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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North Korea — the ultimate low-carbon ideal

No nation has been more successful at reducing their carbon emissions than North Korea. Over the space of a few years, the carbon footprint of the entire nation was reduced by a massive two-thirds, thanks mostly to centralized planning with some help from famine, disease and the odd gulag. Anyone for Pine-bark cake? — Jo

Decarbonizing an economy – North Korea

Guest Post by Tom Quirk

The North Korean famine and general economic crisis from 1994 to 1998 is an extraordinary example of the failure of central planning and management. The results of what is called the Arduous March[1] are best illustrated by this image the Korean peninsula at night taken in 2014 (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Night image of the Korean Peninsula in 2014 shows that North Korea is almost completely dark compared to neighboring South Korea and China (source NASA).

The North Korean disaster led to the estimated death of between 220,000 and 2,000,000 people, 1% to 10% of the population. The famine, which continues to this day, has led to food rationing, black markets and a government keen to get foreign currency by any means — including drug smuggling and nuclear technology [...]

weekend unthreaded

Warships for “climate research”. Russia is laughing at the west…

Showing off by sending warships near the G20? Not at all, Vladimir Putin cares about the climate, don’tcha know?

He is having fun, pushing politically correct buttons; teasing the West for its infatuation with climate-goblins.

Climate Research anyone?

What kind of climate research will a Guided Missile Cruiser do?

The Australian

RUSSIA has for the first time explained the presence of a fleet of warships off north-eastern Australia, saying that the ships are testing their range capability, in case they have to do climate change research in the Antarctic.

The Russian embassy also said the fleet could, if necessary, provide security for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who arrives in Brisbane for the G20 tonight.

The four Russian warships are conducting exercises in international waters around the Coral Sea in a move that has been interpreted as a show of force by Mr Putin.

Russia finally explains why it has dispatched four warships to Australia:

Daily Mail: Most leaders bring gifts for their hosts. Mr Putin brings a guided missile cruiser and three attendant ships. That show of unnecessary naval presence is what might be called an intended [...]

Why did China pick 2030? Oh look…

After nine months of secret negotiations President Obama managed to get the Chinese to agree to stop their emissions rising after 2030. But look what else is peaking in 2030.

Population.

China: Projections of population growth

Did Obama do his homework? Seems President Xi did.

h/t to Andrew V

Farmers and Ag advisors not convinced by climatologists

Just another survey that takes useful results, interprets with false assumptions, and produces mostly meaningless conclusions. Vale academia.

Farmers are a skeptical bunch, who watch the weather very closely– only 8% buy the whole article-of-faith that man-made climate is the dominant factor, compared to 50 – 66% of climate scientists.

Prokopy et al start from the unspoken assumption that climate scientists know what they are talking about (even though their models are abjectly failing) and try to figure out why farmers aren’t worried about climate change. At no point do they question that inbuilt paradigm and ask the opposite question — are climate scientists failing to convince farmers because the climate scientists are doing bad work? So they miss the obvious recommendation that climate scientists need to figure out the climate before they start the communications cycle. It’s a lesson in how important it is for all scientists to define their terms and state all their assumptions.

When Prokopyu et al manage to come up with a useful suggestion it’s largely by accident. They recommend two-way dialogues between stakeholders and climate scientists (what a wild idea). Can I suggest that climate scientists start by using English, instead of namecalling [...]

Election over, so US, China agree to make unenforceable long term commitment with no consequences

Now that the mid-term elections are over in the US,  Obama is free to announce the climate commitments that voters didn’t need to hear. (I did say this would happen.) It’s a “landmark” agreement and a “gamechanger”, but no one can point out what  happens if either country doesn’t stick to its agreement.

The end-point of this grand theater of intent and glorious promises is Paris 2015.

What matters is the appearance of “momentum” — and this show ticks all the boxes. The two global superpowers make a sudden, unexpected agreement to reduce emissions and the press can call it “remarkable”, as if it has substance.  Obama –  the President without a majority in either house of Congress –  has announced a big new target of 26% reduction by 2025.  What can a lame-duck President achieve? Fluff and PR. As it happens, US emissions have been falling for years because of the miracle of shale gas and oil. This announcement supposedly doubles the pace of that reduction which was occurring anyhow, and which had nothing to do with any green policies aimed at reducing emissions. Furthermore, Obama, magically, will do it without  imposing new restrictions on [...]

