oil-Government a TV Channel and gets $100m in oil revenue

Imagine the hyperventilating headlines: Global warming denier sells TV channel to Arab Oil organisation, pockets $100 million in oil funds. More proof that giant corporate interests pull the strings on the public debate, and that carbon dioxide causes storms, tidal waves, asteroids, and alien attacks!

Skip the Global Hypocrisy Award for 2013 – don’t even bother sending in entries. It’s over.

Al Gore has campaigned for two decades against the evil vice-like grip that fossil fuel polluters have on the media and politics ““The carbon fuels industry — big oil and coal — have a 50-year lease on the Republican Party” (H/t The Telegraph). So the obvious step was for him to spend seven years building a TV empire in order to sell it to an organisation founded, funded and fused with Big Oil.

Al Gore apparently owned about 20% of Current TV (you’ve never heard of it either, right?).

He’s just sold it to Al Jazeera for half a billion: thus giving the Qatari Royal Family more access to US audiences and earning himself a hundred million or so.

But of course, he really didn’t have a choice, the other large offer coming in was from something far [...]

Two million years of climate change made us what we are

Bradshaw Art, Kimberley, Australia. This distinctive style of painting disappeared 7,000 years ago.  |  Photo TimJN1

Two million years of climate change has made us human — in a ying meets yang contradiction, while climate change destroyed cultures and groups,  without it, we would not be who we are. The brutal forces of Nature tested our ancestors with droughts, storms, floods and tidal surges, but if the climate had stayed the same, would we have had Bach, Leonardo, and Newton?

At the end of the day, we have a civilization that allows millions of people to pursue happiness without fear that they will die of dysentery, be murdered by marauding barbarians, or lose their children to slave traders.

We are the lucky bastards at the end of a long line of poor sods who struggled and suffered to stay one step ahead of the reaper.

Here are two stories of studies that suggest dramatic effects of climate change on long lost peoples. The second, below, may finally explain the disappearance of the mysterious well developed aboriginal artform known as the “Bradshaw” style.

Rapid changes occurred 2 million years ago

Some swings occurred so fast they happened in “hundreds of [...]


Jan 2 or 3 (depending on where you are).

Welcome to a Kyoto-free-world: Best use was to show how bad a nanny-state-unfree-market is.

Goodbye to the Kyoto protocol.

How well did those ambitious plans work out?  The government solution that aimed to reduce CO2 emissions by 5% achieved a 58% increase instead. Welcome to Case-Study #224 in Government failure.

Kyoto climate change treaty sputters to a sorry end

“The controversial and ineffective Kyoto Protocol’s first stage comes to an end today, leaving the world with 58 per cent more greenhouse gases than in 1990, as opposed to the five per cent reduction its signatories sought.

From the beginning, the treaty that was adopted in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, was problematic.

To reduce Greenhouse emissions: ditch the Kyoto protocol

Without Kyoto the US reduced emissions | Graph: Forbes

The big success story in reducing emissions has nothing to do with nanny-state hope-n-change regulation. The US reduced its emissions by 4% in a single year largely because they shifted from coal to gas.

“As a result of increasing use of gas to make electricity, the market share of coal has declined from 48% in 2008 to 43% in 2011 and likely 37% in 2012.  Natural gas will capture approximately 30% of electric generation market share this year, sharply up from 12% in 1990 and [...]