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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Our daily big-government bread (Unthreaded)



Our taxpayers give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debt to our largely free university education,

and lead us not into skeptic temptation but deliver us from evil.


Written by Maverick on the site.



Yes, this is the unthreaded thread this weekend…

Compare policies: Labor takes $900 per house to reduce CO2, Coalition $100

There are not many serious comparisons of the ALP vs Coalition policies on “climate change”. Don Young, a statistician and IT consultant in Canberra, with experience at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and in Washington, is now (happily) retired and has had time to take a close look at both. Strangely, The ABC Drum declined to publish this analysis. (Perhaps the details of reducing CO2 is not a high priority?)

The centerpiece of the Labor strategy is the carbon tax/ETS, which will end up raising $7.7b in financial year 2012/13. That’s $900 per household, and judging by the record of the last few years works out at an average cost of at least $640 per tonne of Co2 not emitted. The Coalition propose to spend $800 million per year, or $100 per household, with a cap on the cost per tonne that is likely to be much lower, so a lot more effective per dollar. If it can be done.

The Labor Party want us to buy carbon credits overseas, which is “essentially foreign aid”. The Coalition are considering measures like increasing soil carbon, which might not be either verifiable or permanent. I would argue [...]

Sportsbet call it a Coalition win, *still* taking bets, but pay out $1.5m early

Sportsbet odds reached $11.50 for an ALP win, and as low as $1.03 for a Coalition win. They’ve just called the Australian Election, nine days early.

That’s it! Sorry Sky News, apologies to the ABC, don’t bother We’re calling it first. – Sportsbet

They’re saying the Coalition will win 90 seats, ALP 56, Katter 1, and Wilkie 1, but don’t know about the seats of Lyons and Lingiari.

Shame the Coalition appears to be missing his rare opportunity to give us the small government we so desperately need. They could savagely cut red-tape and spending, and unleash the power of Australian innovation, brains, and creativity. This is not even being discussed. Sigh. They offer $31b in cuts, but as Judith Sloan points out: “Essentially, both parties expect to spend nearly $1700bn in the next four years. ”

Government shouldn’t be trying to “create jobs” any more than they should be “picking winners” in the market. A governments job is to create the conditions that allow the cleverest, hardest working, and luckiest to mobilize the workforce in the most efficient and fairest way.


UPDATE: ! Oops. They are still taking bets, Title and Tweet corrected. Apologies to Sportsbet, I [...]

Let’s copy Germany: 23,000 wind towers make 7% of its electricity to stop 0 degrees of warming

Steve Goreham describes how one of the leading Green economies works: Germany has 23,000 wind turbines, half as many as the United States but packed into one 27th of the area. Average turbines are producing 17% of their stated capacity. All up, they make 7 percent of the nation’s electricity but consume 2 percent of the nation’s energy. Crikey! There would be a PhD thesis in making sense of those numbers, because most of that consumption is in the construction phase and depends on assumptions about how long those towers will work. I’d like to see a lifetime calculation of a Joules in and Joules out. Here’s a part I can’t quite wrap my head around: total renewables share of energy consumption (so that includes oil, gas, coal, wood and the like) apparently rose from 4 percent in 2000 to 12 percent in 2012. I can see a most unfortunate meeting of two lines on a graph here…

The Big-Green-Government in Germany decreed that everyone had to pay a lot more for the holy electrons from wind and solar (those electrons have good intentions, after all). Thus and verily (and partly thanks to the angel of [...]

Richard Tol: half Cook’s data still hidden. Rest shows result is incorrect, invalid, unrepresentative.

Richard Tol has been relentlessly polite in pursuing the data through email after email to John Cook, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Professor Max Lu and Professor Daniel Kammen, the journal editor. Tol simply wants the data so he can replicate and check John Cook’s results. Cook et al 2013 tried to demonstrate the irrelevant and unscientific point that there is a consensus among government funded climate scientists (if not among real scientists). We already know this study is fundamentally flawed (see Cook’s fallacy “97% consensus” study).

Now the University of Queensland’s scientific standards are being openly questioned too. Will UQ insist on the bare minimum standard that applies to all scientists — will they make sure Cook provides the data for a published paper? Did they realize what they were getting into when they gave Cook their platform?

