JoNova

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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Big Oil, Big-Gas lobby against coal. Shell leans on World Bank to nobble the competition

Well, well, well. When Big-Oil fund skeptics, they’re evil polluters. When Big-Oil pay green lobbyists, they’re just being good citizens (see the ads, right?). Naturally Royal Dutch Shell are concerned about the environment, families, rare marsupials and what not. They wouldn’t just be green for the profit would they… oh, wait. Shell is one of the six gas “super majors” and all gas providers profit when coal is unfashionable. In terms of resources, Shell is now more of a gas company than an oil company.

Big-Gas loves wind turbines. Wind farms are fickle and coal power can’t ramp up and down quickly to fill in the gaps, but the more expensive gas can. No wonder Shell are lobbying actively against coal, and for wind.

Thanks in part to Shell’s campaign, the poor family in the Shell Ad are going to have to pay more to stay warm this winter. Meanwhile the marsupials will manage without Shell lobbyists like they have for the last 100 million years, and the environment won’t notice any effect from a carbon tax.

As with all cut-throat business deals, Shell (and others) are doing what they are supposed to do: make money. There is nothing [...]

Comet Ison grazing the sun — will it break up? Hanging on, but vaporizing…

It’s been 200 years since the last brand new sun-grazing comet from the Oort Cloud, according to Matthew Knight. This one is going within 0.0124 AU (which means slightly more than 2 solar radii).

—–UPDATE#3 (Post Perihelion): No one is quite sure what happened. The talk on twitter is that there’s no sign of a nucleus (not good),  but there is a dust stream, Ison is not like any other comet they’ve seen. @SungrazerComets tweets: “THIS > RT @RandomSpaceFact It is now clear that Comet #ISON either survived or did not survive, or… maybe both. Hope that clarifies things” Latest pic shows a faint streak leaving…

—– UPDATE #4 – for the best final wrap and spectacular movie see CIOC

——

Comet Ison is swinging around the sun today. It’s so close to perihelion it has made it onto both the LASCO and the SOHO solar viewers — the instruments we watch the sun with. (LASCO, means Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph. SOHO is the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory).

Karl Battams writes:

…this is one of the more extraordinary astronomical events to happen in modern history, and we get to sit [...]

NY Times climate news shrinks 30% — another signpost in the decline of The Great Global Warming Scam

It’s not just the money that is leaving the room as reality bites, the chattering classes are not chattering about it so much either. The New York Times closed their  Green Blog earlier this year, which covered energy and environment. Seven reporters and two editors were moved into different roles. Did that matter? Seems so.

Think Progress tells the sad story:

The decision was met with disbelief and consternation by many, although readers were promised that The Times’s environmental coverage would be as aggressive as ever, and that the decision was purely structural.

It’s always about “seeming” and not about doing isn’t it?

So much for “structural”, now there are 30% less stories:

Maxwell T. Boykoff, who tracks media coverage of the environment at the University of Colorado, reported to Sullivan that The Times published just 247 print articles that prominently featured climate change between April and September of last year, In 2012, there were 362 such articles during the same time period – that’s a decline of about one third.

Furthermore, in that six-month period since the environment desk closed, there were only three front-page stories in which climate change was the main focus, compared with nine the year [...]

There goes a massive windfarm – £4bn UK project kaput before it began

More money leaves the room. Last week David Cameron said the UK needed to get rid of all that green crap (or double-speak words to that effect). The message, confounded as it is, may be getting through.

(Reuters) – German utility RWE has scrapped plans to build one of the world’s largest offshore wind parks in Britain, as soaring gas and electricity prices fuel uncertainty over the UK government’s commitment to renewable energy subsidies.

[Bloomberg] RWE’s renewable-energy unit has decided to drop a 4.5 billion-pound ($7.3 billion) offshore wind project in the U.K. because engineering challenges made it too expensive.

RWE says that it’s because of engineering challenges, but we could assume they didn’t suddenly discover how deep the water was this week.

[Bloomberg] “At the current time, it is not viable for RWE to continue” the Atlantic Array farm because of deep waters and adverse seabed conditions, RWE Innogy said in a statement on its website. The 278-turbine project in the Bristol Channel can’t be justified under “current market conditions,” it said.

Engineering challenges can usually be fixed with money. But translate “current market conditions” and we see that it was really a money [...]

Sleepwalking to extinction, or maybe communism?

From Sleepwalking to Extinction. Climate Madness is coming, and to save us Richard Smith says we need an eco-socialist civilization! Jo Nova thinks we need people who can add up numbers.

Capitalism and the destruction of life and earth

Super Typhoon Haiyan has sent a chill through the global nervous system. Thousands dead. Weather scientists in shock. Lives destroyed. The greatest typhoon to touch land in recorded history brings with it more than total destruction. It ups the level of urgency for a new economic paradigm … one that puts the planet first. Radical economist Richard Smith shows us a way out of the “climate madness” about to descend everywhere.

