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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High risk for a heart attack? Might be better if your cardiologist is away at a conference

Researchers at Harvard wondered if high risk heart patients were more likely to die if they turned up at the hospital during national cardiology meetings when most of the experts are not around. Instead, it turns out that mortality rates during the conferences fell from 70% to 60%. Oops.

Who do you want to see if you’re sick? In this situation, possibly not your specialist.

High-risk patients with certain acute heart conditions are more likely to survive than other similar patients if they are admitted to the hospital during national cardiology meetings, when many cardiologists are away from their regular practices.

Sixty percent of patients with cardiac arrest who were admitted to a teaching hospital during the days when cardiologists were at scientific meetings died within 30 days, compared to 70 percent of patients who were admitted on non-meeting days.

“That’s a tremendous reduction in mortality, better than most of the medical interventions that exist to treat these conditions,” said study senior author Anupam Jena, assistant professor of health care policy at HMS, internist at Massachusetts General Hospital and faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. There is substantial ambiguity in how medical care [...]

Australia has had megadroughts for the last thousand years says ice core study

A new study of Law Dome Ice cores tells us that droughts are common in Australia, and that there appears to be eight mega-droughts over the last thousand years, including one that lasted a whopping 39 years from 1174- 1212AD. By their reckoning the 12th Century in Australia was a shocker with 80% of it spent in drought conditions. Things weren’t so bad from 1260 – 1860, at least, as far as they can tell. The researchers are convinced theirs is the first millennial-length Australian drought record. It does seem significant.

The researchers, sensibly, think we might want to pay attention to the Pacific cycles and store a bit more water. Without fanfare the paper also suggests that droughts were worse in medieval times.

“this work suggests Australia may also have experienced mega-droughts during the Medieval period that have no modern analog. Therefore, management of water infrastructure in eastern Australia needs to account for decadal-scale droughts being a normal feature of the hydrological cycle.”

h/t to Paul Homewood at Notalotofpeopleknowthat

The ABC reported this largely as a water management story, without asking whether their past stories that blamed CO2 for droughts were less likely to be true. [...]

The carbon tax figures are in: Australians paid $14b to reduce global emissions by 0.004%!

We can finally assess (sort of) the carbon tax in Australia. It ran for two years from July 2012 to July 2014 and cost Australians nearly $14 billion. The National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Office released Australian emissions statistics for the June Quarter of 2014. The headlines hitting the press this week are saying we reduced our emissions by 1.4%. The Greens are excited, but neither the journalists or the Greens have looked at the numbers.  Not only is this reduction pathetically small on a global scale, but it’s smaller than the “noise” in the adjustments. Like most official statistics the emissions data gets adjusted year after year, and often by 1 – 2%. We won’t really know what our emissions were, or what the fall was, for years to come… (if ever).

Spot the effect of the Australian carbon tax in the graph of emissions by sector below.  It operated for the last two years. The falls in electricity emissions started long before the carbon tax (and probably have more to do with the global financial crisis, a government unfriendly to small business, and the wild subsidies offered for solar power).

(Click to enlarge)

Did Australian industry “reduce” their emissions [...]

IPCC competition? Dr Xargles Book of Earth Weather

Reader William York points out that Dr Xargle’s Book of Earth Weather (published 1992) is a similar vintage to the IPCC  FAR report. Xargle’s job was to explain Earth’s climate to the Planet of Queeqians. Like the FAR report, Dr Xargle was turned into a fictional TV series.

Perfect fodder really for a Holiday Unthreaded.  – Jo


From William York,

The following work, first published in 1992 is arguably one of the best interpretations of the 1990 IPCC First Assessment Report.

The book appears to be based on the earlier work of Mark Twain who wisely said “climate is what you want and weather is what you get”.

Dr Xargle from another planet should be well aligned with our climate modelers.


Look out, a soil model says more plants means massive carbon stores might be freed

The Doom message version 48.2a (subclause i) has been released.

Forget methane clathrate pits, now extra plant growth (blame CO2) could cause  global soil to unleash massive amounts of carbon.

Carbon dioxide (aka “pollution”) feeds plants. This is now bad (didn’t you know?). An all new “first” computer model with plants, soil, and fungus, warns us that more plants could get soil microbes excited which might break down more soil carbon and release it into the air. Disaster! It’s a could-be-might-be-catastrophe. (At  least until paragraph 6 — see that caveat below.)