Given the large media run when this paper was issued, and the importance of saving the world from a climate catastrophe, you would have thought that Cook et al would know [...]

Clive Hamilton preaches to the believers: tells them to “cringe” at deniers

The ABC keeps giving us more reasons to say “Privatize the national broadcaster”. Such is the quality of the insights on offer.

Clive Hamilton, ethics professor and former Greens candidate, uses most of the alarmist toolbox on the ABC Drum –the name-calling, hypocrisy, and argumentum ad auctoritatem. He still can’t tell the difference between science and religion, he thinks science works like a church, with decrees issued from the Mount. He talks of the mythical God known as “the science”. Clive has read the leak of the latest commandment from on high, and it says “95%”! There is gnashing of teeth:

Further confirmation of the science will certainly not persuade any climate science deniers. They are beyond persuasion, because the argument is only superficially about the science. It’s really about culture and ideology.

Strangely, he’s unwitting hit upon a truth. But it’s a projection of his headspace, run rife. Who denies the evidence showing climate models are broken. Whose argument is superficial? Who doesn’t even know what science is? Yes, really this is about culture and ideology. His. And it’s a dark ideology; read on.

What Clive wants more than anything is to monsterize anyone who questions his faith. His [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Two weeks to go…

Are forest fires evil polluters?

Note the mass emissions in the Amazon and Africa in Sept 2007

The Carbon tracker shows the major CO2 polluters as they splurt out CO2. See the massive plumes of CO2 around the planet.

Look at China… watch clusters of coal fired power stations bursting into life only to shut down a month later. (Or maybe not.)

Is that mass rallies of four wheel drives each August in the Congo? No, it must be air-conditioners in Kinshasa…

Tom Quirk tells me that the intermittent polluters around the equatorial region are likely to be massive fires. (And there are even monster fires as far north as Siberia).

I’m intrigued but I want some data. The NASA Earth Observatory obviously have some data — see the picture here of the same month as the picture at the top (sept 2007). It is not enough though. The dots represent the number of fires, but not the intensity, and not the fuel load…


Note the active fires in the Amazon and Africa in Sept 2007

Watch the global wildfires rage and die out in this animation below:


Consensus Police: 101 “motivated” reasons not to be a skeptic

Skeptics are often accused of being ideologically motivated to find reasons to “deny” the threat posed by man-made Global Disruptification (or whatever it is now called). Which begs the question of what ideology motivated Jo-the-former-Green, along with all the other former believers, to convert. It certainly wasn’t the money (we know from first hand experience). Could it be that damn truth-seeking ideology?

Judith Curry points out that “motivated reasoning” also applies to believers (to which I would add, yes, double-yes, and more-so — follow that money). When grants, careers, junkets, book sales, and offers to sit on golden-commissions are on the line, it doesn’t take much motivated reasoning to find excuses to believe your work is “science” even as you ignore opportunities to follow data that doesn’t quite fit, or delay publications of inconvenient graphs, while you double check, triple check, and invite like-minded colleagues to help find reasons the graphs are not important.

Some scientists are so motivated that they call opposing scientists petty names, and toss allusions they must be “funded” by vested interests, even as they ignore the billions of vested interests funding the name-callers. Meanwhile, all the silent so-called scientists in the tea-rooms that let the [...]

The day the Global Warming death spiral began

Let the historic dissection begin. Man-made global warming is a dying market and a zombie science.

The Carbon Capture Report, based in Illinois, tallies up the media stories from the English speaking media on “climate change” daily. Thanks to the tip from Peter Lang, we can see the terminal trend below. The big peak in late 2009 was the double-whammy of Climategate and Copenhagen (aka Hopenhagen). It’s all been downhill since then.

Mentions of “climate change” in news, blogs and tweets dropped suddenly from July 29, 2011

Source: Carbon Capture Report

But something that caught my eye was the drop in mid 2011 (or precisely — July 29, 2011) when media stories fell by half, a step-change fall from which they never recovered.

Media Matters, and Joe Romm make much of of the fact that after Paul Ingrassia (a skeptic) was appointed as Reuters deputy-editor-in-chief news coverage of climate change fell by half.

Media Matters found a 48% decline in climate-change coverage over a six-month period, after Ingrassia joined the agency in 2011.

But Ingrassia started in April 2011 not July. Media Matters compares 6 months before the global fall Oct 2010 – April 2011 — to [...]