Slow server trouble: if you can’t see this, email me ;-)

The site has been struggling with very slow access for the last few days and its getting worse. We’ve made a change behind the scenes just now that might improve things (or it might make it worse for a select few). What can I say — thanks for the emails. The feedback is appreciated. — Jo

Desal: no water provided but Victorian families pay $450pa for bikies and drunks

The scale of government waste is spectacular, even on a global scale. Desalination in Victoria, Australia, might be the worst example, per capita, of climate waste anywhere in the world. I challenge foreign readers to outdo it.

With all the wisdom of the best Soviet-style governance, giant desalination plants on the east coast of Australia were built because of prophecies of drought. Experts said the rain wouldn’t return and the dams wouldn’t fill. Billions of dollars later, the plants were barely finished when the rain returned and the dams filled. Most of Australia’s desal plants were mothballed.

The Labor Party in Victoria signed a $22.5 billion contract over 28 years for water that could be delivered almost entirely during the “wet” 30 year part of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation when it isn’t really needed. The plant also cost $3.5 billion to build, is plagued by leaks, and so far has provided zero litres of emergency water.

Treasurer Michael O’Brien said Victorians were paying $1.8 million a day for the desalination plant to sit idle.

That works out as $113 per man, woman, and child in Victoria, or $450 per year for a family of four, paid to the [...]

Where have those fossil fuel emissions gone?

Oh the paradox! Human emissions upset the delicate balance and drive up global CO2 levels by 2ppm a year, but lordy, at the same time, that delicate balance roils and rolls with the seasons by a far larger range. Get the feeling there is more to Life on Earth than humans?

There are places on Earth when CO2 swings every year by 16ppm or more – like Point Barrow. Then there are places like the South Pole, where it barely changes all year round — a bit like the level of greenery there which varies from white to white. And there’s a clue. The other part of the world where CO2 levels don’t swing is at the equator — where it’s 100% green all year long. The big changes in terrestrial CO2 occur in the zones where plant life ebbs and flows.

Tom Quirk tracks the seasonal shifts in CO2 and finds that the northern Boreal forests are probably drawing down something like 2 – 5 gigatons of CO2 every year, and because the seasonal amplitude is getting larger each year, it suggests there is no sign of saturation.  Those plants are not bored of extra CO2 yet. This fits [...]

The rising catastrophe of The Pause Refugees

“Whole communities of climate modellers, activists, investors, accountants, lawyers, wind farmers, super funds and importers face oblivion…

John Spooner

Never underestimate the power of art to reach a new audience.

The best artists, of course, are those ahead of the crowd.

Source: SMH

The Pause continues:

Big lesson for Australia from US voters. Climate change is over as an election issue.

Remember how we were told people everywhere are “waking up to the threat of climate change”? Welcome to 2014. In Charles Krauthammers words “The National Weather Service has upgraded the election from tropical storm to tsunami, especially the results of the governorships. If you look at the bluest states in the country, Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, all gone Republican.”

Australians may have missed what happened this week in the US (especially if they only watch the ABC). Climate Change is over as a voting issue.  Will Australian Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, get the message? Just last month he pledged to put carbon trading on the next election agenda (again). The conservatives across the nation must be cheering.

In the US, Tom Steyer threw $74 million into a campaign to convince voters to be very afraid and vote out the Republicans. Nearly all of Steyers favourite candidates failed. It was no accidental issue. The NextGen Climate Action Super Pac took Steyers money, and spent it all (and more) to push President Obama’s green agenda, specifically targeting coal “for extinction”. The Republicans supported energy of all kinds from coal to oil, fracked gas, and more pipelines.

This was the “biggest investment the environmental [...]

Excuses Excuses! Neville Nicholls and the Stevenson screens that didn’t exist or did and were “cracked”?

