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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Let’s copy California and have less jobs, less money, less energy. Feel that Green Glory!

NSW (and a lot of Australia) is a closeted corner of the world where electronic news can take decades to arrive. The electrons themselves make it downunder in 150 milliseconds or so, but the message may never make it past the ABC-Fairfax filter. Apparently the highest office in NSW wants to emulate California. It’s like it’s 1994.

“When it comes to clean energy, we can be Australia’s answer to California.”

– Rob Stokes, NSW Environment Minister.*

Maurice Newman sets him straight in The Australian.

In short –  companies are fleeing from a green California to Texas where electricity is half the price. For some reason jobs, profits, products and opportunities are following the energy. California’s unemployment rate is 7.4%. Texas’ is 5.1%.

California dreaming is nuts in NSW

“The NSW government must also be oblivious to the steady exodus of Californian businesses and jobs. Companies like Toyota, which after 60 years has moved its US headquarters to Texas, or Occidental Petroleum, which after 50 years has left for Houston. Chevron is next. Other stalwarts like ARCO, Getty Oil, Union Oil, Fluor, Calpine and Intel have all moved in search of a more business friendly environment and [...]

Did Australian monster volcanoes cause the mass extinction 510m years ago?

Marvel this: It would seem that massive volcanic eruptions in Australia wiped out 50% of all species 510 million years ago.

Try to imagine a volcano so big, the lava flow covers 2 million square kilometers. For US folk, that would be like a volcano that covered California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Idaho and Washington State combined.

(And some people think we are facing a “crisis” today?)

It was, to put it mildly, quite bad news for trilobites which had only been around for a trifling 10 million years at that stage. Otherwise life at that time was sponges, fungi, algae, and on land, attractive sounding things like microbial mats. (I suspect a Cambrian-era-Greenpeace would have struggled to find cuddly photogenic targets. Oops, no cameras either.)


510m years ago that Kalkarindji volcano erupted.  The dashed line indicates the borders of the Kalkarindji “large igneous province.” Image: Fred Jourdan/ Curtin University Department of Applied Geology

I love the grand big-picture in all its imponderable vastness and power. I’m not so enthused on their climate analysis. I half wonder – half marvel at whether we can really figure out what happened that long ago.

The poor researchers are burdened with [...]

Gina McCarthy, EPA: carbon reduction is not about pollution – it’s about money

I don’t think Gina McCarthy had thought this through. McCarthy to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee:

“And the great thing about this proposal is it really is an investment opportunity. This is not about pollution control. It’s about increased efficiency at our plants…It’s about investments in renewables and clean energy. It’s about investments in people’s ability to lower their electricity bills by getting good, clean, efficient appliances, homes, rental units,” “This is an investment strategy that will really not just reduce carbon pollution but will position the United States to continue to grow economically in every state, based on their own design,” McCarthy added.

She is discussing something called the Clean Power Plan. Mark this day. She goes on to find the perpetual motion machine of economics:

Sir, what I know about this rule is that I know it will leave the United States in 2030 with a more efficient and cleaner energy supply system — and more jobs in clean energy, which are the jobs of the future,” McCarthy responded.

The EPA doesn’t just have a landline to God. They are God. They can use less energy to generate more wealth, more employment, and global peace.


Weekend Unthreaded

A place for roving thoughts …

Half the world is immune to “expert consensus” they don’t think scientists know what they are talking about

The headline here is that nearly half the population don’t think climate scientists know what they are talking about. Effectively thse people are immune to the 97% consensus figure. Who cares if most “experts” agree, if the blind are leading the blind?  The most skeptical of environmental scientists were the people of China, Japan, and Germany. Two thirds of Swedes, on the other hand, still trust environmental scientists.

Ipsos Mori  conducted this massive survey. Though, like many international multi-lingual endevours, there are confounding conflicts in the answers. All up, 16,000 online adults based in 20 countries were asked some interesting questions, and sometimes their answers made sense, but unfortunately we just can’t be sure when. In China 75% of respondents think scientists don’t know what they are talking about; 51% think that current climate change is natural, but 93% think it is also largely man-made. So 42% think that it’s our fault but it’s also natural. I suspect there is a language barrier. The Chinese were simultaneously the most paranoid cynics and the most dutiful recyclers. They were the third most skeptical nation while being the single most fervent believers and both simultaneously. Perhaps someone who knows more about China [...]