Did an ice sheet collapse 120,000 years ago pushing sea levels up to 9m higher than today?

Proving that nature can outdo anything humans have done, a new paper shows that sea-levels off Western Australia may have risen as high as 9 m above the current level during the last warm period over a hundred thousand years ago. The authors (O’Leary et al) conclude that seas were 3-4 m higher for most of the last warm period (known as the Eemian) but towards the end of the period a large sudden rise occurred. They suggest that an ice shelf collapsed in Antarctica  or Greenland or both, causing a 5m rise (17 feet).

The point of the paper was this double spiked shape of the sea level rise during the last warm interglacial known as the Eemian.

The Age interviewed O’Leary who said “he was confident that the 17-foot jump happened in less than a thousand years – how much less, he cannot be sure.”

Figure 3 j Relative sea-level curve for Western Australia. Ageomorphically defined palaeoMSL datum of C2:5m 120 kyr ago (Fig. 1c) anchors a predicted relative sea-level curve at Red Bluff, which includes a GIA signal based on the test calculation (see Methods) plus the following ESL history: ESL jumps from 0 to 3.4m [...]

Both parties trying to be Not-Green in Australian election, Coalition looking better at it.

Stick with us overseas readers. The spectacle goes on…

How times have changed

Back in 2007 both major parties wooed the Green vote. Now Green is so on the nose that Abbott not only declared that he was putting them last on preference swaps*, but felt it was worth egging the Labor party to join him. The ALP did not scoff. Abbott is marking the Greens as worse for the nation than the Labor Party. In response the Labor Party put out a definite “maybe-sorta-kindof”. Rudd ruled out “deals” to form government (though it’s not clear what that means exactly), but he naturally wants to use preference swaps and won’t be bragging about it.

Both major parties are competing to look tough on “irregular maritime migrants”. Though both still pay lip service to the climate-scare. It’s a shame the Liberals are still too afraid of the name-calling bullies to stand up and ask for evidence, or to promise to set up an independent science agency to audit the IPCC claims on behalf of Australian taxpayers.

Where did that bounce go?

The honeymoon is over for Rudd.

Sportsbet have the Conservatives at $1.11. Labor at $6.50. The Labor Party suffered [...]

The global dance of carbon dioxide and spreading green flora

From the AIRS satellite at NASA

Watch how greenness and CO2 oscillate. Carbon dioxide is the yellow stuff on the map.

As you watch the yearly cycle, hold on to the thought: “my car can change global CO2 levels”…

(My favourite part starts half way).

Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

These three images come from the video above.

In March each year CO2 levels are rapidly rising, because the vegetation in the northern hemisphere has been dormant for months.


Schwarzenegger on ‘deniers’: Strap them to a tailpipe for an hour …

Arnold Schwarzenegger uses all his best scientific reasoning to wow the crowd at the annual National Clean Energy Summit on Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada:

Speaking of greenhouse gas deniers: “Strap some conservative-thinking people to a tailpipe for an hour and then they will agree it’s a pollutant!

 The Huffington Post reports

(H/t via ClimateDepot)

Steve Goddard responds: Guy With Thick German Accent Wants To Kill His Political Opponents Using Poison Gas?

Hey, but it was only a joke…  (a bit like leaving people who are not-good-with-numbers in charge of national accounts eh?)

Climate Models cannot explain why global warming has slowed

Finally climate scientists are starting to ask how the models need to change in order to fit the data. Hans von Storch, Eduardo Zorita and authors in Germany pointedly acknowledge that even at the 2% confidence level the model predictions don’t match reality. The fact is, the model simulations predicted it would get warmer than it has from 1998-2012. Now some climate scientists admit that there is less than a 2% chance that the models are compatible with the 15-year warming pause, according to the assumptions in the models.

In a brief paper they go on to suggest three ways the models could be failing, but draw no conclusions. For the first time I can recall, the possibility that the data might be wrong is not even mentioned. It has been the excuse du jour for years.

Note in the chart that while the 10 year “pause” passed the basic 5% test of statistical significance, by 13 years, the pause was so long that only 2% of CMIP5 or CMIP3 models simulations could be said to agree with reality. By 16 years that will be 1% of simulations. If the pause continues for 20 years, there would be “zero” [...]