Neville Nicholls and Sophie Lewis are striking back at George Christensen, MP, who accused the BOM of “wiping” the official records of heat waves in 1896 and demanded an inquiry. For some reason, despite their world class work, Nicholls and Lewis still don’t seem keen on having an inquiry — so they go to some length to explain why it’s “false” to say it was hotter in 1896 than it was in 2013. Oddly though, to come to this conclusion they don’t use BOM work, because the BOM concluded “it would be very difficult to compare the 19th-century temperature data with modern observations.” Instead that difficult task was done by Berkley. Nichols calls it “brave”, but a “fact” at the same time.

In their long article, what they don’t explain is why they almost never mention any of the hundreds of ultra hot historic temperatures in their press releases and national news. George was “wrong”, and that’s a “fact” we’re told, but most of their article  on The Conversation explains why we don’t know what the temperature was in 1896. Try not to get confused.

That old data is dodgy see — I’ll paraphrase: Satellites agree with the BOM.  (Seriously, this [...]

Political bias in peer reviewed science

An excellent article in The New Yorker: Is Social Psychology Biased Against Republicans?

It’s an article about the failings of peer review and research design in psychology due to the dominance of one particular political ideology (rather than having a spread more representative of the total population). You won’t be shocked to find there is a dominance of liberal left-leaning views in the profession. The paper it discusses is by Jonathan Haidt and co-authored by our friend Jose Duarte — the psychology PhD candidate and blogger who entertainingly and comprehensively dissected Lewandowsky on his blog: Do we hate our participants?

It will be no surprise that controversial psychology papers (which disagree with the reviewer’s world view)  are usually treated harshly — no matter if the data is as strong. So, thinking of another field we know, what does it mean for research design and peer review when 97% of certified climate scientists hold one world view? (They not only agree on the scientific hypothesis but on the political action as well — and they boast about that?)  What chance does a “controversial” paper have? Has anyone done a study on the political diversity of official climate scientists? There are plenty [...]

Fact Checking the ABC — the Big-Myth about the “World’s Scientists”

The ABC bias is now so obvious, everyone with an open mind and an Internet connection knows that the ABC report the parts that suit, and hide the rest. They even edit the words of skeptics to produce sentences that were never actually spoken. But what I saw last night was a flagrantly wrong statement, counter to the truth, reported as if it were so above question it did not even need explanation, qualification or substantiation. It’s time to squeeze the ABC for accuracy.

One of the Big-Myths in this debate is that the opinions of “climate scientists” equals the opinion of “scientists in general”. All over Australia last night hundreds of thousands of Australians heard this statement as narration in the main news bulletin:

“World’s scientists reckon the climates never felt anything like them in close to a million years…”  – 4:40mins ABC News report Nov 3, 2014

Ignoring the point that the sentence is grammatically incoherent, it is misleading and demonstrably false. The “World’s Scientists” don’t reckon anything, they have never been surveyed, have not voted for a spokesperson, and inasmuch as anyone could estimate the “world’s scientists” opinions,  actual surveys show that skeptics would outnumber and outrank [...]

IPCC recycles global doom and wants a small part of everything you own

Gullible journalists are swooning today with more and glorious prophesies of disaster.

This from the team that relies on simulations that not only fail on global scales1, but they can’t predict regional2, local3, short term, continental, or polar effects4 either. They are also wrong about humidity5, rainfall6a,6b,6c, drought7 and clouds8, as well as the all-important upper tropospheric patterns too.9, 10

Speaking to the BBC earlier, Dr Pachaudri said today’s announcement was, categorically, the “strongest, most robust and most comprehensive” document that the IPCC has produced.  — BBC

They are robustly, comprehensively, and consistently wrong.  But it’s OK, they only want 0.06% of GDP (for now).

The IPCC says that the cost of taking action to keep the rise in temperature under 2 degrees C over the next 76 years will cost about 0.06% of GDP every year. Over the same period, world GDP is expected to grow at least 300%.  –  BBC

The religious leader has returned from the mount, for he hath heard the word of the God:

“BAN KI-MOON: Science has spoken.” – ABC

Who knew the name of God was “science”?

What do we call the people who get nearly every prediction wrong? What else  –  “the [...]