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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Australia has lowest number of tropical cyclones in 1500 years?

A new paper suggests there is an “unprecedentedly” low number of tropical cyclones around Australia at the moment. (How much should we spend to avoid this dreadful outcome I wonder?)

I am a little skeptical of how we can be so sure of the cyclone activity in, say, the year 900 AD. But nonetheless, the study is worth a look. Haig et al took stalagmites from two places in Australia (Chillagoe, Qld, and Cape Range, WA) and got very nice long year-by-year records of 18O and 16O data. They calibrated these against observational instrumental records — though I note these are but a tiny 20 years of data (1990 – 2010), and that during a period described by mainstream climate science (cough) as “unprecedented”.

Assuming that it is possible to pick apart normal rain and cyclonic rain, and that cyclone activity did not just shift to be more than 400 km away (where these stalagmites won’t record the cyclones) then it does appear that there are usually more cyclones in Australia than now. Note the top graphs are the WA site which go back to 500AD, and the lower pair are the QLD graphs “only” going back to 1300AD. Both [...]

Pattern Recognition Journal to be relaunched

Over a week ago Christopher Monckton sent this letter below to the Editor of Copernicus Publications, suggesting they reconsider their hasty decision to close the journal, and informed Martin Rassmussen that unless he heard from him about that or about copyright issues within 7 days, Monckton would take over the title Pattern Recognition in Physics and relaunch the journal. There was no response from Copernicus, so Monckton is now free to pursue this. I think it is a good development, and hope it will lead to a dispassionate discussion of the scientific ideas that were raised.

The scandal remains that Copernicus did not close the journal because of any scientific flaws. They first and foremost closed the journal because it “doubted” the IPCC, as they baldly declared in their original emails and official statement. That Copernicus then post hoc claimed there was a fault with the reviewing process doesn’t change the fact that a major scientific publishing house took the extraordinary decision that the IPCC can not be questioned and naively admitted it, as if it was acceptable. It reveals the utterly unscientific mindset of the gatekeepers of Peer Review.

My position is that Peer Review is a bureaucratic process [...]

Tax funded namecallers? Clive Hamilton, The Conversation are the same: beyond reason

What we need is a mature national discussion. But what The Conversation (and the Business Spectator) gives us is logic-according-to-Clive, which is a black and white world where complex debates are reduced to yes or no answers and there are no shades of gray. How much will our climate warm? Clive says “Yes”.

Clive Hamilton is an Australian “intellectual” a Professor of Public Ethics and holds the Vice-Chancellor’s Chair at Charles Sturt University, and is a former candidate for The Australian Greens.

Maurice Newman talked about the IPCC, the satellites, Climategate, Renewable Schemes and $100 billion dollar funds.  Clive responds:

“Now unleashed, Newman is in full flight mimicking the anti-vaccinators.”

Clive does not refute a single point that Newman makes. He calls him names and merely declares what Newman said was “bizarre”. Clive obviously has no answer and no evidence — he can’t point to models that work, or predictions that were correct, the best he can do is a pop-psychology analysis of “tactics”. It amounts to smear by association. Like saying that  Attilla the Hun rode horses, so if you ride a horse you are mimicking Attila.

Indeed the tactics he cites are so meaningless and [...]

Climate change violates Newton’s Third Law of Experts

Climate change violates one of Newton’s Laws

First published on OnlineOpinion Dec 2007 and unfortunately still very applicable.

by William York

The claim that the science debate over cimate change is settled violates the most important of Newton’s Laws. This violation is not of the famous Laws of Motion but of a little known set of derived bylaws, Newton’s Laws of Experts, a major contribution to understanding social dynamics.

Newton’s Laws of Motion may be simply stated as:

First Law: every object persists in its state of rest or uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force; Second Law: the rate of change of momentum is directly proportional to the applied force; and Third Law: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The bylaws, Newton’s Laws of Experts, are as follows:

First Law: every expert persists in his state of rest or opinion unless acted upon by an external grant; Second Law: the rate of change of opinion is directly proportional to the applied grant; and Third Law: for every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.

The First Law of Experts is well known and can be demonstrated in countless universities, institutes and research bodies. There are two major [...]

UK poll: 62% don’t believe in man-made climate. Educated high income classes more skeptical than unskilled

Last week a new ComRes/ITV poll came out in the UK. The poll of 2,047 people from across the country shows that the population is split roughly into thirds. A third are skeptics, a third are believers, a third don’t know. Overall about 60% of UK citizens are not convinced that humans are changing the weather.

