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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Nobel Winner boycotts journals Nature, Science, and Cell for damage to science

The pursuit of knowledge does not fit well into human institutions, the 9 – 5 regime, career plans, nor the profit motive. Cracks are everywhere. The message grows that science is being exploited and distorted.

Randy Schekman received his Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine yesterday. At the same time he has declared that his lab will not be sending papers to the top-tier journals Nature, Science and Cell because they are damaging science. He calls for more open access papers saying “science must break the tyranny of the luxury journals”

Randy Schekman in the Guardian

“I am a scientist. Mine is a professional world that achieves great things for humanity. But it is disfigured by inappropriate incentives. The prevailing structures of personal reputation and career advancement mean the biggest rewards often follow the flashiest work, not the best. Those of us who follow these incentives are being entirely rational – I have followed them myself – but we do not always best serve our profession’s interests, let alone those of humanity and society.

Chiefly, he points out that the “luxury” journals manage themselves as brand-names, and choose papers for reasons other than their scientific advances. The journals seek [...]

IPCC spin translated – the leaked Synopsis admits 97% of models fail

Joint Post: Geoff Sherrington and JoNova

The IPCC Synthesis Report first order draft has been leaked (h/t Tallbloke) . It is part of the big Fifth Assessment report  see the parts already released here. The Synthesis Report supposedly summarizes the science. In the real world the topic du jour is the plateau, pause, or hiatus in warming which the IPCC can no longer ignore. Instead the masters of keyword phrases test new bounds in saying things that are technically correct, while not stating the bleeding obvious. Luckily we are here to help them. : -)

Translating IPCC-spin:

“The rate of warming of the observed global-mean surface temperature has been smaller over the past 15 years (1998-2012) than over the past 30 to 60 years (Figure SYR.1a; Box SYR.1) and is estimated to be around one-third to one-half of the trend over the period 1951–2012. Nevertheless, the decade of the 2000s has been the warmest in the instrumental record (Figure SYR.1a).”

Translated: Yes temperatures are not rising faster as we predicted, even though more CO2 was pumped out faster than ever. Let’s ignore that this shows the models were wrong, the important thing is to [...]

A few facts on Flannery, Climate Council, and prophecies of bushfire: no long trends for Katoomba

Flannery and the Climate Council are at it again — trying to scare money out of people with their prophecies of bushfires. They are milking the fear factor from the October fires in the Blue Mountains, telling us disaster planning means we have to get “the facts straight”.

Let’s get the facts straight on exactly how human emissions of CO2 have affected the temperature and rainfall in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. How much hotter and drier is the climate? Ninety percent of human emissions have been produced since WWII. Katoomba has the longest running temperature series I could find in the BOM records -see below. But where is that rising trend? The string of hot years in the late 1930s appears to be just as hot as the last decade.  The 1920s and 30s look a lot like the 1980 and 90s.

The facts about Katoomba annual temperatures

Source: Katoomba annual mean temperature

see also Katoomba October mean temperatures


But wait, the Climate Council tells us “Hot, dry conditions create conditions favourable for bushfires. Australia has just experienced its hottest 12 months ever recorded.” Any sane person would assume the Blue [...]

Weekend Unthreaded


… (Click to enlarge) Photo: Jo

I took this flying from Denpasar to Perth. Glorious ancient landscape in the dry season north-west WA. Click for a larger broader image.

UPDATE: thanks to help from Steve R W, I think I’ve found the location. It appears to be part of a long ridge in The Barlee Range, just north of the Frederick River in the Pilbara area of Western Australia.  It is so remote, Google Earth tells me “you can’t get here from where you are”.

Land clearing caused drop in rainfall in South West of Australia

Rain rain go away, let’s chop a forest down today?

Mark Andrich and Jorg Imberger compare the rainfall patterns in different regions of southwest Western Australia. The areas where the most land was cleared show the greatest decline. They estimate that as much as 50 – 80% of the observed decline in rainfall is the result of land clearing, which doesn’t leave much to blame on CO2.  The paper came out in 2012.