The mystery of cooling deep ocean, volcanoes, and missing heat

That deep heat almost seems to coincide with Atlantic and Southern Ocean volcanoes?

All roads lead to the ocean. This time, though, we’re talking about the mysterious deep abyss, below 2,000m and even below 3,600m. Wunsch et al, claim the data shows the deep ocean cooled by one hundredth of a degree in the last 19 years. But they admit that really… this could just be noise. (Well, shock me.) But they have some new and glorious heat maps, and I use those to do some wild speculation about volcanoes.

When all is said and done, there are three inescapable oceanic truths:

Around 90% of all the energy in the Earth’s climate system is in the oceans. Thou shalt not create nor destroy energy. If there was an energy imbalance running day after day, gazillions of Joules of energy must be somewhere. They cannot “pause”, take holidays, nor appear in future without being present in the now.

Despite the 95% certainty among 97% of certified “climate scientists”, no one can find that energy. Thus the social-science-fact meets the physical-science-fact. Which “fact” should we spend billions on? The stone-age approach is to go with the “doctors” not the data, and [...]

What meetings are like for engineers

The sole engineer meets project managers, designers, and marketers. Love it!

H/t to Eric Worrall.

Get rid of the rogue EPA and pointless “climate” policies. Governments can’t change the weather.

One day people will marvel that turn of the century governments thought they could control the climate, and needed to issue decrees about how much “change” in the weather they would allow.

From different continents come two articles with a similar theme. It’s time to dump the EPA and pointless “Climate” policies.

The US should get rid of the federal EPA

Alan Caruba and Jay Lehr tell us how it is. The EPA is a rogue tool of liberal activitists.

For years now I have been saying that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must be eliminated and its powers given to the fifty states, all of which, have their own departments of environmental protection. Until now, however, there has been no plan put forth to do so.

Dr. Jay Lehr has done just that and his plan no doubt will be sent to the members of Congress and the state governors. Titled “Replacing the Environmental Protection Agency” it should be read by everyone who, like Dr. Lehr, has concluded that the EPA was a good idea when it was introduced in 1971, but has since evolved into a rogue agency threatening the U.S. economy, attacking the fundamental concept of private [...]

Salmon quite happy to adapt to warmer world

You will never guess, but salmon that survived the hot Holocene period, and the even hotter Eemian, will probably be OK in a slightly warmer world. Expert researchers found this surprising.

Given the broad spread of Salmon in the Northern Hemisphere, and their past survival through every single interglacial warm period of the Pleistocene, I would have thought that they could cope with quite a bit of  climate change. As it turns out, they cope so well, that even salmon eggs that come from a 12C environment can be raised in an environment a whopping 8C warmer, and they were not noticeably any worse off.

Part of the concern with salmon was the spawning and eggs, and the problem with getting the salmon to shift their maternity wards and childcare arrangements (which they seem very attached too). But presumably those breeding grounds have varied before in temperature, and salmon didn’t die out, so — at least with this problem — nature has it figured out.

Map: Salmon and Climate Change, Fish in hot water, Red List.

Atlantic salmon also show capacity to adapt to warmer waters

Populations of Atlantic salmon have a surprisingly good capacity to adjust [...]

97 percent of Australian renewables investment dries up without subsidies (so the ABC gives free adverts to the industry)

We’re told “clean” energy is a viable and cost effective. But cut the government subsidies, and 97 percent of investors vanish (in Australia it’s collapsed from $2.6b annually to $80m). The truth is that renewables are almost totally dependent on taxpayer largess. No wonder they lobby like their life depends on it. It does.

Peter Hannam of the SMH:

“Australia’s investment in renewable energy all but dried up in the first half of 2014 amid uncertainty fuelled by the government’s latest review of the mandatory target, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

In the six months to June, just $40 million was invested in large-scale renewable energy, such as wind farms, the lowest level since the first half of 2001, according to Kobad Bhavnagri, head of BNEF’s Australian unit.

The investment tally compared with $2.691 billion in 2013, the second largest annual inflow of funds to the clean energy sector behind the peak year of 2010.”

Elsewhere investment in renewables has slowed from its peak in 2011 but still running at $64b a quarter, or nearly $700 million every day. Spot that vested interest! From The Australian:

“Global clean energy investment surged to $US63.6bn in the second quarter of [...]