In the meantime this is is so big, it’s practically nuclear — the model reports that it could set off a “chain reaction”:

An increase in human-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could initiate a chain reaction between plants and microorganisms that would unsettle one of the largest carbon reservoirs on the planet — soil.

Did you know there is twice as much CO2, carbon in the soil as there is in Earth’s whole atmosphere?

Researchers based at Princeton University report in the journal Nature Climate Change that the carbon in soil — which contains twice the amount of carbon in all plants and Earth’s [...]

Merry Christmas and Thank you. Site traffic up 20% to 600,000 people

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday period.

Thanks especially to all of you who support independent science research and commentary. Somehow both earners in this household have been drawn full time into this strange pursuit. (Just doing our best to fill some gaping holes left by monopolistic government driven research and public broadcasting.) We are reliant on your generosity, and very grateful. It’s a team effort.

Dr David Evans, my other half, the Stanford Fourier man, has continued his research. The notch-delay theory is healthy and well. Updating the solar model has been delayed while an unexpected gem gets extracted and tested. David ended up spending most of the last six months digging deep into one corner of an appendix where an unpredicted contradiction revealed itself. Potentially this is a key part of the jigsaw, intrinsic to all climate models. It was too tempting to ignore. Unlike most of the climate debate, this gem does not rely on any arguments about datasets. And it is not diabolically complex either, for the most part. We’ll be releasing news of that sometime early in 2015. We’ll also be going through the [...]

Nature admits peer review filters out controversial “champion” papers

How to separate creative genius from creative mistakes? Not with peer-review. It is a consensus filter.

Classical peer review is a form of scientific gatekeeping (it’s good to see that term recognized in official literature). Unpaid anonymous peer review is useful at filtering out some low quality papers, it is also effective at blocking the controversial ones which later go on to be accepted elsewhere and become cited many times, the paradigm changers.

And the more controversial the topic, presumably, the worse the bias is. What chance would anyone have of getting published if, hypothetically, they found a consequential mathematical error underlying the theory of man-made global warming? Which editors would be brave enough to even send it out for review and risk being called a “denier”? Humans are gregarious social beings, and being in with the herd affects your financial rewards, as well as your social standing. Even high ranking science journal editors are afraid of being called names.

Mark Peplow discusses a new PNAS paper in Nature:

Using subsequent citations as a proxy for quality, the team found that the journals were good at weeding out dross and publishing solid research. But they failed — quite spectacularly — [...]

Laws, Prosecution, Tax: Not for The UN Green Climate Fund?

The more we give the UN, the more it wants.

The UN Green Climate will get more than $10 billion of other people’s money to spend, but are arguing that they shouldn’t need to obey the laws  and taxes that other people do. The Chosen Ones are above all that.

Potentially this could include organizations that are not part of the UN but “working” with it and thus more of the global economy and financial system would come under complete UN control. We could get a whole separate economic and legal system that operates far beyond any voter control. Fun, Fun, Fun. Global parasites anyone?

Another reason to shut down the UN.

Fox News (via GWPF)

If the GCF succeeds in its broader negotiations, not only billions but eventually trillions of dollars in climate funding activities could fall outside the scope of criminal and civilian legal actions, as well as outside examination, as the Fund, which currently holds $10 billion in funding and pledges, expands its ambitions.

The shield would cover all documentation as well as the words and actions of officials and consultants involved in the activity documentation—even after they move on to [...]

Weekend Unthreaded

Who needs to update the HockeyStick graph – it’s only the fate of the planet at stake?

Two weeks ago on the HockeyStick Update post we discussed the miracle of how the Bristlecones used in HockeyStick graphs had finally (sort of) been updated. I marvelled that 800 year old tree rings were easier to find than ones from 2002. Now 16 years after the MBH98 “seminal” (well, popular) paper was published, Salzer et al had finally found some rare modern trees and updated the temperatures after 1980, but gosh, the tree rings didn’t proxy for the red-hot rising trends of the modern era, instead they recorded a fall. That particular hockeystick collapsed (again).

It took a while, but Greg Laden bravely dropped in here on Thursday to share a link to his post on how skeptics are misunderstanding the update with “mind numbing” arguments.  My reply to him on the old thread may have gone unnoticed. So I’ll repeat it here (with slight edits). Perhaps Greg missed my reply?

Steve McIntyre has also taken Laden to task on his blog.

Greg Laden  December 19, 2014 at 12:54 am

A post on one of the studies you refer to here:


Joanne Nova  December 19, 2014 at 1:41 am