This fits with other researchers working on the Amazon who estimated chopping down the forests could reduce rain by as much as 90%. Once again: it’s not so much that trees grow where the rain falls, but that the rain falls where the trees grow, and the taller the trees, the better.

So the good news for Greenies is that we ought to plant more trees (and I’m all for that). But driving a Prius, building windmills, and using solar panels won’t do much for our rainfall. (It’s so strange anyone thought it would. The witchdoctors have them completely bamboozled.) The Abbott government’s plan to plant trees to sequester carbon may work, but by accident, not because of anything to do with CO2.

Oh the [...]

UN $315 billion CDM carbon market comatose after Warsaw. It may last years

More good news.

The CDM is one of the only truly global carbon markets. It’s been the main mechanism for “mitigation” in developing countries, (China says “thank you”). Born with the Kyoto agreement, it was in a sick state last year and was even said to have collapsed. Now however it’s reached a state of “coma”.

Each CDM was worth 20 euros in 2008. Now they are selling for 50c.

Reuters: Investment under the U.N.’s $315 billion Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has ground to a halt as the value of the credits they generate has plunged 95 percent in five years to around 0.30 euros, crushing profits that investors count on to set up carbon-cutting schemes in the developing world.

“As a tradable commodity, it’s in a coma and will be unless and until a 2015 agreement wakes it up,” said Jorund Buen, co-founder and partner at consultancy and project developer Differ.

A lot of things could be said about the last UNFCCC meeting in Warsaw. Here’s the one that matters:

“…no major nation offered to set or deepen emission targets, while Japan scaled down its 2020 goal.”

The language of death:

“…almost 200 nations “expressed concern” over the state [...]

More than 1000 cold snowy records set in US, one small media outlet covers it

I guess it is winter. In a cold snap last week nearly 1,400 records were broken in the US. 886 places recorded the lowest maximum, 325 recorded the coldest minimum, and 127 places recorded the highest snowfall.

Source: Hamweather

Total Records: 1,379 Snowfall: 127 High Temp: 28 Low Temp: 325 Low Max Temp: 886 High Min Temp: 13

A few days ago the records for that seven day period were even higher: 205 snowfall records. 969 Low Max. 203 Low temps. 17 High Temp. 61 High minimum.

Media coverage of the record cold? Almost non-existent

A search for news of cold records set in US from Nov 26 to Nov 30 turns up one story in the Christian Science Monitor  and pretty much no where else (did I miss some?). When 1,000 heat records fell in a week USA today covered it. They don’t seem to have mentioned the cold records, but we might wonder whether that’s an editorial bias, or (I think more likely) that no official climate or meteorological group issued a press release.

More cold is apparently on the way, look at the forecast map: [...]

Climate money evaporating — global carbon market down 35% in 2012 — peak carbon is in the rear view mirror

It’s just another day tracking the decline of the global warming meme.

Things were so pear-shaped for global carbon trading markets in 2012 that the World Bank canceled its annual State of the Carbon Market report. But how bad were they?  In their last report in 2012 the grand global total was $176b USD for the 2011 year. Since the World Bank figure are not publishing their tally any more, I’ve switched to the Reuters Point Carbon figures instead, which are issued in Euro.

Rather devastatingly, despite the fact the FTSE grew 6% in 2012 and  Euro Stoxx grew by 13% in 2012, the global carbon market (which is mostly an EU market) fell by a whopping 36% in 2012. Money printing is running rife and new money is pouring into asset markets worldwide, yet globally the money is running from invisible, rortable, pointless carbon certificates. We are past the peak, and over the hill. This parrot is almost dead.

Back in the heady days of 2008 the growth was described as “explosive” and it was predicted it would grow to $1.2 trillion by 2020 (about 880 billion €) .

These figures are different to previous USD ones, [...]

Unthreaded Weekend


Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory Australia (Click to enlarge) Photo: JoNova