What was also really interesting but unreported about this study is that the wealthiest and most educated are more skeptical and those with the lowest income or shortest education were more likely to believe that humans are affecting the climate. In the upper middle class 36% think the floods are due to human activity, and virtually the same percentage — 35% are skeptics. In the manual worker and less skilled social bracket 44% think humans are to blame, and only 28% are skeptics. The skeptic message is winning over the upper class, better educated bracket. Presumably the rest will follow.

Firstly, most people think the weather is getting worse (red bar) — 65% of all the population. This belief is most common in the lowest income and less educated bracket.

Figure 1: Results from the question “Weather in the UK seems to get [...]

Unthreaded Weekend

For all those other thoughts…

Bloggies 2014 nominations — science category gone due to political correctness, pick a different category

Last year the Best Science or Technology Weblog category was dominated entirely by climate science blogs, and 4 of the 5 were skeptics. Not surprisingly Watts Up won for the third time (congrats to Anthony). Tellingly, Skeptical Science withdrew even though the skeptics vote would have been split. (I guess they know their traffic stats.)

This year, the bloggies has quietly announced  “Best Science or Technology Weblog has been discontinued”. Ho hum? Have the organizers succumbed to political correctness for fear of letting skeptics win the award again? Seems so.

Now we could lodge a protest, or we could just nominate our favourite blogs for other categories couldn’t we? So here are the categories (below). You might think the blogs in your usual science circle are not Education, Topical, Group, Secret, or Business blogs, but when you look at the past finalists (eg for Education: Science is beauty, or AMS Graduate Student)  you will see that science blogs easily fit. In terms of science education, skeptical bloggers are doing more for the history and philosophy of science, the scientific method, statistics, rhetoric, and paleohistory than any national curriculum. Is global warming topical? Do I even have to ask? Are skeptics [...]

Don’t miss the EU transformation on renewable energy

Filed under: Skeptics are winning.

The EU was always the leader in the Great Green Push, and announcements on Wednesday are an excellent sign. Both the media and politicians are finally coming around, dragged by reality. This is the good news. The bad news is it’s cost hundreds of billions, and there are still renewable targets when there shouldn’t be, but we are over the peak…

Today is a big day in Brussels as the EU has begun the gradual process of rolling back its bankrupting climate and green energy policies. Of course this modest climbdown is not the end of Europe’s climate hysteria that has dominated Brussels for 20 years. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is the beginning of a much deeper retreat of its unilateral approach in coming years. –Benny Peiser, 22 January 2014

The talk is for an “ambitious” 40% target by 2030, but really this is about dropping the legally binding nature of the targets. So as usual in warmist politics, no one is up front and honest. It’s a face-saving move as the green reality falls.

European Commission to ditch legally-binding renewable energy targets


Climbdown on setting mandatory [...]

A survey of skeptics by skeptics

Mike has been an active skeptic in Scotland, and has designed a demographic and opinion survey that I think would give us interesting results. It’s very reasonable, I hope you can take a few minutes (it is short) please try to finish it if you start it. – Jo


I am writing to you on behalf on the Scottish Climate & Energy Forum, we are conducting a survey of those interesting in the climate debate. The aim of the survey is to understand the nature and background of those interested in the climate debate online. It will provide an invaluable insight into the education and work experience of participants, test the relevance of politics in forming views and assess employment and social factors for their relationship with views on climate.

We would be very grateful if you would take the time to complete the survey. The responses are confidential.

The url is:

Bushfire predictions in 2070 are nonsense on stilts. Models can’t predict rainfall

Showing that academics can cost the country more than they return, ANU’s Geoff Cary posits that there is an 80% consensus (an unmeasured, meaningless statistic) that there will be more fires in Australia 60 years from now.

This is an opinion about opinions of experts who use models that we know can’t predict temperatures. Not only is this “fact” already piled three layers of nonsense deep, the most abjectly stupid point is the fourth layer, the pretense that these models might, in their wildest dreams, be able to predict rainfall — which is an order of magnitude harder than just predicting global temperature. Predicting bushfires is dependent on knowing not just total rainfall in one region, but how that rainfall is spread throughout the year. Not to mention that bushfires depend on wind speed, wind direction, land-use (fuel load), and humidity.

Everyone knows that different climate models predict both higher and lower rainfall in the same areas at the same time, and the type of phrases used to describe the ability of climate models are: “low confidence”  (National Centre for Atmospheric Research),  “irrelevant with reality” (Koutsoyiannis ), or an “absence” of skill (Kiktev). Compare the different projections of climate models [...]