Haiyan was the worst typhoon, — apart from all the worse ones. (Like 1912 ,  1898,  1882 etc etc and those were just the ones in the Philippines.)

So long as we live under this corporate capitalist system we have little choice but to go along in this destruction, to keep pouring on the gas instead of slamming on the brakes, and that the only alternative — impossible as this may seem right now — is to overthrow this global economic system and all of the governments [...]

EU gives 20% (sic) of their budget to demigoddess of climate change

And people wonder why Greece, Italy and Spain are in a mess.

By Sophie Yeo in Warsaw

20% of the EU’s budget will go towards fighting climate change, climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard announced in Warsaw today. 

This equates to €180 billion on climate spending between 2014 and 2020, which will be used to reduce emissions domestically and help developing countries adapt to climate change—three times what was provided in the previous budget.

Much of this will be spent on domestic projects, helping with the development of climate-smart agriculture, energy efficiency and the transport sector.

But of course, much of this is just a PR statement (otherwise 20% of the rest of the EU budget has been cut. Where are those screams?). The money is probably relabeled: shifted from one category to another. Same spending, greener tint.

They even admit themselves, they are taking €15 billion away from overseas aid in order to soothe their anxiety about the weather 100 years from now. This will mean a lot to hungry people in Cambodia.

If I thought that €15 billion would have been efficiently used, this would be a real disaster:

Over the next seven years, €15 billion from the EU’s overseas [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

A couple of hours north of Perth. It’s not snow.

Skeptically mapping why Big-government research is often a waste of money

This study on “skeptics” came out in the weeks just before the Australian election. I had quite some fun with it, then promptly forgot it. (You’ll see why soon).

But Amelia Sharman, of The Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, seems genuinely interested, claiming skeptics haven’t been studied much, suggesting skeptical blogs are quite important, and wait for it, discovering that the thing that makes the most central skeptical blogs popular is that they are interested in the science.

Despite all the rumors that we are an organized funded campaign of political ideologues, she discovered we are not densely connected, not-centrally-organized, and what ho, we value a command of scientific knowledge. If perhaps she was hoping to uncover some secret structure that would reveal a coordinated chain of command, she must have been disappointed.

To her credit, she called it as the results described it. However that post-modern education leaves poor Sharman wandering in the dark.

I feel like such a killjoy. Usually when academics reach out to the skeptics to “study” us, it is to attack us. So I ought to be grateful that Amelia Sharman is one of the few who appears to be doing it more [...]

None of these people could *possibly* have a reason to like Big-Government

It goes without saying that all of these folk could just as easily prefer a sensible, small spending government that was frugal with taxpayer funds. Right?

The Australian finally gets the information on the ABC salaries: “ABC spares no expense”

 

Mark Scott | $678,940 Tony Jones | $355,789 Juanita Phillips | $316,454 Quentin Dempster | $291,505 Richard Glover | $290,000 Jon Faine | $285,249 Leigh Sales | $280,400 Barrie Cassidy | $243,478 “The ABC received $1.03 billion of taxpayer funds last financial year, of which $465 million was spent on wages, superannuation and other entitlements.”

The culture is obvious. The ABC show their respect for the taxpayer… by fighting doggedly for years in court to hide the details of their taxpayer funded salaries from legitimate FOI’s. Now that they’ve been leaked, Mark Scott has apologized to the public his staff and promises an investigation into how it happened. (Imagine taxpayers finding out how their money was spent!)

Remember Richard Glover? He gets paid $290,000 for insight like this:

“Surely it’s time for climate-change deniers to have their opinions forcibly tattooed on their bodies”. – June 6, 2011

It’s not like you can pick up that kind of ill-informed [...]

London Bankers abandon trading — 70% of jobs gone: “it’s over” says Executive

At least someone once thought London was the home of carbon finance. Now, not so much.  According to the Financial Times, JP Morgan has scaled down their carbon trading team, Morgan Stanley traders are now “part time”,  Barclays sold theirs last year, Deutsche Bank closed the office, and UBS shut its climate change advisory panel. Then there is a slew of smaller fish cutting back: EcoSecurities, Camco Clean Energy, Nedbank, Sindacatum, and TFS Green.

[Financial Times] At least 10 London banks have scaled back or closed their carbon trading desks amid turmoil in the European emissions trading scheme.

The fledgling market was once seen as a promising growth area, with the City of London Corporation predicting in 2006 that London would become the leading provider of services to the “mushrooming” sector.

But the number of City workers employed on carbon desks has fallen by 70 per cent in the past four years, according to Anthony Hobley, president of the Climate Markets & Investors Association.

Things are dire:

“…as a stand alone business it is basically over,” said an executive who oversees European energy trading at one large bank.

Read the full story here (Paywalled for some?)

The State of the [...]